It was just a matter of time for the precarious honeymoon between China and Singapore to come to a head. It was done by China with such finesse that it came as a severe jolt to the disoriented PAP leadership, especially the day-dreaming PM Lee Hsien Loong. It was the Hong Kong Customs, no doubt under instructions from China, which detained nine Singapore-bound Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicles although the Japanese-owned container ship APL which carried the armoured vehicles had passed through a Chinese province earlier. It was a shrewd Chinese move to avoid direct intricate dealing with Singapore which has willy nilly to deal with a less authoritative and unenthusiastic Hong Kong. The ostensible reason for detaining the armoured vehicles was that they were suspected to carry ammunition and sensitive equipment and the ship’s cargo manifest was not in order. This has become a complex problem and may need a infinite time frame to be resolved, provided it gets the condescending consent from China.
The China spokesman has finally emerged to castigate Singapore, which is helmed by the jocular PM Lee Hsien Loong, for its role in undermining China’s one China policy on Taiwan. If this is not a direct slap on PM Lee Hsien Loong, then PM Lee will still be under the illusion that he is still the errand boy for President Xi JinPing. The nauseating antics of PM Lee in ingratiating with US President Barrack Obama have not gone unnoticed by the astute China President Xi who viewed them with humour and patience waiting for the day to teach this monkey a lesson.
It will be an interesting exercise to guage the reaction of Singaporeans, especially the ethnic Chinese, to the show of animosity by China towards Singapore by detaining the nine armoured vehicles in Hong Kong and the timing for this so-called show down. Will it be reasonable to say that the Chinese Singaporeans are first taken aback, like the rest of Singaporeans, but think that China is right in jolting the PAP day-dreamers, especially the US-inclined PM Lee, from their fantasy of bringing Singapore dangerously close to the US axis? They could not have been oblivious to the antics of PM Lee in usurping the role of the Chairman of the APEC meeting in Peru in his desperation of a last-ditch effort in salvaging the pro-US Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the amusement of President Xi of China.
If the day-dreaming PM Lee Hsien Loong has not learned a lesson from the armoured vehicles detention in Hong Kong and persists in his antics of ingratiating himself with the US at the expense of China, the day will come when an exasperated President Xi will candidly say “enough is enough”.
Yoong Siew Wah
* Mr Yoong Siew Wah was the director of Singapore’s Internal Security Department from 1971 to 1974. Before that, he was the director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). Mr Yoong is now retired and blogs at Singapore Recalcitrant.