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The Guy with Roses and Chocolates

A lady friend of mine has recently found herself in a confusing position. After years of being in a solid relationship of several years, she has suddenly found herself with another admirer. While she has stated that she has now intention of “cheating” on the main man in her life, she admitted that she is enjoying the attention that the other suitor has provided because it has been something that she has not received from the incumbent in her life. However, in her case, competition has worked in as much as the love of her life has suddenly had to fight for her.

I think of this story because we live in a day and age where the word “loyalty” has become overused, and “appreciation” seems to be a word that has disappeared everyone’s (especially those in positions of power) vocabulary. Take all the talk about returning to the office as an example. Everyone is talking about the value of “employee loyalty” to the organization but not nobody is taking about appreciation for the work that employees do in difficult times.

The most prominent example of expecting loyalty for nothing comes in the arena in geopolitics, especially when the People’s Republic of China is concerned. Around a month ago, Australia got terribly upset because the Solomon Islands entered a security deal with China. The then Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Scott Morrison got upset and made all sorts of noises about how Australia did not want a Cuba in its backyard. Mr. Morrison made the point that Australia remains the largest aid donor to the Solomon Islands and has sent troops to quell unrest in the Solomon Islands – which was polite geopolitical speak for “You depend on us so do as we say.”

The Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Mr. Manasseh Sogavare, rightly told Mr. Morrison where he could stick it and Mr. Morrison had to defend Australia’s position. Then, an article in Foreign Policy said that Australia was basically overreacting. More can be found at here and here.

Australia’s reaction to China’s movement in the Solomon Islands is not particularly unique. The European Powers get upset whenever China builds relationships in Africa and Eastern Europe and the USA gets upset whenever China makes overtured to Latin American countries. You’ll get all sorts of articles about how China is placing poor and impoverished nations into “debt traps” and how they “promote corruption.” You will get all sorts of “alarmist” headlines like the following:

Taken from VisualPolitik

This is not to say that China is a saintly partner to the third world countries that it courts. As Sri Lanka’s debt crisis has shown, China has more than happy to exploit corrupt government officials. However, the problem here is not so much China’s overtures to certain countries but the feeling of resentment that the “other” power feels. Australia in the South Pacific, the USA in Latin America and Europe in Africa feel that China is “tackling their girl,” and their dialogue to the country dealing with China sounds inevitably like an entitled boyfriend – “Look here you ungrateful b*** – leave me for him and you’ll regret it.”

What these powers fail to consider is that they do not exactly have a glorious history of bringing prosperity in their respective backyards. Australia dumps unwanted refugee in the South Pacific, the Americans have a history of removing democratically elected leaders and replacing them with some of the worst despots in history in South America and the Europeans do not exactly have a record of doing something other than exploiting people in Africa.

So, whilst China is not exactly known for being benign, they do get things done. If they promise to build a road, it gets built. Here is a story that I noticed on my Linkedin feed that makes this point: [LINK]

Copyright – Hans Stoisser

If you read through the comments, you will note that Mr. Stoisser does state that he believes that Europe would be the better partner for Africa in the long run. However, instead of figuring out how to show the Africans they’re the better partner, they’re just complaining that China is encroaching on their territory because Europe was the first colonial power in Africa and therefore Africa somehow owes Europe.

Think of the Western Powers as the husband that at best, neglects the wife but expects her to be loyal because of some accident of history. China by contrast is the guy who woes the lady daily with chocolates and flowers. Who can blame a woman for flirting with the guy giving her attention when the guy at home does not really do much for her?

Why should sovereign nations commit themselves to a single power which takes them for granted. I think of the Saudis in 2006 who stated, “We are a Catholic Marriage with the USA but since we’re Muslim, we can have more than one wife,” when describing their opening up to China and India.

Just as nations should never be forced to be “devoted loyalist” to more powerful nations, businesses and people be tied to any force as if their lives depended on it. The best example comes from Singapore’s elections where the ruling party expects people to vote for them without due consideration. Sure, on balance you can argue that ruling party has done a good job in providing the goodies, however, it still needs to show that it values the voters. One of Lee Kuan Yew’s worst mistakes came in 2011 when he told voters of Aljunied GRC that they would need to “repent” if they voted for the opposition. The voters didn’t like religious connotations with the election and voted the opposition which have stayed there ever since 2011.

A grassroots member for the ruling party once confessed that the problem that the ruling party faces when dealing with wards that fall to the Worker’s Party is the fact that the Worker’s Party have not raised costs for residents but have kept service standards on par with what the ruling party had. The ruling party by contrast has consistently raised costs.

Now, given that the opposition presence in Singapore is negligible, this fact is being ignored. However, voters in other constituencies are seeing an alternative model of getting things done and suddenly they have less reason to be beholden to a single party.

There is a worse example of taking people for granted. That is the Singapore media, which has been a duopoly between the print controlled by Singapore Press Holdings and the broadcast by MediaCorp. When they were made to compete, they ended up running back to the government crying because they said “the market is too small for competition” instead of improving their product, they continued with their monopoly products. In the end, people stopped reading newspapers and the advertisers noticed. SPH has gone from profit generating company into a non-profit at the mercy of the taxpayer.

As every successful husband knows – you need to show your wife that she’s appreciated and valued so that she stays and ignores the guy with flowers and chocolates. Success is a daily struggle to ensuring why people know you’re better than the competition. Countries, businesses and political parties that expect loyalty without showing love to their target end up in a divorce that was a long time coming but they never expected.

 

Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

19 Responses to “The Guy with Roses and Chocolates”

  • Singaporean R Free Rider:

    Singaporean poor are very fortunate.

    Our great PAP even hire cleaners to clean up for the Singaporean poor.

    Where else do you get such caring government ? Only PAP Ok.

    Freedom, Human Rights, Demoncracy? All without the need for responsibility ?
    Streets of Philadelphia, “True Story” June, 2022
    https://bit.ly/3cIgQlW

    PAP Huat, Huat, Huat

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  • Interesting:

    Interesting insight.

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  • Supreme Banana:

    What arrogance. What white supremacist.

    “Think of the Western Powers as the husband that at best, neglects the wife but expects her to be loyal because of some accident of history.”

    Only a western unthinking sheep can make this statement. Western powers were/are the brutal devil in Africa. Enslave for many hundred years. Killed. Tortured. Raped. Robbed. Genocided.

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    China in modern times had always been at the recieving end of occupation n invasion…with the exception of Tibet(security zone from India?) n the short penetration of Vietnam to yeach them a lesson

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    Contd…to teach them a lesson and withdraw…China has no territorial ambition besides what is their MotherLand

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  • Singaporean R Free Rider:

    Temusik Patriot:
    Contd…to teach them a lesson and withdraw…China has no territorial ambition besides what is their MotherLand

    WTF, China has no territorial ambition ?

    Go get your brain check…

    China is claiming the whole of South China Sea (SCS) island which does not belong to them in the first place.

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  • Tremendous:

    HKland domestic market also not big, but they made it overseas including Hollywd. Their series or programs are well received and purchased by many countries for decades, even published on Cinaland sites in recent years.
    Korealand same thing. Their stars are well-heeled and going places.
    Where have the village stars been roaming to except gluing their eyes to boutique clothings and making their rounds during pathetic village awards ?
    How many series or programs has the village exported all these decades ? Embarrassing disclosure compared to other village giants.
    The bloody media eunuchs only know how to suck thumbs, lament on the small village market and continue with fat pays. For decades.

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  • China very good:

    On the contrary, you should get your brain checked.
    The territory exists for hundreds of years, written in historical records all the way until today. You are a sucker for Americ–t propaganda.

    Singaporean R Free Rider: WTF, China has no territorial ambition ?

    Go get your brain check…

    China is claiming the whole of South China Sea (SCS) island which does not belong to them in the first place.

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    LAND idiot not sea or air

    Singaporean R Free Rider: WTF, China has no territorial ambition ?

    Go get your brain check…

    China is claiming the whole of South China Sea (SCS) island which does not belong to them in the first place.

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  • Harder Truths:

    Temusik Patriot:
    LAND idiot not sea or air

    Ahem…

    Beijing is engaged in disputes with 17 nations over land and sea borders

    https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/china/955728/all-countries-china-territory-disputes

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  • Singaporean R Free Rider:

    China very good:
    On the contrary, you should get your brain checked.
    The territory exists for hundreds of years, written in historical records all the way until today. You are a sucker for Americ–t propaganda.

    Hi, 50 cent, please go back to your beloved China where everything is fake..

    Another Chinese MP fake degree after President TIW.

    駁抄襲!余正煌:沒看過林智堅論文.也懶得看|TVBS新聞
    https://bit.ly/3zJ3Fum

    一錘定音!余正煌聲明”核彈級”攻擊
    https://bit.ly/3vleboH

    Wow… so many Chinese with fake degree…no wonder they say China is the land of fake …

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Temusik Patriot:
    LAND idiot not sea or air

    Territorial can be land, air and sea .. idiot

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    @ On the contrary, you should get your brain checked.
    The territory exists for hundreds of years, written in historical records all the way until today. You are a sucker for Americ–t propaganda.

    Source link ?

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  • Temusik Patriot:

    A disbute can talk la…not INVADE to conquer

    Harder Truths: Ahem…

    Beijing is engaged in disputes with 17 nations over land and sea borders

    https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/china/955728/all-countries-china-territory-disputes

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  • China very good:

    Right. Some people cannot tell the difference between border dispute and invasion.

    BTW, that link is western propaganda. “All the countries in which China claims territory.”

    Why don’t they say “17 countries want to have a slice of China?” It even claims Tibet and Taiwan as countries. Damn f88ked propaganda.

    They even claim Singapore has a dispute with China. Sg also dispute with Malaysia. Wow. We are a very belligerent tiny red dot.

    Temusik Patriot:
    A disbute can talk la…not INVADE to conquer

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    The above 大中華膠 always talk cock without any source link.

    Xi older brother in law and sister = canadian.
    Xi younger brother = australian.
    Xi ex wife = england
    Xi daughter = on becoming an american.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    China very good: They even claim Singapore has a dispute with China. Sg also dispute with Malaysia. Wow. We are a very belligerent tiny red dot.

    Yes, Malaysia has a dispute with China.

    The Taipin (太平岛)island belong to Malaysia。

    Since the useless ROC President in Exile fake degree Tsai did not want to claim it, Malaysia should send in their army to seize control of the island.

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  • China very good:

    One very lazy one cannot google for Chinese history. Baidu, whatever, a very detailed history is easily available. On second thought, this banana could be googling for BBC or CNN, or rfa “history”, looking for western propaganda instead.

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    Forever Talk nonsense!
    Cannot even substantiate and provide source link for what you claimed.

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