The RSAF Museum in Paya Lebar

Located by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Base in Paya Lebar is the RSAF Museum. This was my first stop on my trip to Singapore.

Above All is the motto of the island republic’s air defenses arm of the Singapore Air Force (SAF). Like many other nations, the RSAF is the first line of defense in the event of an incursion. In 1968, it was established as the Singapore Air Defense Command (SADC). The RSAF came about in 1975. Per Wikipedia, the RSAF has 13,500 personnel and about 143 aircraft. However there are unverified rumours that it has more than that.

Unfortunately the RSAF Museum is being renovated. I was advised that the indoor exhibitions and movie presentation would be available from December 2014 onwards.

Despite that there were other displays outside the gallery. This included models of the former aircrafts used by the RSAF. Also seen are the awards and gifts given from other air forces in the region.

A long chat with a Mr Sim helped me uncover and discover more about one of the most efficient air force in the region. At the end, I was given a little token (the souvenir shop was closed).

The RSAF Black Knights Medal – A token for the younger visitors.

What did I learn from the museum?

First, jet engines are huge. It’s not something you can easily dismantle and hide in your bag for a trip to South America. Yes, I will always remember that blunder by the TUDM. How it managed to pass several gatekeepers (Armed Forces checks, customs, port authorities, logistics companies) is beyond my civilian comprehension.

Next, the Air Force has always been seen as an elite group in the Armed Forces. It is my impression that to enlist into the RMAF, you really have to be smart. This impression was asserted by my former lecturer, a Capt. Thiru (RMAF-Retired). A brilliant man. Sharp. Clear and very articulate.

The role of the air force, for Singapore and other countries, is as the first line of defense. Any anomaly, the aircraft must be airborne and loaded within 10 minutes. In a post-9/11 era, the skies are not as innocent as it was once. Terrorists are capable of using a commercial or civilian aircraft as a weapon on sovereign soil.

But to attain excellence, there is a price to pay. Energy, time, consistent effort, discipline and many more. Being above all is not an easy task.

And for a small red dot on the map, it is even harder.

RSAF Roll of Honour recognising its personnel and trainees.

It began as a small unit in the 70s. With limited resources, capabilities and capacity, the RSAF grew through its active servicemen and reserves. Over the years, it underwent reorganisation after reorganisation under the leadership of the various Chiefs of the Air Force.

Despite limited manpower, the RSAF did not shy away from being part of the global community. RSAF assets were deployed to Iraq, part of Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq) and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and the on-going Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) in the Gulf of Aden.

At the museum, there are commemorative plaques from the various Chiefs of the Air Force from all over the world, including the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF/TUDM). I have to admit: seeing that made me beam in pride.

The Five Nation Integrated Area Defense System. Set up in 1971 between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. Note that the territorial jurisdiction covers only Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore. Aggression or external threats towards Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan are not included.

Until I was in Singapore, I did not know there was a Five Power Defense Arrangements (FPDA) (Wikipedia) (Australian Treaty Series) (Singaporean MinDef) between the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. Until I wrote this, I did not know that “Malaysia” refers to West Malaysia (Malaya). The original agreement, the Anglo-Malayan Defense Agreement, was the predecessor of this FPDA. AMDA was terminated in 1967 and the FPDA signed in 1971. The Federation of Malaysia was only formed in 1963. I wonder what is reported in the various Hansards on this matter.

Anyway the Confrontation and the Cold War is over. But new challenges face both the RMAF and RSAF. Formulas of the past are fast becoming obsolete and inability to adept can spell disaster for our nations, sovereignty and – more importantly – the Rakyat.

Despite our differences – inherent and created – we are able to enjoy what we have today because of what the men and women in uniforms are wearing. We enjoy where we are because of our cooperation with one another all these years – people to people. Whether you count it at 1840, 1940, 1957, or 1963, a nation is only as strong as its people, not just it’s government. No matter what institutions are in place, it is the people – the Rakyat – that truly makes it functional.

So for the men and women who gave their lives up for us, I thank you. May we be able to honour your deeds through our own talents, abilities and capabilities.

That is why I feel honoured to take that selfie you saw earlier:

Honor the Past

Live the Present

Inspire the Future

On a smaller and civilian scale, Converging Spheres Sdn Bhd (1112248-K) is now my responsibility. My job is to bring it from start up towards stabilisation. Growing both human capital and assets as we embark on a journey. Economies are now fighting interdependently. Doing business and making profit is not enough in a competitive and dynamic world where value and relationships are essential. Continuity and consistency are mandatory in creating the values and cultivating the relationships. Corporate buzzwords and political slogans are useless without the meaning. And that meaning can only be created through persistence in action.

Now there are just the two of us. We’ve got so little financial resources. But the opportunities are aplenty. Truly truly truly I tell you we live in exciting times. A lot of opportunities have opened up through the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). The Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines (BIMP) Economic Region, too, are buzzing with activities. Add Singapore in there and you have a strong regional economy. It is ciak bei liao wei~! Or, in Malay, makan tidak habis.

Just as the Republic of Singapore Air Force puts it: above all. And that is where Converging Spheres has to go. It must go. So help me God.