Hougang MP invited to join defence council

Three Members of Parliament (MPs), including Workers' Party member Yaw Shin Leong, have been invited to join a defence advisory council next year.

Minister of State for Defence and Education Lawrence Wong said yesterday that Mr Yaw, MP for Hougang; Dr Chia Shi-Lu, an MP for Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC); and Mr Ong Teng Koon, an MP for Sembawang GRC, have been invited to join the Advisory Council on Community Relations in Defence (Accord).

Formed in 1984, Accord comprises people from a cross-section of the community. Its 16 current members represent a range of industries and the council serves as a platform for the public to present its views on defence matters. Accord members serve a minimum one-year term.

This is not the first time an opposition-party member has been invited to join Accord. Workers' Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang, an MP for Aljunied GRC, was a member of Accord from 2003 to 2005.

Mr Wong said it is useful to have an opposition member on board as it sends "a clear signal...that defence is not a partisan issue, that we should not politicise the defence and security of Singapore".

"It is important for Accord membership to be broad-based and inclusive, so...I've invited a broader group of MPs," said Mr Wong, adding that Mr Yaw is "a committed NSman" and that he would be an asset to Accord.

Dr Chia, a medical doctor, and Mr Ong, a commodities trader, will represent the medical and finance industries, respectively.

Yesterday, around 90 employers toured the Police Coast Guard training facility in Brani Base to gain a better understanding of what their employees do during their national service.

A closed-door dialogue, hosted by Mr Wong and Minister of State for Home and Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, was also held.

Mr Masagos said at the session that the Ministry of Home Affairs is reviewing its national-service manpower requirements for the Singapore Police Force's Public Transport Security Command.

"With the opening of 12 more MRT stations on the Circle Line in October, more officers are now needed to safeguard the public-transport system," he said.