31 Jan 2007

Mahathir supports Thailand in S'pore row

SIAM THIS MORNING
Mahathir supports Thailand in S'pore row

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad threw his support behind Thailand's diplomatic spat with Singapore, accusing the city-state of interfering in the country's internal affairs and violating diplomatic norms by permitting a senior government official to meet ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

In an interview with Nation Channel's Thepchai Yong over the weekend on this island resort, Mahathir said Singapore had permitted Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister S Jayakumar to meet Thaksin in spite of their awareness that such an act would seriously upset Bangkok.

[See full interview]

"Singapore doesn't really care about the opinion of its neighbours," said Mahathir, adding that the decision was "unfeeling and not sympathetic".

"Singapore believes the most important thing is what profits Singapore," he said.

Thai-Singapore relations have hit one of its lowest points following the controversial meeting. The Foreign Ministry insisted that it had given the island-state prior warning about Thailand's strong objection to the meeting.

Two weeks ago, army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratglin accused Singapore of spying on Thailand by eavesdropping on telephone conversations, adding more fuel to what was billed as an already difficult situation between the two countries.

"That's the kind of things they do," Mahathir said.

The Singaporean government dismissed Sonthi's claim.

When asked about his 22 years of dealing with Singapore, Mahathir said "You'll get nowhere with them either by being nice or by being tough, they only think of themselves," Mahathir said.

Nevertheless, Mahathir said both sides need to patch things up but in away "that is honourable", which, he said, should start with an apology from Singapore.

The former Malaysian leader said he would welcome a meeting with Thaksin only if the former Thai premier asked for it - but then quickly downplayed the idea, saying: "I don't have anything to discuss with him."

Thaksin has publicly praised Mahathir as his role model during his time in office.

"Although he has said I was his friend and he wants to follow my way, many of his ways are not my way," Mahathir said.

Thaksin has been living in exile since he was ousted in September. The former premier has launched a media campaign to discredit the military-appointed government in Bangkok and the junta itself, accusing them of mismanagement and being undemocratic.

The purchase of the Thaksin family-controlled Shin Corp in January by Singapore's investment arm Temasek Holdings triggered an outcry in Thailand and exploded into a national scandal that precipitated his downfall after it was disclosed the family paid no taxes on the Bt73-billion deal.

The deal allowed Temasek to control operation of mobile phones, satellite and television networks, which the junta deemed as a possible access to areas of security concern.

Mahathir said Thailand had benefited economically under Thaksin but added that his handling of policy and controversies were not very diplomatic.

Mahathir dismissed a suggestion that Thaksin had followed in his footsteps by meddling with the freedom of the press. He said his outspokenness against Western countries was responsible for his being cast in a bad light in the foreign press.

Malaysian former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's interview with Thepchai Yong will be aired on Channel 5's "Siam This Morning" on Wednesday at 6.15am.

Don Pathan
The Nation
Langkawi, Malaysia




3 comments:

Anonymous said...

*yawns* what's new coming from this man?

He'd have more credibilty if he hadn't agreed that the purchase of Shin Corp was to spy on Thailand. Surely that is ridiculous.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Never the one to shy away from a conflict, the old warhorse Dr M must be feeling a tad bored and jaded in his retirement.

After a bitter spat with his own government, and his successor, the erection he got from the excitement must have petered out by now.

How very opportune for Dr M that Thailand's political economy has been buffeted to what some would consider "high level inter-state corruption".

Dr M is the most interesting politician in modern Asia, and one of the finest in the world. He is, most definitely, a unique individual.

To me, Dr M is the statesman I hate to love. I can find reasons to admire the man: He has balls. He has passion. He speaks directly — a straight shooter. He doesn't give a fuck about anyone else's opinion. He's not afraid to get into issues of "race", sovereignty or culture. He can be scathingly sarcastic, which is DAMN GOOD FUN to watch! (Mass market entertainment, in this case Dr M is a TV star).

And dammit, he is one of the few heads of state in the world who has stood up to the US Government, in public, in the world press. And he's done the same to the UN. No one, fucks with Dr M. Anwar tried it and lost — BIG TIME!.

Dr M certainly conducts his public life with a passion of an artist. He raised the bar on Machiavellian State-craft THE true-blue S.E. Asian Political Performance Art, enjoyed by present-day tin-pot dictators, and The Grand Poohbahs of an imperialistic and colonial history.

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Dr M, you da' Man, and you are THE Baddest Machiavellian MoFo!

lee hsien tau said...

What's so ridiculous about using Shin Corp to spy on Thailand?

My phones (whether fixed line or mobile) were tapped by Singtel and the info passed on for somebody to, at least, harass me, and I'm not even a frequenter of church, mosque nor temple, not been to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran nor Iraq, nor engaged in politics.

Just think about it. How else do you suppose Wong Kan Seng decide who to detain under the ISA?

You send an SMS from your mobile. Where do you think it goes to? It goes into a system, gets stored in the system, and the destination mobile is polled to check if it is on-line, before the SMS is pushed out to the receipient. So who owns the system? 99% owned by Ho Ching for Temasek? Can Ho Ching retrieve the SMS. Why not, if she should see the need to?

Even if you're not talking on your mobile, the system knows where you are because it is constantly polling your mobile (unless you've switched it off) to find out which cell-area of the system you're in. That's why the Thai military is resorting to using walkie-talkies. The old system doesn't track your movement. That's why Osama bin Laden chooses to live in an area where he can communicate only by satellite mobile. He doesn't want bombs raining on his head.

So when you're deemed persona non grata by the pappies, your phone's likely to be tapped. And when you're not, the not new technology of speech recognition can be used to scan for key-words.

It's not as if you cannot eavesdrop on walkie-talkie communications. In fact, it is much easier. But it is also more labour intensive, and also you have to be lucky, or else pay someone to do it round the clock.