Recognising civilian volunteers who play a part in defence

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27 Oct 2023 | PEOPLE

Recognising civilian volunteers who play a part in defence

// Report by Thrina Tham / Photos by Chua Soon Lye

A total of 362 volunteers were recognised at MINDEF's annual dinner gathering to thank them for their contributions.

(From left) Deputy President of Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry Azhar Othman, Ms Tan and Ustazah Dr Siti were among the volunteers recognised on 26 Oct.

Knowing that the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has a key role to play in sustainability, Ms Emily Tan joined its external panel to give advice on relevant policies and initiatives.

These included recommendations on producing renewable energy through the use of solar panels; using natural cooling systems instead of electricity; and reducing food wastage.

"There is a whole spectrum of areas that MINDEF can explore towards sustainability," said Ms Tan, who is in her 50s.

The Chief Executive Officer of tech company Thales Solutions Asia Pte Ltd oversees a spectrum of fields – from aerospace and defence to security.

Ms Tan hopes to contribute to MINDEF’s efforts towards sustainability.

"We understand that our customers need to lower their carbon footprint… so throughout the whole process at Thales, we're looking for solutions towards sustainability," said Ms Tan.

"I felt that I could translate this experience to what MINDEF is doing – in terms of procurement policies, how they look at energy consumption... (as well as) its utilisation."

Ms Tan joined the MINDEF External Advisory Panel for Environmental Sustainability (EAPES) when it was established last February.

Apart from quarterly meetings, the panel also makes on-site visits to Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) camps and bases. For one, they visited navy frigate RSS Supreme last April.

"It helps the panel (to have) insights into the operating environment. (We are then able) to bring new ideas to the table that suit their operating model… within the constraints which they operate."

Ms Tan (first row, third from left) with other EAPES members during their visit to Changi Naval Base and on board RSS Supreme last April.

Ms Tan is among 362 volunteers who were honoured at the MINDEF Volunteers' Dinner on 26 Oct.

The volunteers serve on 38 MINDEF boards and committees, and provide expertise in helping the ministry stay updated on industry best practices. These range from fields like medicine to law and engineering.

The dinner, held at Goodwood Park Hotel this year, has been an annual affair since 1998 to thank the volunteers.

Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen also presented 50 certificates to mark the new appointment or re-appointment of volunteers.

Dr Siti (left) receiving her re-appointment letter from Dr Ng. This is her third term serving as a MINDEF volunteer.

Dr Siti Nur Alaniah Binte Abdul Wahid, who has been on the Board of Visitors to SAF Detention Barracks (DB) since 2017, visits detainees and listens to their concerns.

"I feel that it is important to be on the ground to understand what's going on in the community. I take this as an opportunity to play my part and serve," said the 41-year-old, who does consultancy and research work in religious studies.

She said that the detainees have raised fewer concerns regarding their personal well-being over the years, which she takes as a sign that they are well-taken care of.

Dr Siti added that she has enjoyed working with a dedicated team at SAF DB over the years, saying: "They address and respond to our concerns and questions and invite us for engagement sessions or programmes relevant to our role.

"It makes the (volunteering) experience more meaningful."

Speaking at the dinner, Dr Ng noted that civilian volunteers have helped keep the machinery of the SAF "well-oiled and high functioning".

Civilian volunteers should be involved in all aspects of the SAF, from mission planning to training and day-to-day tasks, said Dr Ng.

Addressing the volunteers in his speech, he added that the SAF is a complex machinery that has been kept "well-oiled and high functioning" because of its volunteers.

"It only works because we have high-calibre people who we can trust, who are committed and personally motivated to give of themselves. Because each (one of them) believes that Singapore, our home, is worth defending."

"That if we as citizens do not defend Singapore, no one else will. That without security, we cannot have progress or stability."

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