Mon, Dec 13, 2010 - Page 4 News List

Singaporean envoys critical of neighbors

MALAYSIA:Leaked US embassy cables reveal harsh criticism of Prime Minister Najib Razak and that former deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim was caught in a ‘honey trap’

AFP, SINGAPORE

Singaporean diplomats think the leaders of some close Asian allies are corrupt, incompetent or stupid, cables from Wikileaks revealed yesterday. Singaporean leaders also believe Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had sex with a male aide in a honey trap set by his enemies, the cables said.

Confidential diplomatic notes given by the whistleblower Web site to Australia’s Fairfax media group contained unflattering assessments of key figures in Malaysia, Thailand, India and Japan.

“A lack of competent leadership is a real problem for Malaysia,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Bilahari Kausikan reportedly told US Deputy Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Sedney in a cable dated September 2008.

As such, the situation in Malaysia “is confused and dangerous,” fueled by a “distinct possibility of racial conflict” that could see ethnic Chinese “flee” Malaysia and “overwhelm” Singapore, Bilahari was quoted as saying.

Another official, Peter Ho, reportedly described Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as “an opportunist” who “would not hesitate” to be critical of Singapore if “it is expedient for him to do so.”

He said allegations linking Najib to the murder of a Mongolian woman in 2006, which Najib has strongly rejected, would continue to “haunt” his political fortunes.

As for Anwar, “The Australians said that Singapore’s intelligence services and [former prime minister] Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀) have told ONA [Office of National Assessments] in their exchanges that opposition leader Anwar ‘did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted,’” the cable read.

Singapore’s conclusion was based on “technical intelligence,” which Fairfax said was likely to mean intercepted communications.

“ONA assessed, and their Singapore counterparts concurred, ‘it was a set-up job and he probably knew that, but walked into it anyway,’” the cable wrote.

The 63-year-old former deputy prime minister, has vehemently denied sodomizing his aide, 25-year-old Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, claiming he was the victim of a political conspiracy. He faces 20 years in prison if found guilty of sodomy.

Tian Chua, vice president of Anwar’s People’s Justice Party, dismissed the claims as “hearsay.”

“There is no doubt that this is a trumped-up charge,” he said. “If the claim is true ... it would have been relatively easy for the government to prove it.”

“We cannot depend on what the foreign intelligence officials say. The question is whether the government has evidence to convict Anwar in court,” Tian said.

Bilahari was also critical of the Thai government in 2008, labeling then prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as “corrupt” along with “everyone else, including the opposition.” He said the Thai crown prince was “very erratic, and easily subject to influence,” and warned of continued instability in Thailand.

In a memo last year, Singaporean Ambassador at Large Tommy Koh — known for being mild-mannered and eloquent in public — was uncharacteristically blunt in his assessment of Japan and India.

“Koh described Japan as ‘the big fat loser’ in the context of improving ties between China and ASEAN,” a leaked cable detailing a meeting between him and US officials stated.

“He attributed the relative decline of Japan’s stature in the region to Japan’s ‘stupidity, bad leadership, and lack of vision,’” it said. “He was equally merciless towards India, describing his ‘stupid Indian friends’ as ‘half in, half out’ of ASEAN.”

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