16 December, 2010

Singapore leaders getting a bitter taste of its own medicine?

As Singapore appears to be embroiled in a protracted diplomatic spat with its neighbors following a series of damning releases by WikiLeaks, one cannot helping wondering how a small country has become so maligned and vilified at least in the region after the United States of America.

The shocking releases of Singapore diplomats making unflattering remarks about Malaysia, Thailand, Japan and India by two Australian papers last Sunday was followed swiftly by another diplomatic cable leaked on WikiLeaks a few days later with PAP strongman Lee Kuan Yew calling Burma’s generals “stupid” and “dense” and expressing his reservations about Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam joining ASEAN.

Poor George Yeo must have a busy time of late trying to contain the damage from the diplomatic fallout.

It doesn’t matter if MFA comments on the leak, less so if they are really mere “gossip” and “cocktail talk” as Mr Yeo will want the world to believe. The fact remains that Singapore’s reputation has taking a battling with even the Japanese media giving extensive coverage on Tommy Koh’s remarks on them being a “big fat loser.”

Does it surprise us or anybody that our diplomats and leaders are capable of making the most callous, disrespectful and yes, undiplomatic comments about their purported friends and allies within diplomatic circles?

Singapore officials have acquired a reputation of being condescending and arrogant with a “superiority complex” over its neighbors, noted a Malaysian diplomat which is why Malaysia Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said quite frankly that he did not expect an apology from Singapore when he handed a protest note to the Singapore’s High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur.

The “holier-than-thou” attitude displayed by our leaders has peeved off quite a number of countries over the years though they may not have expressed it explicitly out of courtesy, coupled with their propensity to sue the foreign media, doesn’t make them exactly popular among some countries in the region.

While Australia has maintained friendly ties with Singapore for a number of years, the same cannot be said of the Australia media whose coverage of Singapore is always less than favorable.

Nearly 1,000 cables were leaked by WikiLeaks exclusively to the two Australian papers – why did they choose to pick on Singapore only and not on others?

Consider the following headline carried on the Sydney Morning Herald:

Though the comments were made by Singapore diplomats, the Australian paper chose to shift the focus to Singapore’s leaders instead.....more

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