Singapore advise Burma to hold free and fair elections

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

Consider this:

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.

6 Responses to “Singapore advise Burma to hold free and fair elections”

  1. 1 66% 10 June 2009 at 19:11

    Who says Singapore has no free and fair elections?

    If it is the 50% walkover, it is the fault of opposition.

    If it is 66% mandate, it is the fault of the electorate.

    If it is 98% seats, it is the fault of both electorate and opposition.

    So electorate and opposition, we have to correct our faults!

  2. 2 Ng E-Jay 11 June 2009 at 13:20

    Quote: “”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.””

    So is SM Goh trying to imply that if there are no international “elements” to consider, it is OK to allow human rights abuses to go unchecked?

    I think that was the true intent of his statements!


  3. 3 Sgpo 19 June 2009 at 11:52

    But why whenever a foreign body comment on Singapore, we always adopt a stay-out-of-our-DOMESTIC-affairs attitude?

  4. 4 Will.I.Am 1 July 2009 at 10:59

    @ Sgpo

    You are wrong. When a foreign body comment POSITIVELY on Singapore, the media will always make a big show out of it.

    Only when it’s negative, our ‘Asian Values’ thing take over, so stay out!

  5. 5 Anonymous 2 July 2009 at 00:27

    I think what we should consider in the Myanmar’s situation is the psychology of the generals. These generals are only interested in one thing, power and money Whatever can make them stay in power and live in luxury can effect change.
    So we should ask the question, “Can sanctions work to effect change if sanctions only make them fear losing their power and money?”
    Perhaps a message to be conveyed to them is that they can still enjoy power but not of the “absolute” variety. In order for them to substain their present extravagant lifestyle, what they need is money. And they can have maney if they slowly open up their economy which they are beginning to do so by opening up certain sectors of their country to tourism. This is when change can happen. When they see Western tourists start to arrive on their shores, with mobile phones, cameras and other material goods that they want, they may then start to question whether they can turn their economy into a market-driven one so that they can have easy access to these goods. And as China has shown, with economic liberalisation, it usually comes with greater political liberalisation.

  6. 6 prettyplace 5 July 2009 at 01:14

    Singapore is slowly trying to change Myanmar with a Singaporean political flavour…just like what they are doing in Vietnam…

    We have come a long way economically …but at what price…

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