by Bertha Henson
So the Malaysian opposition politicians went to the Singapore High Commission to remonstrate against the G’s supposedly harsh treatment of its nationals who mounted silent protests at Merlion Park on 8 and 11 May.
It’s to be expected. The protesters were clearly on the side of the opposition and it wouldn’t look good if some sort of display was not made on their behalf.
What’s interesting though was how the Malaysian politicians pitched their case. Said PKR’s Chua Jui Meng: “We recognise the need for Malaysians in Singapore to respect the law of Singapore. However, we call on the Singapore authorities to exercise proportionality and fairness in applying the law.”
“It is heavy handed to arrest them and cancel or review their work and visit passes simply for their quest for democracy, which is a universal struggle.”
Now what is the proportionality and fairness yardstick is he using here? Is it between Singapore and Malaysia laws?
According to ST, Mr Chua goes on to note that Malaysians comprise the largest foreign workforce in Singapore and contribute significantly to the country’s economic development. “The harshness of the Singapore authorities’ action completely runs counter to this spirit of cooperation.”
Singapore has revoked the work pass of one protester, as well as the social visit passes of two others. The remaining 18 will have their work passes reviewed, the Singapore police said. Apparently, one of them is serving out a scholarship bond and will have to pay out $100,000 to her employer if she can no longer work here.
It’s a bit galling to always hear Malaysians talk about Singapore’s heavy handedness or arrogance in the same breath that they invoke a spirit of co-operation and adherence to domestic laws. And how Malaysians contribute to the economy in such large numbers – and Singapore is therefore indebted to them? What’s surprising is that the phrase “not being sensitive” hasn’t been uttered.
Never mind that. Probably just political posturing. But it would actually have made better sense if the politicians talked about how police here said that their investigations on the activities of former Johor menteri besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman when he visited Singapore during the Malaysian GE did not amount to campaigning, as alleged in a police report. Some had wondered if this was indeed so or if the G here was merely giving Malaysia some face.
Frankly, it would not skin off Singapore’s nose to let the Malaysian protesters here off with a slap on the wrist. After all, they did not disturb public order and the “review” of their passes would probably have convinced them enough of Singapore’s tough stance on such activities. We should give these ordinary Malaysians some face too. After all, the Malaysian politicians will probably have their hands full now with their own G’s arrests of activists and protesters…