G. Forging A Stronger And More United Nation


G. Forging A Stronger And More United Nation

  1. 122. Alongside our investments to strengthen our economy and society, we will also make the investments needed to forge a stronger and more united nation. We will safeguard what makes Singapore special and resilient – our commitment to take care of and defend one another, sustain the trust we have in each other and our institutions, and build our strong sense of national pride and identity.

A Safe and Secure Singapore

  1. 123. Since independence, we have invested steadily to safeguard our peace and security.
    1. a. Over the last two decades, we have allocated around 3% to 4% of our GDP annually to MINDEF’s budget.
    2. b. At the same time, over the past decade, our spending on domestic security has doubled to more than $8 billion, or about 1.3% of our GDP.
    3. c. We will continue to build and maintain a strong and effective SAF and Home Team. We will invest in them, upgrade their capabilities year by year, to protect ourselves from potential aggressors and security threats.
  2. 124. The backbone of our defence and security remains National Service. We owe a huge debt to our national servicemen, who have served faithfully, and made immeasurable sacrifices for our peace and security.
    1. a. I will therefore provide $200 in the form of LifeSG credits to all past and present national servicemen, including those enlisting this year. (See Annex G-1.)
    2. b. It is a small gesture, but when you add it all up, it will cost us $240 million and benefit 1.2 million national servicemen. I hope this will go some way in expressing our appreciation and gratitude to our national servicemen as well as their families for all that they have done, and will continue to do for our country.
  3. 125. In today’s world, defence and security apply not just in the physical environment, but also in the digital domain. Scams, ransomware, data breaches, denial of service, and other cyber threats have become increasingly commonplace. The development and adoption of new technologies like AI and quantum computing also change the threat landscape. Cyberattacks will increase in speed, scale, and sophistication.
  4. 126. We have taken steps to strengthen our cyber defence. We established the Digital and Intelligence Service in the SAF. We will establish a new National Cybersecurity Command Centre at the Punggol Digital District to better coordinate cyber defence operations, improve collaboration with industry and academia, and spur innovation in cybersecurity. This will improve our capabilities to monitor, detect, and coordinate our defences against cyber threats.

Safeguarding Energy Security Amidst the Energy Transition

  1. 127. Besides the conventional areas of security, we need to address an emerging security challenge – and that is energy, and more specifically the transition to cleaner energy.
  2. 128. In the near to medium term, natural gas, which currently generates almost all of our electricity, will remain critical.
    1. a. Our natural gas supplies come through pipelines from Malaysia and Indonesia, and in the form of liquefied natural gas (or LNG) from a range of sources.
    2. b. We are now planning to build a second LNG terminal to meet our growing electricity needs.
  3. 129. Natural gas is the cleanest of all fossil fuels. But we will not be able to achieve net zero if we continue to rely solely on natural gas. Unfortunately, we do not have many options for clean energy – we have no tidal power, no wind power, and not enough land for mass deployment of solar. So, what do we do?
    1. a. One way is to import low-carbon electricity.
    2. b. And we are making progress on this front.
    3. c. But there is a limit to importing electricity without compromising security. So we will need other options to decarbonise the rest of our energy supply.
  4. 130. And that is why we are actively exploring other options.
    1. a. Hydrogen has the potential as a clean fuel. For now, it is still technologically nascent, costly, and risky. Nevertheless, we have set out a National Hydrogen Strategy to take purposeful steps forward. We will start by testing and deploying ammonia, which is a hydrogen carrier, for power generation and bunkering on Jurong Island.
    2. b. We are also exploring other energy sources. We are actively studying the possibilities for geothermal power. After all, we do have a hot spring in Sembawang. But we will need very deep drilling to assess the potential, and it really remains to be seen if this will be viable.
    3. c. Further out in the future, we do not rule out nuclear power. Nuclear technologies are advancing rapidly, with smaller, safer, and more fuel-efficient designs. We will build up our capabilities, so that we can critically assess the evolving technologies in this space and decide on the feasibility of nuclear deployment one day in the future.
  5. 131. There is considerable uncertainty as to how all these energy pathways will work out. What is clear, however, is that significant effort and costs will be needed to transit from a system powered almost entirely by natural gas to one powered largely by clean energy.
    1. a. We say this is an “energy transition”. Transition is a rather innocuous word. But the scale of this so-called transition is massive, and we will need to get it done over the next two decades or so, which is not a lot of time, when you think about the enormity of the task.
    2. b. For example, to import low-carbon electricity, we will need to invest in submarine cables and upgrade our existing power grid. Or if we decide to scale up the use of hydrogen, we will need to put in place new infrastructure for generation, storage, and delivery. All of these investments will be costly. They cannot be done by the private sector alone, and will likely need some catalytic funding from the Government.
    3. c. I will therefore set up a Future Energy Fund with an initial injection of $5 billion. This will give us the confidence to invest in good time, put us in a better position to move quickly on critical infrastructure, and enhance our security in clean energy.

Building a United Nation

  1. 132. The resilience of our nation of course is not only measured by what we spend, or by our infrastructure and hardware. Rather, our true resilience lies within – in the strong bonds Singaporeans have forged among ourselves and in our collective willingness to take care of one another. Every Singaporean man, woman, and child knows he or she belongs to this island nation, everyone has a place in our society, each has a role to play in our unfolding Singapore story. That is the essence of Total Defence, which we commemorated for the 40th time yesterday.
  2. 133. We nurture these bonds between Singaporeans by strengthening our culture of giving.
    1. a. There are many who have done well in Singapore and they want to give back, but they may not know how or where to start.
    2. b. We will do more to help these donors better appreciate the needs of our society and advise them on how to more effectively direct their resources – financial or non-financial – to support lower-income families. This effort will be led by the Community Foundation of Singapore, in partnership with MSF and the Community Chest.
    3. c. In the same spirit, we want to encourage charities to work together to uplift each other and better meet the needs of their beneficiaries. I will do so by extending the Charities Capability Fund Collaboration Grant for three years till end-FY2026. This will support collaborative projects among charities to enhance their governance, efficiency, and capabilities.
  3. 134. Doing good also extends beyond our shores. Many Singaporeans readily step forward to support those affected by humanitarian crises overseas.
    1. a. We saw this in the relief efforts following the devasting earthquake in Türkiye and Syria last year; and also in the generous donations in response to the human tragedy arising from the Israel-Hamas conflict.
    2. b. To encourage Singaporeans to support those in need overseas, I will introduce an Overseas Humanitarian Assistance Tax Deduction Scheme. This will provide 100% tax deductions for cash donations made towards overseas emergency humanitarian assistance causes through designated charities. This will run for four years as a pilot scheme. (See Annex G-2.)
  4. 135. A stronger culture of giving will bind us closer together, and make us a more caring and gracious society.
  5. 136. Another way to strengthen our solidarity is through the common experiences we all partake in. And the arts and sports provide us with the platforms to do so.
  6. 137. Let me start with the arts. The arts help to express our unique Singaporean culture, strengthen our shared bonds, and make Singapore a distinctive home.
    1. a. The National Arts Council has refreshed Our SG Arts Plan to drive transformation efforts in the arts sector. We will support this plan by investing $100 million over the next four years.
    2. b. As part of this plan, we aim to make the arts more accessible to all Singaporeans. We will unlock more opportunities and touchpoints for our artists to infuse the arts everywhere in our city, and in our communities.
    3. c. The additional investments will also strengthen the foundation for a more vibrant arts industry. NAC will support arts groups to develop and showcase their diverse offerings as well as to strengthen our talent pool. Self-employed artists will also benefit from more development opportunities to broaden and deepen their skills.
  7. 138. Apart from the arts, there are few endeavours that can rally the country and ignite the Singapore spirit like sports. From the grassroots to the global stage, from community participation to high-performance, sports bring Singaporeans from all walks of life together.
  8. 139. At the grassroots level, we will enable more Singaporeans to participate in sports by continuing to support the Sports Facilities Master Plan. With this, Singaporeans can look forward to new and rejuvenated sports centres in Toa Payoh, Punggol, and Clementi, as well as more sports and recreational facilities in our neighbourhoods.
  9. 140. Many Singaporeans want to support our national athletes, and we will provide them with more platforms to do so.
  10. 141. We will anchor more major sports events in Singapore, so that our athletes can compete in top-tier competitions against the world’s best on home ground, and this will also allow more Singaporeans to cheer for Team Singapore.
  11. 142. We now have the One Team Singapore Fund, which provides dollar-for-dollar matching for donations towards Team Singapore athletes.
    1. a. I will provide a $20 million top-up for the One Team Singapore Fund and extend it till end-FY2027.
    2. b. In addition, I will broaden the scope of donations eligible for matching to cover athletes in emerging sports, like pickleball, tchoukball, and powerlifting. I will also include SportCares, which provides opportunities for vulnerable children and youth, persons with disabilities, and seniors to participate in sporting programmes.
  12. 143. The Minister for Culture, Community, and Youth will share more about our arts and sports initiatives at the COS.
  13. 144. Sir, everywhere in the world, we see societies becoming increasingly divided, and nations becoming more and more fragile. Economic growth or social transfers alone cannot guarantee that we succeed.
  14. 145. This Budget therefore invests in our national resilience – from ensuring the effectiveness of our military and domestic security, to safeguarding our energy security and building a stronger national identity. These will shield us from external threats and the forces that threaten to pull us apart. Only then can we be confident that Singapore will endure.