I am not sure where Suria Kenchana got his reference from when he says Singapore '... has yet again tested our patience and ... making all sorts of unreasonable demands on us ... jeopardising our national integrity' and that '... they had indeed gone overboard and have transgressed all known decorum of good neighbourliness'.
This is the same diatribe we get from the unschooled minds of BN politicians who never bother with historical facts and subscribe to the 'abang-adik' (big brother little brother) syndrome which has persisted since 1965 when it comes to dealing with Singapore.
Nothing would rankle the BN bastion more than Singapore trying to stand its ground as a sovereign nation and that is what our government does not understand. They are not supplicants nor are they a vassal state of Malaysia.
I think this is the single-most and pervasive view BN politicians are shackled to with respect to Singapore. As such, they cannot bring themselves to negotiate with Singapore as equals. The fact that Singapore is doing so much better than Malaysia in almost every field (despite Malaysia's numerous efforts to undermine their efforts to rebuild after leaving Malaysia) and its international standing simply irks BN stalwarts no end.
Malaysia has over the years tried and did, over the next several years, to 'put adik in his rightful place'. Witness the banning of timber exports to Singapore, the Johore Malay Chamber of Commerce's call to end rail services to Singapore (now, I hear the call again), import taxes on goods from Singapore but reduced tariffs on goods imported directly from other source countries, banning of sand and turf sales, banning RSAF flights over Johore, levying RM200 for goods leaving for Singapore etc.
Likewise on the water supply rates issue negotiated and agreed upon one day only to ask for a re-negotiation the next. These are all items that the BN politicians conveniently label 'historical baggage' in the belief that it absolves them from their need to understand the history, their lack of negotiation skills, their ignorance of protocol and their recalcitrance.
Is it not curious that with each failed negotiation with Singapore, the BN ministers immediately tell the Malaysian rakyat how reasonable they were and chastise Singapore as being the 'bad guys'. Then, when Singapore reveals the detailed negotiation proceedings (there are note-takers from both sides, remember) to the public, Malaysia protests about the 'inappropriateness' of making such things public.
Now Dr Mahathir Mohamad stokes the dying embers of his ego (Singapore is his 'unsettled business') by stating that Malaysia has 'caved in'. Our Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar talks of 'we could have won our case if referred to the International Court'.
The trouble with these people is that they forget they represent the public. The public will have to pay the cost of the legal proceedings. They are so caught up in their egotism that they want to throw good money after bad.
I am glad Pak Lah had the level-mindedness to think with his head instead of the heart (unlike the other two) and spared Malaysia more embarrassment and costs.
BN politicians, before they occupy any position of office, should first learn how to conduct themselves as representatives of their voters, educate themselves sufficiently on the subject matter prior to meetings, hold briefings and huddle with their best brains (scenario planning), spell out a strategy and then go for the negotiations with the expectation that some 'give and take' will happen. This, sadly, is a position that they will not take since they believe that 'abang' will tell 'adik' what to do.
Instead of this mind-numbing idea of a spectacular bridge spiraling high up and snaking its way down to Singapore with yet-to-be quantified benefits to Malaysians, how about making sure Pasir Gudang lives up to its potential first with existing traffic?
As a general matter, how about getting all of Malaysia's grandiose projects KLIA, Putrajaya, Petronas Twin Towers, Proton, MAS to attain full potential first before thinking of egoistic projects? When Malaysia does get Pasir Gudang to world-class standards (cargo handling, turn-around, productivity etc.), then perhaps it will be time to compromise on the water issue and then, I am sure, we will have the straight bridge.
This the BN will not do - they seek a win-lose proposition in that 'adik' cannot be allowed to negotiate, 'abang' will tell it what to take. Well, it will be a tough welcome for them to the real world of negotiations and compromise that you and I live in.
'. just smack them for such nonsense'? We should save the smack for ourselves.