Speech by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, at the Ministry of Defence Committee of Supply Debate 2020

Speech by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, at the Ministry of Defence Committee of Supply Debate 2020


A More Complex and Volatile Security Environment

Mr Chairman, first, let me thank members for your continued support to build a strong defence for Singapore – not only for previous Budgets which you have given assent, and for many of you, your personal commitment. Many of you have done your National Service (NS) and for many here, the children are doing NS. As Mr Douglas Foo recounted: his sons. When you were speaking, I wish you had more sons and daughters for the next generation, to produce the next generation of National Servicemen. Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng, as Minister of Finance, in his round-up speech reminded us what Mr Lee said our obligation was. Our greatest obligation is to the future. And sitting there, listening to members speak, I think it is virtuous. There were well-informed views about how difficult our external environment is, how fluid, how fast-changing, how it impacts us, how as a small country we have very little wherewithal to control external events, and even less to effect changes that come upon us. Whether it is climate change, whether it is terrorism, whether it is factious politics in neighbouring countries. But equally there was strong consensus and preoccupation about how to build a strong national defence. There were good questions asked, and rightly so, about prudence, administration, about how we spend our defence dollars, how we make sure that our processes give us the maximum value and that we ensure that where we put our money in is well-chosen and sustainable for our defence budget. There are many issues, and what my colleagues and I will aim to do is try to answer to the best of our abilities. And first and foremost, I think, is to give a better understanding on how MINDEF and the SAF approach these questions which members have raised. Let me start by how we think about our defence of Singapore.

There is a familiar dictum in military annals, that a cardinal mistake, which has led to failures, has been to prepare for the next battle, based on the last war. Analysts cite this specifically for the Vietnam War, where tactics that gave the US victory in Europe during World War II, proved ineffective and could not overcome the guerrilla insurgency employed by the Vietcong. Singapore, as a small nation with little reserves if caught off guard, should heed this dictum. And Mr Vikram Nair put it rightly when he says we have to be ready. But ready for what? We do not have the resources to plan for all eventualities. Instead, as members intimated, Singapore must be keenly aware of the changing circumstances around us and how they impact us. Our region, indeed the world, is at an inflexion point, which many members pointed to, and it is for this new environment that Singapore must prepare itself. Internally, new military capabilities have been built, and are operated by a new generation of SAF soldiers, and operated capably I must say. And it is because of the steadfast commitment by successive Governments, and the overwhelming support from members of this House, across party lines, Members of Parliament (MPs), Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs), Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs), that we have collectively succeeded in building a strong SAF that is recognised today as a modern and professional military force, capable of defending our national interest. Mr Douglas Foo earlier alluded to that, and Mr Charles Chong rightly put it – the very success of the SAF is that we are not tested. And indeed, that is what is said in our mission statement – deterrence. Even so, to respond to a new environment of security challenges, the SAF must again restructure decisively to meet new challenges, to remain relevant, responsive, and effective for our national defence. Ms Sylvia Lim talked about this, how the changing landscape will throw forth new threats and the SAF must be ready. I will go into details of the restructuring required later.

First, the new environment. Members have talked about it – Mr Charles Chong, Mr Desmond Choo, Ms Sylvia Lim, and Mr Vikram Nair. And I agree completely with members that along with the rest of the world, Singapore has entered into a different phase in geopolitics. It is messier, less predictable, and therefore with more unseen events. The post-World War II era of 70 years, championed and spearheaded by a hyper-dominant US together with its Western liberal allies is no longer the only and main narrative. A new chapter has begun with elements of the old, but also new principal actors. China is a rising global power, but regional powers too are gaining strength, including Japan, India and Australia.

It is not just Asia that is fast changing. In Europe, the transatlantic alliance is evolving. When the UK Government decided to allow Huawei a limited role for its 5G network, the UK dailies concluded that the US-UK relationship had become less "special". This year's Munich Security Conference theme was meant to be provocative to prompt soul-searching, but nonetheless carried more than a modicum of insecurities, the theme was "Westlessness". At its plenary, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sharply criticised the US' "America First" policy, and that "Great Again" was at the expense of its neighbours and partners. The US wants the EU to liberalise its trade policies to buy more American goods and spend more to defend themselves. In response, some EU leaders do indeed want to reduce their dependence on the US. Just last year, French President Emmanuel Macron put it starkly "...American decisions over the last several years ... have led us to rethink fundamental diplomatic and military strategy and on occasion elements of solidarity which we thought were forever inalienable…" Europe is far away from Singapore, but the changes there will invariably impact our part of the world.

In the Middle East, the biggest game changer is a US that is now a net exporter of energy for the first time in nearly 70 years, and less dependent on crude oil and natural gas from the Middle East than ever before in its history. For the first time too, Russia has direct access to the Mediterranean Sea and this is a warm water port in Syria, where it can begin to build and exert military presence there. China, Japan and other Asian countries on the other hand, are dependent on oil from the Middle East, through the Strait of Hormuz. This is why President Trump remarked wryly, but not inaccurately, that the US was still "protecting the shipping lanes for other countries for zero compensation". The US' reaction to the next Middle East crisis will be shaped by these new calculations.

The US Department of Defense (DoD), as the action arm of foreign and state policy, has made it clear that our region – the "Indo Pacific" – is now their "priority theatre". Why? Pointedly, because of China, which they characterise as a "strategic competitor" and a "rival power". The US DoD is putting that policy in practice, and moving more ships, planes, other equipment and troops to the bases in Japan and Korea, on top of the 78,000 troops already stationed there. For Australia, a record number of US Marines deployed there last year, and the US has plans to build additional military infrastructure in Australia once Congress gives its approval. With President Trump's support for a bigger defence budget, such efforts will get a boost.

What would China do? For China, the People's Liberation Army (PLA)'s expansion in blue water capability, air projection, missile and space programmes have gained momentum. Its Navy is now the world's largest naval force, at least in numbers of ships. Last year, China's first indigenous aircraft carrier, the Shandong was commissioned. The US' recent statements and moves are likely to accelerate, not slow down, the pace of PLA modernisation.

European powers too, some in heeding the US' call and others independently, want to position themselves in Asia. French Minister Florence Parly has said that France "is not going anywhere, because [it is] part of the region". True to these words, France sent its warships through the South China Sea, and in 2018, its air force conducted its largest-ever deployment in Southeast Asia since 2004, from Australia to India, to mark France's presence in the region. The UK too has actively positioned itself in Asia. In 2018 alone, the British Royal Navy deployed three ships to the region. Last year, the Royal Navy increased its joint military exercises with the US Navy in the South China Sea.

Asian countries too have beefed up their militaries. Military spending in Asia has grown more than 50% in the last decade, with both China and India in the list of top five global spenders. ASEAN member states have doubled their spending on defence over the last 15 years.

Willy-nilly, these events, conflated, have resulted in the Asia arena becoming more militarised and contested, as members of this House have noticed. The South China Sea dispute adds grist to the mill but the motivations go much deeper, that of time-old dominance in an evolving world order.

For Singapore, a small city state, nearly 700 kilometres square, 5.7 million people, we watch these developments ever so closely, carefully trying to preserve space for ourselves, to maintain our sovereignty and pursue our own interests, something which MP Desmond Choo talked about. We have no desire to take sides or to be caught in the crossfire, we stand for our national interests, and so far, we have maintained independence and space for ourselves. But as contestation increases in this region, it will be increasingly difficult to do so. So I appreciate members' questions. What will you do? What will the Singapore government do to maintain this wonderful brand of diplomacy?

Working Together with Our Partners

Despite the challenges, Singapore was able to forge even stronger defence relations with the US, China and key partners. With the US, as members observed, we renewed a key document, the 1990 Memorandum of Understanding for the US' use of facilities in Singapore. And this document had underpinned defence relations between both sides for the last 30 years. The renewal, signed between PM Lee and President Trump, allows the US forces' continued access to our air and naval bases for another 15 years. With China, we enhanced the 2008 Agreement on Defence Exchanges and Security Cooperation. This year will be the first time the SAF is planning to conduct two bilateral exercises with the PLA in the same year. At our recent Airshow, for the first time too, the Ba Yi aerobatics team performed as did the US' F-22 and F-35B.

With India, our militaries held bilateral exercises across all three Services under the ambit of our Bilateral Agreements, and we continue to welcome India's engagement of the region. With Australia – as Mr Charles Chong said, our 30th year of our training in Shoalwater Bay this year – our strategic partner as we build our joint training facilities, on schedule, and I will give some details later. And we were very glad that we could contribute two Chinooks and RSAF personnel to assist the Australian Defence Force in battling the recent bushfires.



Against the changing geopolitics, we have to respond nimbly to it if we can, and we have to prepare for it. But even so, we will need to respond to clear and present security threats, namely three which members have talked about: terrorism, cyber threats and maritime threats. Against terrorism, which Ms Joan Pereira highlighted, that we are not immune to the return fighters, in fact not only not immune, but quite vulnerable, because there are choice targets in this region. Against them we have stepped up efforts and formalised intelligence sharing through the ASEAN "Our Eyes" initiative. The SAF will assist in this effort and work closely with other like-minded countries. The SAF is restructuring its own military intelligence outfits, so that counter-terrorism intelligence to detect, forewarn – what Ms Pereira has warned us about, we need an outfit that tells us, at least alerts us that there are plots being undertaken – and also respond to terrorist plots is now part and parcel of its core missions to protect Singapore. It will be a key deliverable and accountability for SAF intelligence units even as they work together with other Singapore agencies dealing with this space.

Some members asked about cyber – Ms Joan Pereira, Mr Teo Ho Pin, Mr Seah Kian Peng. To guide the restructuring efforts required to meet security challenges in the new environment, MINDEF and the SAF have convened two high level committees. And one of the committees is against cyber threats and headed by Permanent Secretary (Defence Development) and Chief of Defence Force (CDF) to spearhead the effort. In the SAF's history, this is as important as raising another service, just like Army, Navy and Air Force, namely to build an integrated cyber command and force to defend our digital borders, especially against foreign cyber actors, both state and non-state who seek to undermine our stability and/or pose a threat to national security. Mr Teo Ho Pin asked for updates. Last year, we talked about building up a cyber force, we thought about it, gone deeper and basically the challenge is to build just like Army, Navy and Air Force an integrated cyber command and cyber force that can operate, defend and protect our interests in the cyber domain. None here I suspect will question the need for such a cyber force. But in many aspects, the cyber domain is more difficult to plan and execute than in air, land and sea, and may require different types of units and force configuration. The simplest question is "Who is the enemy?" For air, land and sea, you have a limited number of potential aggressors, but in the cyber domain, there could potentially be many more. So the committee intends to be bold in examining ways that we can address these challenges. But also as important is to recruit soldiers of the right aptitude, and look after their training and deployments. Because what you recruit for air, land and sea may be different from what you need in the cyber arena. Nevertheless, for command integrity and accountability, after the restructuring, CDF will continue to be in charge of mission outcomes. Never mind the challenges, there has to be a command structure, there has to be a commander who is in charge, who is looking at the problem, making decisions, raising, training and sustaining forces to be able to meet these challenges. The Chief C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) will be the pinnacle position that holds accountability and reports directly to the CDF, similar to the other Services. The SAF cyber command will have to provide threat assessments and early warning in cyber-attacks, and also respond accordingly. The universe of cyber threats and activists is large and the cyber command will have to prioritise its efforts and focus on key threats so as to not dissipate resources. This restructuring effort will take some years to accomplish.

Let me turn to maritime security which a number of members have brought up, including Mr Vikram Nair. The SAF, and indeed the whole-of-government had made changes to better tackle maritime threats, which have expanded in recent years. The recent spike in sea robbery incidents in the Singapore Strait is one example, as well as intrusions into Singapore Territorial Waters. RSN's Maritime Security Task Force (MSTF) will be acquiring new purpose built platforms that can enhance our capabilities to deal with such threats. For a start, four refurbished patrol vessels will be dedicated, and deployed for greater persistence to protect our territorial waters. But all of us know that maritime threats are transnational in nature and cannot be solved without co-operation and collaboration from our neighbours. We have reached out to our counterparts in Malaysia and Indonesia to propose that the Malacca Straits Patrol initiative, which has worked so well through coordinated patrols to reduce piracy in the Malacca Strait, be extended to other areas in our surrounding waters. And discussions are ongoing.

Towards a World-Class, Next-Generation SAF

These significant restructuring efforts against terrorism, cyber and maritime threats reflect the rapidly evolving spectrum of threats that today's Singapore faces. But whatever the threats, for each SAF unit, effective training makes the decisive difference. And in an uncertain landscape, we must raise, train and sustain units within the SAF to deal with both conventional and unconventional threats. I think this was a point that Mr Henry Kwek was alluding to.



With your permission, Mr Chairman, may I display some slides on the screens. So let me deal with conventional operations. For conventional operations, the SAF aims to have the best training facilities globally. And for conventional training, our simple goal is that we want to have the best training facilities in the world. It is a high watermark but we are confident we will achieve this. Some members have asked about developments in Shoalwater Bay, Mr Charles Chong in particular. And let me give some updates under our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Australia which will be a key node for the best of class training facilities. It will provide the SAF with modern instrumented training ranges such as the Combined Arms Air-Land Ranges and the Urban Operations Live Firing facilities in an area approximately ten times the size of Singapore.

Significant progress has been made, with the completion of an ammunition storage building last year. The Combined Arms Air-Land Ranges is now being developed for the Army and Air Force to train together with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, drones, artillery and other combined arms platforms. This will be complemented by the Urban Operations Live Firing facilities for air and combined arms live-firing in a realistic environment. And these facilities will be equipped with advanced targetry and instrumentation. In essence, when completed, we can conduct complex training on a much larger scale, that only few militaries are able to, elsewhere. We expect construction at Shoalwater Bay to be completed by 2024 and Greenvale, this is another site, to be completed by 2028. When these facilities are completed, the SAF will be able to conduct integrated training across all three Services, involving up to 14,000 personnel annually, and over a span of up to 18 weeks. This is a significant asset for our defence capabilities. Mr Charles Chong asked what are the effects of climate change on these plans. Short answer is, probably nobody knows and we have to watch it carefully. We have the incident of the bushfires this year, and it not only will affect us but also the Australian Defence Force. For the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, there was some halt in some activities not because there were bushfires there, but because of the fear that it might accentuate it. So we are watching it very carefully and if we have to make adjustments, we will have to.

For the Navy, our ships have ample opportunities to train overseas. During Exercise Pacific Griffin, the US and our ships successfully fired the full suite of missiles, destroyed surface and air targets, and hunted submarines. We also conducted the inaugural trilateral maritime exercise in the Andaman Sea with India and Thailand. This year, the RSN will take on a key leadership role in the world's largest multilateral maritime exercise, Rim of the Pacific Exercise or RIMPAC, alongside established navies in the Pacific Ocean. And the RSN does well in these overseas deployments that validate our systems and benchmark competencies.

The Navy is also making good progress to strengthen our conventional capabilities. The last three of its fleet of eight Littoral Mission Vessels entered into service last month. In Germany, our new Invincible-class submarine has commenced trials in the water, and her pioneer crew is undergoing work-up training.

What about the Air Force, as Mr Henry Kwek asked? For the Air Force, the skies have opened up. In December last year, I signed an MOU with the US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to establish a fighter training detachment in Guam. The RSAF plans to deploy our F-15s, our F-16s and supporting assets such as the Gulfstream 550 – Airborne Early Warning to Guam for training. The airspace around Guam, together with training facilities, will allow the RSAF to conduct larger scale, more complex, and realistic Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground training. At the same time, this detachment in Guam, alongside other fighter deployments in Australia, India, and Thailand will allow quick re-deployment back to Singapore when required. So it is a significant asset. You can train nearer and we can bring you back if we need you.

Some have asked for an update on the acquisition of the F-35s. We have decided on the F-35B variant of the aircraft, which can take-off from a shorter runway and land vertically, and it is an important feature in land scarce Singapore. The F-35B performed in the recent Singapore Airshow and its ability to swivel 360 degrees, was simply as some people said, awesome. But the F-35Bs, as Mr Kwek rightly pointed out, it has a full suite of sensors and fighting capabilities. We have obtained the US Government and Congress' assent. MINDEF is in the final stages of acquiring four F-35s, with an option to purchase eight more. And when delivered, which we hope to be around 2026, the F-35Bs will be deployed in the US for training and in-depth evaluation. Ms Sylvia Lim raised good questions about the question marks over the F-35s and we watch it very closely. We said we will buy four, evaluate it fully before deciding to commit on a further eight. And our timelines are useful to us. We are in no hurry as the F-15s and F-16s are adequate for our air defence and air capabilities, and we evaluate them fully, including all the questions that were attributed to the F-35s including costs and maintenance, before we decide fully on a full fleet of F-35s.

I have talked about conventional and traditional operations. Let me move on to non-traditional operations, for which we must prepare not only the SAF, but indeed I think our entire population for a more uncertain and expanded array of threats, we call them the "grey zone" threats, as opposed to black and white. Low-level terrorist attacks are a good example of "grey zone" threats that can turn deep black when the whole country is de-stabilised. What happened to Ukraine in the early stages is a salutary lesson on "grey zone" threats. Incipient, then it cascades, extrapolates, blows up and when you try to mount a defence, you are finished. So the SAF has compiled a range of such "grey zone" threats, you would pardon me if I do not give you the list of "grey zone" threats, and the options available to respond for each. Each by themselves, if limited, do not threaten our sovereignty, but nevertheless, can lead to instability or cumulatively whittle away our ability to defend national interests.

Another example of a non-traditional threat occurred, as some members pointed here, when the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hit Singapore that tested our Total Defence. At very short notice, the Army packed 5.2 million masks, delivered them to 89 Community Centres and Clubs to distribute to 1.37 million households within two days. The SAF also helped the Ministry of Health with contacting personnel identified to have a risk of being infected, as well as manning thermal imagery machines at the airport. And these efforts by the SAF were to enhance our psychological, social and economic resilience. My colleague SMS Maliki will speak more on Total Defence.

Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability

There is another threat for which the SAF may not be primarily responsible, but must join in the efforts for Singapore's security and safety. Mr Chong Kee Hiong alluded to it, Mr Seah Kian Peng talked about it and yes I agree, Mr Seah, we must adopt climate defence. The Government has laid out key directions. SM Teo's committee, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change, has done very deep, second-, even third-order work in terms of how we can step-wise deal with this issue. And I appreciate their efforts because it focuses our attention, it also gives to the extent, available quantitative, if not semi-quantitative projection of what each does. And I think that is the right approach. The SAF is also making significant change as part of the whole-of-government plan.

Against the effects of rising sea levels, MINDEF/SAF is working with relevant agencies closely on coastal adaptation. Mr Chong Kee Hiong asked about the progress of Singapore's first polder development at Pulau Tekong that is led by HDB. As he described it, the polder comprises a dike which protects the reclaimed land from the sea, and a network of drains and pumps to keep the land dry. The tracts of land created, which are below sea level, will be used for Army training. It is early days yet so I do not have anything concrete to report, but obviously this is an important project which we are learning from as we create new land while countering rising sea levels. And if this succeeds, that model and that template can be used for other areas in Singapore. So it is an important project and MINDEF and the SAF understand this.



MINDEF and the SAF are on track to meet national targets to reduce energy and water consumption. Some members have raised the NS Hub, to be completed in 2023, Mr Duraisamy talked about it. It was designed to maximise natural ventilation and daylight, and to reduce solar heat gain and energy demand. We have set an aim for the NS Hub to be the top 10% of energy-efficient buildings in Singapore. I expect that aim to be achieved.

The SAF is also taking discrete steps to reduce carbon emissions, even changing modes of operation without loss of any effectiveness. First, we intend to replace our 400 administrative vehicles to reduce carbon emissions. To hybrid models first, reducing emissions by up to two-thirds per vehicle, and later when our island's infrastructure is built, with electric vehicles. We also established a waste management system under joint collaboration with NEA and DSTA that turns recycled food waste into energy. To caveat, we have cut down waste first. I noted that I had replied to a particular question on it. It is not much waste but that is the first important thing to do. But where there is waste, we turn it into recycled energy. Currently, food waste collected from eight cookhouses is processed by microbes and enzymes at recycling plants to generate biogas. And we are looking to expand this to ten more cookhouses. If successful, this will be expanded to all cookhouses.

MINDEF has commissioned net zero energy buildings at Kranji and Seletar Camps, and by the end of FY2020, the buildings in 12 of our camps will be equipped with solar panels. In March, we will deliver the first net positive energy aircraft hangar at Changi Air Base, which can generate more electricity than that consumed due to certain features that were incorporated into the design of the hangar. When fully realised, these efforts combined will reduce 11,400 tonnes of carbon emissions, CO2 emissions by the end of FY2020 and support our national efforts to combat climate change.

These measures extend to our training areas overseas as well. We have mentioned Shoalwater Bay training facilities. We are working with the Australian Department of Defence to incorporate environmentally sustainable design measures such as solar-powered lighting, and using building materials that have a higher proportion of recycled content. We are taking proactive efforts to mitigate flood and fire risks, through the use of flood modelling, the construction of fire breaks and the use of non-combustible fire-rated materials. And this is in answer to Mr Charles Chong's question.

Adapting ‘green' technologies could reap operational advantages. The Navy is exploring the use of hybrid propulsion systems in designing its incoming vessels. Such technologies enable our new ships to not only reduce carbon emissions, but become more energy efficient.

In the grand global scheme of changes necessary to mitigate climate change, one could say that our total reduction of CO2 emissions that I just talked about might be considered insignificant, and I would agree. But all agencies and countries must start on this road to recovery.

People at the Core of a Restructured SAF

Let me focus on the national servicemen who make up the bulk of our SAF. SMS Heng will touch on some initiatives to recognise their contributions. I mentioned earlier a second high-level committee. This committee has been formed to look at two areas – the In-Camp Training (ICT) and the deployment of manpower – chaired by Deputy Secretary (Administration) and the Chief of Army. The Committee must address the reduction in manpower and changes necessary to fulfil the aims of the SAF, as well as to meet the needs of a new generation of national servicemen, which many of you eloquently spoke for. The number of ICTs for each NSman will remain the same, but we want to improve the outcome and efficiency of each ICT. For manpower, while we have already restructured the SAF to match the reduction of overall manpower, we do need to better match skills and aptitude of national servicemen to their vocations, as well as to make training more focused on their operational roles. And we will announce the specific changes in due course.

Last year, I informed the House about the Inspector-General's Office, which was stood up to strengthen safety. SMS Heng will share and reply to some of the questions that members have raised.

Financial Prudence in a Time of Economic Slowdown and Uncertainty

Mr Chairman, as I have indicated previously, we can continue to maintain and grow the SAF with a defence spending that avoids sharp ups and downs, but which at least keeps pace with inflation, about 3-4% nominal increase each year. A number of members have asked, Mr Vikram Nair, Mr Douglas Foo, and Ms Sylvia Lim, whether the new environment, the new challenges, whether we are able to meet our challenges with the defence spending and I would say our assessment for now, is yes. The commitment holds with a projected increase for this year's budget over last year's of 3.2%.

A number of questions have been asked, Mr Douglas Foo, Ms Sylvia Lim, how do we make sure that not only are we prudent, but that our processes give us the maximum returns for each defence dollar. When we procure platforms or services, a thorough study is made on life cycle costs. Ms Lim is quite right, I can sell you something with a lower price, but really dock off your dollars for high maintenance costs. We are a little better at the game, we put everything as life-cycle costs, so that I know the exact cost of a platform over its lifetime. A thorough study is made. Even though we have sensitive needs, for the majority of projects, it is by open tenders to ensure competitive bidding. If you take all of the contracts that MINDEF/SAF puts out, majority are still by competitive biddings and open tenders. That is how we ensure we can get fair value. Even for classified needs, we ensure that a few companies pass security requirements. We prequalify them, in other words we ensure that we have more than one company that satisfy our security requirements so that they can bid competitively, that is the second prong. But in specific circumstances, which Ms Lim asked about, where requirements can only be fulfilled by a single vendor, DSTA does its own stringent costing and when we compare the bid price versus our internal costing, if it is too far from our evaluation, whether it is too high or too low, we re-evaluate it. Too high because this is not fair value, but too low we are worried that you cannot deliver the product that I want. Now, these processes have strengthened our procurement and indeed, if you ask the industry, and the industry is well-informed, DSTA is widely acknowledged as a "tough customer" and "reference buyer". People have said that to me because when DSTA signs off on this, it tells the whole universe of procurers there that this product is value for money. And that is why sometimes they go the extra mile – the suppliers, the vendors – go the extra effort to sell things to us because when DSTA does a thorough evaluation not just in terms of ability, but value for money. The other significant aspect to stretch the defence dollar, is through design from inception. So for example, the Army's Hunter AFV, the Armoured Fighting Vehicles that were commissioned last year were chosen not only for their new capabilities, but because they were maintenance-friendly by design. We save up to 40% in maintenance costs as compared to other armoured vehicles. There are many other examples where cost has been saved through maintenance or reduction in crew.


Mr Chairman, let me conclude. Let me thank the members of this House for their strong and continued support both as MPs, and in their individual capacity outside this House. It is the collective resolve and commitment of all Singaporeans, including MPs here, to build a strong SAF that protects our home and provides us assurance and space in this unpredictable world.

Much obliged.

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