SINGAPORE: Without a strong military defence, Singapore might lose its independence, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in his Total Defence Day message on Wednesday (Feb 14).
“The fall of Singapore which we commemorate on Total Defence Day every year reminds us all that without a strong military defence, Singapore can lose its independence, as we did in 1942,” he said.
Dr Ng referred to the “dark chapter” from World War II at the Battle of Pasir Panjang, when soldiers from the Malay Regiment fought “valiantly” against the Japanese but were outnumbered almost ten to one.
“The battle was lost and so was Singapore,” he said, noting that Chinese New Year that year fell on Feb 15.
“But on that day, there were no celebrations. Instead people feared for their lives when Singapore fell to Japanese invaders. Hope was lost as the future seemed ominous and uncertain,” he added.
“We therefore pledge together ‘never again’ as every Singaporean contributes to military defence – National Servicemen who make up a strong SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) and families and employers who support them.”
This year’s Total Defence campaign, themed “Together We Keep Singapore Strong”, is aimed at raising public awareness of new threats that Singapore faces – terrorism, information campaigns and cyberattacks.
“A cyberattack can disrupt our transport system and hospitals, shut down water and electricity supply, even cause financial markets here to crash,” Dr Ng said. “A fake news campaign can stir unrest and incite Singaporeans to distrust one another.”
To that end, Dr Ng noted that everyone has a part to play in Total Defence.
“Against terrorism, we can report suspicious parcels at public places or alert authorities to help someone who is being radicalised,” he said. “We can do our part to dispel fake news, or at least not spread it.”
As part of the campaign, games and puzzles have been developed to help youths better understand and respond to the new threats. The games include a Total Defence puzzle and a strategy card game that will be given out to all Secondary Two students.
The Singapore Discovery Centre will also hold on Mar 24 a ticketed event that teaches Total Defence through a zombie apocalypse scenario.
Dr Ng maintained that the benefits of Total Defence go beyond keeping everyone safe, as it has enabled Singapore to “prosper, progress and maintain this oasis of racial harmony with strong community bonding”.
“Let us reaffirm our resolve to do our part to make sure that every year, we and our children’s generation can celebrate Chinese New Year as an independent and sovereign country,” he said.