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Strong, capable SAF needed to safeguard Singapore's sovereignty

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Defence Minister says investments in military have paid off

Singapore needs a strong and capable military to safeguard the country's sovereignty and way of life, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

Citing the successful contribution of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to last month's meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un here, Dr Ng said Singaporeans can take pride that the country's "steady investments over the years into building a defence capability have paid off".

As a result, Singaporeans are now generally confident that the SAF can be called on to defend Singapore and keep them safe, said Dr Ng.

"That confidence arises not only because of modern armaments and platforms but, most importantly, because SAF soldiers, mainly operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen), are ready and prepared to defend our peace and way of life," Dr Ng said when he delivered the SAF Day message at the annual SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony at Jurong Town Hall.

SAF Day, which calls on servicemen to reaffirm their loyalty and commitment to the defence of Singapore, is commemorated on July 1 every year.

The Jurong Town Hall ceremony, hosted by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), was one of four around the island yesterday.

Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung was at a ceremony at Temasek Polytechnic, while Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo was at another one at Suntec Singapore. Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee also officiated at a ceremony at the Singapore Institute of Technology in Dover.

A total of 983 NSmen from 407 companies attended the ceremonies.

Dr Ng said the SAF's commitment to defending Singapore was born of the realisation that Singaporeans had to defend the country themselves, following the Japanese Occupation in the 1940s and Konfrontasi in the 1960s.

That commitment to defending Singapore was on full display during the Trump-Kim summit, he said, adding that such "highly visible meetings could attract mischief and even mayhem, especially from terrorists".

"But the stout defence by the SAF and the Home Team deterred such actors. So even though the time and place of the summit were made known in advance to the world, no security threats surfaced," said Dr Ng.

He also reminded SAF commanders that care for the well-being of soldiers should be their "paramount concern" during peacetime.

"Train your men well but do it safely," said Dr Ng. "Above all, never abuse your authority but earn their respect with your integrity and professionalism."