Timely reminder on Total Defence

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's reminder on the importance of being able to defend ourselves is timely ("S'pore 'must have what it takes to defend itself'"; yesterday).

Not only a small region like Crimea can be annexed; a big country like China was also forced to cede territory to Western powers in the mid-19th century.

Nations that were annexed or forced to cede territory had weak governments and militaries. Singapore must never suffer the same fate.

We must continue to uphold the fighting spirit and morale of our soldiers by motivating them.

As a small country, Singapore needs to keep updating its defence capabilities and spending to make potential aggressors think twice before doing anything foolish.

Also, we must build a strong economy with sufficient reserves to defend Singapore economically.

Our Government has done an excellent job in maintaining racial and religious harmony, which is one of the key pillars in unifying the nation. If this pillar is destroyed, we could end up like Kosovo, where ethnic strife culminated in a war that required foreign intervention.

Defence does not involve only our armed forces and Home Team. Other factors that contribute to our strength include a well-educated citizenry, corruption-free public institutions and a sense of belonging that makes Singaporeans determined to defend their country, even if it means sacrificing their lives.

Without the "software" that drives us to identify ourselves as Singaporeans and to overcome crises with resilience, whatever hardware we have would be of limited use.

Singaporeans must understand their country's vulnerabilities; it is the intangibles that define Total Defence.


Francis Cheng

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