266. Telegram From the Department of State to the Consulate in Singapore 1

27. Ref: Your 10.2 FYI Former UK Foreign Secretary Gordon Walker suggested to Secretary June 29 US seek to build up Lee and arrange unofficial invitation for him to visit US.3 On July 9 UK Ambassador told Secretary Gordon Walker’s comments not official position HMG. Secretary said US did not share Gordon Walker’s view and would not follow up on his suggestion. End FYI.

As Embassy and ConGen reporting have been abundantly clear, Lee engaged in major political offensive against Alliance and visit to US certain to accentuate his controversy. Invitation to visit US would [Page 587]also be regarded as US interference in Malaysian internal politics, especially if USG host, and only strengthen conviction GOM leaders that USG pro Lee.4 Lee’s objective in any trip to US likely to be less to learn about US and its policies than to campaign intensively to win support of US leaders, press, public for himself and his views along lines recent visits to UK, Australia and NZ. Publicity and attention Lee would have to receive to achieve objectives reftel would, we fear, create more than irritation among Alliance leaders judging from reaction to Lee’s trip to Australia and major significance GOM attaches any US actions affecting Malaysia. Official invitation to Lee, coming on top of present controversies over Indocom, textiles and other economic issues likely damage US-GOM relations without compensatory benefit.

You should do nothing to encourage Lee to consider visit to US at this time. If Lee decides to come, we will, of course, try influence Lee’s views re US and US policies and provide appropriate program while seeking minimize USG involvement Malaysia’s internal controversies.

Rusk
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 MALAYSIA. Confidential. Drafted by Moscotti; cleared by Cuthell and in substance by Officer in Charge of U.K. Affairs Thomas M. Judd and by S; and approved by William Bundy. Repeated to Kuala Lumpur and London.
  2. In telegram 10 from Singapore, the Consulate reported that Lee Kuan Yew would soon approach the U.S. Government about a private or official trip to the United States. The Consulate considered that the exposure of Lee to U.S. officials and the United States would outweigh the disadvantage of the irritation his trip would cause to the Alliance leaders in Malaysia. (Ibid.)
  3. In a June 29 conversation. (Ibid., POL 1 MALAYSIA)
  4. In telegram 69 from Kuala Lumpur, the Embassy suggested that if Lee asked to visit the United States, which the Embassy thought unlikely, he should be invited. Lee was a “powerful figure and likely to become more so.” While the more chauvinist elements in Malaysia would be irritated by a visit, the Embassy thought that moderate leaders, who did not believe the United States was pro-Lee, would understand. (Ibid., POL 7 MALAYSIA)