As the leaks from WikiLeaks continued, I again wonder why America is so worried about them. There’s nothing too damaging about them and seriously, it’s causing more problems for other people than America. I’m sure the Saudi King isn’t having a good time of it at the moment and the latest country to get into trouble is Singapore.
The latest batch of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks has comments made by high-ranking Singapore diplomats to U.S officials. Basically, we had been badmouthing every country from Japan to India to our American allies.
Now in light of these leaks, some Singaporeans have been quite proud of the fact that the Americans are asking Singapore about our assessment of the region. These Singaporeans need to get their heads out of the clouds. Although Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is highly respected, I believe the reason why the Americans asked for our assessment is quite simply because Singapore is the most pro-America country in South-east Asia.
It’s that simple. You ask your allies what they feel about their neighbors and that’s why Singapore is in WikiLeaks. Singaporeans should understand that just because these are our diplomats’ assessment, that doesn’t mean they are true or even these are their true feelings.
Take for example the case of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. He has been charged for sodomy in Malaysia, a case most Singaporeans (and Malaysians) do not believe. One cable from WikiLeaks state that Singapore told Australia that Mr. Anwar did engaged in sodomy. Is that true? Maybe not because Singapore made that assessment based on intercepted communications. That doesn’t mean those intercepted communications were true. Also factor in the fact that it is in Singapore’s interest that Anwar do not come to power in Malaysia. We have 40+ years of trade and business dealings with the current Malaysian government, so it is in our interest the current Malaysian government stays the government of Malaysia.
Another thing is that these assessments were made in 2008. A lot can happen in 2 years and some had already been proved wrong. A Singapore senior diplomat Bilahari Kausikan was quoted as saying Russia’s economy is “Third World” and some of their problems were insurmountable. Yet they just got the World Cup.
I feel too much has been made of the whole WikiLeaks thing. The diplomats' comments are unlikely to stoke tension in the region because talk is just talk. Worse, these are talk from 2 years ago! Embarrassing but they are nothing Singaporeans should be afraid or proud of.