Isolating Myanmar would not be in Southeast Asia's interests because the military regime has its "gates" open to emerging regional giants China and India, Singapore's foreign minister said Tuesday, July 26.
Foreign Minister George Yeo said he did not believe that with ramped up pressure and "the wave of a wand, all the problems (in Myanmar) will be solved and everybody will live happily ever after."
US and EU sanctions on Myanmar's internationally condemned junta have done little to bring real change to the country.
"But Myanmar has the back gate to China wide open. India, in its own geo-strategic calculation, has decided to keep its side gate to Myanmar open," Yeo said at a news conference.
"So it must be in the interest of ASEAN to keep our side gate open whatever happens in Myanmar.
Nonetheless, "Myanmar has decided from very early that it would rather be a part of Southeast Asia than be a part of South Asia and we welcome that," he said.
Yeo was speaking after foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced that Myanmar had taken the unprecedented decision to skip the chairmanship of the grouping next year.
Myanmar said the decision, which came after months of pressure from the United States and European Union, was to enable it to concentrate on its "democratisation process".
Something tells me that keeping the gates open to Myanmar might have something to do with the following considerations.
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singapore firm has won a $10.6 million deal to expand the Yangon International Airport in Myanmar.
Singapore information technology company CNA Group said in a statement that under the deal, the firm will design and install engineering systems at Yangon airport.
Myanmar said in January that with $1.57 billion for 72 projects, Singapore tops the list of the 25 foreign investor countries in Myanmar. According to official data from Myanmar, Singapore is the largest exporter to Myanmar, and its second-largest trading partner after Thailand.
Whether you refer to 'gates' or 'doors' I think the relationship between Singapore and Burma is not one of mutual movement to Democratisation.
"Singapore is by far the most important 'back door'"(Pilger 1999)for Burma. Pilger also argues that the arms industry is a speciality for Singapore. How far would Singapore go? In 1988, when the majority of the Burmese population were on the streets in a popular protest against SLORC(The junta), the Burmese Army was running out of bullets...
Guess which ASEAN country helped out?
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