What a priceless picture! I can’t get over the depth of irony that hangs in air.

At the height of repression by the Burmese military junta and throughout the period that Aung San Suu Kyi was subject to house arrest, the Singapore government, together with ASEAN, has taken a concilliatory stance towards the Burmese government. The officially stated position has always been that engagement with the regime would be more likely to bear fruit and that isolation through boycotts and trade embargoes would not be of any real benefit to the Burmese people.

Whilst one can argue endlessly about the merits of such a foreign policy approach, it is nevertheless true that Singapore maintain trade links with the Burmese government. Our government has never denied trading with Burma. But, there have been other allegations that have been made in the past pertaining to the export of arms from Singapore to Burma and the rather controversial allegation that we turn a blind eye to the drug related activities of members of the military junta. (The allegation about the drug related activities of the military junta has been circulating on the internet. But, the sources are not easily verifiable and it is the same few sites that have repeated the allegation. So, I will leave it at that – mere allegations.)

Whatever may be the extent of the trade and investment between the 2 countries, it is an openly stated position of the Singapore government (specifically during the period that George Yeo was the Foreign Minister) that engagement with the military junta is necessary.

Given the context of the Singapore-Myanmar relationship, I couldn’t help but note the irony of the above picture that BG George Yeo shared on his facebook page. It would be fascinating to find out what went through their minds.