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Singapore—At an appreciation dinner for hundreds of MINDEF volunteers, the country’s Defence Minister said that the volunteers coming from various sectors shows there is deep trust within society.

This trust can be at times taken for granted, Ng Eng Hen told about 200 volunteers who serve on the different boards and committees within the ministry gathered for dinner at the Regent Hotel on Thursday, August 22.

On his Facebook page he wrote, “A heartfelt thank you to the nearly 300 volunteers who serve as experts in law, medicine, engineering, science, finance, and music and the arts, architecture, management, etc, on 40 Ministry of Defence, Singapore (MINDEF) boards and committees. Many of them have served faithfully for decades because they believe in a strong national defence. Their shining examples keep Singapore strong.”

Dr Ng said, ”Because if we did not have multiracial and multi-religious harmony that breeds trust rather than fear and suspicion, can we believe that people of one race would trust another to make important decisions that will affect their life, whether it is his vocation during NS or the judgment of a military court?”

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He pointed to the current unrest in Hong Kong as proof of his point of how important trust is for a society to function well. He said that leaders and officials from the government who have gone to Hong Kong have seen how it functions and yet has noted how it is differently organized from Singapore.

The Defence Minister said that he has been impressed by the vitality, resourcefulness and determination and the vitality of Hong Kong’s citizens.

However, trust has been broken it their society.”But now, trust within the Hong Kong society is broken. It matters less how this downward spiral began because with each passing day, the acrimony and distrust mount and that makes it that much harder for any trust to be restored.”

He also expressed hopes that Hong Kong will be able to build what has been broken, pointing out that in Singapore, it is this very trust that has caused the public to support the national service and the armed forces for all these years.

A recent poll showed 98 percent of those surveyed believe in the importance of a strong defense.

“If our people believed that the system discriminated and is not fair for all, we would not have that level of support.”

At the dinner, he thanked the volunteers for their professionalism, integrity and personal commitment to Singapore, saying that their valuable contributions have helped SAF and MINDEF to continually grow so they can be ready for changes and challenges.

He told the volunteers that the members of the External Review Panel on SAF Safety extended tremendous help to Mindef in the recent Committees of Inquiry into the fatalities of national servicemen.

There is also a pro bono lawyers’ panel established in 2018 that has also provided better legal access for servicemen who require these services, Dr Ng mentioned.

He gave out certificates of appointment and re-appointment to 53 volunteers, as well as recognized the 800-strong SAF Volunteer Corps.

Dr Ng said, ”We in the present are beneficiaries only because our forebears acted responsibly and courageously to do their part to give us a better life today.

In turn, we in the present must give of our best so that tomorrow, Singapore will be better, stronger and more united.”/ TISG

Read related: Retirement age for uniformed officers to be reviewed by MHA

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