09 July, 2007

Singapore - Ties with neighbours never smooth sailing ?

Singapore's relations with its majority Muslim neighbours Indonesia and Malaysia will not always be smooth sailing, the city-state's founding father Lee Kuan Yew said.

It is heartening to note that despite the highly volatile political setting, it is an outstanding feat of achievement that these countries have maintained, and continue to maintain their continuing ‘smooth’ relationships and are now even moving towards mutual cooperation in the IDR (Iskandar Development Project).

But the most challenging, dynamic, and potentially ‘explosive’ dimension in “ties not always (being) smooth” must surely be the fact of disparity in access to territorial integrity, political power and control, and taking into account the ethnicist race and class dimensions of all groups. To put it bluntly, it is a case of the Singapore “red dot” on the map being surrounded by “vast oceans of green” where the “green” is almost entirely distinct as entities of Muslim communities.

Although academics on both sides of the causeway may therefore shout themselves hoarse by saying these are viable “multicultural’ societies, the reality of political and societal divisiveness of marginalisation and socio-economic deprivation, coupled with divergent ethnic, class, and race disparity among the peoples, suggests that the likelihood of continued political economic upheavals continue to exist continue now and in the near future.

Read letter to Malaysiakini "IDR offers opportunities to better ties" here.

IDR offers opportunities to better ties
Dr Collin Abraham
Jul 9, 07 4:52pm
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s statement that Singapore’s ties with Malaysia and Indonesia will “not always be smooth” will probably go down on record as the greatest understatement over the years.
It is heartening to note that despite the highly volatile political setting, it is an outstanding feat of achievement that these countries have maintained, and continue to maintain their continuing ‘smooth’ relationships and are now even moving towards mutual cooperation in the IDR (Iskandar Development Project).
It would seem therefore that unless concerted pragmatic measures acceptable to all parties are put in place, it would be unrealistic to expect the seemingly pragmatic ‘smooth’ relationships to continue. I would seriously suggest that the IDR offers this opportunity.

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Meanwhile, UMNO Youth Johor Baru wants Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to retract his remarks which it said accused Umno Johor of not supporting Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and the Iskandar Development Region (IDR).

'The Johor Baru division of Umno Youth which met today has taken the decision to press Lee Kuan Yew to retract that statement,' its chief, Mr Khalid Mohamad, was reported as saying.

The JB youth wing also expressed its full support for Datuk Seri Abdullah.

According to an article, on 7 July 2007, "Feeling that S'pore investors 'are not welcome in IDR'", MM Lee compared the IDR's impact on us, to Shenzhen in China rivalling Hong Kong commercially.

In the Berita Harian interview which was conducted in English, he had said: 'It is one thing for the opposition party PAS to knock the Malaysian Prime Minister down, but when Umno leaders, especially from Johor, hit out in the same vein, potential investors from Singapore must seriously ask themselves when these attitudes will change, and how welcome their investments will be.'

However, the Malaysian papers translated the words 'knock...down' as 'menjatuhkan' which, when referring to leaders, can also be interpreted as 'topple'.

The word 'topple' was enough to sent PAS, Johor Umno & Malaysians into a rage. Many accusing Minister Mentor of playing certain factions in Malaysia against PM Abdullah Badawi.

Umno Johor information chief Puad Zarkashi accused Mr Lee of attempting to 'create friction in Umno Johor'.

These flip-flopping politicians are just playing ignorant again to prolong the spat.

These Malaysian politicians are really plain ignorant. After all, they are not products of a meritocratic educational system.

Why do these Malaysian leaders/politicians love to shoot themselves in the foot & make laughing stocks of themselves on the international stage? See what happens when you do not practise meritocracy. You get politicians who continually put their feet into their mouths!

Since the inception of the New Economic Policy, the Chinese have been squeezed out of opportunities to expand & have been discriminated against by bumiputra-run Govt Linked Companies.

Malaysian Chinese are not financially strong enough to invest in the IDR. They also lack the networks, financial muscle & expertise, after years of bumiputra discrimination. Many retreated to the private sector, because of prejudice in govt & govt linked businesses. Joining or starting family businesses was another option open to them, so many lack experience on a bigger stage.

Malaysia thinks that they can obtain enough investors from Japan & China. Japan, which has been a strong investor in S'pore for years, have surely done their homework, & witnessed Malaysia's shabby treatment of us - not to mention their constant flip-flopping & nonsensical politicians.

China, on the other hand, relies on foreign investments, rather than being investors themselves. Will Malaysia's racial prejudice against ethnic Chinese, not be a major cause of concern for China?

Are the labour & land costs attractive enough to entice both the Japanese & Chinese over?

At the end of the day, if S'pore is pissed off enough to forget about the IDR, Malaysia may only have the bumiputras to rely on, for the success of this project!

God help not just Johor, but the whole of Malaysia!!!

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Anonymous me said...

Malaysia do not need the IDR at all. The IDR will only present an opportunity for Singapore to insert their control later on as they have done with the water supply issue.

July 10, 2007 12:34 AM  
Anonymous zm said...

Malaysia do not need the IDR. It will merely become an opportunity for Singapore to put their control on Malaysia in the same way that has happen to the water supply issue.

July 10, 2007 6:34 AM  

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