Deployment and advancement within the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is meritocratic, regardless of gender, race or religion, including pinnacle positions such as the Chief of Army, or Chief of Defence Force, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.
MP for Sembawang Ellen Lee had asked Dr Ng in Parliament on Monday (Aug 17) whether the SAF has provided adequate opportunities for women in their military careers, and the impact of having more regular servicewomen on Singapore’s defence.
Dr Ng said servicewomen have contributed significantly to the nation’s defence, and have made good progress in a diverse range of vocations across all career schemes. Today, they number about 1,500, or about seven per cent of uniformed regulars, and serve as guards commanders, naval divers and fighter pilots among others.
He highlighted several servicewomen who have risen through the ranks to hold key positions in the SAF’s leadership, such as Department Heads, Battalion Commanders, Brigade Commanders, and Division Sergeant Majors. They include Senior Warrant Officer (SWO) Jennifer Tan in the 2nd People’s Defence Force (2PDF) – the SAF’s first female Division Sergeant Major and the first female National Day Parade Regimental Sergeant Major in 2011, and Brigadier-General (BG) Gan Siow Huang, the SAF’s first female Brigadier-General, Head of Air Intelligence and Director (Special Projects).
Asked by Ms Lee if there are opportunities for women to be appointed chiefs of the army, navy, air force or even the Chief of Defence Force, Dr Ng said: “Yes, if she deserves it”.
Government Parliamentary Committee Member for Defence and MP for Tampines Irene Ng also asked Dr Ng whether the SAF observes and rigorously validates gender-neutral standards when promotions are being considered.
“It’s to our interests, the SAF’s interests, to make sure that of the people we have, we avail them of the opportunities to serve so that they can move up in the hierarchy,” said Dr Ng, adding that the SAF is short of manpower and has to make use of everybody it has.
He reiterated that MINDEF’s and SAF’s practices are in line with international agreements such as the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which Singapore is a party to.
news source & image credits: channelnewsasia.com