Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) said recently the relationship between Malaysia and Singapore has not always been smooth sailing, and so investing in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) may not always be smooth sailing for Singaporean companies.
This is simply a statement of fact that nevertheless appears to have gotten local Umno leaders into a tizzy.
Every local Umno politician hopes to be in a position to be approving investment flows into the country because to stand as gatekeeper is a very lucrative position, and when public squabbles erupt between Umno politicians about who is the better "protector of Malay rights and privileges", it usually means someone just wants a bigger cut of the investment action for himself.
This is not unlike the Burmese generals who demand that all new big investors into Burma take them as business partners or else the investment proposals and money will simply languish and go nowhere.
Nevertheless the relentless demonisation campaign in the Malay vernacular press for the last 50 years by Umno has been such a tremendous success that new investments into Malaysia that would benefit huge numbers of the Malay Muslim masses with jobs and development are nevertheless seen by the Malay Muslim community with jaundiced eyes whilst rich and fabulously corrupt Malay Muslim Umno parasites who insist on their extortionate cut of the action or else block further investment inflows into the country are seen as heroes, and "wira bangsa" that have "mempertahankan maruah bangsa, agama, dan budaya".
Go figure that one.
Of course, the relationship between Malaysia and Singapore is special because of the race relations issue.
Every time the question of Singaporeans investing anywhere in Malaysia is brought up, there are inevitable cries of indignation by Umno wannabes performing a 'wayang kulit' about Malaysia being exploited by its Chinese neighbour. This is a recurring knee-jerk reaction that defies logic but the lesson here should be one must never underestimate the effectiveness of relentlessly toxic racial and religious propaganda.
Singapore has been the favourite whipping boy of the Umno-controlled Malay vernacular press for the last 50 years, and if anything are seen as even bigger devils than the local Chinese and Indian citizens of Malaysia in the eyes of Malaysia's Malay Muslims.
The fact is Singapore's development model has meant that Singapore's Malays are far better educated, far better paid, far more self-reliant, self-confident, and far better equipped to deal with globalisation than Malay Muslims in Malaysia. This makes the NEP, Ketuanan Melayu, and the Malay Agenda look like failed racist apartheid policies that have impoverished everyone except Umno cronies. Of course, Umno must demonise Singapore to maintain the illusion that Umno politicians are nationalists and not parasites, and more so if Singapore happens to be richer, safer, better educated, and meritocratic than Malaysia.
Malay Muslims in Malaysia have been brainwashed by Umno for the last 50 years into thinking that the Chinese and Indians both Malaysians and Singaporeans have gotten rich at their expense, and this perception probably won't change anytime soon because Umno does not have another elections winning formula if it dumps the present demonisation formulas.
Every time Singapore's first world achievements are compared with the sluggish economic, educational, professional, scientific, technological, competitiveness and social standards in apartheid Malaysia, there is the predictable frothing at the mouth, kris waving and baying for blood in every Kelab Umno up and down the country in Malaysia.
Although Chinese and Indian Malaysians have simply accepted the gross racial discrimination in jobs, business, and education as a fact of life in Malaysia, the non-apartheid non-NEP meritocratic Singaporean mindset may not have the stomach for this particular type of nonsense in the IDR.
I think LKY is way too smart to think the demonisation process of the Chinese and Indians in the Umno-controlled Malay vernacular press is going to stop anytime soon. How else is Umno going to win elections except by continuing to perpetrate the lie that the orang asing minorities in Malaysia are a threat to the Malays? Nevertheless LKY may be hoping Chinese and Indian Singaporean investors will not be discriminated against in the IDR in comparison with investors from countries like China, Taiwan, India, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, United States, and Europe.
In the meantime, I am sure it will simply be business as usual for the rest of us in racial and religious apartheid Malaysia.