Total Defence is a framework for an all-round response to threats and challenges and involves all Singaporeans in the following five aspects:
“Keeping Singapore secure”
We need a strong Military Defence to defend ourselves when attacked or to deter foreign intervention and prevent ourselves from being attacked. The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is a conscript armed force, depending on not only its Regulars but also the commitment of its National Servicemen with the support of their families and employers. To remain operationally ready, our soldiers keep fit, train seriously and keep abreast of the latest military doctrines and equipment.
“Taking care of our family, friends, and people around us in times of crisis”
During times of crisis or disaster, resources will be strained and we will need everyone to pitch in. If we know what to do, we can save ourselves and our loved ones, help others and ensure that life goes on as normally as possible. Learning what to do in an emergency before it happens – such as taking part in emergency exercises and attending first-aid and emergency preparedness programmes that the Singapore Civil Defence Force conducts – helps us respond more effectively in times of crisis.
The threat of global terrorism is real and security personnel cannot be everywhere all the time. Singaporeans can do our part to keep Singapore well protected by helping to look out for and reporting anything suspicious.
“Having a strong and resilient economy”
Economic Defence is about building up a strong and robust economy that can sustain Singapore through economic challenges and national emergencies. It means that the government, employers and trade unions work together during peacetime to ensure that we have good infrastructure and our economy is competitive. Individuals also play a part by retraining and upgrading, and by keeping up with new technologies and new ways of doing things. When we do this, we help ourselves remain employable as the economy changes. Saving up for a rainy day and adopting environment-friendly practices are also ways to protect ourselves and our future generations.
To prepare for national emergencies, the government and businesses work together to put in place contingency measures to keep offices and factories running even after National Servicemen and equipment have been mobilised, and to maintain national stockpiles of essential items to keep the economy going. We are also taking steps to enhance our country’s defences against cyber-attacks so that our critical infrastructure and data remain secure.
“Living harmoniously and looking out for one another”
Singapore enjoys social and economic stability because people of all races and religions live together harmoniously. We know what could happen if we allow extremist ideologies and racial prejudice and discrimination to endanger social cohesion and harmony. We befriend, accept and help people of different ethnicities.
We show consideration for one another, respecting and being sensitive to the needs and religious and cultural practices of others. We have meals together and invite friends to join in our festivities. Through such small efforts in our daily lives, we are able to better understand and appreciate the heritage, culture and practices of our fellow countrymen and strengthen our bonds as Singaporeans. We also contribute towards a gracious and compassionate society when we help the less fortunate and underprivileged among us.
“Being a resilient people”
While being prepared is the key to Total Defence, it is always the fighting spirit, the will, the resilience of Singaporeans that determines whether or not our nation will overcome a crisis. When each Singaporean is resolved and determined to overcome any crisis together, proud of our country and willing to stand up to defend what is ours, we can be assured of a secure future, regardless of the challenge.
Putting it all together
Total Defence has seen us through SARS, the fall-out from the 9’11 attacks and the economic crises of 1997 and 2008, and the haze in recent years. It has become a fundamental aspect of what makes us Singaporean and is shown in the things that we do on a daily basis – whether it is by fulfilling National Service duties, volunteering in civil defence activities, working hard and contributing to a strong economy, strengthening community ties with one another regardless of race and religion, or staying committed to defending the country.
Our work in Total Defence is unceasing. When we understand our part in Total Defence, we will continue to strengthen ourselves, our community and our nation.
Source: The 5 Pillars of Total Defence