The remark on Andrew Teo’s online application form to protest the violence in Burma is simple: “Free Burma. General Than Shwe: Stop the killing”.
This afternoon, Mr Teo, a graduate student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and telecommunications director by profession, filed an application with the Police licensing unit to hold a peaceful protest outside the Burmese embassy.
He is hoping to involve members of the Burmese community and concerned Singaporeans in gathering at the embassy to submit a letter of concern to the Burmese ambassador.
Mr Teo says he chose to act out of a sense of solidarity with many Burmese friends he has as a graduate student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
A previous attempt by members of the local Burmese community to hold a rally against events in Burma was foiled by police because it did not have a license. Section 5 (4) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act makes it an offence to organize an ‘assembly or procession’ without a police permit.
Mr Teo believes that the time for Singaporeans to show their compassion for their Burmese counterparts has come.
“The situation is at tipping point, and we would like to peacefully request that the Burmese government refrain from the use of force against a peace loving people”.
For now, Mr Teo hopes the police will speedily approve the license for his gathering in front of the Burmese embassy before the situation gets out of hand.
Emphasizing the timeliness of the protest, Mr Teo said:
“It is important that we get our voices heard before it’s too late. We hope to express our deep dissatisfaction with the brutality before any more human life is lost, and a peaceful resolution is out of reach”.
At a prayer gathering at the Burmese Buddhist Temple, off Balestier Road, more than 1000 worshippers gathered in red to pray for Burma’s deliverance from violence and oppression (see related report).
Mr Teo is one of many Singaporeans concerned with the rapidly escalating violence in Burma. In recent days, many Singaporean blogs have condemned the repression of the Burmese regime, and have called upon the Singaporean government to do more to pressure the Burmese regime from refraining from violence.
Even Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been uncharacteristically blunt. A statement read out by Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo at a gathering of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) expressed ‘revulsion’ at the repression of protests in the country. Singapore is the current chairman of ASEAN.
For now, Mr Teo is hopeful that his application will be successful. Mr Teo told TOC:
“The Singapore government has taken a strong stand against the actions of the Burmese junta, and I’m sure they wouldn’t want to be criticized for being critical of the crackdown on free expression in Burma while preventing overseas Burmese and concerned Singaporeans from peacefully making their views known here.”