Foreign Relations in a World of Tectonic change

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Foreign Relations in a World of Tectonic Change

By Leong Mun Wai

After SM Teo’s speech, it is 0-3 for the speeches of the three cabinet members based on the substantiality criterion. We are also reminded that our foreign policies are also moving in the wrong direction besides our domestic policies.

First and foremost, our foreign service must appreciate that globalisation in its original form which took place from the collapse of the Soviet Union to now is “dead”. SM Teo seemed to suggest that our diplomats were still trying to work towards maintaining the current global system.

Globalisation is dead because the social and economic disruptions caused by it would take at least a generation to resolve. And part of the resolution is to tax the global capital that has been moving around the world freely and reaped the benefits of globalisation at the expense of the domestic job losses. That is not going to happen soon given the powerful lobby of the global financiers.

Our government is exceptional in its role as a super-promoter of globalisation. While other countries suffered job losses because industries moved out, we actually invited foreigners to come in and take over our jobs. And while other countries are thinking of how to tax global capital, we cut taxes (personal taxes, estate duty, no tax on interest income etc.) to attract the capital with open arms. These have seriously undermined our socio-economic fabric and work ethic.

Perhaps we (foreign service) should be telling the world we appreciate the current wave of anti-globalisation and help to come up with ideas to rectify the problems of globalisation.

We should also go one step further to shake off our image of a neo-mercantile nation, defined as a nation that only cares about trade and making a profit out from the accumulation of profit (gold, trade surplus or foreign reserves) was the ultimate motive. Adam Smith wrote a whole book, “The Wealth of Nations” to reject mercantilism and established productivity as the centre of the economic structure. Smith said that the real wealth of the nation is not trade surplus or reserves but the production capacity of the nation (and hence by inference, the skills and productivity of strong citizens).

A productive nation will trade with other nations and through providing real goods and services build mutually beneficial relationships with its neighbours and the world. In our foreign relations we should position ourself as a productive nation and strengthen our relations especially with Malaysia and Indonesia who are our two most important neighbours (which was also mentioned by SM Teo).

We should extend the advantage of our abundance in capital and potentially enterprising citizens to an external wing. But this must be led by the private sector and not the government. Of course, we will need to strengthen our local companies and industries first. This will be discussed later after the speeches of the next three ministers.

Once we have established ourselves as a productive nation we can move towards a foreign policy of neutrality and we do not need to take sides between the US and China, the two giants fighting for hegemony, anymore. This will give us more room to manoeuvre for our survival.

The approach above is how we can see Singapore become really resilient in a changing external world (in fact a world of tectonic change) not more of the same as communicated by SM Teo.

Photo Credit : alotrip.com

 

激变世界中的外交政策

在张志贤高级部长讲话后,到目前为止三位内阁成员的演讲的实质性评价是3-0。昨天的讲话还提醒我们,除了我们的国内政策外,我们的外交政策也朝着错误的方向发展。

首先,最重要的是,我们的外交部门必须意识到,从苏联解体到现在的原始形式的全球化已经“死亡”。 所以还在努力维护全球化体系的我们的外交官将会是徒劳无功。

全球化之所以消亡,是因为全球化造成的社会和经济破坏至少需要一代人才能解决。关键的一环是对以牺牲国内就业为代价,在全球范围内自由流动获取暴利的全球性资本征税。这不会很快实现,因为国际金融家们的游说势力太大了。

作为全球化的超级推动者,我们的政府实施了很多异常的政策。当其他国家因工业转移而蒙受失业时,我们实际上邀请外国人来接管我们的工作。在其他国家正在考虑如何对全球性资本征税的时候,我们却削减了税收(个人税,遗产税,利息收入免税等)还张开双臂吸引资本。这些政策都严重破坏了我们的社会经济结构和职业道德。

也许我们(外交部)应该告诉世界,我们理解当前的反全球化浪潮,并且提出有助于纠正全球化问题的想法。

我们还应该再迈出一步,摆脱我们的新重商主义国家形象 - 这是一个只关心贸易并从中牟利的国家。利润(黄金,贸易盈余或外汇储备)的积累是最终动机。亚当·史密斯(Adam Smith)写了一本书《国富论》,反对重商主义,并将生产力确立为经济结构的中心。史密斯说,国家的真正财富不是贸易盈余或储备,而是国家的生产能力(因此可以推论,坚强公民的技能和生产力才是国家真正的财富)。

一个生产力国将与其他国家进行贸易,并通过提供实际的商品和服务与邻国和世界建立互惠互利的关系。在我们的外交关系中,我们应该将自己定位为一个生产力国家,并加强与我们两个最重要邻国马来西亚和印度尼西亚的关系(张部长也有提到)。

我们应该将我们丰富的资本优势和潜在有进取的国民优势扩展到外部。但这必须由私营部门完成,而不是由政府领导。当然,我们首先需要增强我们的本地公司和行业。接下来三位部长的演讲后,我们在这里会进一步讨论。

当我们将自己确立为一个生产力国家,我们就可以朝着中立的外交政策迈进,而我们不再需要在美中这两个争夺霸权的巨人之间选边站。这将给我们更大的生存空间。

以上是我们对我国在激变的世界中如何应变的一套想法,跟张部长所重复的那老一套的做法是截然不同的。

 

#progresswithcompassion
#youdeservebetter
#psp

 

Disclaimer:

The author of the above article writes in his own capacity with his views and opinion only to himself and are in no way a representation of the Party.

Find out more about the team driving the Progress Singapore Party

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