Celebrate Singapore's 50th with SAF50
By Nina Syahira
February 9, 2015
COL Roland Ng giving the welcome address
2015 is truly starting to be a historic year for Singapore. Celebrating 50 years of independence, MINDEF has announced their very own line-up of events to join with the festivities.
“The central theme for the SAF50 is ‘our SAF bringing strength to our nation’. This is derived from how the SAF draws strength from the continued support of Singaporeans and at the same time, brings strength to the nation by providing security, peace as well as stability of the nation,” said COL Roland Ng, Secretariat of SAF50 and Director of Nexus.
SAF’s military assets: Heron (left) and Spyder (right)
Photos courtesy of MINDEF
Starting with the SAF50@Vivo from 12 to 15 February 2015, there will be a huge exhibition of simulators and military hardware that will also honour those who have played a part in the defence and post-independence history of Singapore.
Visitors will also get to check out various capabilities and military assets (two of which are pictured above) of the three Services of the SAF (Army, Navy and Air Forces) during this time.
The RSS Endurance, largest vessel in the Republic of Singapore Navy
Photo courtesy of MINDEF
In conjunction with Total Defence Day on 15 February, visitors will also be treated to the first ever public SAF Weapons Presentation Ceremony on board the Landing Ship Tank, the largest vessel in the Republic of Singapore Navy.
“We’ll be bringing in the RSS Endurance. Visitors with tickets get to enjoy a behind-the-scenes ship tour and experience a day in the life of a sailor on board the ship,” said ME7 Andy Tay, the NALCOM Commander and Co-chairman of SAF50@Vivo.
Unfortunately, the ticketing ballot has now closed but their Facebook page will be running a “Name our Ships” contest for the new Littoral Mission Vessels from 12 February to 15 March. This is open to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents.
Other celebrations include the SAF50 Dinner on 24 July 2015 where the SAF50 commemorative book will be launched and the SAF50@Istana Open House on 26 July 2015 especially for SAF servicemen and their families. A mobile column showcasing SAF hardware and capabilities will then add the final touch to the celebrations, all the way to the National Day Parade 2015.
Of course SAF Day on 1 July won’t be left out of the festivities. In preparation for it, exclusive “Thank You” cards will also be produced for the public to write special messages when they visit SAF50@Vivo. On SAF Day itself, there will be the SAF50 Parade. Everyone will also be encouraged to change their Facebook profile picture to something related to the SAF and wear camouflage-patterned clothing.
Meanwhile, the SAF50 portal will introduce its online variety show where celebrity-hosted teams of Singaporeans compete in must-see Service-related challenges. On top of that, the SAF50 portal and the cyberpioneer Facebook page will be active with people-centric stories and videos that everyone can contribute. Do check them out here.
“We hope that the stories we share would inspire the public and let them know the SAF better as well as share more of their appreciation for the servicemen and women,” added SLTC George Goh who spoke about the highlights of the celebrations.
The inspiring stories of our SAF servicemen and women
The 9 invited SAF50 personalities at the Parade Square at Block 17 (Dempsey)
To get a taste of these stories, nine SAF50 personalities were invited to the media event. Pictured above from left to right were Yeo Wei Jie, Madam Teo Ker Tee, SWO (Ret) Bob Chia, CPT (Ret) Shamsudin bin Shadan, LTC (NS) Mohamad Kahar, COL (Ret) Frank Singam, 3WO Alex Neo, ME3 Angela Chan and Mr Dineshwaran Sathisan. It was a true historic moment to be surrounded by the patriotic love and camaraderie shared amongst those who have served and are serving our young nation at the iconic Parade Square at Block 17 located at Dempsey.
One of the invited personalities was LTC (NS) Mohamad Kahar, a managing director in an infrastructure company. Though juggling family, work and NS commitments at the same time was not easy, he finds it rather fulfilling.
2 of the invited SAF50 Personalities: CPT (Ret) Shamsudin bin Shadan and LTC (NS) Mohamad Kahar
“Even after a while, the NSmen are excited coming back to camp. It’s like catching up with friends for a much needed break. Personally, I need this retreat sometimes. Some of us are directors or managers in our own companies and I learn from them,” said LTC (NS) Mohamad Kahar.
Due to his positive approach, even his family is somehow involved each time he books into camp in Clementi.
“My mother-in-law would go to Chinatown to find herbs and boil the tea for me. Then my wife who doesn’t drive would take the bus all the way to my camp just to send it.”
He never wanted to trouble them both but they were more than happy to do it. It’s now a routine that has become part of his NS life and he cherishes it very much.
83-year-old CPT (Ret) Shamsudin bin Shadan was also there to share his stories about joining a British Army Camp as a peon when he was 17 and his time in the SAF during adulthood. He was a firm believer in the importance of discipline, granting him the nickname of ‘Mr Smart’ due to his neat military uniforms.
“Discipline is important because soldiers cannot play a fool,” he said, when recalling his time as task master and drill instructor.
3 of the invited SAF50 Personalities: SWO (Ret) Bob Chia, CPT (Ret) Shamsudin bin Shadan and COL (Ret) Frank Singam
COL (Ret) Frank Singam also started out young when he joined the pioneer batch of the Republic of Singapore Air Force at the tender age of 17 out of his love for flying. It became doubly special for him when he was handpicked to be part of the first batch of The Black Knights, the RSAF’s aerobatic team. He spoke with us about the difference in flying on missions and for special events such as airshows and National Day Parades.
“I was very honoured and happy to be chosen. It was a different kind of flying where you need to have a lot of faith in the leader and wingman. Even the people flying on your wing also have to have faith in you because when you do manoeuvres, you’ve got to be in position or else everyone fails,” he chuckled.
Photo courtesy of MINDEF
Check out more details of SAF50 and other inspirational stories of our servicemen and women here!
Also in celebration of Singapore’s 50th birthday, local film-making contest ciNE65 returns for the third season. Workshops and seminars will also be conducted throughout the course of the competition. Want to know more? Click here!
Enjoy exclusive SG50 activities with us here!