Condolence Letter on the Passing of LG (Ret) Ng Jui Ping
PM Lee Hsien Loong wrote to Mdm Esther Ng to express condolences on the passing of her husband LG (Ret) Ng Jui Ping
Ho Ching and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of your beloved husband, LG (Ret) Ng Jui Ping. Please accept our deepest condolences to you and your family.
Jui Ping joined the army in 1966, when we were just starting to create the SAF. He belonged to the inaugural batch of commissioned officers trained in SAFTI – the “SAFTI First Batch”. As he often related to friends, he decided to sign on after seeing an advertisement, thinking that military life would be glamorous. Unfortunately, the gruelling officer cadet training was a lot harder going than he had assumed. But from that somewhat unpromising start, Jui Ping went on to dedicate the next 30 years of his life to the defence of our country.
As one of our pioneer SAF officers, Jui Ping played a major role in building up the SAF, and putting the organisation on sound foundations. Like many in the first batch who proved themselves, Jui Ping was quickly assigned to important staff and command positions in the growing SAF. What he may have lacked in experience he more than made up for in application, resourcefulness, and natural ability.
Perhaps one of Jui Ping’s most important contributions was to help set the right culture and tone of the SAF. This was critical for a new organisation, whose values were still plastic and not fully formed. Jui Ping was totally committed to the SAF and Singapore. He upheld strict discipline in the units he commanded, and led by example. He was highly professional, applying himself thoroughly to master the intricacies of his jobs, first in the artillery, then later in the General Staff, as a combined arms division commander, and finally as Chief of Defence Force (CDF). He transmitted these values to the next generation of SAF officers, who built on them and carried the torch forward. This enabled the SAF to become the capable and respected force that it is today.
I speak from personal knowledge, as I had the privilege of serving under and alongside Jui Ping at several points in our military careers. I first got to know him in 1973, in my first posting to the School of Artillery to command a platoon of recruits. Jui Ping was the Commanding Officer of the School, one of the youngest COs in the SAF, then aged 26. The SAF Scholarship had just been introduced to infuse talent into the armed services. I was one of the first batch of SAF scholars. The idea of putting scholars into the SAF was a radical one. It was not yet clear whether it would work, and whether the scholars would be accepted by the old guard.
Jui Ping was not a scholar himself. But he had the self-confidence and commitment to take me under his wing, guide and mentor me, and give me his strong support. He did the same with other promising young officers who came under his charge. He understood and accepted that as the SAF grew in size, range, and sophistication, it urgently needed to expand its talent pool at all levels. This was the only way the SAF could master the hardware, tactics, and strategy to get to the next level, and fulfil its mission of keeping Singapore safe. He was convinced that each generation of SAF officers had to be stronger and more capable than the previous ones, and that his duty was to help train and induct such a new generation of officers.
Later Jui Ping and I worked very closely together in the General Staff. LG (Ret) Winston Choo, then a Brigadier General, was the Chief of General Staff. Over three years from 1981 to 1984, we built up new SAF units, developed operational doctrines, started working on army, air force, and navy cooperation, and conducted field and command post exercises to test out and refine our ideas. Jui Ping was logical in his approach, articulate in advancing arguments and analysing problems. He was a team player who worked well with his General Staff colleagues. We discussed and argued about everything, candidly and thoroughly, in order to make the best decision for the SAF and for Singapore. I was happy that he went on to command a division, and to become our first locally trained CDF. He fulfilled both appointments with distinction.
After retiring from the SAF in 1995, Jui Ping became an entrepreneur. This was perhaps unsurprising, as he was always full of ideas, and dynamic and decisive in temperament. Even while in the private sector, Jui Ping continued to serve Singapore in varied roles. He was Deputy Chairman of the Central Provident Fund Board. He was also Chairman of Chartered Industries of Singapore Pte Ltd, as well as advisor to Singapore Technologies and ST Engineering. Jui Ping also received several National Day Awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal (Military) in 1995.
Through all the changes in career and life, Jui Ping and I kept in touch. He would update me on the lives of those in the first batch, with whom he had formed lifelong friendships. Jui Ping called me when he learnt about his diagnosis a few months ago. He knew what it meant, but was calm and rational as always, seeking full and objective assessments from his doctors, and thinking ahead to make arrangements for his family. When I met him for lunch in October, we talked about many other things. Despite his illness, his interest in the world and Singapore was undiminished.
I am deeply saddened today, not just because Singapore has lost one of its true sons, but also because I have lost a dear comrade and friend.
LEE HSIEN LOONG
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