The Singapore that can say “no”

Bravo Singapore! Bravo Ministry of Foreign Affairs! It’s been some time since I feel so proud of my country and all it stands for! And none too soon!

I’m referring of course to our Government’s robust response today to the ridiculous US Government move to put Singapore on the watch-list for human trafficking, for crying out loud.

The State Department (equivalent to our MFA) report, released in Washington on Monday, said Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam all regressed last year in their efforts to battle trafficking of men, women and children for labour or commercial sex.

All three Southeast Asian countries were placed on a watch list of middle-tier countries, just one level above the worst offenders such as North Korea, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia, the report said.

Malaysia was upgraded from the worst ranking, while Cambodia and Pakistan — imagine, imagine!!! — were removed from the watch list.

The Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) 2010 said that while Singapore took ‘some significant new steps’ against human trafficking, there were no ‘quantifiable indicators’ that the government was identifying more victims or prosecuting more culprits. It added that the Singapore’s government showed an ‘inadequate response’ to sex trafficking in the city-state with only two convictions last year.

The move opens the way for the US to cut off some civilian assistance, although it usually functions as a way to pressure countries to take action.

Responding to media enquiries on the US report, an MFA spokesmansaid: “We have read the latest TIP Report. It is rather puzzling because the US has not satisfactorily explained how it had arrived at its conclusions.

‘The Singapore Government is committed to tackling the TIP issue, and our efforts in dealing with this issue have certainly not weakened since last year. We will respond in detail as appropriate in due course.’

The MFA spokesman also dismissed the US report as ‘more a political ritual than an objective study.’

‘How, for example, can the US rank itself in Tier One when it is well known that the US has been unable to stem a flood of illegal workers, many of whom are trafficked by organised criminal gangs?’ he questioned.

‘It has not been able to cope adequately with the problem and that is among the reasons why immigration is such a hot political issue in the US. The US should perhaps examine its own record more carefully before presuming to pronounce on other countries. Then its reports may be more credible.”

The only drawback in the MFA response in my view is that it was given only as a result of media queries. If I were MFA  Minister George Yeo (probably that’s why I’m not :-D), I would have called a press conference to denounce such indiscriminating US cataloguing.  

Pakistan and Cambodia off the list and we are in? You must be kidding. But then again, why should anyone expect straight thinking from the US which has

  • been unable to get BP to staunch a major oil leak (reportedly five times the size of the Exxon Vadiz) in its own backyard, despite much huff and puff from the President down
  • created financial atom bombs with sub-prime lending and derivatives built on it. Don’t believe me? Read the blow by blow account  in The Big Short by Michael Lewis and lose faith in everything American.

Let an American insider say it his way what he thinks of those in Washington who run his country. Just google Steve Wynn and CNBC and listen. 

I’ve said it be4, and I’ll say it again: The nerve of the US!


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