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Singapore and Brunei – Merger? « Getting at the truth

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Singapore and Brunei – Merger?


Dato Setia Davinder Singh

Singapore’s Davinder Singh, of Indian origin,  has emerged as perhaps the most powerful person in Southeast Asia – certainly the most powerful man in Singapore and Brunei.

Singh’s rank in Singapore is that of Senior Counsel, the equivalent of Queen’s Counsel in the United Kingdom. In December 2008, Singh joined the Monetary Authority of Singapore to advise on the implications of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy.

More importantly, Singh has recently been named Chief Advisor to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the absolute ruler of Brunei, who has bestowed upon Singh the noble title of Dato Setia.

As such, Senior Counsel Dato Setia Davinder Singh brings to Brunei his vast experience with Singapore’s Internal Security Act, by which Singaporeans can be imprisoned indefinitely with no charges being brought against them.

Brunei also has an Internal Security Act, but lacks Singh’s expertise in such matters.

In Singapore, Singh is the sole personal lawyer of and advisor to Singapore’s founder, Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew, Lee’s son, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Senior Minister, Goh Chok Tong, Singapore’s former Prime Minister.

Singh’s power, spanning Singapore and Brunei is unparalleled in Southeast Asia.

Is it all part of Singapore’s plan to diminish the influence of the Chinese people of Singapore?

Armed Gurkhas on the streets of Singapore

Armed Gurkhas on the streets of Singapore

Lee Kuan Yew has long distrusted his own Chinese people of Singapore. He has always sought the protection of the more trusted Gurkhas – units of the current British Army, composed of Nepalese soldiers.

The Ghurkas are the sole guards of the Istana, residence of Singapore’s President, SR Nathan, a Singaporean, who is of Tamil Indian origin.

Recently, in Singapore, the power of the Gurkhas can be seen well beyond the Istana.

Armed Gurkhas now patrol the streets of Singapore and have replaced local policemen to guard key installations. Gurkhas are now seen in more public locations including Singapore’s Changi Airport, the Singapore American School, and even at Singapore’s posh and exclusive American Club.

In Brunei, the growing power of the Gurkhas is much the same as that of Singapore. Brunei’s 2,000 strong Gurkha unit is made up of British Army veterans and constitutes the most potent part of Brunei’s defenses. Their loyalty is to the Sultan of Brunei.

In addition to the Gurkhas, Brunei also hosts the Singapore Armed Forces, which are kept out of sight of in Temburong, Brunei’s sparsely populated jungle province.

Brunei/Singapore Currency

Brunei/Singapore Currency

As a final step to reduce the influence of Singapore’s Chinese population and join Brunei, Singapore has undertaken a major program to encourage foreigners to immigrate to Singapore. Foreigners now make up 36 percent of Singapore’s population, up from 14 percent in 1990. Of the remaining 64 percent, an increasing number are born overseas. In the year 2000, the population of Singapore was 3.2 million – today it has swelled to 4.5 million, as foreigners arrive to dilute the local population.

Finally, the currencies of Singapore and Brunei are merging. Banknotes are being printed with Singapore on one side and Brunei on the other.

This appears to be a prelude to a merger of Singapore and Brunei, which is seen to be an advantage for both countries.

Singapore needs Brunei’s vast oil reserves, and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah needs protection for his throne. Both countries want to see their Chinese populations diminished.

Senior Counsel Dato Setia Davinder Singh is the man to pull it all together.

16 comments to Singapore and Brunei – Merger?

  • Hmm

    It seems relations between Singapore and Brunei has always been very close, compared to between other countries of ASEAN. Wonder why and how it’s possible. It’s unlikely that Singapore can offer Brunei security protection because Brunei is rich and can also employ Gurkhas. Maybe something more to do with money, finance, wealth management or even governing as Brunei may need Singapore’s help in this area. After all Singapore govt is very strong in this respect and controls a lot of wealth and reserves and almost all the seats in Parliament.

  • Hang Tuah

    Singapore is the de facto “business manager” for Brunei. Much of Brunien money is in Singapore in thee hands of Singapore Inc, their not very adept money manager. Brunei must have lost a lot of money, in tandem with the loss of 100billion by Tumasek and GIC. Brunei must really be mad. Maybe Devinder appointed to sooth the ruffled feathers due to this loss! Why do you think the Ministers are always sucking up to the Bruniens even though their royal family IQ level is below 100 and nobody else in ASEAN bothers very much with Brunei except Singapore. If Brunei’s sultans were smart they would have pulled the carpet from under PAP Singapore long time ago. Its all about money: I hide your money for you and you for me..

    Merger with Brunei will not happen. The sultan is stupid but not that stupid!!

  • sputjam

    I wonder what the late sultan of johore has on singapore. Seems he and LKy got along pretty good. I suppose the same can be said about LKY and sultan of brunei.

    If the merger goes ahead,it could destroy Malaysia, as many state now question the advantage of remaining in the federation, as the federal goenrment has ignored their agreement with the states and the constitution.

  • JeffGoh

    Older Singaporeans, Malaysians and Indonesians will remember – KONFRONTASI – When spore was merged into Malaysia. Politically this is a time bomb waiting to explode if it happens. Malaysia will be affected most if Imperialism is the order of the day. Indonesia will not be spared too.

    The economic flavour of this decade is natural resources – The island of Borneo is full of resources. This is scary it reminds me of why Japan went to war. Nobody wants war, except Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their Bosses. Lets hope it does not happen in this region.

    Lets exist in peace and harmony at least for this region, if it is possible

  • Jim

    We should not deride the Sultan of Brunei or Bruneians in general and make disparaging remarks about them or their IQ.

    Unlike most of the Malay rulers in the region, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah can be considered to be the most enlightened of the lot. He is Sandhurst Academy trained and has been conferred many honorary degrees and titles from many overseas universities, including the NUS which conferred on him an honorary law degree. Whatever the merits, or demerits, the view that has been held of him by the international community is one of utmost respect.

    He had run his country sufficiently well, having insulated it from many of the world financial catastrophies that have happened. There are limitations to growth of the Brunei economy because the size of its small population is stagnating growth opportunities. Like Singapore, the lack if a large population base as pre-empted manufacturing opportunities from taking off, and the closeness and established export oriented economy of nearby Singapore has presented it with an almost impossible task of trying to play catch up in that area as an alternative. What it has is its vast oil resources, which applied on a per capita basis on a small population is an insurance for financial and economic survival for many more decades to come.

    But sooner or later such resources will dry up. And it is with what they have currently translated from the oil revenues and how they have been re-invested that would hold the cornerstone for their economy at a time when oil would no longer be a revenue generator. On the note, I think the Sultan has done well by replacing incompetent financial managers with more capable ones. Even his own brother by blood, who had shown not only indiscretion with the management of the country’s finances when he was the finance minister but also personal weaknesses as well was not spared.

    With this scenerio providing a stage backdrop, it will come as no surprise why Brunei and Singapore are working closely not only in defence matters, but also in economic co-operation for mutual benefit, and given the limited resources of both countries it would be wiser not to have cross competition with each other but rather to complement and integrate their resources wisely.

    I would not be surprised if, indeed, the seeds have already been sowed for a future political federation of some sort, something akin to one country two different systems in the near future. Much would depend on how quickly and efficiently Malaysia develops in the next few years, and whether within the decade if the opening up of their economy could pose unparalleled threat to the economic survival of Singapore. As it stands, the Malaysians already have a deep water port in PTP and, as I understand, are in the stage of converting Port Klang into a support base providing the infrastructural secondary market on a B2B level. From what I hear from business associates, quite a number of Singapore companies which support the port industry have already set up base there.

    The threat from PTP and other initiatives from the Malaysian government are very real. In this regard, I think the possibility of forming a political federation with Brunei would be just as real.

  • Jim

    Hi Admin

    Long time no write.

    The above article is one hell of a good scoop. I am really surprised by the reach of your investigative magnifying glass.

    Hope you can pigeon us back with more such mentally challenging pieces on a more regular basis. I think it has been quite a while since you directed your radar at our little dot.

    Thanks and regards.

  • Holiday

    Why is Brunei currency not recognised around the world,everyone seems to think its Malaysian currency as its uses RM= ringgit. Maybe thats why Brunei currency needs a ride on Singapore Currency otherwise it will have no value. I think singapore is helping Brunei make its currency strong. Some Banks outside of South East Asia does not accept Brunei Currency so people have to change it to Singapore currency so as not to lose its value.
    Guess Singapore helps Brunei and Brunei returns the favour.
    Its good Brunei and Singapore are helping out each other. Indonesia in fact has more oil fields and much richer then Singapore and Brunei but because of their weak currency,the country is unstable.
    We all must help each other.Cooperation helps everyone,every country grow.

    • admin

      It isn’t the currency that makes Indonesia unstable – it is the Indonesians that make their country unstable. This instability of Indonesia is a great help to Singapore, as Singapore allows Indonesian crooks to flee to Singapore, with their money. Singapore refuses to sign an extradition treaty with Indonesia for this reason. As for Brunei currency, I doubt that anyone of consequence would confuse it with Malaysian currency.

  • java

    “Singapore needs Brunei’s vast oil reserves, and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah needs protection for his throne. Both countries want to see their Chinese populations diminished.”

    Brunei no longer has ‘vast oil reserves’. the hunt for more oil goes on but it is unlikely that any new discoveries will be as large as those previously discovered, and already running out.

    Brunei and Singapore currencies have been linked for decades, tho Brunei’s is not as readily recognized overseas. Printing dual currency will be a slight advantage to Brunei.

    As for the Ghurkas, their power is very limited. No sovereign state hand much power to foreign troops on its soil. They cannot be used against the local population, no matter how much Emperor Lee II or the Sultan of Brunei may desire it.

    The relevant armies of both nations would not stand idly by while ghurkas rampaged killing civilian populations that include the brothers, fathers and other relatives of their own soldiers!

    Lastly, Brunei has little in common with Singapore culturally. It has much more in common with Malaysia. Both countries are Malay, Muslim and monarchies. When Brunei’s oil reserves are finally depleted, I suspect much sooner than many expect, Brunei will have no choice but to become part of Malaysia.

    The same fate probably awaits Singapore, that is slowly becoming a less and less pleasant place to live. The Lee’s, despite all their claims to greatness, have created a very unpleasant environment living with growing, (although the news is suppressed), social problems of poverty and unemployment.

    • admin

      Excellent comment! Thank you. I agree that the Gurkhas power is very limited, at least when it comes to large numbers. However, armed Gurkhas are now patrolling the streets of Singapore – something I thought I would never see. Yes, it is likely that Brunei and Singapore will become parts of Malaysia – a complex and difficult transition for both countries.

  • No it will never happen.

  • Christian

    Thanks God that our stay in this perverse world where money and power does corrupt is but a season.
    We are just a passing through from this earthly place and will finally return to our heavenly home.
    We know that all the great, rich,the powerful and evil doers will be judged and found guilty of their evils deeds and corruption. Punishment is reserved for them in the lake of fire for eternity.

    Why do we have worry about the world and it affairs? This is world is not my home. I am just passing through.
    Heaven is the better place where all tears and sorrows are removed. Corruption is replaced with incorruptible.

  • Freezailah

    When the Singaporeans fart, Bruneians smell perfume. Singapore has swindled most of Brunei’s resources under the guise of ‘mutual collaboration.’