The Real Reason For Singapore Bashing

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Ever since the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government assumed power after the last Malaysian elections, it seems that old bilateral issues such as port limits, joint airspace control and the price of water have resurfaced. Many would be quick to attribute this to the leader of the PH coalition and current Prime Minister Dr Mahathir. While the personality of Dr Mahathir might have played a part in the revisiting of these issues, if one were to look deeper there are other reasons why these issues are now in the spotlight again.

According to former Singapore diplomat Mr Bilahari Kausikan, the larger reason for this is that the PH coalition is “falling apart”. Specifically, he said that political instability in the ruling PH coalition and its failure to capture Malay support are aggravating relations between Malaysia and Singapore. Mr Kausikan added that “using Singapore as a bogeyman or whipping boy to rally the Malay ground is a time-tested tactic”. In other words, Singapore is being portrayed as the external common enemy to “unite” the local population and also to distract them from internal issues.

In view of these political sensitivities, it is important that Singapore continues to display its military might and establish “red lines” which our neighbours must not cross. Mr Kausikan added that “the threat of use of force is as much part of diplomacy as negotiations. Diplomacy is not just about being nice”.

Mr Kausikan said the fundamental reason for Malaysia’s continued provocative acts towards Singapore is because our system of a multiracial meritocracy is performing better than the former’s race-based policies. As long as our systems continue to differ and the current coalition remains in power, it is expected that the Singapore bashing will continue.

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