January 30, 2006
The relationship between Malaysia and Singapore has been described as that of twins separated at birth, and years after refusing to acknowledge the other’s existence. Anyone in the two neighbouring countries would vaguely recognise the underlying currents of distaste of the other.
Why is this, when so many of us share familial ties with those across the border? Why is this, when we really are made of literally the same blood and bone?
We are as perplexed as any foreign observer. Small issues are blown out of proportion time and again, politicians ever fanning the flame of distrust. Be it over a rock the size of an island, the exchange of liquids, or more recently an issue of a crooked bridge, sparks seem to constantly fly. Despite numerous golf games to cultivate a strong relationship between certain leaders, small talk doesn’t seem to dissipate the growing suspicion one has for the other.
So much for semangat kejiranan, one of the 16 listed Moral Values in my SPM days.
One theory is that the Lion City really does have to watch its own back, as it is surrounded by countries whose majority of the citizens are Muslim. Combine this with past records for militant breeding ground, and the fact that its country really is relatively tiny, one would imagine these are reason enough for it to retract trusting hands from Malaysia and reach out elsewhere for strategic support.
However, as we know it, “the world is flat” and increasingly so. The global hand tides over all and waits for no-one. In order to compete efficiently in the dense woods between the two trees (China & India), there has to be a sort of reformed solidarity amongst regional partners. And yes, this includes partnership between the long-lost twins.
I’ve always found it ridiculous to listen to drone after drone of the same broken record. Petty remarks made by one about the other, and neither really makes sense.
I hope my personal record will not be a repeat of many others’. One cannot continue to shut one’s eye and assume the other’s non-existence, especially not so soon after the recent South East Asian Summit in December last. Ignoring the other can only lead to more harm than good.