Home News Featured News Top US diplomat spurns Singapore in his very first Southeast Asia tour

Top US diplomat spurns Singapore in his very first Southeast Asia tour




- Advertisement -

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson left Singapore out in his very first Southeast Asia tour, that wrapped up yesterday. The diplomat visited Thailand and the Philippines before wrapping up his tour with a trip to next-door-neighbour Malaysia.

The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong re-affirmed the US-Singapore relationship at the G20 Leaders’ Summit at Hamburg, Germany, last month. The two leaders had said then:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: The Prime Minister of Singapore — we’re very close, the relationship is very close, and we expect to do some excellent things together in many ways. And we have a very big relationship now. It will probably get much bigger. And I thank you very much. Thank you.
PRIME MINISTER LEE: Well, thank you, Mr. President. We have many things going on with the U.S. and we hope to do more under your administration.

In spite of this, Secretary Tillerson has skipped Singapore in the tour aimed at symbolising the POTUS’ commitment to Southeast Asia.

Secretary Tillerson’s meetings in the Phillipines were centered around nuclear threats from North Korea. The Secretary urged the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia to maintain pressure on North Korea to drop its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

- Advertisement -

The Secretary’s visits to Thailand and Malaysia were particularly notable. Both countries had shown a distinct lean towards developing closer ties with China in recent years.

Relations between the US and Thailand had soured after Thailand’s military seized power from the elected government three years ago. Secretary Tillerson was the first top U.S. official to visit the country since then.

Malaysia, too, has been cultivating deeper bilateral relations with China since U.S. ties became strained after the massive 1MDB corruption scandal – in which billions of dollars are alleged to have been drained from a state investment fund – erupted two years ago.

China has since become Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.

The relations Thailand and Malaysia share with China has been seen as an affront to Washington which seems to be irked by China’s ‘carrot-and-stick’ international relations model and the nation’s aggressive intimidation techniques like its rigid territorial claims in the South China Sea.


Send in your scoop to news@theindependent.sg 

- Advertisement -

JTC issues stop-work order on contractor that ‘erroneously’ cleared Kranji woodlands

Singapore – The contractor that “erroneously” cleared a forested area at Kranji has announced it has been issued a stop-work order by JTC and is assisting the developer with investigations on the issue. On Feb 16, state-owned industrial property developer JTC responded...

Clementi, Dover, Kranji: Singapore’s grand conservation plan is to plant trees and destroy forests

Yes, we love to plant trees. Since Lee Kuan Yew started the whole ritual, at least 10,000 saplings are planted every year since 1963 as part of the Tree Planting campaign. Impressive indeed. Singapore Clean and Green. At the same time,...

Ex-UOB vice-president charged with mishandling over S$5.4 million

Singapore—Sixty-five-year-old Ling Shek Lun, who used to be a  vice-president at UOB, has been charged with mishandling millions of dollars, reported straitstimes.com (ST) on Friday (Feb 19). Ling, a Singaporean who was charged in district court on Feb 10, faces two charges...

Send in your scoop to news@theindependent.sg