Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Among Equals: Mahathir Versus Lee Kuan Yew

Hantu Laut

I have always admired Lee Kuan Yew for what he did for Singapore and his zero tolerance against corruptions making Singapore one of the least corrupted nations in the world.Much of what Singapore is today have been the results of the foundation set by him.

His recent seemingly friendly tour of this country is much more than meets the eye.His visit is not walking down memory lane as the press made it out to be.As I have mentioned earlier in my article 'The Puzzling Visit of The Malaysian Malaysia Man', Lee has a mission, a fact finding tour of Malaysia's neo-political gambit, the resurrection of democracy and too much of it what he fears could be the beginning of the making of a true Islamic nation right on his doorstep.

Lee is a man who do not fully subscribe to Western-type democracy, which he has seen and experienced during his time fighting the communist menace, the harm it can do to a nation and its people, unprepared for absolute freedom. That's why Singapore has the same type of draconian laws as Malaysia but has not used it indiscriminately.Lee prefers to use the court to end his opponents political career.The end justify the means.The end results the same.It kills any opposition.

Why did Lee meet all those dignitaries and even more puzzling why did the Malaysian government allowed him such convenience when he is actually on an official visit to this country? One must not forget that Lee is still a member of the Singapore cabinet.

The only man who could read Lee's intention, is his match.... Mahathir Mohammad.He minced no word when he called Lee Kuan Yew 'little Emperor of a tiny Middle Kingdom'
. Yes, this little emperor has come to reclaim Malaysia as its hinterland, which ex-Premier Abdullah has conveniently made available on the platter to Singapore.

Mahathir has a patchy relation with Lee during his twenty two years as prime minister.Both men don't see eye to eye.Both are authoritarian and want the best for their country.Lee was aghast with Malaysia's accelerated development under Mahathir, which do not augers well with Singapore status as the top service and financial centre in the region. The thought of losing Malaysia and Indonesia as its hinterland is frightening to Lee Kuan Yew at that time.

Mahathir believes in and prefers prosper thy neighbour policy. Lee, on the other hand, prefers underdeveloped and inefficient neighbours. Good for Singapore's business.

I remember when I was doing timber export in the seventies and eighties when Malaysian ports were still small, inefficient and not cost effective, we have to truck our timber from as far as Pahang and Kelantan to Singapore for shipments.Even with the trucking costs it worked out to be cheaper than sending to Pork Klang where frequency of ships calling the port was erratic and unreliable.Through Singapore port you can ship small volume at any time.For bulk cargo we usually charter the ship to the nearest port, Kuantan, Pasir Gudang or Port Klang.

With Mahathir things begin to change, he spared no effort to build better and world class infrastructures for the country.New ports,new airport,world class highways and other development that elevate Malaysia status to a developing nation.Now, Malaysia has many ports with good infrastructure.

Singapore, was in a way lucky because it already has the basic infrastructures of an entrepot left by the British and was the only well-managed and well equipped port east of the Suez, after the collapse of the port of Aden, which used to be the biggest bunkering port in the world when it was under British rule.

Take a look at some of the personalities whom Lee paid courtesy calls.Sultan of Perak, Lim Guan Eng of Pinang, Nik Aziz of Kelantan and the most perplexing of all Rosmah, the Prime Minister's wife.

The Sultan of Perak is embroiled in the Perak crisis, Lim is chief minister of opposition controlled state and Nik Aziz is spiritual leader of PAS whom I think he has no liking for.He came to pick their brains.

Lee is making a personal appraisal of the political situation in the country and trying to gauge whether Najib and the BN can hold the fort in the next general elections.I believe Lee has no personal liking for Anwar Ibrahim either, not if going by Anwar's culture of defiance and his reformasi movement of protests, demonstrations and civil disobedience.Lee Kuan Yew has no stomach for this kind of politics.

As I have said the most incredible was the meeting with Rosmah whom he said is working as a team with the husband.Where in heaven's name he gets the idea that Rosmah is working as a team with Najib? Who is the prime minister? She can provide moral support to her husband but has no business getting involve in matters of government. Lee has some kind words for her. Sincere or not, only he knows.Was the meeting to check out as to what kind of a woman Rosmah is? Lee is impressed with her charm and says both her and Najib are warm, positive and forthcoming.

Lee must be a grudging old man and is still sore. The least he could do is to pay a courtesy call on his old foe and let bygones be bygones.Mahathir, rightfully, must have been slighted by Lee's lack of statesmanship.


ajimsan said...

Tun Dr. Mahathir and Lee Kuan Yew will never see eye to eye. Both are strong headed. Everything Tun did in his 22 years is to beat Singapore especially LKY... only for Pak Lah to kow tow to Singapore.

I believe both of them will have personal pleasure of seeing who out lived the other ;)

Anonymous said...

Lee has some kind words for her. Sincere or not, only he knows.Is the meeting to check out as to what kind of a woman Rosmah is? Lee is impressed with her charm and says both her and Najib are warm, positive and forthcoming
Yeah right, all he said to this horrible couple is "don't mess around with the Mongolians"

Anonymous said...

What a lengthy analysis from HL. Anyway you missed out a very important part which is reconnaissance for Singapore with latest players.
Rightly so, all the people he met has some form of significance in the country. Ranging from Rosmah to Nik Aziz and even Sultan Azlan Shah.

He is gathering information for his own analysis as to the dynamics of the country from a political standpoint also weigh heavily on how investments from Singapore (if any) is going to be safeguarded through consistent and stable policies.

To LKY, Dr M is not in active politics and has lesser importance on his agenda and more so, it will only draw sparks (not the romantic kind) rather than goodwill.

It is quite smart move by LKY as he is considered semi retired and can go about his tour without anyone controlling and monitoring his movement in Malaysia. Either Malaysia is too trusting or do not comprehend the power and intentions of his tour.

Thanks to Dr M, trade status may be more or less status quo while LKY gets valuable personality assessment of new power players in Malaysia. Am sure after his trip, he will be able to assess and probably predict the events as they unfold. Probably Singapore will be able to foresee our political saga better than us here. Lets hope they are not going to see our weaknesses and take advantage at strategic times.

eddy said...

Bro, I have one other word for for his visit and that is "sand". Singapore needs Malaysia’s cheap “sand” to expand its physical size just like Singapore needs cheap raw water from Malaysia for its daily sustenance. Sand transfer from Malaysia and Indonesia for reclamation work to increase Singapore’s land mass has been banned since Dr Mahathir’s time and Singapore had to resort to expensive sand import from Vietnam and Cambodia to sustain its reclamation programme and the cost is literally killing them.

Forget about all the propaganda by the Singapore Government of the visit to meet Najib, the UMNO Vice Presidents, going to Perak then meet Guan Eng and Nik Aziz and how Tsu Koon queued at Penang E & O Hotel to see him for about 30 minutes only. Lee’s condescending talk about consistent long term bilateral talk about resolving issues between Malaysia and Singapore, issues like the supply of raw water to Singapore, use of air space, EPF withdrawals, the KTM land problem, the crooked bridge where Tun Lah’s Government inexplicably conceded that we cannot dismantle the causeway on our side of the border without Lee’s permission etc. are just cover to persuade Malaysia to supply sand to Singapore.

If we read read between the lines we can see how Lee insisted to dictate how any bilateral talks must be done based on his terms and how he linked the talk about the third bridge with supply of cheap sand from Malaysia.

Malaysia has a strategic asset within its borders beside petroleum and good clean water, i.e. “sand” which if used wisely and strategically by our Government can help force a resolution to many of the bilateral issues with Singapore notwithstanding Lee’s grandstanding. Lee nearing his end of days knows this, and that’s why he is going on a “Gorilla chest beating” diplomacy to project Singapore’s influence before he is called upstairs. I for one never believe that he is serious to see Iskandar developing to become better than say Singapore's Jurong Township, it is just a ploy to soften up Najib's Government for the sand request just as he paid homage to Rosmah to sweeten up Najib himself. .

Bro, for all of Lee’s propaganda on how great Singapore since it was kicked out of Malaysia in 1967, he failed to make Singapore self sufficient on water and miserably failed to persuade his neighbors to trust him enough to supply cheap sand to expand Singapore’s size to match its population increase.

I believe that Dr Mahathir is the better of the two equals after all the good doctor had stolen the thunder from Lee's visit by referring to him as the "Little Emperor", how apt.

solo bear said...

Hello, my Malaysian neighbours,

I am from Singapore. Personally, I feel that Old Man Lee is an arrogant guy, who thinks too highly of himself. With this arrogance and hubris, he drills into Singaporeans the same “we are superior to others” attitude.

Over the years, instead of building bridges with our neighbours and good relations with others, we have created tension instead – by harping on past irrelevant history.

Today, Singapore is struggling with some very basic needs. One of them as Eddy pointed out is sand. Sand is crucial for the construction of our Integrated Resorts and Mass Rapid Transit system.

No thanks to arrogant Lee who cares not to build relations with our closest neighbours Malaysia and Indonesia (the guy who banned sand to Singapore), we are now short of sand.

Here is an article I wrote about our relations with our neighbours– one of the issues was the Indonesian sand ban on Singapore.

Purple Haze said...

So .. why did LKY visit Rosmah ?

I do not ever recall him visiting Tun Siti Hasmah separately.

Anonymous said...

So Lau Lee went to see Rosmah!
Why not charge her for Khalwat?
What business did she have to see this kafir all alone?

No wonder Mahathir so jealous!

Anonymous said...

Whatever Lee Kuan Yew may be I think he is not a nut like Mahathir.

Mahathir was Malaysia's most autocratic PM having learnt this no doubt from LKY.

But he became so arrogant he thought the people of Malayasia will worship him once he steps down from power with a compliant and subservient succesor.

In doing this he tried to upstage LKY,thinking that he will be able to point fingers at LKY and make fun of his hunger for power.

Little did this Mamak pretending to be a Malay Ultra realise that the Little Emperor was too smart to abdicate the Imperial Throne while still alive!

The Dumb Mamak did the most stupid thing of his life and totally quit politics.When the reality dawned on him that nobody cared two hoots about him when he was not in power he started his sour grapes policy.

He can do what he likes but one thing is for sure - HE IS JUST AN EMPTY TIN CAN MAKING A LOT OF NOISE AND WILL ALWAYS BE KICKED AROUND!!!!

Anonymous said...

Where did some of these guys get their ideas from?
Old Man Lee and Mamak Mahathir go back a long way-right back to the Sixties.
Both are old rogues with a lot of skeletons in their cupboards.
Being a stateless Hakka Chinese made OM Lee more shrewd wheeler dealer than the the Mee Goreng Selling Mamak who only had his dumb Mat co religionists to spar with in politics.
That is the key issue between these two rogues that has resulted in the souring of relations between two basically peace loving countries.
May God in His wisdom deal with them !!!!

Anonymous said...

You guys rattle on without having proper references about intentions and claims that you make.

Go do you home work on water sustainability, cash reserve and the military capabilty Singapore.

(Sill can't understand why all our big sized neighbours treat us so nicely?)

LKY has done so much for the nation and yet all you people can do is complain and complain. Try placing yourself up there and think in his shoes.

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine what would Singapore be today, had she not pulled out from Malaysia.

I wonder what would Malaysia be if Mamak and LKY were to exchange place.

Anonymous said...

radical chinese Lee
ultra malay Mahathir

Anonymous said...

radical chinese Lee
ultra malay Mahathir

Nik Hassan Mohd Amin said...

They said that Singapire has its own Godess and God;the Godess is KUAN YIN and the God is KUAN YEW

In Malaysia we only have MAHAPETIR :the loud thunder . ;but it did frighten major ghost like KUAN YEW and GEORGE SOROS . This has dine alot in protecting our nation as ut push forward and upward to become a de eloped country .