Singapore & the Anti-Personnel Landmine (APL)

Posted by under Policy Watch on 23 December 2000

In December of 1997, the Mine Ban Treaty opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada. Since that date almost 3/4 of the world's governments have become signatories, but not Singapore.

All key ASEAN partners - Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei have signed. Singapore remains one of two ASEAN states which produce landmines, along with Myanmar/Burma.

Singapore is an island state with no obvious military threats to her territory, why does she continue to abstain from the global ban on this weapon. The Permanent Secretary for the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in May 2000, "There has been no change to Singapore's position on the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT)." Singapore is also not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, which requires some minimal restrictions on the weapon and is not a member of the Conference on Disarmament. Singapore was identified last year by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines as one of 16 countries in the world still producing anti-personnel mines.

In May 2000, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, "Chartered Industries of Singapore (now reorganised as part of ST Kinetic) is the only company in Singapore that produces APLs, for our own defense purposes only." The Ministry also noted that Singapore is not pursuing alternatives to landmines. The government will not reveal the types or quantities of mines being produced by Chartered Industries of Singapore. The military trade press notes that Singapore has produced copies of several Italian anti-personnel mines. In May 1996, Singapore declared a two-year moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines without self-neutralizing or self-destructing mechanisms. The moratorium was extended for an "indefinite" period and expanded to cover all anti-personnel mines in February 1998. Information regarding the size or content of Singapore's stockpile of anti-personnel mines is not available. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs states, "For security reasons, we cannot discuss the details concerning the stockpiling or destruction of landmines."

There is no evidence of use of anti-personnel mines by Singapore's Armed Forces. Most developed nations have joined global humanitarian demining efforts, whether they have signed the treaty or not. Singapore is the most economically well off nation not to contribute what-so-ever to demining activities, either bi-laterally with affected neighboring states like Cambodia, Myanmar/Burma, Laos or Vietnam, nor through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund. It appears that proposals for contributing to international humanitarian mine action programs have not been implemented and are still under consideration. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs states it is "not aware of any Singapore government organisation that has contributed to humanitarian mine action programmes," but it is "considering the most useful way in which a small country like ours can make an effective contribution to such efforts." Singapore Army Engineers have not been employed in humanitarian demining activities outside Singapore. Singapore should immediately renounce production of the anti-personnel landmine and destroy the stockpiles she already holds so that they are not used anywhere by anyone again.

The above material is summarized from the Landmine Monitor annual report of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which is available on the world wide web at: www.icbl.org.


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