Photo Credits Here
By Cayden Soh and Yvette Low
“I then realised that I was not here to fight a war…” Mr Surya paused, watching the student audience’s response, before adding, “but to serve the country.”
On 14th February, Mr Surya, a former Army regular, delivered a keynote speech on Total Defence to the Year 1 to 3 students. Every year, Total Defence Day serves to commemorate the day Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942 and heralded the onset of nearly four years of Japanese Occupation. This day harkens back to dark times, but also reminds every Singaporean of the importance of everyone’s participation in upholding the five pillars of defence, namely Psychological, Social, Economic, Civil and Military defence.
Among other topics, Mr Suria shared about his experience in the Army and how it showed him that Military and Civil defence could not stand alone. “We need Economic defence to defend our economy against hackers,” he explained, adding that Psychological and Social defence plays a part too. In this day and age, with the internet a particularly effective medium for the promotion of extremist ideals, these are especially relevant.
He also challenged the students with thought-provoking questions, such as what we would do if we suspected our friends were becoming extremists. These questions challenged students’ views on Singapore’s defence and questioned the extent to which they would go in order to uphold Total Defence.
The commemoration of Total Defence Day did not end there. On 15th February, students returned to their respective mentor classrooms for the Total Defence Class Quiz. The quiz was aimed to encourage students to further expand their knowledge on Total Defence and the highest-scoring class of each level will receive a prize. Among the questions was a ‘spot the act’ activity, in which the students were challenged to spot as many instances of social defence as they could. Other questions included testing the students on their knowledge of traditional costumes of various ethnic groups and even various traditions of different races on their respective holidays.
All in all, Total Defence Day this year was no less educational or eye-opening than the previous years’. With the message conveyed by the inspiring talks, there is no doubt that the peace in harmony in Singapore today is a direct result of many years of alert citizens helping to keep Singapore safe – proving the theme of this year’s Total Defence Day, “Together We Keep Singapore Strong” true.