Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chief of Defence Force

Major-General Neo Kian Hong, currently Chief of Army will take over from Lieutenant-General Desmond Kuek Bak Chye as Chief of Defence Force come 1 Apr 2010.

If you have been observant enough, it has most often been the case of the Chief of Army becoming the Chief of Defence (except for Bey Soo Khiang, who was Chief of Airforce before becoming the Chief of Defence). However, this is not to say that the Chiefs of Navy are not good, in fact Teo Chean Hean, now the Deputy Prime Minister and Lui Tuck Yew now the acting Minister for Information, Communication and Arts were Chiefs of Navy before. George Yeo, Foreign Affairs Minister and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong were also Army Brigadier-Generals before while trade and industry minister, Lim Hng Kiang were ex-Lieutenant Colonel in Army too. The highest military rank: Lieutenant –General (LG) (3 Stars) in Singapore goes to the Chief of Defence.

However, most of the Colonels, Brigadier-Generals do not necessary need to become the Chiefs of Army, Navy, Airforce, Staff and Defence as a promotion, many of them enter into the elite administrative service of the Singapore’s civil service after serving as commander of divisions to head Statutory boards as CEOs or become Deputy Secretaries or Permanent Secretaries of Ministries.

Let us trace back the history of the Chief-of-Defence who had served Singapore:

Winston Choo Wee Leong:

1st Singapore’s Chief of Defence for 18 years from 1974 to 1992. He was also chairman of the Singapore Red Cross Society for 12 years up till 2008. He is currently Singapore's non-resident ambassador to Israel.

Ng Jui Ping

2nd Singapore’s Chief of Defence from 1992 to 1995. Upon retiring from his military career, General Ng chose to enter the private sector. Between 1995 and 2003, he held various positions including Deputy Chairman of the Central Provident Fund Board, Singapore; Chairman of Chartered Industries of Singapore Pte Ltd; Corporate Advisor, Singapore Technologies Pte Ltd; Corporate Advisor, Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd; Chairman, Singapore Technologies Automotive Ltd and Chairman, Ordnance Development & Engineering of Singapore (1996) Pte Ltd. He is currently a board Director with PSA.


Bey Soo Khiang:


Singapore’s third Chief of Defence for 5 years from 1995 to 1st Apr 2000. He was Chief of Airforce before he became Chief of Defence. Currently, he is Chairman of SIA Cargo.

Lim Chuan Poh:

Took over from Bey Soo Khiang from 1st Apr 2000 as 4th Chief of Defence. Lim Chuan Poh was formerly Chief of Army. He served as Chief of Defence for 3 years till 1 Apr 2003. After his relinquishment of Chief of Defence, he became the Permanent Secretary of Education and now the Chairman of A*STAR.


Ng Yat Chung

5th Chief of Defence from 1 Apr 2003 to 23 Mar 07. Currently he is the Senior Managing Director in Temasek Holdings.

Desmond Kuek Bak Chye

6th Chief of Defence from 23 Mar 07 to 1 Apr 10. He will return to the Administrative Service after his relinquishment of the top post in defence.

Neo Kian Hong

7th Chief of Defence from 1 Apr 10.


The current Chief of Staff, BG Chan Chun Sing, from Infantry vocation will take over from MG Neo Kian Hong as Chief of Army from 1 Apr 10. I believe Chan Chun Sing will take over as Singapore’s 8th Chief of Defence in 3 years’ time.

Let us see the vocation each Chief of Defences hail from:


LG(RET) Winston Choo (Signal)LG(RET) Ng Jui Ping (Artillery)LG(NS) Bey Soo Kiang (Air Force)LG(NS) Lim Chuan Poh (Armour)LG Ng Yat Chung (Artillery)
LG Kuek Bak Chye (Armour)
MG Neo Kian Hong (Guards) - most likely resume LG after his appointment as Chief of Defence



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