SINGAPORE, Oct 11 (Bernama) - Some 10 years after remarking that Singapore might rejoin Malaysia if the island state's economy faltered and if Malaysia pursued meritocracy, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has again spoken on the subject.
"They have got all the resources. If they would just educate the Chinese and Indians, use them and treat them as their citizens, they can equal us and even do better than us and we would be happy to rejoin them," Lee said.
Lee made the remark in an interview on Sept 27 with syndicated columnist Tom Plate of the UCLA Media Center and new-media expert Jeffrey Cole of the USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future.
The transcript of the interview is available online on the UCLA Asia Institute website.
In June 1996, Lee spoke about the possibility of Singapore rejoining Malaysia, raising a storm on both sides of the Causeway with then Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad saying that he did not think that the time had come for that yet.
Dr Mahathir had also described the remark as just a means "to jolt Singaporeans" into their senses.
The latest remarks by the Singapore founding father came after he was asked about Singapore's "sense of endangerment" and why the island state was worried about survivability in the long run.
Lee replied: "Where are we? Are we in the Caribbean? Are we next to America like the Bahamas? Are we in the Mediterranean, like Malta, next to Italy? Are we like Hong Kong, next to China and therefore, will become part of China?
"We are in Southeast Asia, in the midst of a turbulent, volatile, unsettled region. Singapore is a superstructure built on what? On 700 square kilometres and a lot of smart ideas that have worked so far - but the whole thing could come undone very quickly".
To a question on who would come after Singapore, Lee replied: "When (Malaysia) kicked us out (in 1965), the expectation was that we would fail and we will go back on their terms, not on the terms we agreed with them under the British.
"Our problems are not just between states, this is a problem between races and religions and civilizations.
"We are a standing indictment of all the things that they can be doing differently. They have got all the resources. If they would just educate the Chinese and Indians, use them and treat them as their citizens, they can equal us and even do better than us and we would be happy to rejoin them," he said.
Analysts here do not see any possibility of a Malaysia-Singapore merger.
"The chances of a re-merger in 1996 and in 2007 are the same - zero," said Dr Ooi Kee Beng, coordinator of the Malaysia study programme at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and best-selling author of 'The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time'.
"The very idea of a re-merger on Singapore's terms is appalling to most Malays (in Malaysia) and any move in that direction would be political suicide for a Malaysian politician to take," Dr Ooi told Today newspaper.