Here we go – Singapore’s former Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan (Bilahari) has struck again with his two cents worth on Malaysia. Things have certainly changed across the causeway now that UMNO has been overthrown. Changes have been made and continue to be afoot. Looking at how the water issues have been reopened and the cancellation (or postponement) of the high speed rail project, it is fair to say that these changes have not altogether been beneficial for Singapore. However, is it fair to say that just because things are not rosy for Singapore that the “new governing coalition is intrinsically unstable”? Singapore is unfortunately not the centre of the world.
Singapore and Malaysia may not be getting along famously but is Bilahari so arrogant as to think that if Malaysia chooses to snub Singapore that it must therefore be “unstable”? While I love my country, I am not blind enough to ignore the fact that Singapore is just one country out of hundreds, Malaysia’s policies may not revolve around Singapore but that does not make it unstable. To make the statement that he has, Balahari is not only misguided but also potentially making things worse for Singapore and Malaysia’s relationship. If Singapore and Malaysia are already not getting along well, why is Bilahari shooting his mouth off and possibly creating more friction?
Also, if Bilahari is speaking out of turn and without the government’ official sanction, doesn’t this send the message that Singapore itself is not unified? If that is the case, on what grounds does Bilahari have to call Malaysia’s coalition “unstable”?
If Singapore has concerns about its relationship with Malaysia, then perhaps it might be prudent to put a lid on Bilahari’s potentially incendiary comments. The government certainly has no qualms silencing others such as Leong Sze Hian for merely posting an article on Facebook. Why not also tackle Bilahari if he is speaking out of turn?
Secondly, I find Bilahari’s comment about Malaysia’s coalition being “held together by a 93 year old man” personally offensive. In calling Malaysia’s coalition unstable and then referencing Mahathir’s age, Bilahari is implying that Mahathir is “old” and perhaps unable to run the country efficiently. It is ageist to the max. Mahathir’s age has absolutely nothing to do with Malaysia’s relationship with Singapore. Besides, if Bilahari has something to say about age what is his take on all the old people who still do manual labour as cleaners and the like in Singapore? If a healthy Mahathir is not able to use a brain, then what about old and fragile old people cleaning hawker centres? I would be very interested to hear Bilahari’s perspective on this.