Monday, August 30, 2021

Significance of US VP Kamala's visit to Singapore


‘Alamak’, it is Kamala

AUGUST 29 — The US vice president Kamala Harris visited Singapore last week.

It was the first stop of a very brief South-east Asia tour. From Singapore, she flew to Vietnam.

Notably this was only her second official overseas trip following a visit to Mexico and Guatemala in June.

Basically Harris journeyed to Singapore before she visited the UK, Japan or even Canada, all nations seen as core US allies.

This tells you firstly how valuable the Singapore relationship is to the US.

And secondly it shows us how the US is prioritising maintaining its position in South-east Asia — a region where its dominance is being challenged by China.

So while ostensibly her visit was fairly standard — she held long trade negotiations with Singapore’s prime minister, paid a courtesy call on the president and had an orchid named after her — there were a lot of dynamics at play.

Simply by visiting at a time when the US appears to be somewhat preoccupied with its embarrassing retreat from Afghanistan, Harris was making clear that it sees South-east Asia and Singapore as a core not a peripheral part of its agenda.

Quite notably during her short visit she also found the time to visit a US warship currently docked at the Changi naval base.

This is nearer the crux of the matter. Singapore remains the lynchpin of the US naval presence in South-east Asia.

While the US military does not directly maintain bases in Singapore, it co-operates very closely with Singapore’s military. The US Navy uses Singapore extensively for logistics and resupply.

In 2019, Singapore extended an agreement which gives the US access to Singapore’s military bases.

These bases and this access is increasingly critical as US rivalry with China ratchets up.

There has even been talk of the US looking to deploy a new fleet in Asia specifically to focus on South-east Asia and the South China Sea.

Such a move would infuriate Beijing and even without such big steps, Singapore’s cosy relationship with the US is not looked on very fondly by the Chinese government.

Which brings me to my next realisation from Harris’ visit. Her first name Kamala spelled backwards is “alamak” (a Malay expression indicating danger/be aware).

This actually occurred to me because MP Seah Kian Peng pointed it out in a Facebook post and it seems rather fitting — Kamala’s visit is definitely worthy of exclamation.

United States Vice President Kamala Harris and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold a joint news conference in Singapore August 23, 2021. ― Reuters pic

Many watchers are asking why Singapore is so high on the US priority list? And is it really in our interest to be so close to the US?

This is a very complex and core matter. Traditionally Singapore though ostensibly neutral has been more sympathetic to the US and the “West” in general than many of our neighbours.

Rarely have we had the fiery anti-colonial speeches given by the likes of Indonesia’s Sukarno or even the snide criticism of Western dominance issued by Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammad.

This balance of alignment has not been easy but it has served us well. However, the world is changing.

China is our biggest trading partner and the US-China conflict is becoming more likely. Do we really want to be near the epicentre of it?

Just look at Harris’ next destination — Vietnam. For years Vietnam fiercely resisted US invasion and interference — with millions of lives lost.

Now the erstwhile enemies are growing close as both sides are looking to counter China.

An old lesson here is there really are no permanent friends in geopolitics.


  1. Alamak open CDC Regional HQ just next door in somebody's "Backyard". Now 500 yo Bully BFF with Viet Nam.

    5000 yo Bullyland Dengki ke...?

    Vice President Kamala Harris Opens New CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office in Vietnam
    Wednesday, August 25, 2021

    Vice President Kamala D. Harris today launched the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia Regional Office in Hanoi, Vietnam, at a ceremony that included the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, U.S. CDC Director, and Deputy Prime Ministers and Health Ministers from eleven countries. The new Regional Office strengthens CDC’s ability to meet its mission of protecting Americans and people of the region by responding more rapidly to health threats wherever they occur and building key relationships to tackle shared health priorities.

    Vice President Harris reinforced the U.S. commitment to regional health security cooperation and renewed previous calls to action on pandemic preparedness and response.

    “Through this office, we will work closely with our regional partners to share strategies and strengthen each other’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, today and in the future. This achievement is the result of years of high-level cooperation between our governments. It also represents an important opportunity to come together to discuss our nations’ shared health security priorities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

    “CDC has a long-standing presence in Southeast Asia. Our longstanding partnership with the countries of the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] region has strengthened public health laboratories, emergency operations centers, surveillance systems – all tools that are being called upon during the current pandemic,” said CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky, MD. “This new Regional Office will build upon these existing partnerships and help us grow stronger together.”

    Kamala Harris was en route to Vietnam to donate 1 million COVID-19 vaccines when China swooped in to one-up the US and offered 2 million shots
    John Haltiwanger Aug 25, 2021

    Kamala Harris was on her way to Vietnam to donate 1 million COVID-19 vaccines when China took advantage of a scheduling delay, sent its diplomat to meet with the prime minister, and offered 2 million vaccines, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

    1. Vietnamese suffering from toxic effects of Agent Orange, massacres like My Lai etc still looking for yanks to account for the US evil

    2. Strange, but statistics don’t lie. Vietnamese LOVE 500 yo Bullyland.

      The NAMBAR 1 emigration destination for Vietnamese is USA. NAMBAR 2 is Australia, followed by Canada and France.

    3. Same same as those HK 废青 & Formosa 台毒!

      Thorough demoNcratic intoxication & the power of greenback!

      Ooop… Vietnam says it will not side against China, as US' Kamala Harris visits!

      Another old Chinese saying for u - 冷屁股贴热脸.


    Only 2 months ago, Lee Hsien Loong had a vert warm visit to Beijing with Xi.

    So what weed is is the author smoking when she (MP Seah Kian Peng) claim that Singapore is moving too close to the US ?
    Fact is, Singapore is building strong ties to Both sides.

    Or is the authors real position is that Singapore should become a China satellite ?