SINGAPORE – Supervisor Ulfah Khairiah Aman had planned to fly to Bali for her honeymoon two days after her wedding.

Instead, the 24-year-old was at work, after cancelling her air tickets.

The fleets and assets supervisor at SMRT changed her plans immediately on hearing that her colleague had to attend a scheduled in-camp military training during the same period.

That was in December last year.

On Thursday evening (Oct 17), Ms Aman was publicly commended for her sacrifice at the annual Total Defence Awards dinner held at Raffles City Convention Centre.

Explaining her action, she told The Straits Times she wanted to help ensure the vital day-to-day maintenance of public transport amenities is not disrupted.

“There are only the two of us in this job, so I knew I had to help out. I wanted him go with peace of mind as my husband is also an NSman who goes back for reservist training every year.”

Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How said at the dinner: “Individual actions and vigilance make a real difference. Every bit counts and the bottom line is that we are stronger together.”

Ms Aman was among seven individuals, 85 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 44 large companies and 31 organisations given the National Service Advocate Award , the highest accolade for those who have gone the extra mile to support Singapore’s defence.

Mr Garry Lam, 50, general manager of Zingrill (Seoul Garden Group), which received the award under the SME category, said his company had worked hard to make adjustments over the past three years.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Andrew Lee, the groups’ chief executive officer, Mr Lam said: “It is very difficult for a company in the food and beverage industry to have a zero-deferment record. It requires efficient manpower planning and a family culture in the company.”

He said the company also gives employees a day off on the eve of their scheduled in-camp training, so that they can prepare themselves.

Mr Heng, in his speech, thanked and reminded the dinner guests that total defence extends beyond Singapore’s conventional armed forces.

Noting that a sixth pillar – digital defence – was added to the five pillars of Singapore’s Total Defence this year, he said: “The security environment today is complex and volatile. It definitely goes beyond overt military conflict and outright war.

“Tackling non-traditional threats such as terrorism, cyber attacks and subversion via social media require a tight-knit, whole-of-society approach.”