Thursday, November 05, 2015

Singapore Sidelined by Historic Meeting between Ma and Xi

Some people (political commentator cum scholar?) has said that Singapore is great in getting both Ma and Xi to meet in Singpaore. This gives an impression that this meeting is an initiative carried out by Singapore PAP government. This is FAR FROM THE TRUTH.

First of all, Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs has clearly stated in its press statement that they were "requested" by both China and Taiwan to facilitate this meeting. Xi's visit to Singapore is important to PAP government (after so long, Xi has visited so any other countries including some ASEAN countries) and such meeting between Xi and Ma will undermine and overshadow Xi's visit to Singapore. It will be unwise for PAP to do that but it has no choice but to accede to the requests.

This also explains why the news were first broken by Taiwan instead of Singapore and it was a reluctant response from Singapore MFA to confirm the arrangement when asked. This will steal the limelight of Xi's visit to Singapore. This is also why there is a premature release of information on what deals Singapore will sign with China when Xi comes, as this is a desperate attempt to regain media (both local and international) attention and limelight.

Secondly, according to news reported in Hong Kong, the idea of meeting was mooted in casual talk between two high level officials from China and Taiwan. Taiwan has suggested Philippines when both leaders will attend APEC in mid November this year (this was somehow Taiwan's FIRST CHOICE). But China has turned down that suggestion but counter-propose Singapore while Xi is having his visit! This is to avoid international media to view the meeting as "Equals" between two sovereign states!

At the same time, Xi will have an upper hand as to show that it is Ma who is willing to take the trouble to fly all the way from Taiwan to Singapore just to meet Xi while he is on official visit! Ma is indeed desperate enough to take the bait, to lower his status a bit, basically "gatecrashing" Singapore PAP government's party with Xi!

The sad part is, although Ma does look bad and desperate enough to do that, but Singapore is as desperate as well, to accede to such a request or risk agitating Xi... This is the sad part of diplomacy: small country like ours will be pushed around by the bigger boys.

The irony is this. There is really nothing to be proud of but there are fools and jesters who will try to play this up as something GREAT and Glorious when in fact, people are just treating us like calefei (part time actor)!

Goh Meng Seng


Anonymous said...

Interesting POV, but shows your lack of depth, being concerned only about gaining attention. We WANT the two to meet in Singapore. We have important ties with both countries, particularly in trade. To have China openly acknowledge and endorse our chummy relationship with Taiwan allows us to carry on with business. The last thing we need is for China to stop us from befriending Taiwan. You rightly pointed out that we are a small country, so making friends with EVERYONE is critical to our survival. Singapore excels at playing both sides, and it is something we need to continue doing.

The said...

Singapore is not sidelined. The fact that both parties find Singapore acceptable says a lot about our neutrality and credibility. And the Xi-Ma meeting will take place after Xi's official visit to Singapore means it does not subtract from the importance of the visit.

Anonymous said...

China has never stopped Singapore from befriending Taiwan but we have never been "neutral" in Chinese eyes. We are the strongest ally of the Americans in SEA.

China Xi has indeed marginalized Singapore. Singapore has invited Xi for State visit to celebrate 25 years of friendship but ironically, President Xi chose to visit Vietnam Hanoi FIRST today (5 Nov) before visiting Singapore! Vietnam is the country in SEA which has conflicts and military clashes with China in the past and in the current Spratly Islands saga,Vietnam is one of the more aggressive one against China!

This is a subtle signal sent by China that it views Singapore as worse than Vietnam!

Anonymous said...

"There is really nothing to be proud of but there are fools and jesters who will try to play this up as something GREAT and Glorious when in fact, people are just treating us like calefei (part time actor)!"
Goh Meng Seng

That's where you are wrong about PAP again. PAP leaders, for all the negative things perceived of them, in particular by the likes of Goh Meng Seng, are in fact great strategic thinkers and doers, given the situation of tiny Singapore which they rule. Or else how do you explain PAP, despite the lots of cockups and sufferings inflicted on Sinkies, is still able to garner 70% of the Sinkie votes in the recent GE? And remain as strong as ever even after 50 years of ruling Sinkies?

Anonymous said...

Goh Meng Seng, on hindsight, I think you ever mentioned that you should not have formed a new party or even contesting the recent GE.

So maybe this is also a major strategic mistake on your part as an opposition politician?

So if you can make such mistakes even in your core area as politician, does it not occur to you that your views and analysis of the Xi-Ma meeting in Singapore may also be a mistake, or rather misguided?

The Social Commentator said...

China has the potential to become the world number one economy unless the US give them a trip somewhere down the road. So for all practical sake we should butter up to them. For Singapore to be considered by Taiwan and China as the meeting place for their leadership is indeed something to be proud of as it is a meeting which may go down in history as paving the way for peaceful reconciliation between China and Taiwan .

Maybe such myopic view was what caused the electorate to reject your representation rather than FEAR of change.

Admin said...

Social Commentator & All,

First of all, it is definitely NOT a mistake for the formation of People's Power Party, especially at the time where we need a serious deliberation of direction of Democratic development for Singapore in Post LKY era. One sparrow doesn't make a Spring, neither does a GE result says it all for future political development.

Secondly, I have never said that we should not have both Taiwan and China to have bilateral talks in Singapore. But the timing and circumstances for holding such a talk IN SINGAPORE is crucial.

To hold China-Taiwan talk in Singapore as "MAJOR FOCUS" in the midst of an OFFICIAL STATE visit by President Xi is ENTIRELY inappropriate and it definitely undermines our position as Host country of such State visit. Besides, the arrangement of such talk is unprecedented for Official State Visit and it breaks Diplomatic protocols.

On top of that, there is nothing to celebrate because this talk wasn't organize or initiated by Singapore at all; unlike the first China-Taiwan talk which was initiated, mediated and hosted by Singapore between cross-straits officials.

Thus, there is absolutely nothing to brat about for Ma-Xi talk in Singapore. It is basically a case whereby we allow other people (i.e. Taiwan President Ma) to gatecrash our very own hosting of an official state visit!

Of course, having said all these, the Ma-Xi talk will give the region stability and peace which Singapore will benefit. But other than that, it doesn't make Singapore look that good.

Goh Meng Seng