Speech by Minister for National Development and Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration Mr Desmond Lee, at the 128/22 Officer Cadet Commissioning Parade at SAFTI Military Institute on 11 Mar 2023

Speech by Minister for National Development and Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration Mr Desmond Lee, at the 128/22 Officer Cadet Commissioning Parade at SAFTI Military Institute on 11 Mar 2023

Graduands of the 128/22 Officer Cadet Course,

Parents and loved ones,

Distinguished guests,



Good evening. Let me begin by congratulating all our graduands for successfully completing your training as commissioned officers of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). I would also like to thank all our family members, our friends and our loved ones of this graduating cohort. Your support and encouragement has given our graduands the strength and purpose to press on through the training.


We have emerged from the pandemic. But 2023 and the years ahead of us will bring significant challenges because of the troubling external environment. Global inflation is high, and the world economy looks weak. The relationship between the US and China is worsening. Any miscalculation could have far-reaching consequences for our region and the world. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is still ongoing, with no clear end in sight. Climate change is unleashing catastrophe in many places around the world. And in many countries, they are dealing with more polarised and divided societies. On the security front, the threats are becoming more diverse and more sophisticated. Attacks are increasingly conducted through the digital realm. And disruptive technologies will alter the nature of warfare. These threats will only continue to grow in their scale and complexity.


So to all our graduands and to all present today, what does all of this mean for all of us? For our graduands on the parade square and our men and women in uniform, we must keep adapting our strategies to defend Singapore, and continue to build a strong SAF. One that is able to meet to the changing nature of these threats – and secure both Military and Digital defence of Singapore.


But for the rest of us, in fact all of us, we too have an important part to play through the other pillars of Singapore’s Total Defence: Civil, Economic, Social and Psychological, and there are many things we can do. For example, we can participate in community emergency preparedness exercises when they come round to our neighbourhoods. We can fact-check when we receive messages, and do not disseminate them further if they seek to sow distrust and divide Singaporeans. We can strengthen our multi-cultural way of life by deepening our relationships with our neighbours and friends of all races and all faiths. Take part in our efforts to strengthen our workforce and our economy through the Industry Transformation Maps. And actively participate in the important conversations and in important discussions that are now taking place under Forward Singapore, to deepen and widen our social compact that defines us as Singaporeans, and defines the Singapore way of life.


To our graduands, you are standing here today, because Singapore is worth defending. You are defending your loved ones, your homes and our way of life.

At the heart of the SAF is National Service (NS). Since 1967 when NS began, more than a million Singaporeans and permanent residents have served in uniform. Through NS, everyone plays a part in defending Singapore and contributing to the security and stability of our nation. I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all servicemen and servicewomen who have played a critical role all these years in keeping Singapore safe and secure. To our batch of leaders graduating this evening, your ability to lead well is critical in ensuring the continued survival and prosperity of our nation. Discharge your duties without fear or favour, and lead with professionalism, pride and confidence. Throughout your journey, remember always that the quality of our people is the real strength of our SAF. Lead them well, and guide them to carry out their duties effectively. As leaders of the SAF, show your fortitude and resilience, and uphold the SAF Core Values which will serve as beacons in your path.


Your leadership journey has only just begun. I wish you every success in the journey ahead, and may the OCS motto continue to guide your every step ahead. To Lead you will, to Excel you shall, and to Overcome you must. Congratulations once again, and good evening to all.

Thank you.

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