Back on May 2, I was surprised when I saw an article on the front page of the Singaporean Straits Times with the title “Kazakhstan” in it (“S’poreans make most of booming Kazakhstan”).
I read through it and basically it featured Singaporeans working and living in the country, written from the perspective of economic opportunities. The basis for that ST article was the visit of a Singaporean speaker of parliament and dinner hosted by the Singaporean ambassador to welcome him.
The journalist stated that about 40 Singaporeans live and work in the Central Asian country. Among them are those working for:
– ST Engineering (a Singaporean government-linked company)
– Keppel Offshore and Marine (another state/govt.-linked outfit)
– ExxonMobil (oil! what else?)
– Christian missions
The above are more or less the usual suspects in terms of occupations.
Living up to (one of its) name(s) and never straying far from reporting on the economic aspects/prospects and centred around state visits by PAP government officials, the [StraitsJacket] Times also reported that Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev was “an unabashed admirer” of Singapore’s success and Lee Kuan Yew.
One doesn’t really need to wonder which aspects of the island-state’s success and the founding patriarch that Nazarbayev admires. (This is the same Kazakh president who has been identified as one of the world’s “Predators of Press Freedom”.)
There was no discussion of regional geopolitics regarding the recent deal between Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on the upgrade of a natural gas pipeline. No hint of human rights issues. No mention of the famous Baikonur Cosmodrome used in Soviet times (and still used today) or the environmental and health problems it’s caused. Not to mention deteriorating press freedom.
Oh, yes…one must remember that this is the Straits Times, and not the Committee to Protect Journalists news round-up on Kazakhstan. Or, appropriately and ironically enough – published on the same day as the Singaporean govt. mouthpiece newspaper article – this post in Registan.net and this one in the Central Asia-Foreign Policy Association blog.
To re-affirm the close links with and reflecting the interests of the current regime, you can read the full article from the [Nanny State] Times on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website here.
About the only interesting things I really got out of this article were:
– perhaps the Singaporean government have been doing some sort of media-public relations blitz, as one interviewee said that “Kazakhs know a lot about Singapore because it is featured a lot in the media here.” That’s something to explore further.
– that the cost of living was cheaper, as implied by another Singaporean who works there as a chef.
A cautionary note is in order here: Kazakhstan is still dangerous for foreign investors and this article explains a bit more. For the Singaporean govt.: let’s try not to have another debacle like Suzhou (China), shall we?
On a different endnote…this same chef “has been too busy working to find a girlfriend” in Kazakhstan, even though he has been there for four years.
C’mon man. Four years is quite a while. As Philip Cheah found out in Kazakhstan during the 3rd Eurasia International Film Festival last year, the women are “gorgeous” what. There’s an interesting diversity too (if neither ethnic Kazakh nor Russian women are not to your liking) thanks ironically to Comrade Stalin, who deported hundreds of thousands of ethnic Koreans, Germans, Ukrainians, Chechens, Tatars and others from other parts of the former Soviet Union to the Central Asian/Turkic republics in the 1930s.
If you’re not gay and nothing’s wrong with your
plumbing cooking, and I’m sure you’re paid well enough to afford spending on a girlfriend, then you gotta do us Singaporean guys proud, please lah!. We gotta go more grober. (But I guess it’s not that bad, since fellow Singaporean Vijay Singh, also featured in the article, married one of his Kazakh employees.)
Who knows, maybe Philip had already hooked up with someone during his trip there, and he’s laughing as he reads that Straits Times article…if it’s even worth reading.