There’s a few red faces (and sore arses) in Singapore’s government today, after the Spencer Street Soviet landed a hell of a scoop from Wikileaks:
MALAYSIA’S ”dangerous” decline is fuelled by incompetent politicians, Thailand is dogged by corruption and a ”very erratic” crown prince, Japan is a ”big fat loser” and India is ”stupid”.
So say some of Singapore’s highest-ranking officials, according to leaked US State Department cables that are likely to spark intense political controversy in the region.
It’s worth noting at this point that Australia and Singapore aren’t on particularly good terms, after the powerful public backlash to the SGX-ASX merger ended up spooking the regulators and scuttling the deal. (In fact, Australia and Singapore have never really been on good terms, ever since Lee Kuan Yew called Australia “the poor white trash of Asia” back in the seventies – a statement that, to be fair to the Minister Mentor, he recanted in 2007.)
So it’s not exactly surprising to see the Aussie papers, especially the centre-left Fairfax stable, crowing over gaffes like this. But the press outside Australia has started to pick up on the cable – here’s the Malaysian Star, and Agence France-Presse has picked the story up as well.
Singapore’s foreign minister says via Pravda that the comments were “taken out of context” (although he doesn’t actually deny that his people made the comments). You have to wonder, though: how is it possible to take “Japan’s ‘stupidity, bad leadership, and lack of vision'” or “Anwar Ibrahim did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted” out of context?
But don’t worry, there’s at least one country Singapore’s public servants like:
”I don’t fear China. I don’t fear being assimilated by China,” the cable states that Mr Koh said, while he pointed to China’s decision to invest in Africa ”without lecturing them about human rights and democracy as the West does”.
“…because anyone who cares about that squishy human rights rubbish is obviously a seditionist and probably a homosexualist as well. To get rich is glorious.”