The roles have definitely switched between the two countries.
There has always been an element of friendly rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia. Both countries (because of their cultural similarities) have always competed over who holds the best recipe for chicken rice or whose hawker culture is more authentic and the list goes on. Like it or not, many Singaporeans have also subconsciously developed an attitude of superiority over their neighbours across the causeway in part due to the corruption within the Malaysian government when Najib held sway and also because there is the perception among some Singaporeans that Malaysia is more “backward” than Singapore.
Now, however, have the tables turned?
Malaysia now has a new government that pledges to do things differently. Measures have been taken to weed out institutional corruption and controversial laws such as press restrictions, the Internal Security Act and the death penalty are all being reviewed with a view to abolition. From this perspective, Singapore looks like the more backward younger brother who still persists in cheapening the sanctity of life with its rigorous pursuit of the death penalty.
I don’t agree with the death penalty but I respect that some Singaporeans may want it on the statute books due to unproven ideas that the death penalty acts as some sort of deterrent.This is however, the subject of another debate. What I would like to question at this point is why the death penalty is so flippantly and commonly meted out? Does the Singapore government not value life? Is that why it appears unable to empathise with the problems faced by its less cookie cutter middle-class families? It is looking increasingly like the government is even beginning to lose touch with its middle class! If the prevailing attitude is an inability to respect the sanctity of life – I suppose it isn’t surprising that the government is unable to truly understand the problems of the common man.
I would also like to query the point of granting the President a right to grant clemency when it is a right that has never ever been exercised. Currently, we have the situation of a non elected (due to a walkover which might arguably as being fixed through the amendments to the constitution) President unsurprisingly refusing to exercise her right to grant clemency. Looking at statistics, it is just an empty right that rings hollow. When will the President ever exercise any of his or her rights? Why have rights if you never ever use them?
The roles have definitely switched. Seems like it is Malaysia’s turn to look upon Singapore with disdain.