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Singapore, Landmine Monitor Report 2007


Key developments since May 2006: The New Zealand Superannuation Fund and the Netherlands’ biggest pension fund, ABP, divested from Singapore Technologies Engineering due to its involvement in the production of antipersonnel mines.

Mine Ban Policy

The Republic of Singapore has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Singapore has consistently voted in favor of the annual UN General Assembly resolution calling for the universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, including UNGA Resolution 61/84 on 6 December 2006. In its explanation of its vote, Singapore stated that it “supports and will continue to support all initiatives against the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel landmines, especially when they are directed against innocent and defenseless civilians.… At the same time…Singapore firmly states that the legitimate security concerns and the right to self-defense of any State cannot be disregarded. A blanket ban on all types of anti-personnel landmines might therefore be counterproductive.”[1]

Singapore sent a representative to the Seventh Meeting of States Parties in September 2006, but did not attend the May 2006 or April 2007 intersessional Standing Committee meetings. In September a military official told Landmine Monitor that the country’s position on the Mine Ban Treaty remains the same.[2] In March 2006 a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said, “Singapore is very supportive of the ban on landmines, but Singapore is a small nation and we cannot completely rule out landmines as an option in case of security problems.”[3]

Singapore is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, but attended the Eighth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II on landmines in November 2006 as an observer.

In 2006 Clear Path International and the advertising agency Rapp Collins initiated a campaign in Singapore to raise awareness of the landmine crisis worldwide and the work of Clear Path International. The campaign featured frisbees that look like landmines, which volunteers scattered around the city.[4]

Use, Stockpiling, Transfer and Production

In September 2006 a Singapore military official told Landmine Monitor that the Singapore Army only uses landmines for training, but that it must retain the option to use mines for self-defense.[5]

Singapore is said to have one of the largest stockpiles of antipersonnel landmines in southeast Asia.[6] It has yet to disclose details of the size and composition of its stockpile.

Singapore declared a moratorium on the export of all types of antipersonnel mines in February 1998, which remains in force. No mine exports from the country have been reported since then.

Singapore has long acknowledged that it produces antipersonnel mines.[7] Singapore is known to have produced two types of antipersonnel mines: a plastic blast mine (VS-50) and a bounding fragmentation mine (VS-69), both copies of Italian designs. Singapore Technologies Engineering (STE), through its subsidiary Singapore Technologies Kinetics, is the government-linked company that produces antipersonnel mines.

In September 2006 the New Zealand Superannuation Fund divested from Singapore Technologies Engineering due to its involvement in the production of antipersonnel mines.[8] In April 2007 the Netherlands’ biggest pension fund, ABP, announced that it had stopped investing in landmine producing companies, including STE.[9] In response to the divestment by ABP, STE Chief Executive Officer Tan Pheng Hock stated, “ST Engineering does not make landmines for exports. If we do [make landmines], that is only for the defence of Singapore and only when we are asked to.” He added that, “Investors, especially from Scandinavian countries, continue to ask us about landmines and this is what we tell them. We have not made any mines for export in the last 20 years, not even as sub-contractors.”[10]

In 2002 the Norwegian Petroleum Fund (now known as the Norwegian Government Pension Fund) divested from STE in order to ensure that Norway was complying with its Mine Ban Treaty obligations.[11]

[1] Singapore’s Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.47, 26 October 2006. These remarks were made after the vote in First Committee, and are identical to last year’s explanation.

[2] Landmine Monitor interview with Koh Chuan Leong, Head, General Staff Branch, Singapore Army, Geneva, 20 September 2006. He was Singapore’s representative to the Seventh Meeting of States Parties.

[3] Interview with Paul Koh Kok Hong, Deputy Director, International Organizations Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, 6 March 2006.

[4] “Landmine frisbee campaign in Singapore raises awareness of Clear Path International,” Clear Path International, 13 October 2006, http://cpi.org, accessed 7 April 2007.

[5] Interview with Koh Chuan Leong, Head, General Staff Branch, Singapore Army, Geneva, 20 September 2006.

[6] Statement attributed to Canadian Gen. Maurice Baril, in Shahanaaz Habib, “Singapore yet to destroy mines,” The Star, 10 November 2005, www.asiademocracy.org, accessed 10 April 2007.

[7] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to a visiting Canadian delegation in November 2005 that Singapore was still producing mines. In June 2004 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that “Singapore continues to exercise strict control over the production of landmines in Singapore. ST Kinetics remains the only company in Singapore that produces landmines. Antipersonnel landmines produced in Singapore are used solely by Singapore’s armed forces for self-defense purposes.” Letter from Tan Yee Woan, Director, International Organizations Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 June 2004.

[8] “Board decision to divest from Singapore Technologies Engineering,” 20 September 2006, www.nzsuperfund.co.nz, accessed 10 April 2007. It was among several divestments made by the fund of securities that do not comply with its responsible investing policy.

[9] Toby Sterling, “Pension fund sheds landmine holdings,” Associated Press, 6 April 2007, www.forbes.com, accessed 10 April 2007.

[10] “ST Engineering says no landmine exports for 20 yrs,” Reuters News, 2 May 2007.

[11] Norway Ministry of Finance, “Question of whether investments in Singapore Technologies Engineering can imply a violation of Norway’s international obligations,” www.regjeringen.no, accessed 10 April 2007.