Dive into the heart of Total Defence Day in Singapore and witness the commitment and unity that protect the nation’s prosperity.
- Date: 15th February
- Main Components: Six aspects of Total Defence – Military, Civil, Economic, Social, Psychological, and Digital
- Popularity: Celebrated annually since 1984 with various activities and events
- Pairings: National Education, Singapore Story, SG Secure
- Variations: Climate Defence added in 2021 as a new aspect of Total Defence
Total Defence Day in Singapore is a day to commemorate the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942 during World War II, and to remind Singaporeans of the importance of national defence and security. It is held annually on 15 February, the same day that Singapore surrendered to the Japanese forces after a fierce battle that lasted for about a week.
Total Defence Day is also a day to celebrate the resilience and unity of Singaporeans, who have overcome various challenges and threats over the years, such as the Konfrontasi, the racial riots, the economic crises, the SARS outbreak, the haze, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the cyberattacks. It is a day to reaffirm our commitment to defend our nation, our way of life, and our future, by playing our part in the six aspects of Total Defence: Military, Civil, Economic, Social, Psychological, and Digital.
Total Defence Day is marked by various activities and events that aim to raise awareness, educate, and engage Singaporeans on Total Defence. These include exhibitions, competitions, quizzes, games, workshops, talks, performances, ceremonies, and campaigns. Some of these activities are organised by the government, while others are initiated by the community, schools, businesses, and individuals.
In this article, we will explore the history, significance, actions, and challenges of Total Defence in Singapore, and how we can all contribute to keep Singapore strong and secure.
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History of Total Defence
The concept of Total Defence originated from Singapore’s experience during World War II and the Japanese Occupation, which lasted from 1942 to 1945. During this period, Singapore suffered from the horrors of war, such as bombings, massacres, starvation, diseases, and atrocities. The British colonial government, which had promised to protect Singapore, failed to do so, and surrendered to the Japanese without consulting the local population. The people of Singapore felt betrayed, helpless, and humiliated.
The lessons learned from this dark chapter of Singapore’s history shaped the development of Singapore’s defence strategy after its independence in 1965. Singapore realised that it could not rely on others to defend itself, and that it had to build up its own defence capabilities and resources. Singapore also recognised that defence was not only the responsibility of the military, but also the responsibility of the whole nation, including the government, the civil defence, the economy, the society, and the people.
In 1984, Total Defence was officially declared as Singapore’s defence strategy by then Minister for Defence, Dr Goh Keng Swee. He explained that Total Defence was based on the idea that “everyone has a part to play in the defence of the country” and that “the will to survive as a nation must be strong”. He also outlined the five aspects of Total Defence: Military, Civil, Economic, Social, and Psychological.
Over the years, Total Defence evolved to cope with different challenges and threats that Singapore faced, such as the Konfrontasi, the racial riots, the economic crises, the SARS outbreak, the haze, the cyberattacks, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges tested Singapore’s resilience, cohesion, and preparedness, and also highlighted the importance of Total Defence. Total Defence also adapted to the changing needs and aspirations of Singaporeans, and incorporated new aspects such as Digital Defence in 2019 and Climate Defence in 2021.
Some of the key events and milestones in Total Defence history are:
- 1984: The first Total Defence Day was held on 15 February, with the theme “Total Defence: It’s Up To Us”. The event featured a nationwide siren sounding, a radio broadcast by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and various activities in schools and workplaces.
- 1987: The first Total Defence logo was launched, featuring a red circle with five white arrows pointing inwards, representing the five aspects of Total Defence. The logo also had the words “Total Defence” and “Singapore” in English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil.
- 1997: The first Total Defence Awards were presented, to recognise the contributions of individuals and organisations to Total Defence. The awards were given in five categories: NS Advocate Award, Home Team NS Award, Civil Defence NS Award, NSmen of the Year Award, and MINDEF/SAF NS Award.
- 2003: The first Total Defence song was released, titled “There’s A Part For Everyone”. The song was composed by Dick Lee and sung by a group of local celebrities, such as Stefanie Sun, JJ Lin, Taufik Batisah, and Kit Chan.
- 2009: The first Total Defence exhibition was held at the Singapore Discovery Centre, featuring interactive displays and games that showcased the history and significance of Total Defence. The exhibition also had a Permanent Exhibit Gallery, which displayed artefacts and stories related to Total Defence.
- 2014: The first Total Defence logo design competition was held, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Total Defence. The competition invited the public to submit their own designs of the Total Defence logo, based on the theme “Because You Played A Part”. The winning design was by Berwin See Hak Gei, a 19-year-old art student, who created a logo that featured six coloured arrows forming a hexagon, representing the six aspects of Total Defence.
- 2019: The first Total Defence Interactive Video was launched, to engage the public on Total Defence through a choose-your-own-adventure format. The video presented a scenario of a cyberattack on Singapore, and allowed the viewers to make decisions that would affect the outcome of the story. The video also introduced Digital Defence as the sixth aspect of Total Defence.
- 2021: The first Total Defence Sandbox was launched, to encourage ground-up innovation from Singaporeans, especially youths, to start initiatives that put Total Defence into action. The Total Defence Sandbox invited the public to share ideas on Total Defence, and aimed to nurture these ideas and eventually match them with partners who could support the implementation or amplification of their efforts. The Total Defence Sandbox also introduced Climate Defence as a new aspect of Total Defence.
Total Defence in Action
Total Defence is not only a concept or a strategy, but also a way of life for Singaporeans. It is about how we can all play our part in the defence of our nation, our way of life, and our future, by contributing to the six aspects of Total Defence: Military, Civil, Economic, Social, Psychological, and Digital. These aspects are interrelated and interdependent, and they work together to strengthen Singapore’s resilience and security.
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Military Defence is about how the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the National Service (NS) personnel protect Singapore from external threats and aggression. It is also about how the rest of us support the SAF and the NS, by respecting their sacrifices, recognising their contributions, and providing them with moral and material support.
We can play our part in Military Defence by:
- Serving NS dutifully and diligently, and fulfilling our in-camp training and IPPT requirements
- Supporting our family members, friends, and colleagues who are serving or have served NS
- Appreciating and thanking the SAF and the NS personnel for their service and dedication
- Learning more about the SAF and the NS, and their roles and missions, through platforms such as the NS Portal, the Cyberpioneer, and the Army News
- Participating in SAF-related events and activities, such as the SAF Day, the Army Open House, and the NS50 celebrations
Civil Defence is about how the Home Team and the civil defence agencies protect Singapore from non-military threats and emergencies, such as terrorism, crime, fire, accidents, and disasters. It is also about how the rest of us prepare ourselves for such situations, by learning the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources, and by helping one another in times of need.
We can play our part in Civil Defence by:
- Learning and practising emergency preparedness skills, such as first aid, CPR, fire-fighting, and evacuation
- Signing up as volunteers for the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the Singapore Police Force (SPF), or the SG Secure movement
- Reporting any suspicious activities or persons to the authorities, and following their instructions during a crisis
- Donating blood regularly to the blood banks, and registering as organ donors
- Participating in civil defence-related events and activities, such as the SCDF Day, the SPF Day, and the SG Secure roadshows
Economic Defence is about how the government and the businesses manage and grow Singapore’s economy, by creating jobs, attracting investments, diversifying markets, and enhancing competitiveness. It is also about how the rest of us contribute to the economy, by working hard, saving wisely, spending prudently, and upgrading our skills.
We can play our part in Economic Defence by:
- Working hard and being productive, innovative, and adaptable in our jobs
- Saving wisely and investing carefully for our future needs and retirement
- Spending prudently and supporting local businesses and products
- Upgrading our skills and knowledge through courses, workshops, and online platforms, such as SkillsFuture, MySkillsFuture, and Coursera
- Participating in economic-related events and activities, such as the Budget, the National Day Rally, and the Singapore Business Federation seminars.
Total Defence Challenges and Opportunities
Total Defence is not a static or fixed concept, but a dynamic and evolving one. It has to adapt and respond to the changing circumstances and needs of Singapore and Singaporeans, as well as the emerging challenges and opportunities that we face in the global and regional context.
Some of the current and future challenges and opportunities for Total Defence are:
- The COVID-19 pandemic, which has posed unprecedented health, economic, and social impacts on Singapore and the world, and has also highlighted the importance of resilience, solidarity, and innovation in overcoming the crisis
- The rise of China and India, which has reshaped the geopolitical and economic landscape of Asia and the world, and has also created new opportunities and challenges for Singapore’s foreign relations, trade, and security
- The threat of terrorism and extremism, which has increased in frequency and intensity in recent years, and has also tested Singapore’s vigilance, preparedness, and cohesion in the face of potential attacks
- The advancement of technology and digitalisation, which has transformed the way we live, work, and communicate, and has also brought new benefits and risks for Singapore’s economy, society, and security
- The challenge of climate change and environmental sustainability, which has become more urgent and pressing in the light of global warming, rising sea levels, and biodiversity loss, and has also spurred Singapore to take action and leadership in this area
We can overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities to strengthen Total Defence by:
- Staying alert and informed of the developments and trends that affect Singapore and the world, and being ready to adapt and respond to them
- Working together and supporting one another as Singaporeans, and not letting our differences or disagreements divide or weaken us
- Playing our part and doing our best in our respective roles and responsibilities, and not taking our peace and prosperity for granted
- Innovating and creating new solutions and ideas that can enhance Singapore’s competitiveness and resilience, and not being complacent or satisfied with the status quo
- Contributing and giving back to the community and the nation, and not being selfish or indifferent to the needs and aspirations of others.
TOTAL DEFENCE DAY IN SINGAPORE WISHES, QUOTES, AND MESSAGES
TOP 20 TOTAL DEFENCE DAY IN SINGAPORE WISHES AND GREETINGS
Here are 20 unique wishes and greetings for Total Defence Day:
- “May the spirit of Total Defence continue to unite us, protecting our nation from all adversities. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “On this Total Defence Day, let’s stand together, stronger and more resilient than ever. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “Defending our home, protecting our future. Wishing you a meaningful Total Defence Day.”
- “As Singaporeans, we are united in defending our nation. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “Strength in unity, resilience in diversity. Happy Total Defence Day, Singapore!”
- “Remembering the past, securing the future. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “Our commitment to Total Defence makes us stronger, safer, and prouder. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “On Total Defence Day, let’s renew our pledge to safeguard our homeland. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “From economic defence to social defence, we are one strong nation. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “Happy Total Defence Day! Let’s build a resilient Singapore together.”
- “As we commemorate Total Defence Day, let’s remember the sacrifices and dedication of those who protect us.”
- “Total Defence is our strength, unity, and hope. Wishing you a reflective Total Defence Day.”
- “In unity, we find strength. Happy Total Defence Day, Singapore!”
- “On this Total Defence Day, let’s reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding our nation and our loved ones.”
- “United we stand, defending our homeland with pride. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “May the five pillars of Total Defence continue to shield our nation. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “Total Defence is a promise we make to protect our land and loved ones. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “On Total Defence Day, let’s remember that every one of us plays a part in building a resilient nation.”
- “From individuals to communities, we all have a role in Total Defence. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “As Total Defence Day dawns, let’s cherish the safety and unity it represents. Happy Total Defence Day, Singapore!”
TOP 20 TOTAL DEFENCE DAY IN SINGAPORE QUOTES
Here are 20 unique Total Defence Day quotes that reflect the spirit of resilience and unity in Singapore:
- “Total Defence is not just a concept; it’s a commitment to safeguard our nation’s future.”
- “In unity, there is strength; in Total Defence, there is resilience.”
- “Total Defence Day reminds us that every citizen is a soldier in the defense of our homeland.”
- “Our diversity is our strength, and Total Defence is our shield.”
- “Strength in diversity, resilience in unity – that’s the essence of Total Defence.”
- “Total Defence: Where every act of kindness and every effort to protect our land matters.”
- “The five pillars of Total Defence create a strong foundation for Singapore’s security and prosperity.”
- “Total Defence is not just about protecting our nation; it’s about preserving our way of life.”
- “Total Defence is a reminder that our collective efforts ensure a safer, brighter future for Singapore.”
- “From economic resilience to social unity, Total Defence strengthens every aspect of our society.”
- “Total Defence Day is a symbol of Singaporeans coming together to protect what we hold dear.”
- “Resilience is the bridge that connects our past sacrifices to our future security.”
- “Our strength lies in our commitment to Total Defence and our unwavering belief in Singapore.”
- “Total Defence Day is a celebration of our determination to overcome challenges and adversity.”
- “In the face of adversity, Singaporeans stand as one, defending our nation with pride.”
- “Total Defence is not just a duty; it’s a testament to the strength of our collective spirit.”
- “Total Defence is our promise to ensure Singapore remains a safe and prosperous home for all.”
- “In times of peace and in times of crisis, Total Defence keeps our nation secure.”
- “Total Defence is the foundation upon which Singapore’s future is built.”
- “As we celebrate Total Defence Day, let us remember that our unity and resilience are our greatest assets.”
TOP 20 TOTAL DEFENCE DAY IN SINGAPORE MESSAGES/SMS
Here are 20 unique Total Defence Day messages that you can share to commemorate this important day in Singapore:
- “Happy Total Defence Day! Let’s cherish our nation’s resilience and unity as we stand together to protect Singapore.”
- “On this Total Defence Day, let’s renew our commitment to safeguarding our beloved homeland. Strength in unity!”
- “Total Defence Day reminds us that each one of us has a role in ensuring Singapore’s security and prosperity. Thank you for your dedication.”
- “From economic strength to social harmony, Total Defence shapes our nation’s future. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “Wishing you a meaningful Total Defence Day. Let’s continue building a secure and resilient Singapore together.”
- “As we celebrate Total Defence Day, let’s remember the sacrifices and efforts that make Singapore a safer place for all.”
- “Total Defence is not just a concept; it’s our way of life. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “Our unity is our strength, and our resilience is our shield. Happy Total Defence Day, Singapore!”
- “In unity, we find strength. Let’s stand together and protect our homeland. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “Total Defence Day is a reminder that Singaporeans are not just citizens; we are defenders of our nation.”
- “From safeguarding our economy to preserving our culture, Total Defence is our commitment to a better future.”
- “Total Defence is the heartbeat of our nation. Let’s keep it strong and steady. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “On Total Defence Day, we celebrate the unwavering spirit of our people in safeguarding our way of life.”
- “In times of peace and in times of crisis, Total Defence keeps Singapore secure. Happy Total Defence Day!”
- “Happy Total Defence Day! Our collective efforts ensure a brighter and safer future for Singapore.”
- “Total Defence is not just a responsibility; it’s a source of pride for all Singaporeans.”
- “Total Defence Day is a testament to the strength and unity of our nation. Thank you for being a part of this journey.”
- “Let’s stand strong and united on Total Defence Day and every day. Together, we protect Singapore.”
- “From the past sacrifices to the future challenges, Total Defence is our promise of a secure Singapore.”
- “As we commemorate Total Defence Day, let’s remember that our unity and resilience are our greatest assets. Happy Total Defence Day!”
Total Defence Day in Singapore is more than just a commemoration of the past, but also a celebration of the present and a preparation for the future. It is a day to remember the lessons and sacrifices of our forefathers, who fought and died for our freedom and independence. It is also a day to appreciate the achievements and contributions of our fellow Singaporeans, who have built and defended our nation and our way of life. And it is also a day to reaffirm our commitment and responsibility to defend and secure our nation and our future, by playing our part in the six aspects of Total Defence.
Total Defence is not only a concept or a strategy, but also a way of life for Singaporeans. It is about how we can all work together and support one another, to keep Singapore strong and secure, in the face of any challenges or threats. It is also about how we can all contribute and make a difference, to make Singapore a better place to live, work, and play, for ourselves and for generations to come.
As we celebrate Total Defence Day in Singapore, let us remember the words of former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, who said: “Total Defence is not a slogan. It is a way of life. It is a state of mind. It is a spirit that unites us and makes us strong”. And let us also remember the slogan of Total Defence, which is: “Together We Keep Singapore Strong”.