Friday, November 18, 2011

S'pore rebuts article on its Timor Leste stance

NUSA DUA (Bali): The Singapore Embassy in Jakarta yesterday rebutted an article in the Jakarta Post that said Singapore continued to reject Timor Leste's application to join Asean.

In a letter to the newspaper, the embassy said the article published yesterday was 'completely inaccurate and misinformed, particularly about Singapore's position on Timor Leste's application to join Asean'.

Deputy chief of mission Gerard Ho wrote: 'Singapore welcomes the interest of Timor Leste and other countries to join Asean.

'Singapore sees this as an indication of confidence in the centrality of Asean in the region, and its standing and credibility as an organisation, which we have always supported.'

The Jakarta Post report, headlined 'Asean to review Timor Leste's bid', said that during the grouping's foreign ministers' meeting on Wednesday, 'foreign ministers from Cambodia and Malaysia directly questioned Singapore's insistence on rejecting Timor Leste's bid'.

This is not true, Mr Ho wrote in the letter, which was seen by Singapore media.

He explained that in fact, at the Asean Coordinating Council meeting on Wednesday, 'there was consensus on Singapore's proposal to establish an Asean Coordinating Council Working Group to discuss all relevant aspects related to the application by Timor Leste, as well as its possible implications on Asean'.

Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam and his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa had also made this point in their remarks to reporters on Wednesday.

Mr Ho added that the working group will assess whether Timor Leste is able to meet the requirements of Article 6 of the Asean Charter on the admission of new members, which relates to the obligations of membership.

'Moreover, there was also consensus among the foreign ministers on how this would be presented to the public in the Chair's Statement of the 19th Asean Summit,' he said.

Asean has affirmed Timor Leste's membership bid, but is still working out the timing, as there are concerns over whether the new nation could meet the obligations of a member.

The Jakarta Post article had also named Singapore's foreign minister as Masagos Zulkifli.

Wrote Mr Ho: 'For the record, the name of Singapore's minister for foreign affairs is K. Shanmugam.'