If you are looking for the most accessible entry point into the latest territorial skirmish between Singapore and Malaysia, look no further than retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan’s Facebook postings about the issues of the day.
The “undiplomatic diplomat”, as he has been called, who says what he thinks and means what he says, has posted a succinct 61-word Facebook post.
This is in response to the news of the latest proposal by Malaysia for Singapore to “cease and desist” from sending assets into what it called a “disputed area” from midnight on Dec. 8.
In the classic Bilahari manner of conveying a point so that even a layperson can understand, this was what the former ambassador-at-large wrote in response to the latest proposal by Malaysia:
You have to admire the Malaysian Foreign Minister’s chutzpah: you create a problem; when we respond to defend our interests, you say that the solution to the problem you created in the first place is for us to cease defending our interests and to accept equal responsibility for the problem! Sorry, bro. Good try but no cigar. We are not daft.
What’s the latest development?
Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Friday night, Dec. 7 that Malaysia had proposed to Singapore that both countries “cease and desist” from sending assets into what it called a “disputed area” from midnight on Dec. 8.
What is Singapore’s response?
This proposal by Malaysia for both countries to “cease and desist from sending assets into the disputed area” has been turned down by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Friday, Dec. 7.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore does not agree with Malaysia’s proposal as the Malaysian government vessels that have intruded into Singapore’s territory should be the ones to cease their provocative violations of Singapore sovereignty and return to the status quo before Oct. 25, 2018.
MFA also said that attempts to create facts on the ground add nothing to Malaysia’s legal case and are unhelpful for an amicable resolution of our maritime boundary issues.
What would Singapore want instead?
MFA said Singapore remains ready to discuss this issue with Malaysia in a constructive manner in the spirit of preserving our important bilateral relationship.