SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has stressed the relevance of a defence and armed forces even with a new world order and security challenges.
For Singapore, he said maintaining the ability to protect the country’s sovereignty is critical for survival.
Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Home Affairs Minister, was speaking at the S Rajaratnam Lecture on "New Challenges and Strategies for a More Secure World" on Friday.
He said countries still need armed forces so that they are able to defend themselves and avoid tempting others.
He also outlined Singapore’s defence and diplomacy principles, which he said has served the country well.
He said Singapore sought to make friends with all who wanted to be friends.
The country also built up ASEAN as the core.
That is important, Mr Teo said, because whenever ASEAN is united and cohesive, the region enjoys peace and stability.
He added that Singapore also works for a multilateral system that is fair and equitable to countries, big and small.
Mr Teo said: "For small states, it is critical that the world be governed by the rule of law, with avenues for peaceful resolution of differences. This gives countries assurance that their interests will be taken into account, rather than be subject to a situation where "might is right"; or where global decisions are left in the hands of just a few big countries.
"This is why we played an active role in the negotiations leading up to UNCLOS, why we contribute to international operations, and why we support UN reform to enable the UN to be more effective."
Mr Teo added: "The primary role of the SAF remains to defend Singapore and to be the final guarantor of our sovereignty. For we cannot depend on others for our survival, and must be able to take our fate and our future in our own hands."
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