Monday, April 22, 2013

Could this be a monumental gaffe?

A recent event with possible political implications to Singapore should interest Singaporeans if they have not already read about it, not in The Straits Times. Our comical PM Lee Hsien Loong in his inimitable way gave a display of brilliant diplomacy during his recent visit to the USA at a dinner given in his honour by the American business community. One could almost scream with disbelief when he told the august American audience that in Shanghai when one turned on the tap one would find a flow of pork soup, a sarcastic allusion to the massive pig carcasses found floating in a river in China. Next he said sarcastically that one could get free smoke when one opened the window in China, an allusion to the severe air pollution in China. PM Lee could have thought that he was being brilliant in his joke and maybe never occurred to him whether or not the Chinese were amused by it. By any standard it could only be described as a sick joke considering the standing of the audience. Even if PM Lee had wanted to please the Americans, was there a necessity for him to insult the Chinese? Is it in Singapore's interest for him to show such abject adulation to the Americans at the expense of the Chinese? The Chinese are by nature a tolerant people but they also have a long memory.

It is interesting that PM Lee had tried to explain after he had cracked the unsavoury joke that he was just quoting what the Chinese had said. What is intriguing, if what PM Lee said is true, is why the Chinese would want to denigrate themselves. If the Chinese had cracked the joke about themelves it is strange that our Chinese paper could have missed it. The unsavoury joke by PM Lee was strangely given a miss by The Straits Times and the Lianhe Zaobao. They could have considered it wise not to publish it. So far, there has been no reaction from the Chinese to PM Lee,s antics, probably preferring to keep this matter close to their chest for the time being.