Not since China’s Shi Huang Ti built a wall to keep out barbarians in 204Bc, has he had a 21st Century admirer.
By all measures, Donald Trump defies everything there is to defy. From banning Muslims, to once calling US elections to be rigged and to blaming every of America’s ills on foreigners, Trump stands alone in a class and making of his own.
In trying to make America great again, he may just be making it in his own image: rambunctious, tiring of diversity and defiant of ideology and many more. That is not a bad thing if and when it does bring dividends. For across the world there has been a reluctance to confess to the shortcomings of the messianic zeal nations have of globalization.
Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew too, was no admirer of democratic traditions even once telling Australia’s former Prime Minister Bob Hawke in a telecast sometime in the 1980s that “he would defy any democrat”, repeating that again in parliament in 1986 when facing then opposition leader Chiam See Tong.
So what is it, about Trump that irks? In all fairness, Trump did not start the modern-day habit of name-calling in the United States. In 2006, Trump’s Democratic opponent for the presidency last year, Hillary Clinton, voted for the Secure Fence Act which would have meant some 700 miles of fencing to keep immigrants out from crossing in from Mexico!
For those who believe he is unhinged of some sort, think again he did have a soul mate!
The Soviets to protect their turf in 1961 built what was the ‘famous’ Berlin Wall. Because Moscow of the 1960s had just the kind of concerns Trump now has; except that the Soviets were out to carve out a sphere of influence and deny others the very kind of space that Trump wants to protect US interests. It therefore is a test between goals and methods and some methods may not appeal but yet deliver the results.
It may also be a battle of ideology versus reason but what actually and truly matters is what measure best suits a nation’s interest, just like how the pragmatism in Lee Kuan Yew had once sought a ban on chewing gum in 1992.
As intriguingly a wall was also on the minds of the leaders of Malaysia and Thailand when they met in Sept of last year to discuss the possibility of building a border wall to combat transnational crime and smuggling.
Reuters press agency reported the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak telling reporters that security remained “a very important matter” for both countries and there was an agreement to step up intelligence gathering and sharing to rein in cross-border terrorism.
“We both face security issues including the fight against terrorism, human trafficking and illegal smuggling, that is why we need to address these issues seriously,” said Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
If that in any way sounds familiar it is only because nation’s have interests and not friends.
And Trump may not at all be wrong in suggesting the building of a wall, just as Hillary Clinton did ten years ago.