Singapore will work to maintain good defence ties with US: Dr Ng

The results of the presidential election in the United States should not jeopardise Singapore's good defence relationship with the country, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday (Nov 13).
The results of the presidential election in the United States should not jeopardise Singapore's good defence relationship with the country, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday (Nov 13). PHOTO: ST FILE

The results of the presidential election in the United States should not jeopardise Singapore's good defence relationship with the country, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday.

Singapore has traditionally had strong institutional ties with the US, and has worked with both Democratic and Republican administrations to strengthen defence ties between both countries, he noted.

"President-elect (Donald) Trump was voted in and he will be the president, and we have to work with the administration to maintain the good ties that we had," Dr Ng said.

"Our defence policy starting point is what works the best for Singapore. We are a small country and we know that what big powers do will affect not only Singapore, but the entire region and indeed the world."

During his presidential campaign, Mr Trump had made remarks implying that America's allies - including those in Asia - were not pulling their weight.

His win sparked fears that a diminished US presence in the region would be quick to follow, with implications for security and stability.

Dr Ng said that Singapore will continue to work with the US as it does with other countries in the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus framework. These include China, India, Japan and South Korea.

"Our relationship with other countries, whether it's the US or China, is to have a mutually beneficial relationship," he said, adding that Singapore is not dependent on any one country.

He gave examples of how Singapore has worked closely with the US and welcomed their planes and ships into its bases where interests align, such as on the issue of counter-terrorism.

"I would say that we've been doing a lot for our defence partners like the US... and I don't see that as any reason why we should diminish our defence ties with the US," he said, adding that Singapore takes the same approach towards its other defence partners.

"We make sure that our relationship is one based on mutual benefits; we help each other out."

Linette Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore will work to maintain good defence ties with US: Dr Ng'. Print Edition | Subscribe