TTF: The first step towards resolving any conflict is to drop the emotions. Once we do that, the road towards resolution becomes that much shorter as we’re better able to visualise the potential solution to any problem without letting ego get in the way.
And that’s where Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak differs from Dr Mahathir Mohamad (see news item below). While the former is determined to resolve longstanding disputes the country may have, the latter spent 22 years as Prime Minister triggering them by insisting that things be done his way. It is this self-conceited persona of his that prevented Malaysia from forging strong bilateral relations with our closest neighbour down south, Singapore.
Now, not many are aware that the former premier’s aversion towards the southern republic stretches way back to the days he was yet a Member of Parliament (MP) for Kota Setar. This is made evident when one considers what he told parliament on the 25th of May 1965;
“When it is examined carefully, it will be found that the PAP (Lee Kuan Yew’s party) has retained a hold mainly over matters which will affect the Chinese and their chauvinist ideas. National language is one of those things which tend to create disaffection among China-orientated Chinese. Playing to chauvinist ideas , the PAP retained multi-lingualism, while paying lip-service to the national language. The target date for accepting the National language is ignored by the PAP.”
While that may have been an accurate depiction of the late Singaporean premier back in the sixties, Mahathir took it upon himself to erect a ‘diplomatic barrier’ in the years that followed by accusing the island republic of being a bad neighbour. Then, when Tun Abdullah Hj Ahmad Badawi attempted to break that barrier by calling off the much abhorred crooked bridge project, the former premier immediately accused the Government of Malaysia (GoM) of being cowardly.
That bridge, though non-existent, remains ingrained in our memories to this day as “the crossing that would have further divided Malaysians and Singaporeans.” It symbolised the extremes to which Mahathir was willing to go just to feed his ego and satisfy his whims. If he had been Prime Minister today, we’d be accustomed to hearing unfounded theories of how Singaporeans were “bullies” who “expected us to do everything they said.”
Now, can you imagine how the Singaporean government would have felt? Did it not occur to the former premier that our neighbor may have been hostile towards us because of his egotistical slants? If you were to have been the republic’s premier back then, would you not have told your cabinet to ignore him? Or would you have spent your days arguing with a man who clearly was beyond reproach and not worth your time?
Seriously, Mahathir was a big flop when it came to diplomacy. His position on Singapore was pervaded with make belief stories that destroyed any possibility of there being strong bilateral relations. When you hear someone going “there, people urinate in lifts,” or “we are more civilised than some people in Singapore,” you know that the person is not Prime Minister material.
Which is why, not only was it a big mistake turning him into one, we’d be fools to repeat that mistake by giving him another chance. On the one hand, he ridiculed Donald J Trump by calling the American president a villain and an international bully. On the other, he told the Financial Times that the People’s Republic of China posed “the most serious long-term threat to regional stability.”
Seriously, if both the Chinese and the Americans pose that much of a threat to our sovereignty, who will he have us do business with once he becomes Prime Minister? The eskimos? Or the Martians???
Take it from me – there is no such thing as a nation striving in isolation. In this era of digital economy, it is important for us to position ourselves both economically and strategically on the world map. Not only is China already in the number one spot in terms of purchasing parity, it is fast approaching that spot in terms of nominal GDP. Under the circumstances, it would be suicide for us not to have anything to do with the republic.
Now do you understand why I thank God each day that Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak is our Prime Minister?
SINGAPORE: “We certainly don’t want to return to the era of confrontational diplomacy and bark rhetoric between the two countries,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in referring to Malaysia-Singapore relations.
“It was an era that we want to forget; we certainly don’t want to come back to that era,” said Najib at a joint press conference on the occasion of the 8th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat at the Istana today.
“We believe that the position of the current government is a position that will bring mutual benefit to both Singapore and Malaysia and we stand by our policy, by our agenda and by our ability to deliver real and tangible benefits to the peoples of Malaysia and Singapore,” he said.
Najib and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong were asked whether the two governments could give an assurance that the Rapid Transit System (RTS) and High-Speed Rail (HSR) would still proceed despite any change in the political environment, taking into account the coming Malaysian general election.
Lee, in his response, said all projects which involved more than one country and spanned more than one term of a government “requires long-term commitment”.
“The commitment is formalised, and the agreements which we signed between the two governments today are a binding agreement and whoever the government is on either side, well, this is the agreement which they have to inherit and which they are a party to.
“(But) I don’t have any doubt on the Singapore side (that) we have every intention to implement what we signed and what we committed to today,” he said.
The two countries had signed two bilateral agreements related to RTS and HSR, with the projects expected to be completed in 2024 and 2026, respectively.
Source: The Malay Mail Online