Myanmar activists face visa problems in Singapore


At least three Myanmar activists were forced to leave Singapore after authorities decided not to renew their visas in an apparent attempt to stop the group’s pro-democracy work, another Myanmar activist said.

Myo Myint Maung, a spokesman for the group, told Reuters on Friday that six Myanmar nationals are having trouble with their visas and three, including a student, were forced to leave Singapore recently after their various visas were not renewed.

The remaining three are Singapore permanent residents, which means they can stay in the city-state if they choose to. But they will not be allowed to re-enter Singapore should they leave as their re-entry permits have not been extended.

All six were involved in an illegal protest last year against Myanmar’s ruling military junta. Though not charged, they were let off with a warning. Protests are rare in Singapore and gatherings of four or more people require police permission.

Myo said the treatment of the activists was not justified.

“We are very puzzled. I cannot think of any reasonable explanation for their decision not to renew it,” he said.

Singapore’s home ministry said in a statement that the right of a foreigner to work and stay in Singapore “is not a matter of entitlement by political demand”.

“Foreigners who work or live here are expected to at least respect the law and local sensitivities in Singapore,” said a spokeswoman from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

According to the Singapore immigration website, the process to renew a re-entry permit into Singapore for a permanent resident only takes 30 minutes.

“It is usually a one-day process, but it has been pending for more than a month for some,” Myo said.

Singapore is home to around 100,000 Myanmar nationals, the pro-government Straits Times newspaper reported earlier this year.

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