Singapore military training exercises in Taiwan will continue: report

SAF national servicemen seen at the Army Open House event held at the F1 Pit Building in May. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

Singapore has reportedly assured Taiwan that a decades-long military agreement between both sides will remain, according to a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report.

“[Singapore said] everything would be the same as usual,” said Taiwan’s Foreign Minister David Lee in response to a question during a legislative session on Monday (2 October).

Opposition lawmaker Johnny Chiang had asked whether a visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Beijing in September might affect Project Starlight. The Taiwanese minister said that Singaporeans officials had visited him after PM Lee’s Beijing trip and told him there would be no change to the military arrangement.

Starlight is an agreement signed in 1975 between then-Taiwanese leader Chiang Ching-kuo and the Singapore’s first PM Lee Kuan Yew, which allows Singaporean troops to train in Taiwan. According to the SCMP report, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) maintains at least three bases in Taiwan.

There has been speculation over the fate of Project Starlight ever since nine SAF military vehicles, which were being transported from Taiwan to Singapore, were seized in Hong Kong late last year. Shortly after the incident, China lodged an official protest with Singapore over its military ties with the island. Hong Kong authorities returned the vehicles to Singapore in January this year.

Ties between the Republic and the Middle Kingdom appear to be on the mend after Lee’s visit to Beijing.  During his trip, PM Lee also reminded China that regional peace and stability is in its own interest.