are we teaching or learning?
Below is a perceptive and telling it as it really is article from a citizen. A young girl called Gayle Goh. She tells the truth that no traditional media would dare to say. And this is what citizen reporting is all about. Her title is 'Teaching China Lesson.' I would think a better title will be like ' Learning from our own experience in China', or something like 'Shall we be duped a second time'. Teaching China Lessons - Really Interesting blog from Gayle Goh, 17-year-old student at Anglo-Chinese Junior College. May 24, 2006 http://i-speak.blogdrive.com/ Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has gone to China with the confident declaration that Singapore can help the emerging giant to 'connect' with Southeast Asia and the West. China has received him warmly, with much pomp and goodwill, complete with showing him a little plot of orchids and a mini merlion as part of his welcoming ceremony. Promises are bandied about, as are grand words; Beijing says it wants Singapore to participate in China's development, and Singapore says its doors will always be open. The diplomats are all smiles and good cheer, and what could look more promising? Yet it is not the first time that we've seen this 'wayang' (word of the year) unfold. We saw how in the 1990's much pomp and acclaim were given to the launching of the Suzhou Industrial Park joint partnership between China and Singapore. Often touted as Lee's brainchild, it was to combine China's cheap labour and manufacturing costs with Singapore's expertise, experience and yes - national reserves. Before that, China had already professed its intention to follow the 'Singapore model' of development, which gave way to the rather unusual cooperation between the two nations; rather like a slumbering dragon ambling in the wake of a precocious younger lizard, strutting along, annoyingly full of itself. The China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park, for all its grand fanfare, was a complete embarrassment. Ruined by corruption, nepotism, delays, and incompetent management which saw the park facing competition from the Suzhou New District, another industrial park in the region, the affair tapered down quietly into a complete handover of administration from Singaporean to Chinese hands, and a subsequent drop in investment from Singapore into China. My own father's business would know. Seeing a massive flow of customers shift into Suzhou, he thought to follow the exodus of demand into the province as well, and set up operations there a number of years ago. Today, we still have not been able to begin trading there, due to the inefficiencies and corruption that seem endemic to China. We have faced problems in everything from having our logo registered as a trademark, let alone obtaining a permit to manufacture and trade in Suzhou. My father's company was one of the 'dupes' of that hype, and it begs me to wonder if anything at all has changed in this new rapprochement between Singapore and China. Singapore seems to be vigorously blowing its own trumpet in order to stay relevant and needed to the region. But to be honest, I wonder if China really does need us, or intend to follow our advice. How much clout do we really have? We say we want to connect China with the West. They hardly need our help for that. China's booming markets and its huge potential for contribution to the global trade volume and the expansion of Western markets ensures that East and West are very much connected in a 21st century form of Silk Road. Since Mao-Nixon detente in the early 1970's, relations between China and the USA have been carefully cordial. And insofar as connecting China in Southeast Asia, Singapore honestly has no truly friendly ties to any SEA nation save for Indonesia at the moment. We most recently pissed off Malaysia and Thailand - are we really any authority on ASEAN friendship and cooperation? Furthermore, China-ASEAN trade is already booming without Singaporean assistance, it would seem, since the signing of the China-ASEAN Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation on Nov 4, 2002, and the scheduled commencement of the FTA in 2010. Given this, I wonder what Singapore can truly do for China besides drink tea, look at orchids, and advise them to learn English. I guess we're doing all this just in hopes of snatching up a bilateral FTA deal after the China-ASEAN one comes into effect, as has already been announced as to be Singapore's intention by Lim Hng Kiang in 2004. Until then, it seems we have nothing but diplomatic hot-air overtures and a history of failure to offer. By GayleGoh._________________