Sunday, March 23, 2014

Need for independent review of our military strategy and budget

Most people would agree that Singapore needs to have a strong military capability to ensure our independence.

While this goal is important, it does not mean that we have to spend excessively and wastefully. Our leaders still have the responsibility to make sure that the money is spent wisely.

Let us see if it is possible to achieve this goal in a more cost effective manner.

Let us take a look at the military expenditure of Malaysia. They spend $4.2 billion (usd) a year to maintain a professional army of 110,000 men and a reserve of 296,000.

Assuming that the cost in Singapore is twice of Malaysia, a budget of $4.2 billion will be sufficient to maintain a professional army and reserves of half the size of Malaysia.

Considering that Singapore has to defend a land space of 700 sq km, and Malaysia has to look after an area that is 450 times the size of Singapore, it should be more than adequate for Singapore to have a force that is half the size of Malaysia.

It is likely that Singapore needs to have a strong air force and advanced technology. Perhaps, this can be achieved with an additional $4.2 billion in our budget.

The strategy of relying on diplomacy and friendly relations with our neighbors will continue to be of top priority. A strong military capability is a secondary goal, but is necessary.

On this reasoning, it should be possible for Singapore to rely on a professional army and advanced weapons with a defense budget of $8.4 billion, i.e. 65% of our current budget, and to discontinue with conscription entirely.

Transparency International has question the lack of transparency in our defense spending. There are grounds for their doubts.

There is a need for an independent committee of inquiry to look into this matter. To preserve the secrecy of military matters, this committee can hold its discussions in private, but it should have an independent review of our military strategy and budget.

Tan Kin Lian

Blog Archive