Sunday, 12th December 2010
Malaysia’s improved ties with Singapore could be in jeopardy after the republic’s senior government officials reportedly said “Malaysia’s decline” is fuelled by incompetent politicians.
These officials were also less than complimentary about Malaysia’s prime ministers, past and present, with one of them calling Datuk Seri Najib Razak “an opportunist”
Their comments were contained in leaked US State Department cables and are likely to put pressure on the rollercoaster relations which both countries have had over decades.
The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and published in The Sunday Age, disclose discussions between senior US officials and their Singapore counterparts Peter Ho, Bilahari Kausikan and Tommy Koh.
All three Singaporeans gave damning assessments of Malaysia. The discussions between the Singaporean and US officials took place in 2008 and 2009.
In September 2008, Kausikan, a senior foreign affairs official, told the US Deputy Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Sedney that the “situation in neighbouring Malaysia is confused and dangerous”, fuelled by “a distinct possibility of racial conflict” that could see ethnic Chinese “flee” Malaysia and “overwhelm” Singapore.
A Comparison : Singapore and Malaysia Cabinet Ministers. Please see Muhyiddin Qualification
“A lack of competent leadership is a real problem for Malaysia,” said Kausikan, citing the need for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to prevail politically in order to avoid prosecution in connection with the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
“Najib has his neck on the line in connection with a high-profile murder case,” noted Kausikan.
A few months earlier, Peter Ho told another US official: “The political knives will be out for Abdullah (Ahmad Badawi’s) son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, whom nobody likes because he got where he is through family ties...”
Khairy is now the Umno Youth chief but has not been given an administrative post in Najib’s government despite being seen as one of the shrewder politicians in the country.
“As for 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 murder scandal,” Ho had reportedly said.
The leaked cables will give ammunition to hawks in the Malaysian government and Umno who believe that it is unproductive to have good relations with Singapore, whom they describe as calculative and condescending.
The Najib administration has attempted to keep the relationship on an even keel and even untangled a long-standing dispute over Malaysian-owned railway land in the republic.
This breakthrough was made despite opposition by some quarters in the ruling party.
Both governments have agreed to set up a joint-venture company by December 31 to develop land parcels swapped for the prized railway land that cuts through the island state.
AGI IDUP AGI NGELABAN