Sunday, January 2, 2011
Relief from Singapore for Rockhampton floods?
Without going to Google, name the key newspoint for Exercise Wallaby staged last year by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
Defence-aware netizens will probably recall the gushing editorials from the Singaporean press that commemorated the 20th year of SAF war games in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia... and the gaffe by the 90 cents newspaper that placed Rockhampton south of Perth.
The town best known to Singaporean troops who have been to Wallaby, Rockhampton, is once again in the news. This time because of massive flooding that has had an area as large as France and Germany combined under water.
News streaming out of Rocky reports the worst is yet to come as inland floodwaters drain out towards the low-lying coastal areas. D Day is Wednesday when floodwaters are expected to peak and inundate Rocky for at least two days.
To show it is no fair weather friend, Singapore should prepare itself for a flood relief mission in Rocky. The close defence relations between Australia and Singapore make our circumstances different from all other friends of the Lucky Country: no other country trains its military as extensively in Oz as we do. We therefore have an obligation to offer help, without the host country asking for it.
The flood relief mission will not come cheap with Avgas prices spiralling skyward. But surely the bilateral ties between the Lion City and the Lucky Country are worth far more than the dollars and cents that such a mission will inevitably chalk up?
Help is closer at hand than you imagine: the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has flown its detachment of Super Puma/Cougar helicopters from Oakey for many years.
Relief flights by RSAF airlifters or chartered Singapore Airlines MegaArks to Brisbane would also put relief supplies within reach of Queensland authorities.
The goodwill such aid will generate with Queenslanders will outshine the public relations mileage that the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) whipped up in 2010.
It would also show that Singaporeans are the best kind of friends one can ask for: the blokes who are there for you, unasked, come rain or shine.
Posted by David Boey at 2:03 PM