From The Backbench

Debate on ministries' budgets: Foreign Affairs

MR VIKRAM NAIR
MR VIKRAM NAIR
MS JOAN PEREIRA
MS JOAN PEREIRA
MR DESMOND CHOO
MR DESMOND CHOO
MR CHARLES CHONG
MR CHARLES CHONG

MR VIKRAM NAIR (Sembawang GRC)

Strengthen Asean centrality

Asean member states may be relatively small, but their population totals more than 600 million and cooperation is possible in many areas, Mr Nair said.

He asked how Asean can strengthen its centrality and speak with "one collective voice" on contentious regional developments and global issues.

Last year, when Singapore was Asean chair, it sought to foster consensus among members on some key values that should underpin any framework for continued regional engagement. The values include inclusiveness, economic benefit and support for a rules-based international order.


MS JOAN PEREIRA (Tanjong Pagar GRC)

Help youth understand foreign policy

Countries may embark on disinformation campaigns as a relatively low-cost method of undermining the will and resolve of other states, and Singapore is not immune to such tactics, Ms Pereira said.

Particularly susceptible to such influence are countries with differing constituencies and demographic compositions and it "can set up contention against one another", she added.

She asked what the Foreign Ministry is doing to help especially younger Singaporeans better understand foreign policy so that they can exercise good judgment and not take information at face value.


MR DESMOND CHOO (Tampines GRC)

Contribute to change in the Arctic

Singapore may be more than 10,000km away from the Arctic, but developments there can have an impact here, Mr Choo said.

He suggested making use of Singapore's home-grown innovations and smart-city experiences to contribute to the "Smart Arctic".

Mr Choo added that Singapore's academia could contribute to the world's body of research that would inform intervention in the Arctic to tackle climate change.

"Whether it is melting ice caps and rising sea levels or the possibility of a new trade route, distant Arctic developments affect our very shores," he said.


MR CHARLES CHONG (Punggol East)

Impact if US shifts attention from region?

Recent developments suggest that the United States may shift its attention away from South-east Asia in the medium and long term, Mr Chong said.

He cited how the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership came into force at the end of last year with the "conspicuous absence" of the US.

If this shift takes place, it may have a negative impact on regional cooperation and collaboration with the US, he added. Mr Chong asked what are the implications of this shift for Singapore and South-east Asia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2019, with the headline 'Debate on ministries' budgets: Foreign Affairs'. Print Edition | Subscribe