Saturday, September 30, 2006

Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia-Singapore testy relationship

Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysia-Singapore testy relationship
By: Dato' Rejal Arbee

The latest outburst by Singapore’s Mentor Minister, Lee Kuan Yew that the Malay dominated Malaysia and Indonesia are discriminating against their Chinese citizens leading to them being marginalised has riled many in Malaysia especially the Malays and lately also in Indonesia.
The Chinese are of two minds; some agreeing that there has been discrimination against the Chinese in certain cases but to say they are being marginalised is to stretch it. The facts do not uphold Lee’s contention both in Malaysia and Indonesia.

If it is true that the Chinese are marginalised then the community would be nothing in both countries. But the fact is the Chinese continue to control the economy and they are free to exercise their rights accorded them as citizens of the two countries. So how marginalised can they be?

If everyone is sincere in wanting to see the forest and not just the trees and work towards having interracial harmony and goodwill they just need to see what is apparent everywhere in Malaysia to know how absurd Lee’s charges are. Have the New Economic Policy impoverished the Chinese and in general denied them their place in the country? Don’t they have a meaningful share in the governance of the country? Don’t the Chinese still not dominate the economic life of the country?

There may be instances of individuals being deprived of an economic opportunity or a tertiary education opportunity at an institution of his choice but have not the Malays also been similarly denied not just in education but in employment and in business as well?

The problem is when people refuse to see the actual situation. And what Singapore is doing has not helped. Since Lee’s charges, the Singapore government controlled The Straits Times have been on a campaign to highlight views of the Malaysian Chinese supporting Lee’s views.
The paper have been carrying articles and stories by their correspondents here who invariably are Chinese quoting various Chinese chauvinists and other pressure groups including Chinese educationists supporting that contention and blaming the implementation of the NEP for discriminating against the Chinese.

The NEP is nothing but a manifestation of Article 152 of the Federal Constitution that provides for the special position of the Malays. But the policy has always been implemented in the context of an expanding national cake to ensure that there is no large scale deprivation of opportunities to the non-Malays. And this is shown by facts and figures. So how have the Chinese been marginalised?

It is interesting that an article giving views of the Chinese groups including the DAP as supporting LKY’s charge, quoted the DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng as saying the Chinese as well as the non-Chinese had been marginalised by 'discriminatory government policies that only favour the rich and politically connected'. So who are actually marginalised?
Despite the contentious issue, the fact remains that Lee has again interfered in our domestic affairs by bringing up a sensitive issue that could very well escalate into unnecessary disharmonious arguments between the Malays and the Chinese that could compromise national and political stability. If this is not inciting racial discord and interfering in the domestic affairs of Malaysia then what is? What actually is Lee’s intention and The Straits Times’ motive in continuing to play up such sentiments?

And Lee said this to illustrate the point that while the powers that be in Malaysia (ie the Malays) could cow its Chinese population into submission, it cannot do the same with the island state. Ever since it being booted out of Malaysia by Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1965, Lee have been playing this bogey to hone into his countrymen why they have to be 'really firm, stout-hearted, subtle and resolute' (his words) when facing Malaysia and Indonesia.

So is it any wonder that we continue to have a testy relationship with the republic over all the outstanding issues which are still to be resolved until today? Can we then expect the LKY’s PAP dominated Singapore to be seen as giving way to this “Malay government of Malaysia” which have continuously ‘marginalized’ its Chinese citizens?

When you have such a warped thingking from no less than the person who have so dominated and dictated the island’s course for the last 50 or so years until today, their policy towards us will continue to be skewered. Thus the protracted issues over water supply to the republic, the KTM land, the island of Batu Putih, the Central Provident Fund of Malaysians from the Peninsular who have stopped working there and whatever else that can come up from time to time.

To LKY and the PAP acceding to Malaysia in any negotiations would mean the republic would be seen as being compliant to Malaysia’s demand, just as what he thought the Chinese here had become, obedient to the Malays.

We can only take pity on a leader with this kind of mentality towards his neighbours. And yet the Malaysian government continues to work so hard at trying to maintain close and cordial relationship with such kind of leader. Can we expect a leopard to change its spots? Is it any wonder that our relationship with the city state continues to be testy?

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself lamented that during his long tenure in the saddle, he had bent backwards to try and accommodate Singapore to no avail. And now Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tries so hard to improve upon that relationship through golf diplomacy. Since Dr Mahathir do not play golf it was hoped that golf would improved things.
Fat hope. It just did not work. Malaysia Singapore relations will never improve so long as LKY continues to habour ill will towards Malaysia with his warped thinking, that compliance with Malaysia’s demand would be deemed as a weakness on their part.

Is it any wonder that they will never give way to Malaysia in whatever negotiations. Thus they will never relent to pressures to allow, for example, West Malaysians who had resigned from working in Singapore to withdraw their CPF contributions before reaching retiring age of 55. This would tantamount to them being ‘compliant’ to the demands of a Malay dominated government whom he looked down upon.

To me the old man until today still can’t accept the humiliating rejection he and his party, PAP got from Malaysian voters who rejected his brand of Malaysian Malaysia during the 1964 general elections. I still remember his press conference the morning after polling day (just hours after the announcement of the results) which I covered for Berita Harian at Rumah Temasik within the vicinity of the Royal Selangor Golf Club in Jalan Pekeliling (now Jalan Tun Razak).
He came out of his room with beet red face after a drinking binge to drown his sorrows for that rejection for he just could not reconcile how even the Chinese voters had rejected his brand of Malaysian Malaysia.

The Malaysian or Indonesian bogey shows how he continues to harbour afortress mentality in so far as the republic’s security is concerned – not surprisingly with all the Zionist advisors at his disposal.

So the island republic feels constricted by his larger neighbours which encircles it. He was also very much peeved by Indonesian President B.J. Habibie’s description of it being only a red dot on the map in 1998 and thus felt it needed to be much stronger than both countries.

And so its huge annual defence expenditure averaging RM20 billion a year for the past number of years enabling it to be the strongest and best equipped armed forces in the region. Its annual defence expenditure had been hovering around 5 percent of its GDP coming up to nearly 30 percent of its annual operating expenditures.

Thus it now boast of scores of F16 fighter jets said to be the most advanced multi-role fighter aircraft in the world equipped with AIM-120C guided missiles. In addition it also has Apache AH-64D Longbow assault helicopters. The republic also have unmanned spy planes and spy satellite developed with Israel in addition to a number of AWACs. In fact its air force capability is said to be at par even with Israel’s.

It is also now involved with the US to develop the new F-35 jet which is even better than the Russian Sukoi SU-30 MKM to be acquired by the RMAF.

Considering its land mass of only 648 sq km (without taking into consideration its continued reclamation to expand its size to nearly 800 sq km by 2020) most of its military aircraft are stationed in the United States as well as in Australia, Taiwan and even in France. Thus it also have a fleet of KC-135 airtankers enabling its F16 to be refueled mid-air.

All this military capability begs the question who does it think habour thoughts of invading it? Surely not Malaysia which has already booted it out in 1965?

Rejal Arbee
27 Sept 2006

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