Speech by Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, Mr Desmond Tan Kok Ming, at the 46/2020 Specialist Cadet Course Graduation Parade

Speech by Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, Mr Desmond Tan Kok Ming, at the 46/2020 Specialist Cadet Course Graduation Parade

Graduands of the 46/2020 Specialist Cadet Course,

Parents and loved ones of our Graduands,

Men and women of the SAF,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am happy to join you today, but let me first congratulate all graduands for successfully completing the Specialist Cadet Course. Whether you are in the Army, Airforce, Navy or Joint, the training you have undergone was rigorous and demanding, so you have every right to be proud of your achievements you have made so far. Now, as a Specialist and Military Expert of the Singapore Armed Forces, you have joined the ranks of leadership of men and women with the mission to defend our country.


2020 had been a very challenging year. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the world and upended all the normal routines in our lives. The impact felt is not just in healthcare, but in businesses, education, travel and even human interactions. The SAF too had to adapt its training in the midst of the pandemic. During your Specialist Cadet Course, you would have witnessed your commanders and trainers adapting quickly to ensure all training standards were met while complying with stringent safety measures. Let me at this juncture thank all the trainers for your dedication and leadership in ensuring that safe and realistic training continues and the SAF maintains its operational edge.

While training was ongoing, the SAF was also mobilised to contribute to the nation-wide effort in the fight against COVID-19. Our servicemen and women were deployed to contact tracing, health surveillance, distribution of masks, dormitories and quarantine operations. I personally witnessed how the SAF responded within hours, working closely with the People's Association and other agencies to ensure that Singaporeans received their first masks across the island. Although these tasks were different from what the SAF soldiers had been trained for, you rose to the occasion, and delivered not just masks, but confidence to our people. This speaks volumes of the readiness of the SAF and the professionalism of our servicemen and women. I thank all of you for your hardwork and sacrifices.

And even as Singapore proceeds with the gradual roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination plans, the fight against COVID-19 is far from over. We must not be complacent, as the world around us is still coping with new waves and mutation of the virus. It is critical that we continue to stay vigilant, adhere to the safe measures and look out for one another. The pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on the geopolitical and security environment, and it is in the face of the new context that the SAF must remain strong and adaptable.


Graduands, you are becoming an SAF leader at a time when the world is in crisis. It is times like this that the SAF stands out to give strength to our nation. While you might have a slightly different training experience from other cohorts before or after you, you should be proud to have been made a leader at a special time in our history. Years later, you will look back to tell the story of how a nation came together to fight a pandemic; how we overcame adversity and fear with fortitude and unity; how we put aside individual needs and differences, to focus on doing the right thing for the larger good; and how we are determined to emerge stronger from this crisis.

Moving ahead, all of you are going to lead men and women in different roles and units. The Specialists are the sharp tip of the SAF leadership. You have the most direct influence on the people you lead. For many soldiers, you are the first person they will look up to, who will teach them everything they need to learn about their military service. Lead your men and women well, look after them and help them to grow to become leaders like yourself. The difference you make in their lives will be the most fulfilling part of your leadership journey.


To the parents and loved ones of our graduands, thank you for your steadfast support given to your sons and daughters throughout their military service. To the graduands, as you celebrate your achievements, remember to thank those who have nurtured and stood by you. Lastly, as you don the Chevrons on your sleeves and join the ranks of the Specialists and Leaders of the SAF, I trust you will always discharge your duties to the best of your abilities. Once again, congratulations.

With Pride We Lead! Thank you.

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