Singapore Media Watch

Monday, September 25, 2006

Better to call a spade, a spade - TODAY, 25 Sept 2006

News comment by Kim Quek

In this article, the author, presumably a Malaysian political commentator, wrote favorably in support of MM Lee's recent jibe on Malaysia marginalizing of their Chinese population. He has argued passionately for MM Lee's case, citing the NEP-inspired policies and the brain drain of Malaysian Chinese as examples to prove his point. He ends off with an exhortation of the "silent majority" in Malaysia to face up to reality and do some serious introspection.

The underlying political message inherent in this article is subtle, seeking to influence and moderate readers' perception after days of negative reports across the causeway of Malaysian leaders berating MM Lee. Most readers will be led to believe that MM Lee is justified in his comments on Malaysia after reading this article and thereby absolve him of any blame for the diplomatic fallout we may suffer as a consequence of his speech. MM Lee's comments and the subsequent backlash from Malaysian leaders are widely reported in the ST and TODAY. What is deafening is the absence of any objective analysis or critiques of the intention and impact of MM Lee's speech on bilateral relations (which is widely available on the internet).

The intention of this article by a Malaysian supporting MM Lee is obvious:

1. To justify MM Lee's statements that Malaysia Chinese are indeed marginalized in Malaysia.

2. To assauge the dissatisfaction of some Singaporeans who believe MM Lee's statements are uncalled for.

3. To buffer any potential political and diplomatic fallout in the days to come.

As a Malaysian, the author can be forgiven for believing and supporting MM Lee's remarks. However, as a Singaporean, I am not concerned at all about the fate of Malaysian Chinese. Whether they are marginalized or not in their own country has no bearing on me or my fellow citizens.

The issue is not about the bumiputra policy, whether Malaysian Chinese are indeed marginalized or if the NEP is wrong. It is about the relevance, necessity and validity of a statement made by a senior leader of the cabinet, regardless of its degree of truth, is unwelcome, provocative and rude.

Imagine if one day, Malaysia or Indonesia leaders start to comment on the marginalization of Malays in Singapore or the influx of Chinese nationals here, will our leaders or Singaporeans be pleased? Will this contribute to the stability or prosperity of Singaporeans?

Not long ago, Taiwanese politician Li Ao made a snide comment on Singaporeans being "stupid" and he was lambasted by both the media and Singaporeans alike. Similarly, we should also respect the feelings and sensitivities of our neighbors.

Singapore leaders should only be concerned about its citizens. We should not be poking our noses into others' affairs and preaching to them what to do. The government has always argued that Western democracy is not suitable for Singapore and therefore we should also be humble to admit that what the meritocracy which works for us may not work well in other countries.

It is both incredulous and disturbing that the media had chosen to defend MM Lee whereas little is said or discussed about the mishandling of the CSOs during the recent IMF-WB meetings and the impact of Thaksin's ouster on the Temasek deal. Is this a ploy by MM Lee to deflect the heat from his son and daughter-in-law?

Singapore and Malaysia are important partners in trade. Our economies are interwined in so many ways. There are many Malaysians working in Singapore while Johor, the southernmost state of Peninsular Malaysia, is a popular weekend getaway for Singaporeans. A good and healthy bilateral relationship will benefit both parties. Though it is not unusual for squabbles to arise between close neighbors, let us not take it for granted and allow it to snowball into a brawl. As a respected elderly stateman in Asia, MM Lee should be gracious enough to retract his comments and apologize for it. Even the Pope, leader of 1 billion Roman Catholics in the world, apologized to Muslims for his controversial statement made in a speech last week.

Let us just focused on "sweeping the snow in front of our house" while leaving our neighbors in peace to deal with their own affairs.


  • Actually, the POPE never formally and personally issued an apology, the apology statement was on behalf of the Vatican, but not from the Pope himself. Even the meeting with Islamic ambassadors in Islam is not an apology, but a fixing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:03 PM  

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