Singapore says no desire to 'harm' Malaysia amid spy row

Singapore says no desire to 'harm' Malaysia amid spy row

SINGAPORE - Singapore has assured Malaysia that it will not do anything to harm relations as the city-state grapples with allegations that it was part of a US-led electronic spying operation in Asia.

 

"We have no interest in doing anything that might harm our partners or the friendship between our two countries," Ong Keng Yong, Singapore's high commissioner (ambassador) to Malaysia, said in comments carried by the Straits Times newspaper on Wednesday.

"We have an excellent bilateral relationship and cooperate closely on many matters of common interest," he said without addressing the spying issue directly.

Singapore's envoys to Malaysia and Indonesia were summoned by their host governments Tuesday following an Australian media report that implicated Singapore and South Korea in a spying ring.

Singapore's foreign and defence ministries have not replied to AFP queries about the report, based on leaks provided by fugitive former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Southeast Asia's biggest telecom firm SingTel, which had been identified in Monday's report as a key party to the alleged tapping of undersea telecommunication cables, also declined comment. SingTel is majority-owned by state investment firm Temasek Holdings.

The Sydney Morning Herald said Singapore and South Korea played key supporting roles in a "Five Eyes" intelligence network grouping the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

As a major hub for regional telecommunication traffic, high-tech Singapore was an important link in the surveillance network, it said.

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyuno on Tuesday reacted angrily to the reports of Singapore and South Korea's involvement, and said both countries' envoys would be summoned.

His comments came amid signs of an easing in a diplomatic crisis between Jakarta and Australia, which had allegedly tried to listen to the phones of Yudhoyono, his wife and his ministers in 2009.

Singapore is a long-standing military partner of the United States. The US military operates a post in the city-state that assists in logistics and exercises for its forces in Southeast Asia.

The US Navy maintains a logistical command unit - Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific - in Singapore to coordinate warship deployment and logistics in the region.

Squadrons of US fighter planes are also rotated to Singapore for a month at a time, according to a report by the US Congressional Research Service.

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