As Singaporean and Malaysian political figures offer statements of varying levels of passive-aggressiveness, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife Ho Ching issued her own thoughts on the ongoing maritime dispute: “Chill, man”.
Or at least, the casual sentiment was expressed by the person who runs the lady’s Facebook page, which if you’re not aware by now, shares articles and musings by the truckload at a guesstimated rate of 20 posts per hour.
Her remarks were made in response to a piece written by Dr. Rais Hussin, the head of policy and strategy bureau in the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s political party. Condemning Singapore’s hardline stance against Malaysian vessels making intrusions into its neighbor’s territorial waters, he took issue with the city-state’s “holier-than-thou” approach.
“There is nothing to gain by issuing threats to interdict Malaysian ships in Malaysian or Singaporean waters. What they will get is only pain by a thousand cuts.
But then if Singapore feels that its 2019 election is the perfect time to flex its muscles, they should also know that such naked display of nationalism is bound to make Malaysians willing to do the same.”
Harsh. Thus, Ho Ching’s polite plea for him to chill out.
The “threats” Dr. Rais was referring to is the Singapore governments repeated affirmations that it will not hesitate to take actions to protect its sovereignty and territory. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has told Malaysia to “back off” after revealing that Malaysian vessels have intruded into Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas 14 times in the past two weeks. Malaysia maintains that the vessels were simply patrolling within their boundaries — boundaries that were amended on Oct 25 and breached the margins of Singapore waters.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat (who’s likely to take over the role of prime minister in the near future) urged Malaysia to cease the intrusions and Singapore to remain calm and united.
Even opposition party The Workers’ Party fully supports the stance on defending Singapore’s territorial waters but advises against “unnecessary and provocative” escalatory actions.