12/05/2016

Singapore's Great Expectation - India


With the Terrex seizure still dangling like a hot potato and the equally hot comments from the Singapore side, relations between the two country is likely to take a dip into the longkang. The corollary will be trade and economic cooperation. All the projects in the pipeline would likely be left on the backburner for a long time to come. No one in Singapore would be able to go to China to reverse the course of this divide. No one in Singapore would have the guanxi to reach Xi Jinping to resolve the differences. No one would be able to make the right phone call or contact. The Philippines have Ramos to bridge the gap. Who could Singapore rely on to do this job, Chok Tong, Boon Wan, Kan Seng, Chee Hean or Eng Hen? Or should they depend on Vivian and the MFA to mesmerise China with their diplomatic skills?

It is not too far fetch to say that Singapore has just burnt its bridge to China. Some hopefuls are still dismissing the Terrex incident as a joke, nothing serious and everything will be back to normal soon. And better still, Singapore can still have good relations with China, calling China old friends that we can be frank, transparent, throw the book of law at each other and everything will be normal. And better still, still can conduct military training in Taiwan. I think this last part is a high possibility, and Xi Jinping would say, over my dead body.

Now that China is off Singapore's list of good friends, or Singapore is no longer in China's list of good friends, Singapore would not be able to ride the Chinese economic engine of growth and would have to look elsewhere.

How about the USA? Obama is still in office and could be the link man, provided Trump still bothers to talk to him. If there is anyone for Singapore to hitch on to the American 1% growth engine, it could be Hillary Clinton, definitely not Trump. Unfortunately Hillary is out on a limp, irrelevant, history. So Trump is the only hope. Hsien Loong is reported to have invited Trump to visit Singapore. The big question is whether there will be a meeting of eyes. The agenda and policies of Trump and Hsien Loong are diametrically opposed and unless one side is going to compromise, both would go off tangentially, if they ever met. Singapore is unlikely to change its principled position, so what more is there to talk about. Trump would be too busy minding his own business and bring jobs back to the USA, including those in Singapore. Looks like the USA is a no go as well.

What about Japan, the third largest world economy? Sure, Abe and Hsien Loong are like brothers, same thinking, same agenda and same interests. They are like inseparable twins. A slight problem, what can Singapore sell to Japan? I would have a hard time thinking of anything that the Japanese would want to buy from us.

Who is left to give Singapore a lift in the economic gravy train? The next biggest engine of growth is likely to be India, the emerging super power and economic powerhouse. Europe is too embroiled with its own economic problems and would likely breakup. So looks like India is Singapore's only hope, an economic train to hitch a ride to more economic growth. Singapore can invest in a big way in India. And to get the deal, Singapore can offer to sign an even more comprehensive CECA and hopefully India would be grateful and open its legs wide wide for Singapore businesses to get in. Just don't throw in conditions like all the top management staff must be Indians for any investments and businesses in India. Singapore does not apply such conditions to Indian companies in Singapore. India nationals are all welcome to all the top management positions in Singapore companies here.

Yes, India would be Singapore's Great Expectation for the next 50 years. George Yeo and Chok Tong can play the midwives once again in the opening of the Indian market to Singapore and Singapore to India. Nevermind if there is no China, no USA, no Japan. There is always India to lend a helping hand. All the great people to people relations built over the years with so many Indian professionals and influential Indians coming and going will make doing business with India a walk in the park.

Singapore's future is made riding on the Indian economic growth engine, soon to be double digit growth. The govt, especially Chok Tong and George Yeo, have great foresight for cultivating India and tapping on India's talents to build bridges.

12/04/2016

Rule of Law versus guanxi

Anyone heard of the word ‘guanxi’? This word has been spoken umpteen times by our leaders from their experience in dealing with China. Guanxi is very important to them. Some even bragged about the who’s who they know in China and can use this guanxi to get things done fast.
 

What is the difference between the rule of law and guanxi? Guanxi is about human relations, there is a human face involved though the necessary procedures under the rule of law still apply. Sometimes because of guanxi, some things or rules may be overlooked and procedures expedited. Guanxi does not mean lawlessness.
 

What about rule of law? Rule of law is all about law. No human face. The law says yes or no. Nothing to argue about. Don’t tell anyone how big is your face or who you know. Rule of law is faceless.
 

The issue of the seizure of the Terrex is all about the rule of law. Is there a violation of the law? If there is, play by the law. This has nothing to do with guanxi anymore. Like they say, play by the book.

This may be the reason why several of our senior politicians are all keeping quiet and out of sight, They know that since everyone is bragging about the rule of law, don't anyone try to get pass it by quoting guanxi. Singapore leaders going to China to strike deals can forget about guanxi forever unless they want to be slapped right in the face. A rule of law country, depending on principles, incorruptible meritocracy, must not have second thought about guanxi. Everything is transparent, above board, no monkeying around behind closed doors, no double talk.

12/03/2016

Wang Gungwu – The consumate gentleman historian

Professor Wang Gungwu was at his best when interviewed at the Straits Times Global Outlook Forum on Singapore China relations and China’s One Belt and One Road Project. It is not just the depth of his understanding of the subjects in question but how he disagreed but saying he agreed with opposing views and still put out his views in a very pleasant and amicable way. To all those he disagreed, he told them he agreed with them and then told them his views that are diametrically opposed to those that he disagreed with without ruffling feathers.

He praised Singapore for all its positive contributions to China’s rise and economic growth and kept silence on the negative things Singapore have been doing to China. He praised Vivian Balakrishnan and said he agreed with him and his views but came out with his own views that were obviously not the same as Vivian’s.

While many still live in the past and think that China is still a hapless poor country that needed their help, this historian is living in the present, in the future, and telling them that the China today is a country that many needs to go to for help.  This is the strangest part of the interview with the Straits Times published on 1 Dec, a historian living in the present while the politicians and analysts living in the past.

Wang Gungwu dispense his understanding of the Singapore and Asean relations with China in as frank a way he could, diplomatically. He encouraged Singapore to play a leading role in Asean, music to the ears of some, but to unite Asean to be useful to China or at least not against China. An Asean that is united and useful to China or neutral would be to the better interests of Asean and its members.
He also reminded those that kept harping about China expecting the Chinese majority Singapore to be helpful that this should be good for Singapore as well. Why not, why not be helpful and chose to be unhelpful? It is nothing to have such an expectation as if for Singapore to be helpful is a dreadful thing to do.

The other point he raised was to dispel the unthinking that were made to believe that China is against freedom of navigation.  He said ‘China is now committed to a global economy and, needs freedom of navigation, freedom for ships to wander around, because the maritime economy is basically what China has benefited from for the last 40 years and they know that. He did not elaborate on who is selling the idea that China would curb freedom of navigation and the clowns that believe in this lie. He added, ‘This is totally different from the past, and I think they appreciate that for that maritime economy to be pursued consistently and successful from now onwards, (you must) have peace in Asean and Asean can be most helpful to ensure that China’s development continues.’ This piece of wisdom hopefully will go down well to those who have been told to think that China is an expansionist country and wanting to dominate the world through wars.  Would this piece of wisdom go to waste among the silly unthinking leaders in Asean?

Wang Gungwu also touched on China’s One Belt and One Road and how important it is to have good relations with all the countries along the Belt and Road. The cooperation of all the countries is critical to its success for any one of these countries could derail the project.  China needs to be friendly to all the countries and not otherwise. A China dependent on peace and cooperation with all the countries cannot be aggressive and unfriendly if it wants others to work with China. Now where are the sillies that are still living on the delusion that China would be unfriendly, expansionist and up to no good?
The very difficult region of Central Asia is where China has done best diplomatically to win their confidence to come on board the OBOR. This is where China has great success through peaceful means and diplomacy. Anything short of that would be a disaster.

In the sea, China was not there to challenge or oppose the American dominance. China wants to work with the Americans to ensure that the sea is safe and there is freedom of navigation for trade and cooperation.

In the whole interview, Wang Gungwu was saying all the good things and leaving out all the bad things that the unthinking and conspirators were doing against China.  His diplomatic answers to the issues that have blinded many unthinking leaders and led them to misbehave badly may or may not change much of their thinking. But for the readers with an open mind and clear thinking would find them useful to dispel the negative myths spun around China by the liars and trouble makers plotting to contain China and disrupt the peaceful rise of China.

12/02/2016

China wants to turn Singapore into its mouthpiece

Bloomberg News reported on 1 Dec some comments by Bilahari Kausikan on the recent spat between China and Singapore.

“This is not the first time Singapore ships equipment from Taiwan through Hong Kong,” said Bilahari Kausikan, an ambassador-at-large for Singapore. The fact this particular consignment was picked up shows China wants to “send a signal
not only to us, but to all” Southeast Asian nations. China’s long-term strategy is to turn Singapore into an ally and “mouthpiece” for its positions, he said.

I am not sure whether Bilahari said the above in the capacity of an ambassador or as an ordinary citizen. The comments are likely to irk China again and may draw some flakes. At this point in time, with the heat still on, Singapore officials especially diplomats and ambassadors should be more careful in what they said. Maybe there is already an official position to take.

There are two schools of thought on this. The more garang and brave group that could not understand the meaning of ‘牛存不示虎’, literary translated as little calf did not know what is a tiger, would be egging the govt to be strong, to stand up, look China into the eyes, to tell China we cannot be bullied. The more mature and sensible group would recommend not to aggravate the situation by talking cock, oops, I mean talking tough. Talk reasons in a reasonable and respectful manner and try to resolve the issue as amicably as possible. But looking at the tense situation, this is unlikely.

If Bilahari is speaking in his capacity as an ambassador, it is likely that this is an official position and his choice of words was precise and intended. If he is speaking in his private capacity, then he can talk all the cock he wants and Vivian would just say in Parliament when questioned that he need not have to waste his time discussing about what a private citizen said.

Would China send a note to the MFA demanding an explanation and would Vivian said, stuff it? Whichever, these comments are not helpful except to prove that Singapore got balls to stand up to China, to punch above its weight. The consequences for such bravado would be for the people to bear.

There is a time and place to be tough and principled. There are times when talking cock would look silly and incur strong reactions. Without good men in charge, the lack of wisdom is glaring.

12/01/2016

Kelvin Cheng – a plea to support the govt

Below is a statement by Kelvin Cheng posted in the TRE.

‘I wish Singaporeans would rally behind the Government instead of criticising them re our recent issues with China.

Partisanship is for domestic politics. On the international stage, we must all be loyal Singaporeans.

And on this note, I also urge my fellow business people who do a lot of business in China to stop getting intimidated into lobbying the Government to appease the PRC. This is precisely what they are trying to do.

Yes our businesses and wallets are important, but our country is more important.

Be strong. Chins up. Have some pride. If we become doormats, nobody will respect us even as business people, and nobody does business with doormats.’

 Kelvin Cheng

The need to put up such a plea is telling. It is a sign of desperation and calling on the people so abused and taken for granted to support the govt facing a row with China is the lowest it can go. Let me remind Kelvin Cheng and his fellow Channel 5 people that the Channel 8 people is a majority vis a vis the Channel 5. Rubbing up China the wrong way would not be seen in the same way as the Channel 5 people.

And the response and reactions, if what were posted in the comments to Kelvin Cheng’s plea in the TRE is a measure of the sentiments on the ground, some people is going to get a rude shock.

This guy is still having the mentality of punching above our weight and want to take China head on, stare them in the eyes, don’t blink, chins up, and China will shy away, wither and melt down. Nothing to worry if we are brave.

The divide between the govt and the people is so stark and Kelvin knew it if you read his comments carefully. He knew that the govt has been harsh on the people domestically but is calling the people under such harsh treatment to put their differences aside to back the govt in an international dispute. And he believes the people will go along.  Are Singaporeans really that daft?

Someone must explain to him what is the meaning of ‘khong cum’.

Below are a few samples of the comments in TRE.

  • Uncle Lim:


Rally behind a petty tyrant and a police state? He is crazy.

On the international stage must be loyal? But on domestic stage get bullied by SPF by the Scrooge it is ok is it?

The ruling PAP doesn’t deserve our support at all.

If it has been sincerely serving the people, no need to preach to us. We will support the Govt but not this repressive regime.

VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

Rating: +76 (from 82 votes)

  • Jim:


So typical of papigs and all dictators
When they could not justify their action, they called for blind loyalty and support
When our leader do stupid thing on world stage, we must not be afraid to criticise
He is already an arrogant dick

VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

Rating: +58 (from 60 votes)

  • Ho Lee Sheet:


When pap treated singaporeans like doormats, this idiot often took the chance to stamp and wipe his dirty shoes on the doormats and then grinned like a monkey. Now he wants singaporeans not to be doormats just coz his beloved pap has offended a big giant? This lackey sure knows when to lick his bosses b@lls.

VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

Rating: +40 (from 46 votes)

  • STILL BTO PAP:


in the first place, have you or your Chief Idiot any scant respect for fellow Sporeans?
by importing FT in tons, by appointing officers who are not held accountables to failures, by not resolving problems of transportation, housing and cost of living? by embarrassing spore with silly jokes all over the international areana?
finally by changing our constitution of electing EP by race and thereby reserving the pending Ep candidancy to Malay, to preserve your party’s secrecy n survival despite strong objections from Sporeans?

STILL VTO PAP.

VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

Rating: +38 (from 42 votes)

The fate of ISIS is sealed

ISIS is going to be history soon with Russia and the Arab states going in for the kill. How did ISIS lasted so long, grew from strength to strength when the world’s Number One super power was ‘attacking them, bombing them’? Or was the world’s Number One super power feeding them and nursing them to strength to be the most destructive force in the Middle East, to bring down popularly elected govt? Why is it crumpling now, into bits and pieces when the Russians moved in?

The fate of ISIS is like other terrorist groups in other countries, like the Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, with the American forces there to ‘destroy’ them but never able to do so? Is this strange? The world’s Number One super power everywhere, with their best trained Special Forces and best elite units fighting them but never seem to succeed?

What is the truth? These terrorists organizations so clever that the Americans could not deal with them, could not defeat them, could not destroy them? Or is it the same story, the Americans, their Special Forces and elite units were just there to help them, train them, armed them, to be used against govts that the Americans want to overthrow, regime change?

Now Duterte has seen the truth and wanted to get rid of the American Special Forces before they turned the Abu Sayyaf into another ISIS. ISIS would be destroyed, not by their mother, the Americans, but by Russia and the other Arab govts.  Duterte can only destroy the Abu Sayyaf if he got rid of the ‘mother’ that is there to feed and nurse them, like all the terrorist organizations all over the world, seem to be undefeatable and would continue to grow in strength. Who is behind the scene supporting and growing these terrorist organizations, like ISIS?

If the Russian/Arab joint forces did not get the job done, Trump’s new team of Mike Flynn, a 3 star general fired by Obama for opposing his support for ISIS, will finish the ISIS for good. Read below how the Americans were so thick in its conspiracy with the Muslim Brotherhood to create unending wars in the Middle East and the rest of the world. This is America’s strategy to control the world through wars that many silly Asians refused to look at and in a state of denial that the Americans were the real devils behind all the troubles around the world.

‘In this article I’ll look closely at Mike Flynn, the former 3-star general who will be the all-important Trump National Security Advisor, sitting in the White House. Normally perceptive bloggers and analysts have greeted the Flynn appointment with cheers of joy. They cite his opposition to US covert support for ISIS and Islamic terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra; he is on record that the 2003 Iraq invasion was a “strategic mistake.” Moreover, Flynn is opposed to stirring up war with Russia and instead calls for waging war against ISIS and other radical terrorist organizations. In fact Obama fired Flynn as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency when Flynn opposed the Obama decision to prioritize the anti-Russia war over the anti-Jihad war, and called for cooperation with Syrian President Assad to that end.

Flynn’s position on war against ISIS and presumably also against the Muslim Brotherhood so beloved by Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration, is not one of a man of peace. Rather it is one of a cold, calculating military professional, a military professional who favors working with the Likud of Netanyahu to advance the global agenda of war.

Flynn’s statements on Assad and ISIS and Iraq must be interpreted not in a vacuum but in light of a military intelligence specialist who sees that the decades-long CIA and Pentagon policy of training Muslim Brotherhood and other fanatic Muslim-origin terrorists to wage surrogate wars of empire have backfired badly. Not only the CIA’s July 15 failed coup using networks of Turkey’s Fethullah Gülen, but rather every CIA-backed Jihad war from Secretary of State Clinton’s war against Mubarak, against Gaddafi, against most of the Islamic world to try to impose US-backed Muslim Brotherhood terror regimes loyal to Washington, has failed. The gross effect has been to drive much of the world away from Washington and their constant proxy wars.’
http://journal-neo.org/2016/11/25/the-dangerous-deception-called-the-trump-presidency/
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

11/30/2016

What One China policy means to China Singapore relations?

The Terrex incident could be over with China returning the vehicles according to international shipping law. No big fuss. It was a matter of documentation and proper papers. What is important is the new China Singapore relationship following the protest or representation by the Chinese Foreign Ministry following this incident, that Singapore must abide by the rule of law and the One China policy. This means that Singapore, for recognizing that there is only one China, cannot have govt to govt or official relations with Taiwan.

What does this mean to Singapore? If Singapore wants to abide by the One China policy, Singapore would henceforth have to terminate all training and official contacts with Taiwan. This is indeed 伤脑筋。It is not easy to dismantle the training facilities and equipment in Taiwan and to relocate them elsewhere if Singapore is to abide by this One China Policy requirement. Singapore has converted every bit of land into housing estates and nothing is left for the military and to conduct their training. Singapore is now beholden to countries that could offer us land for military training and to house our military hardware and soldiers.

With the land constraint, a self inflicted wound for wanting to grow the population recklessly, would Singapore play it tough and take a diplomatic U turn by not recognizing the One China policy to keep its training facilities in Taiwan? But by doing so it would have to cut diplomatic relations with China which means all official contacts and govt to govt businesses in China would be terminated except people to people or non govt businesses.

China is giving Singapore a choice, an ultimatum. Singapore would have to decide which way to go. It can’t have the cake and eat it this time unless it can come up with a legal interpretation that Singapore did not violate the One China policy by having military training facilities in Taiwan and official relations with the Taiwanese govt.  The legal expertise of Shanmugam would be very handy in this case. How about the one who interpreted that inside the centre is not within 200 metres from the centre? Or maybe can go to the Tribunal at The Hague for an interpretation that is legal and binding. If The Hague can call an island as big as Taiping a coral reef, I am sure they would know how to interpret the One China policy to favour Singapore. And once again Singapore can tell China to abide by the international ruling of the court that is UN backed and legal and binding.

Another way out is to quote the USA. The USA also recognizes the One China policy but has a defence agreement to defend Taiwan. This American fork tongue behavior is also called American Exceptionalism. Could Singapore use this exception to justify its use of training facilities in Taiwan? Can Singapore also call itself an exceptional country like the Americans and can do anything it wants?

This new development would need a Uniquely Singapore solution but not sure if it works in the context of international relations and whether China would lamely accept such an interpretation and situation.

How is Singapore going to wrangle itself out of this conundrum?  Would Vivian with the help of Shanmugam, come up on top and dismiss the Chinese protest or representation as baseless and life goes on as normal, with SAF training unaffected in Taiwan?

The bottom line, Singapore must now choose between China or Taiwan.  Take it or leave it, no buts.