Although Singapore is not a claimant country of the South China Sea, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pokes his nose into the matter and even called for China to respect the Hague’s ruling. While China may be initially shocked at the audacity of the son of Lee Kuan Yew when not even the United States voiced so, the arrogance scent is all too familiar for Singaporean citizens.
Following the public spat that resulted in the detention of SAF’s Terrex vehicles, Singapore ministers worsen the animosity with Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen provoking China further by recognizing Taiwan as a country and accusing China of breaking international law through “unlawful detention of sovereign properties”. Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan played the victim card, reminding China of Singapore’s “contributions” to China’s modern development, indirectly calling China an ingrate and bully.
These public displays of arrogance stems from elitism deeply rooted among Singapore leaders, who pay themselves the highest political salaries in the world. A PAP Minister cost S$1.2 million a year, while the Prime Minister himself is S$2.2 million a year – 87 times that of Chinese premier Xi Jin Ping.
Singaporeans today are unable to retire because the ruling party elites raised Withdrawal Age numerous times – from the initial promise of 55 to 65 – and detained CPF earnings up to S$166,000 in the name of “retirement sum” (previously known as Minimum Sum, name change result from negative connotations). All CPF changes are passed single-handedly by the ruling party who dominated the Parliament 83 MPs to 6 Opposition MPs. With control over the Singapore Police, media, corporations and invigorating powers on legislation on media censorship and election, the Singapore ruling party PAP literally rules everything in Singapore. Nobody in Singapore can check on the ruling party PAP, and not even the Opposition which is now facing numerous allegations of corruption.
China’s attack on the Singapore government is timely, and welcomed by many Singaporeans. Pragmatic as they have always been, Singaporeans do not care about “Operation Starlight” in Taiwan and most Singaporeans concerns themselves more about the diplomacy with China than the “rules” the ruling party claimed. The disconnect resulted in many Singaporeans cheering for China online (due to media censorship and control on mainstream media), and hoping that China do not wrongly punish Singaporeans for the government’s arrogance.
China should also not be wrongly impressed that Singaporeans are behind their government on the return of the Terrex vehicles. In fact, more Singaporeans would prefer China teach the ruling party PAP a lesson on their behalf. The sorry reality of politics in Singapore is that only a foreign power, unbridled by local corrupted legislation, is able to keep the mini-dictatorship in check. China’s recent stances against the Singapore government has been warmly welcomed by many Singaporeans, as compared to the United States which prefer the ruling PAP to be in power.
While Singaporeans may inevitably be suffering collateral damage from China’s economic offenses, the longer term is a regime change that would provide a real balance in the heavily-US-influenced South East Asia region. The Terrex vehicles may cost S$119 million but it is a cheap price for Singaporeans to pay to inject common sense in their elitist leaders. However, a majority are staying silent on the matter because they do not want to be wrongfully branded a “traitor” by the fascist hardcore supporters of the ruling party, which is infamous for resorting to underhanded pressure tactics including violence (slapping of Amos Yee). When China told Defence Minister to watch his remarks, many rejoiced silently.
Some called it karma, while others called it a long-awaited reprieve. Sensible Singaporeans know China is not a threat, and the real threat that will jeopardize their future is from within. To this, thank you China.