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Singapore’s Lee condemned Burma’s military leadership

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The outspoken former Prime Minister of Singapore, 87-year-old Lee Kuan Yew, has again been revealed to hold harsh words for Burma’s military leaders, as per cables released by  this week.

In 2007, Lee was reputed to have informed US ambassador Patricia Herbold and deputy assistant secretary of state Thomas Christensen that dealing with Burma’s generals was tantamount to “talking with dead people”.

lee-kuan-yewThe whistle-blower website WikiLeaks began late last month releasing more than 251,000 leaked United States embassy cables, in what it called “the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain. The documents are giving people around the world an unprecedented insight into the US government’s foreign activities”.

According to the leaked cables that quoted Singapore’s Minister Mentor, Lee, often criticised for his own lack of democratic inclusion, said he had “given up on them [Burma’s military leaders] a decade ago”, going on to describe Burma’s generals as “dense” and “stupid”.

The most recent revelations only add to a compilation of inflammatory remarks credited to Lee concerning the recent management of Burma and its economy.

Shortly after the crackdown on the monk-led protests known as the “saffron revolution”, in October 2007, Lee said: “These are rather dumb generals when it comes to the economy.”

Then, in early 2008, the ageing statesman added of the Burmese regime’s construction of a vast new administrative capital: “I mean [building a] new capital from ground zero, what I ask myself [is], what rational government would do this?”

The criticisms attributed to Lee also buttress the growing evidence of frustration regarding political stabilisation in Burma, even among governments commonly deemed as operating on relatively friendly terms with Burma’s military leaders.

Previously cables referenced Beijing’s desire that some sort of compromise between Burma’s generals and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi be concluded following 2007’s unrest.

Regarding any future political compromise, Lee holds out hope that a younger generation of officers may prove more amenable to compromise with opposition political forces, though possibly still excluding Suu Kyi.

While the latest WikiLeaks release speaks of Lee’s assessment that China holds the most sway over Naypyidaw, on previous occasions the former Singaporean head-of-state has spoken of India and Thailand also maintaining considerable clout, simultaneously playing down the potential impact of other Asean governments.

Singapore, however, cautioned that people should not treat WikiLeaks’ statements as necessarily accurate, warning that some quotes were taken out of context while other accounts clashed with Singapore’s own official records of conversations.

Lee held Singapore’s top political post from 1959 to 1990 and was the world’s longest-serving prime minister when he stepped down to make way for Goh Chok Tong. Lee’s son, Lee Hsien Loong, is the city state’s current prime minister. 
Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 December 2010 16:49 )  

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