Singapore 'did not raise tribunal ruling'

Singapore's Ambassador to China, Mr Stanley Loh, has written to Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin in response to a Global Times article in Chinese dated Sept 21. We reproduce Mr Loh's letter and a translation of the Global Times article below.

Actions and words attributed to Singapore 'false and unfounded'

Global Times

Dear Editor-in-Chief Hu,

The Global Times (Chinese) article dated Sept 21, 2016, regarding the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit attributed actions and words to Singapore which are false and unfounded.

Firstly, the proposal to update the South-east Asia paragraphs in the NAM Final Document was not done at the last minute nor by any single Asean country. There was a common and united Asean position. It was a consensus position of all 10 Asean members, based on agreed language from the Joint Communique of the 49th Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting.

As the current Asean chair, Laos conveyed the group's common position through a formal letter to the former NAM chair, Iran, in July. Subsequently, Iran circulated Asean's updates to all NAM members on July 29.

Secondly, the NAM chair refused Asean's request to abide by the established practice in NAM for regional groupings to update the paragraphs of their respective regions in the NAM Final Document, without interference from non-regional NAM countries or external parties. If this important principle is not respected, any non-regional NAM member or external element could in future impose their views on any regional issue. This is not in the interests of the NAM and its members. The paragraphs on South-east Asia, including those referring to the South China Sea, have been part of the NAM Final Document since 1992, and are regularly updated based on the common position of the Asean countries.

Thirdly, contrary to the claim fabricated by Global Times, the Singapore delegation did not raise the South China Sea or the tribunal ruling at the NAM Summit. Singapore adopted a principled position throughout and intervened to support the common position of Asean and defend NAM principles and established practices. Singapore believes that it is detrimental to the unity, impartiality and future of the NAM to allow NAM principles to be undermined.

The following additional facts clearly refute the allegations in the article:

  • Only a very small number of NAM members outside South-east Asia raised objections to Asean's updates at the NAM Senior Officials' Meeting at Margarita Island. However, substantive discussions were regrettably blocked.
  • As chairman of Asean, Laos protested on behalf of all 10 Asean countries to the NAM chair on its improper decision to reject Asean's updates. Several other countries also objected to the breach of this well-established NAM principle.
  • At the end of the 17th NAM Summit, Laos, as chair of Asean, wrote to the Venezuelan Foreign Minister to put on record Asean's collective reservation to a paragraph in the South-east Asia section of the NAM Final Document that was not updated. The Asean chair further requested that Asean's proposed language be annexed to the NAM Final Document. A copy of the letter from Laos as chair of Asean is attached.

We are disappointed that an established newspaper published this irresponsible report replete with fabrications and unfounded allegations with no regard for the facts. I request that, in the interest of professionalism, objectivity and transparency, Global Times publishes this letter in full in Chinese and English, so that your readers may be accurately informed, and the close friendship between our two countries will not be inadvertently affected.

Singapore's Ambassador
to the People's Republic of China

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore 'did not raise tribunal ruling' Actions and words attributed to Singapore 'false and unfounded''. Print Edition | Subscribe