Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yong-Boon Yeo said he believed the government would "be restrained in what it does" during the visit of Gambari, a Nigerian professor.While Singapore has been urging the UN to help solve the Burma crisis, an article written on Australia's newspaper The Age gave a damning report on Singapore's relationship with the junta:
"But then the demonstrators may come out in full force. Then there could be heightened tension as a result," Yeo told reporters after meeting British Foreign Minister David Miliband.
"If he fails, then the situation can become quite dreadful," Yeo said. "He's the best hope we have. He is trusted on both sides."
Hotels, airlines, military materiel and training, crowd control equipment and sophisticated telecoms-monitoring devices for its secret police — Singapore is manager and supplier to the junta, and the "cronified" economy it controls.So whose side are you really on, Singapore? It's nice to have our government show the world that it cares in resolving the crisis in our neighbouring country, but it has to do more than just talk, especially since the world perceives that we are aiding the junta.
It's impossible to spend any time in Burma and not make the junta richer, thanks to Singapore suppliers' contracts with the tourism industry. Singapore's hospitals also keep Burma's leaders alive — 74-year-old junta leader Than Shwe has been getting his intestinal cancer treated in a Singapore government hospital, protected by Singapore security. Singapore's boutiques keep junta wives and families cloaked in Armani, and its banks help launder their money and that of Burma's crony drug lords.
...Often writing as "William Ashton" in the authoritative Jane's Intelligence Review, Mr Selth has described in various articles how Singapore has sent the junta guns, rockets, armoured personnel carriers and grenade launchers, some of it trans-shipped from stocks seized by Israel from Palestinians in southern Lebanon.
Singaporean companies have provided computers and networking equipment for Burma's defence ministry and army, while upgrading the bunkered junta's ability to network with regional commanders — so crucial as protesting monks take to the streets of 20 Burmese cities, causing major logistical headaches for the Tatmadaw, the Burmese military.
In my previous post, I said that countries with close ties to Burma have to take the lead in solving the problem in Burma. That means the likes of China and Singapore should stop the talk and begin to walk the walk. It is time to put your money where your mouth is. If countries like Singapore are really serious in solving the Burma problem, then they should take drastic actions to hurt the military generals in Burma. The UN and the world can only do so little if Burma's closest friends are still supporting them financially.
I think it's time for Singapore to take a step back to reassess its relationship with Burma and then finally do the right thing. There are plenty of other ways for Singapore to make its money. Investing and supporting a cruel regime in our backyard is definitely not the way.
Previously: The Burma Protests