Friday, 28 July 2017

There was a time when the whole Singapore army was mobilized against a potential threat to our security

On 9th August 1991, Singapore celebrated National Day at the National Stadium with great joy.

Unknown to us, the Singapore army had also been mobilized that day on a very large scale against a potential threat to our security.

While the National Day celebration was taking place at the National Stadium, 20km away from Woodlands, a joint exercise was taking place between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Codenamed “Pukul Habis”, it means total wipeout in Malay.

The official military exercise name was “Malindo Darasa 3AB”.  Darasa means air, sea and land.

Apparently the whole purpose of that exercise was to test the cooperation and response between Malaysia and Indonesia in case a neighbouring country turned hostile. 

Taking place just 20km away from Woodlands, it does not take much imagination to know which country the neighbouring country referred to. 

The timing of the joint exercise

The exercise was timed to take place on our National Day, when the baton had only recently been handed over by founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to Mr Goh Chok Tong. It was Mr Goh Chok Tong's first parade as Prime Minister., 

The joint exercise between Malaysia and Indonesia involved 300 paratroopers in the airborne assault in Kota Tinggi, Southern Johore. There were also live firing. 

Singapore's response

Mindef responded with a massive mobilization that saw thousands of NS men called back. Live ammo and new weapons were distributed. Armour and artillery assets were also deployed to staging areas.

Some soldiers were mobilized to sit along the edges of the Malaysian railway in Tanjong Pagar with live ammo. Live mines were also planted around Singapore. 

The nature of the joint exercise was provocative. The day passed with any incident. And Singaporeans remained blissfully unaware.

You could say the joint exercise between Malaysia and Indonesia was also a test of our response - how prepared we were and how fast we could respond to a potential threat. You could say that the timing of the exercise was a test of the leadership transition process from the Old Guards to the second generation leadership. 

Our founding prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew had this to say in Hard Truths:

On our National Day, 9 August 1991, The Malaysian and the Indonesian armed forces held joint exercises at Kota Tinggi with parachute drops. Hence we mobilized our forces, in addition to forces parading for the National Day celebrations. I did not think they would invade us, but they wanted to intimidate us and con us, so that we know our place at the bottom of the pecking order in the region.  
We need a study, strong and capable SAF, not only to defend Singapore but return blow for blow when necessary. If we do not have this strong SAF, we are vulnerable to all kinds of pressures, from both Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Our forefathers lay every foundation for our survival. This includes building an army that is a real deterrence to potential threats. 

Our security is our own responsibility 

Foolish politicians like Chee Soon Juan who called for a drastic cut in defence spending are the enemies we have within, always trying to undermine our ability to defend ourselves.

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