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In preparation for the creation of the military forces of independent Singapore, two Acts

were passed in Parliament in 1965:


1. The Singapore Army Act 1965. This Act (passed by Parliament on 23



provided for the establishment and administration of an Army and the creation of an

Army Board and dealt with the discipline of the Army and the Armed Forces in general.

2. The People’s Defence Force Act 1965. This Act provided for the establishment and

administration of the People’s Defence Force in lieu of the SVC, provisions being made

therein for the raising and maintenance of the Force out of monies provided by Parliament;

for the commissioning of officers; for the qualifications of Volunteers for enrolment; for

Colour Training; for discipline and trial by Courts Martial; for reserve service of Volunteers;

and for mobilised service.

The first-cut proposals for the Singapore Armed Forces were traditional and tentative. On



December, 1965, the Government announced plans to form a People’s Defence Force

(PDF). In effect, the PDF was a revitalised post-independence incarnation of the SVC, but

it was more than giving the Volunteers a name that was appropriate to the current national

agenda. The PDF spearheaded the Government’s initiative to create Singapore’s indigenous

armed forces. Firstly, it formalised the status of the returned Volunteers, who were subsumed

under it, as a significant element of independent Singapore’s military resources, moving away

from the close association of the SVC with the former Colonial Government. Secondly, it

made available a vehicle to put in place an inexpensive provisional self-defence capability,

while a more concrete and durable defence strategy was being explored. Thirdly, it anticipated

the possible resistance of the majority Chinese population towards military service in any

form—conscript or career—on the cultural prejudice that only ‘bad sons joined the army’: a

broad-based recruitment into the PDF would gentrify the profession of arms. Finally, it was

a way of giving expression to the upsurge of nationalistic fervour that gripped sections of

the Singaporean public in response to the expulsion from Malaysia. Able-bodied Members

of Parliament, senior civil servants and well-known personalities were encouraged to sign

up for officer cadet training. The course was 18 months, part-time. There was a women’s

wing—PDF (W)—as well. The project was placed under Colonel (COL) Abdul Karim

Bagoo (deceased), a Volunteer officer and Principal of Monk’s Hill Secondary School. Major

(MAJ)(RET) Simon Koh (then a mobilised Volunteer) was in charge of training, which was

designed by COL Ronald Wee Soon Huat (deceased), then-Lieutenant-Colonel and senior-

most regular Singaporean officer. Then-Captain Winston Choo Wee Leong (regular SIR

officer, later Lieutenant-General, Chief of Defence Force) was the Signals Training Officer.

There was also an in-house training programme for NCOs and specialists.