Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Dr. Ng Eng Hen's reply on the Defense Budget...

A  number of MPs asked about the size of our defense budget : Pritam Singh, Dr. Lim Wee Kiat, Ms Ellen Lee, Mr Ong Teng Koon and Denise Phua.  There were also suggestions in parliament to re-allocate some of the defense for social expediture.

"To finance the increasing social expenditure, Ms Phua suggested reviewing the budget allocation to defence expenditure" - Today[Link].


Dr. Ng's full reply to the MPs is found here.

Dr. Ng answered the question in 2 parts WHY we need to spend so much and HOW we decide what to spend on and how much to spend:

"No one, no country, wants to be violated. Dr Lim rightly pointed out that we remain vulnerable. He and Mr Pritam Singh have asked the right questions. How does Singapore, a small country with little natural resources, defend itself against traditional and non-traditional threats? What kind of SAF do we need? How will we know when we have achieved it? Sir, these immutable constraints force us to leverage on technology, innovation and unflinching human will to overcome our limitations. Translated to stark military terms, we have to know more, see first, and respond sharply and decisively to disable, if not destroy, would-be aggressors. That kind of capability is hard to come by, even if we are willing to pay for it. But we have made considerable progress over the years. The questions that you today asked indicate that we have made considerable progress. How are we changing our SAF? Can we afford to relax a little? Can we now reduce NS commitments? The very fact that you are asking this is a reflection that we have succeeded."

Basically Dr. Ng is saying that we need to leverage on technology, build up capabilities and transform the SAF into a 3rd Generation (3G) fighting force. One example of an advanced capability he gave was that of an "integrated strike" in which the SAF can respond rapidly to threats and targets by linking various sensors and weapons platforms such as HIMARS and fighters. An impressive video of such an operation was shown in parliament. According to Dr. Ng, once such advanced capabilities are attained, it is necessary to maintain it.

Dr. Ng on HOW we decide on how much and what to spend on:

"I want to assure MPs that MINDEF is mindful of our responsibility to spend carefully and wisely. We are acutely aware that we are a major share of the government budget. We buy only what we need, scrutinise available options for the most cost-effective solution. Our first instinct is to upgrade existing platforms to extend their lifespan, instead of purchasing new ones. So for example, the Navy's corvettes - some of you may have served on it - are 21 years old, but instead of being replaced immediately, will be upgraded to add many more years of operations. Our two Archer-class submarines were bought second-hand and upgraded to be stealthier, with longer endurance, and extended reach. "

I would like to thank all the MPs who brought up this issue and Dr. Ng for his reply. However, I'm not convinced that we have struck a balance between social spending and defense. Today 25% of our govt budget goes to defense and this proportion is even larger that Israel's defense spending as a % of govt budget. At the same time, we have the lowest % govt expenditure on health care among all OECD countries. Singaporeans shoulder the highest % of health care cost among developing countries. For a govt that pledge change, it cannot leave this imbalance unaddressed. Minister Tharman's maths on the "$1000 income can own flat" and $400K subsidy for the poor is fuzzy to say the least. All we need to do is look at the budget allocation to tell if govt has struck a balance between ocial spending and defense spending - the current allocation tells us that much more change is needed....

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed. We should ask why can't we spend 20% prudently instead of 25% prudently on Defence. And let us spend the other 5% prudently on Health or social services. What can be wrong with more doctors, nurses, Allied health workers, more hospital beds, social workers etc etc without more taxes?

Anonymous said...

Singapore excessive military spending has its' origin in the paranoid mind of LKY. At a tender young age, his father punished him by dangling him upside-down over a well. Such cruel treatment has left a deep and irreparable damage in that young mind. A lot of the extremist policies of the pap owed their origins to that paranoid mind.

Anonymous said...

NEH did NOT address the argument of WHY (comparatively speaking) Budget allocation for Defense should be HIGHER than social spending. Doesn't investment in Singaporeans ultimately benefit Defense because MinDef is manned by Singaporeans?

Skirting around the issue without addressing it directly.

Anonymous said...

//We have to show Singaporeans that we value their contributions and that is what we are trying to do. Whether it is through education, pre-school education, special education, health, housing, retirement, even the SAF itself, it is all for Singaporeans//

What a Bull. The realities on the ground is very different than what's painted here. There's no special access than say from PRs and some % of privileged foreigners. There is no singaporeans' first PR second and FT last. There is only everybody is the same - is called meritocracy.

Please stop contradicting yourself on your high brown principle and look at what you preach is not what you do.

Anonymous said...

The only way they show they value singaporean's contribution is by +$60 per NS man...yeah BIG DEAL.

That's $1440 of gain over 2 years of lost time/opportunity. You know how much a fella PR/FT would be making while I sweat and slog while they make the gain. For what *fuxxxxxing" purpose?

WHO IS ATTACKING US>? Is there an Iran that openly say they want to decimate Israel like they say will decimate Singapore? What kind of phantom enemies are in their head?

Anonymous said...

"We have said previously that the Government is prepared to spend up to 6% of GDP on defence, but MINDEF only asks for what we need each year"

So if they're prepared to spend up to 6% then why the extra 19% for? How much of it is spend on

- Acquisition
- Maintenance
- Upgrade/Trade off?

I mean who doesn't want the latest shining iPad & iPhone of the Defence tools. But really, other than making your ego feels good, you can only quantify that our Dental team has done "good" and treated many rotten decay tooths?!!! Jeesh!!! That's what you have to show for 25% of spend?

If Tharman can come up with every $1 you taxed, you get back $4.

I am sure Singaporean can come up with the same argument - every $40 we spent on healthcare, you get $1 support from this govt.

Enough said..

Anonymous said...

IF Singaporean NS men are the first line of response in defense, then they should also be the first-line of priority when it comes to Jobs, Educations, Healthcare, Retirements.

And what does that mean? PRs should be the 2nd line of defense? Why not? And what are making them do/or show their commitment? ARe they required to volunteer X hrs at SCDF? Are they required to volunteer x hrs at the much needed Social & Elderly programs? Why don't we have say a set minimal requirements for them? There are MANY up to 1m of long terms PRs here who have not contributed other than paying taxes, getting jobs and consumption just like every DAMN singapoean citizens is doing. Just a bunch of locusts.

The president's view that "Singaporeans first, does not mean Singaporeans only" does not cut in reality.

Anonymous said...

"For a govt that pledge change, it cannot leave this imbalance unaddressed."
Lucky Tan

So what if this imbalance is unaddressed?

So what if there is no by election in Hougang?

Will the opposition become more united, stronger and better as a result?

Will PAP still be the best available choice come GE 2016?

Anonymous said...

Count those with a social work background in parliament, then count those with a military career background. Hard truth in the face.

Anonymous said...

The president's view that "Singaporeans first, does not mean Singaporeans only" does not cut in reality.
Anon 7/3/12 11:40

Despite winning only 35% votes, he was elected President.

Despite winning only 60% votes, PAP has 93% seats. And with the option to even make a seat remain vacant.

Surely, these really matters and cut in reality, no?

Amused said...

He gave a non answer to the size of the current defense budget.

What is the consequence of cutting 10% from the defense budget? Does it make Singapore any more vulnerable? What if Singapore enters a nasty recession when govt revenue drops 10%?

Why is defense spending so much more important than health care or education? It is current taking monies away from health care, education, and social services. Shouldn't Singaporean have a say on the spending?

Anonymous said...

It's hard to feel sorry for the operationally ready NS men if they complain about their NS obligations;
and yet keep voting PAP every elections.

Maybe the pay is more than enough?
And army life too easy?

Anonymous said...

"Shouldn't Singaporean have a say on the spending?"
Anon 7/3/12 13:16

Of course, they have a say on the spending.

BUT ONLY THROUGH A GOVT THEY CHOOSE!!!!!

Too bad if the chosen govt does not do what Singaporeans want.

Anonymous said...

Singapore can count on the 60% for whatever it is now.

Lucky Tan should therefore try to count on the 60% to have his way on how to spend, how to reduce inequality, etc etc.

Obviously 7 years of good and serious blogging does not help.

Anonymous said...

Singapore can count on the 60% for whatever it is now.

Lucky Tan should therefore try to count on the 60% to have his way on how to spend, how to reduce inequality, etc etc.

Obviously 7 years of good and serious blogging does not help.

Anonymous said...

How to win over the 60% from the PAP, that should be the question.

And not why defence spending is so high, why not enough social spending, etc, etc.

Ng Eng Hou said...

To get them to change to rebalance more to social spending is going to be as hard as moving a mountain. They never change. They only said sorry but didn't mean it.

Only If We Change Them Only Will Change Happen. This Will Be In 2016!

Anonymous said...

Israel has around 7.6m population now, smaller if you don't count those transient citizenships they gave away to anybody who is borned-jews.

Look at the wars they have engaged in the past for their own survival - from sinai campaign in 1956, 6day war in 1967, yom kipper war 1973 to the war in lebanon plus many other intifadas and provocations they constantly face in the midst of the ME zone. Facing all these real wars they have consistently defended themselves well (of course with strong aids) but at least you can claim they are an well embattled team with enemies to fight off. And what's their defense budget GDP?

Then you look at singapore, what's around you?
People are busy building wealth and participate in capitalism, and we have 25% bloody spend on Defense? Fighting who? Like peacetime vigilance of terrorism need so much? You can't even keep watch on a limping terrorist!

Somebody please wake the paper generals MIW up!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Despite winning only 35% votes, he was elected President."
Anon 7/3/12 12:46

If there is a by election in Hougang, there may even be a chance of winning only 35% votes and being elected MP. May not even be from WP.

Hahahaha.

Anonymous said...

"If there is a by election in Hougang, there may even be a chance of winning only 35% votes and being elected MP. May not even be from WP."
Anon 7/3/12 14:27

Possible, if Tan Jee Say were to contest, with a 3 or 4 corner fight. And PAP will win with 35% votes!

Hahahaha.

Anonymous said...

So in future, no need 60%. 35% will be enough to be elected MP or even form the govt.

Anonymous said...

//Then you look at singapore, what's around you?
People are busy building wealth and participate in capitalism, and we have 25% bloody spend on Defense? Fighting who? Like peacetime vigilance of terrorism need so much? You can't even keep watch on a limping terrorist! //

I suspect there are more than meets the eyes.
Interpol now has a branch/operation here.
White-collar crimes like money laundering due to financial liberations plus casinos etc..I'm sure eats up a lot of the fundings too. Just not sure if that falls under Home team or Defense budget? We are not getting to the bottom of things yet..just scratching surface. But like Temasek/GIC they will say is classified and we so it will remain opaque. But this is another BIG BLACK HOLE that needs to be questioned.

Anonymous said...

"How does Singapore, a small country with little natural resources, defend itself against traditional and non-traditional threats?". Unquote

Is it not precisely the Above-quoted reason that Singapore needs not spend much on defense? Who want a resourceless tiny speck of land and for what??? Unless the enemy is out to teach the inhabitants of Sin a lesson, no one will spend a cent to attack it. Why would anyone waste a cent on it?

Spending that sinful amount on defense of the tiny dot is like spending one million dollars to remove the cancer of an 80 year old man. Much goes to waste too.

Anonymous said...

Is it the end of the debate, how come the MPs did not look into the details of the spending.

Anonymous said...

The irony here...is singaporean citizens are defending the assets of the rich (number amongst them many PAP MPs/Ministers)...

Do these idiots understand if you continue with your inane policies...

The ONLY people left to defend you will your cronies and those you have to buy over...

Problem here is your cronies will be the 1st to fly off/run away...as to those you bought...will they continued to stay bought?

Why should i or my men fight, continue to make sacrifices and died (how many NS men has died in peace time and for what? To continue to protect an ungrateful gov't which is always about itself 1st) for a government that always put itself above its citizens?

I state nay.

Never again.

Anonymous said...

"Who want a resourceless tiny speck of land and for what??? Unless the enemy is out to teach the inhabitants of Sin a lesson, no one will spend a cent to attack it. Why would anyone waste a cent on it?"
Anon 7/3/12 15:22

How come no MP, not even opposition, asked like the way you ask?

So is it something wrong with the way you ask?

Anonymous said...

So is it something wrong with the way you ask?

7/3/12 16:04

@ Above Anon;

What was wrong with the question?

Can You offer us some possible reason for Sg to be invaded?

As it is, it is deemed very much alien occupied, BUT, it was not military invasion, rather the aliens are invited.

Anonymous said...

Hen reply is too vague and salesy for comfort. He should give a detailed breakdown on mindef spending of 25% of budget rather to show a marketing video. In all probability, mindef is over allocated for a demo army that has not been tested since inception. Also, the practice of posting all these retired cols and BGs into the stat boards, GLC and civil service sap the nation of the vibrant vitality that is needed to compete effectively with other countries.

Anonymous said...

Only the PAP elites and the very rich in Singapore do not wish Singapore to be violated because they have assets and wealth to protect. The ordinary Singaporeans who need to work until they die and ultimately leaving nothing for their children because even the HDB flat which sucked up most of the earnings would have to be returned to the government because it is leased from the HDB, have nothing much to lose even if Singapore is defeated in a war. The average NS men are just made used to protect the interests of others.

Anonymous said...

The more money your family have;
the longer you must serve NS.

Since you got more to lose if war breaks out.
Fair?

Ahmad Koh said...

Reduce NS to 6 months and use the savings to finance universal health care for the aged. This is doable. The problem is that cutting defense spending will affect vested interests. Sporeans dont have the consciousness to support political parties willing to replace the archaic 2 year NS with a more relevant 1 year or 6 month NS.

Anonymous said...

"Singapore excessive military spending has its' origin in the paranoid mind of LKY". Unquote.

He needs the army when there is freak election result when the incumbent is voted out. In a way, he has prepared way in advance in anticipation of such an event, which WILL happen.

Anonymous said...

i am always very surprise why so many admin staff in defence office can carry very branded (e.g. LV, chanel, gucci) handbags and driving very nice cars to work. what is really happening to all taxpayers monies? more to meet the eyes, i think.

Anonymous said...

i feel that the money on military side spent too much unjustified. Perhaps there are justification on new technologies and weapons.

but there are also too much money paid to high ranking officers. Are they really worth the price?

i still remember my OC told me each meal army provide worth $10. I cant imagine with economy of scale, it still cost so much more than what i eat at home.

i can eat tastier and equivalent healthy food at the cost of $5 per meal outside.

Anonymous said...

force us to leverage on technology, innovation and unflinching human will to overcome our limitations. Translated to stark military terms, we have to know more, see first, and respond sharply and decisively to disable, if not destroy, would-be aggressors. That kind of capability is hard to come by, even if we are willing to pay for it.

Sorry ah, with all these you still can't prevent a limping man from escaping from his prison.

Anonymous said...

I think the most important question is why are our S'porean male made to shoulder national defense while our PRs n FTs partake in this sense of security. The question is not the defense budget but why are our men in green facing unfair job n education competition. The budget is fine if it is used to protect S'poreans. I have no quarrel with NS but it is leaving a very sour aftertaste to me in view of recent immigration policies. I have scarificed my time, I do not want my son to scarifice his time for some free loaders.

Anonymous said...

MINDEF appears to forget u can have the best weapons but it is useless if the troops have zero morale.

At the critical moment, the troops may simply surrender without a fight.

If a real war really occurs in SG, this scenario has become very real thanks to the FT policy.

Anonymous said...

"I think the most important question is why are our S'porean male made to shoulder national defense while our PRs n FTs partake in this sense of security. The question is not the defense budget but why are our men in green facing unfair job n education competition."
Anon 8/3/12 09:13

If I were PAP, I would not be bothered whether this is unfair or not.

As long as the opposition are what they are now, and also most likely in the future.

And as such, PAP is considered the best available party to vote for by majority voters.

By the way, if this is unfair, it is not the only unfair thing in Singapore!

Anonymous said...

"MINDEF appears to forget u can have the best weapons but it is useless if the troops have zero morale."
Anon 8/3/12 09:32

In ancient times, if you have a lot of troops with good morale, you will have a strong army and can conquer. That's how Alexander the Great and Genghiz Khan created empires from the lands they conquered.

But in modern warfare, having lots of troops are not that critical. You are not fighting with swords, bows and arrows. It is modern weapons, especially superior air power and precision missiles that is decisive in winning the battle.

Just look at the 2003 Iraq War and more recently the 2011 Libya war. It is superior air power operated by a not that big group of well trained, high morale pilots and support staff.

Anonymous said...

Japan surrendered in 1945 because of 2 atomic bombs dropped from planes operated by 2 (or a few) pilots!

Chan JY said...

And let's not forget that a lot of "threats" we face may actually grown in tandem with our "defence capabilities".

Anonymous said...

Check out this blog icomeiseeisighi.wordpress.com
Another view of the way we spend or not spend our defense blurrget

Anonymous said...

You can moan and groan all you want. Maintaining an expensive armed force is in the same category of maintaining an expensive office for an old MP. It is in the interest of the rulers.
They have to have a huge defence budget to protect what they own. Those without an ownership here will always view those high spending as wasteful and would rather have a better social safety net. So you see, who takes care of whose interests first?

ExtraPie said...

Hello, I am not from Singapore but I have been reading a lot about Singapore.

The problem with all countries is that there is always a group who wants to expand the military indefinitely and anyone who even dares to question it is a traitor!

The Question is who wants to invade Singapore and what will Singapore do.

If Someone wants to invade Singapore it will be for the reason to kill everyone, because there are no other reasons.

So in response to this threat which has a very small % of happening what kind of defense is needed.

What is needed is that you can have some sort of holding action so that the decision makers can then launch some very powerful bombs or nuclear bombs.

There are non-nuclear bombs with the explosive power of small nuclear bombs

The US and Russia both have these types and Singapore could purchase those or build similar ones.

Basically any Singapore defense above the level of having maybe 20-50 powerful bombs and a holding army is just wasteful spending.

But of course there are obviously vested interests that would never appreciate a cut.

So you can't cut the military budget but you can freeze it until it becomes 5-10% of the Governments budget not like now 25% and do not confuse this with % of GDP which is different.

GDP is the total value of the whole economy, the Government does not own the whole economy therefore it is not the same.

Anonymous said...

We have the world's highest paid politicians. They are worried each night if their assets in this country are violated. That's why defence spending will always outweigh social and infrastructural spending in Singapore. And the poor NS man is there to protect these politicians and millionaires' assets - not the country that is called city state.

GE 2016 belongs to the incumbent because Singaporeans have become so disunited that they are continuing to open the floddgates to foreigners.

They are waiting for the the situation to reach homeostasis.

If you would like more real opportunities, better weather, free space, better transportation system, then leave and establish your life overseas.

Singapore is not for Singaporeans. The PAP of today wants it more for cheap labour. This is an island of PRCs, Pinoys, India Indians, Indonesians, Burmese and Banglas.

Anonymous said...

In a real war a city state such as Singapore needs to deliver many blows in order to disable or destroy countries such as China or India or North or South Korea. OTOH, any of these countries needs only a single fatal blow to knock us out to kingdom come.We have nowhere to run to much less to hide. So trying to build a sophisticated state of the art fighting force is useless and wasteful when it comes to a real war.

Anonymous said...

Why waste our money??!! Singapore already invaded by FT!!!

Anonymous said...

The total health of a nation is tied directly to defense. It is not just about tanks, jets, and ships however - it is also about having an informed highly educated population, self-reliance in economic, social, financial, and agricultural terms, as well as ideological unity and national identity.

There is nothing wrong with having a high defense budget - especially for a minute city-state like Singapore - however it must be ensured this money is going into programs that contribute to both its military posture as well as its socio-economic health - which also contributes to national defense.

I know for a fact there is IMMENSE waste and abuse ongoing in MINDEF surrounding shady military contractors from overseas and their facilitators within Singapore. Ferret them out in tandem with any budget reevaluation and instead of cutting budgets, try seeing what dual-purpose programs can be bolstered to counter non-military threats to Singapore's national security.

It must also be remembered that there are significant threats from beyond Singapore's borders that are not in the form of enemy troops and weapons - but rather non-traditional attacks through corporate and financial institutions, foreign funded political unrest, propaganda, etc. These are real - these have existed since the beginning of time, and it would be foolhardy at best - suicidal at worst to ignore or discount them.

Lastly, never forget the timeless maxim - if you want peace, prepare for war. Those that claim "no one is attacking us, we don't need a military" are as uninformed as they are naive.

Anon 7/3/12 11:38 claiming Iran threatened to wipe Israel off the map - a completely false statement shows how utterly uninformed, and indeed childlike many's understandings are about the current geopolitical climate globally.

Nations like the US and Israel inventing casus belli to wage wars of opportunity on nations like Iran is the EXACT reason Singapore needs a robust and dynamic national defense.

Anonymous said...

MnwAsh [url=http://onnrainnmcm.com/#42441]MCM 店舗[/url] UrpFce http://onnrainnmcm.com/ FllKnh [url=http://mcmsenmon.com/#11435]MCM キーケース[/url] BvpSnn http://mcmsenmon.com/ YecRzy [url=http://ninnkimcm.com/#83652]MCM[/url] SfaZkh http://ninnkimcm.com/ HbgLri [url=http://kaidokumcm.com/#26207]MCM キーケース[/url] LvjPrt http://kaidokumcm.com/ UbvPyc [url=http://manzokumcm.com/#27952]MCM バッグ[/url] FslZga http://manzokumcm.com/ XfxAhb http://chloenihon.com/ TqnQcj [url=http://chloenihon.com/]クロエ ネックレス[/url] RbyOtd http://louboutindendou.com/ KcaSko [url=http://louboutindendou.com/]クリスチャンルブタン ブーツ[/url] IylLzi http://guccisenmon.com/ JjhOtc [url=http://guccisenmon.com/]GUCCI 帽子[/url] RuoHuk [url=http://mcmhannbai.com/]MCM 財布[/url] UxjRko [url=http://mcmhannbai.com/]MCM[/url]

Anonymous said...

MvfCqs [url=http://onnrainnmcm.com/#15923]MCM 長財布[/url] ModPzr http://onnrainnmcm.com/ GxzMnl [url=http://mcmsenmon.com/#52884]MCM iphoneケース[/url] BenVmk http://mcmsenmon.com/ DrcObw [url=http://ninnkimcm.com/#21883]MCM 韓国[/url] ShnWhi http://ninnkimcm.com/ FpuBqa [url=http://kaidokumcm.com/#44409]MCM 店舗[/url] HmiNvl http://kaidokumcm.com/ MjsRmv [url=http://manzokumcm.com/#19206]MCM 長財布[/url] MykRtl http://manzokumcm.com/ EsbXjd http://chloenihon.com/ HlpTrp [url=http://chloenihon.com/]クロエ 通販[/url] LoyH http://toumikousin.com/ BcgQT [url=http://toumikousin.com/]TUMI ショルダー[/url] SxbAoY http://toumikakaku.com/ WpaEhPV [url=http://toumikakaku.com/]TUMI 26141[/url] LccKhe [url=http://mcmhannbai.com/]MCM 店舗[/url] EevFip [url=http://mcmhannbai.com/]MCM ショルダー[/url]

Anonymous said...

LymUmc [url=http://onnrainnmcm.com/#67819]MCM 長財布[/url] McwLpt http://onnrainnmcm.com/ HfzRta [url=http://mcmsenmon.com/#63611]MCM 長財布[/url] LjkElo http://mcmsenmon.com/ LuoHip [url=http://ninnkimcm.com/#56919]MCM 店舗[/url] LgyGeh http://ninnkimcm.com/ HtjAny [url=http://kaidokumcm.com/#26894]MCM 通販[/url] FxmJmd http://kaidokumcm.com/ KblZlz [url=http://manzokumcm.com/#99338]MCM 通販[/url] XkyYrc http://manzokumcm.com/ NalDiy http://chloenihon.com/ TsfKnz [url=http://chloenihon.com/]クロエ キーケース[/url] BvsF http://toumikousin.com/ FgnJD [url=http://toumikousin.com/]トゥミ[/url] KfnXvT http://toumikakaku.com/ ClhUuFK [url=http://toumikakaku.com/]TUMI 26114[/url] OxlYbn [url=http://mcmhannbai.com/]MCM 店舗[/url] SzaGcv [url=http://mcmhannbai.com/]mcm3806[/url]