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Has the makings of a high-falutin and hubristic diplomat

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By Yoong Siew Wah
The name Bilahari Kausikan has come into prominence recently for his high-falutin utterances on opposition politicians about their political views as if he was a PAP political office holder. He was a Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before he relinguished his post to become now an Ambassador-at-large. He has written a number of articles denigrating opposition politicians ostensibly in the nature of a political treatise by a prominent politician. He tried to impress with his so-called intricate erudite verbose writings and blatantly believed that this would draw attention from the public as to how clever he was, but in fact lacking in depth.
Let us examine his apparent motive in his esoteric immature behaviour. It is quite a fad nowadays for promising writers to pen articles on topical political subjects to gain prominence as a rational commentator and it will not be far-fetched to say that our honourable diplomat Bilahari saw this as an opportunity to make a name for himself. Of course it will not be doing justice for himself if in the course of his writing he did not ingratiate himself to the powers that be by writing something that is not very flattering to the opposition. As an Ambassador-at-large he must be thinking that he is in an unassailable position that the opposition cannot retaliate. He may be right that the opposition cannot do anything to rattle his position and so he just continues his antics with impunity.
We have other ambassadors-at-large who do not behave in his hubristic manner. In fact they really live up to their name in promoting cordial relations with the government. Workers’ Party Pritam Singh and Singapore Democratic Party Dr. Paul Thambyiah have shown their civilised upbringing in not being too drastic in their response to Bilahari’s attack on their character.
Bilahari is not too young and one would have thought that at his age there will be some maturity in his action towards others, especially members of the opposition. He is only a diplomat and not a politician and for a diplomat to take up an offense against an opposition politician is not something which an ordinary Singaporean can normally stomach. So for Mr. Bilahari it is not too late for you to redeem yourself by adopting a more conciliatory attitude towards the opposition. It is alright to be bombastic sometimes but you must do it with finesse. There is a Chinese saying: Turn the head and there is the shore – repent and salvation is at hand (回頭是岸)。

Republished with permission from Mr Yoong’s blog ‘Singapore Recalcitrant’.
The erudite Mr Yoong was the Director of Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) from 1971 to 1974. He was Director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in the 1960s, and had a distinguished career in the Singapore Special Branch in the 1950s.

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