Monday, October 15, 2007

Is Singapore FOR or AGAINST?

I am puzzled.

Is the Singapore Government for or against the movement to change the junta regime in Myanmar?

Some signs that suggest that they are FOR:
1. Issued statement as ASEAN Chair expressing revulsion at the protests in Myanmar
2. MM says "dumb" Myanmar generals will not last indefinitely; Singapore ambassador says Myanmar should be suspended from ASEAN
3. Allowed "peace for Burma" activities organized by students at the universities; allowed a gathering of Myanmar nationals at a hotel

Signs that suggest they are AGAINST:
1. Police presence to discourage petition/vigil organized by SDP outside Myanmar Embassy; arrest of 5 SDP members for protesting outside the Istana
2. PM says that sanctions against Myanmar won't help; Singapore allegedly provides Myanmar with arms etc.
3. PM defends providing junta leaders with medical treatment; otherwise Singapore would be doing "petty indignities"

Some observers suggest that with the tide of international opinion rising against the junta, Singapore authorities are finding the cost of siding with them too high and are thus moving away.  

But I would posit that these "mixed" signals existed from almost Day one of the Myanmar crisis.  If anything, several of the AGAINST signs actually came later.  

MM's comments to Tom Plate were made on 27th September.  I think the "revulsion" statement came out the same day.  On the other hand, the enforcement activities against SDP and PM's remarks on the sanctions only came later in early October.

I guess the diplomats call this sort of positioning "nuanced."  I call it "confusing."

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