Thursday, 13 December 2018

Living next door to an imbecile

In 1991, Malaysia in an abundance of diplomacy, political rectitude, prudence, maturity and wisdom decided on an operation formally called "Malindo Darasa". The airborne assault exercise was codenamed "Pukul Habis".

It was, from various opinions, analysis, and assessment, an obvious and asinine attempt to test the new SG government and PM (Goh Chok Tong had just taken over from LKY).

There are many better analyses of the incident, and you can not read too many of them. The better ones covers the diplomatic protocols that the Malaysians ignored, the tip-off from the Indonesians, our military's professional relationship with the Indonesian military, our own intelligence service assessment, and the diplomatic conundrum and moral dilemma the Malaysian's sophomoric shenanigans presented.

And Singapore's measured and moderate response that 1) signalled to the Malaysians that we were aware of what they were up to, and 2) we were prepared for the worst case scenario, and 3) that Malaysia was playing with fire and would be badly burned if they went too far.

So now, after the Heng Swee Keat has been identified as the next PM-designate, the Malaysians once again decides that they shall play their stupid and dangerous game, presumably to test Singapore's next leaders.

Let's be clear, their "ragging" is sophomoric and dangerous.

Brinksmanship is not a game to be played lightly.

But it is often played by insecure dilettantes with delusions of machismo.

There is a Malaysian way of solving problems (or creating them), and a Chinese way of solving problems, and a US way of solving problems.

The Chinese way will be the brinksmanship encounters between the PLA vessels and the Vietnamese vessels in the South China Sea. (They use their boats to bump the Vietnamese vessels. Or spray water at them.)

The US way... used to involve a lot of military hardware. But now Trump is in charge and things are getting... unpredictable.

Then there is the Singapore way.

For every Malaysian vessel that is in our Port area, we shall send them a port fee/charge. That increases daily. Per vessel. And that needs to be paid up by a certain date. Or we tag on a LATE charge. Which will be compounded further if not paid on time. And then there will be a PENALTY fee.

They may dispute that (I bet they will!) They may copy our tactics (almost sure the unoriginal Malaysians will do so!) And try to charge us for staying in what they claim is THEIR port limits. We will keep all their "bills" as documentary proof.

In the meantime we will pursue international arbitration or file a suit with the relevant international court. For a ruling on whether the disputed area are within Singapore's jurisdiction, or Malaysia.

The case may take YEARS!

But that's ok. The port charges are compounded by late charges and penalties, and after years of legal battle, I am sure the international tribunal will rule in OUR favour, and we will be able to claim all the fees, charges and penalties. YEARS of it. Should be a few million dollars.

Of course, if the Malaysians TRULY believe the disputed area is THEIRS (or are stupid enough to think so), they are welcome to play out their game. But if they are wrong... Singapore will do what Singapore does best - make the foolish pay for their mistakes.

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