PM Lee’s letter to Myanmar’s top general

Text of Letter from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Senior General Than Shwe, Chairman, State Peace and Development Council, Union of Myanmar. Original MFA press release is here. Salient portions have been highlighted.

29 September 2007

Dear Excellency,

In Singapore’s capacity as the ASEAN Chair, I write to express the deep concerns that other ASEAN leaders and I share over the very grave situation in Myanmar.

I have discussed this matter with all the other ASEAN leaders. We are most disturbed by reports of the violent means that the authorities in Myanmar have deployed against the demonstrators, which have resulted in injuries and deaths. The videos and photographs of what is happening on the streets of Yangon and other cities in Myanmar have evoked the revulsion of people throughout Southeast Asia and all over the world.

We agree that the confrontation that is unfolding in Myanmar will have serious implications not just for Myanmar itself, but also for ASEAN and the whole region. Hence, our Foreign Ministers issued a firm statement in New York, strongly urging your government to exercise utmost restraint, and to work towards a political solution for national reconciliation and a peaceful transition to democracy. ASEAN also called for the release of all political detainees, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. I attach a copy of this statement.

The ASEAN Leaders fully support the mission by the Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ibrahim Gambari. He has gone to Myanmar to help all parties involved find a peaceful resolution. I would like to emphasise the importance which the ASEAN countries, and indeed the whole international community, attach to Mr Gambari’s mission. We strongly urge your government to grant Mr Gambari full access to all parties in Myanmar, as you have done in the past, and to work with Mr Gambari to try to find a way forward.

ASEAN’s concerns are for the welfare of the people of Myanmar, for a return to stability and normalcy, and for Myanmar to take its place among the comity of nations. I hope you will consider these views in that spirit.

Yours sincerely,

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.

6 thoughts on “PM Lee’s letter to Myanmar’s top general”

  1. WORDS. words. and more words.

    Not that I think that Singapore should directly interfere. I do not believe we have the capacity to do so.

    On the other hand, it is a sad situation. I don’t think any other countries are going to take any more of a hard stand against Myanmar.

  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. all talk and no action, ASEAN shifts to UN, UN seeks China, India. Big Brother say ASEAN should do something. Its going round in circles. Enough of talking

  4. The situation at Myanmar is a delicate one. External nations must repect the sovereignty of a country, by abiding by the policy of ‘no external influence’. Not that i’m saying that we should sit and do nothing, but now is definitely not the best time if something were to be done.

    Should there be ‘action’ taken, China and India would be forced to get involved. Instability would arise in the region.

    Nontheless, i feel that the statement issued as ASEAN chair by PM Lee was fair enough. He clearly stated the stand – UN Envoy Ibrahim Gambari will receive the ASEAN’s full support.

  5. Singapore does have the capacity to put Myanmar in its place because the Chair of ASEAN belongs to Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister and he is further backed by the members.

    The idea of sovereignty is coming into question these days when exceptions like genocide, terrorism and drugs become issues.

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