Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Senators Doubt Singapore's Intentions On IDR

Only yesterday Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced the setting up of a special ministerial committee for the Iskandar Development Region after a meeting with his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in Langkawi. I'm sure the PM and his Cabinet must have got expert advice on the viability and benefits of the move and would not blindly get us involved in a losing deal with the Republic.

Yet as Bernama reports, there are some doubting 'Thom-asses' in the Senate who have to give their two sen worth of misgivings about involving the Singaporeans. One such two sen dolt is Senator Mohd Puad Zarkashi who theorizes that the formation of such a committee would cause Malaysia to be dependent on Singapore to develop the IDR and giving the island republic a lot of avenue to raise several issues that would eventually put Malaysia in a difficult situation, such as on the development of a theme park in the IDR and the proposed Malaysia-Singapore bullet train service. Talk of paranoia!

To be sure, it would be dangerous to expect Singapore to have our best interests at heart. The simple truth is they don't. However if it were a win-win situation as the IDR arrangement seems to be, then there is no reason for them to stir trouble or make things difficult. In their opinion it has been always our country which causes problems, not them! Of course if there were ways that they could maximize their profits they would do it, within the framework of the investment protocol. To expect less would be foolish. Singapore thrives on excellence and practices it to almost perfection.

Foreign Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek rightly pointed out that the question of Malaysia being weak, compromising or giving in to Singapore did not arise as the development of the IDR required the participation of the international community. While rejecting the unfounded Senate allegations against Singapore he said that "the question of Singapore preventing Malaysia in going ahead with these efforts does not arise as both countries could discuss matters that would complement or benefit each other." He further emphasized that the government's move to open up the IDR to foreign investors would not reduce the nationalist spirit or threaten the country's sovereignty.

Earlier related posts:
1) Is The Government Already Backtracking On IDR Assurances?
2) IDR - Are We Seeing A Reversal Of Concessions?
Image - Source
Update: Singapore Not Dictating On How To Manage IDR, Says Envoy

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Anonymous Tun said...

One aside Holy crap! Yet *another* "ministerial committee"?

Can anyone keep up with the number of these special committees that has already been appointed?

1:10 AM GMT+8  
Blogger kittykat46 said...

I deal with Singaporeans frequently, including quite complex discussions and negotiations. I rarely find them deliberately nasty. However, they are very competent and are always pushing to gain an advantage (as would be expected). Its up to Malaysia to also do its homework and do a competent job with the negotiations.

Too often Goverment level disputes with Singapore end up in emotional territory, and the factual merits of the issues in question become secondary.
Personally I think the IDR is too ambitious - this super-mega project has a risk of becoming a super-mega failure. The Badawi administration has a very bad track record on administrative delivery. Too many little Napoleons running their little fiefdoms.

IDR is likely going to be of minimal interest to Americans or Europeans. So the major foreign investors they want to attract would be Singaporeans. I would expect Singapore to exercise maximum leverage to gain advantages.

The Singapore government has always preferred to discuss its issues with Malaysia as an overall package ie. if Malaysia wants something on Issue A, it will ask for a concession on Issue B. They know very well Badawi BADLY needs Singapore money for IDR investment, so they will exercise their leverage.

10:02 AM GMT+8  

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