'Small' Singapore will always be vulnerable: Dr Ng Eng Hen

SINGAPORE - Singapore as a small country will always be vulnerable, but the nation and peoples' way of life will be secure if succeeding generations can be convinced of the need to stay cohesive, united and strong, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Saturday.

Get the full story from The Straits Times.

Here is the press statement from Mindef:

30 Years of Total Defence: Because You Played A Part

Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen today graced the Total Defence (TD) interactive exhibition - TD 30: An Experiential Showcase - as well as launched the TD commemorative book "Because You Played A Part" at the National Museum of Singapore.

At the launch, Dr Ng recounted stories of Singaporeans who were survivors of the Japanese Occupation during World War II (WWII), victims and family members of victims of the Konfrontasi, as well as those who have contributed to military efforts against the Konfrontasi, and said that they were reminders of the heavy price to pay if we were unable to defend ourselves. Dr Ng also highlighted how Singapore today was the result of Singaporeans' contributions.

He said: "The message that we want to send out to Singaporeans is that everyone has a role and everyone needs to play a role in Total Defence. I am very glad today too that there are many Singaporeans who have put Total Defence in action."

Referring to the coverage by the Straits Times as well as Channel News Asia's documentary "Days of Rage" on Konfrontasi, Dr Ng said that the media played an important role in helping Singaporeans "remember our past and from whence we came".

Dr Ng also met Singaporeans who had survived the Japanese Occupation during WWII and the Konfrontasi, as well as Singaporeans whose stories were featured in the commemorative book and TD interactive exhibition. One such person was Mr L M Mani, who shared his story of how he survived World War II and subsequently volunteered with the Singapore Naval Volunteer Reserve to protect his fellow men and women during Konfrontasi.

Dr Ng, who was accompanied by Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Permanent Secretary (Defence) Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General (LG) Ng Chee Meng, Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Ravinder Singh, Chief of Navy MG Ng Chee Peng and senior officials from other Ministries, also visited the displays of civil defence and Singapore Armed Forces equipment.

TD 30: An Experiential Showcase features interactive exhibits and stories of Total Defence in action while the commemorative book contains stories of how Singaporeans have contributed to TD in their own ways. These were specially put together to underscore this year's TD campaign theme "30 years of TD: Because You Played a Part" to thank Singaporeans for having played a part over the years to make Singapore safe and secure.

In addition, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) commemorated Total Defence Day this evening at the War Memorial Park with a wreath-laying ceremony and a Weapons Presentation Parade for the recruits of Third Battalion Singapore Guards. The timing of the ceremony coincided with the signing of the surrender document at 6.20pm on 15 Feb 1942, when Singapore fell to the Japanese in World War II.

Speaking about the significance of the event, LG Ng said, "My generation stood up to defend the Singapore we love, just as my father's generation did. Today, I am happy to see my children's generation doing the same. Total Defence remains relevant in all the five aspects and our SAF stands ever ready to secure our peace and security."

Also present at the commemoration event were MG Ravinder, MG Ng, Chief of Air Force MG Hoo Cher Mou, senior SAF officers, as well as families and friends of the recruits. Acting Minister for Manpower BG(NS) Tan Chuan-Jin, attended as a former Commanding Officer of Third Battalion Singapore Guards.

Total Defence Day is held annually on 15 February to mark the day Singapore fell to the Japanese during World War II in 1942. It reminds us that we cannot take our defence and security for granted and that everyone has a part to play in defending our country.