SAF Day 2023 Message from Minister Indranee Rajah

PMO Ministers | 30 June 2023

Transcript of speech by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Finance and Second Minister for National Development Indranee Rajah at the 2023 SAF Day Combined Re-dedication Ceremony on 30 June 2023.


Mr Kurt Wee, President of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises

Mr Dainial Lim, Organising Chairman for the SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony (North/Northeast Zone)

Rear Admiral Sean Wat, Chief of Navy, Republic of Singapore Navy

Mr Peter Lam, Principal and CEO, Temasek Polytechnic

Distinguished Guests
Ladies and gentlemen

I am honoured to join you for today’s SAF Day Combined Rededication Ceremony.

In 1965 when we became an independent republic we faced an uncertain world and there were moments when our very existence as a nation was at stake. Today, 58 years on, we are a stable and secure country with international recognition on the global stage and our sovereignty is respected.

This position has been hard won and it is due in no small part to the SAF. The SAF is the bulwark of our defence, without which our short history might be very different. What we have as a nation - our economic growth, our diplomatic space, our social development - has been achieved only because the SAF is there - providing the assurance of defence to uphold our sovereignty and the shield that allows us to exercise our right of self-determination.

At the same time, however, SAF Day is not only about looking back, but also about looking forward. This includes thinking hard about how we can continue to secure our future in a changing world.

The post World War II geopolitical structures which had kept global peace and security for many decades is changing. The world has entered a new era of geopolitical contestation. The Russia-Ukraine war has changed the security landscape in Europe. The rising tensions between the US and China is a source of concern with Taiwan being a potential flashpoint. The asymmetrical threat of terrorism has not gone away though they have been somewhat overshadowed by these two more immediate issues.

Against this backdrop MINDEF and the SAF must remain vigilant and prepared. They must invest in our capabilities and our personnel to maintain a future-ready defence force.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has given us a glimpse of how the wars of tomorrow will be fought.

While the heavy tanks and artillery of yesteryear were deployed we have also seen the new ways of war e.g. drones, new types of armour, air defence systems v missiles, the need for fully integrated services and cyber warfare.

The SAF has taken active steps to transform its capabilities and has made good progress on this front with:

- advancements and investments in all services, and in particular the newly formed DIS;
- Strengthening industry partnerships for innovation and use of commercial capabilities.

But as everyone knows, defence is not just about military hardware. More than anything it is about heart and will. All military leaders will tell you that beyond materiel and weaponry, morale and commitment make a huge difference.

Morale and commitment comes about only when you know what you are fighting for. When you believe in what you are fighting for.

It is our values and the things that we hold dear that drive us. The ability to live in peacefully and with freedom, and the right to chart our own course and determine our own future are among the most precious things a nation can have. We have had these blessings for so long that it may seem inconceivable to some that things could ever be otherwise. But complacency is the greatest pitfall.

So I urge all to be aware, and to stay updated and acquainted with the affairs of the world. Follow and reflect on what is happening elsewhere and think about our circumstances and what lessons we can draw in the context of defence and security.

I also urge all to support and show appreciation to the SAF for what they do, keeping us safe and also earning us trust and respect from others.

Finally I also encourage everyone to do their part. Not all of us can be in the armed forces. But as we know, our approach is not just military defence but Total Defence - military, civil, economic, social, psychological and now also digital. With these 6 pillars everyone can play a part.

Singapore’s greatest strength is and has always been our people and our unity. In the last 3 years we fought a different type of war and the enemy was Covid 19. But we came through because we all pulled together as one. It is that same resilience and sense of common purpose that we must bring to national defence.

Today as we commemorate SAF Day, let us remember that and rededicate ourselves to ensuring that Singapore stays safe, peaceful and secure, for this and future generations.