Phnom Penh (FN): Oct. 30 – Following days of debates over the remarks made by former Singaporean diplomat considered harming Cambodia, on a Facebook page, posted by Puy Kea, a Cambodian journalist who has been observing regional and international affairs, in particular, on ASEAN issues, he quoted ASEAN diplomat who had called Bilahari Kausika “arrogant.”
On Oct. 23, Bilahari Kausika, former Singaporean diplomat made remarks at an academic forum suggesting ASEAN may have to expel Cambodia and Laos for allowing an external power to exert influence on them. Bilahari is known as an outspoken who often speaks on sensitive issues when expressing his views on regional and international issues at academic debates and forums, but the latter, had drawn a series of counter clarifications by retired and current Cambodian diplomats.
Puy Kea, a Cambodian journalist who is keen writing on “who is who in ASEAN” and he recently is trying to learn who is Bilahari Kausikan, at one chapter, he quoted one of the articles written by The Straight Times that writes “Some laud him (Bilahari) as one of the finest minds in Singapore's public service. Others label him the "undiplomatic diplomat" who says what he thinks and means what he says.” And when a reporter asked about his reputation for chewing people up and spitting them out, he laughed. “Only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday,” he said. “On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I merely suck their blood.”
Some Singaporeans acknowledged him as a person who is keen to show he is a “nationalist,” and he has been known in recent years for commenting extensively on Singapore's foreign affairs through Facebook.
However, Puy Kea, suggested that Bilahari’s views and comments touching on Cambodia are more likely on his own, not Singapore’s government since Singapore, one of ASEAN’s core founding members since 1967 would never express as such that may jeopardize or divide ASEAN.
In conclusion, Puy Kea said Bilahari’s view is more common since he is in academic field who is currently serving as chairman of the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore who often touched on sensitive issues on regional and international affairs at various forums, and the counter clarifications made by retired and active Cambodian diplomats are more than sufficient for him to reconsider whether such remarks should be further elaborated, against which Cambodian diplomats alerted Bilahari’s remkars have already harmed Cambodia’s face.
Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, former ASEAN SOM Leader of Cambodia for many years, wrote on his Facebook, saying, "At this critical juncture of ASEAN, we all need to act in concert to further advance ASEAN’s diplomacy and pivotal role in regional and international affairs, not to engage, both directly and indirectly, in any acts of division, disruption and disunity of ASEAN. Otherwise, what will be the future of ASEAN?
“In recent years and more so in recent months, we have seen that ASEAN and its Member States have been proactively engaging in the balancing acts of diplomacy and the enhancement of ASEAN centrality in order to safeguard and maintain regional peace, stability, security and development. For this reason, Cambodia, for its part, has been a positive factor for peace, stability and development in the Mekong subregion, for the ASEAN region, and for the world at large. One should not look at Cambodia through the old or out-of-dated conceptual lenses. In fact, Cambodia has been making positive contributions to the world, such as its participation in the UN peacekeeping operations in the world,” he added.