Have you heard of the new “Singapore Story” that is being shared recently?
The current Singapore leadership is too pro-US and has angered “old friend” China;
Singapore Government has mishandled a few bilateral issues with China and as a result, Sino-Singapore relations have cooled;
Without China as our friend, Singapore’s future is bleak. Worse, China grows closer to our neighbours in the region but is isolating Singapore.
A lot has been focused on what Singapore had done / has not done. But this China is no longer the China we know. They are now strong, confident and are fully aware of their ever-increasing importance in the global stage. They are fiercely nationalistic and will react strongly when their interests are challenged or when they feel a loss of “face”. Seldom do they do so by coercion, sometimes through economic retaliation but most times it’s via bilateral relations which include playing mind games.
Has anyone paused to consider if you are China, what would you have done / would be doing?
Tactic 1: Eroding Confidence in Singapore’s leadership
One of the most powerful mind games is to weaken a country’s leadership by eroding its population’s confidence in them.
Just look at alternative sites such as The Independent Singapore (TISG) and States Times Review (STR), and what personalities like Goh Meng Seng, Alex Tan and Dr Chee Soon Juan have commented. Not only do they not call for unity among Singaporeans to support our government, they seed divisive thoughts and plant narratives that oversimplify bilateral relations and pin the blame solely on our G. Friendly bilateral interactions such as Minister Zhao Leji’s visit to Singapore during the OBOR forum period, Chinese warship’s participation in Singapore Navy’s first International Maritime Review are conveniently forgotten.
What we are seeing is how these sites are playing into China’s hands – glorifying China and running our leaders down. Such acts are no different from betraying Singapore’s interests. Worse, if done just to drive up their sites’ engagement numbers or for their own political gains, then they are simply irresponsible and selfish, with no regard to the repercussions on fellow countrymen.
Within Singapore, Dr Chee appears to be one of the strongest critics of Singapore G on this issue. He shared a nationalistic Chinese video online that criticised the naval exercise Singapore just concluded with India. The video can be traced to Global Chinese Alliance and Global Chinese Military Alliance, sites that share a lot of very aggressive pro-China content.
One of Dr Chee’s articles also quoted a hostile article by The Global Times, well known for its extremist take on bilateral relations. However, he did not mention that People’s Daily – the real mouthpiece of the China government – is actually relatively quiet on this issue. He also did not share the news by Xinhua.net (the official state media of China) which carried DPM Teo’s speech that mentioned “the common interest of Singapore and China is greater than any differences of views”?
Why, Dr Chee, why?
Why is Dr Chee perpetuating antagonistic views from some factions of China instead of supporting Singapore G’s courage of not bending our knees just because a superpower raised its eyebrow? If we do, should Singapore kneel if another big player twitches next, Dr Chee?
Tactic 2: Weakening the Resilience of the Citizen Core
In case you have not noticed, people around us are starting to receive more and more videos and WhatsApp messages (usually in Chinese) that praise the military and economic might of China while belittling Singapore’s ability. For all you know, your parents, your uncle, auntie or even your grandparents, and they may be circulating these content among their circles of friends without realising the hidden agenda.
If you check out the sources of these content, many of them are pro-China. Some of these sources are like “pop up stalls” – super active to coincide with a certain event then “close shop” soon after. Almost guerrilla style.
How much can you trust such dubious platforms?
Do we want to stand firm on our ground and be guided by our own principles, or do we want to be constantly swayed by the noises coming from the power-of-the-moment?
Tactic 3: Isolating Singapore
If I’m China and I want to isolate Singapore, what would I do? I’ll gang up with its neighbours, work with them and purposely leave Singapore out. Indonesia and Malaysia seem like good candidates to work with since they always have a rough relationship with this Little Red Dot. Some more, the leaders in Malaysia and Indonesia are corrupted. Some of them need money to plug in the holes. It’ll be easier to convince them with money. It’s not easy to work with Singaporean leaders because they care less about the money. But they’ll bow down to economic pressure when we stop giving them investment opportunities.
So Singaporeans, as you can see, the game that China is playing with us is not simple at all. We always think that foreign policy does not concern us and only PM and the Government leaders need to take care of it. Wrong! The PRC knows that Singapore Government needs to go through election and they need votes to govern. The PRC knows that Singapore leaders will not do their bidding but they can scare them by threatening votes – by turning Singaporeans against their leaders. Where can they start? The media!
And they can make use of traitors such as Dr Chee and STR to help spread the fear. I’m not saying that you should not question Singapore foreign policy or PM. You actually should! But what’s more important is that you must be able to differentiate what’s true and what’s foreign propaganda which sets out to make you feel fearful and doubtful of your leaders.
So, what should we do?
REMEMBER: We all can shape foreign policy and we do not want our leaders to take the wrong step by threatening them. ALSO REMEMBER: please read every article carefully and think about what agenda they are driving. Do you really buy into the rhetoric or are you sharing the content because it is “on trend” to do so?
Nothing can kill us faster than us being divided.
And if you start thinking what is the agenda we are driving with this article, then you’re on the right track.