Free Malaysia Today
It may not have sounded like it was. But the message from Singapore to the United States is sharp as it is clear: stay out of our affairs.
True to American form and perhaps also of ‘distaste’, a report detailing the city-state’s dismal record at human trafficking understandably got the tiny Republic all riled up.
Just not only was it inaccurate as has been widely claimed, but perhaps the ‘malarkey’ was just too large to be ignored.
“The US should perhaps examine its own record more accurately before presuming to pronounce on other countries. Then its reports may be more credible”, the nation’s Foreign Ministry said.
In another broadside Singapore queried, “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?”
At the heart of the question is the question of illegal workers in the US that according to Singapore’s widely-circulating national daily, the Straits Times (ST) stands at 16,000.
Those are just the kind of numbers that cannot be found in Singapore.
And secondly, what’s galling is that the US had given herself an enviable Tier 1 ranking despite the unearthing of such appallingly great numbers of illegal entries which the ST claims was organised by criminal gangs.
Just as vexing was the American stance that the report was compiled using the “same standards to which we hold other countries”; a claim viewed not just with disbelief but also for how preposterous it was.
More than anything, the claims and counter claims could not have been more obvious.
For one thing as how Singapore says, the entire episode reeks like “a political ritual than an objective study”.
And there is reason to suspect that.
For starters, in just like how the debate or in fact of the controversy surrounding human rights may rightly attest, methods and arguments advanced from another prism are just the issues at issue in any given debate.
Just what were those standards the US claims it had used or how comprehensive they were, is now at stake.
That’s not all. The irony of it all, is that if Singapore is indeed the nation the US claims to be a destination for human trafficking the simple balderdash of it all should not enjoin the numerous American commercial interests from either thinking of operating their lucrative business concerns as they maybe inadvertently bankrolling a nation suspected of being in a despicable trade!
Yet that is just what is happening!
Importantly, the inadequate use of watertight definitions creates widespread confusion as how the case of offenders who overstay and later be technically classified as illegal immigrants.
Yet there is nothing to say that whatever the definitions and conventions behind such reports maybe, there is no denying that Singapore’s police are in the routine habit of organising raids on so-called ‘health centres’.
The widely known open secret of these centres is that they are actually fronts for salacious, seedy activities undertaken not by local Singaporeans, but by women for a host of nations bordering it, and from the far flung nations of China, Mongolia to just to name a few.
Such incidences perhaps lie at the heart of the main US grouse that though the Republic is making progress, much of that regrettably has not been in ‘quantifiable indicators”.
Despite its strident reaction to the 2010 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, it is absolutely unlikely that relations may be affected or there be a downgrading in bilateral ties.
As one of its key partners in the fight against terrorism and other international causes the TIP report is only an ‘irritant’ and not a monkey wrench in the ordinary scheme of friendly bilateral relations.
Read also: Too busy hitting back to deal with human trafficking (by Yawning Bread)