Is what we are doing right? That’s the question

October 5, 2007
Singapore Democrats

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Petitioners said a prayer outside the gate of Burmese Embassy in Singapore.As daylight breaks and the last of the candles flicker out, volunteers pick up their weary bodies to begin their morning chores.

The night’s messages posted on the gates of the Burmese embassy by petitioners are removed and given to the embassy staff who by now have become a familiar sight.

“Any news from Rangoon?” we ask.

The man shakes his head and smiles a nervous smile.

We scrape the candle wax off the floor and walls, the red-coloured ones giving an eerie look of spilled blood as they flow and solidify over the grim messages, a reminder of the situation in Burma.

We tidy up the table and posters of Aung San Suu Kyi and those courageous monks, replacing the tired-looking orchids with fresher ones.

Then we scrounge around the food-box for breakfast. Usually it’s a mixture of bread and biscuits that well-wishers bring the night before. A nice English lady who lives in the adjacent block of condominiums brings some northern Indian snacks, which disappear very quickly.

A young Burmese man puts down a carton of Red Bull, obviously taking note of our disheveled appearance. “I’ll bring more later,” he said and walked off.

The police officers change shifts. By now, we have become accustomed to their presence and, we’re sure, they ours.

As the petition campaign enters its sixth day, our determination to carry on doing our part for Burma remains undiminished. In fact, with the Free Burma International Day scheduled for tomorrow (see here), we look forward to more people turning up to sign the petition and/or post a message for the Burmese military rulers. Wear something red.

A few prominent Singaporeans have shown up despite the scare-mongering by the authorities to sign the petition. For those who continue to stay away because this event is “illegal”, may we remind you that those courageous monks in Rangoon were also taking part in an illegal activity.

It is understood that CNN has learned of the petition campaign and may do a report on Singapore’s involvement with the Burmese junta.

In Rangoon, news reports say that the Than Shwe is willing to meet Aung San Suu Kyi on the condition that she stops her “confrontational” stance. The general has also asked to meet the US envoy in Rangoon. There seems to be a sliver of hope.

If there is anytime that international pressure must be piled on the military rulers, it is now. And the greatest leverage that the international community has is to get the junta’s closest allies to cease and desist their commercial support.

Those aiding and abetting the murderous junta by insisting on conducting business with the generals are slowly coming into focus. Singapore is one of them.

Do we, as Singaporeans, have the integrity and courage to confront our own Government and demand that it does the right thing? Or do we maintain our silence and wait for all this to go away?

The PAP Government may declare our petition exercise illegal. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is: Is what we are doing right?

We will be there at St Martin’s Drive this entire weekend.