National Security & Total Defence

Defending our country and playing our part. Stronger social and psychological defence. Find out what we the participants have to say about national security and total defence.

Opportunity to reinforce the importance of defence

Many of us feel that COVID-19 has reinforced the need for a strong and ready defence. Those of us who are National Service (NS) personnel, employers or community partners feel that the way Singapore and Singaporeans have responded to COVID-19 provides an opportunity to reinforce the importance of defence in peacetime. Demonstrating how different segments of our society have benefitted from a safe and secure Singapore will help our population better understand the need for NS.

The government could engage the media to do a series on how people of all backgrounds worked in a wide range of areas behind the scenes to ensure that we had an effective national response to COVID-19. In particular, showing how Full-Time National Servicemen (NSFs) had contributed to these efforts would help to inspire those who have yet to serve their National Service. NS officers could also share their personal stories and experiences.

Encourage more ground participation in Total Defence

Youths recognise the importance of Total Defence. A few of us see Total Defence more as a framework than an inspirational call to action. Some feel that the government should empower youths to take action and drive conversations on national security, including issues regarding Singapore’s place in the world, so that they can have a stake in the defence and future of our country. While there are existing platforms for Singaporeans to express our thoughts on Total Defence, many of us feel that the government could continue to expand touchpoints on Total Defence beyond schools.

Although we recognise the importance of Total Defence, we feel more disconnected from historical events. The government could increase youths’ awareness of threats confronting Singapore, and make greater use of social media to convey the messages.

Strengthen social and psychological defence through a kinder and more inclusive Singapore

Those of us who are youths hope to strengthen social and psychological defence by building stronger social ties among communities and neighbourhoods. Some suggested having more opportunities for interaction between different groups such as inter-racial groups, new citizens/PRs and Singaporeans, as well as older and younger generations.

We also hope to strengthen our social and psychological defence by building a kinder Singapore with less focus on academic success and more emphasis on “softer values” like community service, care for others, humility and the kampong spirit. The pandemic has shed light on individuals who have been left out. We should raise awareness on the needs of the vulnerable, such as individuals with mental health conditions and foreign workers, so that they are more included in society.

Increase support for National Service personnel

Some of us who are National Service personnel and community partners feel that MINDEF/SAF should continue to strengthen the support networks for National Service personnel by engaging service personnel, their families and their employers more regularly. MINDEF/SAF could also better recognise National Service personnel’s efforts, enable them to fulfil their personal and professional objectives in a conducive environment, and promote physical and mental wellbeing.