ST doubles effort to censor information on Singapore-Burma druglord connection

December 13, 2005
Singapore Democrats

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13 Dec 05

The Straits Times recently published two articles which attacked Dr Chee Soon Juan over the issue of Singapore’s investments with Burmese druglord Mr Lo Hsing Han. More than two weeks after the articles appeared, the Straits Times continues to refuse to publish Dr Chee’s replies. Below is the latest exchange of letters between Dr Chee and Mr Kong Soon Wah, Straits Times Forum Editor.

Dear Dr Chee,

Thank you for your letter of Nov 28, responding to the article, “Envoy rebuts Chee’s claims on investments” (ST, Nov 27).

As the article was based on a press statement by Singapore’s ambassador in Australia. it would be appropriate for you to respond by way of a press statement. If you are agreeable, I would be happy to treat your letter as a press statement and circulate it to my colleagues in the newsroom, as we do all such statements.

With regard to your first letter, we will print that portion of your reply that relates to the comments made by Mr Siow Jia Rui.

Yours sincerely

Kong Soon Wah

Forum Editor

Dear Mr Kong,

The reason why I am insisting that my reply to the article, “Envoy rebuts Chee’s claims on investments” (see Dr Chee’s letter below), be published in the letter format is simple: By allowing the Straits Times to run my letter as a report, the newspaper can and will censor, spin and slant the article to lessen the impact of my arguments.

The Straits Times is obviously going to great lengths to censor the information on the Singapore-Burmese druglord connection. I will not let you do that to my letter. The fact that you are writing to say that you don’t want to publish my letter on the Forum page speaks for itself.

You write: “I would be happy to treat your letter as a press statement and circulate it to my colleagues in the newsroom, as we do all such statements.” (emphasis mine) Obviously this is untrue as you recently published a letter from Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s press secretary in response to a Straits Times report that Russia could learn from Singapore. If you published Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s letter, why can’t you publish mine?

Please desist in your stalling and equivocation, and publish my letter in full. The same goes for my reply to Mr Siow Jia Rui.

Sincerely.

Chee Soon Juan

Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party

Dr Chee’s reply sent to the Straits Times on 28 Nov 05:

The Government continues to avoid answering my questions over Singapore’s investments in Burma (ST, 27 Nov 05).

In his letter, High Commissioner to Australia Mr Joseph Koh, would just say that our investments in Burma through the Myanmar Fund are “completely open and above board”. But he glaringly refuses to give the necessary details.

He fails to disclose that the GIC funds were invested with druglord Mr Lo Hsing Han’s. It was only after the link was found out and reported in 1996 that the Government quietly wound up the project in 1997.

If these investments were “completely open”, why were Singaporeans not informed of the project and why it was wound up? Remember, these are public funds being used.

Also, if the investments were “above board”, why was the Myanmar Fund wound up and, for that matter, only after it was revealed? Singaporeans should be told the reason why the Fund was wound up.

The Government claims that it was only a “passive investor” in the Myanmar Fund. But the Fund’s own document states that that the GIC was a “core shareholder”. As such, the GIC had a representative on the investment committee which determined “whether investment proposals are viable and whether they should be approved for investment by the Fund.”

The Government also admitted that the GIC held a 21.5 percent share of the Myanmar Fund. As of 1996, this investment was worth US$10 million.

In addition it is known that Singapore’s total investments in Burma adds up to about US$1.5 billion over half of which is, according to the US former Assistant Secretary of State, Mr Robert Gelbard who headed the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, “tied to the family of narco-trafficker Lo Hsing Han.”

Half of US$1.5 billion is US$750,000,000. The Myanmar Fund accounted for only US$10 million. Where is the remainder of the US$740,000,000 invested?

I will repeat my questions:

One, will the Government open its books so that we can verify if our GIC funds are still invested in projects linked with Mr Lo Hsing Han or other druglords?

Two, what steps has the Government taken to pressure the Burmese regime to crackdown on drug kingpins like Mr Lo or are they still operating with impunity in the country?

Three, why does our Government continue to trade with the Burmese junta when it has been shown that the military has close ties with narco-producers like Mr Lo?

Four, does Mr Lo Hsing Han continue to visit Singapore and does his son, Mr Steven Law who has been denied entry into the US because of suspected drug dealing, continue to have free access to Singapore?

Mr Koh also says that the “proper and democratic way” to change laws such as the mandatory death penalty for drug couriers are through elections. I agree. What Mr Koh doesn’t say is that Singapore is not democratic and the elections are manipulated to ensure the victory of the PAP.

The Government doesn’t need elections to answer the above questions which I have been repeatedly asking for the last eight years and which the Government has repeatedly stonewalled. It doesn’t need a commission of inquiry either. These are just excuses that the PAP is using to avoid addressing the questions.

Remember, the funds that we are talking about belong to Singaporeans and they are involved with druglords whose products eventually find their way into Singapore and harm our youths.

The Government must stop the equivocation and answer the questions.

Chee Soon Juan

Secretary-General
Singapore Democratic Party