WikiLeaks reviewed the negative views that were purported to be conveyed by senior Singapore diplomats about some of our neighbors. This has caused Malaysia to lodge a protest and has temporarily soured relations.
The trouble is that the leaks revealed the negative views. It would be quite different if the leaks revealed the positive views that were expressed about some of our neighbors, such as the the positive qualities of their leaders and the progress that they are making to solve their problems.
Two decades ago, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew said a few positive views about President Suharto's leadership. This was followed by a long period of extremely warm relations between the two countries. Some foreign observers had commented on the negative aspects of the Suharto regime, but it does not really matter. It has its positive aspects as well - which is more important.
Our leaders and Singaporeans in general have to learn how to look at the positive side, and to express positive views of other people. We have to learn to see "what is right" and not focus too much on "what is wrong". If we have to point out what is wrong, it can be done in an objective manner, without attributing any negative qualities to specific people. We do not need to be judgemental.
I hope that future leaks can help to build relations with our neighbors.
Tan Kin Lian
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