The wayang must go on

The line between propaganda and comedy is very fine.

Case in point: Former Iraqi information minister, Muhammed Saeed. Dubbed Comical Ali (an allusion to Saddam Hussein’s half-brother Chemical Ali Hassan) Muhammed Saeed earned his nickname because he kept telling everyone that his army was pushing the invading troops “back into the swamp” even as bombs were exploding all over Baghdad and American soldiers were closing on the Iraqi regime.

If Foreign Minister George Yeo is not careful, he could very well become a contender for Comical Ali’s title with his latest bizarre statement. Mr Yeo had said that Pakistan’s declaration of emergency is “a step back from the democratic process.” (No joke, see report below).

This is like Kim Jong Il criticizing Than Shwe for his brutality against the Burmese.

In case our Foreign Minister hasn’t been informed he is not even invited to the Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies, a global organization of democratic states.

This is because Singapore has been downgraded from being an observer in 2005 to a non-invitee in 2007.

Even Malaysia, our closest neighbour, has been invited as a full member to this year’s meeting in Bamako, Mali later this month.

But why does the Singapore Government try to keep up appearances when clearly no one sees it as a democracy?

Because it knows that as the world globalizes, there is increasing pressure for governments to democratize and to respect the rights of their citizens. Otherwise, one begins to look more and more backward.

But to really move ahead in terms of democratic development, the PAP must do more than making statements about Pakistan, which frankly do no more than make the Government look silly.

Pakistan situation a step back from democratic process: Singapore
5 Nov 07

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of emergency rule is “very troubling” and is a step back from the democratic process, Singapore’s foreign minister said.

Foreign Minister George Yeo said however the situation is very complicated and hoped a compromise will be reached. His comments, made to reporters Sunday, were released by the foreign ministry on Monday.

“The declaration of state of emergency is very troubling. It is a step back from the democratic process, which the Pakistanis were getting back onto,” Yeo said.

“But it is a very complicated situation, not just within Pakistan, but in Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s relations with India. We hope that good sense will prevail and that some kind of compromise will be achieved within Pakistan itself.”

Musharraf imposed the state of emergency late Saturday, suspending the constitution, sacking the country’s chief justice and imposing strict media curbs. Hundreds of critics have been arrested.

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