Myanmar junta leader’s family reportedly in Singapore

London’s The Times has reported that the family of Myanmar’s dictator, Senior General Than Shwe, has left Myanmar and is currently in Singapore.

Citing a report by the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), an established Myanmarese dissident radio station based in Norway, The Times reported that Than Shwe’s wife, daughter and son-in-law have arrived with other family members in Singapore. Than Shwe’s son-in-law, Teza, who is incidentally also Myanmar’s richest man because of his family connections, then flew off to Dubai and is staying at the seven-star Burj Al Arab Hotel, arguably the world’s most luxurious hotel. A DVB correspondent apparently was able to establish that Teza was indeed staying at the the Burj.

This adds to a growing list of Myanmar junta leaders who have made Singapore their “home away from home”. Than Shwe himself was recently in Singapore for medical treatment, and the current prime minister, General Soe Win, has been at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) receiving treatment for leukaemia since May.

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Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

11 thoughts on “Myanmar junta leader’s family reportedly in Singapore”

  1. Wonder if health minister Khaw Boon Wan, who calls himself a Buddhist, understands that helping to prolong the life of murderers such as Than Shwe and Soe Win brings bad karma to Singapore.

  2. The SDP should be protesting in front of Tamasek, Istana or the Parliament House instead of the Myanmar Embassy.

    They can’t do much with the Burmese military junta, but they can pressure the PAP government to withdraw its investment with the Burmese druglords (Singapore is the 3rd largest investor in Myanmar after China and Thailand) and stop its profitable arm sale to the murderous regime.

  3. Welcome to the real ugly world, my friends. As I’ve mentioned in one of my comments in an earlier post:

    ASEAN – Association of Solely Economically-driven Asian Nations

    UN – Useless Negotiations

    If you think that the world we live in is that ideal, then I’m sorry to tell you it isn’t. One has to be really naive to believe that.

  4. And oh, before I forgot. Mr Khaw wouldn’t think it’s bad karma. As a Buddhist, he believes that saving a life is better than building a seven-story pagoda, murderer or not.

    Of course, it’s a different story if the murderer is not Than Shwe. Then he may not have the financial means to get world-class treatment in Singapore. And Mr Khaw would reason that it’s the bad karma of that murderer catching up on him.

    Either way, it’s zen reasoning of the highest order, I suppose. But I think there’s another term for that – circular reasoning. And we all know who’s really good at that, don’t we?

  5. Hi Gerald,
    Can I suggest a sort of compromise?
    Let the Burmese leadership and family exile in Singapore.
    This has the effect of getting them out of Burma so that a democratically elected leaders can take over.
    Singapore is probably an acceptable place for them to retire in.
    The only provision is that the wealth that they bring along must not be ill-gotten and that the leaders can still be prosecuted for crimes against humanity unless they get an amnesty from a legitimate Burmese govt.
    I know it sounds too lenient for these despots, but any scheme that lead to least bloodshed should be seriously considered.


  6. thor – thanks for the link. I like the line “…the All India Radio’s Burmese service for instance had even called General Newin and his men ‘dogs’ (very insulting to dogs of course).”

    Dr Huang – That could be considered. And it’s not without precedent. Nigeria housed Liberia’s Charles Taylor for a while, then extradited him to The Hague for his war crimes trial. We could do the same.

  7. accepting and treating critically ill persons as patients is a buddhist’s duty. but sending guards to protect these “sick” people is another thing, surely treating a normal patient does not involve such privileged treatment and protection.

  8. The actions of the Burmese junta are repulsive and beyond contempt and deserve the universal condemnation it is receiving. My friends there have suffered greatly and have seen family and friends die in the last uprising. In a heartbeat, I would be all for sending in an ASEAN peacekeeping force to mitigate the unbridled tyrannical power.

    Nevertheless, I take issuance with Eric Ellis on his article. Its not that there isn’t a small element of truth in what he writes, but it’s disproportionate, unbalanced and a bit misleading.

    Although he is well known writer, there is a sense that he writes with some underlying Australian chauvinism – sentiments which seem to be shared some of his fellow countrymen. The same sentiments are evoked in reading comments from Quantas, Telstra and so on. In any case, Ellis’s article has been carried with great speed through the Oceanic press which seems to indicate some popular position.

    Perhaps in the Australian psyche, there’s a fundamental insecurity which arises from an inability to handle Asia rising, including ASEAN, in which Singapore stands as a prototype of increasing success – with many many warts and failings, but certainly not the Nee Soon whorehouse that one suspects that Ellis would prefer Singapore to have remained.

    His previous articles – also criticisms of Singapore – the hanging of the Australian drug runner, the Shin Corp involvement in Thailand; were all tinged with some sense of the personal ire.

    Why not talk about Thailand or the UK which are by far the top investors in Burma? Or castigate the Japanese, French, Belgians and Chinese who are also there. In the following “dirty list”, there are many nationalities to be accused, the least of which are Singaporeans.

    And why not make it clear that, by and large, Singapore involvement has been in economic development with the airport with new hotels and development of tourism. Or even that Burma and Singapore have long been linked and that ties goes back to the 19th century and this is evidenced in the earliest Singapore road names – Rangoon, Mandalay, Pegu, Moulmein, all testify to this.

    Why not look at possible outcomes and compare this with Singapore’s investment into Vietnam, which at one time was the largest investor, and how this in its own way helped trigger the economic boom that is making Vietnam the second fasted growing nation and that this boom is resulting in increasing individual freedoms – and how this was ASEAN’s overall objective of engaging with the whole of Indochina from the mid 90’s.

    He writes that without Singapore’s support the Burmese Junta would weaken and fail; that’s nonsense – the Burmese army is 3 million people and they are paid by the oil revenues from the UK.

    Looking at some of the accusations Ellis makes, contrast this with what Burmanet ( which is an online resource on Burma – and which is not afraid to say offensive things about the junta – has this to say about Tay Za.

    “He knows that the regime has no future and is plagued with internal fighting. He also knows that his close ties with the top dogs make him vulnerable….Sources also report that Tay Za is keeping an eye on Deputy Snr-Gen Maung Aye, the army commander-in-chief, who has reportedly taken a dislike to him.”

    Its not that I know anything personally about Tay Za or Lo or for that matter anyone in any way related to them, its just that the reporting is basically prejudiced and unbalanced in such a way as to be offensive.

    With regards to the drugs trade in Burma, let us not forget that it was 2 divisions of the Kuomintang who were ordered by Chiang Kai Shek into northern Burma to develop the drugs business to fund the nationalist army. “To fight a war, you need guns. And to buy guns, you need money. In these mountains, the only money is opium. (General Tuan, speaking about why his Nationalist Chinese (KMT) troops were involved in the opium trade in Upper Burma)”. Go check it out, these guys were CIA funded

    Finally, in considering Ellis’s accusation of Singapore’s complicity in perpetuating the Burmese junta, lets look at Australia’s high morals.

    With regard to East Timor, Australia gave Indonesia economic and military assistance throughout the 24-year occupation and advocated on its behalf in the international community. The occupation resulted in the deaths of about a third of its East Timor’s population who got bombed with Napalm, with women raped by the thousands, and many tens of thousands more beheaded, tortured or simply disappearing. The report of the East Timor Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) concluded that Australia was influenced by a desire to get the most it could out of maritime boundary negotiations affecting oil and gas reserves.

    Ellis would do well to “take out the log from his eye first”

  9. indochina – Thanks for the fantastic riposte to Ellis’ article. I’m going to reproduce what you wrote on my main blog. If you have a blog yourself, please let me know so I can link to it.

  10. I cannot but snigger at criticisms of so many Singaporeans
    about another country! Are these critics in delirium? Myanmar is ruled with Iron hand by a bunch of men in military uniforms and Singapore is ruled with Iron hands by suited Yew and Loong behind a curtain of so called democracy, that is the difference.

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