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Speech By Dr Richard Hu, Minister For Finance At SAF Day Rededication Ceremony For Paya Lebar/Hougang CRC At Singapore Press Holdings Auditorium On 2nd July 2001 At 3.00pm

02 Jul 2001

Good Afternoon,
Ladies and Gentlemen

We are gathered here to commemorate SAF Day. This rededication ceremony is a significant occasion for all of us. We are here to renew our pledge of allegiance and loyalty to our country. We are also reminded of the importance of having a strong national defence and an operationally ready SAF. The good turnout of the NSmen and employers today testifies to the strong commitment and dedication that you have towards the defence and security of our country.

2. The outlook ahead remains uncertain. The euphoria arising from the end of the last crisis has proven to be short-lived. With slower growth prospects, the region faces an uphill task of economic recovery. In addition, the political situation remains tense in countries such as Indonesia, which are undergoing difficult political transitions. In this climate of uncertainty, peaceful and stable relations between the major powers - US, China and Japan - are key to regional stability.

3. Even as we brace ourselves for a more uncertain future, we need to prepare ourselves for more diverse security challenges ahead. With globalisation and greater inter-dependence among nations, an increasing number of nations are exposed to transborder threats. These challenges now include non-conventional threats such as terrorism, subversion and low-intensity conflicts that seek to undermine our social cohesion, threaten our vital sea lines of communication and the smooth functioning of our economy.

4. Singapore has been fortunate to weather the turbulence of the last few years. However, we cannot take our relative peace and stability for granted. As a small and open country, developments in the region and beyond can have significant impact on our well-being. We can never be fully insulated from what happens elsewhere. Neither do we have control of events that can happen.

5. It is this reality that makes an operationally ready SAF critical for the continued peace and prosperity of Singapore. An operationally ready SAF gives us the confidence to stand firm in the face of new security challenges and affords us stability amidst the uncertainties. A strong defence is the vital military component of Total Defence. It gives our fellow citizens and our families a safe and secure environment to grow and prosper.

6. The SAF today is a modern and potent fighting force. In addition to having the conventional capability to effect a swift and decisive victory should deterrence fail, we have also developed a spectrum of capabilities to counter the various unconventional threats. An operationally ready SAF is the most effective deterrent against any potential aggressors contemplating any form of attack against Singapore.

7. That the SAF is an effective fighting force today has not come about by chance. It is the result of the collective contribution made by every regular as well as full-time and operationally ready NSman. While modern equipment and technology are important, it is ultimately the fighting spirit and commitment of the SAF servicemen to defend what is ours that will make the difference.

8. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to our national servicemen who have over the years contributed selflessly to the defence of our country. Your sacrifices and contributions are what make the SAF the operationally ready force that it is today. You can take pride in the fact that the operational readiness of the SAF has been widely recognised by others. The operational readiness of the SAF has also been amply demonstrated over the years -- be it in contingencies like the SQ117 hijack, evacuation of Singaporeans from Cambodia, the search efforts for victims of MI 185, humanitarian missions to Bengkulu and Taiwan, or participation in many UN missions, including that in East Timor.

9. I would also like to thank the families and employers present for your support for our national servicemen. Indeed, without your support, our national servicemen would not be able to focus on their training and operational duties. Our NSmen have made a difference to the defence and security of Singapore because you have made a difference through your support. The success of the SAF hinges on the firm commitment from all of you. Your contributions have ensured that Singapore is - and will remain - safe and secure.

Thank you.