Ng Eng Hen praises S'pore-Thai military ties

Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House in Bangkok yesterday.
Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House in Bangkok yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, on a two-day visit to Thailand, praised the close ties between the two countries' military forces, saying that such trust strengthens responses to transnational threats.

No one country has all the resources needed to deal with cross-border threats like terrorism, natural disasters and cyber piracy, he noted.

"But you can't build trust and inter-operability overnight," he told Singapore media yesterday in Bangkok, after meeting Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.

It is important for militaries to keep regular contact in multilateral and bilateral settings, so that one may call on the others when needed, he said.

Defence relations between Thailand and Singapore are close, with both senior officers and soldiers interacting through regular exercises like Cobra Gold and Cope Tiger. Singapore trains its troops in Thailand.

Mr Ng yesterday met the key military leaders of the current post-coup administration, including the Thai Chief of Defence Forces Sommai Kaotira, army chief Teerachai Nakwanich, Deputy Defence Minister Udomdej Sitabutr and navy chief Na Areenich.

"This is a meeting between old friends," said Dr Ng.

Addressing concerns about the military government, he said Singapore ultimately wants to see stability in Thailand. Whether people will support a government depends on whether it can deliver on the important things like good jobs, healthcare, schools and safety.

"We wish the government of General Prayut well. We will work with them," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2015, with the headline 'Ng Eng Hen praises S'pore-Thai military ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe