Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Journey of Nostalgia

He had just returned from self-adulating trips to China and Britain and was flush with smugness and narcissism. It is quite natural the Minister Mentor is now thinking of exuding his irresistable charms on admiring luminaries across the causeway. It is not unlike in the Chinese parable a village boy made good who returns in brocade garb to his village to flaunt his glory before his village elders. But MM Lee Kuan Yew is decked out in a Chinese national garb probably to emphasize his Chineseness in a sea of Malay supremacy.

He is no doubt flattered by the very distinguished reception accorded to him by the gracious Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, whom he greeted as an "old friend from Johor". Their discussions are merely formal and are a regurgitation of issues gone over between the Malaysian PM and the Singapore PM during the former's introductory visit to Singapore recently.

There are two possible scenarios for the Minister Mentor's visit. The planned revision of Parliamentary consituencies ostensibly to accord more political space to the opposition expounded recently ny PM Lee Hsien Loong could not have not occupied MM Lee's astute mind. His proposed visits to the Pakatan Rakyat-governed states of Penang and Kelantan could not be for the simple objective of social intercourse. They would enable him to have a closer look at what makes the Pakatan Rakyat ticks and whether there is any danger of this remarkable phenomenon taking hold in Singapore in the near or distant future. A tete-a-tete with the dynamic Pakatan Rakyat chief Anwar Ibrahim, if this is on the cards, may provide the inquisitive MM Lee with the invaluable information he seeks.

Another scenario, which borders on the sceptical, is the exploration of a possible merger with the Chinese-dominated Penang. This is not too far-fetched as an idea but is politically untenable. So this is in all probability a non-starter, but is not without interest in Singapore and Penang. Both were former British Straits Settlements.

MM Lee Kuan Yew is probably giving a miss to a possible meeting with his long-time adversary Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad during this visit. Dr. Mahathir may be an unpredictable personality, but is not likely to hold any animosity towards MM Lee now. He may even have a few pleasantries with MM Lee if they meet. There is no permanent friend or foe in politics.

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