Vietnam assures Singapore it will maintain order in industrial parks

Speaking to the media in Washington, Mr Shanmugam said that Singapore had raised concerns about the attacks to the Vietnamese. -- FILE PHOTO: ZAOBAO
Speaking to the media in Washington, Mr Shanmugam said that Singapore had raised concerns about the attacks to the Vietnamese. -- FILE PHOTO: ZAOBAO

Vietnam has assured Singapore that it will maintain order in the two Singapore-run industrial parks where anti-Chinese protesters attacked and looted factories, said Minister for Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam.

Speaking to the media in Washington, Mr Shanmugam said that Singapore had raised concerns about the attacks to the Vietnamese.

"People come, they invest, they believe in structure and they believe security will be guaranteed and really we believe it's incumbent on the government to guarantee that," he said.

Tensions between China and Vietnam spiked this month after China moved a deep-sea oil drilling rig on May 1 to disputed zones off the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, called the Nansha islands by China.

The anti-China protests turned violent on May 13 when protesters went on a rampage in the two industrial parks in southern Binh Duong province, joint ventures between Becamex IDC Corp and a Singapore consortium led by Sembcorp Development. The Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) said 99 factories were damaged.

Vietnam anti-China protests map

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday condemned the burning of the Singapore national flag during the protests, calling it a "serious incident".

Some have speculated that the protesters had mistaken the Singapore flag for the Chinese flag, but Mr Shanmugam said he "did not know enough" to verify this.

But he did not believe Singapore was being dragged into the situation.

"It just happens that this industrial park has a number of Chinese companies who operate out of there...we haven't fully investigated, but that seems to be the reason for the protest and the attacks."

Mr Shanmugam was speaking on the final day of his week-long trip to Washington. He said he had been in talks with a broad range of officials about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement.

He believed that not seeing through the TPP would impact America's ability to participate in growth in Asean and impact its standing with its friends and trading partners.

It would also result in "a marginalised America from a region where America should be strongly involved in", he added.

simlinoi@sph.com.sg