Ready for Total Defence Day?

Ready for Total Defence Day?

As we commemorate the 72th anniversary of the Battle of Singapore (8th to 15th February 1942), Singaporeans remember what it was like when chaos and anarchy ran free in our lands during World War II. Ending off on the 15th of February, this gentle reminder is further underlined by the fact that it is also Total Defence Day!

Started in 1984, this year marks the 30th anniversary of our nation’s Total Defence Day. As part of our comprehensive defence strategy, it serves to remind us of our nation’s limited resources and every citizen’s role in defending our fair land. 

Everyone is a piece of the Total Defence puzzle!
Photo sourced from

Recognising the rallying deeds of our nation, this year’s Total Defence Day theme places an emphasis on paying tribute to the unsung heroes who have defended this country. Whether be it a bus driver or a community garden volunteer, director of Defence Ministry unit Nexus, Colonel Roland Ng said that this year’s Total Defence Day will be about affirming the contributions of these everyday Singaporeans. 

United we stand in Total Defence!
Photo sourced from

Originally adapted from European countries like Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden, it serves to remind us that aggressors can wreck a country through means other than military action. The peaceful equilibrium which we enjoy through our economic and social systems is a delicate stability which comprises of five main aspects or pillars. They are as follows:

Five Pillars of Total Defence

The five pillars that make out our nation’s Total Defence
Photo sourced from

Military Defence

With the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) as our nation’s main military arm, a strong military defence is the responsibility of NSmen, full-time National Servicemen and SAF regulars. Should deterrence and diplomacy fail, they must have the capability to undertake an effective and decisive action.

Civil Defence

Providing the safety and basic needs of the general population, the Singapore Civil Defence Force is entrusted with the nation’s internal security so that life may go on as normal as possible. Tasked with rescue work, evacuation and damage control, they not only safeguard the population at large but also fortify the morale of our soldiers through the assurance that their loved ones are safe and sound. 

Economic Defence

Putting in place a contingency war plan, economic defence is vital in ensuring the smooth operation of governmental and business infrastructures in the threat of war. It ensures that there are adequate resources for the upkeep of military and civil defence. This can be achieved through the cultivation of good working attitude and constant skills upgrade. 

Social Defence

With the basic building block of equality, social defence is founded upon the principle of racial and religious tolerance and respect. A call to serve the larger community, every citizen with the ability, education and training should show care and concern for those less fortunate.

Psychological Defence 

Referring to the individual citizen’s patriotic commitment and confidence, psychological defence calls upon the collective will to progress and prosper as a nation. We are taught to stand up for our rights and should protect what is ours in our own way.

A Look Back at Total Defence Day

So, what is your impression of Total Defence Day? We dug deep into our mind and relive our five cherished Total Defence Day memories!

A stroll down Total Defence Day memory lane...
Photos sourced from

1. Total Defence Day assembly

Photo sourced from

Total Defence Day was always a big affair in school with a prolonged period of assembly. While some students were just glad to skip their dreaded first two periods of Additional Math, most would have felt a sense of patriotism coursing through them with the reading of the Total Defence Day message. Add the intriguing educational skits into that mix, and we can’t help but bleed red and white for that faithful day.  

2. Food Rationing

Photos sourced from and

In a bid to replicate a food shortage scenario, we remember our school shutting down the canteen for the day. Although we weren’t full from our ration of biscuits and water, there was certainly no trusty McDelivery to fall back on during our time. Interestingly, our teachers introduced us to the concept of the black market with extremely overpriced food. It was certainly no fun squeezing with the mob for a measly package of fried bee hoon, that’s for sure!

3. Civil Defence’s Public Warning System Siren

Photos sourced from and

Without fail at 12pm, we remembered being treated to the wailing repertoire of the Civil Defence’s Public Warning System sirens. Not only did it drive our entire class into a frenzy, it was also a timely reminder that school was going to be out shortly! 

4. Fire Safety Display

We didn’t start the fire in the school, we swear!
Photos sourced from and

For the whole school year, we were always curious about the shiny fire extinguishers around the school. But on Total Defence Day, that was the one day when our curiosity was finally satisfied. Not unlike a science lab display, our eyes were firmly glued to our teachers as they demonstrated the different kinds of fire extinguishers. Besides, it’s not an everyday thing to see a fire in school. Even, if it was a controlled one.

5. Water Rationing 

Probably the most memorable Total Defence Day school activity, it is memorable for all the wrong reasons. With all the water coolers and toilets dry as a bone, we were definitely grateful for our water bottles that day. Not to mention that the toilets’ stench that lingered on in our young impressible mind.

Total Defence Day Activities:

Because You Played A Part
Total Defence 30: An Experiential Showcase 
Where: National Museum
When: 15th to 23th Feb

The interactive exhibition will demonstrate how everyday Singaporeans play their part in fostering a tight community as well as reflecting on the role that the individual can take on in total defence  

We Are The Stories We Tell Ourselves: A Social Dining Experiment 
Where: Food For Thought, Level 1 National Museum
When:  18th & 20th Feb, 7.30pm-9.30pm
Cost: Free

Share a conversation with fellow Singaporeans over a meal and share the Singapore stories with people from all walks of life!

Le Gluttony X Total Defence: Singapore Food and Film Festival
Where: National Museum
When: 21th & 22th Feb
Cost: Free

Comprising of a carnival, pasar malam (market bazzar) and food stores, Le Gluttony is a food and arts festival that celebrates local culture. Be sure to check out this special Total Defence edition which features local F&B entrepreneurs, film and music!

Project Happy Feet Slipper Race 2014: Total Defence Edition
Where: National Museum
When: 22th Feb
Cost: S$35

Support local underprivileged kids by taking part in this non-competitive slipper race! Inspired by the ordeal that rural children have to go through, this Project Happy Feet’s event hopes to raise funds to support the education of these disadvantaged children.

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