Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs (a) what steps will be taken by Singapore to comply with the UN General Assembly Resolution of 18 June 2021 calling for arms embargo on Myanmar; and (b) whether the fact that ASEAN countries voted differently in the Resolution has any bearing on ASEAN’s efforts in working together on its Five-Point Consensus agreed in April 2021 to achieve the cessation of violence, commencement of constructive dialogue with all parties and the release all political prisoners.
Ms He Ting Ru asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs with regard to Singapore supporting the United Nations General Assembly resolution on Myanmar passed on 18 June 2021 (a) what steps will be undertaken to comply with the resolution; (b) what specific action will be pursued with regard to arms sales to the Tatmadaw; and (c) whether the Government will implement an arms export ban to Myanmar on companies who have been found to have supplied arms used in violence against civilians.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: Mr Dennis Tan and Ms He Ting Ru have both asked about Singapore’s compliance with the UN General Assembly resolution on Myanmar, with particular focus on the provision relating to an arms embargo.
Singapore has taken a clear and consistent position on the situation in Myanmar since the Myanmar military seized power on 1 February 2021. We categorically reject the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians. It is deplorable and unacceptable under any circumstances. We have called on the Myanmar military authorities to put an end to further violence and bloodshed, and for all sides to refrain from escalating tensions. We have also called for the release of all political detainees so that all stakeholders can negotiate in good faith to find a durable and peaceful political situation. We have conveyed our views both in this Chamber and directly to the Myanmar military authorities.
Singapore voted in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution as the key elements of the resolution are consistent with Singapore’s position calling for an end to the violence and for all stakeholders to begin a process of genuine political dialogue and national reconciliation in Myanmar. The resolution also recognises the central role of ASEAN and calls on all stakeholders in Myanmar to cooperate with ASEAN and the Special Envoy or Envoys of ASEAN to swiftly and fully implement the Five-Point Consensus reached at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on 24 April. We also support the resolution’s calls for unimpeded humanitarian assistance to safely reach those in need.
Singapore complies strictly with international obligations on international arms sales and transfers, and abides by UN sanctions or embargo against any country. On declaration of arms exports, Singapore submits reports to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) on international arms transfers every year. That information is listed on the UNROCA website. As shown, Myanmar is not one of the countries.
Singapore has a robust export control regime and our control lists are updated regularly to ensure that our export control system is aligned with international non-proliferation regimes. We will not hesitate to take action against those who contravene our laws.
Mr Dennis Tan has also asked whether the fact that ASEAN Member States voted differently on the UN resolution has any bearing on ASEAN’s efforts in fulfilling the Five-Point Consensus. We would like to point out that no ASEAN Member State voted against the UN resolution. The Five-Point Consensus was agreed to by all the ASEAN Leaders and the leader of the Myanmar military. This common vision of the way forward has not changed. That said, we recognise that implementation of the Five-Point Consensus has been slow and a little disappointing. We are working within ASEAN to expedite this process, with a view to alleviate the humanitarian situation, cease the violence in Myanmar and set it back on the path of direct negotiation by all stakeholders that will lead to normalcy, peace and stability for the long term. This will not be an easy or quick process and its success, ultimately, lies in the hands of the Myanmar people. Nonetheless, ASEAN will not waver in its commitment to facilitate and support this process in line with the Five-Point Consensus.
Singapore is fully committed to supporting ASEAN’s efforts in facilitating a return to normalcy, peace and stability in Myanmar, including through the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus. We must recognise that, ultimately, the key stakeholders in Myanmar must find the political will to negotiate, compromise, and find a durable political solution that is in the interest of the people of Myanmar. We hope that wisdom and good sense will prevail, and we are ready to do our part.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
6 July 2021