In reply to Bilahari Kausikan’s unscrupulous statement — Yusmadi Yusoff

FEBRUARY 23 — It is interesting to note that the campaign against the Pakatan Harapan government has now extended to misinformation, and baseless attacks by distinguished statesmen and former representatives of the Singaporean government. 

Mr Bilahari Kausikan, in his infinite wisdom described the Pakatan Harapan government as “incoherent”, “unstable” and “falling apart”.

Very astute observations for a man who was once the Permanent Secretary of Singapore’s Foreign Ministry.

But Mr Kausikan speaks without any understanding of a nation coming out of 61 years of rule by an all-powerful regime. A democratic change of government that Mr Kausikan cannot claim to have ever experienced, despite his chutzpa. 

Wastage and missing funds, broken systems, previous scandals being discovered almost weekly, and a civil service that has for the first time experienced a change in upper management.  Maybe one day you too may experience a Singapore Baharu, but these are New Malaysia’s teething issues, and we are finding our way.  

Thus we are too preoccupied with nation-building to need or use Singapore or any other nation as a bogeyman. After all, we are not the ones waging: “a show of might is crucial in dealings with close neighbours” tightly bound by history, economics, culture and kinship.

We are not the ones speaking of “red lines” and sending any message that we are “equipped and ready to use our military might”. We are not the ones suggesting that the use of force is as much part of diplomacy as negotiations. These are akin to cries of desperate opportunists seeking to rally consensus for war against a bogeyman.  

I also find Mr Kausikan’s analysis of Singapore as a “multiracial, meritocratic small city state that performs better than ‘they’ do” to be laughable and arrogant.   

The spreading of such a message by Singaporean media comes as no surprise, but is highly irresponsible for someone of Mr Kausikan’s stature, and an insult to the progress both governments have made in resolving our neighbourly issues calmly and constructively, while preserving our overall relations. 

As an “expert” on Malaysia, Mr Kausikan should know that the New Malaysia experience is still under way : we still have contested elections, with more and more by elections being ordered by our courts. The rooting out of corruption continues and is an ongoing process. After 61 years, change will not happen overnight. 

Thus on behalf of Pakatan Harapan, I would like to apologise to Mr Kausikan for not being as accommodating as the BN government. While it is true that certain issues have resurfaced since May 9, 2018, perhaps this is because certain issues of national interests were swept under the rug while BN’s bilateral relations with Singapore over the last decade were focused on 1MDB.  

I would like to suggest for Mr Kausikan to enjoy his retirement, and spare us his two-cents on Malaysia-Singapore bilateral relations which could God forbid have the effect of frustrating the noble efforts of both nations’ diplomatic corps. 

We who are in active service know what is happening on the ground, and on the negotiation table. This is not the first time that Mr Kausikan has attacked Malaysia and its politics based on fake news, and an experienced diplomat such as himself should know the diplomatic repercussions of making brash and irresponsible statements based on misinformation from questionable sources. 

As both nation’s leaders have said time and again, Malaysia and Singapore are like twins. There will always be issues, there will always be competition. But there will also always be dialogue, rule of law, and peace. And this will bring quicker progress to both nations. 

Both nations have a lot we can learn from each other. Arrogance and fear mongering are not the Asean way.

* Yusmadi Yusoff, a Member of Dewan Negara (Upper House) of Malaysian Parliament and founder of RIGHTS Foundation (RIGHTS) an independent think tank and charitable organisation based in Kuala Lumpur

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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