Safti MI celebrates 50 years
WHEN Singapore needed to train its first batch of military leaders back in 1966, it did not have any military academies or home-grown know-how.
Instead, the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF's) officer corps has its roots in Jurong Town Primary School, which was where the instructors who would go on to train the first generation of officer cadets were taught, with the help of Israeli advisors.
The primary school was also where the fledgling SAF conducted IQ and physical fitness tests to select the first batch of officer cadets.
Brigadier-General (Ret) Kirpa Ram Vij, who was the first director of Safti Military Institute, called the pioneer batch of officers "handmade" as the country had no prior experience in forging them.
"We started from scratch and we had 117 first-class products - no compromise," he said, recalling the vigorous training that remains the hallmark of today's Safti.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is among them, yesterday called on the new batch of 547 freshly commissioned officers to continue this tradition at their passing out parade.
He recalled the words of then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who said at the first commissioning parade in 1967 that what Singapore lacks in numbers, "we will make up for in quality: in the standards of discipline, training, dedication and leadership".
"Today begins the next chapter of your service to the SAF and Singapore," said Mr Lee in a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of Safti
MI this year.