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No plans for sanctions on Thailand: Shanmugam

Singapore has no plans to impose sanctions on Thailand following the military coup, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday (May 26).

SINGAPORE: The Republic has no plans to impose sanctions on Thailand following the military coup, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday (May 26).

“I don’t think Singapore is looking at sanctions, that’s not our style,” he said in the interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about sanctions.”

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which Singapore and Thailand are members of, adopts a consensus approach to matters affecting its 10 members, and has “not generally taken the path of sanctions,” Mr Shanmugam said.

The Thai army last Thursday seized power in a widely condemned coup after months of anti-government protests and political turmoil.

Mr Shanmugam also told Bloomberg that Singapore was unlikely to withdraw military cooperation with Thailand. “The US has its own calculations,” he said of the United States’ decision to cancel ongoing military exercises with Thailand.

It was important to respect Thailand’s internal processes, Mr Shanmugam added.

“There is deep polarization and Thailand has to find a way of bridging that polarization and find a structure for society that is workable for itself, and only the Thais can do it,” he said in the interview. “It has had stability for a period and then it’s been impacted and I don’t think it’s good for the Thai economy or the people of Thailand.”

“Uncertainty is not good for the Thai economy and by extension it’s not good for the rest of us,” Mr Shanmugam was quoted as saying. “I think the Thai leadership recognises that.”

On the ongoing territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Mr Shanmugam said the issue will take a long time to address. “What’s achievable is to try and have a code of conduct that tries to work out how the countries, countries’ ships and so on interact with each other, what can be done, what cannot be done, what kind of conduct is acceptable, what kind of conduct is unacceptable.”

Leaders of ASEAN have separately called for an expeditious conclusion to the South China Sea code of conduct, which they say will help prevent future incidents in the disputed waters that could escalate tensions.

Mr Shanmugam told Bloomberg it was difficult to put a timeframe on reaching the code. “There’re a lot of issues yet to be resolved.”

Click here to read the original Bloomberg report.

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