Malaysia summons Singapore diplomat
KL issues protest note to express 'displeasure' over alleged remarks by S'pore officials revealed by WikiLeaks
By Elizabeth Looi, Malaysia Correspondent
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia yesterday handed a protest note to Singapore to express 'displeasure' over criticism of the country by the Republic's officials as revealed by WikiLeaks last week.
Foreign Minister Anifah Aman summoned Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia T. Jasudasen to hand over the official protest note.
A statement from the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said the note was over 'the unjustified comments made by senior officials of the Singapore Foreign Ministry concerning the leadership of Malaysia and the situation in the country'.
It added: 'The Foreign Minister also conveyed Malaysia's deep concern and displeasure over the comments as revealed by WikiLeaks and subsequently reported in the media.'
The statement was the government's first official response since the WikiLeaks revelations were reported by two Australian newspapers.
In the cables, Malaysian leaders were reportedly labelled as 'incompetent' and Prime Minister Najib Razak said to have been called an 'opportunist'. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was also reported to have commented on opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's sodomy charges.
Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday confirmed that Mr Jasudasen had received Kuala Lumpur's protest note. It also said that Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo had called his counterpart, Datuk Seri Anifah, and the two men had agreed on the importance of good bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation further.
The Singapore ministry also said that what Singapore officials were alleged by WikiLeaks to have said did not tally with its own records, and that one purported meeting did not even take place. It did not say which.
Mr Anifah later told reporters in Malaysia that bilateral ties between the two countries were not affected by the issue, but admitted that it would not benefit both countries.
'Ties are still good. That is why I said...I took solace in the fact that it was issued only by these officials and not the leaders of the nation,' he was quoted as saying by the Malaysian Insider.
But he added: 'But then again, these people should have also taken into consideration the feelings of their neighbours. While it is their prerogative to say so, they must take into consideration their bilateral relationship with their closest neighbours.'
Datuk Seri Najib has yet to comment directly on the issue, though he appeared to hint at it in a speech on Monday evening. 'We can show to our neighbours, that although sometimes they make disparaging remarks about us, that Malaysians can actually achieve,' he said at a fund-raising event.
However, Bernama yesterday reported former prime minister Abdullah Badawi as advising Singapore not to make hurtful statements against its neighbours to ensure continued close ties.
Tun Abdullah, who was asked to comment on the reports, said Singapore should respect Malaysia's sensitivities when making statements and create a win-win situation with its neighbour.
Meanwhile, the vice-president of Mr Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Mr Tian Chua, demanded an official stand from the Singapore High Commission, in a letter delivered to the commission in Kuala Lumpur.
'I hope the Singapore High Commission, on behalf of the Singapore Government, will explain to the Malaysian public whether the opinions of its officials as revealed on WikiLeaks reflect the Government's official view on Malaysia,' Mr Chua said in the letter, which was received by the High Commission's first secretary Walter Chia.
Mr Chua said that despite his differences with ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, he found it 'extremely offensive' when Malaysia's image was tarnished by unverified information from a foreign government. 'This is not just about Anwar Ibrahim, it is about Malaysia, and as a diplomatic protocol, Singapore must respond to our letter,' he said.
A lawyer representing Anwar yesterday said he has received instructions to file a suit against several newspapers and former premier Mahathir Mohamad for reporting and talking about the ongoing court case, the Malaysiakini news website reported.
Mr Sankara Nair warned the media of sub-judice in relation to Anwar's trial, and accused the media of relying on hearsay to publish matters that are unsubstantiated.
PKR lawmaker R. Sivarasa yesterday filed an emergency motion to debate the WikiLeaks issue in Parliament. It is expected to be accepted or rejected by the Speaker when the House sits today.
Local newspapers also expressed displeasure towards Singapore in their commentaries, but urged both countries to move forward and put aside the alleged comments by Singapore officials.
'The days of being emotional are long gone. It is time to think strategically for the long term and best interest of Malaysia,' wrote The Star newspaper.
But Malaysia's biggest English daily also warned Malaysia to 'be more alert when dealing with Singapore'.
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