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Published by Jutta Pflueg
ummary: ASEAN should not have admitted Burma,
Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam into the organization in the
1990's, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew told visiting EAP DAS
Christensen and the Ambassador October 16.
ummary: ASEAN should not have admitted Burma,
Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam into the organization in the
1990's, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew told visiting EAP DAS
Christensen and the Ambassador October 16.

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Published by: Jutta Pflueg on Dec 16, 2010
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Browse by creationdate66 72 75 79 86 88 89 90 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 Browse byoriginA B C D F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W  Y Z Browse bytagViewing cable 07SINGAPORE1932, LEE KUAN YEW ON BURMA'S "STUPID"
If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on thestructure of athemwith others. See also theFAQsReference IDCreatedReleasedClassificat07SINGAPORE19322007-10-19 08:082010-12-12 21:09CONFIDE
VZCZCXRO3881PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHVCDE RUEHGP #1932/01 2920841ZNY CCCCC ZZHP 190841Z OCT 07FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORETO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4263INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVERUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVERUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1998RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1842RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 4105RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 5723RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1359RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HIRHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DCC O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SINGAPORE 001932SIPDISSIPDISE.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2017TAGS:PREL PGOV ECON CH TW BM SN SUBJECT: LEE KUAN YEW ON BURMA'S "STUPID" GENERALS AND THE"GAMBLER" CHEN SHUI-BIANClassified By: Ambassador Patricia L. Herbold. Reasons 1.4(1. (C) Summary: ASEAN should not have admitted Burma,Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam into the organization in the1990's, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew told visiting EAP DASChristensen and the Ambassador October 16. Expressing hisscorn for Burma's leaders, MM Lee called them "dense" and"stupid." After discussing China's influence over Burma, hesuggested that Indonesian President Yudhoyono, as a formergeneral, could potentially be an interlocutor with theregime. Turning to cross-Strait relations, MM Leecharacterized President Chen Shui-bian as a "gambler" who wready to "go for broke" on independence. He thought thatJapan might be willing to speak out publicly to constrainTaiwan now that Yasuo Fukuda was prime minister. China'sstrategy for Southeast Asia was simple -- "come grow with m because China's rise is inevitable. MM Lee urged the UnitedStates to pursue more Free Trade Agreements to give theregion options besides China. End Summary. ASEAN's Problematic Newer Members---------------------------------2. (C) Regional stability will be enhanced the more ASEANable to "get its act together," Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yetold visiting EAP DAS Christensen and the Ambassador duringan October 16 meeting. However, ASEAN should not haveadmitted Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam as members in th1990's, Lee argued. The older members of ASEAN shared commovalues and an antipathy to Communism. Those values had been"muddied" by the new members, and their economic and socialproblems made it doubtful they would ever behave like theolder ASEAN members.
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3. (C) MM Lee was most optimistic about Vietnam. Hecharacterized the Vietnamese as "bright, fast learners" who will contribute to ASEAN's development. Vietnam also doesnot want to see China's influence in Southeast Asia becometoo great. Cambodia has not recovered yet from its difficulthistory and the political system is too personalized aroundPrime Minister Hun Sen. MM Lee dismissed Laos as an outpostfor China, saying Laos reports back to China on theQproceedings from all ASEAN meetings.Burma's Generals: "Dense" and "Stupid"--------------------------------------4. (C) Turning to Burma, MM Lee expressed his scorn for theregime's leadership. He said he had given up on them adecade ago, called them "dense" and "stupid" and said theyhad "mismanaged" the country's great natural resources. Heasserted that China had the greatest influence over theregime and had heavily penetrated the Burmese economy. China was worried that the country could "blow up" which wouldendanger its significant investments, pipelines, and theapproximately two million Chinese estimated to be working inthe country. India was worried about China's influence inBurma and was engaged with the regime in an attempt to minimize China's influence. India lacked China's finer graspof how Burma worked, however.Resolving the Crisis in Burma-----------------------------5. (C) MM Lee thought one possible solution to the crisis inBurma would be for a group of younger military officers who were less "obtuse" to step forward and recognize that thecurrent situation was untenable. They could share power withthe democracy activists, although probably not with Aung SanSuu Kyi, who was anathema to the military. It would be along process. He said that Burma's ambassador in Singaporehad told MFA that Burma could "survive any sanctions" due toits natural resources. Lee said dealing with the regime waslike "talking to dead people."SBY as Envoy?-------------
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8. (C) Lee said he had told Frank Hsieh and Su Tseng-chang inseparate meetings earlier this year that Taiwan would gainnothing from pursuing independence and would pay a great costif it did. They responded that if Taiwan did nothing, it would be reunified with the mainland; they did not want to bea part of the PRC under any circumstances. Lee said heunderstood their negative history with the KMT but foundtheir "antipathy, hatred, and revulsion" toward China to be"unbelievable." A Role for Japan----------------9. (C) Japan should speak out to restrain Taiwan from makingprovocative moves towards independence, MM Lee said. Heasked what Japan had agreed to do in response to the proposedreferendum on joining the UN under the name Taiwan. DASChristensen noted that Japan has expressed its oppositionprivately with President Chen, but did not agree to make anypublic statements opposing the referendum. MM Lee suggestedthat Japan might be willing to make a public statement now with Yasuo Fukuda serving as prime minister. Fukuda hasclose ties to the KMT and his father even risked China's ireto attend former President Chiang Ching-kuo's funeral in1988, according to Lee.Dealing with a Rising China---------------------------10. (C) The more fundamental issue was how to deal with arising China, MM Lee observed. The intellectual resources ofthe United States were being "sucked away" by the problems inthe Middle East, making it difficult for the United States tofocus on China. Over the next several decades, China wantsto concentrate on its internal economic development and toavoid a conflict over Taiwan, Lee averred. However, ifTaiwan declared independence, China would have no choice butto respond with force because its leaders have leftthemselves no "loopholes." China hopes that the Taiwan issue will be resolved on its own over the next fifty years whenTaiwan's economy becomes "totally embedded" into China. Hepointed to the case of Hong Kong, where the economy has beenbooming in recent years due to its greater access to China's market and the influx of tourists from the PRC. ASEAN and China---------------11. (C) China's strategy for Southeast Asia was fairlysimple, MM Lee claimed. China tells the region, "come grow with me." At the same time, China's leaders want to conveythe impression that China's rise is inevitable and thatcountries will need to decide if they want to be China'sfriend or foe when it "arrives." China is also willing tocalibrate its engagement to get what it wants or express itsdispleasure. In the case of Singapore, China took "greatumbrage" over then-Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong'sJuly 2004 visit to Taiwan. China froze bilateral talks, andthe proposed bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has notprogressed. However, China did not "squeeze" any ofSingapore's investors and China remains the largestSINGAPORE 00001932 003 OF 003destination for Singapore's FDI. MM Lee urged the UnitedStates to pursue more FTAs with ASEAN, or at least key members of ASEAN, which would give the region more options.He said Malaysia's unwillingness to bend on its "bumiputera"policy had been an impediment to a U.S.-Malaysia FTA.12. (U) DAS Christensen has cleared this message.Visit Embassy Singapore's Classified website:
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