Spying reports: KL and Jakarta call in S'pore envoys

MALAYSIA and Indonesia called in Singapore envoys on Tuesday, seeking clarifications to Australian media reports that suggested the Republic's intelligence arms were working with Western nations to spy on their countries.

In Kuala Lumpur, the Singapore High Commission denied knowledge of helping the United States spy on Malaysia, and said it had no interest in harming the friendship between the city-state and its neighbour.

Singapore High Commissioner Ong Keng Yong told Malaysian officials he does not have information about allegations in Australian media that the city-state helped facilitate American-Australian surveillance in the region, including spying on Malaysia.

The summons came after the Australian media reported at the weekend that Singapore was part of the "5-Eyes" intelligence group which had tapped telephones and monitored communication networks in Kuala Lumpur, citing secret documents leaked by former US intelligence contractor turned whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

It said that Singapore - part of the group comprising the US, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - provided access to Malaysia's communication channels.

The Malaysian government said it is "thoroughly" investigating the latest media report about Singapore's involvement in the alleged spying.

Mr Ong met Ministry of Foreign Affairs secretary-general Othman Hashim for 20 minutes at noon on Tuesday.

The ministry said in a statement that Datuk Othman conveyed Malaysia's deep concern over the alleged spying activities and made clear that such activities infringe on his country's sovereignty and privacy of individuals.

"Such activities are certainly not done among partners and close neighbours like Malaysia and Singapore when both sides are cultivating a mutually beneficial strategic and strong partnership," the Malaysian ministry said in the statement.

In response to media queries, Mr Ong said: "We have an excellent bilateral relationship and cooperate closely on many matters of common interest.

"We have no interest in doing anything that might harm our partners or the friendship between our two countries."

On Tuesday, Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said there is no need for the city-state to spy on Malaysia.

"We are ready to share the information if the intelligence concerns these countries, so they should respect us as a neighbouring country," he said.

Malaysia's Foreign Ministry earlier said it had summoned the American and Australian envoys for clarification, and protest letters were also sent to the respective consulates.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Vice-Foreign Minister Wardana summoned Singapore's Ambassador to Indonesia Anil Kumar Nayar on Tuesday over the same issue, The Straits Times understands.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had said he instructed Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to clarify with the ambassadors of Singapore and South Korea reports that their countries assisted Australia and the US in electronic surveillance on Asian states.

Dr Marty was in Bahrain on a working visit.

Dr Yudhoyono had referred to Singapore and South Korea as "friends", noting that the allegations of their monitoring undersea communications were not specific to Indonesia, but in Asia.

He also signalled a thaw in relations with Australia after a tense week.

Dr Yudhoyono said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had agreed with his proposal to jointly review the exchange of intelligence, including drawing up a new protocol and code of ethics.

He said he would appoint Dr Marty or a special envoy to discuss sensitive issues in detail.

Once the protocol and code of ethics were complete, Dr Yudhoyono said, he and Mr Abbott would witness the signing of the agreement and evaluate its implementation.

Only then could full bilateral cooperation, including military and police exchanges, resume.



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