Thursday, November 22, 2012

Military Spending

Jim Sleeper's article ("Blame the Latest Israel-Arab War on… Singapore?") created a lot of angst, although what he intended to highlight was the observation that Israel's actions since 1967 have prompted reactions and conditions which set the nation on a tragic course. In like vein, he infers Yale’s misadventure in Singapore can only have dire consequences further down the slippery road. My Hongkong friend has a Cantonese expression which says that when you draw a cartoon, you don't need to sketch in the intestines. But for some folks, we really have to keep it simple enough for a 4 year old to understand, with lots of pictures to illustrate.

One point came across without need of further clarification, Singapore and Israel top the list of the world’s most militarised nations, according to the latest Global Militarisation Index released by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC):

The GMI defines the degree of militarization of a country by, amongst others, the comparison of military expenditures with its gross domestic product (GDP) or other indicators, such as health expenditure or number of physicians.

While it may be convenient for the politician generals to argue that too little militarisation carries its own risks, there's such a thing as going overboard with the extravagance on military toys - at the cost of housing, transport and healthcare needs. On the latest Index,  Singapore is a mere 70 points below Israel's 877, and has been number two for every year in this century, except for the three in which Eritrea was number one.

And there are the neighbours to consider. If escalation is too cheem (Hokkien dialect for something that is profound or deep or intellectual) a topic to understand, perhaps we should listen to how Commissioner Gordon explained it to Batman: "What about escalation?  We start carrying semiautomatics, they buy automatics. We start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor-piercing rounds."
We start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor-piercing rounds.
Most democratic countries have an independent committee to evaluate military purchases transparently. Our minister in charge seem to have a book of blank checks. Tom Burbage, general manager of the F-35 program, reported on Fri Nov 9, 2012 that Singapore is showing increased interest in buying Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Unbeknownst to most of us, Singapore and Israel both have already pledged to contribute about US$50 million to the F-35 development effort. 

With the volatile situation at the Gaza strip, conversation should steer clear of the rattling of sabers. Talk instead about why a 4-room flat at Ghim Moh should cost $450,000 (without grant) and $435,000 (with grant), when they keep harping on the $60,000 grant available.


  1. what is your nationality and which country are you living in now ?

    1. Why should you need to know about this blogger ?
      Just like Lucky Tan, as long as what he writes make good sense and offer interesting alternate views and angles, that all we need to know. His popularity is due to what he writes not what he is. Tattler is a very prolific blogger and if he want you to know more about himself, he will have let you know by now. Please respect his privacy and anonymity.

      Surely we know how our gahmen works by creating a culture of fear in this regime.

    2. In a meritocracy like Singapore, the only relevant question is whether Tatler has any thing of merit to say.
      tatler's nationality is not relevant.

    3. Why huh? Ng Eng Heng wants to send another lawyer's letter issit?

    4. I tend to believe there must be some sort of check and balance on military spending. The money earned through GDP must be used wisely and should gear towards benefiting our own citizens. Yes, we need defence, Yes, we need equipment upgrade But someone got to explain to the people why there is a need to change so often. We certainly do not wish to move towards N Korea situaton where military spending out-weigh citizen welfare.

    5. Nationality Earthling
      Species Homosapiens
      Country Gaia

  2. Not only is it a blank check, it is a deep black hole.

    We are spending all these taxpayers monies to keep expensively dangerous friends happy...we buy their cool toys, we lend them our cool toys..and we foot the bills..and that made us what exactly..? invincible?!!

  3. The irony here is when sea levels rise too fast...and most of singapore is inundated...

    all these expensive toys will be swimming in sea water then...

    See how useful these military toys are then...maybe the unterseeboot still for the rest...

    Well...we know then...when u put the military needs first instead of the country and its peoples needs first..

    Unless that miltary is to keep the facist gov't in perpertual power then..

    So who are we defending..who are we sacrificing for...who are we dying for...for this?

    Why must we do the dying..while those who do not take any risk to life and limb continue to expect others to do the sacrificing...

    Sorry...time for these self welfare (at the expense of country and its peoples) entitled white clothed self serving scums to do the sacrificing and dying.

    Good day...for what its worth in sinagpore.

  4. Me am born in Singapore.
    Not only that I feel too much is spent on
    defence, National Service should be replaced
    by regular professional soldiers.

    It is my personal opinion that no foreign
    country will invade this tiny concrete jungle
    that is only a liability if taken by force.


    1. Hi, patriot,
      you are too gracious. Question is not when a foreign country will invade the tiny red dot but whether if they already did. With more than 1 third of population is foreigners, foreigner-converted citizens. If the enemies will want to take down singapore, they can anytime, anywhere because they already in Singapore if they want to due to pro-foreigner policies.

      This type of critical thinking and viewpoints not surprising is not even debate in parliament aggressively (they only can twist and turn and give the same old father's stories), and your guess of why it isn't so is as good as mine.

    2. I am a born in Singapore, finished NS.
      Whats the difference? "Enemy" invates SG, I welcome them with open arms, regime change, no need to serve NS
      To hell why should I fight for Singapore?
      Health care, Housing, transport you die you pasar.

  5. Hi Anon 3:29pm:

    Me had actually said that this tiny rock is filled with aliens and in sone ways invaded.

    The Above Comment was inspired by some Questions in this Posting of Tattler. Me am of the view that whether or not this tiny rock is under threat of invasion is indeed highly controversial and debatable. So is whether it is ever defensible.

    Been a most unwilling NS Man in 1970, I had pondered hard about Conscription even before I was enlisted. Initially, quite agreed that for one or two decades, NS was neccessary while a the newly independent state sets up a professional army to replace it(NS) totally.

    As the years went by, the need for NS got less compelling. Confronration with Indonesia was not only gone; President Suharto became a close friend. The cold war between Russia, China with the US became close and warm. US Companies were flocking to China to have their products produce till this day.

    However to me, it is the economic developments in our neighbouring countries that make me feel that no one will ever want to take over Sin. For the last two decades, almost all other countries in Asia and South East Asia are faring much better than Sin and probably overtake it soon.
    Who want a tiny concrete jungle that even birds would want to emigrate away?


    1. patriot,
      I agree with you that professional soldiers are needed in these days not toy soldiers that can only put a sense of false security.

      To kill a Singapore soldier from a country with greatest number of myopia in the world during a war is the greatest SIN enemies can commit. I wonder how can these enemies bear to kill the cutest soldiers on earth ? Imagine 4-eyes green horn running in the field, and they are so cute.

      First of all, the enemies could well already be in Singapore, and only professional train soldiers can effectively engage these threat full time in urban area, not cute toy soldiers that are paid pittance and who are forced to serve NS.

    2. Haha.........

      They are cute before been trained,
      after that they became cuter and lost losing out two to two and a half years learning something useless to their further education.
      If they went to work, they were behind those who started working when they were called up.

      Now, horrible plus terrible, jobs are taken away by aliens because employers prefer cheaper labour plus NO RESERVIST INTERRUPTION.

      Thx for the interaction.


  6. I asked the Questions Below at My Singapore News(Blogsite) sometimes back, however, there was no response.

    What do We have to defend and against who or what?
    Who do we protect and why must we protect them?


  7. "what is your nationality and which country are you living in now ?"

    If you want to bar people from speaking about military issues then the Singapore should make it clear by publicly publishing an official statement on the matter. Surely you dont expect every blog writer to read minds. How stupid!

  8. Most countries in the world will have military defence spending in their budget except HK and some smaller countries if i am not wrong.

    NS was formed when little red dot was thrown out by our neigbour and also much poorer then now.

    However, now that we claim to be 1st world and being one of the richest in the world in term of GDP should have foregone NS and spend the huge defence budget to convert it to a lean professional or full-time tian jiak peng (army)paying market rate.

    And now that we are a cosmopolitan city with over 2 million foreigners should have Brigates of Pinoys, Indian and Chinese foreign forces replacing our NS boys usually the only son in the family(therefore very precious).

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    1. If you have more guns, you will have less butter! Everybody knows that. But here in SinCity, they throw good money on other gloried intangibles such as the $5 billion loan to IMF, wasted millions on YOG, etc at the expense of locals' welfare! That's the problem!

  9. Looks like our PAP leaders has set all our priorities in the wrong order. Buying the latest defence equipment with little chance of serving its purpose other than to show them off once every year during our National day ?

    The only potential enemies that comes to mind is Malaysia & Indonesia but what is the possibility that Malaysia or Indonesia will declare immediate war on Singapore ? Would it be in these countries' interests to declare war on us ? What resources are there in Singapore to make them want to capture Singapore ?

    And why would they want to declare war if all they just need to do is discreetly ask some terrorists to plant a few bombs in any of our MRT stations or high rise buildings ? And what can we do then even if we have the latest equipment ?

    So could LKY make a mistake into thinking that Malaysia or Indonesia could be our potential enemies ? Meantime some intermediaries with the right local connections will benefit if we continually increase our defence spending ?

    1. On showing off the military hardware on National day, what is the purpose? I don't see United States showing off their military might on their Independence Day. Only countries like North Korea show off their armies in national days. Someone should cancel the National parade and replace it with National celebration!

    2. Agreed we should stop this anachronistic and pompous display of our military hardware. Times have changed.

  10. Pray please tell which moron will fight a military war when victory can be achieved quite easily by economic warfare and strategy.
    Never overlook Nature's role and play in the existences of being and nation.

  11. We start buying leopard tanks they start developing nuclear missiles.

  12. the military budget is way too big

  13. Malaysian and Singaporean Army Conduct Eks Semangat Bersatu 2012

    November 17, 2012

    The Malaysian Army and its Singaporean counterpart have jointly conducted the 18th battalion level bilateral military exercise dubbed the Semangat Bersatu (Unified Spirit) exercise at Johor Bahru’s Majidee Camp starting from November 16 until November 22.

    923 Malaysian Army officers and other ranks are involved with the land exercise while the Singaporean Army has sent 144 enlistees and officers.

  14. Well said, Tatler. You made your point very well,
    "But for some folks, we really have to keep it simple enough for a 4 year old to understand, with lots of pictures to illustrate." I agree.

    What I see in Jim Sleeper's article is a critique on a authoritarian regime, written with finesse in the spirit of the liberal arts, and I welcome it,
    thank you Mr Jim Sleeper, Sir.

    A patriot should not confuse his loyalty to nation with that to an authoritarian regime, who are a bunch of treacherous traitors that sold its people out inorder to cling on to power and wealth with a selfish agenda.
    Gather our strengths and we shall overcome,soon enough,and remove this parasite's den.

    (Israel Singapore - A deep, dark, secret love affair)

    (A deep, dark, secret love affair)

    (Jim Sleeper As Yale's Blunder Deepens, Singapore Bares Its Teeth)

    Joshua Chiang

  15. A $50m of "interest" in the F35? I really pity our NS boys, has anyone visited any of the bunks in the units to look at the beds and mattresses they sleep on these days? The mattress basically sagged into a nice arc when I sat on them, and I weight all of 51kg! No doubt Mr hen and Pres tan's sons would never have the chance to sleep on such elastic hammocks. Apart from the food, basically nothing has changed in 30 years in the camps I visited recently. The money has basically gone straight into some black holes, some of course to keep pentagon's pork barrel projects going , but much of the rest only a few people know where the $12b has ended up.

    While Israel receives billions each year from Pentagon grants, our leeders spend our billions to keep Pentagon's pork barrel projects alive. Just think: why spend billions to buy the 2 or 4(depending or who you hear from) squadrons of F15? This fit-for-garang guni plane is basically a 30-year old design with flight controls more outdated than the F16C/D which the RSAF bought 15 years ago! Boeing shareholders must have been very thankful to our leeders. If you put all these together, its easy to see where the money has gone to.

  16. Our defence expenditure currently is $12.279 billion. Our land area is 714 sq km. This works out to $17.2 million per sq km or $1.60 per sq foot, to "defend" this rock, IN PEACE TIME.

    We have 3.257 million citizens. This works out to $3770 per citizen head, the highest in the world, higher than UAE, USA and Israel. And we are not engaged in any war at all, unlike two of the aforementioned countries, but we spend as though we are in one. Where are the enemies?

    What if there is a Real War? The consequences are too dire to contemplate. But we continue to beat the war drums and rattle our sabres with our defence expenditures. Escalation. Paranoia. We need to make friends, not enemies, and use our limited resources more meaningfully.

    Ex-Minister Mentor:
    Singapore needs a strong armed forces to ensure its continued survival. ..without a strong Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), “there is no economic future” and “there is no security”.

    Survival, harking back to post-1965. Singapore cannot survive a WAR, economically, politically, geographically, or any way, however strong the armed forces, unless we have alliances. Can our pen-pushing, kee-chiu, political-aspirant paper generals cut it, or the Minister of War? And our citizen army? The first to skiddadle will be the elites and the one third aliens.

    1. Should be skeddadle.

    2. Me am in full concurrence with the Above Commenter.

      We need friends and cannot afford even a single enemy.
      And war today is not confine to just military might and strategy.
      In normal situation, no one would harm a humble unarmed person. However, if one acts arrogant, tough and like to show off, chances of getting bashed up is pretty high.

      As Lee Kuan Yew is quoted in the Comment, me likes to add that He and the Current Regime do need the Armed Forces very badly.
      Liked he had said, the Army may have to deal with freak result in a general election. I take it that he meant whence PAP is reduced to a minority in election.

      As for paper generals, one who gets yo that rank is luckier than striking Chinese New Year Toto Special Draw. So, it is a priviledge to be one, at least money wise. Also, chances is that they will never have to go to the battle ground.


  17. that's why the U.S. Navy will be forward deployed its littoral combat ships to S'pore from the middle of 2013.

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