The most striking feature of Singapore High Commissioner Joseph Koh’s defence of Friday’s execution in today’s Age
is his pointed attack on the country’s Opposition Leader, Dr Chee Soon
Juan, accusing him of propagating falsehoods and wild allegations.

Is the job of the High Commissioner to represent your nation – or push partisan political interests? In Singapore, as Tim Colebatch noted in his well measured piece yesterday, the political apparatus isn’t set up to exactly encourage representative democracy.

has ensured that Australia has pushed Japan harder to ban whaling than
it has lobbied Singapore in its attempts to save Nguyen Tuong Van’s
life. Australia’s investment and strategic ties with Singapore are
judged too important to disturb over public protest to save a
criminal’s life. It is our key ally in the region.

Singapore is
responsible, as Colebatch notes, for getting us into the local regional
clubs: the Asian Regional Forum, the ASEAN free trade area, and now the
inaugural East Asia Summit.

But the defence links between our
nations are also startling: which nation operates the only AWAC
Aircraft guarding the skies to the north of Australia, from our own
soil? Singapore. Their E2Cs will continue to operate as sole guardians
of the menace from the north until the Australian Wedgetails start
coming online next year.

And then there’s the matter of having sold Singapore our Defence Commsat via the sale of Optus.

wonder John Howard will be watching the cricket on Friday, and not
joining any Amnesty vigils. Let’s just hope he doesn’t fully embrace
the Singapore brand of diplomacy.