Is Singapore being a difficult neighbour?

Have you thought about these things?

  • Why does Indonesia want back control of Riau airspace?
  • Why is Malaysia so uptight about their airspace?
  • Why are we so uptight about the charges on Singapore cars at the border?
  • Why do countries refuse our assistance for humanitarian aid?
  • Why is Singapore so bothered with Malaysian efforts to increase prices at the causeway?
  • Why is Singapore so concerned over the South China Sea, when we are miles away from it?

The answer to all these questions is: sovereignty. Already Singapore is land scarce and we’re so small. The only means of livelyhood is through international laws that keep our land, seas and skies open. If these were ever to have shut off, this country would slowly starve to death.

For some reason or other, our neighbours have from time to time attempted to restrict our airspace. Granted, our activity requires us to perform operations such as radar and flight paths that necessarily intrude into their airspace, but that is what the international agreements are for.

What will happen should air-space be made unavailable to us? To start with, commercial planes are going to find it a lot more difficult to land in the country. This would directly increase the cost and time to travel in and out of Singapore dramatically.

Although land traffic in and out of the causeway does not see as diverse an audience as those passing through the skies or waters, it is still significant. If we allow the Malaysian authorities to raise the toll prices as they wish without consequence, we’re sending them a message that they can do anything they like and we’re ok with it. This cannot be the case. It is for this reason that we’re introducing retaliatory charges whenever they try to be funny.

The same goes for the waters surrounding Singapore and as well as the South China Sea. Even though the troubled waters are quite a distance from us, we cannot allow another country to throw their weight about and give no heed to the rule of law. Of course, there are immediate primary reasons for this also, trouble in the South China Sea will have a direct negative impact on our economy, but the principals remain: we cannot let the rule of law go disrespected.

At the gist of it all, sits the fact that we’re a small country and the larger countries won’t let us forget it. Now although we’re a small country, we pack a pretty mean punch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Benjamin Chiang

Benjamin Chiang is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He writes also at www.rangosteen.com and occasionally on Yahoo!

The views expressed are his own.

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