Burma’s President Thein Sein, has removed the names of several individuals from a blacklist which barred them entry into Burma. One of them is Dr Chee Soon Juan.$CUT$
This was announced 30 August 2012. Dr Chee’s name appears twice on the list as No. 380 and914.
Dr Chee’s blacklist came about after he met Ms Aung San Suu Kyi in 1998 and wrote a chapter about her and the repression in Burma in his book To Be Free: Stories of Asia’s Struggles Against Oppression. (The book is out of print)
In the chapter, Dr Chee recounted how he evaded his Burmese minders after he left the meeting with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi and hid the negatives of the photographs he had taken under the collar of his shirt, secured with a tie.
When he went to the airport for his departure, he was frisked but the officials did not check his collar. They took several pictures of him as he boarded the plane and shortly thereafter was put on the blacklist and barred from entering the country.
But Dr Chee was invited back to the country when he criticised the Burmese government for colluding with drug kingpins. Mr Lin Mingxian, a druglord together with Khun Sa and Lo Hsing Han, wanted the SDP secretary-general to take a tour of the country to see that the accusation was untrue.
Surprisingly or not, the invitation was published in the Straits Times‘ Forum. Noting their (the druglords’) notoriety, Dr Chee declined the invitation.
Dr Chee had accused the PAP Government of allowing Mr Steven Law, Mr Lo Hsing Han’s son, to do business in Singapore while he was barred from the US for suspected drug trafficking. In the meantime, Singapore is hanging small-time drug mules.
Among others whose names have also been removed from the blacklist are former South Korean president (the late) Kim Dae Jung, former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, and Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
The irony is that while Dr Chee can now enter Burma, he is barred from leaving Singapore. Maybe, President Thein Sein should whisper into Lee Kuan Yew’s ear the word reform…
Who’s next for Burma’sBlacklist?
7 Sep 2012
When the government announced more than2,000 names removed from its “blacklist,” many people wereclearly bemused. The list included prominent Burmese activists, aidworkers, scholars, historians, diplomats, democracy campaigners andpoliticians.
KimDae-jung, the former president of South Korea, and Cambodianpolitician Sam Rainsy were on the list, while the names ofSingaporean activist Chee Soon Juan and former US Secretary of StateMadeleine K. Albright also cropped up.
Yet there were also many included whoare unlikely to take advantage of their newfound emancipation.Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines, and respectedBurmese journalist U Thaung both died years ago. Sonny Bono, whopassed away on Jan. 5, 1998, was also included.
Not to appear cruel, but surely thebright sparks at Burma’s infamous Military Intelligence shouldrealize when someone they are “watching” dies over 14 years ago?Perhaps they confused him with U2’s Bono, the Irish musician whopenned “Walk-On” in honor of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The list showed the incompetence of theregime and a dearth of coordination between ministries. For example,many names were obviously misspelled or just plain wrong—such asSam Rainsy (Ringsi in the list), the mysterious “Mr. Nick” fromthe UK and “Lee (Buyer)” from South Korea.
And who is this enigmatic Australian”Brian” if not the toast of antipodean espionage who (somehow)managed to keep his full identity so well-hidden from the Burmesemilitary machine? If not a spy, then certainly “a very naughtyboy.”
Honestly, dead people? Maybe thelist-keepers merely forgot to keep updating or perhaps their computerbroke down. Damn you Windows XP!
When exiles returned home this yearthey were informed that the Ministry of Home Affairs would keep themon the blacklist while the President’s Office and Ministry ofForeign Affairs said they had been removed. No wonder everyone ispuzzled.
Well, there are undoubtedly moreamusing stories in the pipeline. The full list has not yet beendisclosed and many in Rangoon predict that Archbishop Desmond Tutuand the Dalai Lama will be included. Winning the Nobel Peace Prizewould almost guarantee your addition. Of course, they are allcriminals!
Last year, the Dalai Lama said that hewanted to visit Burma to pay homage at its holiest shrine of theShwedagon Pagoda. He is still waiting for his visa, probably due toChina’s vitriolic hatred of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
What about former US President GeorgeW. Bush and his wife Laura? The couple sent warships to deliver aidto Burma following Cyclone Nargis in 2008 and met Burmese refugeesand exiled activists in Thailand that same year. Surely these heinousoffenses warrant inclusion.
It is also fascinating to see who theseMilitary Intelligence spooks and blacklist collectors failed to pickout.
Burma is a haven of drug lords—innorthern Shan State there is notorious Wei Xuegang who runs hislucrative smuggling business with impunity, while many more remainuntouched.
Some dissidents even accused drug lordsof becoming lawmakers in the Burmese Parliament. The late Khun Sadied peacefully in a government guesthouse and was never evenarrested despite surrendering to the Burmese authorities and having aDEA bounty of US $2 million on his head
These narcotics kingpins launder theirillicit gains through mainstream banking and other businesses inBurma to make their dirty money respectable. Many cynical Burmesejoked, “Thugs, criminals and butchers who all live peacefully inRangoon’s Golden Valley and Naypyidaw are not on the list!”
Last week, Zaw Htay, director at thePresident’s Office, told The Irrawaddy that the blacklist and watchlist will remain.
The government will continue tomonitor, review and update the list, he said, while declining toelaborate further. Since reform kicked off in Burma, the presidentinvited exiles to come back but they will still remain undersurveillance. Do they not see the contradiction? It seems theblacklist blues are set to continue.