SINGAPORE: Foreign Affairs and Law Minister, K Shanmugam, said Singapore’s position on the UN resolution on the Palestinian vote has not made the Republic neither more nor less vulnerable to terrorism.
In a written answer to a parliamentary question, he said Singapore continues to be vigilant because the threat of terrorism to Singapore, regardless of Singapore’s voting position on this or other issues remains a constant challenge.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency, Pritam Singh, had asked whether Singapore’s decision to abstain on the successfully passed United Nations (UN) resolution to elevate Palestine’s status at the UN into a non—member observer state, increases Singapore’s vulnerability to terrorists sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
Mr Shanmugam recalled the serious threat faced by Singapore from Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in 2001, the radical group linked to Al Qaeda.
The JI’s aim was, and remains, the forcible imposition of a pan—Islamic caliphate in Southeast Asia.
Mr Shanmugam requested Mr Singh to let the House know whether he believed that a change in Singapore’s voting position will make the nation more secure.
Mr Shanmugam said he will take serious note if indeed those are his views.
Making Singapore’s position on Palestine clear, he explained in his reply that Singapore supports the right of the Palestinian people to a homeland.
Singapore issued a statement welcoming the proclamation of a Palestinian state in 1988.
However, Singapore abstained on the Non—Member Observer State resolution because it believes that only a negotiated settlement consistent with UN Security Council Resolution 242 can provide the basis for a viable, long term solution.
He said both Israel and Palestine have legitimate rights and shared responsibilities and they must both be prepared to make compromises in order to achieve a lasting peace.
He said Singapore believes that any unilateral action, be it by Israel or Palestine, to force a settlement of the issue will hinder rather than facilitate the peace process.
Replying to another question by Aljunied GRC MP Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, Mr Shanmugam noted that Singapore has been contributing to Palestine’s development primarily through technical assistance under the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP).
Under it, Singapore has been training Palestinian officials in areas such as public administration and urban planning.
Singapore also has a S$1 million technical assistance package for Palestine as well as post—graduate scholarships to Palestinian officials.
Mr Shanmugam said Singapore will continue to provide technical assistance to Palestine in areas most relevant and impactful to their development.
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