Tue, Apr 23, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Singapore military ties now a `threat'

NATIONAL SECURITY A DPP legislator says Taiwan should end military cooperation with Singapore if the city-state also wants to train in China's Hainan Province


The nation should cut long-standing defense ties with Singapore if the Southeast Asian nation's military expands relations with China, a DPP lawmaker said yesterday.

Singapore's relationship with Taiwan is unique because the country has a pact with Taiwan's military but does not have official diplomatic ties with the nation's government.

Countries that don't recognize Taiwan diplomatically usually don't have formal ties with its military.

The defense agreement has allowed tiny Singapore -- which has limited space for military training -- to send some of its forces to Taiwan for exercises.

But the deal should end if Singapore decides to train some of its troops in China's tropical island province of Hainan, said Lin Chin-hsing (林進興), a legislator with the ruling DPP.

The lawmaker said Singapore's interest in Hainan is commonly known by the Taiwanese military based in his southern legislative district, a popular training ground.

Lin said that Singapore shouldn't be allowed to use both Hainan and Taiwan because there would be a risk of secrets being leaked to China by visiting Singaporean forces.

The lawmaker said Taiwan should try to stop Singapore from switching to Hainan.

"I've told the government not just to pay attention to relations with America and Japan. We also need to pay attention to small nations, like Singapore," he told reporters.

The Taiwanese military spokesman's office declined to discuss the relationship with Singapore, and the Singaporean military did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

But in his memoirs, former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), now a senior minister, speaks candidly about an agreement that started in 1975 and allowed Singapore to train infantry, artillery, armor and commando units in Taiwan.

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