SGX-ASX Merger: doomed by human rights record?

I don’t make claims to any prescience but that the SGX-AGX merger was doomed from the start was uppermost in my mind when SGX announced its pursuit of ASX. Naturally critics would cry foul and say it’s easy for you now to pass judgement after the event.

In an assessment of the tie-up, an Australian correspondent a few days ago remarked, among other things accounting for the fiasco, that Australia has “reasonable rule of law”. I wonder how prevalent this belief is in Australia .

A few days later another newspaper article says,”..the A$8.4 billion (S$11.1 billion) proposal hit opposition almost immediately, with Canberra lawmakers raising concerns about foreign ownership and Singapore’s human rights record”.
I’ve always feared that Singapore poor human rights record would put us at some kind of disadvantage. 

Where there is substantial gain to be made, many governments would even have dealings with the devil himself. For instance, western governments had no qualms in dealing with Gaddafi even though they suspected his involvement in funding terrorist activities.

Western governments are not stupid. They are fully aware of our poor human rights record but are prepared to look the other way.

But Australia has proven to be the exception with the moral courage to reject the SGX-ASX deal. They don’t want to kick up a diplomatic row so they say it’s a matter of national interest.

You may accuse me of bias. Some people I’ve spoken to share my assessment. The reaction, in the typically Singaporean way: Aiyah, you know, they don’t like your human rights, all politics.

Whatever your political persuasion, it can’t be denied that this government is a very capable one except for its regrettable human rights record. 

In this area there is definitely room for improvement. 

A lot in fact.

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