Preference for corrupted just because they are friendly to Singapore, is myopic and dangerously selfish

by SIDame

After results of the last Malaysian elections revealed that Pakatan Harapan has won, ending Barisan Nasional’s 60 years grip on power in the country, a friend sent me something Calvin Cheng posted on his Facebook Page.

Calvin derided Singaporeans who have taken a keen interest in the results.

Writing as a reflection of the Malaysian General Election, Cheng wrote that he does not believe that the day – where People’s Action Party (PAP) has declined in quality or the opposition has put up a team which is equal to the PAP – has come nor is it near.

Cheng further wrote, “I wish Singaporeans when thinking of elections in other places would think more about how it would impact Singapore instead of unthinkingly supporting or opposing AS IF they were citizens of that country.” and asked, “…how would the Opposition’s win in Malaysia impact Singapore and Singaporeans? This is foremost on my mind, not how it would benefit Malaysians. It may seem selfish, but I am Singaporean.”

Cheng argues that Najib has been far friendlier to Singapore than Mahathir ever was. “Those old enough will remember that Mahathir liked to make SIngapore Malaysia’s bogeyman and was intentionally hostile in many ways, including his ‘crooked bridge’ idea, the water agreements etc.”

He goes on to state that this is worrying for Singapore. “We have signed many favourable deals with Najib’s Government , including the recent High Speed Rail agreement from KL to SG, which was proposed to Mahathir many times but never happened. Also, what will happen to our water agreements?”

Cheng ends his post by writing, “I hope Singaporeans will think as Singaporeans. All well and wonderful to be happy for our Malaysian friends but when it comes down to it, it is how the new Malaysian Government will behave towards Singapore that will impact Singaporeans the most. And unfortunately, Mahathir has never been the most friendly to us. The Singaporeans ‘celebrating’ now, please do take heed.”

Till date, the Facebook post has garnered over 2,500 thousand likes and 1,600 shares. (“Angry faces” at a mere 13)

Patriotism aside, I think Calvin’s view is myopic and dangerously selfish. He even expresses a preference for Najib – who is widely perceived as corrupted– because “Najib has been far friendlier to Singapore…” This is akin to saying as long as my neighbour is good to me, it doesn’t matter he is out there swindling others (perhaps it is this mentality that continues to keep the power and money-crazed PAP in government).

Back to Calvin’s shallow views, the saying, “No man is an island” applies to countries too. Even Lee Hsien Loong emphasized this when he opened the ASEAN Summit in 2007. He said,

“Globalisation has made nations much more dependent on one another… For ASEAN to stay relevant, and to respond to the new strategic environment, it must transform itself into a more effective grouping…. While national interests remain paramount, they must be increasingly balanced with regional and international interests. ASEAN priorities must feature more prominently on our respective national agendas.”

Malaysia is part of ASEAN. The 1MDB scandal is one good example of how one nation’s (corrupt) agenda impacted on Singapore.

As the scandal unravelled and corruption of the highest order was exposed, Singapore could not escape the fallout. We saw Singaporeans charged and convicted for crimes related to 1MDB, banks in Singapore were closed for the same reason, possibly leading to several local job losses.

Tight bank secrecy laws here have helped draw an estimated $1.1 trillion in foreign funds to the city and raised grave concerns of tax evasion and money laundering in Singapore. It was even remarked that Singapore had become a money laundering hub. Singapore banks’ role in money laundering activities has shocked the international community, rocking confidence in Singapore’s standing as a “clean and trusted financial hub”.

Of course, Singaporeans should be concerned about the elections of our closest neighbour, and celebrate the victory of the ousting of a corrupt government because whatever happened across the Causeway has had an impact on Singapore.

Now, how the new Malaysian government behaves towards Singapore, I think, depends on how our government behaves towards them. Healthy relationships thrive on reciprocity. Our progress should not come at the expense of our neighbours’ because their foundations for stability and upright governance inevitably will have an impact on ours.

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