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.