Speech in Parliament during the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Defence on 5 March 2014.
Each year, MINDEF takes up the largest share of the budget among all ministries. This year, the defence budget is $12.6 billion dollars — more than a fifth of total expenditure.
Singapore has the highest defence spending in South East Asia by far. According to the latest data from the Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI), we spend 42% more than the next highest spender in the region, and 80% more than the third highest spender.
I fully appreciate the need for us to maintain a strong and credible defence force, and to remain ahead of potential adversaries.
However, in deciding on its expenditure and choosing cutting edge defence technology, does MINDEF consider that if we leap too far ahead, there is a risk of spurring an arms race, as countries in our region may feel under pressure to keep up with us? This could lead to even greater spending in the future, which may be unsustainable.