That is what Malaysian MP Tony Pua said of Singapore in an article he wrote that was published on MalaysianInsider.com. The article was a response to an op-ed piece in Singapore’s Straits Times by Ambassador at Large Bilahari Kausikan.
In his op-ed piece, Bilahari said: “We, of course, have no choice but to work with whatever system or leader emerges in Malaysia. But some systems will be easier to work with than others.”
Tony Pua took this to mean that Bilahari implied that it was easier for the Singapore government to work with Malaysia with Najib in power than with Mahatir in control (whether directly or indirectly). Tony Pua then used this as evidence to show that “Singapore as a country, despite its enormous wealth and developed nation status, completely lacks a moral compass.” And that “It is less important for him (Bilahari) to support “what is right and just”, as opposed to “what is in it for me” in Singapore’s relations with its neighbours, regardless of how evil or corrupt a regime is.”
The idea that the Singapore government getting in bed with evil or corrupt regimes to ostensibly promote Singapore’s interest is not new. As early as 1997, there have been insinuations that the Singapore government, through GIC and Temasek-linked companies, has been doing business with Burmese drug lords.
In an ideal world, I would definitely find such behaviour, if true, disgusting and abhorrent. We ought to stand up for what is right and just, and fight against evil and corruption.
But in reality, I firmly believe that the Singapore Government’s first duty is to ensure our survival. Most Singaporeans did not vote our government in to be the champion of the sick and poor, to stand up for the downtrodden and outcasts, to fight for the weakest and the least in other countries. Most Singaporeans did not vote our government in to be a shining beacon of hope for people in other nations. Most Singaporeans voted our government in to ensure that we continue to thrive and prosper.
So unless and until most Singaporeans become altruistically compassionate and righteous, I do not see anything wrong with our Government doing whatever it takes to forward the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans first. Even if that means doing business with evil and corrupt regimes. I do not see anything wrong with the Singapore Government fighting for causes and standing up against oppressive tyrants only if it somehow forwards our long term national interests. Because that is what most Singaporeans demand.
And, like it or not, unfortunate as some people may find it, that is the reality of the world. To think otherwise, is really delusional. Right?
[Featured Photo: Today file photo]