What do we stand to gain by getting involved in Myanmar politics?

Several Myanmar nationals (six according to Myanmar media) have been arrested and deported from Singapore, after investigations revealed that they had organised and mobilised some members of the Myanmar community in Singapore to support the Arakan Army (AA), designated a terrorist group by the Myanmar government.

Myanmar news outlets had reported that one of those arrested is the brother of the chief Brigadier-General of the AA. The army has conducted violent attacks in Myanmar, including two attacks on police posts in January and March this year, reportedly killing over 20 police officers.

But supporters of the six claimed that most of them belonged to the Singapore Arakan Association, a “social welfare organisation that contributes relief aid from Singapore to the Arakanese displaced in the north of Rakhine State”. Some of these supporters even demonstrated at Singapore embassies in Washington D.C. and Tokyo.

It is of no interest to Singapore to interfere in Myanmar’s domestic politics. This is the ASEAN stance upheld by its members all these years, because nobody likes outsiders to meddle in their domestic affairs. And seriously, what do we stand to gain by getting involved in something as complicated as the Rakhine State? We not stupid lah please. Supporters of the six should also stop thinking that Singapore government colluded with the Myanmar government. We are just being consistent.

Years back, when Malaysia’s Bersih movement planned to hold a massive rally in KL to demand the resignation of then-PM Najib Razak, the Singapore Police Force issued a statement which had his line, “Foreigners working or living here have to abide by our laws. They should not import issues from their own countries into Singapore which can disturb public order.”

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Last year, when Malaysia held their elections, SPF also said the same thing.

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This time round, they said this:

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Singapore’s stance against importation of other countries’ politics into Singapore, which will directly or indirectly, threaten the security and public order of the Singapore society and safety of Singaporeans, has been clear and firm.

While Singapore’s position has been unwavering, the defensive claims by the six’s supporters’ active updates on social media and through media interviews have been weak at best.

Investigations had revealed that the six Myanmar nationals had neither coordinated fund-raising efforts for or provided financial support to the AA while in Singapore. They celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of the AA in our community centre by falsely declaring that it was a healthcare talk during its application and at the event, had participants dressed in military uniforms with replica firearms depicting the AA’s armed offensive against the Myanmar military in Rakhine state. There was even a live streaming video in which the AA leader urged the Rakhine people to unite and fight for Rakhine independence through the AA’s armed conflict against the authorities.

Social welfare organisation with no links to armed forces. Really?

Interestingly, human rights organisations, humanitarian groups, and opportunistic activists/politicians, who are often quick to condemn Singapore’s government’s “inhumane acts”, have been relatively quiet.

If the six want to prove their innocence, they can do so in their homeland. Singapore wants no part in this. What we do want, is to ensure that our strict laws are being adhered to and enforced, and our peace and order are being protected.

Sometimes, one wins by shouting the loudest. But most times, reason prevails.