“Two bitter but valuable lessons” learnt from the Japanese Occupation shaped Singapore’s commitment to maintaining a strong defence force, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday (14 Feb), as Singapore prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the island’s fall during World War II.
“One, you cannot depend on others to defend you and, two, the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must,” Dr Ng said in a four-minute video on his Facebook page.
These lessons were the reasons why National Service was introduced during the pioneer generation of Singaporeans to keep the country safe and independent. Dr Ng also thanked the more than one million national servicemen who had served the country since 50 years ago.
“Today, we have a strong and capable Singapore Armed Forces because our national servicemen are committed and dedicated to military defence,” Dr Ng added in the video.
In his message, Dr Ng reiterated that every Singaporean has a part to play in Total Defence, which consists of the military, civil, economic, social and psychological pillars.
“Indeed, when there is a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, civilians will have to take the initiative to save themselves and others first, before the security forces respond,” continued Dr Ng.
On the economic front, Singapore cannot afford a prolonged slowdown.
The country needs to keep its air and sea ports functioning even under tough circumstances, he said, referring to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2003 and haze episode in 2015.
Singaporeans also need to remain undivided against those who try to sow discord among the different communities or seek to test social fault lines, he added.
“We must, as one people, resist external pressures to weaken Singapore’s sovereignty and independence. But no country can know all the dangers that may come its way.
The stronger our Total Defence, the more certain we can be that no challenge will overwhelm Singapore,” said Dr Ng.
Source: "“2 bitter but valuable lessons” from Japanese Occupation," (The Straits Times, 15 February 2017)