Call it padi diplomacy.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said he was surprised when the Royal Thai Air Force Chief thanked him for the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) help in harvesting rice while they were in Thailand.
Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Air Force Air, Chief Marshal Johm Rungswang, called on Dr Ng on Dec 14 during his introductory visit to Singapore.
He thanked the RSAF servicemen and women who were training in Thailand for their help in harvesting rice, Dr Ng said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Dec 22).
"I was surprised and wondered why they got involved. Apparently, this is what the Thai Armed Forces servicemen do to help their community and our RSAF men and women there decided to join in too," he said.
He told Chief Marshal Rungswang that Singaporeans had no experience harvesting rice.
But the chief marshal said the servicemen got quite good at it after a few lessons.
"The local community were very touched by this act," Dr Ng said.
"I thought this was a good gesture on the RSAF's part to build bonds with the local community that supports their training in Thailand."
This article was first published on December 22, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.