Monday, December 13, 2010

Should Lee Kuan Yew testify in Sodomy II

By Azmi Anshar

THE WikiLeaks expose of the 251,287 United States diplomatic and embassy cables is both good and bad, and enlightening and tragic, depending on which end of the rope you get to hold -- the one that you pull or the one that garrottes you.

There's a perfect reason why cables of these nature are shielded and deemed very confidential, with high premium on its shroud of secrecy.

It is still the official version of the human condition, where whining, groaning, complaining, criticising and lamenting is part of the staple of life.

That's why when it was exposed, as what WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange had done, it is a good force of nature because it illuminates the nasty jibes, remarks, comments, assessments and, yes, backstabbing committed and indulged by politicians and diplomats behind your back.

The friend and collaborator whom you had long thought to be a tight ally could actually be your worst enemy. It is also very bad because of the reasons just outlined.

It is enlightening because it shines a light on the dark side of the diplomatic world, not just of the United States' cravings for world dominance but also of people whom we readily submit to be allies and supporters of our local and regional causes.

It is also enlightening because now that WikiLeaks has revealed the dastardliness of certain governments' thoughts and attitudes against nations like Malaysia, nations on the wrong end of the WikiLeaks stick should take the opportunity to review their stance and policies against the aberrant countries.

Yet, it is also tragic because not only will friendship and alliances no longer be trusted with ease, it triggers a lethal consequence -- sources, contacts, undercover agents and security forces who work for spying networks of the US will be blown out of their safe anonymity and be likely subjected to brutal torture and murder, not just on the affected people, but also on their friends and families.

Now WikiLeaks is to haunt certain leading citizens in the region and affect Malaysia's ties with Singapore and Australia, prickly as it is, with the vital inquiry being, who gets to pull or be garrotted by the rope?

According to one cable exposed by the Australian newspapers, Singapore diplomats had such contemptuous opinion of Malaysia and the Malaysian government back in 2008 when it was under the Abdullah administration, offering two explosive appraisals, one condemning the administration of incompetence and the other, telling Australia that Anwar was guilty of sodomy.

One cable detailed a meeting between senior US officials and senior Singaporean Foreign Affairs chiefs Peter Ho, Bilahari Kausikan and Tommy Koh.

Here's what they had to say about Malaysia: " a 'dangerous' decline fuelled by 'incompetent politicians'."

Kausikan was reported as telling US Deputy Secretary of Defence for East Asia David Sedney that there was a "distinct possibility of racial conflict" which could see ethnic Chinese "flee" Malaysia and "overwhelm" Singapore.

Ho's assessment in March 2008: he claimed that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had been "throwing stones" at Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The Singaporeans were equally contemptuous of their Asian partners: they denunciated Thailand's political elite as dogged by corruption and Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn as "very erratic and easily subject to influence".

Japan and India were behaving stupidly in struggling to deal with China's influence and claiming that some Asian leaders wanted the junta to retain power in Myanmar to ensure the country's stability.

Assuming that the American cables exposed by WikiLeaks are true and reports worldwide suggest they are genuine, it suggests that Singapore has a condescending view of Malaysia, and is so scornful that they are willing to tell their Western allies that Malaysia is a sinkhole of racial conflict.

This disdain may, however, be tactical: Singapore is competing heatedly for investments and funds for projects, bourses and futures with practically everybody in the region that any one-upmanship low-rent ploy will do to get a leg up. Such derision could be understood and perhaps anticipated.

But the one on Anwar is a Hail Mary. Reported by major Australian newspapers, they quoted another cable that made this explosive observation: "The Australians said that Singapore's intelligence services and (Singaporean elder statesman) Lee Kuan Yew have told ONA in their exchanges that opposition leader (Datuk Seri) Anwar (Ibrahim) did indeed commit the acts for which he is currently indicted."

The Australians referred to in this are people from the Office of National Assessment, an intelligence network, who, like all spy networks that includes Singapore, have kept a steady eye on Malaysia for eons for strategic reasons but to allude that Anwar is guilty of committing sodomy is playing futsal with a powder keg.

The immediate inquiry would be: Did Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew tell ONA about the transgressions he believed Anwar committed?

Anwar's reaction was swift, unofficially fired in Twitter. When asked by fellow tweeters to comment on the WikiLeaks' revelation, Anwar's tweet was mockingly dismissive - first this tweet: "Source? Msian SB ha ha" and then followed by this: "Source? Polis SB Msia. Bukti tak ada." (Police Special Branch Malaysia. No proof)

The Australian newspapers also reported that the WikiLeaks cable contended that sodomy charges were the result of a "set- up job" which the politician "walked into", Singapore intelligence officials told the ONA.

Analysing Anwar's short burst missives, he could be inferred as doing one of two things:

- He is actually crediting the Special Branch for manipulating Lee Kuan Yew into making a judgment on the trial, even when the courts have a long way to go before deciding on his innocence or guilt.

- He implies that Lee Kuan Yew had made his judgement based on flawed intelligence supplied by the Malaysian Special Branch.

Now, assuming of course that the WikiLeaks cable is accurate, the follow-up should be as follows:

- Did the Special Branch pass bad intel to Lee Kuan Yew?

- Did Lee Kuan Yew depend on the Special Branch or acquired his intelligence independently before making a judgment of Anwar's guilt?

- Why did Lee or his intelligence people pass that judgment over to the ONA?

- Why would the ONA be interested in Lee Kuan Yew's judgment of Anwar?

If indeed Lee and the Singaporeans strongly believe in their judgment, there is a recourse that could be taken up by Anwar or the Public Prosecutor trying the Opposition Leader: seek Lee's and his intelligence people's cooperation by requesting him and them to testify at Anwar's trial at the soonest convenient date. By the same measure, the ONA should be able to send its top guy to confirm what Lee and his intelligence people observed.

If Lee Kuan Yew agrees to testify, Karpal Singh, Anwar's lead counsel, would certainly demand that the Minister Mentor display his evidence, whether it is video, pictures or material witnesses.

Then Karpal would put it to the Minister Mentor that his evidence is flawed because it was supplied by the Special Branch and that the so-called entrapment to fix Anwar was illegal to begin with and that all charges must be dropped.

Was Singapore spooked by Anwar's anti-Semitic outbursts in Parliament earlier this year and reported links to Middle Eastern terrorist organisations? Wisma Putra must get these Singaporeans to clarify.

After that, who knows what will happen.

Read more: Should Lee Kuan Yew testify in Sodomy II?

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