Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 8 News List

The empty talk of Singapore

By Daniel McCarthy

The recent supplication of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) to Beijing comes as no surprise. Singapore has a long and consistent tradition of suppressing human rights and democracy among its own people in the interest of maintaining a dictatorship and advancing commercial interests. It should be no surprise that Singapore's leader would be willing to verbally sacrifice Taiwan in order to curry favor with a companion dictatorship that represents a major market. Anyone who reads the Straits Times cannot mistake the continued anti-Taiwan, pro-China tirade that Singapore's leading newspaper echoes.

But we can easily see that Lee's words are empty. He stated that no European or Asian country would recognize an independent Taiwan. How can he know this? Certainly he does not. He was only making the statement to placate the frothy, emotional ultranationalism that has reared its ugly head in Beijing these past few years. That part of Lee's statement, and probably the rest as well, can be relegated to the junkyard of political propaganda.

But if we look at the substance of the situation, we see that Singapore has built facilities to service aircraft carriers, obviously for US use. And Singapore has an agreement to provide logistical support to the US military in times of conflict, without regard to the identity of the other parties in the conflict. Further, both Singapore and the US are basing equipment and supplies in northern Australia for joint use in a Pacific conflict. Singapore has tied its security completely to the US, so if the US defends Taiwan, Singapore will follow.

Although we know that Singapore will help the US defend Taiwan if fighting breaks out, it is nonetheless disappointing that Singapore's freshly crowned prime minister does not have the character to stand by the free and democratic people of Taiwan in words as well as action.

Daniel McCarthy

United States

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