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Singapore

 
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Singapore

Civil Defense

In 1964, as a response to Confrontation, the government established the Vigilante Corps to assist police by patrolling communities and reporting suspicious activities. The Corps gradually evolved into the nation's first civil defense force. Initially comprised entirely of volunteers, members were given some weapons training and instruction in general police procedures. A Police National Service Command was established in 1967 to train and organize conscripts assigned to perform police duties in either the Special Constabulary or the Vigilante Corps. At that time, the Corps had approximately 12,500 volunteers. In the 1970s, most new members of the Vigilante Corps were conscripts who assisted police in their home communities at nighttime, on weekends, and during emergencies.

In 1981 the Vigilante Corps was disbanded, and its members were assigned to units of the newly established Civil Defence Force (see fig. 17). The Force's division headquarters were set up in each of the police divisions under the Area Command. Numerous local civil defense units were organized and were assigned responsibility for such specialized duties as blood collection, food and water distribution, and providing shelter to the homeless. In 1989 about 40,000 national servicemen reservists and 18,000 civilian volunteers served in the Civil Defence Force.

The deputy commissioner of police for civil defense was the government official responsible for all military and civilian civil defense units. In 1989 he controlled ten division-level organizations, which were subdivided into districts and zones. Each division headquarters was assigned a small staff of regular army officers who were responsible for coordinating civilian and military cooperation within the district during an emergency and for training national servicemen for civil defense assignments. Between 1981 and 1989, more than 7,000 conscripts were trained in various construction skills and assigned to construction brigades subordinate to the civil defense division headquarters. In emergencies, construction brigades would be deployed to damaged and destroyed buildings to clear debris and to construct temporary shelters for residents. Reservists also were assigned to rescue battalions, shelter battalions, and medical units subordinate to each division headquarters.

In 1989 civil defense organizations below the division level were in various stages of development. Each of Singapore's fiftyfive electoral districts had a Civil Defense Coordinating Committee. The government enlisted members of Parliament and other community leaders to serve on these committees in order to promote civil defense programs. Local civil defense units were established in residential neighborhoods and at some businesses. Nine underground mass rapid transit stations also served as blast-proof shelters for up to 100,000 people. The government frequently organized civil defense exercises in selected jurisdictions, and in 1989 the installation of a sophisticated electronic blackout and civil defense warning system was under study.

* * *

Three books provide in-depth coverage of the evolution of the armed, police, and civil defense forces since 1965. The Singapore Armed Forces, published by the Ministry of Defence covers, all aspects of military life and includes useful information on the types of military equipment used by the army, navy, and air force. In the Service of the Nation by John Drysdale is a good reference on police organization and training but does not adequately inform the reader about the criminal activities that are most common in the society. Civil Defence in Singapore, published by the Civil Defence Force, presents an overview of civil defense organizations past and present and explains how military and civil defense units would function during wartime or a national emergency. Two books on the development of armed forces and defense spending in Asian countries include discussions on Singapore. The Armed Forces in Contemporary Asian Societies, edited by Edward A. Olsen and Stephen Jurika, Jr., includes a chapter by Patrick M. Mayerchak an the evolution of the armed forces and strategic planning, and Chih Kin Wah's. Defence Spending in Southeast Asia, discusses how changing perceptions of potential adversaries and domestic economic considerations affect the amount of money the government budgets for defense. A number of articles on Singapore's armed forces have been published in recent years in military journals, and Singapore also publishes its own defense magazine. Asian Defence Journal probably provides the best overall reporting on current developments in the armed forces and Singapore's military relations with other countries. Pacific Defence Reporter and Far Eastern Economic Review are also good sources for current information on military subjects. Pioneer, a monthly news magazine on the armed forces, published by the Ministry of Defence, has useful articles on military organization, weapons, logistics, mobilization policies, civil defense, and other subjects. Human rights and internal security issues are covered yearly in reports to the United States Congress by the Department of State titled Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and in Amnesty International Report, which is also published annually. Statistics on crime can be found in International Crime Statistics, which includes coverage of Singapore. Occasional articles on crime and the criminal justice system in Singapore can be found in Far Eastern Economic Review and Asiaweek. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of December 1989

Singapore - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • National Security

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