From ‘Singapore distances itself from MP’s criticism of Malaysia over MH370 incident’, 11 April 2014, Today
The Singapore Government yesterday distanced itself from comments made by a Member of Parliament (MP) who said in a media interview that the Malaysian authorities could have better managed the MH370 incident. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Foreign Affairs and Culture, Community and Youth) Sam Tan said the remarks by Nee Soon GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs, “do not represent the views” of the Government.
Mr Tan said: “The Singapore Government position has been clearly set out in the remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam to the Foreign Correspondents Association on March 28, as well as by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to the editors of the Asia News Network on April 9. It is an unprecedented and very difficult situation and, as Prime Minister Lee said, the Malaysian Government has done a ‘manful job’.” He added: “Singapore deployed aircraft and ships in the search and rescue operations, and has conveyed that we stand ready to provide further support as needed.”
Responding to Mr Tan’s statement, Dr Lim said on his Facebook page: “I have reflected on my comment and agree with the comments of our Foreign Minister and our PM.”
MP Lim referred to the communication lapses among ASEAN counterparts as a ‘missed opportunity’, which is a euphemism for ‘failure’. He also compared the Malaysia Airlines’ handling of MH370 to the ‘better media management’ by SIA when the latter’s plane crashed in Taiwan back in 2000. The difference is till today no one really knows for sure what happened to MH370, so the comparison may not be entirely fair. Besides, what’s the point of complaining now anyway? It’s as helpful as camping on an island in the middle of the Indian ocean with a pair of binos and waiting for a piece of wreckage to bob your way.
PM Lee’s compliment is a headscratcher though; Is a ‘manful’ job a ‘brave’ effort as in ‘manly’ or does it mean a manpower-heavy mission? An archaic term used as far back as 1917 to describe what I can only guess to be ‘backbreaking’ work, I’m not sure if this was a deliberately diplomatic choice because the more flattering option of ‘courageous’ would be overdoing it, especially considering what many furious Chinese think of the whole incident. After sharing a selfie bromance, it looks like Singapore is set to support Malaysia through thick or thin, though we’re not so certain if that loving feeling is mutual.
Malaysian politicians have always had no qualms about talking trash while meddling in our affairs without anyone urging them to retract their statements ever. In 2003, Dr Mahathir had a problem with Singapore supporting the US war in Iraq. Others found fault in the racial makeup of our SAF, blasted us for hosting the Israeli president in 1986, and slammed LKY for banning Islamic preachers from entering the country the year after. People will remain divided on MH370 for years to come even after the wreckage is recovered, if ever, and since Malaysian politicians have slung mud our way like the playground bullies that they are, why is the PAP afraid of bilateral ties getting bruised over ONE MAN’S opinion on the matter? Are we living up to what one journalist once called ‘little brother’ status?
In the interview, Lim asked: ‘How could everybody miss the plane? If the plane really made U-turn, wouldn’t someone’s radar have caught it?‘ Last I checked, Lim’s an opthalmologist, not a master of aeronautics. In fact, if there’s anyone doing a U-turn now it’s him, producing a turnaround apology that seems coerced after he expressed himself with such ‘manful’ conviction during the interview. This makes it a hat-trick of apologies for Lim; first his comment on ministers’ salaries and their dignity, followed by his mocking of Low Thia Khiang’s hearing, and now getting ‘distanced’ from the team because of what he thinks not just of Malaysia but ASEAN as a whole. In local parlance it’s the political equivalent of ‘Eh, I don’t know you’ when someone in your circle of friends does something to embarrass the entire group, and you slowly inch away, pretending that he’s just some crazy stranger talking nonsense.
Nonetheless, I wonder if our ministers would still give Razak and company a pat on the back for a job well done and dismiss Lim’s remarks if it had been SINGAPOREANS missing and it were their families banging on doors and tables demanding answers instead. Dealing with critics should be the last thing on the Malaysian authorities’ minds anyway. Every second spent rebutting a loose cannon is a ‘missed opportunity’ in moving one step closer towards solving what looks set to be one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.