“Singapore Government lacks moral compass”

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]

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15 thoughts on ““Singapore Government lacks moral compass”

    • Apparently… Tony Pua studied in Singapore and, according to my friends who know him personally, he’s a great fan of Singapore. Such a great fan tt UMNO has often accused Tony Pua of being a PAP stooge…

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  1. “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,…”

    While i do not disagree with the above, i cannot help but feel a tinge of sadness. It seems, in our pursuit of financial stability (speaking of which, financial stability or financial prosperity, studies have shown, is encouraged by robust citizenry, keen to question, willing to take risks by allowing a change in governments, something i personally feel we lack in the majority of the population here), we have disregarded the very thing which makes us human; empathy.

    The rohingya situation highlighted this to some extent. There was no outcry when the boat was turned away from Singapore. The reason being, we don’t want foreigners. Therein lies the contradiction. Most Singaporeans believe we do need foreigners as do our Government. I as well, believe this. What i personally have an issue with is the lack of infrastructure planning. Anyway, the rohingya could have to some extent, if we were willing, be put to work in the construction industry, but we were mostly closed to this. We want foreigners who are qualified and “rich”. We close our eyes to the plight of peoples who need our help. We have this notion, that it is not our problem, it’s everyone else’s problem because we are so small (but rich hor).

    Malaysia stepped up. Indonesia stepped up. Australia stepped up after much resistance and Abbott paid for this, in a way. If we keep saying that we are a first world country, this is only true when it comes to $$$.

    In any event, i do not know why our Ambassador at large had to make such a statement. More and more, i see our ministers and civil servants failing diplomatically on the international stage. Whether we believe that is the case, that is alright to have corrupt bedfellows or not, we should not publicize the fact that we are ok with this, or even imply! Just calls for an “oy vey”.

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    • Gosh, I didn’t know there was a boat of rohingya which tried to reach Singapore. I guess.. ya, it’s sad that we didn’t help them.. but how could we have helped them? Those who can be put to work in the construction industry probably have to be men then. I don’t know what language they speak but as it is, when I pass by a construction site everyday, I see miscomms b/w the PRCs, Indians and the local workers.

      I read some time ago (pardon me for not being updated w the latest world happenings) that Oz, even when they take in refugees, they are housed in some ulu place/island where they have no chance of assimilating into the society at large. Some refugees commented they rather not have left their home country.

      Heard on news a few days ago that Malaysia is taking in Syrian refugees, but haven’t created a plan for them. So it’s a case of nevermind, just get them on board first, then decide later. What are the repercussions?

      This note is not to rebutt what dumdumdum had written. Just typing whatever (incoherent) thoughts that are flowing through my mind.

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      • Hi Anon,

        Yes, the Nauru detention centre, properly. Refugees are housed there, and are prevented from reaching mainland Australia. Because of the horrendous situation in the centre, Abbott, the then PM of Australia faced backlash which could have (i’m not saying this was the primary driving force), attributed to his own party, the Liberal party ousting him as the leader.

        Well, look at it from this POV. We need low skill workers. That’s undeniable. Whether they come from Bangladesh, India or elsewhere. Our construction industry here is still very much reliant on workers, rather than technology to boost productivity. If there is a demand for low skill workers, we could have deployed rohingyas in our local construction industry. I think they speak a variant of Bengali, since they are descendants of Bengalis. Planning wise, it is of course important!

        But hor, Malaysia was willing to take in Syrian refugees because Najib said it was their duty as Muslims. I would rather us not go down that path. We should go down the path of humanitarianism.

        The repercussions are plenty but i would argue that Singapore, as a society have faced the repercussions. It can be seen from liberal countries like Sweden, where there exists now, a political party calling for all refugees to be deported. Such sentiments can be seen throughout Europe as well. However, i would say that majority of residents in Europe are by and large welcoming of refugees, provided they prove themselves useful to the society. In short, these countries are facing an increase in xenophobic attitudes towards refugees because they are perceived as different from the natives.

        In Singapore, I would counter this; we are a multicultural society but yet, with these foreign PMETs, we see xenophobic attitudes as well. This is disturbing. Some people say these foreigners don’t assimilate into Singapore because they can’t speak English. The last i checked, quite a few of the older generation can’t speak English as well. Therefore, whether you have low skill workers or PMETs, as long as they are foreigners, the society will always have a fringe movement to counter them under the garb of xenophobia.

        Aiya,i think the reason why Singapore will never allow Syrian or other kinds of refugees into Singapore is the tight control on the racial make up of Singapore. It affects everything. It is feared that once we allow them in, they will skew the racial profile of Singapore. Is this a valid concern? To me, it is not. If you claim to be a multicultural and multiracial, there should not be limitations that it’s only multi whatever to the extent of having predominantly, Chinese, Malays and Indians.

        I think ultimately, my point is this. For being the richest country in South East Asia, and one of the richest in Asia and the world, we do not give back to the global community, but i belong to a minority of people who feel this is a cause of concern.

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  2. 3D

    The Rohingya will be permanent. This is unlike the WP workers who will leave for their own homes in other countries after contracts finished.

    Considering the issues we have already with professionals, yet to allow refugees other than on selective basis considering the space constraints is naivety at best.

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    • Really? Consider this. We need transient construction workers because no one here wants to do it. So what’s wrong in extending your home, Singapore to them? You’re having problems with professionals does not equate to us having MORE problems with such refugees. In fact, i think if anything, you will be facing similar problems of integration. Goes to show, we will accept professionals, but not those who aren’t professionals since they are undesirables.

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      • DDD

        You would expect them and their children to be a permanet Dalit class in Singapore? that would be more cruel?

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    • Why permanently? Temporary, i wouldn’t mind. Yes, i know singaporeans have issues with foreign construction workers, as exemplified by Serangoon residents with regard to the FW dorm proposed to have been built before GE2011. And isn’t that sad? These people build our homes and we can’t even be gracious enough to live next door to them.

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  3. Why would they be a dalit class in Singapore? Is it because majority would view them as untouchables? On what basis? Are we in India? Is this prejudice purely based on the fact that they are not professionals? Does that seem right to you? So in essence, never to helping anyone unless they are professionals or of a high societal standing. If this does not seem right, should there be a change? Or no? Status quo?

    Yes, i am willing to house them temporarily. As a rich SEA nation, i believe our state should be able to look into refugee situations and spread its wealth to unfortunate ones within, let’s start with SEA.

    It is evident from your few replies, that you should never ever consider yourself a global citizen.

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  4. DDD

    last i am aware of, there is no such thing as global state yet.
    Thanks for the depth of insight from such enlightened minds as yours (NOT)
    You do seem to be able to make very quick assumptions.

    my replies were based on your written replies and raising of issues.

    there is no further point in this debate as you are utterly convinced as a SJW of the rightness of your cause and riches will be bestowed upon you. unfortunately for poor mortals such as myself, we do have to work/toil to earn our keep.

    Au revoir

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    • Typical closed mindset. Your points were basically that (a) Singapore cannot take in refugees since Singaporeans have issues with foreign PMETs, and (b) if i don’t welcome them into my home permanently, my argument fails.

      And also, that i am “rich” because i don’t have to work to earn my keep. Ad hominem attacks get u nowhere.

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