20 January, 2011

Singapore, Malaysia and the WikiLeaks - the leak is finally leaked.

On Dec. 12, Asia Sentinel printed a story relating WikiLeaks revelations from Singapore diplomats about Malaysian political affairs, particularly concerning Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. Because the cables have seemingly never been accessible through the various WikiLeaks websites and mirror sites, some readers have questioned whether they exist.

17. (S//NF) Turning briefly to Malaysia, the Australians said that Singapore's intelligence services and Lee Kuan Yew have told ONA in their exchanges that opposition leader Anwar "did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted," citing unshared technical intelligence. ONA assessed, and their Singapore counterparts concurred, "it was a set up job-and he probably knew that, but walked into it anyway."

C O N F I D E N T I A L SINGAPORE 000310 SIPDIS SIPDIS NOFORN E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2028 TAGS: PREL, MY, SN SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S DISCUSSION WITH MFA PERMSEC HO ON MALAYSIAN ELECTIONS REF: KUALA LUMPUR 160 (NOTAL) Classified By: Ambassador Patricia L. Herbold for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 1. (C) The Ambassador and MFA Permanent Secretary Peter Ho met over lunch on March 12, discussing issues including Singapore's perceptions of the elections in Malaysia (reftel.) Ho said that in Singapore "everybody was shocked" by the extraordinarily strong showing by the opposition in Malaysia. People knew that change was coming, perhaps one election down the road, but did not anticipate that change could come this fast. 2. (C) Ho said that on the ruling National Front (BN) side, PM Abdullah Badawi is probably done for politically, despite having been sworn in again as PM on March 10. Former PM Mahathir Mohamad will keep throwing stones at Abdullah. The political knives will be out for Abdullah's son-in-law UMNO politician Khairy Jamaluddin, whom nobody likes because he got where he is through family ties. As for Deputy Prime Minister 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 Mongolian murder scandal. (Note: The scandal involves the ongoing trial of Najib's former political adviser Abdul Razak Baginda for abetting the 2006 murder of the Mongolian woman who had been Abdul Razak's ex-lover; two policemen from Najib's protective detail also are on trial for carrying out the murder. End Note.) The MIC's Samy Vellu bears a large share of the responsibility for the BN's poor showing in the elections. The Indian community's unhappiness, which helped create the current political dynamic in Malaysia, reflects the fact that Samy Vellu neglected the interests of the Indian community, even when its temples were being destroyed, focusing instead on his business activities in India, Ho said. 3. (C) Ho stated that on the opposition side, former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim came out of the elections in a strong position, as shown by the electoral victories by his wife (whom Ho commented he has met and finds very impressive) and his daughter. The Islamic PAS will be pushed in a more pragmatic, less radical direction by its increased proximity to real political power. Within the ruling coalition, UMNO could find itself pulled in the opposite direction as it comes under increasing pressure to compete with PAS, Ho said. 4. (C) Ho expressed pessimism about Malaysia's future prospects. Malaysians from the Chinese and Indian minority communities keep leaving the country. The relative size of the Malay Muslim majority keeps increasing. As a result, more Malaysian students are studying in religious schools and fewer are studying in more rigorous secular schools. This is harming Malaysia's international competitiveness, Ho said.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SINGAPORE 001019 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2018 TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PREL, ASEAN, SN, MY, BU, ID, IN, TH, KN, CH, RU SUBJECT: DASD SEDNEY HEARS OF SINGAPORE'S MALAYSIA ANXIETIES (AND BILAHARI'S TAKE ON THE REST OF THE WORLD) REF: A. SINGAPORE 1001 B. SINGAPORE 586 Classified By: DCM Daniel Shields for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 1. (C) Summary: Singapore perceives a distinct possibility of racial conflict in Malaysia, Bilahari Kausikan, MFA Second Permanent Secretary told David Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia September 15. Kausikan offered his view that if racial conflict provoked ethnic Chinese to flee Malaysia, they could "overwhelm" Singapore. Providing views on events elsewhere, Kausikan said the situation in Thailand is not as dangerous as in Malaysia, but the current political instability in Thailand would continue. Indonesia is the most stable of the three countries, but its governance is weak. Burma's neighbors prioritize its stability, fearing that the junta's collapse could provoke a Yugoslavia-style breakup.

Anxiety About Malaysia ---------------------- 2. (C) The situation in neighboring Malaysia is confused and dangerous, Singapore perceives a distinct possibility of racial conflict, Singapore MFA Second Permanent Secretary Bilahari Kausikan told Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Sedney in a September 15 meeting. (Embassy Comment: The Kausikan meeting took place a few days after Malaysian authorities arrested three persons, including two ethnic Chinese citizens, under the Internal Security Act, causing a political uproar, but no security incidents. End Comment.) Kausikan warned that Malaysia's current political instability could lead to unconstitutional action or a "constitutional emergency." He did not think that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had found the thirty crossover votes in Parliament necessary to fulfill his vow to bring down the government. But one side or the other might try the "time-tested strategy" of inciting communal conflict or some other incident to provoke a reaction. The possibility of conflict is high because the three competing factions backing Anwar, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, and Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak all have much at stake. Should Anwar fail in his bid to become Prime Minister, he would likely end up back in jail. Najib "has his neck on the line" in connection with a high-profile murder case and also needed to prevail politically in order to avoid prosecution. Having been in power for so long, ruling UMNO party leaders would also likely face repercussions if they lost power. 3. (C) A lack of competent leadership is a real problem for Malaysia, Kausikan said. Anwar might be the most competent leader, but he too comes with liabilities. While Anwar had made concessions to non-Muslims in order to build his coalition, he is unlikely to live up to his commitments to his non-Muslim partners should he gain power, Kausikan predicted. Should racial conflict break out, China would be compelled to weigh in on behalf of the ethnic Chinese population in Malaysia, though it was unlikely (at that stage) that anyone in Malaysia would listen to China's concerns. Kausikan said the GOS is also watching the situation carefully as it fears any significant racial conflict in Malaysia could lead to an influx of ethnic Chinese to Singapore and "overwhelm" Singapore. (NOTE: 60,000 - 70,000 Malaysians commute daily to work in Singapore. END NOTE.) Kausikan characterized Malaysian traditional foreign policy as including elements that are 1) anti-western, 2) pro-business, 3) supportive of China's growing role in the region. However, as China's influence in the region grows, Malaysia's "pro-Malay" domestic policies would eventuallylead to problems with China. SINGAPORE 00001019 002 OF 003 Thailand Not as Dangerous -------------------------

9. (C) Koh rated the performance of Malaysia's new prime minister Najib Razak as a "brave beginning" but added that he fears there may be skeletons in Najib's closet that will come back to haunt him. Likewise, Koh expressed reservations about opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who he said is so determined to be prime minister that he may make "Faustian bargains" to achieve that goal. Koh observed that the 2008 Malaysian general election reflected a "tectonic shift in Malaysian politics that we don't fully understand." In that election, for the first time, young urban Malays showed themselves willing to vote for political parties that did not base their identities expressly on race, he said.

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