This Taiwanese defence program video slip has been circulating in my social media feed recently. For those who are not familiar with Mandarin language, the video compares the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) with the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF). The presenter, on the left, speaks to a relatively well known defence author in the Chinese media scene, and the presenter was astounded by how the RSAF fares better in terms of quality and capability than the ROCAF.
Now, other than some mind-blowing errors on the screen (e.g. 9x KC-135, 4 x now defunc E-2C), the expert also mistaken the Korean Black Eagles for our Black Knights. But what actually caught my attention was how unaware the Taiwanese are with respect to their own national defence. Assuming the presenter is a sample of the average Taiwanese public, it is a rather worrying how amazed (whether it is purely for entertainment value or not) he was, that a small country like Singapore is better than their ROCAF. It is the false sense of security I would say, that by default and larger country with larger numbers is superior in military capabilities. Although this might be true in certain cases, e.g. Russia, China etc, history have also shown that quality trumps numbers.
For the past decade or so, the Taiwanese military has been “hentai kaki”(marching on the spot) with military developments due to pressure from China, slowing down sales of equipment to ROC, and as well as limited government funds. Defence spending currently stands at around 2.1% of GDP in 2013. Her orbat is cutting edge in 1900s standards. Taiwanese top brass has realised their short coming of force multipliers and in recent years spruced up their assets, such as the P-3C Orion, E-2E Hawkeye, and new naval vessels. But running them together as a single entity is another ball game all together.
This is the second SG vs Taiwan video I have seen in recent times and again they were envious on how the SAF have leapfrogged Taiwan. Where the threat of military action is a real and present danger, it is more than crucial that the public are aware of their own defence capabilities and support their armed forces. Despite high physical and discipline quality of ROC soldiers, the Taiwanese public is currently aiming to abolish National Service, where protests starts after a training death last year. A timely reminder on Singapore’s approach to Total Defence, which ensures the the public is involved and learned about national defence, and to remain steadfast in investments for the SAF. The SAF is also put through its paces time and again to keep themselves relevant and at the same time to instil confidence.
Nonetheless, I am proud of the SAF and the RSAF for being well respected by the foreign media.