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Tan Chuan Jin started as Singapore's 10th Speaker when the House sits on 11 September 2017 / Photo: gov.sg

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin urges Singaporeans to psychologically prepare themselves amidst disputes with Malaysia

Speaker of Parliament, Tan Chuan-Jin has waded in to the discussion around the recent tensions with Singapore’s northern neighbour Malaysia.

Mr Tan posted a 2.5 minute long video complete with symphonious music outlining the three major disputes that Malaysia and Singapore have had since the new Malaysia administration took office, capturing the ‘essence of what is happening around us’.

Mr Tan urged Singaporeans to keep the SAF and Home Team in their prayers as to stay vigilant, resolute and united in these dark times.

He added, “for those who keep insisting we should talk, review our policies etc. Please note. We have been doing so. To little avail. But we continue to try our level best.”

He continued “We are putting these out because it needs to be done given the developments and the stakes. If you prefer to believe the rhetoric from the other side, go ahead. But don’t mask it in the name of being circumspect and being balanced.”

The video itself begins by giving a very brief description of the maritime dispute, saying that the ‘boundaries are beyond what they [Malaysia] claimed arbitrarily in 1979’. Recent developments are mentioned such as the Malaysian boats anchoring in Singapore waters; and the video also says that the Tuas reclamation works doesn’t impact the boundaries as claimed by Malaysia. The segment ends with, ‘Singapore has been restraining herself’.

On the issue of the Selatar and Johor airspace, the video notes “It was never about sovereignty but air safety. Selatar Airport to adopt Instrument Landing System which is safer and more efficient and will have no impact on Johor or Pasir Gudang’s development.’ It added that Malaysia was notified in December of 2017 but failed to respond.

Finally, the video touched on the water agreement debate that was recently revived. The video claims that Malaysia lost its right to review the price in 1987 – it’s worth noting here that Malaysia disagrees with Singapore’s interpretation of the agreement, hence the dispute. The video also repeats the usual lines in any conversation about this disagreement: that Singapore built the dam in Linggu and sells treated water back to Johor at a low price and higher volumes.

The one question that keeps cropping up is ‘Why is Malaysia doing this?’ The video provides suggestions: ‘Pressure tactics? To distract attention from domestic issues? To test the mettle of our leadership? To destabilise Singapore? To create racial divide? To test our racial harmony and unity?’

At this point, I’d like to point out that Malaysians are very much tuned into both local and domestic issues, so I doubt it’s a distraction tactic on the part of the Malaysian government. And the suggestion that these disputes were purposefully ignited to create a racial divide is also quite ludicrous in my opinion. These are disagreements between two multicultural countries – how can it be a racial issue?

The video then urges Singaporean’s to stay calm and ‘be prepared psychologically for the long haul’. It concludes saying “Never take our survival, sovereignty and success for granted” and calls for Singaporeans to ‘stay united’.

This video seems to have sparked a sense of patriotism in many Singaporean netizens with hundreds offering up their service in the comments section should Singapore decide to take military action against Malaysia.

In fact, it seems that Singaporeans across the board with the exception of a rare handful all agree that Singapore shouldn’t yield to Malaysia but instead be prepared to defend its borders as a show of strength.