Attacks on small nations a 'direct challenge' to S'pore

The invasion of a small country by a larger neighbour and the forceful removal of its government are direct challenges to Singapore's foreign policy, former deputy prime minister Wong Kan Seng said yesterday at the S. Rajaratnam Lecture.

The former coordinating minister for national security used Cambodia as an example. Even though Singapore did not agree with the country's Khmer Rogue regime, it had to make a stand against Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia in 1978.

In 1979, Asean - of which Singapore is a member - released a statement that strongly condemned the occupation.

"We had to respond. Anything less would have undermined our credibility and posed serious implications for our own security," said Mr Wong, who was the minister for foreign affairs from 1988 to 1994.

He added that peace was necessary for Singapore's political and economic survival.

"We were surrounded by larger and militarily more advanced neighbours, and could ill-afford to stake our chances of winning any sort of war against them," he said.

The S. Rajaratnam Lecture is an annual event organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Diplomatic Academy.

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