WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN [till the next boo-boo]

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Updated October 21, 2007


Young business tycoon, Tay Za (left, Chairman of Air Bagan and a close associate of General Than Shwe), seen here enjoying a toast with Lim Kim Choon, director general and chief executive officer of the Civil Aviation Authority of $ingapore (CAA$), at the launch of Air Bagan's maiden flight to $ingapore after its arrival at Changi International Airport on Sep 7, 2007 (AFP). Air Bagan is on the US blacklist.

AFP reports Oct 21: Three companies with strong links to $ingapore are among seven firms blacklisted by the U.S. under fresh sanctions against Burma after its deadly suppression of pro-democracy protests. According to President George W. Bush's order the companies which are either based in or linked to $ingapore are:

Pavo Trading Pte Ltd,
Air Bagan Holdings Pte Ltd and
Htoo Wood Products Pte Ltd, which is also listed as being from Myanmar's main city, Yangon.

"It's about time the US did something like this," said Dave Mathieson, a consultant on Burma to Human Rights Watch in Bangkok. He said the sanctions "actually go after the money" of the junta, adding they also served as a "wake-up call" for $ingapore.

$ingapore has been the destination of choice whenever a Burmese general falls ill or needs a medical checkup. Both junta leader General Than Shwe and prime minister Lt-General Soe Win have been hospitalised in $ingapore's General [sic] Hospital.

General George Yeo of $ingapore was in the Burmese capital as recently as April 2007 when he met Burmese General Thein Shin to ask for sand and building materials for $ingapore. Burma appears to be $ingapore's main supplier at the moment after Malaysia and Indonesia decided not to allow export of sand to $ingapore. And it is unlikely Thailand will supply any. Sand is vital for $ingapore's never-ending reliance on property development to boost its economy.

General George Yeo of $ingapore with Burmese General Thein Shin [left]. This picture was taken in April 2007 when General Yeo was in Burma to negotiate for sand. Indonesia has refused to export sand to $ingapore.

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While General Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister of $ingapore, is out of town in Europe and then for a private visit in the U.S. till Oct 16, details are emerging of the Burmese junta's repression against the monks and their supporters.

$ingapore is currently the Asean chairman, of which Burma is a member, and Asean has remained relatively silent compared to all the activities taking place half a world away in New York in the United Nations.

When a Burmese opposition leader Win Shwe was reportedly tortured to death, the United States threatened new sanctions against Burma and called for an investigation into the death of Win Shwe.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement: "The junta must stop the brutal treatment of its people and peacefully transition to democracy or face new sanctions from the United States."

As far as we can tell, there was no response from Asean over the killing of Win Shwe.

This is from an Oct 11 report in the Independent [UK] detailing the aftermath of the protests:

"Monks confined in a room with their own excrement for days, people beaten just for being bystanders at a demonstration, a young woman too traumatised to speak, and screams in the night as Rangoon's residents hear their neighbours being taken away.

"Harrowing accounts smuggled out of Burma reveal how a systematic campaign of physical punishment and psychological terror is being waged by the Burmese security forces as they take revenge on those suspected of involvement in last month's pro-democracy uprising.

"The first-hand accounts describe a campaign hidden from view, but even more sinister and terrifying than the open crackdown in which the regime's soldiers turned their bullets and batons on unarmed demonstrators in the streets of Rangoon, killing at least 13. At least then, the world was watching. The hidden crackdown is as methodical as it is brutal. First the monks were targeted, then the thousands of ordinary Burmese who joined the demonstrations, those who even applauded or watched, or those merely suspected of anti-government sympathies.

"There were about 400 of us in one room. No toilets, no buckets, no water for washing. No beds, no blankets, no soap. Nothing," said a 24-year-old monk who was held for 10 days at the Government Technical Institute, a leafy college in northern Rangoon which is now a prison camp for suspected dissidents. The young man, too frightened to be named, was one of 185 monks taken in a raid on a monastery in the Yankin district of Rangoon on 28 September, two days after government soldiers began attacking street protesters.

"The room was too small for everyone to lie down at once. We took it in turns to sleep. Every night at 8 o'clock we were given a small bowl of rice and a cup of water. But after a few days many of us just couldn't eat. The smell was so bad. "Some of the novice monks were under 10 years old, the youngest was just seven. They were stripped of their robes and given prison sarongs. Some were beaten, leaving open, untreated wounds, but no doctors came."

On his release, the monk spoke to a Western aid worker in Rangoon, who smuggled his testimony and those of other prisoners and witnesses out of Burma on a small memory stick.

Read the full story here:

You can read Asean's explanation of their actions toward Burma in an Oct 11 article written by General George Yeo, $ingapore's foreign minister here:

General George Yeo of $ingapore was in the Burmese capital as recently as April 2007 when he met Burmese General Thein Shin to ask for sand and building materials for $ingapore. Burma appears to be $ingapore's main supplier at the moment after Malaysia and Indonesia decided not to allow export of sand to $ingapore. And it is unlikely Thailand will supply any. Sand is vital for $ingapore's never-ending reliance on property development to boost its economy.

General George Yeo of $ingapore with Burmese General Thein Shin [left]. This picture was taken in April 2007 when General Yeo was in Burma to negotiate for sand. Indonesia has refused to export sand to $ingapore.

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General George Yeo of $ingapore with Burmese General Thein Shin [left]. This picture was taken in April 2007.

Not many would do this. At a time when Burmese military leaders are facing worldwide condemnation, $ingapore offers humanitarian support. We read this AFP report [Sept 28, 2007]:

"While his country is convulsed by protests and bloodshed, Burma's ailing Prime Minister Lt-General Soe Win remains under treatment at a Singapore hospital, an embassy staffer said.

"Lt Gen Soe Win, the suspected mastermind of a deadly attack on opposition forces in Burma four years ago, has been at the Singapore General Hospital for three to four months, said the staffer.

"Asked about the prime minister's condition, the staffer said, 'According to the doctors, we cannot meet with him'.

"Attempts by AFP to locate Lt Gen Soe Win at the hospital were unsuccessful." AFP said "Lt Gen Soe Win is considered to be among the leadership hardliners". $ingapore's General Hospital is the first place to visit when Burma's ageing generals need medical aid. In January, Burma's ju nta leader General Than Shwe was at the hospital for a general [sic] checkup. Currently, the US has introduced new sanctions against Burma's leadership, preventing them from travelling to the US and also freezing their assets in the US.

As far as we know, $ingapore has not done either.

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"If I have to shoot 200,000 students to save China from another 100 years of disorder, so be it."

- Lee Kuan Yew endorsing the Tiananmen massacre, the nation-builder press, August 17, 2004. Kuan Yew is the elder statesman of $ingapore. He is a congenital pragmatist. He currently holds the post of Mentor Minister in $ingapore's cabinet where the current prime minister is General Lee Hsien Loong.

General George Yeo of $ingapore with Burmese General Thein Shin [left]. This picture was taken in April 2007.


Financial Times: Burma sand to fill $ingapore's needs by John Aglionby

April 5 2007: Burma has offered to help $ingapore meet a shortage of badly needed construction materials after Indonesia banned sand exports and seized granite shipments headed to the city-state. According to General George Yeo, $ingapore's foreign minister, Lieutenant General Thein Sein, the third-ranking member of Burma's ruling junta, told him during a recent visit that the regime could "be a long-term supplier of sand, cement, granite and other construction materials to $ingapore".

Construction costs have risen noticeably in $ingapore since Indonesia banned sand exports in January, 2007. Last month, Jakarta seized some two dozen barges and tugboats preparing to transport granite to its tiny resource-poor neighbour.
Click here for the full report.


As recent as January of 2007, when the ruler of the military junta in Burma, General Than Shwe was ill, he promptly took a jet to $ingapore for a stay at $ingapore General Hospital [sic.] Read the Reuters report here:

Myanmar leader in $ingapore hospital


"'$ingapore's relationship with the Burmese junta is pragmatic, in both commercial and what one might call 'national need' terms,' suggested a Western embassy regional analyst in Bangkok, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"'$ingapore's foreign minister, General George Yeo, was one of the first regional government officials to trek out to that oddly located new capital Naypyidaw earlier this year. But he did not go there to admire the place, it was for national need. $ingapore needed building materials, such as a supply of sand that Indonesia had just stopped delivering,' the analyst said."

Click here for the full report.


Bald but with "balls"... $ingapore police stop any protest in $heep city.

When the monks started their march for peace against the military regime in Burma it was just a few hundred in Rangoon. By Sept 24, the country was awashed with tens of thousands of monks and ordinary people marching together in cities across the whole of Burma.

On Sept 25, Burma’s celebrities join in the protest. Top local movie actor Kyaw Thu offered the clerics alms at Shwedagon Pagoda in the first show of public support by local celebrities to the country’s biggest anti-government protests in two decades. Kyaw Thu is not a state-sponsored or government-funded artist.

On Sept 2, we noted this report in $ingapore’s nation-builder press:

The [$ingapore] police have warned those thinking of taking part in a procession involving Myanmar nationals not to go ahead with their plans.

"A similar assembly held without a permit last Saturday at the Orchard MRT station resulted in 23 Myanmar nationals being called up for investigations. [translated: they were arrested]

"It is believed that they were protesting against a huge hike in fuel prices back home - an unpopular decision in Myanmar which has led to widespread demonstrations there as well.

"A police statement said investigations are in progress and that the protest involved those here voicing their support for other Myanmar nationals in Myanmar. Investigations showed that last Saturday’s assembly was organised through a series of SMSes initiated by three Myanmar nationals.

"Those who turned up that day, dressed all in white, split into smaller groups before starting a procession towards City Hall MRT station. Police would like to remind the public that they should not participate in an assembly or procession that does not have a permit as it is an offence,’ a police spokesman said." Yada yada yada…

$ingapore and Burma [or Myanmar] have very close ties. $ingapore is Burma’s biggest supporter investing more than a billion in the country. Other countries have trade sanctions against the military regime.

As recent as January of 2007, when the ruler of the military junta in Burma, General Than Shwe was ill, he promptly took a jet to $ingapore for a stay at $ingapore General Hospital [sic.] Read the Reuters report here:

Myanmar leader in Singapore hospital

Even as $ingapore shows solidarity with Myanmar, the Burmese show solidarity with the monks:

Tens of thousands support monks in Burma protests [Sept 24]

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The nation-builder press, June 20, 2007.

"Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the world's most prominent political prisoners, turned 62 yesterday in her fifth consecutive birthday spent under house arrest, as supporters rallied at her party's headquarters to call for her freedom." $ingaporean Ong Keng Yong has been the Asean Secretary General since 2003.

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The nation-builder press, July 14 2003.

The report shows $ingapore's representative to Hungary and Norway, Ng Ser Miang (left), and Burma's ambassador to $ingapore, Hla Thann, at Asean@play, the first inter-embassy games at the $ingapore Polytechnic on July 13.

Foreign Investment of Permitted Enterprises up to November 1999
(by Country and Region) (US $ in million)

*Inclusive of enterprises incorporated in British Virgin Islands, Bermuda Islands and Cayman Island.
The above chart is also found at http://www.irrawaddy.org/res/invest.html

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Looking to do business with the Burmese generals in "Myanmar"? Where else to look for advice than in all-good, no-bad $ingapore where money is not far from everyone's mind. Myanmar On My Mind is a unique one-of-its-kind book written by the former First Secretary [Commercial] at the $ingapore embassy in Yangon, Matthew Sim. Sim's tour of duty lasted from 1995 to 1997 and he offers first-hand insight into "the minds of the Myanmar people, from military generals and government officials to businessmen and employees." Sim was in charge of $ingapore's trade and investments with Burma.

On a sub-chapter, Spies And Spying, Sim wrote: "Manpower in Myanmar is relatively cheap and readily available. The Military Intelligence [MI], for example, is quite extensive and pervasive. As a result, prominent foreign diplomats and international businessmen in and around Yangon are always escorted by MI officers.

"Both my telephone lines, one at the Embassy and one at home, were bugged. The technology used during my stay in Myanmar was pretty low-end. There was a hollow, echoing sound whenever you used the phone."

Sim adds: "I have never been overtly concerned with Myanmar politics. It is neither an area of responsibility nor interest." Business to $ingaporean Sim is business and he says: "An international businessman should try not to mix politics and business. Money should not be coloured by politics." Published by Times Book International in 2001.

If you are interested in learning more about $ingapore's business relationship with the generals of Burma follow these links:

$ingapore is Burma's biggest investor with between US$770 million to US$1.5 billion in 65 projects in the country [AP report Mar 25 1998].

$ingapore to promote economic cooperation with Burma

$ingapore links 'aiding drug trade'

Burma-$'pore Axis: Globalising the heroin trade

Goh leaves Burma without meeting Suu Kyi

$uspected drug traders have S'pore connection

$'pore backs Burma in Asean-EU dialogue

$'pore helps Burma's spies

Blood money: hanging drug couriers but investing with their suppliers

Protesters demand accountability from PM Goh on drugs

Asean reeks of double standards


The nation-builder press, June 17 2003.

The current Asean Secretary-General is $ingaporean Ong Keng Yong who was from the Prime Minister's Office.

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The nation-builder press, June 1 2003.


Burma’s democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi who was freed on May 6 2002, after 19 months under house arrest, has been arrested again May 30 2003. Her freedom first came about because Burma’s pariah status had brought the country’s economy to its knees. It was boycotted by many countries and companies. $ingapore is Burma’s biggest investor with the amount reported between US$770 million to US$1.5 billion in 65 projects in property development, manufacturing, food and beverages (AP report Mar 25 1998). She has been rearrested after going on a month-long tour of the north to rally supporters and to open new National League of Democracy offices in the northern parts of the country.

The nation-builder press, Feb 12 2002.

$ingapore’s last big visit to Burma was made by three ministers in Feb 1999. Lee Yock Suan, Mah Bow Tan and Lim Hng Kiang went to Burma to promote economic cooperation between the two countries. On Feb 12 2002, the nation-builder press reported "Myanmar sliding into economic catastrophe" and said the country’s current reserves are "no more than US$240 million". It did not mention what happened to $ingapore’s billion dollar investments.

As for Suu Kyi’s views on $ingapore, this is what she told Burma Project co-director Alan Clements in the 1997 book The Voice Of Hope. Suu Kyi’s views from 1997 still stands.

Alan Clements: Let’s be specific. How do you feel about $ingapore’s massive infusion of economic dollars (Clements put the figure at US$770 million) into SLORC-controlled Burma? We all know that a vast percentage of these millions of dollars goes right into the bank accounts of the generals and their most favoured friends.

Aung San Suu Kyi: I don’t think it helps the democratic cause and in the long run it will not help their economic cause either. Because I do not think that without a change in the political system Burma will be able to maintain its economic development. The reason why it seems as though Burma has developed economically over the last six years is that we started from less than zero, and it’s very easy to show progress from that point.

AC: Can you explain how investing in Burma doesn’t help the country from where the investment originates? $ingapore thinks it is secure.

Aung San: The $ingaporeans think that the lack of democracy is not an obstacle in the way of economic success. It may not have been so in their own country, but $ingapore is very different from Burma. Here in Burma, the present system of government is such that there can be no economic progress. The system of education is such that there cannot be any sustained development. They have not looked at the factors that really matter. What they’re looking at is the fact that Burma is virgin territory. Let’s take the tourist industry as an example. People just want to go to a new place that others have not yet been. So they calculate that if they invest in the tourist industry of Burma they will be able to reap good returns. But as I understand it, the tourist figures are not good.

Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She does not have a million dollar salary. What have our million-dollar ministers reaped from investments in Burma?


$ingapore’s US$1.5 BILLION of investments in Burma are at stake. What to do?

Read more: Burma-$ingapore Axis http://www.singapore-window.org/804caq9.htm

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