Lee's wisecracks have not helped Singapore's deteriorating relationship with China

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By: Dr Chee Soon Juan

It is clear that Singapore’s relations with China has deteriorated in recent years and Lee Hsien Loong’s utterances have not helped. The couple of wisecracks he made – saying that all the Chinese people need to do was to turn on the tap if they wanted pork soup after pig carcasses were found in the rivers or get free smokes simply by opening windows because of the smog – were, to put it mildly, eyebrow-raising.

Such humour, while one might expect from a stand-up comic, has to be off limits to a head of government. Does this even need to be pointed out?

To make matters worse, Lee made these injudicious remarks in front of an American audience, a country that China sees as its intense rival, and drew much laughter. How do you think we would react if another country’s leader made some jokes about Singapore?

And when matters came to a head regarding the South China Sea, Lee presumed to lecture China on the rule of law, forgetting his own abuse of the rule of law in Singapore. And when frustrated over the demise of the TPP, he lashed out that China was no more the middle kingdom. The tone-deafness defied belief.

Would not such views have been better expressed behind the scenes? Did the jokes contribute to an already aggravated atmosphere?

No one determines who we trade and build alliances with. Singaporeans will not be dictated to by any foreign power and we will meet any such challenge with united resoluteness.

But when our prime minister deprecates other countries, he must be called out. To remain silent or, worse, call for unintelligent loyalty to him on such occasions is to endanger our country’s interests and jeopardise our people’s well-being.

As PM, Lee must realise that what he says on the international stage impacts greatly on ordinary Singaporeans. Unstatesman-like remarks that harm our country’s international relations must stop.


Republished from Dr Chee’s FB.