Recently, a few friends of mine had some sort of discussion about the Kra Canal and its implications for Singapore. A not-so-recent article on the subject was shared, which I thought still quite relevant and can be found here. I found that pretty interesting because I’d written a little something about it in a previous post, “The Kra Canal. So What?“, in which I discussed how we in Singapore ought to quit bellyaching about it and start increasing our value in other areas as well. A cursory look at what’s available on the topic online yielded the usual “Poor us, the Garment did it again” puerile trash, but not many specific articles or papers. The latest books in the library that I could find in the online catalogue were dated 1978. That means a bit of research for me, unless some of you reading this can point me in the right direction!
I think Singaporeans would do well to note that there are wishes and there are realities. Geopolitical realities that will shape the way things will happen down the road. Being where we are now, we might of course wish that a “Kra Canal” would never come to pass. However, we need to be realistic and understand the forces involved. Here are just a couple. I’ll probably be writing more in the days ahead.
1. Each nation acts in her own self-interest.
Doesn’t matter how many parties you organize, how many student exchange programs, how much trade you have with each other. Every nation will act in her own self interest, and we in Singapore had better have something of great value to offer other nations as a sovereign state. Which means having a stable and prosperous Singapore also benefits other nations immensely. What might some of those benefits be? Might be good to review again. Also, we need to recognize that, in the affairs of nations, there are no permanent “allies”, “trading partners” or even “enemies”. All these are phases of relationships with other nations and they are seen in the context of how they serve any particular nation’s self-interest.
2. A good neighbour nearby is better than a brother far off.
Whether a nation be large or small, it is always better to have good neighbours, and to be a good neighbour yourself! This means that your very existence is beneficial to the economic, social and spiritual health of those nations who happen to be living in your neighbourhood. While of course we want to be friends with the rest of the world, so to speak, we need to remember that while it might seem that the world is smaller due largely to advances in technology, the physical world has not shrunk at all. When push comes to shove, having good neighbours nearby is better than having friends far away. We need to stop having a competitive mindset and start cultivating mindsets of abundance, sharing and giving, not of exploitation.
I guess that’s enough for a Monday bite. Look out for more and do send me your thoughts on the subject, especially if you think we should fight the forces or flow with the forces, and why!