Our relations with our neighbours have been in the news recently.
Thailand has cried foul over a recent visit by its former Prime Minister to Singapore. Some diplomatic meetings have been cancelled. An invitation to a Singapore minister to visit Bangkok has also been withdrawn.
What Thailand appears to be particularly angry about is not that he was met by the current deputy head of government in Singapore but more that an assurance by Singapore's head of state - the equivalent of such a leader being the Thai monarch - was not honoured by Singapore.
Thai Foreign Ministry's spokesman Kitti Wasinondh has said, "The main reason behind our measures was because Singaporean President S.R. Nathan has told PM Suryud on November 9, 2006, that Singapore will not betrayed (Thailand) and will not do anything to damage the trust and understanding between the two countries."
A Thai does not view such matters of trust and understanding lightly, as would most other people.
I believe this incident will not affect ties at a personal level. However, it is likely to take a lot longer to restore the level of trust and understanding that Singapore and Thailand enjoyed before this misunderstanding. That process has to start with Singapore letting Thailand cool down, and then taking positive steps to heal the wound.
On the subject of wounds, I read this evening that "over 110,000 Malaysians have been forced to flee their homes as floods worsen" there. This has stretched avenues for help available to such Malaysians.
It has been reported: "Relief agencies have launched appeals for food and relief supplies, volunteers and even boats. Newspaper reports said some shelters in Johor were bursting at the seams, while at least one centre in the area of Sri Medan said it was rationing food supplies. Medical relief organisation Mercy Malaysia said some centres were overwhelmed and called for better government coordination of the relief efforts."
I cannot imagine what it is like to be forced out of our own homes but I know what it feels like to be denied access to essential services. When I was much younger, we used to live in rented property. We had a terrible landlord who used to shut off our water supply unreasonably and quite regularly; often when she had a bad day. (We knew little about our legal rights then.) These acts brought my loved ones much grief. Support from wonderful neighbours in such dire situations helped us manage the problem.
Indeed, as a good neighbour and as suggested by at least one other person, it is necessary for Singapore, including those living in Singapore, to extend its help.
I was most happy to learn that at least two charities in Singapore have been extending their help to flood victims since December last year: Singapore Red Cross and Mercy Relief (Singapore).
As individuals, we can help these charities better help our neighbours and make a difference. Please give generously to both charities so that such help can continue to be extended to our neighbours.
Donate to the Singapore Red Cross online here.
Alternatively, donate to Mercy Relief (Singapore) online here.
Do share this request for help with your loved ones.