Public needs education on what is happening in region

Two letters in the Forum page (Beware of US' influence operations, too, by Mr Jacob Tan Teck Lee, July 2; and More caution needed when expressing views in official forums, by Mr Han Cheng Fong, July 4) urged caution or prudence with reference to my exposure of Chinese influence operations and the psychological manipulations they entail.

But caution or prudence does not mean adopting a struthious attitude towards harsh realities - the ostrich sticks its head in the sand and thinks itself safe.

All great powers conduct influence operations. We have exposed them before.

But Chinese influence operations are particularly invidious because they seek to impose a Chinese identity on multiracial Singapore.

Alas, some of our compatriots play along.

The best defence against influence operations is an educated public.

You have to be particularly obtuse to allow yourself to be psychologically manipulated once you are aware of such manipulations.

Diplomacy is not always about being nice. Governments sometimes find it inconvenient to expose such operations.

So, private individuals, such as I now am, must do so. The two letters are clear indications that public education is, in fact, sorely needed.

Bilahari Kausikan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2018, with the headline 'Public needs education on what is happening in region'. Print Edition | Subscribe