Can A Small Country Survive?

by Patrick Liew on August 20, 2019

Can A Small Country Survive?

Once upon a time, there was a tiny island-state.

It had a small population. Many of its people were known to be wanderers and they did not have a deep sense of belonging and rootedness in a particular place.

At the beginning, it was a relatively poor country but over the years, it has done well economically and amassed great wealth.

Unfortunately, this small country was surrounded by countries that were much bigger than them.

These countries have a largely different culture, including religious and racial belief systems.

They did not share many key values and were therefore, not the most friendly towards this country.

For some years now, the leaders of the small country have developed a loosely-coupled alliance with these countries.

They maintained diplomatic relations, economic partnerships, and trade and commerce with their neighbouring countries.

As a result, they held on to the belief that these countries would prefer to help one another, enjoy peaceful coexistence, and grow their economies.

To ensure its survival, this country decided to align itself with arguably the most powerful country in the world, the United States of America.

It even helped the USA to set up a military base in its country and that base is one of the largest military bases in the region.

A relatively healthy economic relationship was developed with the USA over the years.

Obviously, the aim was that if anything untoward happen to the country, the USA would come to its rescue.

In addition, this tiny country became an active participant of international organizations such as the United Nations and World Trade Organization.

It hoped that some of these rules-based international organizations would protect the country from any undue harms and threats.

The leaders were also smart enough to enhance stability and security by improving the economy and spreading their economic wings all over the world.

This country was known to have an airline that has won many awards and was consistently ranked one of the best airlines in the world.

By investing in many countries and contributing to their economies, it hoped to strengthen its soft power, cultivate more friends, and gain more support in the world.

In recent times, this country has also become a source for information for not just the region but also increasingly for a worldwide audience.

It has leveraged on its data to hopefully safeguard its place and strengthen its voice in the global arena.

In the process of building the nation, unfortunately it had to establish dealings with leaders, people, and countries that were not acceptable to the neighboring countries.

As a sovereign country, it believed that it has the rights to pursue whatever policies and develop foreign relations with any entities that serve its interest.

Foreign countries have no rights to interfere with its governance, internal affairs, and aspirations.

One day, this country received a sudden ultimatum from its neighbouring countries.

It has to shut down one of its television stations, severe ties with a given list of leaders and organizations, and potentially follow other instructions in the future.

If this country did not adhere to these instructions, the neighbouring countries would start a blockade and apply economic sanctions on the country.

They would cut air, sea and land links with the country.

Even planes carrying medical supplies would not be allowed to fly across their airspaces.

Ships carrying food could not pass through their waters, and neither can any form of vehicles transporting essentials be able to go through their lands.

In essence, the neighbouring countries were attempting to take away its sovereignty, humiliate its people, and threaten its existence.

Meanwhile, the President of the USA has informally endorsed the blockade. His leaders and administration have not stood up for the country or offered any help.

International organizations have all remain relatively quiet.

It seemed like their rules have been thrown out of the windows together with international laws.

Is this country Singapore? No.

Is this a fictitious story? No.

What?! Can such a crisis happen in our enlightened age? Yes.

From Sunday, 18 June 2017, a blockage has been placed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Obviously, Qatar and Singapore are two different countries and we have much better and friendlier neighbours.

But can a similar – but not the same – crisis remotely happen in Singapore?

What do you think?


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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