Wikileaks on Singapore worrying

I’ll give it to Australian journalists — they know how to write opening sentences that seize one’s attention. The Age opened its story on Wikileaked US diplomatic cables related to conversations with Singapore foreign ministry officials thus:

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.

The Age, 12 Dec 2010, Top Singapore officials trash the neighbours

Yet, a closer reading of the news stories — a related story by the same writers also appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald — reveal that other than undiplomatic hyperbole, our foreign ministry officials are not saying anything really new.

Coupled with the fact that so far we haven’t seen what bases our officials have for their views, one has the suspicion that they are merely repeating conventional wisdom. That said, I have not been able to locate the original cables from the ever-harried Wikileaks mirror sites, though from what I’ve seen of other cables, these reports don’t go into great depth. US diplomats seem only to report the conversations they’ve had, seldom do they explain why their counterparts believed what they believed. There is no demand for evidence to back up their counterparts’ views.

That being the case, some of the things may be little more than gossip dressed as intel or insight.

* * * * *

The Australian newspapers’ story was based on US cables recounting separate meetings between senior US officials and Peter Ho, Bilahari Kausikan and Tommy Koh in 2008 and 2009. These  three held senior foreign ministry positions through that period.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy charges are the result of a ”set- up job” which the politician ”walked into”, according to an assessment by Australia’s peak intelligence agency. A leaked US state department cable reveals that Singaporean intelligence officials told their Australian counterparts that Dr Anwar engaged in the conduct for which he is accused, a claim he has steadfastly denied.

[snip]

The cable that deals with Dr Anwar’s sodomy case, dated November 2008 and released exclusively to The Sun-Herald by WikiLeaks, states: ”The Australians said that Singapore’s intelligences services and [Singaporean elder statesman] Lee Kuan Yew have told ONA in their exchanges that opposition leader Anwar ‘did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted’.”

The document states the Singaporeans told ONA they made this assessment on the basis of ”technical intelligence”, which is likely to relate to intercepted communications.

The ONA is also recorded as saying that Dr Anwar’s political enemies engineered the circumstances from which the sodomy charges arose.

”ONA assessed, and their Singapore counterparts concurred, ‘it was a set-up job and he probably knew that, but walked into it anyway’,” the cable states.

Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Dec 2010, Caught in political sex trap

[Note by Yawning Bread: ONA is the Australian intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments.]

Hello?  Except for pro-Anwar diehards, most people in Malaysia already believe that sex happened between Anwar and his accuser Saiful Bukhari Azlan. Most people have long ago also conlcuded that it was a set-up by people linked to the ruling party, or even the current prime minister Najib himself.

There is nothing new here.

What is waiting to be answered, but is apparently not, is what does this reveal of Anwar? After having suffered imprisonment (despite later vindication) for the similar incident a decade earlier, did he feel somehow invincible? Did it never occur to him that it could be a trap?

(My personal curiosity though is where ruling party  UNMO, or whoever was scheming this, managed to find a guy like Saiful — who looks totally gay if you ask me. Here is someone prepared to do it with Anwar and take the publicity that goes with it.)

Moving on to Thailand, once again, we’re hearing Singapore officials repeat the banally obvious:

Mr Kausikan savages Thailand’s political elite, labelling Thaksin Shinawatra as ”corrupt” along with ”everyone else, including the opposition”.

Mr Kausikan is also critical of Thaksin’s relationship with the Thai crown prince, stating that Thaksin ”made a mistake in pursuing a relationship with the crown prince by paying off the crown prince’s gambling debts”.

”Kausikan said the crown prince was ‘very erratic, and easily subject to influence’,” the cable states, while also saying that Mr Kausikan warned of continued instability in Thailand.

The Age, 12 Dec 2010, Top Singapore officials trash the neighbours

The bit about Thaksin paying off the crown prince’s gambling debts has been rumoured for a long time. However, perhaps due to censorship in Thailand, no one has offered any proof. And neither does Kausikan. He was just repeating what lots of people have been saying, including the pervasiveness of corruption and the personality of the prince.

In this and other reports, Singapore officials are quoted as being almost contemptuous about other countries in the region.

Tommy Koh, who always looks urbane and self-deprecatingly diplomatic in public, is reported to have told Americans:

”Koh described Japan as ‘the big fat loser’ in the context of improving ties between China and ASEAN. He attributed the relative decline of Japan’s stature in the region to Japan’s ‘stupidity, bad leadership, and lack of vision’,” the cable says.

— ibid

Look beyond the bad language and once again, we see someone reporting a commonly-held view about Japan in the last 20 years. Nothing new again.

Or this, also by Koh, about India:

”He was equally merciless towards India, describing his ‘stupid Indian friends’ as ‘half in, half out’ of ASEAN.”

— ibid

India is a big country with a multiple foreign policy priorities. Did it not occur to our officials that maybe it is not terribly obvious what worth Asean is? Just because we’re in the middle of Asean doesn’t mean Asean is necessarily important to other countries — actually, I myself sometimes wonder what worth Asean is even to me as a Singaporean. Can we blame India for adopting a wait-and-see atttude?

* * * * *

What’s worrying about all this is not that these things leaked. From time immemorial, secrets have been stolen and undiplomatic remarks cannily released to unauthorised third parties. Nor should it surprise anyone in politics that leaders hold uncharitable opinions of other leaders. Diplomacy is the practised art of pretending you didn’t see or hear what is inconvenient to acknowledge you saw or heard. Life will go on.

What’s worrying is that our foreign ministry officials may not be worth very much. They’re just parlaying common knowledge, open secrets or conventional wisdom. They don’t show themselves to have much by way of especial insight or conceptual boldness.

In fact, they too may know it, as seen from the way they quickly resort to hyperbole. It is precisely when one privately knows that one has no substance that one spices up the delivery.

These reports therefore suggest attempts to impress the Americans with our “understanding”  of the region by making exaggerated remarks. But the lack of substance and the contemptuous tone only reveals the hollowness of our sense of self-importance and further reinforces our shameful trait of arrogance.

With thanks to Pritam Singh and Au-Chen Toshan for drawing my attention to the Australian news stories.

29 Responses to “Wikileaks on Singapore worrying”


  1. 1 An Old Friend 13 December 2010 at 07:34

    Hi

    “What’s worrying is that our foreign ministry officials may not be worth very much. They’re just parlaying common knowledge, open secrets or conventional wisdom. They don’t show themselves to have much by way of especial insight or conceptual boldness.”

    I often find myself speaking the obvious in a more colourful way and package it as a gem of wisdom when I have some deep insights about the situation that I do not wish to share.

    This achieves two objectives:

    1) It gives the impression that I am shallow, hollow, and whatever adjective you can find to describe someone lacking in substance. In this way, people lower their guard against me. Typical application of the “act like a pig to prey on the tiger” strategem.

    2) I don’t come across as being selfish by not sharing what I know, but I do not surrender information or insights of (possibly strategic) value. And there is always the OSA…

    Obviously, #1 is counter-productive if the objective is to impress the listener.

    I wonder if there is a world ranking of diplomatic services… Japanese and Russian negotiators are supposed to be one of the best around. Donald Trump rubbishes US diplomats… makes me wonder where our diplomats stand.

  2. 2 Tan Ah Kow 13 December 2010 at 08:11

    On your point:

    “What’s worrying is that our foreign ministry officials may not be worth very much.”

    Should anyone be surprised?

    First of all if you looked at the background of the characters mentioned, none of these have really work at level that would give them real contacts with people on the ground. So any intelligence they get is from their subordinates, which leads to the second point.

    Secondly, one could forgive these guys at their level for parroting what is already commonly known as it would have been tough for them to gain first hand knowledge. But if they relied on intelligence provided to come to such conclusion, it must make one wonder what kind of intelligence infrastructure we got? On face value not very effective it seemed?

    Thirdly, or maybe these guys have in mind the Yanks are stupid will swallow the bleeding obvious thus avoiding compromising our fantastic intelligence service? However, I have my doubt.

    Don’t forget beside these guys we have a guy who is claimed to have fantastic foresight into foreign governments, in particular, China -i.e. Lee Kuan Yew. Yet even the Sage so can insightful mind never brought fruitful outcome when it comes to putting money in his mouth. Witness Senzhen. Did the Sage foresaw the politics that would scupper our investment there?
    You go figure.

    And yet he is still held as The Sage of foreign affairs in the land. Any wonder about the quality of people that fills the ranks in our foreign ministry?

    • 3 au-chen toshan 13 December 2010 at 18:30

      I’m in my 30s and remember enough disastrous policies that have screwed the lives of many yet those affected never received any apologies. Worse still, there’s still no lack of ministerial sages eager to trot out this edict and that proclaimation.

      the no-more-kids policy in the 80s, telling students to go for tech startups instead of medicine/law (right before the dot.bomb, well done Ministers), shenzhen, etc.

      problem with a government with weak checks and balances…when things cock-up, there’s nobody to take them to task. they just minimise failures and magnify successes

      Interesting excerpt from a book I’m reading about the tyrants of ancient Greece.

      ‘Their sole rule was unconstitutional, and that, therefore, they had to justify their power. Usually, they claimed to provide more efficient government than the traditional rulers. And indeed, trade and commerce often benefited from the measures taken by tyrants, so that it was possible to embark on large-scale building policies, which also served as some sort of legitimization of the tyrant’s power.

      The power of tyrants was uncontrolled, so that they easily became violent and mean despots, surrounded by sycophants. Democracy, in this philosophy, was the exact opposite: people were free to speak and power was controled and balanced.

      Historically however, the rule of tyrants was often a necessary step in transitioning from aristocratic rule to democracy.

  3. 4 anony 13 December 2010 at 08:47

    I get the impression that Spore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry & our so called “top” political leaders are kowtowing to their USA bosses. Their line of thinking is no different from what the US State Dept spews out too in their public statements on those countries consistently or from US news sources.

    Also, you see the utmost arrogance that Spore’s political leaders displays towards our neighboring countries, its no different from the way our local MPs display their arrogance & self entitlement in their walkabouts. But the utmost arrogance is displayed by an aged old politician in a National Geographic interview proclaiming Spore citizens as “animals”.

    Seems like his protegies are just clones of that senile old man going around labeling people with unsavory adjectives.

  4. 5 Gimmeabreak 13 December 2010 at 10:17

    And why did wikileaks only release these cables to Fairfax Media which publishes the SMH among other papers?

  5. 7 patriot 13 December 2010 at 11:02

    Oh come on!

    Our leaders were just been candid and frank.

    They are well respected in the World especially our dear Lee Kuan Yew. The Americans, Chinese(China) consulted him and he went around teaching them how to prosper, what language their people must be proficient in, how to run their countries. He must be one who had received the most international recognitions with accolades from even the Worlds largest and most powerful nations.

    Rest assured that our leaders and diplomats speak with their mouths in syn with their hearts, even if they tell You into your face that You are daft, lazy and what not. They were been just honest with whatever they did, anything wrong?

    patriot

  6. 8 Civil Servant 13 December 2010 at 12:13

    @patriot

    You have been going around “defending” the PAP.
    So what’s the agenda?
    Truth be told, our leaders and officials aren’t as competent as they would like you to think. Doesn’t help that our local media has to portray them as infallible.

    This is coming from someone who has worked with these buffoons. So pleas don’t go around telling people that our govt is fine, when it is not.

  7. 9 patriot 13 December 2010 at 12:48

    Hi Dear Civil Servant;

    allow me to make a little clarification.

    Me is not defending PAP, me has always been very impressed with the ways our leaders and diplomats selling Sin and themselves to others, locals as well as when they did their sellings abroad.

    They had, other than immaculate presences, presented themselves very confident, candid, frank and in all likelihood, honest as well. They possessed all the positive attributes that the talented must have.

    Must say anyone, from PAP or elsewhere deserve to be respected for their integrity. Diplomacy and public relation antics lack honesty and sincerity.

    patriot

  8. 12 genesis 13 December 2010 at 12:55

    its hard to be humble when you sincerely believe you are god’s answer to good government and the best thing around since the telephone; when you have some small success with a city which is Supposed to have been an utter dump 47 or so years ago, while others struggle with entire countries and much larger and varied problems.

    singapore and singaporeans have long been known in the region for their arrogance. go abroad with a group of singaporeans and they spend their time sneering at whatever foreign place they are in. it is highly embarrassing.

    when i was a kid, it was an unwritten rule that you didn’t flaunt your wealth or your knowledge or your success – especially to those who are not as fortunate. that has not been the case for too long. one has only to observe the attitude of the well-off today to see this. the sheer arrogance of the haves these days is so dazzling, it blinds. and it has certainly blinded too many.

    the whole problem is when you’re insecure, you boast. and when you are so blinded by whatever you have achieved, you do not see the beam in your own eye. it is unfortunate that a proper humility has never been seen as a viable route to getting people, and countries, places.

  9. 13 Amused 13 December 2010 at 13:45

    Patriot – “Me thinks our leaders and diplomats had been candid and frank. They must have spokened from their hearts.”

    Wow. You are everywehre. Just saw the same note at Singapore Notes http://singaporedesk.blogspot.com/2010/12/talking-dickheads-in-mfa.html#comments

    Funny!

  10. 14 Ken 13 December 2010 at 14:09

    In such bilateral exchanges, candour begets candour. It’s important to appear frank and candid because your counterparts are more likely to reciprocate with information of their own. I am more curious about what the Americans had to say about our region at these meetings.

    The best diplomats know what to reveal, and when to hold back. I’m sure Singapore diplomats are no different. As Alex noted, none of the information they offered is new or earth-shattering; the Americans would already have sussed out such gossip from political and diplomatic circles.

    But US diplomats will always be looking to file reports full of such salacious details to Washington. Why? Because their bosses will read them. This is important if you’re serving a posting in Singapore, where nothing much of note to the US ever happens. Singapore diplomats, I’m sure, are aware of this too.

    Ultimately, reports like these put Singapore and our diplomats in the Washington spotlight and confirm their role as a source of information in the region.

    Of course, I don’t agree that it is a good thing for Singapore to constantly position itself as a source of information for the Yanks, mainly because of the possible repercussions for relations with our neighbours. But if this is the policy that MFA is pursuing, then the leaked cables reveal that our diplomats are doing a good job executing it.

  11. 15 Alan Wong 13 December 2010 at 14:36

    By the way if they have no substance in what they are saying, does it also mean that these diplomats may just be mere rumour mongers ?

  12. 16 au-chen toshan 13 December 2010 at 16:39

    ‘Diplomacy is the practised art of pretending you didn’t see or hear what is inconvenient to acknowledge you saw or heard.’

    That eerily sounds like it just came out of the mouth of Sir Humphrey Appleby. Sometimes I feel our politicians and civil servants are cribbing from that playbook. Other Appleby quotes:

    “If people don’t know what you’re doing, they don’t know what you’re doing wrong.”

    “If we cannot refute the arguments in a paper, we simply discredit the person who wrote it. This is called playing the man and not the ball.”

  13. 17 Anonymous 13 December 2010 at 20:20

    “If we cannot refute the arguments in a paper, we simply discredit the person who wrote it. This is called playing the man and not the ball.”

    Isn’t that what they just did to Alan Shakdrake?

    The good that has come from this leaks is those exposed have to watch it when they next shoot off their mouths again. We also now know better what these characters really are in real life. I just wish Wikileak would come out with more every one in our cabinet. It would make such delicious reading and recounting in the come GE rallies. We all know what LHL is capable of in terms of putting his foot in his mouth ( think ‘fixing the opposition’ speech).

    More! More! More, please Assange!

    • 18 au-chen toshan 13 December 2010 at 22:20

      apparently, there’s more Singapore related stuff yet to be released on WikiLeaks. Unfortunately, since the source comes from US diplomatic cables, most of it could be foreign affairs related when the area most desperately short of light and fresh air is our internal affairs.

      That for now, is still safely out of reach of WikiLeaks. What we need are more insiders willing to discuss controversial internal issues like presidents Devan Nair and Ong Teng Chong, former AG Francis Seow, ISD researcher TS Selvan, etc….and also intelligent curator(s) who can pull all that information together and put it to considered use.

      Its a thankless but valuable task. History will be kind to these agent provocateurs, although you won’t get any thanks from the current establishment. I’d think it is possible to throw light on a number of secretive issues without actually stepping beyond the bounds of legality – Tan Boon Seng’s 2002 article comes to mind.

      Gotta steer clear of any official secrets act you know, for as Appleby would put it, “The Official Secrets Act is not to protect secrets, it is to protect officials.”

  14. 19 Chris 13 December 2010 at 20:37

    I wonder when Wikileaks will release cables from US diplomats based in Kuala Lumpur quoting their Malaysian counterparts’ chat about Singapore.

  15. 20 thornofplenty 13 December 2010 at 21:58

    “What’s worrying is that our foreign ministry officials may not be worth very much. They’re just parlaying common knowledge, open secrets or conventional wisdom. They don’t show themselves to have much by way of especial insight or conceptual boldness.”

    I don’t know that I would come to the same conclusion from the given evidence, assuming that the evidence is not complete, which by most accounts of the cables, it isn’t.

  16. 21 Robert L 13 December 2010 at 22:28

    Dear YB

    A lot of ground to cover, but I’ll try to be brief.

    First off, you’re wrong about Anwar Ibrahim. To prove that, it’s best to first proceed as though we believe he’s guilty… and then find ourselves confronted by absurd facts and logic.

    So, if we first assume that Saiful and Anwar had sex, it would be logical to expect that Saiful would have Anwar’s semen on his body and underwear. But the facts remain that the first doctor that Saiful consulted was unable to find evidence of anal sex. The fact is that Saiful had to find some explanation to account to the court how he did not wash himself for two days for the second doctor to find evidence of semen.

    Now, if we go by logic, we would have expected that Saiful would have gone straight to the right doctor and have the semen immediately secured and labeled, and sent to 10 independent laboratories to display the evidence. Then, we would not have seen the absurd parody that played out in open court when the judge had to disallow evidence from the first doctor.

    If you go by this approach, I fail to see how anyone can find Anwar guilty.

    Now, the final nail in the coffin – he (Anwar) “probably” knew it (a trap) and walked into it! Don’t know about others, but I find this statement completely, utterly idiotic.

    Enough about Anwar, I promised to be brief, so now on to the second point – the characteristics of the wikileaks.

    One type of leak is where 3 high-ranking Singapore officials, name given, spoke to American officials, and their alleged remarks were reported back to America.

    The other type is vastly different. We have unknown officers in Singapore intelligence branch sending cables to their counterparts in Australia, also no name given, and somehow the cable is read by American agents who report back to America. The leak we read is the American report. And we are supposed to believe the unknown official’s view that LKY believes Anwar is guilty? Heck, we do not even see the cable between the two unknown Singapore and Australian officers.

    The first type is very direct, the second is terribly nebulous.

    I hope readers may be alert when media, particularly in Singapore and Malaysia, try to blur the distinction between these two types of leaks.

    • 22 prettyplace 14 December 2010 at 01:16

      Yeah too many assumption by YB on Anwar.
      YB is being nice on this topic and is trying to mellow it down.

      I think most wouldn’t, especially foreign media. Most would want to gain some mileage. I wonder what the repercussions are going to be. Singapore is certainly in a difficult situation.
      Especially with Thailand, Malaysia & India.

      It is pretty straight forward on most comments by the MFA offcials except for Tommy Koh calling people stupid, totally uncalled for.

      It’s funny how George Yeo is trying to structure a context & an occassion for the comments, when he keeps mentioning that he has not read anything yet except on the Sunday Times.
      Must be sweating.

  17. 23 kjeyaretnam 13 December 2010 at 22:46

    It is truly worrying to see how American diplomats pander to our foreign office officials. Has anyone heard Adleman say anything yet after his rousing pro-democracy speech in Senate? They obviously believe that Singapore in Asia, is for them what Israel is in the Middle East. Yet, I’m sure Israel serves up some worthwhile intelligence. As you say here, in Singapore this is merely an exchange of gossip that they could get from anyone on the street. A sad indictment of foreign office officials on both sides.

  18. 24 yawningbread 14 December 2010 at 03:28

    Robert L – I think you’re missing my point.
    .
    Re Anwar, my contention is not that he was guilty, but that the majority of Malaysians — as told to me by many Malaysians with whom I have discussed this topic — believe he did have sex with Saiful. Most also think it was totally consensual, I should add. Thus my point is not whether our foreign ministry is correct or not correct in saying he “walked into the trap”, but that in saying that, our highly paid officials are saying nothing of value since millions of Malaysians are saying the same.
    .
    Therefore your entire discussion about what is credible or not credible is beside the point.
    .
    My personal curisoity centres on Saiful. Here is a guy who, whether or not the deed was actually done, was prepared to go public about being “raped”. It strikes me as a very rare person indeed who is prepared to become (in)famous for something like this. Again, it is not contingent on Anwar’s guilt. Even if nothing happened, we still have Saiful prepared to go public that something happened.
    .
    George Yeo, our Foreign Minister is trying to imply that these statements by his officials have been taken out of context. Other comment-makers here have pointed out that there’s no way to know how much selectivity was applied in (a) US officials recording what they heard in their cables and (b) newspaper journalists choosing what to include in their stories.
    .
    There is some validity in the above cautions, though professionalism would suggest that the US officials would have tried to be fair and representative in drawing up their minutes. With journalists on the other hand, selectivity is the name of the game.

    Which was why I put in the caveat that I couldn’t locate the actual cables on the internet.

    But consider this: If Singapore officials had really significant insights or information and were willing to share with the US (and I don’t see why not, since Singapore is so pro-American), then the cables would have recorded these insights or information. And if there were novel thoughts or analyses contained in the cables, they should have been newsworthy enough for journalists to include in their news story. Yet, we see none in the published accounts. We only see conventional, commonplace gossip. The only thing newsworthy was the contemptuous language.

    How to explain this? Which is more likely?

    1. Singapore officials did offer important new insights and information to US officials (and professionally minuted in cables) but journalists dismissed these important insights as not newsworthy, or

    2. There were no important new insights in the cables and the only interesting bit was the tone of language.

    Actually, the bit about “technical intelligence” re Anwar shows you that if the cables had nuggets of novel information, the journalists would have used them in the story. But other than this, there is nothing else. Only arrogance and contempt for our neighbours.

    • 25 Can't believe it's not butter 15 December 2010 at 12:57

      Yawning Bread,

      I am not sure most Msians believe Anwar is guilty. The truth is probably that the vast majority is resigned that he is going to jail regardless of guilt. I understand you say what you say based on your conversations but you did say only pro-anwar die-hards will believe in his innocence. That makes it sound a lot more absolute. And I understand you are making a point about Singapore offcials’ views and not Anwar’s case per se but any as an aside comment on Anwar’s case does have an impact.

      This is because Anwar matters to Malaysia and indirectly to the direction of politics in Singapore.

      With all the recent shenanigans in PKR, most middle of the road Malaysians do not think Anwar would make a good PM, but they also realise that he remains a threat to Najib because of his ability to get the opposition to work together. So anything to prevent or make it harder for him to do that has quite an exponential effect.

      You may have been a bit injudicious starting your paragraph like that. That’s all.

  19. 26 yuen 14 December 2010 at 05:27

    despite the pedestrian content, the leaked information is surprising to me because

    1. Tommy Koh, a suave, soft spoken diplomat, used such harsh language to discuss friendly nations

    2. Australian intelligence judged Singapore intelligence to have inside information about the Anwar-Saiful incident – on the surface, the inside information seems to be just what is already on the street; it does not reflect highly on either side of the conversation

    regarding the earlier leak about LKY’s comments on Korea, China: I thought LKY would be pleased because Guardian published an article just on his comments; the comments themselves, again, dont contain anything new, though we do not know how some China leaders might react at LKY viewing them as not that impressive

  20. 27 shiv 16 December 2010 at 03:43

    Alex,

    Just two things I’d like to point out:

    1. My Malaysian parents and friends either believe that Anwar was not guilty and was probably framed from scratch, or believe that the entire legal process was conducted unjustly. Either way, the actions of the Malaysian state seem to them to have been designed to discredit Anwar and the opposition and at the same time weigh them down with a legal quagmire. So from my perspective, it is this latter point about political persecution which is what most Malaysians seem to think about the Anwar case; over and above his alleged guilt. This contrasts interestingly with what you’ve been hearing.

    2. Between the two options you present us, I am only slightly more inclined to choose the first. The Age has exclusive access to said cables; what gets published depends on what they think Australians would be most interested in knowing about. How interested would the average Australian be in subtle analyses of regional politics?

    But I admit both options you provide are just about equally uncompelling. I find it easier to believe a third option, which is that (a) the most important intelligence may not be conveyed from top diplomat to top diplomat, but directly between intelligence agencies, etc.; (b) Singapore does not have obvious reason to provide all crucial information to the Americans. They are one of our closest allies, but they are only allies. Does it not make sense to provide them with only such information as we think it would be useful to us for them to know?

    I may turn out to be completely wrong, but the point I am trying to make here is that there is too much left to speculation and too little to informed judgment for us to be able to say anything about the actual competency of our diplomats.

  21. 28 Gimmeabreak 16 December 2010 at 09:36

    The cables can be viewed here:
    http://wikileaks.ch/origin/26_0.html

  22. 29 Anonymous 16 December 2010 at 11:24

    Is there anybody out there who would be happy about slanderous things they have said of others/ done to others to be published.

    If so let him/her throw the first stone.


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