Singapore President Tharman visits SAF survival training base as part of Brunei trip

Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is in Negara Brunei Darussalam for his first overseas State Visit (January 24-26), yesterday went to the Brunei training base of the Singapore Armed Forces and interacted with the military cadets.

Tharman in Brunei
Singapore President Tharman viewing SAF Officer Cadets building a fire as part of their jungle confidence and survival training in Brunei. Photo courtesy: Singapore Ministry of Defence

A January 25, 2024, media release from the Singapore Ministry of Defence said: “President Tharman Shanmugaratnam was in Temburong, Brunei, this afternoon to visit officer cadets from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) undergoing training.”

The release said: “He was accompanied by Mrs Jane Ittogi Shanmugaratnam; Minister for National Development Desmond Lee; Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and Second Minister for Education Dr Maliki Osman; Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang; Members of Parliament Mariam Jaafar and Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim; Chief of Army Major General (MG) David Neo; and other senior SAF officers.”

Tharman at SAF camp in Brunei
President Tharman receiving a brief about shelter weaving as part of jungle confidence and survival training. Photo courtesy: Singapore Ministry of Defence

During his interaction with the troops, President Tharman commended the officer cadets for the professionalism and toughness they displayed in the demanding jungle environment, said the release.

Tharman at SAF camp in Brunei
President Tharman speaks to SAF Officer Cadets at the Brunei base. Photo courtesy: Singapore Ministry of Defence

Speaking to the cadets, President Tharman said that training in a terrain different from Singapore’s was “invaluable” for the officer cadets. This training helped them grow into capable and resilient leaders, he added, and this was only made possible by the strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and Brunei.

The release said: “Singapore and Brunei share a close and long-standing defence relationship. In addition to SAF troops training in Brunei, the SAF and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces also interact through frequent bilateral exercises, professional exchanges, visits and cross-attendance of courses. These exchanges have enhanced the professionalism and strengthened the ties between the two armed forces.”

Tharman congratulates Sultan of Brunei on 40th anniversary of independence

A Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs media release, also dated January 25, 2024, outlined President Tharman’s visit. On the first day of his State Visit to Brunei, he met “close to 400 members of the Singaporean community in Brunei at a reception”.

President Tharman, First Lady Jane Ittogi and the Singapore delegation also had a welcome dinner with Bruneian ministers and their spouses.

Yesterday morning, President Tharman and First Lady Jane Ittogi were accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office of Negara Brunei Darussalam; and Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah to the Istana Nurul Iman.

Tharman with Sultan of Brunei
The Sultan of Brunei greets President Tharman. Photo courtesy: X/@rwthofficial

At the palace, the Singapore dignitaries were received by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam; and Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha for the Welcome Ceremony.

Later, at a bilateral meeting, President Tharman congratulated the Sultan on Brunei’s 40th anniversary of independence. Both leaders reaffirmed the longstanding special relationship between their countries.