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redbean



Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 13465
Location: singapore

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Red Dot’s diplomacy
The govt has been harping on the criticism by Kishore Mahbubani over its hiccup in its relation with China. The angst over the episode is very hard to get over with in several quarters meaning that what Kishore had said must have been painful to the ears of some. Over the last few days the govt has came out very strongly with its principled position diplomacy as if it is some unknown gem that must be displayed for all to see.
The key points were guarding and protecting our national interests and territorial integrity and also punching above our weight. The message, Singapore would walk around with a loudspeaker to make sure everyone heard us, that Singapore is not some little country to be trifled with.
Vivian Balakrishnan even called a townhall meeting and had it broadcasted over the national media about how big Singapore was and is, that we are the champion of small states and the interests of small states and the rule of law. Who is/are the intended audience of this ‘koyok’ selling session? Is Kishore the main target, that he had rubbed people the wrong way and must be put in his place? Or are the audience the neighbouring countries or China, the country that was poked, oops, some denied that we did that, and was not amused?
What did Kishore say that must be straightened out? I heard that Kishore was accused of saying something like being small we must compromise our principles and interests, that we should bend out heads and be kicked around or something like that. I am very sure Kishore did not say such things or implied either. It is an over exaggeration to put words into Kishore’s mouth that as a small state we should not speak up and allow others to trample all over us. Kishore was very outspoken on such issues when he was our rep in the UN and the US.
In Vivian’s townhall speech I got it that it was all about ‘we’ or ‘us’ and our interest, that these should not be compromised, our principles, our integrity. No one can dispute such arguments. Even all the smallest states that have been very quiet in their diplomacy would guard their interests and principles vehemently. And I think all the big powers would also appreciate and would accept such a position of small states. But bully they would if conditions allowed.
In diplomacy it is all about influencing other countries to support one’s position and interest. Every country, big and small, is doing this. Singapore too is doing the same thing. There is nothing wrong with this. What is wrong and unacceptable is to reveal what were said behind closed doors. This is a breach of confidentiality and faith. There is no need to wash such laundry in the open. Behind closed doors, many things would be said, there would be horse trading of all shades and colours. Take your positions or turn down the offers, but there is no need to kpkb in the open about what was spoken. This country or that country wanted us to do this or that. This is bad manners and poor taste in diplomacy!
And in the cause of protecting our principles and interests, it does not mean that we can go around compromising other people’s principles and interests. While we are talking about ‘we and us’ there is a need to know if we have violated or compromise the principles and interests of other parties. A good example is the hosting of American air and naval forces here. There is nothing wrong with that and it is in our national interest to want the Americans to be here. But we need to be careful of what the Americans are doing to others. And we need to be careful in what we said and why the Americans are here for. Telling China that the Americans are invited here to balance their influence is very unfriendly. Some things are left better unsaid. If the Americans are using our facilities to violate, intimidate or threaten the interests of our neighbours or other countries, can we walk around with a halo over our heads and proclaim we are innocent, none of our business, we are not involved?
Every nation state would pursue their national interest at all cost. But while doing so, and it compromises the interest of other states, then it is not so innocent and acceptable by others and one can expect consequences. The Americans’ provocative and belligerent behavior in the South China Sea, and operating from our shores, would not be accepted kindly and would affect our relations with China for sure. Do not do unto others if we don’t want others to do unto us. This must also be a key principle in diplomacy. It cannot be always about ‘we and us’ with no regards to others. This is elementary. This is decency.
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redbean



Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 13465
Location: singapore

PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PAP’s standard on impropriety
Chok Tong’s famous quote that any PAP minister or MP that were accused of impropriety or misconduct must clear his name by suing the accuser or the accusation be deemed to be true. In today’s media, Hsien Loong has added a condition to Chok Tong’s standard of impropriety by saying that any minister accused of improper conduct must clear his name publicly. I quote, ‘Any minster accused of improper conduct must clear his name publicly and “should not allow the allegations to fester and affect the reputation of the Govt.”’
Notice the missing part about suing the accuser. Hsien Loong added, ‘if the allegation is serious, he would expect the minister to take court action for defamation, “unless there are other special considerations….He may also need to render account in Parliament, particularly if the matter concerns his discharge of public duties and is of public interest. These are not mutually exclusive options. In all cases, there must be public accounting.”’
Here is the difference in the two positions. The second position of Hsien Loong is that suing may not be necessary, but public accounting is mandatory with or without suing. His justification or exceptions for not suing is that the party could be family, siblings and may besmirched their parents’ names, and the process may take years , creating distraction and distress to Singaporeans.
Of course Hsien Loong is referring to Lee Kuan Yew’s reputation. The question is whether this ruling is applicable to other ministers and MPs as their parents were not Lee Kuan Yew or Mrs Lee Kuan Yew. Would the ministers and MPs quote this as the new standard and they need not sue their family or siblings when they were accused of impropriety or this is only applicable to Hsien Loong’s case? My reading is that this is for general application to all ministers and MPs or else it would be too stark an exception that would not look too good. It can’t be an exception just for himself.
Also, ministers and MPs that are being accused by their family or siblings could clear their names in Parliament, a public accounting without being sued. Is this the new standard for PAP ministers and MPs to abide by? Also, does it mean that should Hsien Loong’s siblings continue to make allegations against him and immunized from being sued?
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redbean



Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 13465
Location: singapore

PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Change is happening inside me
Two things this year prompted me to ask what is happening to me. I did not watch the NDP. And yesterday, 20 Aug, I did not watch Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally Speech as well. Both were events that I hardly missed for the last few decades. Today, I did not even bother to catch up on repeat telecasts or reading the papers to find out what was happening. There was no desire, interest or anticipation of wanting to watch the NDP or wanting to listen to Hsien Loong’s rally speech, like non events, expecting nothing worth spending time on.
Maybe I am getting old, tired, losing interest of what is going on. Maybe becoming apathetic, blasé, nothing matters anymore. I glanced through some comments in the social media that said the speech was banal, missing all the important issues troubling the people. I glanced through the main media only to find that the main issues raised by Hsien Loong were about pre school, diabetes and smart cities. Not that these are unimportant, but definitely not something that I would have written and put much thoughts into them. Ok, I may have written some comments about smart cities and dumb people or smart cities making people stupid, but would not think they are issues that demand much attention when there are many more serious issues that are apparently unsolvable and posing a threat to the good life of Singaporeans.
Maybe these are good reasons why I did not bother to listen to the rally speech. What else is there to interest me to want to waste my little precious time left on? There are so many madnesses in world affairs and domestic issues that would still be stirring inside me, made me feeling unease, to keep me want to question and be concerned about, to want to write about.
Did I miss anything for being tiada apa over the NDP or National Day Rally? Or is there anything important that I have missed?
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redbean



Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 13465
Location: singapore

PostPosted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Singapore China relations on the mend?

After Hsien Loong led a high level team of ministers to China and meeting every who's who in China, including Xi Jinping, to mend relations that had gone to an all time low, he and his ministers have been praising how good is Singapore's relations with China. Everything is back to normal, it seems. I also wrote about how China is putting everything aside to start a new relationship with Singapore. It is a rare honour for a head of state, especially from a small little red dot to be allowed to meet so many top Chinese leaders in one trip and when the Chinese leaders were so busy with the Party Congress and the 68th celebration of new China under the CCP rule.

The Chinese have indeed made an exceptionally big effort to accommodate Singapore and wanted relations to improve and move to a higher level. Otherwise Hsien Loong would not be allowed to meet so many of them at such a critical moment. They may not even want to have the visit. The sincerity on the part of China was all there for Hsien Loong to see. If anything that can go wrong after such great effort it is likely to be on the Singapore side. The Singapore media were saying all the good stuff about China and Sino Singapore relations.

Now, could the relations be otherwise, that things did not go that well rather? Here is a post in the statestimesreview quoting a Chinese source that indeed Sino Singapore relations is not what the Singapore side has been saying. It is still NG.

'China’s Defence Ministry today (Sep 2Cool has issued a press statement reiterating their stand that China opposed Singapore conducting joint military operations with Taiwan:

“China is willing to work with Singapore to create favourable conditions to develop an even more mature military relationship. I also want to stress here that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. We resolutely oppose any country having any form of official exchanges with Taiwan or military links.”

The media statement debunks the fake news by Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who called his recent trip to Beijing “successful” suggesting that China has given Singapore the leeway to continue military operations in Taiwan. In an official trip to China last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was unable to negotiate an entry into China’s One Belt One Road initiative.'

When a Chinese ministry made such a statement, it means things are not going well. China watchers understood what the Chinese meant when it is an official statement. How could this be when Hsien Loong and his team were also very sincere in wanting to mend relations?

On hindsight, it was clear that Singapore is still adopting an antique strategy of the past, whack first then talk to show that we are tough and not pushovers. At times this would work but doing this to China when it is no longer inferior to the Americans and stating its claim to be the world's number one super power, this kind of strategy is childish at best and stupidity at worst.

How so? Remember the high profile sacking of Professor Huang Jing before the visit to China? Though the ministries still refused to identify who Huang Jing is working for, it is becoming clearer that he is working for China. It would be different if he was working for the Americans. To whack him first and then to visit China to want to mend relations is the stupidest thing to do. How could Singapore think it could get away with such outdated strategy in foreign relations? Punching above your weight, punching China and expecting China to look the other way?

Then there is the training in Taiwan issue. The Chinese had made their stand very clear during the Terrex incident. This is not acceptable. Though the media did not mention anything about this issue being discussed, I bet it was discussed behind closed door. And from this latest statement from the Chinese Defence Ministry, it is quite obvious that Singapore stood firm and want the cake and eat it as well.

The Chinese have deliberated on their discussions with Singapore and is making it public that relations with Singapore are far from being on the mend. It is only the Singapore side that is saying so and thinking it is so. And if this is the case, the doors will be closing on Singapore very fast unless Singapore is able to pull out a miracle in these last hours to make things right.

My reading, Singapore is a principled country and would not bow to pressure and would let its relations with China go down to its ebb. There is always the mighty American Empire to depend on. In the first page of the Sunday Times, 1 Oct, there was a picture of Singapore flag flying with the flags of the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand and with a caption 'Majulah Singapura in Iraq'. Singapore is a core member of the American Empire fighting ISIS. The rest of the European powers have fled this coalition in the Middle East. Singapore remains a staunch supporter and member of the coalition, something to be very proud of, a great honour, to fly the Singapore flag with the Americans, British, Australia and New Zealand side by side, as one of them.

With or without China may not be a real bother. Singapore is now so thick with the Americans that there is nothing to fear, nothing to lose even if relations with China is not doing well.
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redbean



Joined: 07 Mar 2006
Posts: 13465
Location: singapore

PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tikam tikam in Parliament
WP’s Sylvia Lim is so lucky. After 3 times of failing to speak in
Parliament this time her bid to speak was balloted. She wanted to ask the
PM on the basis for deciding who should be considered as the first elected
President from which the latest EP election was counted as due this year.
Everyone knows that the first EP was Ong Teng Cheong. Somehow Wee Kim Wee
term as the president was counted as the first EP. Sylvia Lim is asking in
Parliament whether the counting process is a legal matter or a policy
matter.


Is this an important question? It concerns when to hold an election for a
minority EP and the difference is as good as 5 years. And if the question
is so important, why should it be decided on a ballot, like a lucky draw?
It means if Sylvia Lim is unlucky, this question could not be asked for the
next 1000 years.


According to the newly promoted Speaker of Parliament, Tan Chuan Jin,




‘“Just balloted for tomorrow’s adjournment motion (3 Oct 2017). Sylvia
Lim’s motion has been picked. She was present for the draw, as she had been
the previous round. Vikram Nair’s motion would have to be deferred again
for the fourth time. His topic is on the future of NS.




It is important to note that apart from the adjournment motion, we also do
have a Private Member’s Motion that doesn’t require it to be balloted.
Christopher de Souza is in fact tabling one tomorrow and will see quite a
number of MPs speaking on it.




There are various platforms for every individual MPs to surface issues that
concern them. Do make full use of these opportunities.’


I dunno what is the difference between an adjournment motion and a Private
Member’s Motion, but I do know that a MP is a people’s representative and
has all the right to speak in Parliament and this right should not be
curtailed or be subjected to tikam tikam. What is an MP if his right to
speak is not a right but a lucky draw?


Funny isn’t it? First world politics or first world political game aka
tikam tikam.


Now Sylvia Lim must count herself so lucky to be balloted on the third
time. Heng ah! The right to speak in Parliament is like striking lottery.
And to be sure that her question is being put into the ballot box, she had
to be present every time they conduct a ballot. Really BTH. Uniquely
Singapore.


Sylvia Lim’s question on whether the decision on the changed EP for
minority is a policy or a legal matter has been answered by Shanmugam in
Parliament. What came out of Parliament is that the govt can make a policy
decision to override what is in the Constitution. Or the govt, by saying
that it is making a policy decision can interpret the Constitution the way
it thinks will suit the policy decision. Tiok boh? So, what is bigger, a
govt policy or the Constitution?


My layman’s thinking, the Constitution is law, is sacred, cannot anyhow
suka suka interpret to one’s liking. No? The govt is above the Constitution
or the govt’s policy decision is bigger than the Constitution? Like that
can or not? Any big time learned one out there, can enlighten or not? Law
big or policy big?


‘Bo how seow boh kong’ or ‘limpeh kong’ so what you want to do? Singapore’s
lawyers’ thinking and interpretation of the law is world class, super first
class, unbeatable, unchallengable, at least in Singapore.


How many of you want to challenge Shanmugam’s explanation in Parliament? I
am sure no lawyer in Singapore would dare to challenge his interpretation
of the law. Case over. When Shanmugam, the Minister of Law, opens his mouth
to talk about Singapore’s law, ‘bao tiok’ one. Who knows better about the
law of Singapore if not the Minister of Law? Laymen cannot anyhow talk one
talk two because laymen dunno, but the lawyers will know and therefore
agree in silence.


Respect, respect.


PS. The whole truth and nothing but the truth is the advice in the letter
by AGC to the PM.
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