Today’s dialogue session was hosted by Mr Bilahari Kausikan, Ambassador-at-Large at the MFA, Singapore. Personally, we’ve always admired ambassadors for their ability to understand, empathise and persuade. Today, it was interesting to see the other, darker side of diplomacy: whilst it’s not something we’d like to admit, diplomacy has, at its core, selfish interests.
The frankness and matter-of-fact tone Mr Kausikan adopted revealed his years of experience on the international stage. To him, it seemed, our problems were merely symptoms of a much larger one. Though his bluntness shocked and was slightly on the controversial side, we know it wasn’t unfounded.
However, perhaps his cynical attitude towards global issues was a little excessive. Life should be more than just “let’s live through this mess of a world!” Perhaps some optimism should be retained. When one of us attended a Model UN Conference last year, another of Singapore’s Permanent Representatives at the UN, Mr Gopala Menon, painted a more positive picture. In his speech, he highlighted diplomacy’s role in making the global playing field more even. While it may not completely solve the world’s problems, it definitely provides smaller countries the chance to be, at least, heard.
One other thing Mr Kausikan mentioned was this: voices in your head always sound nicer than the others around you. We all love to believe we are right, and we all love to see flawless images of ourselves – but sometimes in our ideals we lose sight of others’ point of views. In diplomacy, it is precisely this that is dangerous. Not just because one would forget about the other party’s interests, but you might also destroy any means of achieving your own goals.
To the delegates who bravely posed questions and stood unfazed before the microphone today, we respect you. Have a good rest tonight and see you tomorrow!
Lingyun & Joshua