Friday, August 04, 2006

Prosper thy neighbour

Pak Lah - reported that Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has plans to compete with Singapore by making Johor a major growth engine for his country. This news originated from the New Straits Times. Calling it the Super-Corridor project (after its namesake Multi-media Super Corridor, a project begun and completed under his predecessor, Dr Mahathir Mohammad), the M'sia PM wants Johor to prosper as in its glory years through local equity and foreign investments. Why am I blogging this here, where it is all about Singapore life and times? Whatever happens in Johor will affect Singapore life. Even though the M'sia PM calls this competition for Singapore, it will instead prosper Singapore. Suddenly, a close neighbour (the only thing that separates these two lands is a bridge over a very narrow water straits) has virtually expanded Singapore's space in drawing tourist traffic to Singapore without Singapore having to lift a finger. Any development such as envisaged in Johor will drive tourist traffic to Singapore, either directly or through spillovers from Johor. So thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister.

This goes to show that there need not be bitter and acrimonious rivalry between Johor and Singapore. If at all, there can only be fierce but friendly competition which will benefit parties on both sides of the Causeway. This is so unlike the policies of Dr Mahathir, where it seems that he is hell-bent on bullying Singapore. In fact, Dr M seems to be in enmity with not only Singapore, but the US and Europe. He blames the conflict in the Middle East, currently raging between the Hizbollah and Israel, squarely on the US and Europe. Well, we have to ask - by Europe, does he also include Turkey? By US, does he also include the large numbers of Chinese and other migrants of non-European origin that have set up home in the US? Clearly, his view is simplistic and certainly not worthy of a person who has held high office in a major Southeast Asia nation in the recent past. I'd rather prefer Abdullah Badawi's approach to relations with Singapore. So it is not surprising that Dr M has provoked bad relations with Mr Abdullah B and his government.

I was right. I am still right. Dr M is a megalomaniac.

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