Singapore Government

3-STATION IPPT FROM 1 APR 2015

The annual fitness test is set to become simpler with less stations, and easier to train for with the new format announced by Chief of Army Major-General Perry Lim.

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29 Jul 2014, 2300 hours (GMT +8)
It was at a recruitment talk during Basic Military Training that 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) Bryan Lim was introduced to the idea of being a naval officer. The vision of him being the captain of a warship captivated him so much that he decided to sign on with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). Besides the nature of the job, which entailed sailing and going on missions, the 20-year-old also felt that the purpose of the SAF also resonated strongly with him because the SAF is vital for Singapore's survival. The eldest of three siblings, who will go on to read International Relations at Tufts University in Boston, United States, is looking forward to the day when he commands his own ship. I want to be a commander whom everybody on the ship, regardless of rank, won't be afraid to bring up any concerns. You may be the lowest-ranking personnel on the ship, but you won’t be shy to suggest changes because you know that the captain believes in you and your captain is open to new ideas. 2LT Lim was among the six recipients who received the prestigious SAF Overseas Scholarship (SAFOS) from Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen at the Istana on 29 Jul. In his speech to the scholars, Dr Ng said: As scholarship recipients, much is expected from you. There is one essential aspect that you must personally be responsible for and cannot delegate - that of personal integrity and trust. The organisation and the public will look to you to embody and uphold the highest standards of integrity and devotion to duty while serving MINDEF and the SAF. Apart from the six SAFOS recipients, 18 were awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship (SMS) and seven received the Defence Merit Scholarship (DMS). The SAFOS, SMS and DMS were introduced in 1971, 1983, and 2002 respectively to recruit top students into the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the SAF. SAFOS and SMS recipients return to the SAF after completing their studies to assume a variety of challenging appointments that will groom them for senior command and leadership positions. Similarly, DMS recipients will return as Defence Executive Officers and be groomed for senior management positions. Fellow SAFOS recipient Officer Cadet (OCT) Richard Kwek looks forward to the day when he can fly his own fighter plane to contribute to the defence of Singapore. A trip on a C-130 transport aircraft during an internship programme with MINDEF in his junior college days cemented his decision to sign on with the Republic of Singapore Air Force to be a pilot. Said the 19-year-old who will go on study Law at University College London: As I looked out of the window at the country, I thought to myself, this is home. This is home for me, and I really feel that I want to use my life to defend this country. For SMS recipient Lieutenant (LTA) Tinaesrupan A Jagadessan, receiving the scholarship was not the easiest of all journeys as his parents separated when he was in Primary 6. As such, he was left a lot to his own devices and made a lot of mistakes. The 22-year-old had chosen to repeat his first year of junior college when he fared less than ideally. To him, it was one of the best decisions he made in his life, as his original results could have cost him his scholarship. I always tell my men, if you want to do something, do it well. That's one of my principles in life, said the Armoured Infantry Officer. LTA Tinaesrupan, who will go on to read Engineering at the University of Cambridge, also hopes to motivate his men through his childhood experiences. When my men come to me, one of my higher priorities is to make sure that they have a fulfilling NSF life… And I think it's nice to be sort of a bigger brother to them when they need help. Similarly, OCT Zara Toh hopes to bring her personal touch to her future appointment in the Guards formation and also, to get to know her men better and ensure that they have a positive NS experience. The 19-year-old chose a career with the SAF because she did not want a desk-bound job and loved that the SAF environment was both physically challenging and mentally demanding. She will be leaving for her studies in Liberal Arts at New York University after completing her Guards Conversion Course and Officer Cadet Commissioning in early 2015. While most people have the impression that one has to be in uniform to contribute to MINDEF and the SAF, Ms Jessie Lim thinks otherwise. The DMS recipient, who will specialise in Psychology at University College London, hopes to contribute to the Defence Psychology Department when she returns from her studies. One of her aspirations is to use psychology to maximise the potential of every individual in the SAF. The award ceremony was also attended by senior officials from MINDEF and the SAF, members of the Public Service Commission, in-service scholars and parents of the recipients
26 Jul 2014, 1900 hours (GMT +8)
Toa Payoh has a different feel this weekend as the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) celebrates its 45th anniversary in the bustling residential town. The event at Toa Payoh kicks off the series of RSAF45@Heartlands exhibitions over four weekends from 26 Jul to 31 Aug. If you have ever fancied yourself a pilot or just wanted to get up close to some of the cool machines the Air Force uses to defend Singapore's skies, this series of exhibitions is for you. After its two-day run at the Toa Payoh HDB Hub, it will move to Jurong East (16 to 17 Aug), Sengkang (23 to 24 Aug) and Yishun (30 to 31 Aug). Some of the hardware on display are the Hermes 450 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Ground-Based Air Defence (GBAD) weapons systems such as the Surface-to-Air PYthon and DERby missile system and RBS-70 GBAD system on board a V200 vehicle. The RSAF45@Heartlands series of exhibitions was launched by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen on 26 Jul. At the exhibition, Dr Ng spoke to servicemen and women who were involved in the RSAF's round-the-clock air defence operations and search-and-rescue missions. Also at the exhibition was Minister of State for Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman. When asked why the RSAF decided to celebrate its 45th anniversary this way, Deputy Chairman of the RSAF45@Heartlands executive committee Colonel (COL) Randy Ong said: We thought it was a good idea to bring the Air Force to the heartlands to celebrate our significant milestones with fellow Singaporeans. It's also an opportunity for Singaporeans to better understand our capabilities and our people behind the scenes who work to safeguard our skies, added COL Ong, who is Commander Paya Lebar Air Base. The exhibits are split into three segments. The first is a historical showcase which explains the RSAF's transformation over the past 45 years. The second offers hands-on experience, featuring the operational capabilities of the 3rd Generation RSAF. It is here that visitors can try their hands at the flying simulators and aviation-related games. cyberpioneer spotted father-and-son pair Wilson Neo, 41, and six-year-old Zachary at this section. Said Mr Neo: Exhibitions like this are good! We get to see our forces up close. Seeing the equipment we have makes me confident in our Air Force's capabilities. The exhibition also reminded Mr Neo that the RSAF, like the larger Singapore Armed Forces, is made up of many Singaporeans like himself. I bumped into a friend who was manning his system here with his National Service unit! said the financial services director, who saw defence as not just the job of Regulars, but all those who serve NS. The NSman friend whom Mr Ng bumped into was Major (MAJ) (NS) Ronald Cheong, an insurance consultant, who serves as Deputy Commanding Officer of the 6th Divisional Air Defence Battalion. When asked why he was making time to take part in the series of exhibitions, he said: It's to show the public that NSmen, too, are committed to defence…. (and) also to re-live the camaraderie with my NS mates, many of whom I have known for more than 10 years! Visitors to the exhibitions can speak to airmen and women who will share their experiences in multinational operations such as reconstruction missions in Afghanistan, and humanitarian efforts in the wake of the recent Typhoon Haiyan. One of these airmen at the Toa Payoh exhibition is 3rd Sergeant (NS) Manesh s/o Rangarajan. The 25-year-old Full-time National Serviceman was deployed in the relief operations in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. He said: Being able to share my experience with other Singaporeans is a privilege for me, and it's a good opportunity to tell people what we did there. One of these experiences I like to tell people is the time when five of us unloaded 150 heavy sacks of rice (for the typhoon victims). We just had to do it ourselves due to lack of manpower, said 3SG Manesh who is a Load Specialist at Paya Lebar Air Base.
25 Jul 2014, 1000 hours (GMT +8)
From selling chickens and cleaning linen to being the Chief Executive of Cathay, Mr Suhaimi Rafdi has done it all. Despite his success, he has always kept himself grounded. Looking at his well-tailored suit, confident posture at the head of the table in a large conference room and the Starbucks coffee in his hands, you would never have guessed that the current Chief Executive of Cathay Organisation was once a counter boy at KFC. Through his stories, it was clear that the father of four - of whom two are adopted - has a soft spot for people. With a smile, he recounted his previous job as a Housekeeping Manager at Singapore General Hospital; he taught ah-mas how to clean up bedpans properly, and won their hearts by being patient and even teaching them how to read with pictorial cards. Those moments of nostalgia quickly flew by as he moved on to talk about how he was, by a stroke of luck (and some skill of course!), headhunted by Cathay at the age of 28. I thrive under pressure, said the 46-year-old. And the glow on his face was the evidence. It's been six years since he held the Cathay chief position and he is still going strong. Here's his rags-to-riches story. PNR: In Cathay, you had to make changes to the organisational structure on the ground which involved the older generation. How did you deal with that? It's all about good communication and being very above board. I had to tell them firmly: My job is to make changes. It might strain our relationship but I want to let you know that it’s not personal and I hope that you can respect the decisions and changes that I want to make. If you are with me on this, stay on. But if you are not, the doors are not closed. I also had to lead by example. Burning hours in the office during those first few years of the job was crucial. I also made sure that while we worked hard, we played hard too. Whenever we did well, I would give them little treats, such as staff lunches, which they treasured very much. What have you learnt about people management over the years? That I have to be very, very patient and have lots of perseverance. Even today, 60 percent of my time is dedicated to people management. Your own work can be fairly easy, but without them (other people), you can’t do the job. And when you have people from diverse backgrounds with all sorts of attitudes and characters, you have to juggle them and know when to control and when to let go. You were a Corporal during your National Service (NS) days. What was your NS experience like? Punctuality, transparency and integrity are key elements that I picked up during NS. That was also when I learnt the consequences of not doing things right the first time. Because I got married at 18 and had a family to feed, I was already disciplined to a certain extent. NS toughened me up. It gave me the extra discipline that I needed to have in my daily work. What I also found rewarding was the cohesion and camaraderie. Back then, it was already about team building - that everything was not about me or you, but we as a group. As a member of the CSNS (Committee to Strengthen NS) working group, what are your personal views on NS? We have a good defence system in place and I think what the Government is trying to do is see this through with continuity and ensure that there are no lapses. For example, one of the ideas that came up during the discussions was to hire more Regulars to train soldiers more efficiently and effectively. Your eldest son is 26 and has already completed his full-time NS. What advice did you give to your son when he enlisted? I told my son to try to get things right the first time and don’t be too much of a smart aleck. Be a team-player, don't be aloof or try to be Mr Smart Guy and try to win over everybody. Discipline and teamwork are important, so learn everything in camp and make the best of it. As for my four-year-old son, I think it's going to be his elder brother who will advise him. I will have lost touch by the time he enlists! Your story has inspired many. What kind of advice would you give to them? There's no glass ceiling in any organisation unless you perceive as such. Race or culture is not an issue. What we're looking for is the individual's capabilities. How would I have known that Cathay does not have a glass ceiling (other than by) working really, really hard?
24 Jul 2014, 1800 hours (GMT +8)
Singaporean males who have National Service (NS) obligations can start hitting the floor, as push-ups will be included in the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) from next year. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has announced that the IPPT will be simplified to a three-station test format (instead of the current five-station one). Speaking to local media on the changes to IPPT on 23 Jul, Chief of Army Major-General (MG) Perry Lim said: Physical fitness is a personal responsibility and we want our NSmen to take ownership of their physical fitness. We will introduce a simpler IPPT format with fewer stations so that our servicemen can train for IPPT on their own without the need for specialised equipment. Our NSmen can even adopt the new IPPT format for their routine exercise. Push-ups aside, the other two stations will be familiar to Singaporean males. Sit-ups and the 2.4km will remain in the new IPPT format. It tests soldiers on upper body strength (push-ups), abdominal strength (sit-ups) and lower body strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness (2.4km run). Holistic fitness programme The new IPPT format fits in well with the SAF's holistic fitness programme. Explaining the move, MG Lim said: Over the past two years, we have implemented a revised combat fitness training and test regime for our soldiers. The SAF builds up the combat fitness of its soldiers through the Standard Obstacle Course, Vocational Obstacle Course (VOC) and Vocation-Related Exercises (VREs). The VOC and VREs were implemented two years ago. Regular route marches and field exercises also help develop the SAF soldier's combat fitness. Having implemented an effective combat fitness regime, we think it is timely for us to review our IPPT, which is a test of physical fitness, said MG Lim. Selected SAF units - active and NS units - will take part in a pilot implementation programme from September to November this year to determine how best to administer the new format. At least 3,000 servicemen and women of different vocations and age-groups will be involved in this pilot phase. Following the three-month pilot, the new IPPT format will be used across the entire SAF for both active servicemen and NSmen from 1 April 2015. The transition will be gradual, said MG Lim. We are prepared to give NSmen an option to do the existing five-station format or the new format for one to two years after April next year. The changes focus squarely on fitness and less on the method used to measure fitness, said MG Lim. He said: The fitness of our soldiers is essential to the operational readiness of the SAF. Our active service personnel and NSmen need to be fit to perform the tasks that we give them as soldiers. Our servicemen will still need to train to pass IPPT. To achieve Gold and Silver will be just as challenging as before. Easier to train for IPPT For Operationally Ready National Servicemen like Captain (NS) Lim Seow Lye, the simplified IPPT format makes it easier for him to train for the annual test. I can easily train for the two static stations at home, he said. The old five-station IPPT requires equipment to train for, such as pull-up bars and space for exercises such as the Standing Broad Jump. Like many NSmen, the 34-year-old juggles work, family and NS commitments. CPT (NS) Lim is a manager at Certis Cisco and serves in an NS Guards unit. Being able to train for his IPPT even at home is a benefit for him. That way, my wife won't nag that I leave her alone to manage the kid and housework! he laughed. Said Senior Lieutenant Colonel (SLTC) (NS) Bervyn Lee, commander of an NS brigade: The numbers tell it; if I had to train for three stations instead of five, it would be easier to train for. SLTC (NS) Lee holds a PhD in Sports and Exercise Psychology, and is a member of the SAF fitness advisory board. He added: To do well in the three stations still requires effort. (And) we shouldn't allow three or five stations to define our fitness… We shouldn't need the SAF or anyone to tell us that we should only be fit for these items. My fitness is mine and mine alone to take care of. Simpler scoring system The scoring system will also change to a simpler format. Soldiers will earn points for their performance in each of the three stations. The entire IPPT will be scored upon a maximum of 100 points. This way, soldiers can make up through more sit-ups, if they are weak in push-ups and running, or vice versa. There's a limit to how much you can make up, but I like this counting system because it encourages NSmen to max out on each station and it plays to the individual's strengths. said Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen in a Facebook post on 23 Jul. Though the scoring system has been simplified, soldiers will still need to train for IPPT. Said CPT (NS) Lim: Although there is a reduction in the number of stations, it's not easier to pass. Every station has a certain level of difficulty; if you don't train regularly it will be hard to pass. The 2.4km run carries the heaviest weightage. Soldiers can potentially score up to 50 points. Push-ups and sit-ups carry a maximum of 25 points each. For NSmen the magic number is 51. That's the number of points they need to pass the new IPPT format. For Full-time National Servicemen and Regulars, the bar is set higher at 61 points. They are held to a higher passing standard because fitness training is incorporated into their work and training routine. Different standards for different ages Age-categories have also been re-looked and shortened. Instead of five-year bands, Servicemen will now be held to different physical fitness standards every three years. The new age category system is more sensitive to the effects of age on physical fitness, said MG Lim. For example, an NSman within the 34 to 36 age group will need to perform 35 push-ups in a minute for 20 points, 35 sit-ups in a minute for 20 points and run 2.4km in 10mins 40secs for 41 points. This gives him a total of 81 points which qualifies him for the IPPT Gold award. For elite units in the SAF such as the Commandos, naval divers and Guardsmen, the bar for IPPT Gold is a minimum of 85 points.
23 Jul 2014, 2300 hours (GMT +8)
Transitioning from the life of a soldier to that of a student is no easy feat when one has been in service for more than two decades. But 43-year-old Military Expert (ME) 4 Ng See Lye, a 27-year veteran with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), readily took up the challenge to attend the Military Domain Experts Course (MDEC), excelling in it, and eventually receiving the Sword of Honour. The Deputy Officer Commanding of Logistics Flight in 149 Squadron received the Sword of Honour from Second Minister for Defence Chan Chun Sing at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Senior Military Experts Appointment Ceremony at SAFTI Military Institute on 23 Jul. He was appointed Senior ME, along with 90 other servicemen and women. The appointment ceremony marked the completion of the seventh MDEC, where the MEs acquired in-depth expertise in their respective fields. The training enables them to develop their leadership competency, deepen their military domain knowledge, and hone their specialised skills. They will then move on to assume command or staff appointments in their professional areas. This was the largest graduating cohort since the inaugural ceremony in 2011. The graduands comprised 51 MEs from the RSAF, 14 from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN), 12 from the Army, and 14 from Joint. In his speech, Mr Chan had these words of advice for the newly-appointed Senior MEs: Lead your men with conviction and with heart. Take care of them through thick and thin, in good times and in bad. He said: There will be many challenges ahead of you, and we will never be able to know what will happen in the future. You may be called upon to undergo operations in which you have never been trained before. You must never, never fear, or shirk your responsibility to take care of your men to the best of your ability under your charge. These words resonated with ME4 Ng, who had taken the initiative to organise sessions to share his experiences with trainees who had just signed on with the SAF. He said: We should not just receive, but we should give back to the organisation (by sharing knowledge and experience with others). This cohort also saw the oldest graduand of the MDEC to date. But to ME4 Elangovan s/o Palaniappan, 55, from the RSAF, age was just a number, and did not hold him back. Slightly apprehensive at first about attending an academic course, he persevered and scored well in the course. Describing one of the highlights of the MEDC for him, ME4 Elangovan, said: We had this opportunity whereby all the branch heads and commanding officers came to give us lectures. Their perspectives and insights are broader, and it was a rare learning opportunity. Navy graduand, ME4 Joyce Tan agreed that the sharing by senior commanders yielded many learning points. The Combat Systems Engineer on board Landing Ship Tank RSS Persistence also credited the course with giving her a deeper and broader understanding of the systems under her purview. For Army graduand, ME4 Chen Kee Wui, the course had given him a better understanding of his role, and the knowledge gained would be invaluable. He said: I think the biggest objective (of the course) was to give us the width as well as the depth of understanding. He is the first through-trained military expert, holding the appointment of Brigade Sergeant Major of 3rd Division Support Command - a post traditionally held by warrant officers. Said ME4 Chen: Previously, from the through-trained perspective, we were more used to the day-to-day maintenance of equipment. When we moved on to attend the MDEC and become Senior MEs, we realised there was more to it. For example, equipment life cycle management must be taken into consideration. Also present at the ceremony were Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral (RADM) Ng Chee Peng, Chief of Air Force Major-General (MG) Hoo Cher Mou, senior SAF officers, as well as families and friends of the graduands.
21 Jul 2014, 1030 hours (GMT +8)
With tight deadlines, hectic travels and endless coffee runs being the norm in the PIONEER office, things can get pretty intense. Maybe that's why the editor thought it was a good idea for journalist Benita Teo to pick up CPR and AED skills. I've never been known for my heart-stopping good looks. That must be why my colleagues sent me to learn to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use an automated external defibrillator (AED). It's a face they can safely wake up to after they pengsan (Malay for faint). Although I'd heard about CPR and AED, I always thought they could be carried out only by trained medical professionals. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how simple and unintimidating CPR and defibrillation were to perform. At the one-day course conducted by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Medical Corps, the instructors explained that the first four to six minutes of a cardiac arrest were the most crucial: This is the amount of time the brain could be starved of oxygen before damage occurs. Hence, there is no time for hesitation or being paiseh (Hokkien for shy or embarrassed) when it comes to saving lives. After a demonstration by the instructors, we were introduced to our training partners - the CPR dummies. I named mine Lars. Going in for the save As Lars had collapsed from a cardiac arrest, it was now up to me to keep him alive until help arrived. Kneeling beside him, I tapped him hard on the shoulders to determine that he had fallen unconscious and was not merely asleep. With Lars, it was difficult to tell. A quick check showed that he had stopped breathing. I knew I had to lean in for the save - with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Quite a mouthful In my mind, I imagined that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation would be a romantic affair; that he would awaken as I breathed life into him, our destinies intertwined forever... In reality, it was like trying to blow up a soggy, wet balloon with a big, gaping puncture. And it sounded the same too. Worse still, no air was entering Lars' lungs. My confidence was coming undone, flapping miserably in the wind like his deflated lungs. But with Lars' life in my hands - or rather, mouth - I had to soldier on. Opening my mouth wide while pinching his nose, I took a deep breath, clamped my lips over his and exhaled. And Lars' chest finally heaved. Victorious, I proceeded with chest compressions. Pressing my full weight down repeatedly on a human being's chest seemed like a terrifying endeavour. However, the instructors assured us that the ribcage was strong enough to protect our most vital organ. Shock through the heart At this point, the AED came into play. With the accompanying bag of essential tools, I was able to cut away Lars' jacket, shave off the excess hair from his chest and dry his perspiration. Only then could I apply the sticky electronic pads on his chest. The good thing about the AED was that it analyses the victim's heart rhythm and instructs the first-aider on the next course of action. With one pad below his right collarbone and the other under his left nipple, I leaned back and awaited the AED's instructions. When the AED recommended a shock to be administered, all I had to do was press the shock button. Also, because a passing electric current could be fatal to a normal heart, I had to remember to keep my hands off Lars to prevent a Wile E. Coyote situation. After the first shock, the AED began monitoring Lars' heartbeat again. Luckily for Lars, his heart had started beating and he was breathing. I moved him into a recovery position and waited for the ambulance. My final job was to report to the medics the time I found him unconscious and the number of shocks I administered before delivering him into their capable hands. A good save Going through the course, I could see why these life-saving skills are taught to every recruit in the SAF. When training and operating in remote locations without ready access to comprehensive medical services, CPR and defibrillation can buy a buddy the few precious minutes needed for help to arrive. Even for me, I'll never know when I could be called upon to use my new skills to save a life. So, would you like my face to be the first thing you see when you come back to life? OH COME ON, GIVE A GIRL A CHANCE.
20 Jul 2014, 2200 hours (GMT +8)
About nine months ago when Second Lieutenant (2LT) Fionne Lai first stepped into the door of Officer Cadet School (OCS) at SAFTI MI, she was a very different person. Before signing on as a Regular Signals officer, 2LT Lai had been a primary school teacher. She is the head of her household as her father had passed away and her mother was working overseas. On why she wanted to join the military, 2LT Lai cited the need to take care of her younger sister, and her passion for teaching and inspiring the younger generation. She added: I was looking for a different kind of challenge, and I realised that it (being in the Army) not only tested my mental capabilities, but also pushed my limits physically. She was one of 553 officer cadets who were commissioned as officers in a parade held at SAFTI Military Institute on 20 Jul. The reviewing officer for the parade was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam. 2LT Lai, who will be posted to 12th Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence battalion, hopes to lead the men and women under her by example, using her experiences within the Officer Cadet Course (OCC) to become a better leader. Mr Shanmugaratnam had a similar hope for the newly commissioned officers, stating in his speech: As a commander, you will have a role to play in helping your men understand and internalise the importance of National Service. Our soldiers come from all walks of life and bring with them different expectations and perspectives. As their leader, train them well and build them into a cohesive fighting force. Show them that they have something precious worth defending. Lead by example and uphold the highest standards of discipline and professionalism. This message resonated strongly with Sword of Honour recipient 2LT Lam Mun Yuan, who will be a Logistics officer in 1st Transport Battalion. What attracted 2LT Lam to sign on was the opportunity to participate in national events such as the National Day Parade, and Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief operations. All these events are opportunities where you get to be part of the planning or organising team, said 2LT Lam. It allows you to gain a lot of eye-opening experiences...because working on the ground with different people and different organisations is not something that comes easily. Looking back on the previous 38 weeks, Ground-Based Air Defence officer 2LT Sim Jing En noted that completing the OCC was no easy feat. One of the initial challenges that 2LT Sim faced was his poor physical fitness. He said: My friends were always there to push me, telling me not to give up and to keep going. That small little motivation and small little push eventually helped me to maintain my discipline. This experience has motivated 2LT Sim to be the best leader that he can be. The Sword of Honour recipient, who will be heading to the 3rd Divisional Air Defence Artillery Battalion, said: I will do for them (the men under my command) what my friends have done for me, in terms of pushing them beyond their limits, to make sure they can achieve greater things.
20 Jul 2014, 2130 hours (GMT +8)
Singapore may only be celebrating her 50th birthday next year, but one special birthday present came early - in the form of a panoramic drawing of its iconic skyline. What makes the present even more special is that the picture was hand-drawn by renowned British architectural artist Stephen Wiltshire, who reproduced the entire 4m-by-1m drawing from memory after aerially viewing the city just once. The drawing was commissioned by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) to commemorate its 30th anniversary and will be formally presented to President Tony Tan Keng Yam in September as a 50th birthday gift to the nation. Mr Wiltshire, 40, is a savant with exceptional talents in the areas of music, art and memory, and has sketched panoramas of cities such as New York and Hong Kong. On 14 Jul, he was invited on board a Republic of Singapore Air Force Super Puma helicopter to get an aerial view of the Marina Bay area. During the hour-long ride, Mr Wiltshire, accompanied by his sister Annette, sat silently as the helicopter circled Singapore's south-eastern tip. Occasionally, he would request for the pilot to slow down to allow him to better soak in the sights. When asked how he enjoyed the ride, Mr Wiltshire replied that it was great and exciting to see Singapore from the air. I really like the high-rise buildings and skyscrapers. Marina Bay Sands is one of my favourites. I (will) go back to my hotel room later and plan how I will draw the view tomorrow, he explained of his sketching process. I can just see the details in my head, no problem at all, he added. Following five days of drawing at the atrium of Paragon shopping centre (where an exhibition of his artworks was held), Mr Wiltshire's masterpiece was finally complete. The finished art piece was unveiled this evening at the completion ceremony held at Paragon shopping centre, which was graced by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister of Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Head of SG50 Programme office. The art piece will be displayed at the Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore City Gallery until its formal presentation to President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
18 Jul 2014, 2100 hours (GMT +8)
The Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) operational capabilities are set to receive a boost with the pioneer batch of Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) volunteers who have graduated as senior Military Experts (MEs). Twenty-two NSmen from the first cohort of the new Expertise Conversion Scheme (ECS) have successfully completed their initial phase of training, and attained the rank of ME4 (Apprentice) (NS), or ME4 (A) (NS). The ECS allows NSmen, who have completed their National Service (NS) cycles and with the appropriate expertise, to volunteer in areas such as law, medicine, psychology, engineering, info-communications and ship operations. They can continue to contribute to the SAF and take on roles such as legal advisers as well as nursing, dental and radiography officers. The pioneer batch comprises 14 senior MEs from the Republic of Singapore Navy and eight from the Singapore Army. The graduation ceremony, held at Temasek Club on 18 Jul, marked the completion of their first two training components, which provided them with specialisation training and military leadership education. The newly-appointed Senior MEs will go for at least two years of On-Job-Training for their final training component. Upon completion, they will be given the rank of ME4 (NS). At the ceremony, Brigadier General (BG) (NS) Tung Yui Fai, Director for National Service Affairs, commended the graduands for their commitment and dedication. Tonight, I am convinced that I am amongst a group of 22 committed NSmen who had continued to volunteer your service because you believe strongly in the purpose and importance of National Service for the defence and security of Singapore. BG Tung added that the ECS would allow the SAF to tap into its diverse NS talent pool to enhance the operational readiness and capability of the SAF. One of the recommendations by the Committee to Strengthen NS that were recently accepted by the Singapore Government, the scheme is primarily open to Warrant Officers, Specialists and Enlistees (WOSEs) with relevant qualifications who have completed their NS cycles. NSmen with existing Operationally Ready NS commitments may be considered for conversion on a case-by-case basis. NSmen converting under the ECS will see their NS statutory age raised to 50 years. They need to serve in their new rank and roles for at least three years, and are liable for call up for up to 40 days per year. Interested applicants can register their interest with the NS Relations Officers in their formation or division headquarters.
16 Jul 2014, 0945 hours (GMT +8)
Defence leaders from Asia-Pacific, North America and Europe gather at the three-day Shangri-La Dialogue to find ways to mitigate and resolve key security challenges. Rising tensions in the East and South China Seas, and the need for common principles to guide countries towards peaceful resolutions were top issues discussed at the 13th edition of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Asia Security Summit: The Shangri-La Dialogue, held this year from 30 May to 1 Jun. The annual security forum was attended by 26 ministerial-level delegates as well as other senior defence officials, military top brass and academics from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. This year's Shangri-la Dialogue was marked by frank and open discussions and the exchange of views on hot-button security issues. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off the Dialogue with a call for countries to observe international law to ensure peace in the region during his keynote address on 30 May: It means making claims that are faithful in the light of international law, not resorting to force or coercion, and resolving all disputes through peaceful means. Lack of strategic trust Speaking at the final plenary session of the Dialogue, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said that regional countries must first overcome the lack of trust before there can be peaceful resolutions. He noted that unlike in Europe, there was no binding aversion to war here. Asia does not have the equivalent of the 'never again' resolve that bound all of Europe after two world wars, and that translated into political will to create formal structures and alliances to avoid war. There are also fewer safeguards and structures to mitigate fallouts in Asia, where unresolved historical baggage (and) animosities exist among China, Japan and South Korea. Defence spending in Asia has also risen against world trends. Dr Ng also warned that competition for resources, disputes over overeignty, and economic uncertainty could lead to instability. In addition, many countries' resolves are shaped by their individual histories. For example, China does not want a repeat of the century of humiliation and unequal treaties that occurred in the 19th century, and Japan wants to move on from the baggage of World War II, while ASEAN countries never again want to be colonised and exploited. Thus the political challenge facing Asia, he said, is to ensure that these circles of aspirations and ambitions of individual countries intersect as much as possible. Asia must therefore build more resilient mechanisms to forge consensus and political will…to prevent if not mitigate conflicts, he said. Dialogue and cooperation Many have pointed out that strategic trust among Asian countries is lacking. We need to have open and frank dialogue on security challenges, like we are doing here, before they can be meaningfully addressed, said Dr Ng. He urged countries to strengthen multilateral frameworks for dialogues, and to step up cooperation between militaries to forge trust among countries. He cited the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) and ADMM-Plus as examples. Formed only four years ago, the ADMM-Plus has moved from dialogue to practical outcome, paving the way for countries to work together. In June 2013, all 18 countries came together in Brunei to conduct a large-scale Humanitarian Assistance and DisasterRelief (HADR) and Military Medicine exercise. Various countries also provided rapid HADR in the Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts and in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370. Dr Ng noted that concerted action to help one another in HADR is a key means of achieving trust. And he explained that this and the recent natural disasters that hit the region were the reasons Singapore offered to host a Regional HADR Coordination Centre. This proposal was supported by the United States (US) Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel in the opening plenary session of the Dialogue, who agreed that ASEAN member states should consider Singapore’s offer to use Changi Naval Base as another regional command and control hub. US, China to up engagement Mr Hagel also echoed Mr Abe's call for countries to observe international law, and pledged to ramp up the US' military presence in the region despite persistent budget woes. It planned to increase foreign military financing by 35 percent and military education and training by 40 percent by 2016. The rebalance is not a goal, not a promise, or a vision - it is a reality, he said. Similarly, China pledged to advocate dialogues and cooperation, and will explore creating direct telephone links with ASEAN countries to manage differences and avoid miscalculations, said Lieutenant-General (LG) Wang Guanzhong, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, in his plenary speech. The security of China is closely linked to that of Asia... China is a constructive, proactive and positive force for Asia's peace and security, he said.
15 Jul 2014, 2100 hours (GMT +8)
Fans of the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run (SSBR) and Army Half Marathon (AHM) will be delighted to know that the annual race will be returning on 31 Aug. And this time, professional runners have given the scenic new route the thumbs up. Back for the 23rd time, the 21km race will take runners from the Esplanade Bridge all the way around the new Sports Hub, before ending at the Padang. Organised by SAFRA and the Army, this is also the first time that professional runners were invited to try out parts of the race route and offer their suggestions. During a trial run on 14 Jun, 23 runners -- mainly from the SAFRA Running Club and Team FatBird (a long-distance running group) -- took to the tarmac and tested out selected parts of the proposed route, such as the Skyline Promenade Park Connector, Marina Barrage, and the new section along Rhu Cross. This last addition was made in response to feedback during last year's race about a bottleneck situation along the route under the Sheares Bridge. Said Mr James Tan, a member of the SAFRA Yishun Running Club who participated in the trial run: It's a good change. We did that route in the trial run, and we (gave it) a tick. Minister of State for Defence and Deputy President of SAFRA, Dr Mohamad Maliki bin Osman, commended SAFRA's outreach efforts. It is a reflection of how organisers responded to feedback from the participants of the previous runs. We engaged our stakeholders, including our national servicemen who are active runners, to try out alternative routes, and today we saw them endorsing the new routes. We hope that, with the endorsement of the runners, the participants will also see the improvements, he told the media during an appreciation reception on 15 Jul for the trial run participants. Even before the announcement of the new-and-improved route, registration numbers have been nothing but encouraging. With about three weeks to go before the closing date on 7 Aug, some 40,000 runners, comprising full-time national servicemen, operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) and their families, have already signed up for the events. Apart from the 21km half marathon, participants can also take part in the 10km race, 5km Fun Run and 800m Father and Child Challenge. Said Dr Maliki of the growing figures: It shows a greater ownership among our NSmen --(that) they see fitness as important. We are also happy to see more families coming forward (to participate). It's a good opportunity for families to bond. I myself did this a couple of years back with my son. It's always a wonderful experience to see fathers running with their children, (and) also for the children to see … their dads actively keeping themselves fit. This is something that we want to continue to promote. One father who is looking forward to running with his family is Mr Lawrence Pang. He will be racing in the 800m Father and Child Challenge with his five-year-old son, Jordan Matthew, who has already participated in three SSBR and AHM runs. Jordan Matthew likes running a lot, that's why we are very keen to take part in this father and child run. I always run the half-marathon, and my wife will bring my son to join me at the last 1km and we will finish it together, said Mr Pang of the upcoming race. Another familiar sight at the race is the groups of NSmen running together with their units, which Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) (NS) Lim Kwang Leong will be a part of. The Commanding Officer of 485 Singapore Armoured Regiment (485 SAR) will be running the 10km race with about 20 of his men on race day. We are coming together to run and cross the finish line together, he said of his unit's decision to participate for the third time. Running with a buddy is more encouraging than running alone. Going through the route (around Marina Bay) is also a reminder of what we are defending.
14 Jul 2014, 1600 hours (GMT +8)
The emergency scenario: A fire had broken out in the engine room of a cruise ship heading towards Singapore. Luckily for the 700 passengers and crew on board Bianda I, an integrated multi-agency plan was in place to provide swift assistance. More than 1,000 personnel from 21 agencies and companies, such as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), swung into action, and all the passengers were safely evacuated to the nearby Marina South Pier where the injured received medical treatment. This multi-agency effort took place on 11 Jul as part of Exercise Blue Dolphin, one of Singapore's largest emergency preparedness exercises at sea. Led by MPA, the full-day exercise tested the agencies' readiness to respond to passenger vessel incidents in Singapore's waters. It involved 28 vessels, which included tugboats, marine fire-fighting vessels, and two Fast-Craft Utility (FCUs) from the Republic of Singapore Navy. Assets like the SAF's four ambulances were also on hand to help in the management of casualties. Commenting on the cooperation between the SAF, SCDF and other homefront agencies, MPA's chief executive Andrew Tan said: When we deal with complex emergencies such as these, you need the strong cooperation of every agency involved, and there is no better way to hone the responsiveness of these agencies than to exercise together…on a regular basis. Lieutenant Colonel Depak Shorey from the SAF's Joint Operations Department agreed, adding: I think this exercise is very good for the SAF, especially since we are able to work with the various agencies to sharpen our operational readiness…and iron out all the processes and linkages. The SAF stands ready to contribute to homeland exigencies…and we work closely with agencies such as MPA, the Singapore Police Force and Police Coast Guard to enforce the homeland security of Singapore.

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