Thu, 30 Nov 2000

Singapore refutes statements attributed to SM Lee

JAKARTA (JP): Singapore refuted on Wednesday several contentious statements which President Abdurrahman Wahid attributed to Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

President Abdurrahman, while meeting with the Indonesian community in Singapore on Saturday, launched into a tirade against Singapore, in part accusing Lee of publicly suggesting he would soon resign.

"Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew has not publicly criticized the Indonesian elite. Nor has he said that the days of President Abdurrahman Wahid's government are numbered," a spokesman for the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement received here.

"SM Lee had no reason to say or suggest this to President Abdurrahman Wahid," it said.

Singapore offered a low-key response to the scathing attacks by Abdurrahman, who accused Singaporeans of taking advantage of the Indonesian crisis and of looking down on the Malay people, who make up the majority of the population in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The President also suggested Indonesia and Malaysia join forces to cut off Singapore's water supply.

Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab, while playing down Abdurrahman's remarks, said on Monday they were prompted by Singapore's failure to assist Indonesia on several fronts, including stopping the smuggling of government-subsidized fuel from Indonesia to Singapore, and the currency speculation affecting the value of the Indonesian rupiah.

The statement from Singapore said the island-state had strict laws on smuggling, but the Indonesian government failed to follow up and provide evidence that fuel was being smuggled to Singapore.

In regard to currency speculation, it said: "The Singapore government does not engage in currency trading in the Indonesian rupiah. The Monetary Authority of Singapore intervenes in foreign exchange markets only to manage the exchange rate of the Singapore dollar, and does so using only the U.S. dollar as the intervention currency."