Imagine we invited three powerful friends to attend a meeting at home.
Friend A - We enjoy a time-honoured friendship of over several hundred years. At a point when he had maritime superiority, his admiral came over several times to seek friendship and develop trade. They helped locals build city walls, drive away pirates, settle conflicts and keep peace at sea. They also passed on agricultural and manufacturing technologies and medical skills to the local people to help with their lives and daily work.
Last year, our business dealings with him topped twelve digits in US dollar terms at the then exchange rate. He is our largest trading partner for the last few years and should be so for many years to come..
Friend B - He gave a special gift valued around RM5 million to symbolise our friendship.
Friend C - He is writing new rules for doing business with him - rules that will help increase his business and support well-paying jobs at home. Our business dealings with him is less than half of our business with Friend A.
He came and tells the story of havoc and violence across a region. His commitment to peace in that particular region had failed numerous times.
He voiced concerns over our regional security. It is said that his external interference has led to unpleasant conflicts in some parts of the world and caused serious spillover effects.
He also has the audacity to tell us the importance of transparency, accountability and also corruption.
For all the issues we have at home, who is he to advise when advise is not sought.
To add, Friend A has shown sincerity, friendship, mutual benefit and win-win outcome for his dealings and he is visiting us for the first time. He also promised to continue to view and grow the relationship from a strategic perspective, deepen strategic mutual trust, advance mutually beneficial cooperation, expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and carry forward the traditional friendship.
He is also embarking on two big initiatives with potential of great multiplier effect.
When we lost a prized asset, he came forward to help.
For some reasons, we send our assistant to represent us to a business meeting where Friend A will be delivering the keynote address.
On the other hand, traffic was affected with air-tight protection to welcome Friend C. He also tried to overshadow our agenda to focus on his fight against a group and a possible dispute.
Our agenda is really bread-and-butter issues and not to be overshadowed by political disagreements.
Shouldn’t we always be promoting peace and good neighbourliness for lasting regional peace and stability? It is difficult to comprehend when one is trying to boost economic activities and development with its neighbours while at the same time trying to disrupt that process.
For the above three friends, who would you accord a cordial and gracious welcome?
There is a Chinese proverb: Friend, do not try to borrow combs from shaven monks.
For next time, I will appreciate, give priority and respect friends who are ready to help as against one who tries to impose and overbearing.