Another week of silence, another week of failure. Despite having S$119 million worth of SAF vehicles paid for by taxpayers, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong still refuses to apologise to China for breaching the “One-China” policy. State media news website Mothership.sg claimed that Singapore is “bullied”, conveniently leaving out the fact that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first started the offensives against China. One should not cry “bullying” after it started the provocation.
In August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong dismissively warned China to “respect the rule of law” when Singapore has no claims in the South China Sea. This move contradicts his father’s foreign policy that Singapore should never comment on issues that do not concern Singapore. The unsolicited and unwelcome advice from the son of Lee Kuan Yew sparked outrage from China who told him to mind his own business. Malaysia and Philippines poured salt on Lee Hsien Loong’s wound by openly agreeing to bilateral settlements with China, leaving Lee Hsien Loong red-faced.
The Singapore dictator who had his way in Singapore all his life is not happy with the international embarrassment. Lee Hsien Loong then pour scorn on China at the APEC meeting in November, saying China is no longer the “middle kingdom” and should stop behaving like one. The proud son of Lee Kuan Yew even said Singapore is not reliant on foreign investments like his neighbours. This sheer display of arrogance distanced Lee Hsien Loong even from the United States – who had remained silent even though the SAF Terrex vehicles are invented and manufactured by the United States.
It has been nearly a month since the confiscation of the S$119 million cargo, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has only by far pushed his Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan to entertain China. China, naturally, could not be bothered with the “low-level” Singapore officials and expects a response from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself. This can be reflected by comments from equally “low-level” China Foreign Ministry spokespersons Wang Shuang and Lu Kang. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi could not even bother address Singapore.
The resolution of the Terrex vehicles can only come from Singapore, or more accurately, Lee Hsien Loong. The Prime Minister need to express aligned-interests for China the same way his father Lee Kuan Yew did. Singapore need to be reminded that its military exercises with Taiwan, is only a concession given by China and not a right. China has given Singapore the concession out of respect for Lee Kuan Yew, but following his death in 2015, there is no need to extend similar concessions to his son who has done nothing but harm for China-Singapore relations.
The key casualties of this strained relationship with China will be Singaporeans who will have to pay for Lee Hsien Loong’s pride. In the meantime, the Prime Minister will continue to collect his S$2.3 million annual salary and S$200,000 worth of bonuses. Singapore economy are now heading towards a recession with unemployment figures rising. Recent statistics by the Ministry of Finance have already indicated a fall in living standards, and this problem is likely to be protracted so long Lee Hsien Loong maintains his anti-China stance.