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Singapore and Malaysia's disputes remind me of my siblings



Countries in a territorial dispute or plain old sibling rivalry? We can hardly tell the difference.

You can't choose your siblings. Like it or not, you are given a roommate, and you have to live with them through the good and bad. 

Just as we couldn't exactly click, drag, and drop any country to be our neighbour (Hawaii would've been great. Bring on the Mai Tais!), Singapore just happens to be placed right at the pinky toe of Malaysia. 

Like siblings, we work together to form strong relationships at times, and at other times, one of us was being whipped unexpectedly with a wet towel. 

Here are a few moments of sibling rivalry that remind us of Singapore and Malaysia's seasonal relationship. 

1. Territory invasion! 

It's likely you still share a room with your brother and sister. It can be wonderful at times, but it's also prime conditions for a catfight.

You have your side and they have theirs - until they start claiming parts of your territory as their own, colonising YOUR area. 

Sometimes even clear borders aren't enough.

It starts with their bags, and then their boxes. Their side becomes slightly larger, but hell, you certainly didn't agree to this. 

Well, that's kinda what Singapore is going through right now with the maritime dispute, except the room is the sea, their side is the Johor Bahru port, and their bags and boxes are Malaysian vessels.

2. Wait, so you didn't give it to me? 

Sometimes your siblings are told to be nice to you. Like when your parents convinced them to give you the old denim jacket they hardly wear anymore.

You've utilised the jacket well, and it's a good look on you. You even sew on a patch or two and show it off on Instagram.

Well, guess what? They tell you they hate what you did with the jacket and they don't want you flaunting it like it's yours.

We still think the patches are cool 🤷

Okay, it's pretty hard to compare airspace rights to a jacket, and publishing airport procedures to cool patches but we gave it a good shot. Denim jacket disputes aren't as complicated as airspace disputes.

3. Pinky promises must not be broken. 

Promises are sacred between siblings. For the most part, these promises are kept. But sometimes after a few decades or so, one of you could change your minds.

It's like wanting to eat the cookies your sister baked. Both of you had an agreement. You would pay her for the ingredients she used - you wouldn't want to be free-loading off her anyway. 

One day, she demands you pay a higher amount.

You agreed on this a while ago. You even checked again more recently to make sure it's okay. But now she wants to re-discuss the terms? Come on sis!

Discussions about food are probably just as intense as Singapore and Malaysia's water talks. When it comes to basic necessities like water, you can expect talks to last for decades.

Earning a little more is understandably tempting, but come on, we pinky promised!

4. My idea first!

You know when you live in the same house, watch television together and get exposed to the same influences, coming up with the same idea is bound to happen.

This is a cliché in the book of sibling rivalry. You're both going to argue and say you came up with the idea first.

 Doesn't this sound a little like the social media hullaballoo surrounding Chendol and its origins? 

CNN praised Singapore for it, but Malaysians weren't too happy. Both sides started stating their claim to the delicious pandan-infused dessert. 

Our twitter timelines were filled with a huge Chendol debate for a few days. 

Seriously though, can't two countries share a dessert? 

We're all situated in the Malay Peninsula. And our countries are side by side. And have citizens of similar ethnicities and cultures. And have a long ancient history of trade and migration. 

Whatever type of sibling feud Malaysia and Singapore are engulfed in, we trust that our relationship is strong enough to come up with peaceful and amicable solutions. Safe to say we'd still really like to cross the causeway for sambal ikan bilis buns. 

It's also best to remember that Malaysia and Singapore aren't the only siblings. We're part of ASEAN, and we probably shouldn't embarrass ourselves in front of our older siblings so much (Hi Thailand and Indonesia!).