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28 Feb 2019  (673 Views) 
Ministry of Finance

Budget 2019 - National Defence
Here are my views about budget 2019 on national defense. National defense is important for Singapore. We should put adequate resources on national defense but not excessive resources at the expense of other social and economic needs.

Do you agree?

National Defense
We now spend $15.5 billion a year on defense. The backbone of our defense strategy is an active reservist force of 1 million trained soldiers.

We require our male citizens to serve two years of full time national service to be followed by ten years of active reservist training.

Apart from this high cost, we require our male citizens to spend about 30 months of their lives over a period of 12 years. This is a heavy burden on their time. It impacts their careers and delay their marriage and starting a family. A high proportion do not get married.

In recent months seen many death of NS men and reservists during training.  

I want to state clearly that, like most Singaporeans, I consider our national defense as very important. As a small country, we need a strong and adequate defense capability. We need to protect our sovereignty against bigger countries that try to bully us.

But we need to discuss the question of what is adequate. Do we need an active reservist force of 1 million people? Would a smaller number be adequate?

Do we need to spend $15.5 billion a year on our defense?

How much are other countries spending on their defense? How big is their military force?

Our defense needs should also be kept up to date with the times. We face different challenges in 2019, compared to the challenges when we became independent in 1965.

Our relationship with our neighboring countries have changed over the past decades. They have also change their national priorities and their approach towards military matters. They have their own challenges to addresses.

I met someone in his 50s. He was a NS officer during his years of active service. His son has started to serve full time NS.

The father told me that he was found that his son was being trained by NS officers and NCOs of about his same age. During his time, he was trained by regular soldiers.

The father objected to the new method of training NS recruits by young inexperienced NS officers and NCOs. Being around the same age as the recruits, they do not have the experience to judge the physical and mental capability of the recruits.

I wonder if this is the reason for the high number of deaths during training in recent years? Is this a good way to train our NS recruits?

I have carried out some research into the military strength and budget of several countries that are suitable as models for Singapore. Based on this research, I conclude that we DO NOT need a defense budget of $15.5 billion and to take away 30 months from our male citizens.

We need to review our defense strategy. We should not continue to pour in so much resources that exceeds our actual needs. We have other social and economic priorities to consider as well.

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