Welcome Reception for Operation Lionheart Contingent - Media Soundbite by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 18 February 2023

1.   We are very happy to have the team back, in the face of this tragedy which His Excellency the Turkish Ambassador described as “of historic proportions”. I think it is the worst tragedy that Türkiye has suffered, a national disaster. More than 40,000 people have died, and still counting. 

2.   Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Türkiye and Syria. 

3.   SCDF, we did what we can. More than 80 countries, I think nearly 90 countries, sent their teams. 

4.   SCDF, in Singapore, for some time now, over 30 years, has been building our capabilities, and has been classified as a Heavy Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) Team. It is recognised by the International Search & Rescue Advisory Group as such. 

5.   Since 1990, SCDF has gone on 20 such missions, in Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, Laos. 

6.   When we were approached on 6 February, we agreed straightaway. 

7.   By 10 February, we had sent two teams, a total of 68 men and women. 

8.   They played an important role helping in the search and rescue efforts. You would have read from the newspapers, a 12-year-old boy was rescued. Every life matters. They rescued another man who was trapped under the building rubble. 

9.   They did a fair bit of work, coordinating, working with NGOs, on relief supplies. They deployed search canines and life detection equipment, and assisted with the retrieval of bodies from the rubble at various sites. They were sent to one of the sites, probably one of the hardest-hit sites.

10.   We are proud of the team for their good spirits and contributions, in spite of the very difficult conditions, -3 degrees at night and 5 degrees during the day. 

11.   Singapore, all of us, we thank the 68 brave men and women, led by Colonel Chew and Deputy Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Lok. A big thank you to all of them.