Why Mr Chee Hong Tat is simplistic and flawed in his conclusion.

May 27, 2017

Q: Chee Hong Tat recently blasted critics who suggest that Singapore should align more closely with China so it would stop investing in competitive projects in neighbouring countries are drawing “a simplistic and flawed conclusion”, Mr Chee pointed out that Beijing is making investments in the region to enhance its connectivity and energy security, and that these decisions are based on China’s own national interests. What is your take on that?

A: I don’t think anyone is so simplistic and flawed in their appraisal concerning China’s position that they think just because Singapore is aligned with China. The latter will not invest in other neighbouring countries. Most people are actually quite well read in my opinion. In my opinion most people do appreciate China’s current and future energy needs along with how it’s necessary for her to augment her security position.

I think it’s only very natural for Singaporeans and stakeholders to want to see a less antagonistic relationship between China and Singapore. They would like to see a PM that is less cavalier in his approach towards China. When a relationship that used to based on mutual respect sours it is always a source of profound sadness and anxiety, especially when China is so influential and powerful.

Q: Do you think Chee Hong Tat is right when he says there are certain elements trying to rattle Singaporeans?

A: The people who are actually rattling Singaporeans day and night are not the commentators. They do not have so much power – let us be realistic and not go over the top – in my opinion, it’s the politicians who are responsible for creating this state of tension and anxiety. They should take responsibility instead of trying to deflect it to some other sinister malevolent force that is imagined. That is not how mature and responsible people manage public anxiety.

Had they (the Politicians) dedicated themselves professionally to the task – they would have scaled the risk in a much more studied and accurate manner thereby preserving status quo. They might even have adopted a less bellicose and confrontational position towards China’s claim of the south China seas – if they had done that and only that I think the relationship between Singapore and China would be better and stronger today – then I think people would be less rattled.

But instead they put all on their chips on the US and behaved like happy go lucky gamblers who never saw the wisdom of hedging their bets. And they got cleaned out. Now they are walking around with their gulis dangling for all to see – of course people can only be rattled. As it’s not a very pleasant sight.

Q: Chee Hong Tat says the public should read reliable reports on China Singapore relations. What is your opinion.

A: I agree with her.

Q: By the way it’s a he.

A: As I said. I agree completely with her. But the problem as I see it is none of the state owned media and their other apparatus of mass assimilation seem very intrested to write truthfully about how bad China and Singapore relations actually are. That is the main source of anxiety. Instead they seem to keep insisting on projecting a all is well and happy families image between China and Singapore. The problem is when other media services outside Singapore forward a completely different story from what is so often broadcasted in Singapore, then people can only be very confused and possibly rattled. As there is a big dissonance between truth and reality.

Had the people who are in charge of the media being less complacent and woke up earlier instead of being so lazy all the time and dedicate themselves to accurate reportage – maybe people will get less rattled.

So I agree with her. People should read only reliable news concerning Singapore and China relationships. The problem is none of this exist in Singapore.

Q: Chee Hong Tat mentioned even if Singapore had aligned with China. Singapore is unlikely to benefit. What is your take?

A: She is not God. Only God can make that sort of prediction concerning the future. However she is entitled to her opinion. So I would treat what she has to say as purely rhetorical because she didn’t bother to supply any reasoned arguments to support her position. What else do you expect me to say. I am not an ESP expert. I cannot read minds.

Besides she should know that not all countries are aligned with China. But that doesn’t mean they do not continue to enjoy warm, cordial and from time to time a constructive relationship with China.

India, Japan and to some extent S.Korea are not aligned with China. But they still work and cooperate with China.

Q: What do you think is the best way to stop people from getting rattled in Singapore?

A: I think whenever you get a sheep to do a foxes job…it is very hard not to get many rattled. As they have a consistent record of never successfully meeting expectations.

In my opinion. Professional and serious no nonsense diplomats like George Yeo need to come back into the fold and bring his wealth of experience in diplomacy to bear on this impasse. I believe this will go a long way to restore public confidence. As it is, many people will be rattling day and night.

Q: What is your advise to Chee Hong Tat?

A: I don’t know that I am in a position to give advise to anyone. I am just a simple farmer. I am really not qualified for anything else except shoveling shit to fertilize trees. But let us assume that I can give good advise and it will simply be this.

Don’t adopt a scolding tone. Be thoughtful, considerate and do try to provide relief. Try to understand that many Singaporeans and stakeholders have a genuine vested interest in the well being of Singapore. It’s very natural for them to feel nervous when relations between China and Singapore seems to be at an all time low.

If she cannot understand, she should remain quiet. But she should never make people already more rattled than they already are.

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