Following the official announcement of Britain’s exit from the European Union, leaders of the Singapore government reacted very negatively with Deputy Prime Minister Tharman calling it “outright racism”.
Yesterday (Jun 24), the British majority voted to leave the European Union (EU) in a referendum mainly because of the hefty amount of English taxes spent on helping other poorer countries in EU like Greece. Britain was the second-largest economic power, below Germany, who have to pay up to 350 million pounds a week to EU because of it’s membership obligation. English voters contend that the money could be better off spent on local investments, especially on it’s ailing healthcare system. Another key issue behind the British exit, aka Brexit, is the influx of cheap foreign labour from the Europe continent. Salaries were depressed in the decade and the middle and low income saw falling income because of the liberal immigration policies. Britain were also denied from the rights to make independent policies without consulting other EU members, which pro-Brexit supporters felt is an infringement of their sovereignty.
However, these factors were glossed over by the Singapore Ministers and Brexit received some of the harshest, albeit baseless, criticisms from Singapore. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong looked through his crystal ball and claimed that Brexit will cause greater uncertainty in Europe. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shamugaratnam shamed supporters of Brexit calling them uneducated, populist, racist and their arguments “demagogues”:
“The growing appeal of nationalist politics, demagogues, and in some cases outright racism as well as the “weakening of trust and consensus in society, and of the centre in politics.”
DPM Tharman even claimed that he has a solution to Britain’s problem:
“The politics of the centre must stay connected to the challenges that ordinary people face – and address their need for jobs and security, and a balance in immigration that preserves a sense of identity. Tackling this without turning inward, and weakening jobs and society further, is the central challenge everywhere.”
MCCY Minister Grace Fu also claimed that Britain will suffer economically:
“The effects on the real economy will come quickly and last for years as investors and businesses work through the possible ramification,” said Ms Fu. “UK will have to deal with a messy situation that will cast a dark shadow on the global economy. Brace for gloomier outlook.”
Other Ministers are however ignorant of Brexit and dished out general comments with Lawrence Wong saying “while Brexit may not be uppermost on our minds, the decision taken today will have bearing on us”, and Ng Eng Hen: “For me, the most important lesson is that change is inevitable and that when it comes, it is the solidarity of a nation’s people with each other and their leaders that will pull them through”.
The Ambassador-at-large from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bilahari Kausikan called the referendum “unnecessary”, and he went on to insult British voters calling them “committing suicide” and their “Western democracy” political system “extreme”:
“We are also witnessing the tragically irrational consequences of western democracy. The UK is only an example of the dysfunctionality of a system taken to extremes.”
Bilahari then claimed populism is a “danger” to democracy and that he hopes Singapore will remain status quo: “The global wave of populism which is sweeping the world is a danger to democracy and to democratic institutions. Let us hope that it will not invade Singapore.”