+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
SINGAPORE , Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Singapore has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Nor has it signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Landmines Protocol. Senior government officials have stated that they are still studying both conventions carefully: “...in line with our standard practice, we will consider signing them only when we are sure that we can fulfill all their provisions after taking into account our own defense and strategic needs.”[1]

Singapore did not attend the preparatory meetings of the Ottawa Process, did not endorse the pro-ban treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997, and came only as an observer to the treaty negotiations in Oslo in September 1997 and the treaty signing conference in Ottawa in December.

However, Singapore voted in favor of the December 1996 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 51/45S urging states to vigorously pursue an international agreement banning antipersonnel landmines, and the 1997 UNGA Resolution 52/38A supporting the December treaty signing. Singapore has acknowledged that “the irresponsible and indiscriminate use of antipersonnel landmines pose not only grave dangers to civilian populations, it also poses a serious threat to the safety and lives of UN personnel participating in humanitarian, peacekeeping and development programmes.”[2]

In May 1996, Singapore stated that “it is not practical to have a blanket ban on all types of APLs as many countries still see the need for APLs for legitimate self-defense purposes. In our view, the fundamental cause of the humanitarian problems are APLs with no self-destruct or self-neutralizing mechanisms.... Singapore is committed to working with members of the international community to find a durable solution to this problem.”[3]

Singapore also voted for UNGA Resolution A/C.1/53/L.33 on 4 November 1998, which welcomed the addition of new states to the Mine Ban Treaty, urged its full realization and invited state parties to the First Meeting of State Parties in Mozambique. At the time, the Singapore representative stated, “However, we believe that the legitimate security concerns and the right to self-defense of any state cannot be disregarded.”[4]


In February 1999, a Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs official stated, “Chartered Industries of Singapore (CIS) is the only company in Singapore that produces landmines, and these are for use of our defence forces only.”[5]

Chartered Industries is controlled by the state-owned Sheng-Li holding company (Sheng-Li mean “victory” in Chinese). One authoritative source notes that while the Ministry of Finance is the legal owner of the Singapore Defense Industries and oversees its finances, Sheng-Li’s operations are largely supervised by the Ministry of Defense, which to a very large extent sets the main policy guidelines for the operations of the different defense companies.[6]

Chartered Industries is reported to have produced the following antipersonnel mines:

Valsella Valmara 69 bounding fragmentation mine

Valsella VS-50 (also designated SPM-1 by Singapore) scatterable blast mine

Tecnovar TS-50 scatterable blast mine [7]

All three mines are copies of Italian mines. The VS-50 and TS-50 are largely non-detectable, plastic mines.[8]

Vito Alfieri Fontana, a former owner of the Tecnovar Company denies that Tecnovar ever gave production licenses to Singapore.[9] A memo from Gaetano Paola Agnini, a former marketing manager of Valsella, stated that beginning in 1982 Chartered Industries of Singapore imported fully assembled mines from Valsella and then re-exported them to different countries. Later Valsella “shipped large quantities of CKD components to be assembled and loaded with explosive charge by the Singapore-based company--primarily for the supply of mines to the Iraqi Forces.”[10] From 1982 to 1986 Valsella exports to Singapore totalled US$18.6 million (see Italy report). No Valsella exports to Singapore were recorded after 1986.

Although there have been rumors that Valsella moved some mine production equipment and operations to Singapore after the ban in Italy took effect, there is no evidence to substantiate this. Gaetano Paola Agnini, the former Valsella marketing manager, has denied it, stating that no Valsella “plant machinery and equipment” was transferred to Singapore.[11] The Singapore government states that private companies from other countries have not set up factories to produce landmines in Singapore.[12]

According to the Foreign Ministry, Singapore has not transferred landmine production technology to another country and is not producing or conducting research and development on any munitions that might function like an antipersonnel mine and pose dangers to civilians (such as antitank mines with antihandling devices and certain submunitions/cluster bombs).[13]


On 8 May 1996 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a Press Statement declaring a two year moratorium on the export of “antipersonnel mines which have no self-destruct or self-neutralising mechanisms.”[14] On 5 February 1998 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the “Singapore Government has now decided, with immediate effect, to extend the moratorium to the export of all types of antipersonnel mines.” This moratorium will be in force indefinitely.[15] Government officials have stated categorically that no landmines have been exported from Singapore since May 1996.[16]

A partly declassified United States Army Intelligence study confirms that Italian-designed Singapore produced-mines were found in Iraqi arsenals after the Gulf War.[17] Aside from Iraq, it is not known to which countries Singapore exported antipersonnel mines in the past. Chartered Industries has records of all landmines exported from Singapore but these are kept confidential.[18]

Singapore imported 3,843 M-18A1 Claymore mines and ten M-14 blast mines from the United States from 1970-1981.[19] It is not known if Singapore has imported antipersonnel mines from other countries.


Given its opposition to the ban treaty, its statements about the need for mines for legitimate self-defense, and the very fact that it has an export moratorium in place, it seems certain that Singapore has a stockpile of antipersonnel mines. No details, however, are available. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, “For security reasons, we cannot discuss the numbers, types and locations of Singapore’s APLs, or if there was such a stockpile in the first place.”[20]


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs declares that no landmines have been laid in Singapore.[21] There is no evidence to the contrary.

Landmine Problem

While landmines pose no danger to civilians, Singapore does still have sporadic cases of unexploded WWII ordnance found on beaches and at various sites under development. Army Engineers are employed to destroy any UXOs found.[22]

Mine Action

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said, “We share the humanitarian concerns of the international community and would support their efforts to resolve the problem of uncleared mines.”[23] To date, the government has not made any direct financial contribution to mine action programs. A Foreign Affairs spokesperson stated, “We are actively studying ways in which we can effectively contribute towards international efforts on mine clearance and victim assistance. These include proposals to set up a demining training centre in the Asian region and a Third Country Training Programme for Demining.”[24]


Official sources have been reluctant to provide information on the production, storage, export and use of landmines. A Landmine Monitor researcher traveled to Singapore from 6-12 February 1999 and met with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs[25] and the Ministry of Defense[26] as well as a Member of Parliament, a retired Army Officer an academic and diplomats from five countries.


[1] Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Letter from Permanent Secretary to John V. Head (Landmine Monitor researcher), MFA/IOD/00039/1999l, 11 February 1999.

[2] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Statement, 8 May 1996.

[3] Permanent Mission of Singapore to the United Nations, Press Statement, “Singapore Declares A Moratorium on the Export of Antipersonnel Landmines,” 7 May 1996.

[4] Ministry of Foreign Affairs letter, 11 February 1999.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Bilveer Singh, Singapore’s Defence Industries (Canberra: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU, 1990 ), p. 13.

[7] The annual Jane’s Military Vehicles volumes have details on these mines. The Jane’s publications have no record of landmine production in Singapore prior to 1983 or after 1991. See in particular, Jane’s Military Vehicles and Ground Support Equipment 1983, p.185; 1984, pp. 182, 188; 1985, pp. 195, 203; 1986, pp. 201-203, 211; 1987, pp. 218, 219, 226; Jane’s Military Vehicles and Logistics 1988, p. 226; 1989, p. 230; 1990, p. 231.

[8] Technical characteristics of these mines can be found in the various Jane’s Military Vehicles volumes, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense, Mine Facts database, available on CD-ROM.

[9] Personal email from Vito Alfieri Fontana to John V. Head, 22 February 1999.

[10] Letter from Gaetano Paola Agnini dated 19 February 1999, provided by Nicoletta Dentico, Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines, to John V. Head.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ministry of Foreign Affairs letter, 11 February 1999.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Statement, 8 May 1996.

[15] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Statement, 5 February 1998.

[16] Ministry of Foreign Affairs letter, 11 February 1999.

[17] United States Army Intelligence Agency and United States Army Foreign Science and Technology Center, “Operation Desert Shield Special Report:Iraqi Combat Engineer Capabilities,” 1990.

[18] Ministry of Foreign Affairs letter, 11 February 1999.

[19] U.S. Army, Armament, Munitions, and Chemical Command (USAMCCOM), Letter to Human Rights Watch, 25 August 1993, and attached statistical tables, provided under the Freedom of Information Act. (no page number).

[20] Ministry of Foreign Affairs letter, 11 February 1999.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Letter 11 February 1999.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Officials were Michelle Teo-Jacob for Permanent Secretary and Terence Song, Foreign Service Officer.

[26] Officials were Maj Kenny Lim and Teng Lee Fong from the Ministry’s Policy Office.