Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Malaysia giving Singapore Sand for Bridge?

Adakah DS Najib setuju untuk menjual pasir kepada Singapura sehingga DS NAjib berjaya menyelesaikan banyak kemelut antara Malaysia dan Singapura? Jika benar bermakna maruah Malaysia tercalar lagi, Singapura menang 3-0! Singapura terdesak untuk mendapatkan pasir tetapi Malaysia tidak tegas mempertahankan hak negara, jangan tunduk dengan mudah kepada mereka yang bongkak! BENGAP!


Last year, minister mentor of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew visited Malaysia. He paid a visit to Kelantan’s Nik Aziz. He met up with Datin Sri Rosmah telling everyone that she and her husband our PM, run the country as partners. He also visited my state, Pahang.

In Pahang, he offered Pahang the technical and capital assistance for the state to dredge the Pahang River in Pekan. He said Singapore can do the job in return for sand. I was thinking, Singapore was willing to do the extensive dredging works in return for sand? Every grain of sand must be worth its weight in gold.


What is the most precious commodity that Singapore wants? The firm answer is sand. This has been the bane of any agreement between Malaysia and Singapore. Dr Mahathir, when he was PM was adamant not to include sand as the lubricant to smoothen any agreement with Singapore. Singapore on the other hand, needs sand from Malaysia to increase its land mass. But by doing so, it will decrease the marine boundary it has with Malaysia. That was absolutely unacceptable to Malaysia and to Dr Mahathir.

In my mind then, the only cause that could explain the speed by which the agreement is concluded between Malaysia and Singapore is that sand has been included as an inducement to get Singapore to agree. This could be a very strong reason that can explain the speed with which agreement with Singapore is reached.

So Syed Hamid isn’t going to be too unhappy about not getting the chairmanship of Tabung Haji. He has business in sand export to Singapore which is worth much more than the chairmanship of Tabung Haji.

Singapore on the other hand does everything with a winning mentality. If it can exact the harshest terms even from a traditional friend, it’s done in the name of business. It’s unlikely that Singapore is willing to agree with Malaysia if it doesn't acquire some valuable assets and concessions. It’s always bottom line reasoning. Nothing personal.

Consider the sudden magnanimity of Singapore in lowering entry toll into the republic by 30%. Why was it done? Let’s play around with the possibilities. First, I am sure; it isn’t done in the name of charity. It’s done for a purpose.

The only purpose I could think at the moment is to encourage the gamblers in Malaysia to enter and play at their new casino. Singapore doesn’t want its citizens to gamble. It knows it’s bad for society. Singapore wants disciplined and focused citizens. It doesn't want broken homes on account of gambling. Malaysians, Indonesians – yes, they can come in droves and let them gamble and lose money in Singapore. Indeed, we (Singapore) can assist them by lowering our entry toll by 30%. Singaporeans, if they want to gamble, have to place a hefty deposit at the casino’s entrance. That’s sufficient deterrent for Singaporeans.

So what could possibly cause the Singaporeans to have such a charitable frame of mind? It could only be sand.

The sale of sand must definitely feature in the agreement inked between PM Najib and BG Lee. The sale of sand to Singapore is attached to the bridge deal.

Malaysians are entitled to know whether any agreement concluded was contingent upon Singapore getting the sand it needs to do their land reclamation. In return they will agree to the building of the new bridge to Singapore. And the reclaimed land, which will be done on the Malaysian side of Singapore, will not only substantially increase the land area of Singapore; it will also reduce the sea area and push back the common boundary closer to Malaysia. This means part of Malaysia’s sea zone (or whatever you call it) will now become Singapore territory.

If agreement was reached in this manner, what Singapore has done is, do a Don Corleone on Malaysia- make Malaysia an offer it cannot refuse. Sand for bridge. Even dismantling the ancient causeway. The causeway isn’t going to be a threat to Singapore’s economy anyway. Its economy is not dependent on physical resources but the application of human capital on physical resources. If Malaysians get their hands on physical assets, it will be years before they can become competitors to Singapore.

So, give us the wretched sand, we give you the bridge you want. You don't even have to build a crooked one- do a straight one. We are ok with that. We just want your sand.

Now, here’s a vexing problem. The POA was thought of during Tun Mahathir’s time. Essentially whatever agreement is reached; it is reached covering the elements laid down in the POA. The POA was managed by Tun Daim Zainudin who had the blessings of the PM then and the cabinet. So it’s wrong to say, that Daim negotiated the POA elements without the approval of the PM or the cabinet. The 60:40 division indeed was a compromise to what Dr Mahathir wanted and Lee Kuan Yew insisted. Dr Mahathir wanted 70:30 while LKY wanted 50:50

Indeed if agreement on all outstanding issues is reached, we need to know the agreement on the use of our air space, the question of Malaysian’s CPF. It's not just bridge, water and KTM land. Sand wasn't part of the original equation. So, if the present agreement included sand as the sweetener, I am not sure how Tun Mahathir is going to see this.

Sure, we may say, Dr Mahathir is no longer PM and he is but a toothless tiger. But we must remember, the same toothless tiger was the one who expedited the inglorious exit of one Abdullah Badawi. Now, Pak Lah is spoken in terms of Abdullah who?

Should sand stand in the way of neighbourly relations? Should sand stand in the way of good business?

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