A top Singaporean diplomat has called Japan a “big fat loser” and condemned it for “stupidity, bad leadership, and lack of vision,” whilst in other remarks praising China’s disregard for human rights.
Singapore’s ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh, supposedly mild-mannered in public and coincidentally the recipient of Japan’s “Order of the Rising Sun,” had particularly harsh words for Japan, say Wikileaked US diplomats:
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.’
Certainly an assessment few would be inclined to disagree with.
In other remarks Singaporean diplomats were said to have criticised Malaysia, Thailand and India in a similarly high-handed fashion – but were obsequious when it came to China, with Koh saying “I don’t fear being assimilated by China” and going on to praise China for propping up African dictatorships “without lecturing them about human rights and democracy as the West does.”
Singapore’s current foreign minister tried to downplay the remarks in the now familiar Wikileaks damage control exercise, even as the various insulted countries expressed outrage:
“We should not divorce, even if true, what is said from the context. That is what certain individuals said about others. There could be a diversity of views.”
The cables themselves hardly ever mention Japan, a fact which has been picked up by disappointed Japanese media, who speculate rather plausibly that it is because Japan is considered an irrelevance in international affairs.