S'pore seeks increased intelligence sharing from US

Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen (left) meets with US Senator John McCain, chairman of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee, in Washington.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen (left) meets with US Senator John McCain, chairman of the United States Senate Armed Services Committee, in Washington.PHOTO: MINDEF

WASHINGTON • Singapore is seeking increased intelligence sharing from the United States as it seeks to deal with the growing threat of terrorism, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Speaking to Singapore media as he concluded the Washington leg of his visit to the US, Dr Ng described radicalisation as a "clear and present danger" and said he had spoken to several US leaders about boosting cooperation.

"I think this is something we have to pay attention to and, in my meetings with some of the leaders here, we've asked for an increasing in sharing of intelligence...

"Sharing of intelligence is a big area in which we can provide ourselves early warning as well as an assessment of systemic risk."

He said that Singapore would continue to review its commitments to the US-led coalition to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, having already sent a KC-135 refuelling tanker and an image analysis team.

"We know that this is an important fight. Where we can, we'll contribute," he said.

On Wednesday, Dr Ng also voiced concerns about the potential for a religious divide following terrorist acts such as the Paris attacks last month and the San Bernardino shootings about a week ago.

His remarks come at a time when US political discourse is preoccupied with a controversial proposal by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to ban all Muslims from entering the US.

Dr Ng did not directly address Mr Trump's comments, but said he was heartened by the responses of the leaders he had spoken to about terrorism.

He said: "They recognise the specific threat and that you really ought not to let this (the terror attacks) hijack race relations. I hope these voices will prevail if indeed you have similar incidents in the future."

Jeremy Au Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore seeks increased intelligence sharing from US'. Print Edition | Subscribe