12 April 12 The Straits Times
WASHINGTON: Singapore and the United States have pledged to work more closely on beefing up the security of global cargo, a move aimed at preventing terrorists from exploiting vulnerability in the international trading system.
Visiting Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano signed a joint statement outlining the latest commitment in Washington yesterday.
'Both the US and Singapore are great trading nations, we depend a lot on trade,' Mr Teo said. 'And in this new age where security is important, this joint statement on supply chain security between the US and Singapore is an important part of making sure we can maintain security and at the same time continue to facilitate the trade that's so important to both our countries and the world.'
Mr Teo, who arrived in Washington on Tuesday, is in the US for an introductory visit in his capacity as Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs. Aside from meeting Ms Napolitano, Mr Teo also held talks yesterday with US Attorney-General Eric Holder at the Department of Justice.
'The leaders reaffirmed the excellent bilateral ties and multi-faceted nature of Singapore's security cooperation with the US, as well as both countries' continued commitment towards countering terrorism and transnational crime,' an official statement from Singapore said.
The need for close cooperation in monitoring the shipment of goods has been apparent in recent years, as terrorists try to ship explosives and other dangerous materials around the world in unlikely ways.
In 2010, for instance, investigators discovered an attempt by Yemen bomb-makers to send explosive-rigged printer cartridges to Jewish institutions in Chicago.
Singapore has joined hands with the US on many initiatives in recent years that are aimed at detecting such threats.
For example, in 2003, Singapore became the first Asian port to take part in the US Customs and Border Protection's 'container security initiative', a programme that identifies and uses the latest detection technology to scan high-risk containers bound for the US.
It is also participating in another US initiative to stop the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials that could be used for terror purposes.
During his five-day visit, Mr Teo will also travel to New York to attend the Singapore Day festivities on Saturday. The event, to be held in Brooklyn, will greet Singaporean attendees with familiar hawker fare as well as home-grown artists like actress Michelle Chong.