Photo of Mahathir with Lee Hsien Loong from AFP

Singapore should forgive Malaysia’s US$125 million compensation for the High Speed Rail (HSR) as a goodwill to Malaysia. This is a good neighbourly move and a helping hand to our closest ally.

Unfortunately, Singaporeans know first-hand that the Singapore government is merciless when it comes to collecting money. Malaysians now have a taste of the reality of living in Singapore under the PAP.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s threat to make Malaysia pay full compensation, displayed the mercenary trait of the Lee Hsien Loong administration.

Singapore actually does not need the US$125 million, it collects the same amount in a month from 1% GST. The country is actually so rich that it can readily loan US$4 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Like a rich man deliberately making life difficult for his poor neighbour, Lee Hsien Loong wants his money back because he has the legal right to.

By making Malaysia pay up knowing that they are in RM1 trillion debt, Lee Hsien Loong is clearly out to fix Mahathir. It is a scornful move to hit back at his father’s long-time nemesis. Lee Hsien Loong is laughing inside, thinking he managed to politically achieve what his father did not do.

Singaporeans are unfortunately again tangled up in this personal feud of Lee Hsien Loong, after the high profile 38 Oxley Road hearing in parliament. Exactly a year ago, Lee Hsien Loong abused his premiership powers to attack his own siblings using state media broadcast and his PAP-majority Parliament to deny his father’s last will.

To be fair, the removal of HSR threw Singapore’s planning into disarray. Tuas Mega Port might no longer be viable and the port may have to relocate back to Tanjong Pagar for it’s proximity to the CBD. The second CBD idea, Jurong Lake District, died prematurely and the site is now a huge 12 hectare “hole” in the middle of Jurong. There is no backup plan, because the Lee Hsien Loong government is not pleased to hear criticisms like “what if the HSR is scrapped”.  However, Malaysia is not to be blamed for the Singapore government’s lack of plan B.

Anyone can see that US$125 million is a small price to pay to mend the broken relationship between Singapore and Malaysia. Lee Hsien Loong let his personal vengeance get the better of Singapore and squandered this opportunity away.

The Singapore government is currently under investigation for assisting former Malaysia PM Najib Razak in money laundering 1MDB’s state funds. Stealing from your neighbour is bad, and it is worse when you get caught for it. Regardless the 1MDB probe’s outcome, Singapore is in for a rocky ride.

Alex Tan
States Times Review Editor