Jun 16, 2009

Two Countries and Two Men

A beautiful friendship is possible between Malaysia and Singapore. It really just depends on the deaths of these two men. One day, when both of these men are out of the picture for good, all the unhappy historical baggage will be thrown away and forgotten, and love will blossom naturally between the two nations - you'll see.

For now, the clash of the two monumental egos will constantly keep Singapore and Malaysia apart, hindering, among other things, Singapore's involvement in the Iskandar Project.
June 16, 2009
Mahathir scoffs at MM's visit

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad yesterday poured fresh vitriol on Singapore, calling Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew a 'little Emperor' and describing the republic as a 'new Middle Kingdom'.

In a no-holds-barred tirade on his blog Che Det that coincided with the tail-end of an official visit by Mr Lee to Malaysia, he slammed Singapore for putting itself in the centre of the region, and also took issue with other topics such as the Iskandar development in Johor and the supply of water.

Mr Lee, he charged, had in his 'triumphant visit to Malaysia' made it known to 'Malaysian supplicants' that Singapore regarded the lands within a 6,000-mile radius as its hinterland.

'This includes Beijing and Tokyo and of course Malaysia,' he wrote.

'Of course this self-deluding perception places Singapore at the centre of a vast region. It is therefore the latter day Middle Kingdom,' he added, using the Chinese name for China. 'The rest are peripheral and are there to serve the interests of this somewhat tiny Middle Kingdom.'

He again insinuated that Malays would lose out in the development of the Iskandar region in Johor.

Mr Lee and Tun Dr Mahathir had crossed swords over several national issues when they were both prime ministers and Malaysian newsmen have noted that Mr Lee did not meet his erstwhile adversary on his current trip.

When asked about this last week, the former Malaysian premier had replied tersely: 'I don't see why he would request to see me; I am a nobody.'

Mr Mahathir has used his widely read blog to comment on all and sundry and also to launch attacks on political opponents, including his successor, former prime minister Abdullah Badawi.


Anonymous said...

The monumental egos also extend to their scions. So the historical baggage will only be thrown away the day when dynastic politics are gone for good. Only then can there be a fresh start.

Alan Wong said...

Frankly, Dr. M who is well known for his own racist policies during his tenure as one of Asia's most corrupt politician has no moral authority to comment on the plight of the Malays in Singapore. The Malays who really benefit during his tenure are his own Umno cronies.

So what moral authority doe he have to speak about the plight of the Singapore Malays as if he really cares for their welfare.

Anonymous said...

I dont noe man..seems to me that the person with the largest emotional baggage is TDM

hugewhaleshark said...

Yes and no IMO. UMNO has (and will continue to have) it its reasons to bash Singapore every now and then. You know. Singapore is one of two convenient bogeymen (the other being the Malaysian Chinese) which is customarilly dragged up whenever there is a split in the party (and amongst the Malays in general). So while the passing of the old guard will remove those with the most hard-wired prejudices, I still think the old issues will be dragged up anew when it is convenient to do so. To have greater confidence in a good outcome for Sing-Malay relations, I'd need to see a Malaysian political structure which has no interest in digging up these old pains.

Anonymous said...

Both should allow the younger generation to prove themselves.

His visit showed the fear he had for the current prime minister of malaysia, who is eloquent and resourceful.

mjuse said...

somehow, family feuds have a way of living beyond the memory of why they started in the first place. i have to confess i'm less optimistic than you.

The said...

Mahathir still haven't gotten over the snub he got from a taxi driver when he was a student here in Singapore during the University of Malaya days. The taxi driver drop him off at the servant's quarter instead of the front door of his girl friend's house - and he has been stung ever since by this perceived racist act.

TS Lee said...

Unfortunately the demise of these two is unlikely to change relationships significantly. They have nutured the minds of many in the two societies to distrust the other side. So, unless new leaders with strong conviction of the hugh mutual benefits for both sides come along and rebuild trust and preceptions, change will only be marginal. A start is to free the circulation of newspapers and other mass media between the two nations with offical ones having kind and considerate things to say of the other.

The said...

TS Lee - free circulation of newspapers may not help bring the two countries together. On the contrary, it may even tear us further apart. The reason that the 2 countries decided not to facilitate circulation in the first place (note - there is no outright ban - you can bring copies across the border freely), was that the vernacular press are full of venom, lies and propaganda. In particular, Utusan Melayu and The Malay Mail.

Having the official ones (you mean the main ones like ST, BT, NST and NBT - since the vernacular ones are also offical ones) say nice things will not help, as it is the tabloids that have the greatest reach in the kampongs and villages and they are the ones that are spewing out the poison.

For the urban, sophisticated citizens, they can get the true pictures from the internet as the major dailies are also guilty of propaganda and painting all things rosy for their respective countries. They can also access all newspapers from the whole world reporting on SG an MY.

On the other hand, the rural folks in the kampongs are not so discerning, nor have easy access to the internet. They are the majority and they are the ones who are easily swayed by makebates like Mahathir, who said one thing in the cities, and another in the kampongs. His lies have been exposed by the world wide web.

Anonymous said...

"They are the majority and they are the ones who are easily swayed by makebates like mahathir, who said one thing in the cities, and another in the kampongs. His lies have been exposed by the world wide web."

I believe you meant both of them, except that for the sg, rural is replace by foreign countries.