Posted: 09 Dec 2013 11:58 AM PST
Kee Thuan Chye
When Nelson Mandela died last Thursday, some Malaysian political leaders paid him tribute and expressed their admiration for what he stood for.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, who recently bought back preventive detention, tweeted, "Mandela lives on in the spirit of every human that believes in democracy and freedom."
Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, the champion of Perkasa, Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy) and the New Economic Policy (NEP), called Mandela a great leader dedicated to the cause of social justice.
Kedah Mentri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir, who in September said he would not entertain any requests for allocations from Chinese schools in Kedah, called Mandela "a true international patriot" for having suffered for the freedom movement against Apartheid.
Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who last year raised the threat of another May 13, extolled his message of unity and called him a "role model for all of the world".
Weighed against what these people have said, done and been perceived to believe, the tributes sounded hollow – hypocritical, even. It makes one wonder if they truly understand the meaning of Mandela's legacy.
For them to do so, they need to be more aware of what he stood and fought for throughout his life. And when they have become aware, it will not be enough until they apply what they have learned to governing Malaysia.
First, they need to learn that Mandela served – in the best sense of the word – his country. To do good for it without seeking any reward, financial gains or power, for his own sake.
He fought for his people's freedom, fought against Apartheid, paid the price of being imprisoned for 27 long years, and became South Africa's first black president in democratic elections. Did he amass great wealth along the way? Did he use the system to enrich himself and his family? Did he think of winning for himself and his party so that they could remain in power?
What he said at a lecture in Singapore in 1997 is instructive: "When we came out and set up negotiations, we discussed our approach very, very carefully, as the leadership of the African National Congress. And we adopted certain principles. Firstly, that in these negotiations, neither the congress, which is now in power, nor the enemy – the policy of Apartheid – none should win. But South Africa as a whole should win."
He thought of his country first. He thought of his country winning. Our leaders, however, seem to think of themselves winning, and their party winning. When our government does something, it seems to consider first whether this will benefit the ruling party rather than if it will benefit the rakyat. Consider, for example, the doling-out of BR1M. Even now, the ruling party's leaders are looking ahead to winning the next general election.
It was also quite revealing that at the Umno general assembly last week, a delegate said that if every 8th century Hindu temple ruin in Kedah were to be gazetted, his party would lose constituencies because the ruins were located all over. Rather than be concerned with preserving ancient treasures, he showed that his priority was winning electoral seats.
Second, Mandela kept to his principles of fighting against racial discrimination. And he promoted reconciliation – to bring the races in South Africa together, instead of sowing hatred and bitterness between them. He let the whites continue to control the economy and big business. In so doing, he has been criticised for not having done enough to improve the economic lot of his fellow black South Africans. But if he had instituted laws to favour the blacks, he would have practised Apartheid, and that would have been morally wrong. It takes someone who has felt the evil of racial discrimination to avoid resorting to it.
He let the whites run businesses because they were adept and experienced at doing it. If he had decreed that this be taken over by the blacks, who were inexperienced, South Africa's economy would have suffered. Instead, with things continuing as they were, the country has annually achieved robust growth rates of 6, 7 or 8 per cent.
In the same lecture he gave in Singapore, Mandela said, "It is because of the talented people, both within the ranks of the liberation movement as well as in the ranks of the oppressor, that we have been able to bring about this transformation. We sincerely but fully believe that there are good men and women in all communities in our country – amongst Africans, coloureds, Indians and whites – and that the duty of the leadership is to create an environment in which those good men and women can exercise their talents. It is the combination of these factors that has made us progress in South Africa."
Compare this with Malaysia, which has driven away at least 2 million of its talents and is now experiencing financial difficulties – because of the NEP, Ketuanan Melayu and Bumiputra economic empowerment. In short, Apartheid, Malaysian-style.
Posted: 09 Dec 2013 11:14 AM PST
What are the Regional Foreign Policy Consequences?
The largely Anglophile Singapore is an anomaly in South-East Asia. It has staunch connections with the US and Israel, and a network of varied corporate interests all around the world. Singapore is a small primarily non-Muslim city-state surrounded predominantly by much larger Muslim countries. Sovereignty disputes upon the South China Sea are ongoing, and unpredictable events like Sulu militants invading Lahad Datu in Sabah continue to occur. Singapore's security is of prime importance to the nation.
The potency and effectiveness of Singapore's intelligence services was seen in the 1990s with the successful recruitment of Australian intelligence officers to pass on sensitive information to Singaporean intelligence at the DSD (now Australian Signals Directorate) listening station at Cabarlah, near Toowoomba, Queensland.
Even though Singapore has initiated a number of security programs like the Eyes-in-the-Sky (EiS) program with Malaysia and Indonesia to protect the Melaka Straits, and undertakes joint surveillance of the South China Sea with Malaysia, using land, sea, and air based assets, Malaysia and Indonesia are still very suspicious of Singapore's intentions. In particular, Indonesia is very concerned that Singapore has been colluding with Australia and the United States with spying activities within Indonesia, recently calling the Singapore Ambassador to Jakarta for an explanation. The majority of Indonesia's international telephone and internet traffic is routed through Singapore, which leaves the country very vulnerable to Singapore's SIGINT programs.
Singapore has extensive military links with other nations of the "Western block" with air force squadrons based in France, the United States, and Australia. These relationships are also firmly embedded in the intelligence arena.
The Singapore Special Branch was the forerunner to the Security Intelligence Division under the Ministry of Defence (SID) and Internal Security Division (SID) under the Home Ministry. The Special Branch was set up by the British, and later Singaporean operatives were trained by Australians who operated the old Kranji SIGINT listening post, before its closure in 1974. Due to historical reasons, both the SID and ISD have a strong anti-communist culture.
The role of the SID is to gather and analyze intelligence related to the national security of Singapore. The SID has an external focus and undertakes clandestine activities like it did in supplying weapons to anti-communist fighters in Cambodia during the 1980s. The internal component is the ISD which confronts and addresses threats to national security, international terrorism, border protection, racial tensions, fraud against the state, foreign subversion, and espionage. The ISD controls the internal Security Act which allows for detention without trial for up to two years. It is the ability to incarcerate suspect terrorists for long periods of time without legal redress, not allowed in most "Western" countries, that has allowed the ISD to develop an understanding of the reasons why people become terrorists, valuable knowledge for other Western intelligence agencies. Members of the both the SID and ISD work throughout all parts of the civil service and diplomatic missions around the world. It is believed that even Singapore Airlines and other regional airlines are infiltrated by agents of ISD/SID.
The prime SIGINT function in relation to the "five eyes" collaboration according to Philip Dorling of the Sydney Morning Herald is in partnership with Britain, The United States, and Australia in intercepting data and telecommunications by tapping undersea cables that links Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, under a program called TEMPORA. The two major fibre optic cables are the SEA-ME-WE-3 running from Japan, via Singapore through Djibouti, the Suez, the Straits of Gibraltar, to Northern Germany, and the SEA-ME-WE-4, from Singapore to Southern France. Both these cables come to land on the Western side of Singapore at Naval base in Tuas. Cable interceptions are very important because they carry around 95% of the world's internet traffic. They also carry telephone and SMS data. Singapore intelligence Division plays a major role in intercepting around 30% of the world's data traffic for the "five eyes" network.
One of Singapore's most strategic corporate intelligence assets is SingTel. SingTel owns equity in a number of Asian Mobile networks including AIS Thailand, Telkomsel Indonesia, Airtel Africa and South Asia, Globe Telecom in the Philippines, and Citycell in Bangladesh. One reason why the then Howard Government did not oppose the SingTel takeover of Optus in 2001, which included the Aussat Satellite which carried Australian military communications was because of the close intelligence cooperation Australia had with Singapore, although this was not disclosed to the public at the time. Countries like Indonesia rely very heavily on Singapore owned telecommunications infrastructure. This is worrying to the Indonesian leadership to the point where it is beginning to become an issue within the relationship.
However, the role SingTel has played in intelligence has been vitally important to the ability of the US and Australia to expand eavesdropping capabilities in the region. The relationship of SingTel to the intelligence community can be seen by Peter Ong's position on the board of directors as the government representative. Ong who is head of Singapore's public service was before that appointment responsible for national security and intelligence coordination in the Singapore Prime Minister's office.
Singapore is almost unique where no court warrants are required to make phone taps and data interception. All phone, SMS, and internet activities are closely watched by the ISD. In addition the ISD can access any CCTV around the island state and has the latest facial recognition capabilities, utilize mobile phones and car toll units as tracking devices, as well as tap into credit card data through the local banking system.
The Snowden document releases allege that Singapore diplomatic missions are assisting Australian and US diplomatic missions eavesdrop on telephony, SMS, and other data traffic from their own diplomatic missions within the region. The island state has a number of air assets including C-130 WSO, Fokker 50MP, and Israeli supplied Gulfstream G550 business jets with AEW, SIGINT, and ELINT capabilities. This is now supplemented with E-2C Hawkeyes, and the latest Global-Hawk RQ-4 early warning and SIGINT capability equipped UAVs. These assets undertake maritime surveillance, and signals interception within the South China Sea area. A reliable source has also indicated that there is a signals interception station within the Ministry of Defence Headquarters at Bukit Gombak in Singapore, operating in a similar manner to the ASD facility at Shoal Bay, near Darwin. In addition to being linked with "five eyes" intelligence services, Singapore's Joint Counter Terrorism Centre is also linked with the United States Pacific Command (PACOM) joint intelligence centre.
Singapore's HUMINT operations were stepped up dramatically after 911 where it was believed the country would be in danger due to its physical location and pro-Western attitudes. Islamist groups like Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Abu Sayyaf, and Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM) started developing a strong foothold in the region, especially with a number of terrorist attacks in Indonesia. A number of successful arrests were made of terrorists, however the ISD became embarrassed with the escape of Jemaah Islamiyah leader Mas Selamat Kastari from one of its facilities in 2008.
Singapore provides many benefits to the Western intelligence community in terms of special expertise in language, strategic position, and being a member of ASEAN. At the top level Singapore has fostered the development of a number of new think tanks and institutes such as S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) established in 2007, and the Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS)within RSIS, where many foreign academic and security experts have been employed to undertake "top-end" security analysis of the region. Some of these institutions are also partly funded by security agencies to undertake specific studies and analysis of interest.
One concern is that this growth in intelligence collection really has very little to do with terrorism and crime, but rather commercial interests. The death of Shane Todd in Singapore sheds a light on the relationship between industry and espionage, where there were concerns that the Chinese phone company Huawei is involved in espionage. Taxpayer money is being used to protect the intellectual property of private corporations.
Even though Singapore has been able to develop some cooperation with regional "allies" through programs like Eye-in-the-Sky (EiS), it is of a very limited nature as each countries' forces are not allowed to encroach upon another's territorial waters. ASEAN security summits have really got nowhere. Singapore's enthusiastic participation in "five eyes" surveillance programs has created a foreign policy dilemma as it appears contrary to its own regional interests, and therefore national interests, if the integration of Singapore with the rest of the region through bodies like ASEAN is a priority.
Singapore has failed to be a major shaper of the ASEAN agenda. Singapore's ethnic make-up has not assisted it in developing any special relationship with China. Singapore is fast becoming an Asian anomaly, a stranger in its own home, out of synch with the rest of the region. It's a situation not unlike Israel, or Cuba in the extreme. This in the medium to long term will be counterproductive to its own National Security Strategy of prevention, protection, and response, and consequently national security.
The Singapore's ruling elite have trouble seeing this, and as a consequence the very "events" they may be trying to prevent occurring on Singapore shores may become more highly probable. This may be so because of the "sphere orientation" Singapore's cooperation with "five eyes" countries is creating, in relation to the rest of the region. Consequently Singapore must expect many more "please explain" requests from its near neighbors if it continues to carry on with the occidental "five eyes" countries without developing some form of "local intelligence" arrangement within ASEAN itself. However, the lack of cooperation within ASEAN over the AEC project doesn't generate much optimism in this respect.
Island Singapore may thus just remain Island Singapore in an estranged relationship with the region it cannot geographically escape from.
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