ONE of the interesting items from Bloomberg newswires last week that caught my attention was a Singapore story headlined: “Eye-in-the-Sky Blimp Boosts Singapore’s Spying Ability”.
Written by its reporter, Kyunghee Park, the story was about Singapore boosting its surveillance efforts with a radar-equipped blimp over its skyline.
Floating 600m above ground and held down by fortified ropes, the unmanned helium-filled balloon has the formidable length of an Olympic-size pool and is double the height of the tallest building in Singapore.
The republic gave reasons for launching its so-called aerostat.
“Both aviation and maritime domains have to be closely monitored in the light of the more recent developments, for instance the MH370,” Bloomberg quoted Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, as saying. “So it is paramount for the governments to review the existing capabilities and build new capabilities.”
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen spouted similar words of assurance.
He was quoted by Bloomberg as saying that the blimp will be similar to the ones seen at golf tournaments, which help viewers track balls in the air.
While the radar, operating 24 hours a day, will be capable of monitoring as far as 200 kilometres (124 miles) -- about four times the length of the island -- Ng dismissed any other motive for its launch.
It’s “purely for surveillance,” Ng said. “It is a protector in the sky.
He went on further to say that the blimp may save S$29 million in operating expenses every year and will be high enough that it won’t be blocked by high-rise buildings. The blimp option was apparently necessary because the city doesn’t have a mountain tall enough for ground radar to operate effectively.
But Singaporeans are concerned over the city-state’s plans. This was pointed out by the Bloomberg report and a reader had written on the online Straits Times report: “being watched every day...where’s our privacy?”
Wondering what is our Mindef and Wisma Putra reaction to the Singapore blimp.