PM LEE defends Singapore's position in allowing the Myanmar junta leader General Tan Shwe to seek medical treatment by invoking doctors' Hippocratic Oath.
Lee said denying Burmese leaders medical treatment in Singapore would go "against human
"I mean, somebody is sick, he wants to come to Singapore, he needs treatment and you're
telling me that I shouldn't treat him because he's not a good man? It goes against the
Hippocratic Oath of doctors," he said.
Myanmar junta leader Tan Shwe, 74, stayed in a Singapore hospital in January amid
tight security for an undisclosed ailment. Myanmar Prime Minister Soe Win, 55, was in
Singapore at least twice this year to treat an illness reported to be leukaemia.
Whilst it sounds fine and dandy in a CNN interview, what is left out is more interesting. Giving medical treatment to a sick dictator sounds like a compassionate thing to do, but surely that does not include visas for their families to stay in our nice Orchard road hotels and shop in our shoppers' paradise as well.
According to Eric Ellis, Singapore's businesses especially government linked ones are the major suppliers to the military regime Myanmar. A widely held notion (but not officially disclosed matter) is that Singapore Technoloies and other Temasek companies have invested heavily in that military state.
Singapore, a friend indeed to Burma
But by providing Burma's pariah junta with crucial material and equipment mostly denied
by Western sanctions Singapore has helped keep the military government and its cronies
afloat for 20 years, indeed since the last time the generals killed the citizens they are
supposed to protect with industrial efficiency and brutality, as now.
Without the support from Singapore, Burma's junta would be greatly weakened
and perhaps even fail. But after two decades of profitable business with the generals and
their cronies, that is about the last thing Singapore Inc is likely to do. There's too much
money to be made.
From hotels, airlines, military equipment and training, crowd control equipment and
sophisticated telecommunications monitoring devices, Singapore is a crucial manager
and supplier to the junta, and Burma's economy.
Given our heavy investment in Myanmar. Singapore is of course against imposing sanctions on Myanmar (See http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v3/news.php?id=288647). Why would Singapore hold back in taking a moralistic stand against an aggresive regime that murders protesting monks? Maybe it is because Singapore is Myanmar's largest investor. And the largest investor in that country happens to be its government related group of companies.
Singapore Technologies also appear to be supplying lots of modern weaponry to Myanmar. I would not be too surprised if these are used on suppresing the monks and other protestors. I have this nauseous feeling when I stop to ponder the question of whether our Singapore-made Singapore Technologies' bullets are lodged into many bodies of monks in Myanmar.
Of course the truth behind the curtain that shields the Myanmar regime and the Singapore government has not been lifted. Perhaps it never will.
If the UN does in fact impose sanctions, i would like to know whether the Singapore government is willing to disclose how much Singapore funds would be 'trapped' inside Myanmar. And how much impairment charge major Singapore companies would have to disclose as attributable to this fiasco. But given the sensitive nature of this information, I would presume it would be unlikely that we will ever know.
Meanwhile on October 4th news report, our Minister Mentor (the one who mentored 2 capable leaders but still feels the responsibility to sit in Parliament years after stepping down) spoke of the need for Singapore to distinguish itself by setting even higher standards of governance. See http://www.channelnewsasia.com/cna/cgi-bin/search/search_7days.pl?status=&search=MM%20Lee&id=303871
It is interesting to see whether the open and transparent Singapore government will share with the world at large how much Singapore's stake in Myanmar is right now and what was exported to Myanmar from Singapore.
For a leader whose impeccable governance record includes having produced sons and daughter in law who dedicated themselves to the serving the nation, we owe an eternal gratitude. These wonderful leaders have shown the world what it meant to have real governance when there is great clarity and transparency.
There are no governance issues even though the country's Prime Minister and Minister of Finance is Hsien Loong, whose wife was appointed by a person who reports to Hsieng Loong to run the largest company in Singapore. And in turn she appointed her brother-in-law to run the largest telecommunication company in Singapore (a subsidiary company).
Our leaders have shown us that governance is more about substance than form. Even though the form may attract the pesky attraction of foreign critics, true blooded Singaporeans will see the beauty of getting the best person for the jobs.
Singapore governance, Singapore style. As Borat would say, "I like!".
Other interesting links