Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why does China have to bully Singapore?

China acts like a big bully in dealing with Singapore on the detention of the Terrex vehicles in Hong Kong. They behave in this manner because Singapore is a small country. What a big bully!

When China detained the underwater drone from the USA, they released it within a few days. The USA did not need to issue any demand. We know that USA is a big and powerful country.

The behavior of China is clearly sad. They are damaging their own international reputation by behaving in this manner. Small and medium size countries will worry about having to deal with China in the future.

China has forgotten that when they were a poor and backward country thirty years ago, it was Singapore and Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, who gave full assistance to assist China, economically and diplomatically, to move to the modern era.

Is China so ungrateful? Is China so arrogant? Do they have to act in this manner?

Let me say that the leaders of China are not stupid. They are willing to take harsh measures and risk their international reputation because the leaders of Singapore went "too far". They need to pass a strong message to Singapore.

What did Singapore do wrong that angered the leaders of China so much? We should not speculate. We should go and ask them. Let them spell out their views in a private meeting.

What can be done to patch up the rebuild the friendship and trust that existing between our two countries for two over decades but were sadly lost in recent years?

This is a test of the skill and competence of our leaders in Singapore. So far, the actions that they have taken did not help. What did they do?

a) The foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan said that Singapore should not allow this incident to hijack our relationship. I was shocked to hear him speak like this. This is how a big country speak to a small country. It is not the manner in which a small country talk to a big country. Even if both countries are equal in stature, he should avoid making such a statement, because it does sound arrogant.

b) Defence minister Ng Eng Hen said that the Terrex vehicles are protected under sovereign immunity. I cannot accept this statement. Does it mean that someone can bring arms from another country into Singapore and said that the arms are protected under "sovereign immunity". I wonder how he can accept this kind of legal advice.

c) Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote a letter to the chief executive of Hong Kong demanding the immediate return of the vehicles. I do not know if he received any reply. Someone told me that the reply came from a junior custom officer who said that they need some time to investigate.

Sadly, these actions will not help to resolve the matter. It shows that our top leaders do not possess the required skills of diplomacy. Their actions get us into a bigger rut.

If Mr Lee Kuan Yew was still around, I guess this is what he would have done. He would have asked our ambassador to China to talk to a senior Chinese leader and ask if it was possible for a senior person in Singapore to visit China and talk to a senior leader to resolve the misunderstanding.

This has to be a person that the Chinese leaders could trust. It could be former prime minister Goh Chok Tong or the current president Dr Tony Tan. It could even be our prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, whom many people considered to be the source of this misunderstanding.

If we adopt this "diplomatic" approach and China still continue to behave in a bullying manner, there is nothing that we can do. At least we have tried and cannot be faulted for taking the wrong approach.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mr TAN,

Strongly agree with you here. Singapore want to talk big about abiding by the law (South China Sea issue), then China will show Singapore what is really abiding by the law (whereby all along China had been closing one eye on it).

lcp said...

I think it is not easy.
How do we resolve the Pacific Issue ?
Don't forget, Philipine , Malaysia , Vietnam etc are ASEAN.
If China request Singapore, don't care all other ASEAN countries, since majority of People are Chinese, just Stand on Our side , do you agree?

How do we treat the relationship with Taiwan in future?
Don't forget, Taiwan has helped us to build military before.
If China request us don't even have any sensitive relationship with Taiwan even Taiwan had helped us before, what is your action?

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