Singapore: A top Singaporean diplomat described India as “stupid,” saying the country was “half in, half out” of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping, according to leaked US cables.
The whistle-blower website WikiLeaks released several US State Department cables that contained controversial comments by senior Singaporean foreign affairs officials on India and other Asian allies like Malaysia, Thailand and Japan.
The cables containing comments made during Singaporean diplomats’ meetings with senior US officials such as deputy secretary of defence for East Asia, Mr David Sedney between 2008 and last year were exclusively leaked to Australia’s Fairfax Media Group.
In one of the cables, Singapore’s ambassador at large, Mr Tommy Koh called Japan “the big fat loser” in the context of improving ties between China and ASEAN.
According to Australian newspapers which carried the contents of the cables, Mr Koh attributed the
relative decline of Japan’s position in the region to its “stupidity, bad leadership and lack of vision.” Mr Koh was “equally merciless towards India, describing his ‘stupid Indian friends’ as ‘half in, half out’ of ASEAN,” a leaked cable said.
ASEAN – in which India has an observer status – is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The leaked cables also contained comments from former permanent secretary at Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mr Peter Ho and permanent secretary, Mr Bilahari Kausikan on the political situation and leadership in Malaysia and Thailand. “A lack of competent leadership is a real problem for Malaysia,” Mr Kausikan told Mr Sedney, according to a cable dated September 2008.
As such, “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, Mr Kausikan was quoted as saying.