It should be the last resort

People were shocked to hear that Singapore High Commissioner Ong Keng Yong was summoned by Malaysian government. They thought that there was an outbreak of confrontation between the two countries, fulfilling the prophecy of Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

When they calmed down, they found that it was not the case.

In fact, Ong was summoned by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman over the involvement of three Singapore High Commission officials in the Bersih 3.0 gathering on April 28. Anifah expressed the government’s “displeasure” over the trio’s participation in the rally.

Displeasure could be expressed in many other ways instead of summoning the commissioner. After all, summoning is not a usual practice, but the last resort when there is no other option.

Diplomacy stresses on protocol, that is, diplomatic etiquette. It is a set of standard practices to safeguard their own interests and at the same time, take care of the dignity of other countries.

A clever diplomat should be generous-minded and know how to take advantage of situations. A phone call and a statement would be enough to solve a problem in its initial stage. He might even be able to turn hatred into friendship in banquets or other functions.

Some major controversies are not easy to handle, particularly when sovereignty and security are involved. The act to summon envoys should be only used as the last resort when the two countries are at daggers, to solemnly declare their stands.

The trump card would be used usually when the situation reaches a critical juncture. The last time when an ambassador was summoned, was when Western countries summoned Syrian envoys to condemn Damascus’ violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Even when China and the Philippines were engaged in a territorial dispute in which even warships were deployed, the Philippine government still did not dare to “summon” the Chinese envoy, but rather cautiously “invited” the Chinese envoy for talks.

Therefore, “summoning” is not a trivial matter and should not be used indiscriminately.

There are no sign showing that the three officials attended the Bersih 3.0 rally had involved in the planning and launching of the rally. Therefore, it should not be called an interference in internal affairs or violation to the Vienna Convention.

The officials are in charge of political affairs and have liaison with the media. We have met and chatted before.

They are responsible in collecting information, understanding the Malaysian affairs and presenting reports. These are normal diplomatic activities and their work scope is well aware and has been understood by the government.

The Bersih 3.0 rally has brought a huge impact to the political development of Malaysia and it might have an impact on regional politics. It is not surprising to find diplomatic personnel at the rally. Surely, not only Singapore diplomats had attended the rally that day.

However, the Malaysian government has many taboos when it comes to matters related to the rally. While concerning about international perception, it is also worrying about the involvement of foreign interests. It is a bit sensitive to find foreigners at the rally. The Singapore authorities should have been more aware of this.

Perhaps, it might be more convincing if the government summons the Indonesian envoy over the violent acts by protesters at the Malaysia Hall in Jakarta, which has damaged parts of it and injured a security guard.

Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
Link : It should be the last resort 

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Comments from the net :

  • Malaysian politics – looks like we are their standard scapegoat!
  • It’s election time; time to bash Singapore!!!!
  • It’s just a political tactics to shift people’s attention from local issues to other thing. And unfortunately Singapore is once again the sacrificial lamb!
  • Wonder what will happen if we were to do M’sia bashing nearing our elections? Will it distract our citizens? I bet the Opps will align themselves withM’sia.  Instead they point fingers at our Govt for creating a political mess. They won’t close ranks n fight our “enemies”. They’ll see it as an opportunity to topple PAP. How nice right?  That is one thing I like about Malaysians. Wrong or right it is always Malaysia first. Protect itself from outside forces. That’s why Sg bashing always works.
  • They can do that every time becos Malaysia Boleh mah, we have to be good neighbors n let them bash for the duration – imagine it’s a freaky storm, after a while it will past n peace again la! 🙂
  •  Since times ago, Singapore bashing have become a tradition. There is no serious harm as this is just like a festival to them. After all the hooha and once elections are over, peace will be restored.
  •  I “very” like our attitude leh, so understanding as neighbors, they ought to be happy with us 🙂
  • Once in every 5 years, the little red dot does its ke le fe duties of uniting a big country 🙂 Well, at least they can be united when faced with external threats. whats sad when i read some of the comments from our brainless netizens, they join hands with outsiders to throw stones at ourselves…..this is truly the sad part of our education system and our country, producing educated but brainless and ignorant people…..

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