Last weekend, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese leader Xi Jinping shook hands in Singapore, the first time leaders from both countries met since their split in 1949. Naturally, this is seemed as a diplomatic coup for the Singapore government but it is not without problems of its own.
Some of the problems are unavoidable; President Ma has been accused of selling out to China over the summit and many believe the timing has more to do with the upcoming Taiwan elections than anything else. However some problems for Singapore are just self-inflicted.
First, three Taiwanese youth activists who had traveled to Singapore on Saturday were not allowed through immigration and were deported back to Taipei on Sunday morning. Then, 3 members of the anti-China political party, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), who were already in Singapore, were taken away by Singapore Police from a hostel for “police questioning”. They were taken away on Saturday morning and released later that night.
I just cannot understand why the Singapore government did all these. Come one, what problems can 6 activists cause? It seems this is a case of Singapore kaisuism at work. The leaders of Taiwan and China are meeting and shaking hands; does anyone seriously believe the world media will care about the actions of 6 activists at such a meeting? Detaining these guys doesn’t help Singapore at all and instead make us look bad in the world media. Unnecessarily, I might add!
There was no reason for the police to detain the 3 members of the TSU and denied entry to the 3 youth activists. They had committed no crime and had no plans to commit any crimes (unless you consider potential embarrassment to foreign leaders a crime). More importantly than all that is the fact that questioning these guys just make us look bad. Call me kaisu too but for a Singaporean like myself, that's more important than the handshake.