Singapore: Singaporean diplomats think the leaders of some close Asian allies including neighbouring Malaysia are corrupt, incompetent or stupid, cables from WikiLeaks revealed Sunday.
Confidential diplomatic notes given by the whistle-blower website to Australia's Fairfax media group contained unflattering assessments of key figures in Malaysia, Thailand, India and Japan.
"A lack of competent leadership is a real problem for Malaysia," permanent secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bilahari Kausikan, reportedly told US Deputy Secretary of Defence for East Asia David Sedney.
As a result, "the situation in neighbouring Malaysia is confused and dangerous" and there is a "distinct possibility of racial conflict", according to the cable dated September 2008.
Such conflict would see ethnic Chinese flee Malaysia and "overwhelm" Singapore, Bilahari was quoted as saying.
Another official, Peter Ho, reportedly described Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as "an opportunist" who "would not hesitate" to be critical of Singapore if "it is expedient for him to do so."
Bilahari was also reportedly critical of the Thai government, labelling fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra "corrupt" along with "everyone else, including the opposition".
In a 2009 memo, Singapore's ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh -- known for being mild-mannered and eloquent in public -- was uncharacteristically blunt in his assessment of regional heavyweights Japan and India, the documents reveal.
"Koh described Japan as 'the big fat loser' in the context of improving ties between China and ASEAN," a leaked cable detailing a meeting between him and US officials stated.
"He attributed the relative decline of Japan's stature in the region to Japan's 'stupidity, bad leadership, and lack of vision,'" it added.
"He was equally merciless towards India, describing his 'stupid Indian friends' as 'half in, half out' of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.)"
Foreign minister George Yeo said the unflattering appraisals of Singapore's allies should not be taken out of context.
"We should not divorce, even if true, what is said from the context," Yeo said in comments carried on local broadcast news network Channel NewsAsia's website.
"That is what certain individuals said about others. There could be a diversity of views."