By: Tan Jee Say
1. In July 2016, when the Hague tribunal ruled in favour of the Philippines but against some of China’s claims in the South China Sea, PM Lee loudly and vehemently urged China to abide by the ruling, adding that only when countries respect international rules, will small nations have a chance to survive in a global world.
2. Many events have happened in the months following the Hague tribunal. US President-elect Trump had spoken on the SCS. China had flown a nuclear bomber over the SCS. But PM Lee has remained silent.
3. Staying quiet or making neutral remarks softly, is the right thing to do for a small nation who is not a claimant in the disputed territories. Otherwise we may provoke hostile reactions from parties directly involved in the dispute.
4. But after roaring on the scene like a tiger and then suddenly turning quiet as a mouse 5 months later, what does this episode tell us about the leadership of PM Lee who has said ad infinitum that Singapore requires exceptional leadership to survive. What has PM Lee shown us about his tiger-turned-mouse leadership? This reminds me of the famous line in the popular beer advertisement, “Give that man a Tiger”. Yes we want a tiger, a real tiger, not a paper tiger.
5. This tiger-turned-mouse analogy is inspired by PM Lee’s castigation of WP’s performance , “You voted for a tiger in the chamber and you got a mouse in the House” (1 September 2015). Colourful imagery, PM. Now look at yourself in the mirror.