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WikiLeaks: Than Shwe complained Suu Kyi stuck to ‘old ideas’

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – In a meeting with former Singaporean Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, former Burmese junta leader Than Shwe complained that Aung San Suu Kyi stuck to her “old ideas.” He said he would meet with her only if she urged foreign countries to lift sanctions against Burma and ended her obstructive actions, according to a US diplomatic cable released by the website WikiLeaks.

Former Burmese Senior-General Than Shwe reviews the troops in Naypyitaw, the capital. Photo: MizzimaThe cable, sent from the U.S. embassy in Rangoon to the State Department in Washington, was released on August 30. 

Than Shwe, now retired, said that he was forced to make a choice between national stability and accommodating Suu Kyi’s demands. 

During the one-hour meeting, Than Shwe told his “old friend” Goh Chok Tong that the general elections in Burma in 2010 would be free and fair. 

The Singaporean ambassador to Burma briefed the diplomatic corps on Goh Chok Tong’s meetings with Than Shwe and then-General Thein Sein, who was the prime minister and is now president, according to the cable.

At the time, Suu Kyi was facing a trial in Insein Prison because she had received a U.S. citizen, John Yettaw, who swam across a lake to her compound without invitation and allegedly violated the rules of her house arrest.

According to the cable, Ambassador Robert Chua said that Goh Chok Tong told Than Shwe that Suu Kyi’s arrest and trial would complicate the policy reviewing process to make constructive engagements with Burma, but Than Shwe “did not respond substantively.” Goh Chok Tong also warned that although Suu Kyi’s trial was an internal affair, the international community was watching it closely. 

After Goh Chok Tong left Burma, on August 11, the special Court in Insein Prison sentenced Suu Kyi to three years in prison under the State Protection Act. Than Shwe commuted the sentence to 18 months under house arrest. 

Suu Kyi was released from house arrest on November 13, 2010, three days after the general elections. Her National League for Democracy party did not contest in the elections.

A few days after the verdict, U.S. Senator Jim Webb met with Than Shwe in Naypyitaw, and Yettaw, who was sentenced to seven years in prison, was released and returned to the U.S. with Webb.

Despite Webb’s demand for the release of Suu Kyi, Than Shwe did not comply, according to the US diplomatic cable dated August 17, 2009.

US diplomatic cables also said that Burmese tycoons such as Zaw Zaw, the owner of the Max Myanmar Group of Companies and Tay Za's Htoo Trading Company Limited, who are on the list of the US sanctions, used banks in Singapore to transfer money to companies in foreign countries and to do business. Later, Singapore banks used by Burmese cronies restricted some of those activities, according to a leaked diplomatic cable.

On Wednesday, Suu Kyi was a guest of Zaw Zaw, who is also chairman of the Myanmar Football Federation, and they watched a football match together at Thuwunna Stadium in Rangoon.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 15 September 2011 12:20 )  

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