Does nobody in our newsrooms cringe when they have to write double-faced reports such as this one?
Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has urged Myanmar’s military government not to allow the ongoing trial of pro-democracy figure Aung San Suu Kyi to derail the national reconciliation process, and to ensure that national elections to be held next year are free and fair.
While acknowledging that the trial is Myanmar’s domestic affair, the Singapore leader also pointed out that there is an international element to it that should not be ignored.
Mr Goh made these comments during meetings he had with the country’s top leader, Senior General Than Shwe, who is the chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, as well as General Thein Sein, Myanmar’s Prime Minister.
— Straits Times, 10 June 2009, Ensure polls are free and fair: SM
1. Our own elections are hardly free and fair, so Goh should fix Singapore’s own shortcomings before deluding himself that he is in any position to give advice;
2. Singapore leaders should not even be visiting Burma in any official capacity. They are a bunch of dictators who took power by force, ignoring the results of the 1990 election, and we should never lend them any legitimacy;
3. Telling the Burmese that the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi is an internal matter contradicts the position of Asean. As reported in the same Straits Times’ report, Asean called for her release:
Asean, of which Myanmar is a member, as well as a number of individual Asean countries, including Singapore, have expressed concern and dismay over the trial, and have called for the release of Ms Suu Kyi.
4. Singapore too has a law providing for detention without trial, and we have in the past used it to stifle dissent. Who are we to preach to the Burmese junta without first cleaning our own house?
5. Outside of the detention law, we continue to persecute opposition politicians e.g. Chee Soon Juan and Chee Siok Chin, by prosecuting them for the littlest things like speaking in public or distributing flyers – surely no different from the junta prosecuting Aung San Suu Kyi over a man swimming to her house;
6. We have been cancelling work permits, etc, of Burmese residents in Singapore because they have participated in protests against the junta. Again, stop this nonsense and reverse previous cancellations before we claim any moral superiority.
You may say that reporting is reporting, and that any newspaper has to do that faithfully however absurd the story may be. Be that as it may, I shall be interested to see if any columnist in the Straits Times pens a commentary pointing out the gross hypocrisy of Goh’s visit and his talks with the Burmese dictators.