Lambasting the Lion City

There recent economic development with Asia particularly the omission of Singapore at the One Belt, One Road initiative kick-off in Beijing last week gotten Prime Minister Brig. Gen. (NS) Lee Hsien Loong into bad light of criticism, especially in the kiasu perspective of fellow city-state-countryman.

The Straits Times Review story:

Lee Hsien Loong retiring from premiership in shame

written by Admin May 19, 2017

Losing over S$50 billion, getting boycott by China, Singapore having the most expensive cost of living and endangering the country’s principles of meritocracy and democracy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong committed too many costly mistakes for a rich country like Singapore to bear.

Unfortunately, the son of Lee Kuan Yew has little to prove his worth or justify his S$1.87 million salary too. Since his premiership in 2004, all aspects of the society and economy have taken a beating. Wages stagnating, income gap peaking, job losses piling, poverty reaching worst ever since Independence, return of Tuberculosis/Hepatitis outbreak and the increasing frequency of anarchic train breakdowns – Singaporeans’ complains are fully backed with statistics and actual events with real victims of his disastrous policies in immigration, healthcare, public transport, retirement, education and basically all faucets of government. The Lee Hsien Loong administration is also the costliest in the world at S$53 million a year – excluding MP salaries and bonuses.

Domestic issues aside, Lee Hsien Loong destroyed the diplomatic relations of long-standing allies due to his irresponsible choice of words. Lee Hsien Loong mocked China at a US official dinner in 2013, saying that in China’s most influential city, Shanghai, one just need to turn on the tap to have pork soup or open the window to smoke. Lee Hsien Loong were laughing hard with the white men in US then, mocking his ethnic Chinese roots for having poor record of quality – such amateurish mistake making public closed-door jokes – but Beijing was not laughing for sure.

Lee Hsien Loong’s colonial mentality of white supremacy may sound like an unfair criticism, but the fact remains that Singapore under his leadership has been acting against China. When US want China to back off from the territorial disputes in South China Sea, Lee Hsien Loong volunteered himself and, again, cracked jokes about China saying they are no longer “the middle kingdom”. The Prime Minister of the 719km² island state also told China to give up their claims on the South China Sea and obey his “code of conduct”. Worse, Lee Hsien Loong hijacked the ASEAN agenda to push for fellow ASEAN leaders to act against China.

China later in response in 2016 detained the SAF vehicles at their Hong Kong port, and stated that Singapore should respect the One-China policy as ratified and stop military operations in Taiwan. Again another diplomatic disaster, the Singapore Prime Minister defiantly told China to buzz off.

China has now officially boycotted the most expensive Prime Minister, and the United States could not be bothered with Singapore more than a strategic naval outpost in South East Asia. Despite repetitively acting for US’s interests, the US administration – then under Obama – strategically stayed silent and made zero comments when the China-Singapore dispute drama unfolded. The new US administration under Donald Trump is worse, with the first executive by Trump is to obliterate the Trans-Pacific Pact (TPP). However, Trump is also unlikely to further relations with Singapore and expectedly so, because Lee Hsien Loong has always been dissing Donald Trump since before the US Presidential Election. With the death of TPP and being ostracized from China’s Belt and Road economic plan, Singapore is suddenly no longer in a strategic position linking the East and West – no thanks to Lee Hsien Loong. How did one screw up so badly and single-handedly destroyed a thriving trading port and a former crown colony?

Nobody is asking for Singapore to kowtow to China or be their vessel state – not even China themselves. China understand the position of Singapore very well, and are ready to provide concessions, as they have done so over the past two decades. Telling a joke is fine but when not one that denigrate others. Lee Hsien Loong lacks the sophistication of a statesman, and the tact and craftiness of a diplomat. The real problem lies with himself not realising so – no thanks to the lack of fair criticisms and the greenhouse he created at home with the abuse of defamation lawsuits and the sedition act.

Unlike his father, Lee Hsien Loong is retiring from premiership in shame. While Singaporeans have mixed responses to Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership, most would acknowledge the quality of living had significantly improved. The same cannot be said for Lee Hsien Loong, who weld a similar iron fist but with no favourable report card to prove.

Lee Hsien Loong has since signaled his intention to retire with repeated talks over “leadership renewal”. Unfortunately, the dictator is still undecided over who to take over as the next Prime Minister because every candidate seems like a bad choice. Former army generals Chan Chun Sing, Ng Chee Meng and Tan Chuan Jin are complete leadership wreckage – the three knows nothing about managing finances and are incapable of anything else other than taking orders with the two shuffling ministerial profiles and holding a ministry less than two years each due to mismatch of skills. The only “younger” intellectual left in his Cabinet is probably Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, but karma hit him hard with a sudden stroke. With less than 3 years to retirement, Lee Hsien Loong remains undecided who the “least-worst” candidate among the few can be Prime Minister.

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Missing out on China’s remake of the historical Silk Road with One Belt, One Region where the three main features where is the principle of the seemingly largest trade initiative in history are extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit .

The Independent story:

S’pore sought formal invitation for PM Lee from China for OBOR forum: Bloomberg

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The Singapore Government had sought a “formal invitation” from China for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to attend the recent One Belt One Road (OBOR) forum in Beijing. The Chinese, however, apparently declined to extend such an invitation, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The forum in Beijing saw 29 heads of states, including several from Asean countries, being invited to attend the event.

OBOR is China’s ambitious plan to rebuild the ancient Silk Road trade route through a network of new ports, railways and roads across the world.

While a few countries did not attend the Beijing meeting, the absence of Singapore’s Prime Minister has focused questions on the relationship between the Southeast Asian nation and the Government of Xi Jinping.

Bloomberg reports (Friday) that “China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan because unlike other countries that announced their leaders would attend without requiring a formal invitation, Singapore sought an invite, according to people familiar with the matter.”

“They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information,” the Bloomberg report says.

The request by Singapore seems to be confirmed by Singapore’s representative at the forum, Minister of National Development, Lawrence Wong.

When asked by reporters on the sidelines of the forum why PM Lee was not attending the forum, Mr Wong would say only that “the invitation was decided by the Chinese”, according to the Straits Times.

“It was the first official acknowledgement that [PM] Lee was not invited,” said the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Thursday. “In sharp contrast, regional counterparts including Malaysia’s Najib Razak, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte prominently highlighted their participation in the summit on social media.”

M’sian PM Najib posted his attendance on Twitter

Neither Singapore nor China has given official explanations on why PM Lee was not officially invited, but observers point to recent events which left China wondering whose side Singapore is on.

It all started with “the public exchange of words between Stanley Loh, the Singaporean envoy in Beijing, and the state-linked Global Times newspaper over a report on the city state’s position on the South China Sea dispute during last year’s Non-Aligned Movement Summit,” SCMP said.

It then escalated to the seizure of 9 Singapore military vehicles by Hong Kong last November. This followed remarks made by PM Lee in Washington, DC, during a visit to the White House where he was feted by then US President Barack Obama.

“As President, your personal leadership and decision to rebalance to Asia has won America new friends and strengthened old partnerships, including with Singapore,” PM Lee said during a toast to Mr Obama.

He went on to describe the American leader as “America’s first Pacific President”.

China saw this as Singapore becoming an “ally” of the US.

Chinese officials have also publicly chided Singapore for trying to influence Asean countries to support the International Court of Justice’s decision over the South China Sea issue, an allegation which Singapore has strenuously denied.

“The cooler political relationship between Singapore and China could have ripple effects which influence economic and trade relations,” said Lu Jianren, a researcher at the China-Asean Research Institute at China’s Guangxi University. “Singapore has been less proactive to work with China while many leaders in the region showed greater enthusiasm that they want Beijing to be more involved in Southeast Asian growth.”

Singapore has, however, said ties between the two countries remain “strong”, and observers say that the foundation of their relationship can withstand this temporary spat.

China is Singapore’s biggest trading partner, while Singapore is China’s second largest investor.

The present cold shoulder from China is not the first time that China has been unhappy with PM Lee.

In 2004, just weeks before PM Lee was sworn-in as the country’s 3rd Prime Minister, he incurred the wrath of the Chinese with a visit to Taiwan, although the trip was described by PM Lee later as a “private and unofficial visit”.

During the visit, then Deputy Prime Minister Lee had offered Singapore as an intermediary in the relationship between Taiwan and China, an offer which upset the Chinese.

“The Taiwan issue is China’s internal affair,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue then. “China has never had, nor does it need to have, any country or person to pass messages between the two sides.”

In fact, China was offended by DPM Lee’s visit itself.

“As the deputy prime minister of Singapore, it doesn’t matter in what capacity or what excuse Lee Hsien-loong uses to visit Taiwan, it seriously violates the Singapore government’s promise to support the ‘one China’ policy and damages the political basis of China-Singapore relations,” Zhang told a news briefing.

“It is also unavoidable that it will produce consequences for relations and cooperation between China and Singapore.”

In his first National Day Rally speech as Singapore’s leader, PM Lee explained his visit, and said he “[regrets] that my visit to Taiwan has caused this severe reaction in China which affected relations.”

“This isn’t going to be the last time our relations with a major friendly power are strained,” PM Lee said.

“We strive for good relations with all countries, but from time to time issues are going to arise and big powers have their own interests and will exercise their influence to get their way.  We may be old friends, but when our interests diverge, or even when our approaches to the same problem differ, they have to put their interests first and their approaches first and so must we.  This is a reality of the compelling pressures of international politics and of national interests and we must remember this.”

Straits Times, 2015

But 10 years later, China’s position on an intermediary seemed to have changed as PM Lee’s government brokered a historic meeting between Taiwan’s then President Ma Ying-jeou, and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, in Singapore.

So, what PM Lee says is right – Singapore, being a small country with limited clout, will always be expected to “toe the line” when it comes to the interests of bigger powers whose position on issues will change according to the prevailing time and tide of events.

Singapore will just have to negotiate and navigate the best possible outcome for its people in such instances.

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The ambitious economic project would transform the global trade and China would be in the driving seat and playing the maestro role in a very large trade belt, both over land and maritime passage from Asia to Central Asia, West Asia and Europe.

Malaysia has stood up and offered very strong interest to be a collaborative partner in the One Belt, One Road project and sees the huge benefits to be gained.

Channel News Asia story:

One Belt, One Road initiative is a game changer for region: Najib

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 13, 2017. (Photo: Jason Lee/AFP)

BEIJING: China’s One Belt One Road initiative is a game changer for the entire region, stretching to Europe and Africa, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Saturday (May 13) when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Mr Najib is on a five-day working visit to China where he will also attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 14 and 15.

One Belt One Road, initiated by Mr Xi, is an ambitious development plan to link Asia to Europe with an unbroken chain of modern infrastructure such as ports and railways, and in doing so, boost trade between countries.

On his part, the Chinese President said Malaysia is an early supporter of the initiative and has become one of the countries that benefited the most, Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr Xi told Mr Najib that China will push for more bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative.

Since the two leaders last met in November, Mr Najib said many initiatives that were agreed upon by both countries have been implemented or were about to be implemented.

“I agree with you (President Xi) that Malaysia and China are not only neighbours but are trusted friends,” Mr Najib said.

He added that although bilateral relations between Malaysia and China was at the highest level, there was scope to deepen and enhance it further.

Mr Najib later met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before joining the Malaysian delegation at a bilateral meeting with the Chinese government and both witnessed the signing of three Memorandums of Understanding involving the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry.

image: data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 13, 2017. (Photo: Thomas Peter/AFP)

Malaysia’s transport ministry will work with China to develop infrastructure such as railways, ports and airports. Both countries will also cooperate on the mutual recognition of standards and information sharing as well as to encourage the utilisation of local supply chains and facilitate cross-border e-commerce.

China, for the next five years, is committed to import goods worth US$2 trillion (RM8.6 trillion), investing up to US$150 billion and offering 10,000 places for training and studies in China.

The agreement involving the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry was for the export of fresh pineapples to China.

Total trade between Malaysia and China grew by 20.3 per cent to US$29.33 billion, with imports worth US$12.9 billion and exports worth US$16.43 billion.

Source: Bernama/gs

Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/one-belt-one-road-initiative-is-a-game-changer-for-region-najib-8844490

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The critics went on about the Chinese most powerful and influential businessman, teamed up with Malaysia instead pop Singapore for his E-hub initiative.

 

The Straits Time Review story:

Jack Ma chooses Malaysia over Singapore as E-Hub of ASEAN

written by Admin May 21, 2017
 

Founder and chairman of the world’s biggest E-commence company Alibaba, Jack Ma, confirmed on Wednesday (May 17) that Malaysia has been chosen as the preferred e-fulfilment hub in ASEAN over Singapore due to the political bad blood between China and Singapore.

Jack Ma praised Malaysia’s efficiency over their setting up of a Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ):

“Malaysia is very business-friendly and much more efficient than I thought. It took only 10 minutes for him and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to agree on introducing the DFTZ when they met in China in November last year. My team and I thought – is four months possible? We have been discussing it with many European and ASEAN countries.”

The new centralised customs clearance, warehousing and fulfilment facilitywill be completed by the end of 2019 and operate from Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s Aeropolis. According to Reuters, the multi-billion dollar hub will deliver at least S$2.24 billion (RM7 billion) in foreign and domestic investments each year.

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak also appointed Jack Ma as the country’s digital economy advisor – dealing yet the biggest blow to Singapore’s recent push for a Smart Nation initiative.

Singapore is losing out many trade deals and billion-dollar projects from China due to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s opposition against China. The Singapore PM openly called for ASEAN countries to oppose China’s claims on the South China Seas, and have repetitively made jokes about China’s environment issues e.g. calling their tap water “pork soup” and air “free smoke”. Lee Hsien Loong also allowed US military to conduct surveillance operations on China’s movements in Asia Pacific and refuse to respect the One-China Policy by continuing military operations in Taiwan.

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This has been seen as China expanding its trading opportunities to establishment of stronger geo-political clout, especially both as fast emerging economic and super power status.

It is by far the largest collaboration around trade.

This is one global trade initiative the city-state which was developed as a regional hub for trading and entre-port into the regional hub for financial services would want to mis out when the music stops.

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Published in: on May 21, 2017 at 23:59  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. So you’re a champion of China now?
    The annexation of Vietnam’s Paracel Island, immediately after US’ retreat in 1975, is OK with you now?
    China’s Nine-Dash Line is legitimate?

    What make you change, Bigdog?


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