06 August 2018
6 August 2018 | 7 pm
Rasa Sentosa Hotel, Singapore
Lt Gen Melvyn Ong
Chief of Defence Force
Ambassador Ong Keng Yong
Executive Deputy Chairman, RSIS
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a pleasure for me to join you this evening for the Opening Dinner of the 20th Asia-Pacific Programme for Senior Military Officers (APPSMO).
It is nostalgic for me to be back at this event.
I remember giving the opening speech for the 1st APPSMO in 1999 as the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence.
The late Mr S R Nathan, former President of the Republic of Singapore and the founding Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, started APPSMO as an annual week-long programme for senior military officers in 1999.
The proposed programme would facilitate informal interactions among military officers who are moving up the ranks in their respective militaries.
The aim was to allow these officers to engage in dialogue, build confidence and share ideas among one another.
In addition, the programme would also focus on insights and cutting-edge perspectives by policymakers and academics on issues affecting international security.
Since then, APPSMO has grown beyond expectations.
From the concept that was proposed in 1998 of a “Summer Camp,” which was incidentally what APPSMO was called in the first two years, APPSMO is now attracting top defence experts, senior military officers, as well as practitioners to meet and discuss current issues of mutual interest and concern in a unique learning setting.
In 1999, when I addressed the APPSMO attendees, the Asia-Pacific region was slowly recovering from the ‘shock’ of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
I stated at that time that “the security and prosperity of countries in the Asia-Pacific are inextricably linked and that in an inter-dependent world, countries in the region have to work hand in hand to enhance our common security.”
That reality holds true today.
The global security environment has changed dramatically over the past two decades, and headlines of new threats are reported on a daily basis.
Dialogue and professional exchanges such as APPSMO will provide additional opportunities to enhance understanding and trust among defence and military officials.
This will facilitate cooperation, confidence and trust, further strengthening our peaceful endeavours.
The theme of this year’s APPSMO, ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Security Order, is timely, considering Singapore’s role as Chair of ASEAN for 2018.
This focus will address questions and issues regarding ASEAN’s role in the changing international environment.
Over the years, APPSMO is proud to have hosted over a thousand participants.
A number of these participants have advanced to become key appointment holders in their respective militaries.
A good example is the Host of the Dinner tonight, Lt Gen Melvyn Ong, who was from the APPSMO Class of 2007.
Lt Gen Ong is just one of the many APPSMO alumni who have advanced in their respective careers.
Next year, the organizing committee of APPSMO will be looking into ways to better engage the alumni, who you will also be part of in a week’s time, as you move up the ranks in the years to come.
In doing so, it is my hope that these engagements at various levels will convey a strong message of the region’s determination to preserve peace and stability.
Lastly, I hope that APPSMO will help you nurture enduring friendships among senior members of the military establishments.
This relationship will be valuable in aiding us manage the challenges we face in a complicated world.
I wish all participants a fruitful time at APPSMO 2018.
Last updated on 07/05/2019