NDR 2022: Stay alert against hostile foreign actors, take NS seriously – PM Lee

Composite image of soldiers in a military drill in Taiwan and a Ukrainian serviceman holding a dog. (PHOTOS: AP)
Soldiers in a military drill in Taiwan (left) and a Ukrainian serviceman. PM Lee highlighted the in his speech the worsening situation in the global geopolitical arena, arising from US-China relations and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia (PHOTOS: AP)

SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (21 August) urged Singaporeans to guard against hostile foreign actors who are looking to exploit Singapore’s vulnerabilities.

Lee spoke about the issue of foreign interference in Singapore’s affairs in his National Day Rally speech delivered in the Chinese and English languages. But he did not address the issue in the Malay portion of his speech.

Speaking at the Institute of Technical Education headquarters in Ang Mo Kio, Lee highlighted the worsening situation in the global geopolitical arena, arising from deteriorating US-China relations and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

On the Ukraine war, Lee said that there have been messages disseminated online with an ulterior aim of persuading Singaporeans to take sides – some aim to stir up strong anti-American sentiments written in Mandarin and English while others discredit Russia and China.

Singaporeans urged to fact check information

Lee urged Singaporeans to check the facts and not accept all the information that they receive as truths. They must guard against hostile foreign influence operations, and safeguard Singapore’s sovereignty and independence, he added.

Speaking in Mandarin, Lee said, “I am heartened that most Singaporeans support the government’s position on the war in Ukraine, including Chinese Singaporeans who are active on Chinese-language social media.”

Later in his English speech, Lee stressed that Russia’s invasion violates the United Nations Charter and fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The issue is “particularly important” to Singapore as its security and even its existence relies on countries upholding these principles.

As such, Singapore cannot legitimise the wrongful actions of Russia, which claimed that its “special military operation” in Ukraine is justified by “historical errors and crazy decisions”.

“If we accept this logic, what happens if one day others use the same argument against us?” Lee said.

On US-China tensions, Lee highlighted the differences between the two powers over issues such as China’s growing influence in the world, trade disputes, the South China Sea, Hong Kong and most worryingly, sharply escalating tensions over Taiwan.

Singapore has to try its best to avoid being caught up in the major power rivalry, Lee said.

Amid the uncertain external environment, Lee said Singapore must take National Service seriously, and keep the Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team strong and credible.

"If we do not defend ourselves, no one will do it for us. Most importantly, we must stay one united people. Never allow ourselves to be divided – whether by race, religion, income, social differences, or place of birth."

Read more about the National Day Rally 2022, including what were some of the major announcements and the reactions to PM Lee's speech.

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