Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Singapore and Sept 11

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in the United States. All major newspapers have extensive coverage of the event that changed the course of world history.

There is no exception in Singapore. The Straits Times dedicated big space to commemorate the anniversary, which coincides with the big International Monetary Fund/World Bank meeting in Singapore.

Security has been tightened considerably as a result of the event -- the biggest to be held in Singapore. The government has also reiterated that the tough stance, which includes banning 28 protesters out of 500 members of civil society organisations accredited by the Twins of Bretton Woods, is partly due to the fact that Singapore is a terrorist target.

But Singapore must do some deep soul-searching on its long-term plan to counter terrorism.

One obvious and tacit reason for being seen as a potential terrorist target is Singapore's almost unflinching support for the Big Bully called the United States. US President George Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003 although there was no clear evidence of weapons of mass destruction. And Singapore continued to support the Big Bully even after it was established that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the first place.

Here's an abridged ST article stating Singapore's position on the war that was clearly and unequivocally wrong.

Mar 12, 2004
S'pore was right to back war in Iraq
By Eugene Low

SINGAPORE was not wrong to throw its support behind the United States-led war on Iraq as the aftermath of the conflict and resulting curbs on the spread of banned weapons has made for a safer regional and international environment.

Foreign Affairs Minister S. Jayakumar acknowledged there are those who question the wisdom of Singapore's move especially now that Washington is unable to find Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - which prompted American-led action in the first place.

Washington and London launched inquiries into why their intelligence agencies did not get it right. Regardless of the outcomes, he said, the global threat of WMD proliferation real 'and must always be of real concern to a small, densely populated country like Singapore'.

Disagreeing with the view that Singapore was 'too pro-US', he said protecting national interests lay at the heart of the matter. It is not simply about agreeing with the US on everything. In fact, Singapore does not see eye to eye with it on issues such as Palestine, Myanmar and cloning. Neither does support for the US come at the expense of ties with other countries as it is not 'a zero-sum game'.

But he also stressed the uniqueness of links with the US, as it is a 'force for stability' and a 'source of investments, technology and know-how'. 'Ultimately, what guides us in our foreign policy is our national interest. And that remains our fundamental approach.'

Singapore will have to grapple with terrorism for many years, especially since networks are deeply embedded in South-east Asia. 'We cannot deal with the terrorist threat alone. The struggle against terrorism is and will be a global one, and only the US has the capability to lead it,' he said.

Has the world become a safer place as a result of the war? Obviously not. Security has been beefed up everywhere but you will never know when or where the next strike will take place.

Can Singapore be vigilant 24/7? Is it too high a price to pay to support the Big Bully?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looking at your picture, Im not sure if that was commercial complex Suntec or High security prison Suntec. Poor guys are now being locked in. Truly uniquely Singapore.