Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen today (May 15) announced in state media Straits Times that the government has purchased two more new submarines on top of two existing orders made previously. The four new Type-218SG submarines are made in Germany and cost an estimated total of at least S$3.2 billion – to be delivered in 2021, 2022 and 2024. Singapore owns six submarines currently but there are also US submarines maintained at the US naval outpost in Singapore.
It is unknown how much more would be spent in yearly service maintenance of these multi-billion assets.
Singapore’s military budget for 2017 hit the highest ever in history of a S$14.2 billion – three times that of neighbour Malaysia’s S$4.8 billion Defence Budget. The Singapore government has also introduced a series of new tax increases to fund for increased government spending especially on the military.
The increased in military spending comes on the backdrop of increasing volatility in the Asia Pacific region, as Singapore takes on offensive preparation against China. Singapore has repeatedly expressed its dissatisfaction with China laying claims of unmanned islands and territories in the South China Sea. The US is also relying more on Singapore as both Malaysia and new Philippines President Duterte switched camp in exchange of China’s billions investment.
However, the billions spent on military budget does not necessarily equate to increased military capabilities for Singapore. A falling birth rate saw the number of new Singaporean conscripts dropping 5% each year, in proportion to the reduced student intake in junior colleges. The Singapore society has also grown increasingly divided as more Singaporeans are now more educated and informed of the “dirty secrets” uncovered by independent online news sites. Singaporean conscripts these days are less likely to fight for the country due to discontentment against the ruling PAP dictatorship.