SPEECH BY PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM AT THE DEFENCE TECHNOLOGY COMMUNITY PIONEERS’ DINNER ON 6 MAY 2015

Dr Ng Eng Hen
Minister for Defence
   and Mrs Ng

Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman
Minister of State for Defence
   and Mrs Mohamad Maliki Osman

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen


Good evening. My wife Mary and I are delighted to be here at the Defence Technology Community (DTC) Pioneers’ Dinner. I am indeed greatly honoured to be presented the Defence Technology Medal (Pinnacle Award). This medal, which I accept on behalf of the Defence Technology Community (DTC), underpins the progress we have made in defence science and technology in Singapore’s short history. It is also a tribute to the Defence Technology Community, for their significant contributions to Singapore’s security and national initiatives.

I am delighted that many pioneer members of the Defence Technology Community, among them several of my old friends and former colleagues, are being recognised this evening for their contributions to the development of Defence Technology. As we pay tribute to our pioneers for their immense contributions to a safe and secure Singapore, we also renew our commitment to the mission of defending our nation.

Today, Singapore stands tall as a successful model of nationhood that others hold in high regard. But 50 years ago, no one believed that as a small and impoverished country lacking in natural resources and manpower, our nation could defend itself. It was the conviction of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew that only a strong and credible defence could help build and transform Singapore, and that this job would require the ablest, most dedicated and the toughest of minds. Indeed, given our constraints, Singapore had to work doubly hard to find innovative solutions to survive and succeed. With this political will, together with the visionary leadership of Dr Goh Keng Swee and the determination of our pioneers in defence, Singapore today is respected and strong, protected by a capable SAF.

This is also the fruit of the labours of the Defence Technology Community, which has, and continues to stand resolute behind the SAF. The Defence Technology Community has provided the SAF with the technological fighting edge, enabled the SAF to do more with limited manpower, and positioned the SAF for the future. 

Besides making sure that the SAF is always ready, our 5000-strong Defence Technology Community is also a significant part of the Government’s technical and engineering expertise, and contributes its professionalism and competencies to national initiatives. Let me cite a few examples. By building up and strengthening our aerospace capabilities to support the RSAF, the Defence Technology Community helped to spin off a strategic industry for Singapore. Today, Singapore is the top aerospace Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hub in Asia, accounting for a quarter of the region’s MRO output. The Underground Ammunition Facility, a beachhead project in the use of underground space, led directly to the development of the Jurong Rock Caverns (JRC). Today, the Jurong Rock Caverns serves global companies such as Chevron Phillips and Shell, and reinforces Jurong Island’s role as a petrochemicals hub. The National Maritime Security System not only enables early detection of maritime threats but also contributes to providing a timely and multi-agency coordinated response to these threats.

Every Singaporean has benefitted from the Defence Technology Community’s work. The Defence Technology Community contributes to the security of our national transport, telecommunications and power supply systems, which are essential to the smooth running of our economy, and affect our daily lives in more ways than we realise. The innovative, in-house design of the floating platform developed by the Defence Technology Community has allowed us to do more with Marina Bay, and has become the rallying point for iconic events, such as the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games. The Defence Technology Community provided strong support to our national health authorities during numerous emergency situations. During the SARS, H1N1, and the Ebola episodes, the Defence Technology Community responded in its various fields of expertise by rapidly developing and implementing emergency response solutions that enabled Singapore to contain and manage these incidents.

These achievements are made possible because of the visionary leadership and outstanding service of exceptional individuals. I would like to take this opportunity to convey my warmest congratulations to Mr Lim Siong Guan, Mr Peter Ho, Mr Teo Ming Kian and Mr Philip Yeo on being conferred the Defence Technology Medal (Distinguished Leadership). During their respective stints as Permanent Secretaries for Defence and Defence Development, they provided the management focus, put in place systems, processes and organisational structures that encourage the development and transformation of Defence Science and Engineering, and expanded the operating space for the Defence Technology Community to grow.

My congratulations also to Professor Lui Pao Chuen, Professor Su Guaning and Mr Wesley D’Aranjo who will be receiving the Defence Technology Medal (Outstanding Service) for their significant contributions as members of the Defence Technology Community. These individuals exemplified the spirit of commitment, innovation, passion and service in dedicating a considerable part of their careers, and indeed their lives, to building up and strengthening the Defence Technology Community.

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

The Defence Technology Community has the privilege of being at the exciting forefront of technology, and leveraging technology to secure our homeland and solve Singapore’s unique problems. This is meaningful and important work, and I am confident that the Defence Technology Community will continue to use technology to create new possibilities for our nation and our people. On behalf of our nation, I thank all members of the Defence Technology Community for your contributions and call on you to continue building on the work of our pioneers to do Singapore proud.

Once again, I would like to thank MINDEF for awarding me the Defence Technology Medal (Pinnacle Award). I wish everyone a pleasant evening. Thank you very much.