Telling the truth but with a twist

Telling the truth but with a twist

Extracts from George Yeo’s Comment: When the honour of the family is at stake.

1.      It was a sad day, that morning at the United Nations, when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) foreign ministers confronted the Myanmar foreign minister over the crackdown on demonstrators in Yangon. Later Asean issued a statement expressing its horror and anger.

2.      We had just received reports of automatic weapons being used.

3.      The Thai foreign minister said to me with sadness that the killing of Buddhist monks was opprobrious.

4.       We had stopped defending Myanmar internationally because it became no longer credible. But we refrained from publicly castigating its government. This time, we had no choice. The honour of the family was at stake, and the people of Myanmar would not forgive us if we kept silent.

5.      When Western countries cheered us for speaking out, it worried us.

 6.       Strident calls to bring down the regime showed a lack of understanding of the problem. It cannot be assumed that out of the ashes, a new resplendent Myanmar will rise.  

7.       That the old way persisted in by the military government cannot work is clear.

8.  Myanmar army played a major role in the founding of the state. 

9.        It was opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s father, Aung San, who founded that army. He remains a national icon and part of his prestige has passed on to his daughter. Ironically, the institution that her father established became her tormentor.  

10.    After longtime ruler Ne Win stepped down, the old leader would visit Singapore for medical treatment. Sometimes, he would meet former prime ministers Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong. Whenever they discussed Aung San Suu Kyi, Ne Win always referred to her as “my leader’s daughter”, never in a pejorative way

11.    The military government has been trying to marginalise her and the NLD without success. The military leaders know she retains a certain moral authority because of her father and her landslide victory in the 1990 elections. The recent demonstrations, especially the large-scale involvement of Buddhist monks, have strengthened her hand.  

12.    The military government has to accord her respect. She in turn knows that national reconciliation must involve the military. 

13.    Attempts by the government to intimidate the population can only succeed in the short term. However, if either side takes brinksmanship too far, the result will be a tragedy for the people of Myanmar. 

14.    That the military leaders allowed Ibrahim Gambari access to Aung San Suu Kyi was a sign that they wanted to negotiate, albeit on their terms.  

15.    That she asked him to continue playing that role showed that she, too, is prepared to negotiate, provided the military leaders are serious. 

16.    The negotiation will be tough and protracted, but it is our best hope for the country. If Gambari fails, the future will be bleak.  

17.    The alternative cannot but be violent. Many ethnic groups in
Myanmar resent majority Burman rule.
While their peace agreement with the Yangon government holds, a number of these groups are and can return to insurgency. Without the army playing a major role in future solution, Myanmar cannot hold together. 

18.    Myanmar is a buffer state between China and India. If the country dissolves into civil war, both these giant neighbours will be dragged in willy-nilly. For this reason, keeping Myanmar in the Asean family is in everyone’s best interest, including the West’s.  

–Bangkok Post

(Note: As George Yeo is the foreign minister of Singapore, we all Burmese know what he actually  means. Keeping Myanmar in the Asean family is for his Singapore’s best interest.)