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13 June 2009

Goh links Singapore’s investment in Myanmar to Democracy

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Singapore investors will likely wait until after Myanmar's elections next year before pouring any more money into the country, the Associated Press reported, quoting former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong as telling the city-state’s TV station Channel News Asia Friday.

Goh made the comments at the end of a four-day trip to meet with Myanmar's military leaders, the television station said on its Web site.

The military has run the country since 1962, and the current ruling junta has scheduled elections for next year.

"I don't believe any Singapore investors would come in a big way before the picture is clear, before this move to democracy is seen to produce results," said Goh, who is a senior adviser to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, according to the station.

Singapore is Myanmar's third-largest foreign investor, after Thailand and Britain, with an accumulated value of $1.5 billion, reported Reuters, quoting figures from Myanmar's Ministry of Commerce.

The city-state is also Myanmar's second-largest trade partner after Thailand with bilateral trade valued at $1.22 billion during the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2008.

Goh said he had urged the generals to make the 2010 election fair, transparent and inclusive, with all parties wanting to contest being allowed to do so, the Straits Times reported.

He said the ruling generals realised they had to democratise, but they were being practical and doing it cautiously, state media reported.

"Myanmar has come to a cul de sac. How does it make a u-turn? I think that's not easy," Channel NewsAsia television quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile, the trial of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was adjourned Friday for two weeks. Suu Kyi is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest when an uninvited American man swam secretly to her closely guarded lakeside home last month and stayed two days.

The hearing has drawn outrage from the international community and Suu Kyi's local supporters, who say the military government is using the bizarre incident as an excuse to keep the pro-democracy leader detained through the elections.

Goh told Myanmar's leadership that Singapore was "dismayed by the arrest," the station said.


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