Singapore’s (and ASEAN) response on the massacre of thousand of innocent civilians in Myanmar

December 26, 2008
Singapore Democrats

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Dear Dr Chee,

I have recently returned home from USA. While the world watches in horror and condemns the massacre of thousand of innocent civilians in Myanmar, I am somewhat embarrassed when my friends in USA asked why Singapore’s (and ASEAN) response has been a deafening silence.

While I must admit that I have not been totally supportive of SDP’s clashes with the PAP Government in recent years, I have written in to express my respect for your dedication to the Burmese cause (especially when you sat alone at the Istana), and your team’s courage for defying the odds and speaking up against the vile regime. You are probably the only one in Singapore who dares to speak up. I am also disgusted by your revelation that Singapore may have supplied the arsenal of weaponry that the junta had used to commit their vile acts. I echo your call for the PAP Government to be open about their business links with the junta.

I would also like to bring to your attention the hypocrisy of other Governments in so-called first world countries. While they openly lobby for economic sanction on Myanmar, it doesn’t square off when multinational companies continue to operate their businesses in Myanmar in concert with the junta. One lucrative business will be oil. MNCs based in Europe and US such as TOTAL and Chevron (through Unocal) continue to harvest oil and natural gas in Myanmar.

When responding to critics, the management of TOTAL actually said “We feel the country would have evolved much more if more responsible companies had remained. Development of human rights goes along with the development of the economy.” Likewise, while the US House of Representatives make a farce of calling on Chevron to pull out of Myanmar, I doubt it will ever happen.

Truthdig.com insinuated that US Secretary Rice had served on the Chevron Board of Directors for a decade, and during her tenure, Chevron was sued for involvement in the killing of nonviolent protesters in Nigeria. This is a mirror of the situation in Burma, where the people in both countries suffered political repression and pollution where oil and gas are extracted while the people lived in dire poverty.

If these first world countries do not set the example, and their Governments close one eye, it will take a lot more to move other mercenary countries like Singapore away from a goldmine. It is a well known fact that Singapore companies like Temasek are hardcore capitalists that only talk about dollars and cents.

The fuel hikes by the junta was the straw the broke the camel’s back, and led to commoners and monks taking the streets. One then has to ask oil and gas companies such as TOTAL and Chevron why there is a need for the junta to raise the fuel prices that ultimately led to the bloodshed. With oil prices spiraling upwards, we can assume that the junta’s coffers continue to inflate. These could be the very source of income that enabled the junta to purchase expensive weapons in the first place.

SDP’s call for the Singapore Government to be transparent about their arms deal with Myanmar led me to search the Internet. Literature in the article convinced me that SDP is not too far off , and I am more or less convinced that there is no smoke without fire. In Wikipedia, it appeared that a lot of the Myanmar Army arsenals, including bullets, were developed, manufactured and patented to western countries. Given the tight regulations and control over arms trade, I am not convinced that these countries – US, Israel, UK and Singapore included, can deny knowledge of how the junta get their hands on these weapons.

Finally, a Sydney Herald report revealed that the Australian Federal Police helping to train 20 Burmese police intelligence officers. These could be the very people that raided monastery and houses in the middle of the night, based on intelligence gathering, to arrest and murder monks and other so-called “trouble-makers”.

We should continue to press the Singapore Government to reveal their ties with the Myanmar junta. I also urge the SDP to take the lead to demand answers from western powers such as USA, France and Australia on the continued presence of US and European based MNC in Myanmar for the benefit of the oppressed Burmese people. Then, we can really show the world that at least someone in Singapore cares and dares to speak up. Justice must prevail. These are blood money which they are feeding the junta, and I am certain the money does not profit the commoners.

TENCENTS W.