Teach students about Singapore-Malaysia relations

Republic of Singapore Navy littoral mission vessel RSS Justice (right) and the Malaysian Marine Department vessel MV Pedoman, which was anchored within Singapore port limits.
Republic of Singapore Navy littoral mission vessel RSS Justice (right) and the Malaysian Marine Department vessel MV Pedoman, which was anchored within Singapore port limits.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Students in Singapore, from upper secondary to tertiary, should be taught something about Singapore-Malaysia relations.

This serves to expose to them the "slippery dynamics" of Malaysian politics and, hence, not take our security for granted.

Take, for example, the latest attempt to talk about the maritime dispute: even before any significant headway was made, it already slipped back to its former status of aggressiveness when the Johor politician visited the trespassing ship off Tuas.

As we are taking away examinations for certain levels to enable in-depth learning and holistic development, the study of Singapore-Malaysia relationships forms an integral part of growing up as well-informed students.

It will make them better-equipped adults in future, unlike some adults I have spoken to who hardly know anything about this subject and think that good neighbourly relations with our northern neighbour is a Najib-based fact of life.

Only then will the boys do their national service seriously when it is time for enlistment into the army.

If uneducated about these matters, they might even grow up one day gullibly believing some Malaysian press reports which allege that it is Singapore, rather than Malaysia, which has all the while been the troublemaker and the ungracious country.

Our students might not even know we had been helping Johor in its water crisis time and again, without taking undue advantage of Johor or Malaysia despite existing acrimonious political climate.

Anyone who follows the step-by-step developments will know any allegation of Singapore's ungraciousness is furthest from the truth.

Phillip Tan Fong Lip

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2019, with the headline 'Teach students about S'pore-Malaysia relations'. Print Edition | Subscribe