TNI Chief: Bilateral Ties With Singapore at Risk

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono shakes hands with a TNI soldier at the Heroes’ Day ceremony at Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (Rumgapres Photo/Abror Rizki)

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono shakes hands with a TNI soldier at the Heroes’ Day ceremony at Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. (Rumgapres Photo/Abror Rizki)

A week after Indonesia announced the suspension of military cooperation with Australia in the wake of allegations of spying by Canberra, Jakarta said it could re-evaluate bilateral cooperation with other countries that had facilitated Australia in tapping into the mobile communications of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and senior cabinet ministers.

In a report by Indonesian news portal Republika.co.id, Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief Gen. Moeldoko said on Thursday that if Singapore was proven to have assisted Australia in its spying activities on Indonesian officials, the city-state had compromised trust between the two countries.

He emphasized that ties between countries should be grounded on solid trust and that any violation of such trust called for the re-evaluation of the relationship and any cooperation.

Singapore and South Korea recently emerged as “third parties” to an intelligence alliance named the “Five Eyes,” comprising the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Documents leaked by US whistle-blower Edward Snowden and published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday detailed the alleged involvement of Singapore’s spy agency in tapping Internet and telecommunications traffic moving through the city-state.

Most of Indonesia’s Internet and telecom traffic runs through Singapore. The country’s biggest telecom operator, SingTel, is majority-owned by Temasek Holdings, the government’s investment arm, and includes former intelligence officials on its board of directors, SMH reported.

Yudhoyono said he had tasked the Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to look into the matter.

“I’ve instructed the foreign minister to discuss the issue with ambassadors of the two countries,” Yudhoyono said.

According to the latest documents, the spying plot used to intercept Indonesian officials’ communications were also applied by Singapore to facilitate wiretapping on Malaysia, which on Tuesday summoned Singaporean officials to seek clarification on the allegations.

“We have no interest in doing anything that might harm our partners or the friendship between our two countries,” said Ong Keng Yong, Singapore’s high commissioner to Malaysia, in comments carried by the Straits Times newspaper.

“We have excellent bilateral relationship and cooperate closely on many matters of common interest.”

Wiranto, a former TNI chief and presidential candidate in next year’s polls, said the spying row had redefined the “methods of war” between nations.

“When it comes to the issue of wiretapping, it can be quite confusing. Australia would say ‘this is part of my defense strategy, we mean no harm,’” he said as quoted by Liputan6.com.

“We have just experienced it. It’s an unconventional definition of war.” The Jakarta Globe

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