S'pore keen to preserve good ties with Malaysia

S'pore keen to preserve good ties with Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: SINGAPORE is banking on Jakarta's and Malaysia's understanding in preserving its relationship with them, following allegations that the city-state had helped Western intelligence agencies to spy on its neighbours.

Singapore's Straits Times quoted Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, in giving his first comments on allegations of Singapore's spying, as saying that "the Indonesians and Malaysians know that we won't do anything to harm their interests".

Shanmugam had told a forum that the newspaper organised that "on intelligence matters, the Singapore government will not confirm or deny any specific reports even if they are untrue because the ensuing back-and-forth would be never-ending".

"You cannot say, this is five per cent true or 95 per cent true that we work with the Americans, Australians, Malaysians and Indonesians on this aspect of counter-terrorism, but not this aspect. Never-ending.

"The point is that the Indonesians and Malaysians know that we won't do anything to harm their interests."

Asked if the allegations that were published in Australian newspapers in recent days would harm Singapore's bilateral ties with Indonesia and Malaysia, Shanmugam said it should not as "what we do is known to all of us".

"The pressure of domestic politicking around the allegations would be stronger in Malaysia and Indonesia, but that is not new and we just have to deal with it," he said.

The city-state was shoved under the spotlight after its alleged "third role" was leaked by former United States intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Both Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta had summoned the heads of Singapore's missions in their countries to clarify on the republic's alleged involvement in the spying operations.

An AFP report said Singapore would not be drawn into confirming or denying allegations that it was part of a US-led electronic spying network in Asia.

"Singapore is a long-standing military partner of the US. 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," the report said.

"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."

The Consumers Association of Penang said Snowden's revelations of a large-scale spying on Malaysia by means of tapping electronically transmitted data "raised concerns that key leaders may be subject to foreign pressures."

Its president, S.M. Mohamed Idris, said electronically transmitted data such as conversations on mobile phones, emails and browsing habits had helped the "Five Eyes" (intelligence network grouping comprising the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) to collect huge amounts of personal data.

Singapore allegedly helped to harvest data being passed to Malaysia and Indonesia through a major undersea cable called SEA-ME-WE 3 (linking Southeast Asia, Middle East and Western Europe), which is partly owned by Singapore Telecommunications.

Idris said the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 was insufficient in addressing the issue as it related only to servers and companies located in Malaysia.


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