SINGAPORE has strongly refuted Thai General Sonthi Boonyaratglin's suggestion that telephone lines in Thailand could be tapped in the Republic.
'We do not know what Gen Sonthi's remarks meant,' a spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry here said in response to media queries yesterday.
'Domestic calls are not routed through Singapore. It does not make business or technical sense to route domestic calls via another country.
'Doing so will incur additional and unnecessary network resources (including costly international bandwidth) and degrade the quality of service.'
Addressing a forum last week, Gen Sonthi, who heads the Council for National Security (CNS), had said foreign ownership of the telecoms industry could jeopardise national security.
'The armed forces are currently experiencing a problem,' he told the forum.
'We pick up the phone, and the line runs to Singapore. We can talk about confidential official matters, but it goes to Singapore.
'National security is an important matter for the nation, one that is entirely domestic.'
It was not immediately clear what he had meant, and neither did he elaborate on what he meant.
But a day later, Thai leaders warned telecom companies that their licences could be revoked if they were caught bugging conversations.
The message was seen as aimed at two Thai telcos in which Temasek Holdings has a controlling stake.
Both companies - Advanced Info Service and Shin Satellite - denied the charges.
Yesterday, the MFA spokesman here reiterated that strict professional standards are adhered to safeguard the integrity of all communications in the Republic.
'As an international telecommunication hub, Singapore maintains a strict and professional operating environment to safeguard the integrity of all communications which terminate in or transit through Singapore,' a statement issued yesterday said.
'In this age of globalised and extensively networked economies, many countries have fully liberalised their telecommunication markets and allowed foreign operators in their markets.
'Appropriate licensing requirements and regulatory safeguards put in place by the host countries have effectively been able to address the national security concerns arising from foreign ownership of local telephone operators.
'We believe this would have been effectively achieved in Thailand as well.'