Internet defence challenge no token gesture
Think for a moment about the following question: Singapore can have many friends, but ultimately we have to be able to defend Singapore ourselves. Why?
Now consider your options: is it that Singapore is an unfriendly country; is it to prove to others that we are not afraid of hardship; or perhaps that there is no guarantee that the friends will be able to help us in a real crisis?
It is the final one, right? Right. Now collect a couple of tokens and move on.
An estimated 15,000 Singaporeans have been grappling with posers like these - and plenty that are far trickier - over the past two weeks as the Government seeks to reinforce its doctrine of total defence.
As part of an annual exercise to promote the philosophy that every citizen has a role to play in safeguarding the city-state, the Ministry of Defence has gone online, offering an interactive game to help citizens learn, or re-learn, the basics.
Those logging on to www.tdquest.lycosasia.com since June 14 have been confronted with a two-stage game that runs through the ground rules for total defence, a concept Singapore adopted in 1984, and which is modelled on practices in Sweden and Switzerland.
Modern wars are not pure confrontations between armies, but conflicts involving entire nations and people, a government handbook explains. Total defence unites all sectors of society - the government, business and the people - in the defence of Singapore.
In the game's first stage, participants must steer a tiny character around a miniature Singapore-style island, meeting local people and answering their questions on aspects of total defence. A correct answer wins you two tokens.
Do not think of playing unless you know the number to call an ambulance, can pick out the Civil Defence Force's motto, and remember the date that colonial Singapore fell to invading Japanese forces.
Armed with a minimum of 20 tokens, players may enter stage two, where they choose between five racy games that represent the different strands of total defence: military, civil, economic, social and psychological.
In the military realm, participants are greeted with an assault course through which national servicemen race.
The game's instructions remind players just how critical the total defence concept is for a small, multicultural nation, and that the online challenge is fun, engaging and interactive.
To add an extra inducement, digital cameras and MP3 players are handed over to the top scorers.