Everyone must play a part in total defence: President Halimah

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15Feb2018_02714
15 Feb 2018 | COMMUNITY
Melayu 华文

Everyone must play a part in total defence: President Halimah

// STORY Thrina Tham
// PHOTOS Tan Yong Quan

Melayu 华文

The boy himself was not spared; he was stabbed with a bayonet multiple times, buried and left to die. Miraculously, he survived and dug himself out.

That was on 14 Feb 1942 a day before Singapore fell to the Japanese.

Today, the 87-year-old still carries his scars as well as his experiences.

It is through stories from survivors like these that we learn the price of not being able to defend our home, said President Halimah Yacob.

She shared this message at the Total Defence Day (TDD) Commemoration event, held in conjunction with the 51st War Memorial Service, on 15 Feb.

"Since 1984, we mark Total Defence Day on the 15th of February every year to remind ourselves that as an independent nation, defence is our own responsibility," said Madam Halimah, who was the guest-of-honour.

She urged all Singaporeans to play their part in national defence: "In the current security environment, we can no longer just rely on security agencies to ring-fence these threats. Everyone at work, in school or at home has a part to play.

"It may be as simple as keeping a lookout for one another or helping someone in need, but every effort counts."

She was speaking to some 1,000 attendees, including those from diplomatic corps, schools and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Veterans' League, who observed the ceremony at War Memorial Park.

The service began with a ceremonial march-in by the Honour Guards from the National Cadet Corps, led by Cadet Lieutenant Devin Ngo.

"More than the honour and glory (of commanding the parade), what affected me the most was the feeling of being part of the commemoration of those who have sacrificed during the war," said Devin, 19.

"It makes me feel the importance of what they have done for Singapore and what we need to do."

The observers then paid their respects, with Madam Halimah leading the proceeding of laying wreaths for the civilian victims.

Bagpipes played and the crowd watched silently as a total of six wreaths were placed at the foot of the War Memorial monument.

This was followed by a minute of silence, and a solemn anthem played by the Buglers to end off the event.

One of the six individuals who carried wreaths for the fallen victims was Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) (Ret) Peter Estrop.

The SAF veteran, who also serves as a Commitment to Defence Ambassador, said that such commemoration events are good to educate youths on the importance of defence.

"We have a task to do, and it's to engage these young students to be soldiers We share with them our experience and talk to them about what has happened in the past, and that we don't want this kind of thing to happen again."

This year's event also marks the first time that the TDD Commemoration event is held with the Singapore's Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (SCCCI's) memorial service.

On this, SCCCI President Roland Ng said: "The War Memorial Service is a good example of Total Defence in action.

"It shows the resolve of Singapore as a young nation to never forget, stay united and rise above one of the darkest times of our history to build a better and brighter future together."

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