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08 Jan 07
Myanmar junta leader Than Shwe has been receiving treatment at one of Singapore’s top public hospitals, according to an embassy employee who declined to give details of the leader’s medical condition.
“He’s at Singapore General Hospital,” the employee, who declined to be identified, told Reuters on Friday.
One member of staff at Singapore General Hospital told Reuters on Sunday that Senior General Than Shwe, 73, had already been discharged and only his family remained at the hospital.
However, two Reuters journalists saw several security staff outside one ward on Sunday morning.
Speculation over Than Shwe’s health intensified this week following news that he had flown to Singapore on Dec. 31 for medical treatment and reports that he had failed to attend Independence Day celebrations on Thursday for the first time since he seized power in 1992.
The Democratic Voice of Burma – an Oslo-based media group monitoring the military-ruled country – cited hospital sources saying that Than Shwe was being treated at the hospital for intestinal cancer.
One corridor at the hospital was closed off when a Reuters reporter and photographer visited on Sunday and Myanmar officials barred them from entering. Hospital security men detained the photographer and made him delete his photographs. A Singapore General Hospital spokeswoman declined comment.
The state of Than Shwe’s health has been a source of intense speculation in the ultra-secretive country, which has been under military rule in various forms since 1962.
In 2005, rumours that he was gravely ill and had been ousted from power triggered frenzied gold buying in Yangon. The regime later accused foreign media of issuing slanderous reports.
Than Shwe made a number of inspection trips last month in the country formerly known as Burma, but he is known to shun foreign travel.
His last official trip abroad was a state visit to India in 2004 where he was hounded by pro-democracy protesters demanding the release of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.