Aung San Suu Kyi invites Singapore to be Myanmar’s partner in hearts and minds

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar State Counselor, visited Singapore and was welcomed officially on Wednesday afternoon (30 Nov) at the Istana, in her official visit to Singapore.

Ms Suu Kyi said in her speech yesterday, “While Singapore and Myanmar may be different, both countries can work together on economic development and to enhance regional stability.”

“Singapore and Myanmar can show the world that countries need not be exactly the same as each other in order to work well together,” she said at an official dinner hosted by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Channel NewsAsia reported Ms Suu Kyi has called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before she attended a banquet hosted by Mr Lee at the Istana.

The Myanmar leader continued her speech, “We want to invite you to be our partners in hearts and minds … We wish to go forward with you, with the rest of the region and the rest of the world.”

“Nothing is more important than peace and stability. Indeed, we would like to show the world that it is possible to achieve this — we can live with each other despite our differences and be better partners because of these differences.”

This is her first visit to Singapore as State Counselor, the last time she was here was in 2013 when she was Myanmar’s opposition leader.

PM Lee said Singapore and Myanmar will begin discussions on a bilateral investment treaty and update the Avoidance of Double Taxation agreement, which was signed in 1999.

“This will send a positive signal to investors and boost economic growth,” he said.

Mr Lee also urged the two countries’ people-to-people relationships, reminding that Ms Suu Kyi’s three-day visit occur simultaneously with the start of a mutual agreement between Singapore and Myanmar where residents will not need visas to enter each others’ country for visits of up to 30 days.

Myanmar & Singapore agree on visa-free travel / photo: The Jakarta Post
Myanmar & Singapore agree on visa-free travel / photo: The Jakarta Post

The agreement, which takes effect today (1 Dec),  was signed during Mr Lee’s June visit to Myanmar, as the first head of government to visit Myanmar after a new administration led by Aung San Suu Kyi last April.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ms Suu Kyi asked Singapore business leaders to help Myanmar achieve its goal of overtaking Singapore’s economy in 20 years’ time.

She said, “Success in one part of the region means success throughout the region, Singapore is a business-friendly nation. We want to learn from you. We want our people to be innovative and competitive in a healthy way,” she said at the IE Singapore’s Global Conversations.

Ms Suu Kyi also said she would like to thank Singapore for the informal education opened for many of her people who have been working in Singapore for the past years.

Stating that the Myanmar community in Singapore was among the most enthusiastic in her country’s elections, she said, “They realised the importance of exercising their democratic rights as citizens and we are struck by the lengths at which the people went to cast their vote.”

“Working in Singapore seems to have taught them a sense of responsibility and go out and get what they want to get instead of leaving it to others,” Ms Suu Kyi said.

Today, Ms Suu Kyi will also meet Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. She was also scheduled to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid will be named in her honour.

Later in the evening, she and Mr Lee will be at the Asian Civilizations Museum as guests of honor for the opening ceremony of an exhibition featuring Myanmar artifacts.