Singapore WikiLeaks: Ties won't be affected?!?! Yeah right...

The Sydney Morning Herald published the article with a condemning title, "Top Singapore officials trash the neighbours". Singapore's Straits Times then printed a follow-up article with an optimistic title, "Leaks won't affect ties". Today, it's proven how wrong the view with Asiaone had an article, "Malaysia summons Singaporean diplomat over WikiLeaks".

MALAYSIA'S ''dangerous'' decline is fuelled by incompetent politicians, Thailand is dogged by corruption and a ''very erratic'' crown prince, Japan is a ''big fat loser'' and India is ''stupid''.

So say some of Singapore's highest-ranking officials, according to leaked US State Department cables that are likely to spark intense political controversy in the region.

The cables, leaked exclusively to The Sunday Age by WikiLeaks, detail the content of separate meetings between senior US officials and Singapore's foreign affairs chiefs Peter Ho, Bilahari Kausikan and Tommy Koh.

The trio, who at the time of the 2008 and 2009 cables occupied some of the most senior positions in Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry, all give US officials damning assessments of Malaysia.

According to one cable detailing a meeting in September 2008, Mr Kausikan told US Deputy Secretary of Defence for East Asia David Sedney that ''the situation in neighbouring Malaysia is confused and dangerous'', fuelled by a ''distinct possibility of racial conflict'' that could see ethnic Chinese ''flee'' Malaysia and ''overwhelm'' Singapore.

''A lack of competent leadership is a real problem for Malaysia,'' Mr Kausikan said, citing the need for Najib Razak - now Malaysia's Prime Minister - to ''prevail politically in order to avoid prosecution'' in connection with a 2006 murder investigation linked to one of Mr Razak's aides.

''Najib Razak has his neck on the line in connection with a high-profile murder case,'' Mr Kausikan said.

Mr Ho's March 2008 assessment of Malaysia, given to another US official, is also unflattering, and includes claims that former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has been ''throwing stones'' at his replacement, Abdullah Badawi.

''The political knives will be out for Abdullah's son-in-law, United Malays National Organisation politician Khairy Jamaluddin, whom nobody likes because he got where he is through family ties,'' the cable records Mr Ho saying. ''As for … Najib Razak, he is an opportunist. Although he has not been critical of Singapore, he will not hesitate to go in that direction if it is expedient for him to do so. Najib's political fortunes continue to be haunted by the … murder scandal.''

In his September 2008 meeting with Mr Sedney, Mr Kausikan savages Thailand's political elite, labelling Thaksin Shinawatra as ''corrupt'' along with ''everyone else, including the opposition''.

Mr Kausikan is also critical of Thaksin's relationship with the Thai crown prince, stating that Thaksin ''made a mistake in pursuing a relationship with the crown prince by paying off the crown prince's gambling debts''.

''Kausikan said the crown prince was 'very erratic, and easily subject to influence','' the cable states, while also saying that Mr Kausikan warned of continued instability in Thailand.

In a September 2009 meeting with US officials, senior Singaporean foreign affairs official Tommy Koh savages Japan and India in relation to the impact on both countries of China's increasing regional might.

''Koh described Japan as 'the big fat loser' in the context of improving ties between China and ASEAN. He attributed the relative decline of Japan's stature in the region to Japan's 'stupidity, bad leadership, and lack of vision','' the cable says.

''He was equally merciless towards India, describing his 'stupid Indian friends' as 'half in, half out' of ASEAN.''

Other notable comments about regional affairs made by Mr Kausikan in September 2008 include his reported claims that:

■ Burma's neighbours, including China and India, are ''more concerned with stability than justice'' and they feared the Burmese junta's demise could produce ''an Asian reprise of the breakup of Yugoslavia''.

■ He would be ''more comfortable with a nuclear-capable North Korea, than a nuclear-capable Iran''.

■ Russia's economy is ''Third World'', its health system a shambles and its demographic challenges almost insurmountable.

Mr Koh is recorded praising China's ''investment and intelligent diplomacy in the region''.

''I don't fear China. I don't fear being assimilated by China,'' the cable states that Mr Koh said, while he pointed to China's decision to invest in Africa ''without lecturing them about human rights and democracy as the West does''.

From the Sydney Morning Herald, "Top Singapore officials trash the neighbours".

THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) indicated on Monday that Singapore's relations with its neighbours will not be affected by the controversial WikiLeaks disclosures, as these relations are robust and built on strong foundations.

Responding to media queries, an MFA spokesman said: 'Singapore has longstanding, robust and positive relationships with all countries in our region.

'These relationships are built on a strong foundation of shared interests and mutually beneficial cooperation in many areas. Countries base relationships on their own interests, and not hearsay or gossip.'

The leaks in question contain barbed comments allegedly made by three senior Singapore diplomats. They took aim at several countries in the region and were released to the Australian media by the whistle-blowing website.

Echoing remarks made by Foreign Minister George Yeo on Sunday, the MFA spokesman noted that the Australian press reports were 'based on American interpretations of confidential conversations'.

They 'did not provide the full context and, in some cases, were from third party sources', the MFA spokesman said.

From Straits Times, "Leaks won't affect ties".

Malaysia on Tuesday summoned Singapore's ambassador to hand over a protest over "unjustified" remarks made by officials of the city-state and revealed by WikiLeaks.

Confidential diplomatic notes given by the whistle-blower website to Australia's Fairfax media group contained unflattering Singaporean assessments of its Asian allies, among them its neighbour Malaysia.

They reportedly included senior officials saying Kuala Lumpur lacked competent leadership and as a result, "the situation in neighbouring Malaysia is confused and dangerous".

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman summoned T. Jasudasen, Singapore's high commissioner, and handed him a protest note over the "unjustified comments" made by Singaporean diplomats, the ministry said in a statement.

"The foreign minister also conveyed Malaysia's deep concern and displeasure over the comments as revealed by WikiLeaks and subsequently reported in the media," it added.

Singapore Monday expressed confidence that the WikiLeaks revelations would not hurt its "robust" ties with Malaysia, Thailand, India and Japan, all of which were the subjects of scathing comments by its officials.

According to a reported cable dated September 2008, Singaporean diplomats have said there is a "distinct possibility of racial conflict" in Malaysia which would see ethnic Chinese "flee" the country and "overwhelm" Singapore.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was reportedly described as "an opportunist" who "would not hesitate" to be critical of Singapore if "it is expedient for him to do so".

Singapore leaders also believe Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had sex with a male aide in a honey trap set by his enemies, a charge which Anwar has vehemently denied.

Anwar's supporters Tuesday handed a letter to Singapore's mission denouncing the remarks.

From Asiaone, "Malaysia summons Singaporean diplomat over WikiLeaks".


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