Diplomacy must always remain S'pore's choice

The flags of Singapore (left) and Malaysia at a multi-purpose hall in Perdana Putra Building, Putrajaya, Malaysia, on April 9, 2019.
The flags of Singapore (left) and Malaysia at a multi-purpose hall in Perdana Putra Building, Putrajaya, Malaysia, on April 9, 2019.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

When Malaysian government vessels strayed into Singaporean territorial waters and moored there staking a claim, there were some in the Republic who called for military action and other hard solutions.

Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed (Good to see Singapore and Malaysia move in right direction, by Mr V. Balu, April 12).

Malaysian politics is extremely complex, with federal government policies often contradicted by state decrees.

There is a lot of filibustering, posturing and background noise to champion the cause of particular segments of their society.

While this makes for good but temporary commanding political manoeuvring on their part, it eventuates in untold feverish levels of angst on our side of the Causeway.

Singaporean politics is far simpler. We have a strong and decisive central government with little divisive elements, and there is a certain permanence in the way we plot consistent and stable stratagems, with no prevarication or uncertainties.

If there is equity and probity in our dealings with other countries, and as long as we are confident of favourable rulings before international arbitration because right is right, diplomacy should always be the way forward.

Vulnerable city states that survive to have long histories must always be amply prepared for self-defence.

Yet, the first war we fight may jolly well be our very last.

We are well-practised in diplomacy, and as it has turned out well this time with Malaysia as with previous times, it must always remain our first, second and third choice.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2019, with the headline 'Diplomacy must always remain S'pore's choice'. Print Edition | Subscribe