INDONESIA POLITICAL ANALYST: SINGAPORE'S THREE-POINT AGENDA OVER SHIP NAMING ISSUE

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA -- Singapore has chalked out a three-point agenda with regard to its protest against Indonesia's recent decision to name its new ship, KRI Usman-Harun, according to an observer.

"The Singaporean government has finalized three key points in its national agenda, which is in keeping with its stance against naming of the new Indonesian ship as KRI Usman-Harun," Guspiabri Sumowigeno, the director of Center for Indonesian National Policy Studies (Cinaps), stated in Jakarta on Tuesday.

He explained that the first point in the agenda was that Singapore, as a US ally, was keen to garner attention from the superpower with regard to getting more military support by sending a message that it is threatened by the Indonesian military's revival.

He further added that Singapore has been diligently looking for a loophole to increase its military capacity and capability by supporting the US global policy. It has also offered itself as a buffer country for safeguarding the US interests in the region.

To support the "China Containment" campaign to block the effect of China's revival as a world superpower, it also sent its forces to support the US-led occupation operations in Iraq in 2003-2008, which resulted in the US offering strong military support to the country, he explained.

"Singapore's military development far surpasses its objective needs. Through an agreement with the US since 1990, its Sembawang military base has also been used as a maintenance facility by the US military," he remarked.

He reported that Singapore now has advanced military hardware. It has officially stated that its military budget reached US$4.8 billion and it also has 40 units of the F-16 fighter aircraft and tens of other fighter jets.

"Singapore is one of the Asian countries that is involved in the US research program for the development of the F-35 future fighter jet, which is a stealth fighter aircraft," he emphasized.

Guspi stated that in order to secure its sea area spanning only 12 sea miles around the island state, Singapore has tens of warships, four technologically advanced submarines and is still seeking to procure six stealth frigates from France, plus four AWACS aircraft that are capable of monitoring the entire South East Asian region.

He warned that the recent tensions between the two countries can be manipulated by Singapore to get additional military support from the US, by giving the impression that Singapore is threatened by two big countries in the region, namely Indonesia and China.

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"This means that Singapore is seeking to build an international perception that Indonesia's military revival is equivalent to that of China threatening the South East Asian region," he pointed out.

"This is clearly hurting the spirit of cooperation that has been built over the past 40 years," he added.

Guspi explained that Singapore's second point of the agenda was its intentions to foster nationalism and improve its national identity.

He reported that Singapore has faced difficulties in nurturing nationalism among its citizens as they remain sharply divided on ethnic terms. There is also a common impression harbored by several people that Singapore is a mere gift from the colonial powers.

"This is what has robbed Singapore of its heroic and historic moments, and so, the history of confrontation with Indonesia has been considered its valuable asset in order to build Singapore's nationalism," he claimed.

Singapore's third point of the agenda is that the current regime in that country has been in power since the establishment of that country. Recently, voices have been raised regarding the authenticity of democracy in that country, Guspi stated.

The regime is fragile because the democratic process has so far been engineered to preserve its power, he claimed.

To prevent its popularity from declining and increasing demand for political reforms, it is now using its friction with other countries as one of its defense mechanisms, he added.

He added that the friction with other countries has re-strengthened the position of the ruling party.

Reconsolidation occurs in regime elements and in order to promote national unity, support to the government should be mobilized through mass movement and public opinion, Guspi emphasized.

"The presence of a common enemy can distract people from social tensions, so that the political crisis, which has started to overshadow the nation, can be dwindled," he noted.

He explained that the pattern has also been used so far by Malaysia, which has always created problems for Indonesia.

It seems that Singapore's brittle regime is following the footsteps of similar regimes in Malaysia, he reported.

"All democratic political forces in Indonesia must be alert with regard to the presence of regimes, such as those in Singapore and Malaysia and take common actions to face them," he claimed.

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