Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced during the Budget 2019 speech that the Singapore government will invest $15.5 billion – which is equivalent to about 30% of its total expenditure this year – to support the city state’s defence, security and diplomacy efforts. .
He stated that not just only physical threats towards Singapore are growing but malicious cyber activities are increasing and although the networked nature of Singapore society has enhanced connectivity, this can be exploited to disrupt and divide society, through cyber-attacks, the spread of falsehoods, or other means.
“This is not new, but new technologies have made it easier for others to mount attacks with greater ease and intensity, and with more sophisticated tactics. To stay ahead of these threats, we must continue to innovate and build new capabilities to meet our security needs. Both the public and private sectors have a major role to play” said Mr Heng Swee Keat.
New Home Team Science & Technology Agency to be set up by the end of this year
He announced that he Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will set up a Home Team Science & Technology Agency by the end of this year, to develop science and technology capabilities to support the Home Team’s operational needs. These capabilities will strengthen the Home Team’s ability to carry out its mission of safeguarding Singapore. The Minister for Home Affairs will speak more about this at the Committee of Supply (COS). MHA will help to transform the private security industry through innovation and technology to meet growing needs, and be an effective partner to the Home Team.
Digital defence involves all Singaporeans
He spoke about how digital technology has become an integral part of Singaporean life and how this is essential to drive towards the goal of a Smart Nation. Digital Defence has also now been incorporated as the sixth pillar of Total Defence. And he stated that like the other pillars of Total Defence, Digital Defence involves everyone – individuals, community groups, businesses, and the Government.
We must all play our part to be secure, alert and responsible online, be it through practising good cyber hygiene, being vigilant against fake news, and helping one another use technology safely.
Last year, MINDEF launched the Cyber National Servicemen scheme, training national servicemen with the Singapore Institute of Technology, to raise cyber defence capability. The Government is continuously engaging the tech community with programmes such as the Government Bug Bounty Programme, to achieve a higher level of collective cybersecurity.
Defence to receive 30% of budget spend this year
Given its strategic significance, the Government will continue to invest a significant share of our resources – about 30% of our total expenditure this year – to support our defence, security, and diplomacy efforts.
Mr Heng Swee Keat said “This spending is significant, but indispensable. We will invest more, if the need arises, to protect the sovereignty of Singapore and the well-being of Singaporeans. Everyone has a role to play to keep Singapore safe and secure. Let us continue to stay united in defending our home and our way of life.”