India's policy towards Asean was termed stupid, says diplomatic cable
India's policy towards the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is “stupid,” while China has displayed “intelligent diplomacy in the region.” A comment on these lines, attributed to a top Singapore official, figures in a set of United States' diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks and published in Australia on Sunday.
The cables, leaked exclusively to The Sunday Age, formed the basis of reports in that newspaper on how “top Singapore officials trash the neighbours.” For several hours after the publication, the official website of WikiLeaks did not carry the full text of the cables.
Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh was quoted as telling U.S. officials in September 2009 that “his stupid Indian friends” were “half in, half out of Asean.” In a U.S. cable on the same meeting, Japan was described as “the big fat loser in the context of improving ties between China and Asean.”
Quoting from other cables, the Australian newspaper cited another Singapore official, Bilahari Kausikan, as saying in September 2008 that China and India were “more concerned with stability than justice” in military-ruled Myanmar.
“Diversity of views”
Commenting on the Australian news report, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said: “There will be more [U.S. cables] coming out in the future. ‘Oh! You said this about me, I said this about you,' and it goes on. I think, it is best we respect the confidentiality of diplomatic communications. There could be a diversity of views. They'll probably say things about me, which I may not agree with. That's fine. That's to be expected. If you want to hear everything which others say behind your back and take offence at it, you'll be a very unhappy person.”
In an earlier comment, as the latest WikiLeaks documents began appearing, Singapore's Foreign Ministry expressed “deep concern about the damaging action of WikiLeaks.”
In the context of statements attributed to Singapore's elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew in a U.S. cable, the Ministry said: “It is critical to protect the confidentiality of diplomatic and official correspondence, which is why Singapore has the Official Secrets Act. In particular, the selective release of documents, especially when taken out of context, will only serve to sow the seeds of confusion and fail to provide a complete picture of the important issues that were being discussed amongst leaders in the strictest of confidentiality.”