Published: 12 August 2016
Commissioner Eric Yap,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good evening.
2. I am very happy and honoured to join all of you to celebrate the Civil Defence Auxiliary Unit's (CDAU) 10th anniversary. This is more like a family gathering and it is very nice to be here this evening to share this special occasion with each and every one of you.
3. Tonight, we recognise the men and women who have volunteered their time and efforts towards the noble calling of being Lifesavers.
4. The SCDF established the CDAU a decade ago and the pioneer batch comprised only 26 volunteers. Today, we have 10 times more volunteers, which is 250 volunteers. The volunteers wear the same SCDF uniform and perform their duties alongside our regular officers, full time NSFs and ORNSmen.
5. The CDAU volunteers hail from all walks of life. Among you are doctors, financial consultants, pilots, teachers, cabin crew, a Martial Arts expert and even a father and daughter, just to name a few. You may come from very diverse backgrounds but all of you are united by one thing in common – and that is a passion to save lives.
6. Whether you have been with CDAU for some years or have only recently joined, each of you has contributed to the CDAU in many different ways, as Enforcement Officers, Public Education Instructors, as well as Firefighters and Emergency Medical Services crew.
7. Your dedication and support have made the CDAU an integral part of The Life Saving Force and the Home Team Volunteer Network. Thank you for stepping forward in serving the community, and for your contributions in keeping Singapore safe and secure.
CDAU – PLAYING A ROLE IN SG SECURE
8. Today, I want to talk about a different kind of crisis that we are likely to deal with: a terrorist attack in Singapore. The terrorism threat has increased significantly over the years and is now at its highest ever.
9. The recent attacks on Brussels, Istanbul, Dhaka, Nice and Munich have taken place at public areas with large crowds, causing massive casualties and injuries. These trends highlight the need to strengthen our security and community response to the terrorism threat. Over the past months, the Home Team has enhanced the protective security measures such as expanding CCTV coverage, and enhancing security response to incidents via the setting up of the Emergency Response Teams.
10. However, this will not be sufficient. While the Government has put in place security measures to deter and prevent terrorist attacks, we also need the community to be our partner in the fight against terrorism. We need everyone to be vigilant, be prepared to help ourselves and others in the event of a terrorist attack, and also be able to bounce back quickly after an attack.
11. To focus our efforts and galvanise the community, MHA has introduced the SG Secure, a national movement to prepare Singaporeans against terrorist attacks. SG Secure is a call-to-action for the community to be aware that an attack can happen on our shores, be equipped to deal with it, and be resilient in the aftermath.
12. As a prepared and skilled force, the CDAU is well-poised to equip and mobilise Singaporeans to protect themselves and people around them in a terrorist attack. You can also play an important role to train and equip the community with important skills such as CPR, the use of AED and Basic First Aid. We ask you to help us to spread the SG Secure message to Stay Alert, Stay United and Stay Strong to our fellow Singaporeans. If our community is able to help themselves, this will greatly help in the emergency response and I look forward to the CDAU's contributions to the SG Secure movement.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE CDAU
13. Tonight is also an occasion to celebrate the achievements of the CDAU. I would like to highlight the achievements in 2015.
14. The first is the CDAU Volunteer Firefighting vocation. In 2015, they started to recruit volunteers with no prior firefighting and rescue experience. This is significant as it shows how the CDAU continues to evolve by attracting new volunteers and training them with the required skills needed to carry out their tasks competently. I understand that two batches of volunteers have already been trained. These volunteer firefighters are deployed in the fire stations alongside our SCDF regular officers and NSFs to respond to fire and rescue incidents. In fact, the pioneer batch of volunteers that graduated in 2015 has attended to numerous fire and rescue operations. One of them is Corporal Leow Jun Cong who was among the first SCDF crew to arrive at a raging warehouse fire in Tuas on the 9th of August last year. The firefighting operation had lasted for about 7 hours.
15. The second achievement I would like to highlight is how our CDAU officers had also readily answered the call of duty during the passing of our Founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Our officers were stationed at the Lying In State for several days at the medical posts at the Padang, standing ready to assist members of the public. In fact, this was the first ever joint operation involving all three SCDF Volunteer Schemes – the CD Lionhearters, the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps and the CDAU. To all those who were involved – it was a stellar showing of teamwork and dedication. Well done!
APPRECIATION TO THE PIONEERS AND MEMBERS OF CDAU
16. The CDAU's achievements today stand on the foundations set by the pioneers in our midst. I like to thank former Commissioner of SCDF Mr James Tan, the founder of the CDAU, and Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, the Chairman of the Home Team Volunteer Network for their contributions. The guidance and support provided by Mr James Tan and Professor Ho over the years have provided a strong foundation of the growth and development of the CDAU.
17. CDAU will also not be where it is today without the invaluable support from pioneer members and key stakeholders. One of our longest serving CDAU volunteers, from the pioneer batch, is here with us today. Major (V) Tan Teow Chye has been volunteering with passion and commitment since 2006 and is now attached to the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery. Major Tan can be seen on Saturday mornings during the Central Fire Station open house with a loudhailer in one hand and guiding the crowd of visitors, mostly excited parents and children, during the station visit. I hear he has been very effective. He shares with them the inner workings of a fire station and the heroic stories of men and women at the frontline. Tonight, Major Tan will receive the "CDAU Exemplary Officer Award" for his long years of volunteerism and good work. Congratulations!
18. I would also like to make a special mention to our oldest volunteer, Mr Yunnos Bin Shariff. Mr Yunnos is 74 years old this year, but he is still a very active CDAU member. Like Major Tan, he is also a guide at the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery and Mr Yunnos has a special relationship with the Central Fire Station that goes back decades. He spent a good part of his childhood in Central Fire Station during his father's posting as a firefighter. He then became a firefighter, and spends most of his career at the Central Fire Station too. Mr Yunnos enthrals visitors, young and old alike, with the tales of his youth and the colourful stories of life in Central Fire Station. Through his eloquent and passionate narration, he makes the rich history of the station come alive.
19. For his dedication, Mr Yunnos attained the "Most Active CDAU Officer Award" in 2013 and will be recognised tonight with the pinnacle award, the "CDAU Outstanding Officer Award". Congratulations to Major Tan Teow Chye, Warrant Officer Yunnos Bin Shariff and all our award recipients!
RECOGNISING THE CONTRIBUTION OF THE CDAU VOLUNTEERS
20. Being a CDAU volunteer requires personal sacrifices. It is a serious mission where you contribute valuable time and energy. Many of you serve out of a genuine desire to safeguard fellow Singaporeans without looking for recognition or reward. MHA and SCDF recognise that, and deeply appreciate your commitment and dedication.
21. The government has recently implemented the Group Insurance scheme for servicemen in the Home Team and MINDEF. Starting from 1 July this year, our servicemen will enjoy enhanced insurance coverage with premiums paid by the government. You may like to know that CDAU volunteers are also included in the scheme. You will receive insurance coverage just like all SCDF regular officers, NSFs and NSmen.
22. Even as safety and security threats evolve over time, I am confident that the CDAU will continue to adapt and expand – not just in numbers, but also in our lifesaving role in Singapore.
23. You are well-equipped with lifesaving skills that are crucial in keeping Singapore safe and secure, be it during day-to-day emergencies or in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack. Because of your commitment and dedication, I believe the CDAU will continue to play a key role in keeping Singapore safe and secure alongside fellow Home Team officers.
24. Once again, I would like to express my appreciation to every one for your unwavering spirit of volunteerism. I look forward to seeing you being our SG Secure mobilisers to promote community vigilance, community resilience and community cohesion in support of the SG Secure national movement. Thank you and have a pleasant evening ahead.