Saturday, June 09, 2018

Singapore Writer Says Malaysia is Not Good at Honouring Agreement


A Kadir Jasin


PREAMBLE: Views expressed herein are entirely mine. I am writing in my personal capacity as a blogger. It has nothing to do with whatever position I may hold.

Ancient China was warlike
THE Najib-friendly Malay Mail (MM) – that’s because the former NST Group newspaper is now owned by a Najib’s friend by the name of (Datuk) Siew Ka Wei – had reported something to the effect that our country Malaysia doesn’t understand the honour of agreements.

Siew was appointed Chairman of Tourism Malaysia by the former kleptocratic Barisan Nasional (BN) government in 2016. I’m not sure if he’s still hanging on to the glamorous job inspite of the May 9 annihilation of the BN.

[Anonymous comments will not be published. Please use real or pseudonym. Thank you.]

With many Najib’s era chairmen and CEOs of the government-linked agencies resigning voluntarily or being shown the door, I won’t blame you if you’ve lost track of who had gone, who is hanging on and who is about to be booted out.

They are being booted out not only because they campaigned actively for the BN - to the extent of using their corporations' money - but also because they are bad managers.

I saw Siew and his good friend (who is also a long time acquaintance of mine), (Tan Sri) Al Amin, camping in Langkawi during the recent general election to campaign for the BN.

Like their friend, the recently booted-out former Treasury Secretary General, (Tan Sri) Irwan Serigar Abdullah, they camped in Langkawi to make sure that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad did not win the Langkawi seat.

Too bad for them he won handsomely and is now the Prime Minister.

The Small and Medium Industry Development Corporation’s official website still lists Tan Sri Dr Ir (Dr) Mohamed Al Amin Hj Abdul Majid as its chairman.

Siew (in red) and Al Amin are inseparable
Back to the MM report which states that a Singapore writer by the name of Wee Kek Koon had criticised Malaysia for cancelling the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR).It is a serious allegation.

The article quoted by the MM was originally published by Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP), which is used to be owned by the China-based Malaysian billionaire, Mr Robert Kuok Hock Nien. It’s now owned by China’s Jack Ma. He bought the iconic paper from Kuok in 2016. Jack Ma’s full name is Ma Yun and he’s estimated to worth US$42.6 billion (about RM170.4 billion).

To avoid misquotation, I would henceforth refer to the SCMP’s original column instead of from the MM’s quotation of the SCMP.

That report was headlined: “Ancient Chinese understood the importance of honouring agreements” with the strapline “Malaysia’s unilateral decision to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore rail project takes this Singaporean back to Mahathir Mohamad’s first premiership when relations between the two Southeast Asian countries were ‘fraught with difficulties”.

Just in case you are interested to know more about the June 7 article, you can read the full SCMP original report HERE.

To begin with, Mr Wee’s motivation for writing on the subject was his disappointment with the decision of the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to cancel the project.



That report was headlined: “Ancient Chinese understood the importance of honouring agreements” with the strapline “Malaysia’s unilateral decision to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore rail project takes this Singaporean back to Mahathir Mohamad’s first premiership when relations between the two Southeast Asian countries were ‘fraught with difficulties”.

Just in case you are interested to know more about the June 7 article, you can read the full SCMP original report HERE.

To begin with, Mr Wee’s motivation for writing on the subject was his disappointment with the decision of the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to cancel the project.

He wrote: “Malaysia’s decision to scrap the US$25 billion Kuala Lumpur-Singapore rail project has left me disappointed. As a Singaporean with friends and family in peninsular Malaysia, travelling to Kuala Lumpur on a bullet train would have been much faster – just 90 minutes – than the five hours by road. It would probably have been even quicker than a direct flight, if one considers the amount of time one must spend waiting in airports and negotiating the distances and traffic between airports and city centres.”

I sympathised and agree with Mr Wee on the quick journey the HSR promises. But for us who are paying for the project, the consideration is much more than Mr Wee’s quick getaway from the stifling concrete jungle of his First World island nation to the open country of the upper middle income Malaysia.

Ancient Chinese or not, we don’t have money to splash on such an exclusive project. We have other more pressing expenditures to worry about. Thank’s to the Singapore-friendly “Cash is King” Najib, we are up to our chest in debt. RM1.3 trillion in debts and debt guarantees to be exact.

That’s a lot of debt Mr Wee. Of course it helps if Mr Wee can recommend to the Singapore government to hasten the return billions of ringgit 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB) money that Najib and his kleptocratic gang carted away to the republic.

And if ancient Chinese also abhorred thievery then I’m even happier. I’m not sure if modern Singapore is guided by the honour of the ancient Chinese, but I’m happy to read reports that Singapore authorities are in talk with the Malaysian government representatives to return the stolen money to us. Thank you Mr Wee and thank you Singapore.

According to Mr Wee, the ancient Chinese understood the importance of agreements, which they entered into through formal and informal means, such as written contracts, blood oaths, verbal promises and physical gestures such as clapping the other person’s palm with one’s own.

I’m not sure which agreement Malaysia’s former Prime Minister (Datuk Seri I Mappadulung Daeng Mattimung Karaeng Sandrobone Sultan Abdul Jalil) Mohd Najib Abdul Razak entered into with Singapore.

But we can rule out the bloody one. Najib is not known to be that brave to spill blood for anything although he claimed to be a Bugis pendekar and pahlawan.

Other than the concern for our finances, we also have to know what lies behind this billion ringgit project.

Let me put it this way for Mr Wee’s easy understanding. We may not know much about ancient Chinese and their blood oath, but we know a lot about our former Bugis-warrior Prime Minister. So we are suspicious.

I think after losing the Pulau Batu Putih to Singapore during the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s era and the Malayan Railway land during Najib’s era, we the Malaysians are a bit curious and suspicious about the generosity or, as some would say, the ineptitude of our negotiators when dealing with Singapore.

I am not sure how much Singapore is guided by the honour and truthfulness of ancient Chinese, as espoused by Mr Wee, when dealing with Malaysia. What I often hear is Singapore is very proud of its Confucian tradition and does not tolerate corruption.

In conclusion Mr Wee, let me put it this way. Singapore was nothing more than an a fishing village (with 120 Malays and 30 Chinese) when the British-installed Johor Sultan, Tengku Hussein, granted the British East India Company the right to establish a trading post for a yearly payment of 5,000 Spanish dollars back in 1819.

Raffles turned it into a free port and its early success came from the trade in opium which was then legal and was the monopoly of the East India Company.

The British idea of conquest of China was to make Chinese opium addicts. For that the British went to war with China – the opium war. Today drug addiction remains a scourge in China.

Wallahuaklam.  

10 comments:

Arunzab said...

To me there is only one Mahithir Mohammed and one Kadir Jasin . Teruskan Datuk with what you do best . Writing without fear or favour .Allah hi Akbar .

Mohd Sufian said...

Salam DAKJ. Please also request Tun DrM to commence work on the crooked bridge. Better if this bridge is redesigned to circle the island.
Saddiq complaint about his father went to work in Singapore must now be heard.
As for AI n family... Pi lah buat umrah dulu... Kalau ya pun nak bekerja.

Patriot said...

I support every single word you jotted in your blog Dato. I share tje same view.

JJ said...

Perhaps this writer could have better spent his time and effort on highlighting the reasons behind Malaysia’s cancellation of the high speed rail project, not the least of which is that a suspected kleptocratic goverment signed the contract at the time. Massive fraud and padding of subcontracts awarded to cronies were genuine concerns, and the very real threat of hidden costs concealed in contractual legalese and spiralling out of control as the project progressed loomed large and sinister. Malaysia has already made it clear that compensation is to be determined upon discussion, and that should suffice at this juncture. Casting aspersions on the new Malaysian government with snide comments and remarks that are strangely inconsistent with his argument, perhaps to give some semblance of neutrality which in my opinion fails miserably, may only serve to derail (pun intended) any future plans to revive the project under an open and transparent Malaysian government on terms fair to both sides. Invoking ancient Chinese codes of honourable conduct in this instance suggests to me the art of disinformation is strong, for no culture ancient or otherwise preaches dishonourable conduct. The writer may have to suffer the terrible discomfort of not being able to travel from Singapore to KL in 90 minutes by this project being cancelled; but we Malaysians may have had to suffer the terrible and dire financial consequences and subsequent massive debt burden that would have affected even our next generation of taxpayers had it not. So please try to grasp the new reality here, and be a good and supportive neighbour at a time where we need your understanding and support.

Anwar Ab Rahman said...

Aslmkm Datuk, I have completely different opinion on your writing in regards of YDPA issue although I understood the whole objective behind it. Tetapi bagi tulisan kali ini kemas dan cukup menangkap. Alhamdulillah.

Al Lahuma said...

Assalamualikum Ybhg Dato
I am your 3 yrs senior.I fully support abd share your position on this issue. I have had a great distrust for Singapore since 1970. It has the prospered at the expense of its Southeast Asean neighbour. In the early 70s the our Johore Custom had a tough time dealing with Singapore Govt sponsered smugglers across the Straits of Tebrau. Aimed to prosper its new industries.
Singapore has always been comfortable if its neighbours are corrupt sbd continue to be under the rule of corrupt Govt. Its so called financial center operating an offshore account as one of its product is in reality a " financial dhobby shop" Triallion are laundered by its corrupt neighbours.A great source of capital and funds to for its investments. I know this Siew.

Raihan said...

Terbaik Datuk!
Satu peluru tapi mengena semua!

may said...

Well said!

oht said...

Singaporeans pride themselves as corruption fighters yet their goverment officials examplified by Ambassador Bilahari called the antiNajib movement "delusional" and labelled it merely as a Mahathir power-play. And if 1MDB transactions had violated Singapore's money laundering laws, how could they still continue warmly embracing the PM Najib???

oht said...

Please read my rebuttal of SCMP article, quoting ancient Chinese examples where breaking treaties/promises was hailed as good statesmanship.
https://m.malaysiakini.com/letters/429834

About Me

My photo
I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).