Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Road
RE: GREAT JOB, BOTANIC GARDENS!
I was pleasantly surprised when I came across a report in Reuters that the Singapore Botanic Gardens was planning to name an orchid after the Prime Minister of Burma. It is not often that a leader in the Burmese Junta is given the credit he deserves for creating a light for all the world to see, i.e. a New Light for Burma. I was sorely disappointed that I could not find a similar report in our local newspapers – apparently, they have lost sight of our national interest in emphasizing our attempts to build cordial ties with our neighbours. Such a measure will indeed boost the regional solidarity of ASEAN, especially against scurrilous attacks by western journalists and politicians who seek to damage our reputation to promote their narrow agenda. Therefore, I wish to praise the Singapore Botanic Gardens for its great magnanimity to premier Thein and the Government he represents.
Indeed, Mr Thein Sein and his predecessors deserve much overdue credit for their far-sighted policies and exemplary government that have given their country a standard of deprivation unsurpassed by any other in the world, except perhaps North Korea. For all their criticisms of Burma’s governance, no western country could ever achieve such a stellar record. Even Singapore, developed though we are, have not developed to that extent, although some members of the opposition – particularly the SDP - believe that we are inching closer to achieving it.
With regards to His Excellency Premier Thein, he was exemplary for promoting a culture of self-reliance during the recent cyclone Nargis disaster. After all, it is better to die from hunger than to sacrifice one’s pride by accepting aid from countries who do not respect your local culture. Needy Singaporeans and their friends should take the cue from the Burmese, and not depend so much on the government for handouts. Now, that is real National Pride. (Even the Chinese cannot beat this.)
The west also fails to recognize Premier Thein’s government for its zealous protection of secularism, a cherished western concept. The junta’s achievements eclipse even ours. We launched Operation Coldstore 1987 against a perceived threat of a marxist conspiracy within the Catholic church, but we were only able to arrest 11 believers, and only one was a priest. In contrast, last year the junta was able to burn down entire buddhist monasteries and kill at least tens of, if not hundreds of, monks. Our security forces in 1987 were not as efficient in eradicating the threat of religious leaders trying to influence government policy. They could learn a thing or two from the Burmese forces.
I would like to highlight especially that the Internal Security Department (ISD) should take a leaf from their Burmese counterparts. I feel ashamed to consider that a terrorist leader like Mas Selamat could escape from a window at a top-secret high-security WRDC, whereas the junta is able to keep their most-notorious terrorist – west-supported Aung San Suu Kyi – from escaping whilst under house arrest. Surely a house has more avenues for exit than a high-security prison?
Premier Thein’s government also understands the principle that to preserve political stability, one must crush all protests. Our government once understood that principle perfectly. Sadly, recently our leaders’ will has been bent to allow for something as egregious as a Speakers’ Corner. Don’t our leaders realize that speeches made by demagogues like Tan Kin Lian will harm the delicate social fabric of our country? Perhaps, the ruling People's Action Party's youth wing should pay a visit to Burma after it has toured the Forbidden City. The Burmese are the epitome of strong government, and we should admire them for it.
Reporters San Frontieres (RSF) – the institution which wrongly gave us the rank of 144th for Press Freedom – praises the Burmese government for its readiness in confronting the challenges of the information age. According to RSF, the junta utilizes the most efficient method of controlling the perils of the web – barring Burmese from internet access. Perhaps, MICA should follow its footsteps and bar access to all blogs critical of the government, therefore ensuring that no misleading information is available to people that will divert them from supporting our most excellent enlightened Government.
Lest I forget, Premier Thein ought to be commended for his illustrious economic management skills. Compared to Temasek and GIC’s disastrous investments recently, there have been no losses reported by Burma’s investments in heroin plantations and human trafficking rings. I suppose that the junta is more business-savvy than our sovereign wealth funds.
To be fair, Premier Thein Sein should not be taking the credit alone. After all, it was his predecessors who succeeded in transforming their country from a key colonial outpost of the west into a country that no westerner wants to go to at all. This way, they built an independent, self-sustaining economy, which even Singapore does not have, because we rely too much on MNCs for our growth.
It is for all the above reasons – and more that I cannot think of right now – that I wish to commend the Singapore Botanic Gardens for organizing a special orchid naming ceremony for Premier Thein Sein, to accord him the proper respect he deserves.
You and your staff have managed to see past the tinted colourings of western eyes to properly recognize the achievements and contribution of one of our neighbours - to the peace, prosperity and progress of our world - who has been stigmatized repeatedly by the West.
Once again, good job, Singapore Botanic Gardens!
P.S.: I believe that all Singaporeans and Burmese in Singapore should be invited by the Singapore Botanic Gardens to the naming ceremony on 18 March to properly honour and admire such a great man for his contributions to all of humankind.
** The ceremony will take place as follows: Wednesday, 18 March 2009, 8am, Burkhill Hall, National Orchid Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens. (SG Press Centre.)
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