Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Is The Tiny Red Dot
Really Very Special?

No man is an island. And no nation in the current era of globalization can exist in an absolute isolation. On the contrary, all nations are interdependent in one way or another. This is the dictum of reality that no one can deny - not even Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) with his kiasu principles of survival.

Therefore, it is of outmost importance for all nations to peacefully and harmoniously co-exist within their own geo-political and economic spheres - regionally and globally.

So, when LKY described Singapore as “a very special country” which needed a “top grade government” because otherwise the country would just become an insignificant island, he could actually have to stop just there.

LKY has all the rights to mention these words to his people. But, he does not have to say anything further. It is unnecessary for him to say “the biggest mistake any Singaporean can make is to believe that Singapore is an ordinary country and can behave like an ordinary country like Malaysia, like Indonesia, like Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark...,"

I am of this opinion because the above statement is too generalized, very provocative, definitely subjective, and of course debatable. It is reflective of an arrogance of the highest order.

I also consider such a statement as unpleasant because many people will ask, what extraordinary qualities does Singapore have to merit it being categorized as “a very special state”? And, what special qualities that Malaysia does not have to merit LKY generalizing it as “an ordinary state”?

The same goes with Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam or even the Philippines which were being singled out by LKY in the above statement as “ordinary” countries.

These nations have their strategic strengths and qualities. As members of ASEAN, these nations also have indirectly contributed to the progress of Singapore - at least through the maintenance of the principles of peace, freedom and neutrality in South East Asia.

In the case of Malaysia, how “ordinary” does LKY think about this country? Is Malaysia not the neighboring nation that supplies water to Singapore since times in memorial, without which the island republic may just end up living on re-cycled water?

Is Malaysia not the “rich hinterland” blessed with natural resources, agricultural commodities and petroleum products which fuel Singapore’s international trading activities?

Can Singapore actually become a “very special country with top grade government” if it only exists as a tiny red dot somewhere in the Pacific Ocean?

Can Singapore survive and progress as what it is today if, in not the distant future, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, for example, jointly decide to open up a canal cutting through the Ithmus of Kra in southern Thailand, as a short-cut for vessels transporting oil and gas from the Middle East to East Asia and the Pacific Rim?

Or, can Singapore’s financial industry prosper as what it is today if one of these days Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia decide to enact new laws forbidding their tycoons from depositing their wealth and money in Singapore banks?

The above are just a few of the numerous points I can raise in response to LKY’s statement saying that Singapore “is a very special country” whereas Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark are just “ordinary” ones.

I am not going to elaborate further on this because the debate will be endless, very lengthy, and diplomatically may be sticky.

For example, I can just point out one distinct characteristic of Singapore which I consider it as special – the subtlety of its policies to marginalize the Malays in the island republic.

I know that this observation is subjective, generalized and debatable. But, this is the very point I want to emphasize here – it is important to recognize and accept the fact that any statements made to compare one country’s “greatness” with other nations’ “nothingness” are subjective and susceptible of interpretations which can disrupt bilateral or multilateral relations between the countries in question.

I am very sure that LKY is very much aware about this. He is a respectable leader with excellent vision on nation building. He understands and advocates the significance and the principles of cordial diplomatic relations among nations.

This is clearly reflected in his memoirs From Third World To First: The Singapore Story 1965-2000. In this book, LKY dedicated 72 pages on how Singapore establishes and enhances its bilateral relations, regionally and internationally.

The Singapore’s mission to establish and enhance better diplomatic relations all over the world still continues until today. It is so because Singapore is now searching for more space, influence and dominance – politically and economically. The success of such a mission depends on friends and neighbors – especially the tolerant and considerate ones.

So, this why the recent statement by LKY, saying that Singapore is a “very special country” while some others, including most of its neighbors and friends in ASEAN and the Pacific are just “ordinary nations,” – though might had been said unintentionally - is actually a statement of unpleasant taste. Such a statement should not be repeated. Singapore needs good neighbors and friends forever more in its future quest for a better tomorrow! – Ruhanie Ahmad

6 comments:

Mat Salo said...

". . .he could actually have to stop just there."

Yes Bro' Dato', I am in full agreement that there was no need to go further... to take the unnecessary swipe by calling their benevolent neighbor "an ordinary country". Sah-lah as you say, a very kiasu principle of survival, indeed!

This definitely begs a reprimand from our enlighted lawmakers.
But where are they?

An insighful and excellent analysis, by the way. Syabas, Sir. Now I need to go read his memoirs myself. I think it's wise of our enlightened "leaders" to do the same . . .

cyberprince said...

Saudara Faizal:

Thank you.We will see how far this arrogant island republic can go.

For your update, bn may loose ijok. i was there until 2.30 am last nite. situation very illusive. you will not believe me if i tell you that the police even mobilise its cavalry team and horses to control crowd.

all the best and may god bless you always.

Ron

krongkrang said...

1) Everyone knows the Kiasuland and their 'kiasu'-ness. That is for sure.

2) Geographically, Singapore is like Israel, which is in the middle of other country which as heavenly blessed with natural resources. From there, both Israel and Singapore found their way out and become the 'richest' in the region (SEA). Believe me or not, this is perhaps the very basic reason why they say they are very special.

;)

Mat Salo said...

Bro' Dato' - BN may loose Ijok, and if so, it is a "triumph" of sorts for them too..(by design?). Time for spinmeisters to say, well, that shows we have a full-fledged "democracy". But what about the repercussions of Najib and Pak Lah being on the ground? What message will be sent, that despite the heavyweights' presence, BN still loses?

Thanks for the update as I am holed-up in the swamps of Kalimantan Timur.

And oh, by the way, sorry to hear about the "Putra Post" incident.

Is there "a tightening of the noose", Sir?

cyberprince said...

Brother Faizal:

As I had said earlier, the ground was very very illusive. BN won by 1800++ majority!!

Definitely we will see more spins about this victory. Anyway, this is the will of God.

Good luck.

Ron

cyberprince said...

Saudara Krongkrang:

You are right. I don't want to mention the obvious. Yes, Singapore is just like Israel. The only differnce is that its immediate neighbours have no WMDs. So, why the kiasu attitude?

Ron