Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, at the 120/20 Officer Cadet Course Commissioning Ceremonies

Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, at the 120/20 Officer Cadet Course Commissioning Ceremonies

Graduands of the 120/20 Officer Cadet Course,


It is my pleasure to address you on this very special occasion. Congratulations on your commissioning as officers of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). You have trained hard over the past nine months and are now today ready to receive your commission. This commissioning ceremony is a recognition of your achievements and a solemn reminder of the importance of the duty you are about to assume. I also thank and congratulate your families, your friends and your loved ones. Thank you for giving our graduands your fullest support throughout their journey, especially under such unique and very tough circumstances. They are proudly standing here today, because of your encouragement.


We are in extraordinary times. Our nation and the world have been through many challenges as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries, despite their defences, have seen a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. The pandemic has forced these countries to keep their borders closed, and their citizens' way of life remained heavily disrupted. It is imperative that our nation and the SAF continue to maintain our resilience and adaptability in these challenging times.

The SAF has leaned forward to support the nation's fight against COVID-19 from day one – from managing recovery and quarantine facilities for affected patients, to distributing masks, providing medical and testing capabilities, and supporting contact tracing efforts, amongst others.

Even as the SAF contributed to the battle against COVID-19, it acted fast to adapt its training and operations to incorporate safe management measures. This was to keep our soldiers safe whilst maintaining a high level of operational readiness. The SAF did not allow the pandemic to halt its training. Some large-scale exercises, for example, the multilateral naval Exercise RIMPAC have resumed under stringent safe management guidelines and enhanced testing protocols.

You would have experienced such resourcefulness and adaptability during the course of your training. For instance, your instructors adjusted the way lessons were conducted to ensure that you were still able to learn effectively while observing the strict cohorting measures.

All these were made possible by the professionalism and dedication of the men and women of the SAF, underscored by strong leadership. As you join the ranks of SAF leaders, I hope you will continue to uphold these valuable traits.


COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in so many ways, including intensifying rivalry and fuelling distrust among countries. This has resulted in a more fragmented geopolitical landscape.

Amidst the pandemic, security challenges such as cybersecurity threats persist and continue to evolve. The threat of terrorism also remains with the continued spread of radical ideologies in cyberspace. However, the nature of threats against our country also come in non-traditional domains. Climate change is another challenge that will impact our lives in the years to come. Under the ambit of the Singapore Green Plan 2030, MINDEF and the SAF will also do its part to fight this threat against our nation. The wide spectrum of challenges I have just shared serve as a reminder of the need for the SAF to always remain vigilant, and also, to be nimble. It must continually transform itself to tackle both conventional and non-conventional threats, and not be satisfied with the status quo.


Even as the security landscape continues to evolve, the mission of the SAF remains constant – that is, to defend Singapore and our way of life. The SAF's strength lies not just in our state-of-the-art weaponry, but in the grit and determination of our servicemen. As a leader of the SAF, you must remember this well. The journey ahead will not be easy. The fight against COVID-19 is not over, and the security environment is rapidly changing.

But despite all of this, the core role of our Officers remains the same – to lead your men by example, to train them to high standards and to keep them safe.

As you embrace your new responsibilities, stay anchored on your values and lead with humility. Serve with a purpose and always strive to excel. When faced with challenges, meet them confidently and overcome them with courage, with fortitude and determination. Inspire the commitment of those you will lead and commit them to the common cause of defending Singapore.

With that, I would like to congratulate you once again and wish you a rewarding leadership journey ahead. May the Officer's Creed continue to guide you in your future undertakings. To Lead, To Excel and To Overcome.

Thank you.

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