SINGAPORE: In an effort to curb unauthorized arms sales and transfers, Singapore has adopted a comprehensive approach to regulating the export, transhipment, and transit of strategic goods and technology.as stated by Mr Gan Kim Yong, the Minister for Trade and Industry.
In response to a Parliamentary Question from Ms He Ting Ru on 6 November, Mr Yong elaborated on the measures in place and the ongoing steps being taken.
Ms Ru sought clarification from the Minister for Trade and Industry regarding the current measures to prevent unauthorized arms sales and transfers through Singapore, as well as inquiring about efforts to review and enhance these measures.
Mr Yong reiterated that Singapore’s strategy is holistic, aimed at deterring and preventing unauthorized arms sales and transfers.
He emphasized three steps:
First, the Strategic Goods (Control) Act of 2002 (SGCA) governs the export, transhipment, transit, intangible transfer of technology, and brokering of strategic goods and strategic goods technology.
He highlighted the obligation for individuals and entities involved in such activities to comply with permit and registration requirements under the SGCA.
This includes obtaining permits before exporting, transshipping, or transferring strategic goods or technology listed in the Strategic Goods Control List, especially those intended for weapons of mass destruction purposes.
Additionally, those importing, exporting, or transshipping arms through Singapore must secure licenses from the Singapore Police Force under the Arms and Explosive Act, with the requirement of being assessed as a ‘fit and proper’ person as part of the licensing criteria.
Second, the Inter-Ministry Committee on Export Controls collaborates with various government agencies to ensure Singapore’s strict adherence to international obligations concerning arms sales and transfers, as well as United Nations sanctions and embargoes against any country.
The third step involves relevant agencies raising awareness through advisories and regular outreach programs, ensuring that Singapore-based businesses and shipping companies stay informed about the latest regulatory requirements they must adhere to.
Singapore acknowledges 138 Singapore-based entities involved in Myanmar’s military junta supply chain amid international probe
In July this year, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan confirmed that 138 Singapore-based entities have been identified as participants in the supply chain to Myanmar’s military.
Minister Balakrishnan provided these responses in a written answer to Parliamentary Questions submitted by Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP) Dennis Tan and PAP MP Vikram Nair regarding a report published on 17 May by Tom Andrews, the United Nations Special Rapporteur in Myanmar.
The report alleged the involvement of Singapore companies or entities based in Singapore in the sales of dual-use items, raw materials, and spare parts with military-related uses.
Minister Balakrishnan revealed that an additional 91 entities were identified for their involvement in supplying Myanmar’s military, supplementing the initial list of 47 entities named by the United Nations Special Rapporteur.
Notably, nine of the identified entities are no longer registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, rendering them unable to operate as legal entities or conduct business in Singapore.
These entities were allegedly involved in the transfer of components, spare parts for fighter aircraft, equipment for the Myanmar Navy, radios, research, and equipment for electronic warfare.
Regarding the initial list of 47 entities, Minister Balakrishnan clarified that most of them no longer maintain business relationships with Singapore banks.
However, the remaining accounts will undergo review by the banks, which will implement appropriate measures, including enhanced scrutiny, to ensure that transactions processed by these entities are not suspicious.
Minister Balakrishnan emphasized that due to Myanmar being on the Financial Action Task Force’s blacklist, financial institutions in Singapore have implemented enhanced due diligence for customers and transactions linked to Myanmar, which present higher risks.
He further addressed the alleged US$254 million worth of “arms and related goods” shipped through Singapore-based entities to the Myanmar military, noting that the report did not specify the types of armaments being transferred. Instead, it listed spare parts and equipment without further details.
The report also covered other categories of items, such as “dual-use supplies,” “manufacturing equipment,” and “raw materials,” which included a variety of items, some of which are non-controlled items.
Minister Balakrishnan stressed the need for specific evidence to establish connections between these transactions and the manufacture of weapons in Myanmar.
Minister Balakrishnan reiterated that the Singapore Government’s policy is not to block legitimate trade with Myanmar, as doing so would harm the country’s development and the well-being of its civilian population.
He highlighted that the allegations in the report pertain to a relatively small portion of the trade between the two countries, and the government takes these allegations seriously, requesting specific and verifiable evidence.
The Minister made it clear that the Singapore Government has not conducted any military sales to the Myanmar military in recent years and remains committed to preventing the transfer of arms and dual-use items with potential military applications to Myanmar that could be used for violence against unarmed civilians.
Singaporeans fined for sonar system sale to Myanmar Navy amidst investigations into arms trade
Notably, on 19 September, two Singaporean individuals were fined a total of S$80,000 (approximately US$58,649) for their involvement in selling a sonar system that ultimately ended up with a survey center operated by the Myanmar Navy.
Poiter Agus Kentjana, 57, then-sales manager at equipment supplier Hydronav Services (Singapore), and Wui Ong Chuan, 70, one of its directors, confessed in court to violating a law governing the sale of strategic goods, including weapons.
Wui was ordered to pay a fine of $45,000, while Poiter was fined $35,000.
Their guilty pleas in August pertained to one count each of cheating and an offense under the Strategic Goods (Control) Act.
Hydronav had previously been found guilty of two offences under the Act and was fined over S$1.1 million (approximately US$806,424).
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