This year’s National Day Parade on 9 August was such a joyous occasion, coming after 2 pandemic years. The joy was palpable as 25,000 watched the parade live with many more thousands glued to their TV set at home.
While we were celebrating with an exuberance, another event took place on the same day that went unnoticed by most Singaporeans – the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Malaysia and Indonesia to deepen defence cooperation.
This reminds us that last year too, when we held our belated National Day Parade on 21 August 2021, the Malaysian army chose the same say – 21 August – to upload a video about a paratroop exercise to drop behind the enemy’s line, secure two crossing sites and to punch through.
Are these timings a coincidence? Or is there an intended subtle message of intimidation?
Back in 1991, when Singapore was celebrating 9 August at the National Stadium, a joint military exercise took place between Malaysia and Indonesia on the same day that involved 300 paratroopers. There was also live firing.
Codenamed “Pukul Habis”, the purpose of that exercise was to test the cooperation and response between Malaysia and Indonesia in case a ‘neighbouring’ country turned hostile. It took place just 20km away from Woodlands,
Things can go wrong in our region
Do we have friendly neighbours?
We live in a troubled world that sees greater geopolitical contestations. In his National Day Rally speech, PM Lee reminded us that things could go wrong in our region. While our region has enjoyed peace for so long that it’s hard for us to imagine things being different, we need to get real and be psychologically prepared, PM Lee said.
Divided, we will stand no chance. But if we stay united as one people regardless of race, language or religion, others will not be able to exploit our vulnerabilities for their own interests.
“United, we can deal with any problems that come our way,” PM Lee said.
And we must take National Service very seriously and keep our SAF and Home Team strong and credible because if we do not defend ourselves, no one else is going to defend us.
So dear Singaporeans, let’s stay true to our pledge and always stand united as One People regardless of race, language or religion.