and.. this will never end.. ooohh boy..
Malaysia has never harboured intentions of attacking or harming Singapore, former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in his blog last Thursday.
But the outspoken former leader warned that the Republic’s constant drumbeat about unfriendly neighbours will give rise to tensions and spark an arms race.
His comments — picked up by the media — were made in a lengthy and sometimes acerbic post on his popular blog, Che Det. He was responding to assertions by Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in the book Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going, which was published last month.
In the post, attacking what he viewed as the central premise of the book, the 85-year-old said, “Without saying so in so many words, Lee Kuan Yew believes that the island’s neighbours would war against it if it has no military capacity to defend itself.”
But he added, “Even in my time, there was no such intention… I don’t think my successors harbour any intention to do harm to Singapore. These are the hard truths. Competition in trade and shipping does not mean war, or a threat of war.
“But one thing is certain: If Singapore treats Malaysia and Indonesia as its enemies, then you must expect them to prepare for their defence,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said that even if it may not lead to war, there will be tension and the possibility of an arms race. This he said will eventually lead to much money being wasted.
“It would be far better if Mr Lee stops thinking about being vulnerable and that its neighbours harbour the intention to invade it.’
In substantiating his claims of the country’s peaceful intentions, Dr Mahathir also said it was Malaysia which suggested that competing claims over Pedra Branca be submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Malaysia’s willingness to go to the international court is hardly in keeping with a country which harbours the intention to invade Singapore,” he said.
“As with Pulau Batu Puteh, Sipadan and Ligitan, our preference is for negotiation, arbitration or an international court’s decision.”
Pulau Batu Puteh is the Malay name for Pedra Branca. Sipadan and Ligitan are the two islands off Sabah that Malaysia won after its dispute with Indonesia went to the ICJ.
On the issue of sand, Dr Mahathir noted that in the book, Mr Lee had quoted him as saying, “Even at their (Singapore’s) present size, they are trouble, you let them grow some more, they will be more trouble”.
“I may have said that, I cannot remember. But is that an indication that we intend to invade Singapore?” he asked.
He explained that the supply of sand to the Republic was stopped because it was causing erosion along parts of the Malaysian coast. Allowing the supply to continue, he argued, would cause the erosion to worsen as well as destroy fish-breeding grounds, thus affecting the livelihoods of Malaysian fishermen.
Portraying Singapore as a troublemaker, Dr Mahathir said he tried to solve several problems between the two countries while he was prime minister, such as the railway land issue and the price of water, but they came to nought.
Turning to other statements made by Mr Lee in the book, he took a swipe at politics in Singapore by charting the contrasting fortunes of two political parties since the Republic’s separation from Malaysia.
He said when both sides separated in 1965, supporters of the People’s Action Party (PAP) formed the Malaysian opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), “which is alive and well today in Malaysia”.
“But the rump Umno left in Singapore could not survive in the hostile atmosphere. For that matter, no other political party has been allowed to function properly in Singapore,” he added.
“Kuan Yew claims all these opposition people are duds and must not be allowed to rule Singapore or even to be in the opposition,” he said.
This “frank admission that he determines who should represent the people of Singapore”, Dr Mahathir said, is incontrovertible proof that Singapore is a totalitarian state.