RSIS Total Defence Day Roundtable on “Protecting the Singaporean Way of Life: Past, Present and Future”
- Associate Professor Bernard Loo, Military Studies Programme; Coordinator, Master of Science (Strategic Studies)
- Dr Shashi Jayakumar, Senior Fellow and Deputy Head, Centre of Excellence for National Security
- Dr Daniel Chua, Research Fellow, Military Studies Programme
- Assistant Professor Ong Wei Chong, Military Studies Programme
Throughout 50 years of independence, Singapore’s internal and external milieu has changed, posing challenges to its national security. Singapore’s ability to adapt and respond to a dynamic security environment, while protecting the Singaporean way of life and building national resilience, has been a continuous enterprise. The building of the Singapore Armed Forces protects Singapore militarily, but an understanding of Singapore’s national security stretches beyond military threats. Introduced in 1984, the concept of Total Defence encapsulates five aspects of Singapore’s national defence, namely military, civil, economic, social and psychological defence. With the advent of new technology, rise of non-traditional threats, and shifts within the Singapore society, how can Singapore preserve its way of life and safeguard its security?
Looking beyond Total Defence, this roundtable will assess the effectiveness of Singapore’s key strategies for ensuring its survival and examine their efficacy for the coming decades. Associate Professor Bernard Loo will critique Singapore’s defence strategy by tracing the evolution of Singapore’s theories of war and their impact. Next, Dr Shashi Jayakumar will examine the state of Singapore’s psychological resilience in light of recent terrorist attacks in Sydney and Paris, with an emphasis on the mindset of the youth in Singapore. Finally, Dr Daniel Chua will outline the tenets of Singapore’s foreign policy, and evaluate the impact that diplomacy has on Singapore’s security. Assistant Professor Ong Weichong will provide the summarizing remarks for the roundtable and preside over the Question and Answer session.
About the Speakers:
Dr Bernard F. W. Loo is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Master of Science (Strategic Studies) degree programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. He completed his doctoral studies at the Department of International Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 2002. He is the author of Medium Powers and Accidental Wars: A study in Conventional Strategic Stability (Edwin Mellen, 2005). His edited volume, Military Transformation and Operations (Routledge, 2009), was translated into complex Chinese for the Taiwanese military. His other publications have appeared in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Contemporary Southeast Asia, NIDS Security Reports, and Taiwan Defense Affairs. He is a regular commentator on defence matters, and his commentaries have appeared in The Straits Times (Singapore), The Nation (Thailand), and The New Straits Times (Malaysia). He has been invited to speak at a variety of defence-related institutions and conferences, in China, Estonia, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines and Taiwan. His research interests encompass defence policy, war studies, strategic theory, conventional military strategies, strategic challenges of small and medium powers, and problems and prospects of military transformation.
Dr Shashi Jayakumar has assumed the appointment as Senior Fellow and Deputy Head, Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) on 1 Aug 2014. Dr Jayakumar was educated at Oxford University where he studied History (BA 1997, D.Phil, 2001). He has published in various peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes on topics relating to medieval history (the focus of his doctorate). He has been a member of the Singapore Administrative Service since 2002. During this time, he was posted to various Ministries, including the Ministries of Defence, Manpower, Information and the Arts, and Community Development, Youth and Sports. He was from August 2011-July 2014 a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. The main focus of his research and writing there has been local society and politics. He is currently working on two book projects relating to local politics (forthcoming, 2015). His other interests include extremism, social resilience, and homeland defence.
Dr Daniel Chua is a Research Fellow with the Military Studies Programme at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, RSIS. Prior to his appointment at RSIS, Daniel taught courses in Asian Studies, Strategic Studies and Military History at the Australian National University, as well as in the Australian Defence Force Academy at UNSW, Canberra. His doctoral research at the ANU focused on the history of foreign relations between the United States and Singapore from 1965 to 1975, traversing fields such as International History, Asian Studies, Cold War Studies and International Relations. His research on Singapore’s diplomatic history has been published in Asian Studies Review and the Australian Journal of Politics and History.
Dr Ong Wei Chong is an Assistant Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. He is attached to the Military Studies Programme at the school’s constituent unit, the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS). He is coordinator of the Asia Pacific Programme for Senior Military Officers (APPSMO), a summer programme for senior military officers (OF-5 to OF-6) from the Asia Pacific region and beyond. He is also Course Director of the Campaign and War Studies (CWS) and Operations Other than War (OOTW) modules at the Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College (GKS CSC), Singapore. He has also taught at the advanced school and officer cadet school levels at SAFTI Military Institute, Singapore. In national service, Weichong is a Functional Specialist Support Staff Officer (Army) with the Singapore Armed Forces. In addition, he was an Affiliated Researcher with the Department of Leadership and Management, Swedish National Defence College (2010-2012) and a Guest Professor at the Ecole Navale, France (2013-2014). Weichong completed his doctoral studies with the Centre for the Study of War, State and Society, University of Exeter, UK in 2010 where he was a recipient of research grants from the University of Exeter and the Royal Historical Society. Weichong’s articles, commentaries and op-eds have been published in the journal and magazine of the Singapore Armed Forces (Pointer and Pioneer); RUSI Journal; Armed Forces and Society; Defence Studies; Australian Defence Force Journal; Straits Times; Today; Lianhe Zaobao; Berita Harian; Defense News; Khaleej Times; RSIS Commentary Series; Canadian Naval Review; and Diplomatie.