Have room for other points of view

Professor Kishore Mahbubani's commentary about small states and foreign policy has been described by veteran diplomat Bilahari Kausikan as "muddled, mendacious and indeed dangerous", while former foreign minister K. Shanmugan said he found it "questionable intellectually" (Don's commentary on foreign policy of small states criticised; July 3).

I find the criticism to be excessive. What is wrong with having a different point of view? The view of the establishment is not the only one in Singapore.

If the establishment wishes to argue the case for small states to continue to speak beyond their size,they can put forth their points in an intellectually convincing manner, instead of resorting to giving labels to the other view.

The politics of the world has changed a lot in recent years.

We have seen big countries exercise their military and economic powers, in disregard of international law and conventions.

Is it wise for small states like Singapore to continue with their old approach, which worked in the global political environment of the past but may be dangerous to their foreign policy interests nowadays?

We cannot assume that our diplomatic problems with China have been resolved.

In a democratic society, we should not kill the messenger if we do not like the message.

Tan Kin Lian

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2017, with the headline 'Have room for other points of view'. Print Edition | Subscribe