PAP govt denies phone tapping claim

Associated Press
14 Feb 07

Singapore denied it was listening in on Thai military conversations through a telecommunications company it bought last year and yesterday called the accusation “absurd.”

“We’ve explained … it makes no technical or economic sense to route domestic calls within Thailand through Singapore,” Foreign Minister George Yeo told Parliament.

Thailand’s army commander, Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, has accused Singapore of tapping in to Thai military phone conversations through Shin Corp, a telecommunications company that former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s family sold to Singapore’s state investment company, Temasek Holdings, last year.

Sonthi has ordered members of the military leadership not to use mobile phones for confidential conversations susceptible to monitoring through the telecoms company.

“It would also be absurd for Temasek to sully its reputation in this way,” Yeo said, noting that Thai telecom authorities and employees would obviously ensure such activities did not occur.

Yeo was responding to lawmakers who asked about the Thai allegations and whether any investigation was being conducted.

Thailand-Singapore relations have worsened since the January 2006 sale of a large stake in Shin Corp, Thailand’s largest telecommunications company, while Thaksin was still in office.

The deal sparked outrage in Thailand, with critics saying Thaksin had placed strategic assets, including telecommunications satellites, in foreigners’ hands.

Diplomatic relations were further strained when Thaksin visited Singapore earlier this month and met the city-state’s deputy prime minister.

Thailand called the meeting inappropriate, given Thaksin’s ouster, and suspended a visit by Singapore’s foreign minister.

Singapore shrugged off Thaksin’s visit as a private one between old friends.

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