[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Saturday, October 20, 2007

[Burmese Temple Visit]
1. I visited the Burmese Temple this afternoon to show solidarity with the people of Myanmar in this very difficult period of their country's history. I have passed by the temple many times before on my way to Wang Qing Yuan or the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall next door but never stepped into it before. The temple is more than a hundred years' old. Transporting the Buddha statue from Mandalay at that time was a huge effort, the story of which is told on a wall mural.

2. Four senior monks met me together with members of the temple committee. After they showed me around, we retired to the library downstairs for a discussion on the situation in Myanmar today. A few members of the Red Campaign, one wearing a t-shirt with Aung San Suu Kyi's face on it, joined us. There are a few tens of thousands of Myanmar people residing in Singapore, mostly on employment passes and work permits.

3. I told them that the Singapore Government will work with the other ASEAN countries to give full backing to Ibrahim Gambari, the special envoy of the UN Secretary General. I agreed with them that a genuine dialogue, not one just for show, was crucial. Without that, there can be no national reconciliation. Without national reconciliation, the country's future is bleak. ASEAN has little economic leverage but we do have some moral influence because Myanmar is part of the ASEAN family. Next month, during the ASEAN Summit, the leaders are bound to talk about Myanmar. It will be discussed again when ASEAN leaders meet the leaders of China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

4. When the brutal crackdown of peaceful demonstrators took place, Singaporeans felt a deep sympathy for the Myanmar people living here. Singaporeans of all races and religions SMSed their Myanmar colleagues expressing their concern. It is right that we should support the Myanmar people in their moment of need. If their country dissolves into chaos, we will be badly affected in ASEAN.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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