For a small dot on the world map it has become a tough nut to crack, a pain in the arse and invariably suffering from serious overdose of the kiasu syndrome.
As they say success breeds arrogance and Singapore is not short of it, the sense of feeling being above everyone else and the lore of the animal kingdom, survival of the fittest.
It's small, vulnerable and surrounded by neighbours made not so friendly by its own schemes and devices.Its survival depended on one thing and one thing only, money and plenty of it.Without money it would have been dead meat long time ago and Lee Kuan Yew knew and had the foresight the day Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia that the road ahead is bumpy and full of potholes and pitfalls and the only way for Singapore to survive, it must have a lot of money, richer and better than its neighbours.It must ruthlessly guard its survival even at the expense of offending its neighbours.It has also built the best air-force in the region, just in case.
Lee Kuan Yew or should I say Mr Sandman must have on hindsight regretted his tiff with Mahathir which eventually made life a wee bit difficult for Singapore.
In 1997 Malaysia banned the supply of sand from Malaysia's seabed, the nearest and cheapest source of supply for land hungry Singapore. The other big sore point in the relationship with Singapore is water.Malaysian leaders especially ex- premier Mahathir is angry how Singapore bamboozled Malaysia into accepting dirt cheap price for its water for the next half a century.
Sand had become a precious commodity for the rich and land-hungry nation and costing an arm and a leg to bring to Singapore from places as far away as Vietnam and else where in the region.
In 2007, Indonesia unhappy with Singapore refusal to extradite corrupt businessmen who stole hundred of million of dollars from several banks in Indonesia took refuge in Singapore, decided to retaliate by banning the export of sand to Singapore.Most of the stolen money are parked in Singapore banks.
Indonesia also unofficially banned the supply of granite, another essential item in the construction industry.The Indonesian navy patrolled the waters bordering Singapore and detained all barges that carry granite and sand. Immediately after the Indonesian ban the price of sand and granite rose three folds for supply released from government stockpile.Price of sand per ton rose to S$60 from its pre-ban price of S$20 and granite to S$70 from previous price of S$25.
Many questions were left unanswered in his recent trip to Malaysia.It is becoming much clearer now that he has no love lost with Malaysia and has other motives.For Lee Kuan Yew it's business as usual.His trip was under the pretext of trying to patch up old wound with the new leadership. His old foe is out of the picture.A new and younger leadership is at the helm and it would be worthwhile to test the water with what he possibly perceived a new generation of young and inexperience leaders.
Prime Minister Najib would have to tread water carefully on this issue if he wants to avoid the wrath of Mahathir and the possibility of him ending up like Abdullah.Ex-premier Mahathir is watching his every step whether he would fall into Mr Sandman's faint praises of him and his wife and agree on a trade-off. Mahathir's razor sharp tongue could cut him down to pieces if he makes concessions with Singapore.
The Sultan of Johor has expressed objection to the proposed bridge and the people of Johor have said 'no' to the selling of sand to Singapore. For fear of a backlash Najib would probably not accede to Singapore's demands.
Sand and granite are key ingredients in concrete.Without these two items the construction industry in Singapore could come to a grinding halt and its economy in tatters.
Singapore has grown from only 581.5 sq km in 1960 to at least 650 sq km today.According to the government it is expected to grow by another 100 sq. km by 2030.Therefore, Singapore needs a lot of sand not only for construction but also to increase its land area.
Lee Kuan Yew has become Mr Sandman and trying to be Mr Nice, a little too late.
Maybe, he should try China, lease some of the Spartlays islands and turn it into Singapore's annex for sand mining or built another Singapore in the South China Sea and repatriate some of its population to the island.
No Country for Old Men.
Mister Sandman, Bring Me Some Sand.