Photo of Ng Eng Hen from Australia Department of Defence

Singapore is paying S$2.34 billion to Australia to rent over 200,000 hectares – the size of 4 Singapore land mass – in Townsville North Queensland for 25 years to test long-range missiles. The lucrative deal signed in October is however blocked by local farmers who refuse to sell their land.

Local farmers told the Australian government that their land are highly fertile in the region and that relocating elsewhere will not ensure similar quality of their produce. It is understood that the Singapore military will be testing long-range missiles in the new training ground.

Singapore is the most militarized country in South East Asia, and a notable US ally with a US naval base, it’s military presence is a threat to its neighbours and China. In 2016, Singapore’s Defence Budget hit S$13.97 billion – three times of Malaysia’s and 20% higher than Indonesia’s. The island state however claimed that it’s military spending is only for “self-defence”, without mentioning that it is also a military outpost for the United States.

Singapore’s overseas military training recently came to spotlight as China detained 9 armoured assault vehicles in Hong Kong due to Singapore not honouring the One-China policy it agreed to abide by. Singapore has been conducting military training with Taiwan since the 1970s, and with this fact the government claimed that it is an “open fact”. The China government however stated such bilateral agreement with Taiwan is an infringement of the One-China policy. It is however understood that China can no longer overlook Singapore’s official exchanges with Taiwan following Lee Kuan Yew’s death as the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong do not command similar respect from the Chinese.