(The article below is contributed by Alan Tay)
The US Embassy sent out a congratulatory message via its Facebook page. But with all things diplomatic, nothing is as innocent as it seems.
“IT IS in the nature of international relations that countries will continually try to influence the policies of other countries, openly through diplomacy, but also through other means.” — Mr Bilahari Kausikan, former Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs)
The US Embassy in Singapore wrote a short Facebook update to congratulate Pink Dot for its 7th successive year and directed readers to its pro-LGBT foreign policy statement. It may look like an innocuous FB update to the untrained eye.
But for foreign affairs veteran Mr Bilahari Kausikan who wrote a commentary for the Straits Times last week (“Foreign policy is no laughing matter”, 8 June), it is probably an indicator of greater U.S interest in cooperating with the local liberals to forward its own foreign policy.
In that commentary, he revealed that an European diplomat was “warned for encouraging some civil-society groups and opposition figures to pursue agendas that he thought were in his country’s interests“ and sounded out his concerns for the uninformed public who are unaware of opportunistic foreign diplomats who take advantage of internal disastifaction to advance their foreign policies.
His concerns are real — In 1988, First Secretary of the US Embassy Mason Hendrickson was expelled from Singapore after his involvement to back local opposition figures. But U.S interference in Singapore goes further back to the 60’s when former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew rejected a US$3.3 million bribe from the CIA after their anti-communist covert operation in Singapore was discovered.
US Embassy’s benign Facebook update on Pinkdot may strike a chord with a segment of the liberal LGBTs who felt discriminated in our society but I am unsure if this same group are entirely comfortable cooperating with non-Singaporeans to steer changes they are eagerly waiting for.
What have we seen so far from this Pinkdot movement? Perhaps there is a growing acceptance of their sexuality within our society but we have also witnessed the conservative crowd who disagreed with some themes that was conveyed and clashed heads on.
As an ex-military regular who was privileged to witness security issues that our military top brass has to grapple with, I can related to the issues that foreign service officers have to deliberate on a daily basis. But I do wonder if our uninformed Singaporean public took our peace and stability for granted.