TL;DR – We, the citizens of Singapore, a sovereign nation.
This video has been going around, both on Facebook and even more so on WhatsApp.
The video started by talking about the recently concluded Singapore-Indian Maritime Bilateral Exercise (Simbex). The video took issue with that the Simbex took place in the South China Sea. It went on to suggest that Singapore should have closer ties with China than any other countries. The reason being that 70% of Singaporeans are Chinese. (There’s an almost-subbed version here for non-Chinese speakers.)
The video than made the claim that Singapore is “rebelling” against China. Its justification? That Singapore had “abandoned” China (放着中国不管) and signed a strategic partnership with India instead. It then claimed that Singapore’s “rebellious” action has infuriated every Chinese around the world (让全球华人感到痛心… 反华简直就已经反到骨子里去了…)
It also made the almost-ridiculous assertion that the Simbex is evidence that Singapore is working with India to cut China off from the maritime trade route through the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Straits.
Towards the end of the video (2:32), the narrator of the video said,
“Even more important (for China) is to carry out counter-attack on these two countries that harbour ill intentions, especially towards Singapore, this tiny country with yellow skin and a black heart. Only when we counter it like we did with Korea, then it will come to its senses and realise who its original ancestors are.”
What’s wrong with this video?
First, the Simbex is in no way against China. The Simbex is an annual exercise which has been held since 1994. That’s 23 years, 23 editions of that exercise. In all that many years, that exercise has never targeted any country. It has always been about deepening understanding between two militaries. Neither Singapore nor India has anything to gain by going to war with China now.
Second, the strategic partnership between India and Singapore isn’t just about military cooperation. For instance, the strategic partnership included a memorandum of understanding was also signed to enhance cooperation against drug trafficking, and another on cybersecurity, which will see Singapore and India collaborate on technology and research as well as exchange best practices. Another agreement aims to promote collaboration in urban planning and waste-water management.
Lastly, the video makes China sound quite petty and insecure. If China feels threatened because we are holding military exercises with other countries, what does that say about their confidence in their own military power?
Also, if the video really reflects what the leaders in China think, then they sound really childish. It’s like kindergarten kids going, “If you friend him, then I don’t friend you liao!”
Yet there are actually Singaporeans who agree with the video
There are people who say that Singapore shouldn’t be like Taiwan. Instead, we shouldn’t be friendly with USA and India because we are of Chinese stock.
I agree with PM Lee when he said,
“We call ourselves Singaporean first, before identifying ourselves by our race.”
Yes, the ancestors of 70% of Singaporeans may be from China. But does that mean we should be the lapdog of China? When they say jump, we say how high? Roll over and play dead when they order us to? Sit still when they want us to, and follow them around when they ask?
Is that what we want to be?
Do we really want to be a vassal state of China? Never mind that 30% of Singaporeans are not ethnically Chinese? Never mind that we have worked hard to build a multi-racial society that doesn’t just tolerate, but respects, all religions?
And then there are those who like to use this sort of issues as “evidence” that Singapore’s political leadership is incompetent including SDP’s Chee Soon Juan, who has accused PM Lee of being tone-deaf and how Singapore should not aggravate China. Alternative media site, The Independent, is also suspect.
Ambassador-at-large Bilahari has a great comment to this:
“The so-called ‘Independent’ again playing the useful idiot lending itself to a foreign power’s game. Why should we not conduct an anti-submarine exercise with anyone we want? By the way, I don’t think this is the first time either. You can be pro-government or anti-government but surely you should always be pro-Singapore.”
Let’s remind ourselves that we are a sovereign nation
Indeed, we can and should criticise our government. There are certainly many things that our government fail abysmally at. But we should never let other countries drive a wedge amongst us. We should never let any other country dictate to us who we can be friends with, who we can trade with, who we can have joint military exercises with.
Because we are a sovereign nation. We have our own principles, a strong spine, and iron in our bones.