Welcome to the jungle, Mr Lee
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday visited SAF soldiers undergoing jungle and survival training in Temburong, and said he was glad to see them in good spirits.
PM Lee, who is in Brunei for Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's Golden Jubilee celebrations, also had an audience with the Sultan and attended a royal banquet with Mrs Lee.
In the morning, PM Lee spent an hour observing and meeting soldiers from the 6th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.
A former brigadier-general in the Singapore Armed Forces, he commended the soldiers for their professionalism and commitment, and stressed the importance of training in a realistic and safe environment.
Singapore and Brunei share a close, longstanding defence relationship. The SAF conducts regular training in Brunei, and there are frequent bilateral exercises and visits.
Brunei offers a unique environment for training, PM Lee noted. "They learn about the jungle, they also toughen themselves up. They learn about themselves. That is something very valuable," he said.
Much attention is paid to safety, he said, noting that officers made sure soldiers are prepared for jungle training.
"The system is working well," said PM Lee, who was accompanied by Chief of Army Melvyn Ong.
Mr Lee noted that the soldiers take care of the training areas - they have cartridge pouches to store empty cartridges after firing so that blanks are not scattered all over the jungle.
"We do what we can to make sure it is kept in good condition, not just for future trainees, but to keep the jungle and natural environment as it is."
He added that it was important that soldiers not inconvenience or cause problems to their hosts.
"We are very good friends with Brunei," he said, adding that he meets Sultan Bolkiah quite often.
Ministers meet regularly too. Deputy PM Teo Chee Hean will lead a group of young office-holders to Brunei for the annual Young Leaders' Programme next month. "You build up these relations at many levels so that there is trust and warmth in the relationship that helps it to be able to continue," said PM Lee.