Some 35 years ago, I chanced upon this heading: ‘Dear PAPa … ’ in the ‘Letters to The Editor’ section of The Straits Times, Singapore, which piqued my curiosity.
It was a short, 150-word piece. Lee Kuan Yew was the prime minister.
In the letter, the writer expressed gratitude to the People’s Action Party (PAP) for her benevolent administration, singling out her consolidated education policy. Then came the clincher – and as a result, her citizens had grown up maturing well, and thus can be relied on to make wise decisions on their own. So, dear PAPa, it is safe to let go.
I thought ex-prime minister Goh Chok Tong followed through as a pretty good “uncle”. The appointment of the parliamentary leader of the opposition (for the first time) after the 2020 general election is on track for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to assume the “big brother” mantle.
The PAP has cleverly embraced the main opposition party as part of this one big Singaporean family unit, with PAP as the head, naturally. The Workers’ Party had won a historic 10 seats out of the 93 offered.
No wonder Kishore Mahbubani bandies pragmatism as one of Singapore’s key success factors.
Even without hindsight, it was impossible to contemplate the United States of America not entering World War II. It was only the timing.
Just imagine; how on earth could the US have dealt with a Nazi-Europe, compounded with the hard-line, Communism flag-bearer Soviet Union and Red China; and militarist Japan lording over Asia?
The UK victory in the Battle of Britain delayed US entry somewhat; giving way to the Pearl Harbor attack in setting the date.
With the sunset of the British Empire, we see the clear emergence of US imperialism. Britain had, a few hundred years, earlier made English the world’s lingua franca ensuring the smoothest passage in communicating American ideas and values.
Hollywood was such a great influencer that the American Dream/American Way of Life became the envy and aspirations of the entire free world. The Oscars and the Pulitzer Prizes are the gold standards. The annual championship series of Major League Baseball in the US is known as the World Series!
And the whole world starts dreaming of a White Christmas, ignoring its impossibility in different climes, come every November through January. McDonald’s is a life saver in a foreign land with strange food, and thanks to Coca-Cola for being our perennial thirst-quencher.
The United Nations is headquartered in New York City.
We have all depended on the US as the world’s policeman, and they have mostly come through, although on occasions they think they knew better, but didn’t.
They were particularly active during the Cold War era as they had to defend what they believed was the correct way of life for the rest of us. It then shifted to countering terrorism by religious zealots.
Along comes China
Suddenly, for the first time, this American “pre-eminence” is being seriously challenged. Bank of America Global Research says the Chinese economy is projected to overtake the US by 2032. The US Intelligence Community Report (April 2021) said this will happen by 2040 – at the latest.
The “China Bashing” campaign has intensified, and even well-regarded mainstream media started taking sides, abandoning the ideals of the Fourth Estate. This meant the rise of China is put in the same bag as the fight during the Cold War era and against acts of terrorism.
This coordinated blitz is focused on the alleged crimes against humanity – the Uighurs in Xinjiang, reneging on the “One country, two systems” policy in Hong Kong, and the possible military takeover of Taiwan.
However, increasingly, more and more American, and European public policy experts/academics have been questioning the impracticality of the US posture. I think the posture is overly laden with conceit.
Safe to let go
The only pariah nation left is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or better known as North Korea. I get a kick every time I spell out their official name. The USSR is no more. The Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain are history.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) is thriving and on July 1, celebrated its 100th anniversary with pomp. But they unashamedly call their governance ideology “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Do we really need to decipher that?
China’s success in lifting 600 to 800 million of its citizens out of abject poverty in the last 30 years is as much an achievement of the human race as it is of the CPC.
Deng Xiaoping in “opening China’s doors” in 1979, had openly welcomed “building blocks” from the West. And the US had been at the forefront in creating the appropriate eco-systems for human development and accomplishments.
Dear Uncle Sam, now that China has come of age, so to speak, America must learn to bask in China’s success. You have done your damnedest to keep us safe for the last 70-plus years, it is only right that you relax a wee bit.
An idea – why don’t you whisper to China to partner you henceforth?
It is quite pointless for the US to harp on the oppressions of past communist regimes as much as it is for detractors to remind all on the litany of American missteps from recently to 100 years ago.
China has been on the Soft Power overdrive for at least 10-15 years. ‘Might is right’ is passé along with the cloak and dagger games.
Besides, Xi Jinping had, during their centenary event, warned that any bullying from foreign forces would be met with a steel wall forged by 1.4 billion people!
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.