On 28 Sept 2007, Amnesty International urged the United Nations to immediately impose a mandatory arms embargo on Burma/Myanmar. One of the things mentioned by Amnesty was…..

In addition there have been allegations about Myanmar’s military relations with Singapore. According to Jane’s Intelligence Review, in 1998 Singapore supplied Myanmar with a purpose-built factory to manufacture assault rifles and ammunition. The plant was designed and built by a state owned Singapore company with assistance from Israeli consultants, then dismantled and re-assembled in Myanmar.

According to a recent report by the Associated Press…

Most known arms transfers to Myanmar are legal, and some are even reported to the United Nations. But other transactions are murkier, as countries more sensitive to international opinion apparently try to mask their activities. Analysts say these include India, as well as Israel and Singapore.

I did some digging and came across these news reports, by South China Morning Post and Reuters, written a decade ago……

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Singapore weapons factory for junta, William Barnes in Bangkok, 22 July 1998

Singapore has supplied Burma’s military regime with an arms factory that was designed and prefabricated by the island state’s own weapons maker.

The weapons made in the factory – thought to be EMERK-1 assault rifles with a bull-pup configuration, which shortens their length, had already started to be issued to soldiers guarding the controversial Yadana gas pipeline, according to the latest issue of the authoritative magazine Jane’s Defence Weekly.

Singapore has previously supplied the regime with weapons at a critical time and has also built a cyber-war centre in Rangoon capable of telephone, fax and satellite communications.

The purpose-built arms factory was created by Chartered Industries of Singapore, with the help of Israeli consultants.

Although no official announcement has been made, the plant is understood to have arrived in Rangoon in 40 containers aboard the Singapore-registered vessel Sin Ho in February.

A decade ago – near the height of nationwide pro-democracy protests led by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi – Singapore shipped tonnes of ammunition, mortars and other war material to Burma.

The shipments were marked as coming from a subsidiary of Chartered Industries of Singapore – Allied Ordinance, Singapore.

Chartered Industries is the weapons arm of Singapore Technologies which supplied the regime with its highly efficient cyber-war centre.

The supplies were sent only weeks after the junta emerged following the retirement of the old dictator, Ne Win.

They included rockets manufacturered under license in Singapore, but exported without authorisation from Sweden.

Only China is more important to the dictatorial military regime than Singapore, which has frequently defended not only its links to Rangoon, but the junta itself.

Last November, Singapore tried to water down a United Nations General Assembly resolution critical of the regime’s refusal to recognise the overwhelming victory of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy in 1990 elections and widespread human rights abuses.

“Our position is different. We have concrete and immediate stakes,” argued the Singapore representative, Bilahari Kausikan, in a letter to the Swedish mission which drafted the resolution.

Singapore had used weapons sales, military training and intelligence co-operation to “win a sympathetic hearing at the very heart of Burma’s official councils”, said Jane’s Intelligence Review in March.

At about the time the small arms factory was arriving in Rangoon, Burma’s intelligence chief, General Khin Nyunt, told a co-ordinating board for the Myanmar-Singapore Joint Ministerial Working Committee that his officials should “give priority to projects arranged by Singapore”.

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U.S to protest arm sales to Burma, Reuters, 23 March 1994

WASHINGTON (Reuter) – The United States is set to protest arms sales by China and three other countries known to be arming Burma’s ruling military junta, administration officials said Wednesday.

The State Department is preparing to make official diplomatic protests to Singapore, Portugal and Poland as well as to China on the shipments, they said.

The planned diplomatic protests are expected to be ready ”very soon,” an official who follows Burma said. They are part of a stepped-up drive to end what the United States regards as brutal suppression of human rights by the junta, which calls itself the State Law and Order Restoration Council, or SLORC.

The strategy is the result of a Clinton administration review approved at an inter-agency meeting of senior policymakers on March 10. It is aimed at winning the unconditional release of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and forcing the SLORC to open talks with her political party.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, is in her fifth year of house arrrest in Rangoon, the Burmese capital. Her National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in elections in 1990, but the military voided the vote.

China is by far the biggest arms supplier to the Burmese military. U.S. officials do not expect their overtures to Beijing to make much headway, especially in light of strains over U.S. criticism of China’s human rights record.

Washington does not plan to make a big deal of Burma with Beijing because of more pressing business, including getting it to go along with the U.S. strategy for forcing North Korea to allow full inspection of its nuclear program.

Instead, the plan is to focus on the smaller suppliers to boost the junta’s international isolation and pressure it to ease repression.

“It’s a matter of working on the margins where we can,” one official said. “It is a government that, controlled by the military, is using these guns and bullets to oppress the Burmese people and prosecute a civil war on the ethnic groups.”

Singapore has told the United States it would halt arms sales to Burma if the United Nations sponsored an international arms embargo. In the absence of a worldwide embargo, it fears another supplier would simply step in if it stopped. Poland and Portugal have let it be known that any arms shipments to Burma are in violation of stated government policy, officials said.

The Clinton administration also plans to boost efforts to persuade the U.N. Secretary General to name a special envoy to press the military to start a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi. It has decided to defer a decision on sending an ambassador to Rangoon until a later date.

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