Orchids for Aung San Suu Kyi but it’s not from PAP

John Moe

The Singapore Government honoured unelected Burma Prime Minister General Thein Sein by naming a new orchid after him (“Dendrobium Thein Sein”) at the Botanic Gardens on Thursday. This was roundly rejected by Singaporean activists.

The Singapore Government wants a first world class image for Singapore, but the ruling People’s Action Party leaders failed to consider whether the hypocritical Burmese general deserves such an accolade.

The Government of Singapore enjoys warm relations with the military junta for self-interest and in doing so continues to ignore the desires of ordinary Burmese.

Singapore’s bilateral trade with Burma reached up to $1.2 billion dollars in fiscal year 2007-08, making with Singapore Burma’s second largest trading partner after Thailand. The total amount of Singapore exports to Burma amounted to $816 million, while its imports reached $402 million.

But the biggest question to ask is, is the PAP government doing business well? The portfolios of Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and state-owned Temasek Holdings reportedly fell by 25% and 31% respectively.

The Singapore Government rarely mentions either the democratic process of Burma or human rights situation of its own city-state. In Singapore the freedom of speech and assembly is strictly prohibited.

But true-hearted and valued Singaporean activists have shown their concern for Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been serving long years of illegal detention under the Burmese military rulers.

Singaporeans activists amazingly dedicated a bouquet of eight Orchids intended to echo the digit 8 of the uprising started by students in Yangon on on 8 August 1988. Student protests spread throughout the country. Hundreds of thousands of ocher-robed monks, young children, university students, housewives and doctors demonstrated against the regime. 8-8-88, a date that now carries great significance in Burma, was violently suppressed and a new military junta holds power till today.

Did the PAP find out what was the role of the invited Prime Minister Gen Thein Sein during the 8-8-88 days?

Aung San Suu KyiThe Singapore Government does not dare to honour, a hero for democracy in Asean like Aung San Suu Kyi. The first-world class Tiger island should honour the first-world class democracy icon with places such as Aung San Suu Kyi Garden or Aun San Suu Kyi Street instead of naming a flower Dendrobium Thein Sein, after a brutal military elite.

The United States House of Representatives awarded Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi the Congressional Gold Medal, bestowed to only a few prominent people, including Mother Theresa, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr, Robert Frost and Elie Wiesel. It remains the highest civilian award in the United States.

Aung San Suu Kyi was also given the honorary citizenship of Canada by the Canadian Parliament, the highest civilian award in Canada. She was only the fourth person in Canada’s history to receive this award.

Minister Mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew may not have forgotten her father, Aung San, who founded the modern Burmese army and negotiated Burma’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. He was assassinated by his rivals in the same year.

Singapore Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong should be aware that according to the 1990 general elections result, Aung San Suu Kyi earned the right to be Prime Minister as leader of the winning National League for Democracy. Her subsequent detention by the military junta prevented her from assuming that role till today.

As a matter of fact the PAP Government very much hesitates to appreciate a global democracy icon like Aung San Suu Kyi. The Singapore Government’s motives are obviously absurd because one of strongest Singapore pro democracy activists, Dr Chee Soon Juan and Burma’s Nobel Laureate are of the same vision, mission and values to stand against such totalitarianism.

The PAP has been well aware of the corrupt Burma generals and their mismanagement of the economy. During the extravagant wedding of Senior General Than Shwe’s daughter, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew commented that, “Flaunting these excesses must push a hungry and impoverished people to revolt,” and that the ruler’s daughter looked “like a Christmas tree” in the video.

MM Lee also commented that Burma’s ruling generals “are rather dumb generals when it comes to the economy. How could they so mismanage the economy and reach this stage when the country has so many natural resources?”

Despite knowing and saying all this, the PAP Government has been ordering Burmese pro democracy activists to leave the island. Thousands of Burmese nationals who are working in Singapore find the invitation of the Burmese premier’s, and his flower-naming ceremony, hugely demoralising.

The Burmese are working hard-in-hand with Singaporeans intending to overcome this recession. Burmese love Aung San Suu Kyi but they hate the military generals who violate human rights through murder, torture and rape of the innocent, including nuns and monks.

The Burmese are overwhelmed with gratitude to the Singaporean activists who stood up for righteousness when they displayed a banner reading “Long Live Aung San Suu Kyi” and placed at the gate of the Burma Embassy in Singapore the bouquet of orchids.

Sadly, it’s not from the PAP.

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