Defence Budget

We went over to Steph to pass Mr E some stuff, who happened to be there to retrieve important resources. We ended up having free dinner and even stayed to watch a movie, Ah Boys to Men (1&2). I have never been a Jack Neo fan and I knew the movie will be full of propaganda as usual but I enjoyed the movie thoroughly, mainly due to the scenes depicting national service life, invoking bittersweet memories of the three Singaporean men watching it. NS connects all Singaporean sons like a brotherhood. Any two Singaporean males of any age gap, status, religion or race can resonate and long conversations if the topic of NS is brought up. That was accurately expressed in the movie too, like how the protagonist's uncle shared stories of 'his times' in the NS with him.

In terms of percentage of her GDP, Singapore is one of the biggest spender in defence in the world. There are divided opinions are between one camp who believes that there isn't a limit when it comes to defence because peace doesn't have a price tag and on the other side, a sound defence is necessary but there is a point where too much is too much. While most of you will have no doubt that the latter perspective is complacent and dangerous, it is worth a look from another way. 

Consider this, comparing the security of your house to the defence of our country, should there be a limit in security? Yes, if our actions speak louder than words. Other than the standard double lock system of our HDB flats, many Singaporeans beefed up their home security by installing 'live' cameras, alarms and digital lock systems. I have yet to meet anyone who invest in a new lock every year so they ended up having 10 locks on their front door or something.

At the end of the day, whoever arguing the latter stance will never win a battle. First, there has been no (thankfully) direct military war in Singapore since the WWII. So other than fear mongering educating the public, the defence never have a chance to justify their spending. So nobody can prove they are right but nobody can prove they are wrong either. If a war takes place in Singapore, the defence camp can emphasize that the worth of the huge spending if Singapore successfully defended themselves  and if not, a strong case on the table of enough is never enough where defence spending is concerned. Additionally when the latter camp is asked how much do they think is enough, they can never come up with a solid answer. 

Personally, I think looking at our defence budget in terms of percentage against our GDP is flawed in the first place. Does this mean we should reduce our defence budget in tandem should our GDP nosedive in the future? I'm not too sure about that. Those who knows me are well aware I have never been a great fan of our PAP government. The same people will be surprised to read that I believe in our defence spending. I will not be caught out in a how much is enough debate here. It is pointless to argue about a definition which doesn't exist as neither party can successfully come out with a number. 

The reason why I am not in the 'overspending' squad is that there is a fundamental misconception behind this belief - and it is that if we do not spend as much in our defence (thus 'adequate spending') as we do now, the millions can be better used to improve Singaporeans' life. I have to be blunt here, it is naive to assume so. Let's face it, if the government has any intention to improve citizens' lives more than it thinks it is already adequately doing so, we need no cuts from our defence budget to fund it. Our country is probably holding a record in the world of having the highest number of consecutive years in budget surplus. 

So do I care how much money goes into our defence? No. If Singaporeans are not going to get their share of the money, I rather Singapore spends it on making itself look badass to our neighbours than the money going into the pockets of a selected few. What I am concerned is the way money is spent, rather than the amount itself. I had witnessed outrageous overpaying of goods and services of the SAF. I am not referring to military equipment, which their costs are mostly classified but everyday common items such as food, personal equipment, bolts and nuts etc. Some of these will make Brompton bikes of NParks look microscopic. I believe I am not the only one who served and observed that. Military issues have never been my area of interests. Perhaps that knowledgeable blogger who spent years fixated on ranting on our military spending can change his focus from the amount of money we spend to the way we spend it. Might be better use of his energy.

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