Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Will world's greatest super-power finally stand up to little red dot?

Watch out Lee Kuan Yew, one of Barack Obama's soldiers of freedom is out to get you. After decades of silence on the ingrained human rights abuses and lack of genuine democracy in the Lion City, the nominee to be the next US ambassador to Singapore seems ready to shake things up.

During pre-appointment questioning by senator Jim Webb, the key advocate of rapprochement with Burma, David Adelman said that while he wanted to build on America's strong partnership with Singapore, he would push the government to open up and allow greater democratic freedom.

"Make no mistake, currently Singapore is not a multi-party democracy," he said, according to AFP.

"I intend, if confirmed, to use public diplomacy to work towards greater press freedoms, greater freedom of assembly and ultimately more political space for opposition parties in Singapore."

That's not the kind of sentiment the ruling People's Action Party wants to hear with an election due by early 2012.

Whether Adelman (if confirmed) will have the cojones to share these sentiments with Lee Kuan Yew or his son, the Prime Minister, when he gets to meet them is another issue altogether. Most members of the Singapore diplomatic community steer clear of such sensitive political issues for fear of jeopardising their countries' often-lucrative business interests in the city-state.

In the meantime, the PAP apparatchiks and their civil service allies will once again be preparing to deploy their stock line about "Western-style liberal democracy" not being appropriate for a society governed by "Asian values". I suspect they are even firing up their current attack dog of choice, law minister K. Shanmugam, as I write this.


  1. One other point: Singapore is systemically protected from human rights pressure from the U.S.

    Most Americans know nothing about the island, so there's no votes in a politician investing political capital. The few Americans who know about Sing may have business interests there and would protest U.S. actions. The human rights community is focused on bigger or more famous fish (e.g., Burma, China, Iran).

    So LKY is like a tin-pot African dictator in yet another way: He and his country are too unimportant for major powers to care about.

  2. Last 2 articles linked under, Politics' and 'Social' respectively. Cheers:)

  3. Japan,S.Korea,Taiwan,are aligned with USA for protection.
    It should be noted these counries also have a democratic system. On the other hand, Spore is more vulnerable, a little red dot in a volatile neighbourhood.

    There is absolutely no doubt Spore needs USA backing and Spore's dictator LKY is well aware of it. Afterall he has a history of letting others do the fighting for him. To recap, LKY conveniently served as translator for the Japanese imperial army during the occupation of Spore.

    In this sense the US leadership can apply some leverage. So long as the senator and his peers are aware they are dealing with a dictator, one who is proven to be a coward and is gifted with a forked tongue.

    PS: The yanks ought to know what is forked tongue. lol

  4. I called it!

    Ambassador Adelman, who had mentioned Sing's lack of democracy and rights during his nomination hearing, has turned 180 degrees.

    "There's no question. I want to make it very clear that those issues are for Singaporeans to decide for themselves," Adelman said, according to the ST.

    New prediction: Adelman will never be heard from again.