Malaysia Summons Singapore Envoy Over 'Chinese Marginalised' Claim.
Singapore High Commissioner T. Jasudasen was summoned to Wisma Putra today and was bluntly told of the government's extreme displeasure and disappointment at the statement made by Mr Lee. The Minister Mentor was reported to have said "my neighbours (Malaysia and Indonesia) both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful, they're hard-working and therefore they are systematically marginalised, even in education."
That statement which caused ruffled feathers here and in Indonesia and prompted questions about any ulterior motives on the part of Lee, has been making the rounds throughout the country for the past week. When asked whether Malaysia would send a diplomatic protest note following MM Lee's remarks, Datuk Seri Najib had said it was up to the Cabinet to decide. Yesterday was the Cabinet's weekly meeting and obviously his comments must have been discussed and the summoning of the Singapore envoy is probably a result of those deliberations.
Malaysia at times is ultra-sensitive to statements which touch on ethnic relations, especially strong comments coming from the other side of the scenic bridge. It is ironic that while Lee Kuan Yew spoke up for the Chinese here, the Malaysian Chinese leadership to a man and woman stood with the government and flatly rejected accusations or innuendoes of any attempt or even intent by the Malay majority government to marginalise them!
This is not the first time that statements made by Singapore leaders have met with hostile reaction. Some years ago Mr Lee had described the southern state of Johor in not very complimentary terms and the matter fizzled out only after he had clarified his comments and apologised. Nor is this the first time that a Singapore High Commissioner been summoned regarding statements made by their leaders. In January 2001 the then envoy was called to Wisma Putra to receive a protest note after then PM Goh Chok Tong made some 'unfortunate' remarks and comparisons between Malaysian and Singapore Malays.
How the current spat will end is anyone's guess. If the Malaysian side is expecting an apology from Mr Lee I think that they will be disappointed. To have made unsubstantiated claims about lawlessness in Johor and subsequently apologising for it is one thing, but to demand the retraction of what is basically a brutally honest and factual assessment is asking too much.
An interesting and thought provoking read: Singapore Malays Oppressed By Kuan Yew's PAP, Says Former Singapore Politician.