Being Undiplomatic is being a Diplomat

The Wikileaks saga’s latest twist for Singapore diplomacy is Singapore diplomats’ opinions of our dear neighbours. Scroobal from Sammyboy gives an interesting insight to how Singaporeans are naively thinking that our diplomats should have kept their mouth shut, or at least uttered plastic pleasantries even in private discussions.

“I am actually surprised that people think that international diplomacy is conducted in a sterile fashion.

Nobody is going to turn up or engage Singapore if opinions are not frank and accurate when such meetings are generally confidential in nature. Such dialogues are not one way. It is a reciprocal exercise where you throw your opinions / intelligence and the other party reveals something that is of value to your nation and you.

The Malaysians, Indians, Thais, Japanese etc will doing the exact same thing to us – a tyrant running a tiny country, a nepotism with a facade of meritocracy, a family corporate pretending to be a democracy etc.

Comments made by high ranking individuals are valuable and are usually accurate. Kausikan, Ho and Koh were PS at that time.

The disgrace however is the Americans who fail to secure such reports that even a private can access it and its a huge hoard. Look at the American Embassy at Napier Road – built like a prison and yet one private managed to release it to the world.”

Touché!

Malaysia wants to continue good ties with Singapore
By Channel NewsAsia’s Malaysia bureau chief Melissa Goh | Posted: 14 December 2010 2001 hrs

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman says his country wants to continue good relations with Singapore.

He said this exclusively to Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday, after handing over a protest note to the Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia over unflattering remarks reportedly made by Singapore officials about Malaysian officials and leaders.

The remarks were revealed by whistle-blower WikiLeaks and published in an Australian daily.

Two days after the WikiLeaks reports were widely covered by Malaysian newspapers, Mr Anifah summoned the Singapore High Commissioner T Jasudesan to Wisma Putra and handed him the protest note.

Mr Anifah told Channel NewsAsia that he is disappointed with the remarks. “This is totally uncalled for and unjustifiable – remarks made by senior officials of foreign ministry. And I don’t see how this kind of remarks will help bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore.”

He added that these Singapore officials did not understand the complexity of governing Malaysia. “I’m especially disappointed and very concerned, and there’s our displeasure about how Singapore does not consider the feelings of their neighbours. Now, for relationship to function, to improve, it has to be both sides, not just Malaysia, making an effort to have a better relationship.”

Mr Anifah went on to say: “You must have due respect for your neighbours. You must be equally concerned (that) what’s happening in Malaysia could also affect Singapore. So for that matter….I’m saying, by criticising us at the back, does it really help? Are you really honest about improving the relationship? Are you honest in cementing the good relationship between the two leaders (of Singapore and Malaysia)…..(so as) to move into a direction that will benefit both countries and the people?”

Relations have been warming up between Malaysia and Singapore, after a significant milestone was achieved in September when both sides inked a landmark land swap agreement, freeing up chunks of railway land for joint development.

Since then, both Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak have reiterated their commitments to ushering in a new era in bilateral relations.

While Kuala Lumpur remains committed, Mr Anifah said Singapore will have to do more to convince its neighbour.

“I must say that I’m encouraged by the relationship between the two Prime Ministers – Malaysia and Singapore – and I have a very good relationship with the minister of foreign affairs in Singapore. But, I don’t think we can also tolerate this either (unflattering remarks allegedly made by Singapore officials about Malaysian officials and leaders). So that’s where we are, and I very much want to hear from Singapore their views on this.”

Separately, Malaysia’s opposition Parti Keadilan has also formally registered its complaint at the Singapore High Commission.

Its vice-president, Tian Chua, handed over a protest note to an embassy official over comments allegedly made by Singapore leaders about its de-facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim.

In Singapore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) clarified that specific complaints raised by Malaysia on comments allegedly made by senior Singapore diplomats leaked by WikiLeaks did not tally with its own records.

The MFA added that one purported meeting did not even take place.

The ministry also said that Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo had telephoned Minister Anifah to clarify Singapore’s policy of not commenting on leaks.

Both Mr Yeo and Mr Anifah agreed on the importance of good bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation further, said MFA.

Political watchers such as Yang Razali Kassim – Senior Fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies – say the protest lodged by Malaysia is virtually unprecedented in the history of Singapore-Malaysia ties.

But they say that just like past tensions, both sides are likely to resolve their differences.

On Sunday, Mr Yeo had dismissed the leaked comments as “cocktail talk” and stressed the WikiLeaks episode will not harm Singapore’s relationship with its neighbours.

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