Singaporean statesman and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said in an October 2007 conversation with a US ambassador that Burma’s leaders were “stupid” and “dense”.
He told Ambassador Patricia L. Herbold and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Christensen that dealing with the hermetic Burmese junta was like “talking to dead people”, according to US cables leaked by whistleblowing website Wikileaks.
Herbold wrote in the cable that Lee said China had the most influence over Burma’s leadership of any foreign country.
Singapore is one of the biggest investors in Burma, but that appears not to have swayed the outspoken 87-year-old who held the country’s top post for 31 years, the record for any prime minister.
The cable said that Lee had “expressed his scorn for the regime’s leadership” and “had given up on them a decade ago” when he still held the post of Minister Mentor and was said to have significant clout in the Singaporean government.
He also described the recently released opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi as anathema to the ruling junta and thus an improbable target for any dialogue they may be eyeing. Singapore has however announced a policy of not commenting on the leaked cables.
The city-state is also one of the leading suppliers of arms to Burma, behind China and Russia, and despite the criticism expressed by Lee, has refused to implement sanctions on the pariah or support calls for a global arms embargo.