This is a little bit out of time but still interesting!

„SINGAPORE’S economic linkage with Burma is one of the most vital factors for the survival of Burma’s
military regime,“ says Professor Mya Maung, a Burmese economist based in Boston. This link, he continues,
is also central to „the expansion of the heroin trade.“ Singapore has acieved the distinction of being the
Burmese junta’s number one business partner – both largest trading partner and largest foreign investor. More
than half these investments, totaling upwards of $1.3 billion, are in partnership with Burma’s infamous heroin
kingpin Lo Hsing Han who now controls a substantial portion of the world’s opium trade. The close political,
economic and military relationship between the two countries facilitates the weaving of millions of narcodollars
into the legitimate world economy.

Singapore has become a major player in Asian commerce. According to Steven Green, US Ambassador to
Singapore, free market policies have „allowed this small country to develop one of the world’s most successful
trading and investment economies.“ Singapore also has a strong role in the powerful 132-member country
World Trade Organization. Indeed, the tiny China Sea island of three and a half million people is known far
and wide as the blue chip of the region – a financial trading base and a route for the vast sums of money that
flow in and out of Asia.

If the brutal Burmese dictatorship’s international pariah status is of any concern to its more powerful partner,
Singapore shows no sign of it. Following the March 24 visit of Singapore’s Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong to
Rangoon, a Singapore spokesperson proclaimed, „Singapore and Myanmar should continue to explore areas
where they can complement each other.“ As both countries continue to celebrate their „complementary“
relationship, the international community must take note of the powerful support this relationship provides
both to Burma’s illegitimate regime and to its booming billion dollar drug trade.

Drugs ‘R’ Us
THE Burmese military dictatorship – known by the acronym slorc for State Law and Order Restoration
Council until it changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council (spdc) last November –
depends on the resources of Burma’s drug barons for its financial survival. Since it seized power in 1988,
opium production has doubled, equaling all legal exports and making the country the world’s biggest heroin
supplier. Burma now supplies the US with 60 percent of its heroin imports and has recently become a major
regional producer of methamphetamines. With 50 percent of the economy unaccounted for, drug traffickers,
businessmen and government officials are able to integrate spectacular profits throughout Burma’s permanent
economy.

Both the Burmese generals and drug lords have been able to take advantage of Singapore’s liberal banking
laws and money laundering opportunities. In 1991, for eaxample, the slorc laundered $400 million through a
Singapore bank which it used as a down payment for Chinese arms. Despite the large sum, Burma’s foreign
exchange reserves registered no change either before or after the sale. With no laws to prevent money
laundering, Singapore is widely reported to be a financial haven for Burma’s elite, including its two most
notorious traffickers, Lo Hsing Han and Khun Sa (also known by his Chinese name Chang Qifu).
SLORC cut a deal with Khun Sa for his „surrender“ in early 1996, allowing him protection and business
opportunities in exchange for retirement from the drug trade.

Khun Sa now bills himself as „a commercial real estate agent who also has a foot in the Burmese construction
industry.“ Already in control of a bus route into the northern poppy growing region where the military is
actively involved in the drug business, he is now investing $250 million in a new highway between Rangoon
and Mandalay, an spdc cabinet member confirmed. „The Burmese government says one thing but does
another,“ according to Banphot Piamdi, director of Thailand’s Northern Region’s Narcotics Suppression
Center. „It claims to have subdued Khun Sa’s group…However the fact is that the group under the supervision
of…Khun Sa’s son has received permission from Rangoon to produce narcotics in the areas along the
Thai-Burmese border.“

Khun Sa’s son is not the only trafficker reaping benefits in the Shan State area which borders Thailand and
China and serves as Burma’s primary poppy growing area. Field intelligence and ethnic militia sources
consistently report a pattern of Burmese military involvement with drug production in these remote areas.
Government troops offer protection to the heroin and amphetamine refineries in the area in exchange for
payoffs and gifts, such as Toyota sedans, pistols and army uniforms. The only access to the refineries is
through permits issued by Burmese military intelligence – without this, the heavily guarded areas surrounding
the refineries are too dangerous to approach. The military is also involved in protecting the transport of
narcotics throughout the region, which the authorities have sealed off from the outside world.
„There are persistent and reliable reports that officials, particularly army personnel posted in outlying areas,
are involved in the drug business,“ confirms the March 1998 US government narcotics report. „Army
personnel wield considerable political clout locally, and their involvement in trafficking is a significant
problem.“ Intelligence sources, working for ethnic leaders combating both the drug trade and the military
dictatorship, report that the pattern of government involvement extends all the way to the top. The central
government in Rangoon demands funds on a regular basis from regional commanders who, in turn, expect
payoffs from the rank and file. The soldiers get the money any way they can – through smuggling, gambling or
selling jade – with drugs being the most accessible source of revenue in Shan State. The officers in the field
also „tax“ refineries, drug transporters, and opium farmers.

At great risk, the intellignce sources – who go undercover to infiltrate troops in the field — collect
painstakingly detailed data including names, dates and places, such as these delivered in March 1998 from
Shan State: „On 10th Jan. 98, spdc army no. 65 stationed at Mong Ton sent 40 troops to Nam Hkek village,
Pon Pa Khem village tract, collected 0.16 kilo of opium per household or [collected payment of] Baht 600.
Then the troops sold the collected opium to the drug business men at the rate of Baht 6000 for 1.6 kilos „
Another report states: „Troops from spdc Battalion nos. 277 & 65 stationed at Mong Ton are still protecting
heroin refineries situated at Hkai lon, Pay lon & Ho ya areas, Mong Ton township. Those who can pay
B.200,00 per month are allowed to run the heroin refineries.“ And: „On 3rd of Jan. 98, Burma Army no. 99
collected opium tax in Lashio township. They charged 0.32 kilo per household. They arrested and beat
seriously those who failed to give.“

These sources also report that Ko Tat, Private 90900 from spdc battalion no. 525 stationed in Lin Kay,
recently defected from the Burmese army and said that his company had been giving protection to the opium
fields around Ho Mong. While the lower ranked officers struggle to meet their quotas in the field, the highest
levels of the goverment in the capital city strike deals with Burma’s two top traffickers, one of whom is the
prosperous partner of Singapore.
Lo Hsing Han: At Home in Singapore
WITH massive financial ties to Singapore, Lo Hsing Han is now one of Burma’s top investors. He, along with
Khun Sa, the former „king of opium,“ is a major player in the Burmese economy.
In the early 1990s, Lo Hsing Han controlled the most heavily armed drug-trafficking organization in Southeast

Asia. He was arrested in 1973 and sentenced to death, but was freed under a general amnesty in 1980. Now,

like Khun Sa, he wears the public persona of a successful businessman in Rangoon – where no one does
business without close government cooperation. Although he still overseas rural drug operations with the
status of a godfather, according to US narcotics officials, the notorious Lo currently serves as an advisor on
ethnic affairs to Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, the military intelligence chief and the junta’s powerful „Secretary 1.“
Lo Hsing Han is the chair of Burma’s biggest conglomerate, Asia World, founded in 1992. His son, Steven
Law, is managing director and also runs three companies in Singapore which are „overseas branches“ of Asia
World. Although Singapore is proud of its mandatory death penalty for small-time narcotics smugglers and
heroin addicts, both father and son travel freely in and out of the friendly island nation. „The family money is
offshore,“ said a high level US narcotics official. „The old man is a convicted drug trafficker, so his kid is
handling the financial activities.“

In 1996, when Law married his Singaporean business partner in a lavish, well-publicized Rangoon wedding,
guests from Singapore were flown in on two chartered planes. According to a high-level US government
official familiar with the situation, Law’s wife Cecilia Ng operates an underground banking system, and „is a
contact for people in Burma to get their drug money into Singapore, because she has a connection to the
government.“ The official said that she spends half her time in Rangoon, half in Singapore; when in Rangoon,
she is headquartered at Asia Lite, a subsidiary of Asia World. The husband-wife team are also the sole
officers and shareholders of Asia World subsidiary, Kokang Singapore Pte Ltd. Founded in Singapore in 1993
with $4.6 million, the company „engages in general trading activities in goods/products of all
kinds/descriptions.“

Singapore’s ventures with Asia World include both government and private investments. Kuok Singapore
Ltd., a partner with Asia World in many ventures, was Burma’s largest single real estate investor as of late
1996, with over $650 million invested. Other Singaporean companies are mentioned in Asia World’s company
reports. Sinmardev, another major Singaporean project linked to Lo’s company, is a $207 million industrial
park and port on the outskirts of Rangoon, which broke ground in 1997. Singaporean entrepreneur Albert
Hong, head of Sinmardev, described the project as the largest foreign investment in Burma outside the energy
field. The Singaporean consortium leads the joint venture along with the Burmese junta, Lo’s Asia World, and
a slew of international shareholders.

Kuok Singapore Ltd., Lo Hsing Han’s Asia World, and the Burmese junta are also partners in the luxury
Traders Hotel. The hotel’s November 1996 opening ceremony was attended by the Singapore ambassador, the
president of Kuok Singapore, and briefly by Lo Hsing Han himself. The presiding Burmese minister publicly
thanked Steven Law and the government of Singapore „without whose support and encouragement there
would be very few Singaporean businessmen in our country.“
While government and business connections in Burma and Singapore have boosted Asia World’s prospects,
other factors have contributed to the company’s extraordinary growth. In the last six years, Asia World has
expanded from a modest trading company to become Burma’s largest and fastest-growing private sector
enterprise with interests in trading, manufacturing, property, industrial investment, development, construction,
transportation, import and distribution, and infrastructure. „How is it that a company that has a humble
beginning trading beans and pulses is suddenly involved in $200 million projects?“ a US government official
said, requesting anonymity. „Where did all that start-up capital come from?“

The US government ventured a guess in 1996: it denied Asia World’s CEO Steven Law a visa to the US „on
suspicion of drug trafficking.“ Asia World’s operations now include a deepwater port in Rangoon, the Leo
Express bus line into Northern Burma, and a $33 million toll highway from the heart of Burma’s poppygrowing
region to the China border. On December 20, the conglomerate opened a wharf with freight handling,
storage, and a customs yard for ships carrying up to 15,000 tons. „If you’re in the dope business, these are the
types of things that you’ve got to have to be able to move your product,“ said a high level US narcotics
official. „They have set up institutions to facilitate the movement of drugs. And in all probability, they are

using laundered drug proceeds, or funds generated from investments of drug trafficking proceeds, to build this
infrastructure,“ he added.

The activities of Lo’s company Asia World have triggered an international narcotics investigation lead by
Washington. US investigators allege that Asia World’s relationship to Singapore paves the way for the
narcotics trade to be woven into all legitimate investments between the two countries. „Singapore’s
investments in Burma are opening doors for the drug traffickers, giving them access to banks and financial
systems,“ said one government official familiar with the situation.
One Stop Shopping: Intelligence to Repression
THE Burmese junta’s control of its impoverished population through crude methods such as torture, forced
labor, and mass killings leaves it open to international condemnation. In contrast, Singapore takes a more
sophisticated approach to repression, both at home and abroad. While the island-nation’s citizens have
material benefits and the appearance of rule of law, they live in fear of an Orwellian government that closely
monitors every aspect of their lives. The ruling party often sues those who dare to oppose it on trumped up
defamation charges, forcing many into bankruptcy or exile.

The FBI is investigating complaints by US citizens of harassment by Singapore’s Internal Security Department
(ISD). One California academic, a widely respected specialist on Southeast Asian affairs who asked not to be
identified, says ISD agents broke into his home because he was working to bring leading Singaporean
opposition figure Tang Liang Hong to an American university. The operatives tore out his door handle to get
in, then searched his computer and desk. A week later, an Asian man, waiting in a tree, photographed and
videotaped the academic while he walked in the park. After temporarily blinding the academic with his bright
flash, the man jumped from the tree and made a getaway in his car. Tang – who is facing a $4.5 million
defamation lawsuit by Singaporean senior ministers – was not surprised by the burglary. „I’ve been followed
everywhere, whether I was in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia or in London,“ he said in a phone interview
from Australia.

Singapore has been more than willing to share its expertise in intelligence with its Burmese counterparts. The
Singapore-Myanmar Ministerial-Level Work Committee was set up in 1993 in Rangoon to „forge mutual
benefits in investment, trade and economic sectors.“ The committee includes intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Khin
Nyunt, other top Burmese ministers, and high-level Singaporean officials. At the December 23 meeting, Khin
Nyunt urged his ministers to give priority to projects arranged by the Singaporean Government. „Pilot projects
are being implemented to transfer know how to Myanmar,“ said Khin Nyunt in his address.
One such project is a state-of-the-art cyber-war center in Rangoon. Burma’s military leaders can now
intercept a range of incoming communications – including telephone calls, faxes, emails and computer data
transmissions – from 20 other countries.

The high-tech cyber-war center was built by Singapore Technologies, the city-state’s largest industrial and
technology conglomerate, comprising more than 100 companies. This government-owned company also
provides on-site training at Burma’s Defense Ministry complex, and reportedly passes on its „sophisticated
capability“ to hundreds of Burmese „secret police“ at an institution inside Singapore.
Burma has no external enemies, but the ruling junta goes to extremes to terrorize the population through its
elaborate intelligence network. Intelligence officials have already used their newly-acquired talents from the
cyber-war center to arrest pro-democracy activists, and it is well known that Burma’s feared military
intelligence often tortures its victims during lengthy interrogations.
Singaporean companies have also helped suppress dissent in Burma by supplying the military with arms to use
against its own people. The first shipment of guns and ammunition was delivered on October 6, 1988.

Throughout the month, hundreds of boxes of mortars, ammunition, and other supplies marked „Allied
Ordnance, Singapore“ were unloaded from vessels in Rangoon. Allied Ordnance is a subsidiary of Chartered
Industries of Singapore, the arms branch of Singapore Technologies – the same government-owned company
which built the cyber-war center. The shipments also included rockets made by Chartered Industries of
Singapore under license from a Swedish company and sold in violation of an agreement with Sweden
requiring authorization for re-exports.

These shipments from Singapore arrived only weeks after the 1988 military takeover in Rangoon, in which
the new leaders of the SLORC massacred hundreds of peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators in the street.
These killings followed another wave of government massacres earlier that summer, when longtime dictator
Ne Win struggled to keep power in the face of nationwide strikes and demonstrations for democracy. He
eventually stepped down but, operating behind the scenes, installed the puppet SLORC. As the killings
continued, thousands of civilians fled the country fearing for their lives. When numerous countries responded
by suspending aid and Burma’s traditional suppliers cut shipments, the SLORC became desperate. Singapore
was the first country to come to its rescue.
Singapore companies have continued to supply Burma’s military, sometimes acting as middlemen for arms
from other countries. In 1989, Israel and Belgium delivered grenade launchers and anti-tank guns via
Singapore. In 1992, Singapore violated the European Commission arms embargo on the Burmese regime by
acting as a broker and arranging for a $1.5 million shipment of mortars from Portugal.
„It is highly unlikely that any of these shipments to Burma could have been made without the knowledge and
support of the Singapore Government,“ wrote William Ashton in Jane’s Intelligence Review. „By assisting
with weapons sales, defense technology transfers, military training and intelligence cooperation, Singapore
has been able to win a sympathetic hearing at the very heart of Burma’s official councils.“

Singapore’s Stakes
LAST November, Singapore deployed its diplomatic arsenal to defend Rangoon at the UN. Singaporean UN
representatives made an effort to water down the General Assembly resolution which castigated the Burmese
government for its harsh treatment of pro-democracy activists, widespread human rights violations, and
nullification of free and fair elections that had voted it out of power. In an „urgent“ letter to the Swedish
mission, which was drafting the resolution, Singapore representative Bilahari Kausikan cited „progress“ in
Burma and said that „the majority of your co-sponsors have little or no substantive interests in Myanmar.
…Our position is different. We have concrete and immediate stakes.“
Objecting to parts of the resolution and attempting to soften the language, Singapore’s representative
circulated the letter to key members of the UN’s Third Committee on Human Rights „The driving force was
definitely business connections,“ according to Dr. Thaung Htun, Representative for UN Affairs of Burma’s
government-in-exile. „Singapore is defending its investments at the diplomatic level, using its efforts at the
UN level to promote its business interests.“

The protection of Singapore’s „concrete and immediate stakes“ is essential to the ruling party’s success in
maintaining power and the basis of its support for Burma, said Case Western Reserve University economist
Christopher Lingle. „Singapore depends heavily upon its symbiotic relationship with crony capitalists and
upon accommodating a high enough rate of return to keep the citizenry in line. Therefore its very survival is
tied up with business and government investments.“
William Ashton, writing in Jane’s Intelligence Review, suggested an additional incentive for Singapore’s
alliance with Burma. As Rangoon’s major regional backer and strategic ally, China has provided much of the
weaponry, training, and financial assistance for the junta. China’s expanding commercial and strategic
interests in the Asia-Pacific region, coupled with its alliance with neighboring Burma, is a source of great

concern in Singapore. The desire to keep Burma from becoming Beijing’s stalking horse in the region may
provide another motivation for Singapore’s wooing of Rangoon.

Turning a Blind Eye
THE Singapore government has consistently disregarded the gross human rights violations perpetrated by its
allies in Burma. The UN Special Rapporteur, appointed to report to the United Nations on the situation in
Burma, has been barred entry into Burma since 1995. The new US State Department Country report on
Burma for 1997 states that its „longstanding severe repression of human rights continued during the year.
Citizens continued to live subject at any time and without appeal to the arbitrary and sometimes brutal
dictates of the military dictatorship.“ Amnesty International reports that there are well over 1,200 political
prisoners languishing in Burmese dungeons where torture is commonplace.

Singapore has issued no urgent letters about a recent report by Danish Doctors for Human Rights which noted
that „sixty-six percent of [the over 120,000] refugees from Burma now living in Thailand have been tortured“
and subjected to „forced labor, deportation, pillaging, destruction of villages, and various forms of torture and
rape.“ The doctors reported that refugees witnessed the junta’s military forces murder members of their
families.
Singaporean leaders also seem unconcerned about the fact that the Burmese government shut down almost all
of Burma’s colleges and universities following student protests in December of 1996 and imprisoned hundreds
of students. At a February ceremony of the Singapore Association in Myanmar, the Ambassador to Singapore
presented a large check to Gen. Khin Nyunt – who is also Chairman of the government Education Committee
– for the „Myanmar education development fund.“ While depriving young Burmese of higher education, the
junta’s „Secretary 1″ Khin Nyunt responded that „Uplifting the educational standards of our people is one of
the social objectives of our Government.“ He then went on at length to extol the „firm foundation of growing
economic and trade ties“ between Singapore and Burma.

The Burmese government has also kept computers and communication technology away from students and
others in opposition to the regime. All computers, software, email services and other telecommunication
devices – which hardly anyone can afford anyway – must be licensed, but licences are almost impossible to
obtain. Yet Singapore has made the best computer technology available to the ruling elite and their business
partners. Singapore Telecom, the largest company in Asia outside of Japan, was the first to provide Burmese
businesses and government offices with the ability to set up inter-and intra-corporate communications in more
than 90 countries.

Complimentary Relations
SINGAPORE’Ss concerns are dramatically different from those of countries sharing a border with Burma.
Thailand has to deal with the deadly narcotics trade and an overwhelming number of refugees arriving on a
daily basis. Banphot Piamdi, the Thai counter-narcotics official, believes Thailand made a big mistake when it
voted for Burma’s entry into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean), given Burma’s lack of
cooperation in fighting drugs. Not surprisingly, the Singapore government lobbied hard for Burma’s 1997
acceptance into the powerful regional trade alliance.

Ironically, Burma’s inclusion in asean may force member nations, including Singapore, to address the havoc
that their newest ally is imposing on the region – especially since Burma provides approximately 90 percent of
the total production of Southeast Asian opium. China and India, Burma’s other neighbors, now face severe
aids epidemics related to increased heroin use in their bordering provinces. Most of the heroin exported from
Burma to the West passes through China’s Yunnan province, which now has more than half a million addicts.
And even Singapore – whose heroin supply comes mostly from Burma – had a 41 percent rise in HIV cases in
1997.

As we head into the „Asian century,“ Singapore has become Washington’s forward partner in the unfolding
era of East-West trade. Ambassador Green called the country „a major entry port and a natural gateway to
Asia for American firms.“ US companies exported $16 billion worth of goods to Singapore in 1996 and more
than 1,300 US firms now operate in the country. Singapore’s strategic and economic importance to the US
cannot be overstated. The two countries just reached an agreement allowing the US Navy to use a Singapore
base even though the deal violates asean’s 1997 nuclear-weapons-free zone agreement.

The US has condemned the Burmese junta’s record of human rights abuses and support for the drug trade, but
has turned a blind eye when it comes to Singapore’s dealings with the regime. Although President Clinton
imposed economic sanctions on Burma partly for it’s role in providing pure and cheap heroin to America’s
youth, he has not commented on Singapore’s willingness to play ball with the world’s biggest heroin
traffickers. Ambassador Green told Congress last year that the US „has an important role in working with the
Singapore government to deal with illegal drug and weapons proliferation issues,“ but most US officials have
remianed silent about Singapore’s investments with Lo Hsing Han and Burma’s narco-dictatorship. It’s
unlikely Clinton made any mention of this issue last fall while golfing with Singaporean Prime Minister Goh
Chok Tong during the apec summit in Vancouver.

Unless the financial crisis in Asia limits profits, Singapore will probably continue to expand its investments in
Burma. „Our two economies are complementary and although we can derive satisfaction from the progress
made, I believe that there still remains a great potential that is yet to be exploited,“ said the junta’s Gen. Khin
Nyunt last February. Aided by Singapore’s support, Burma’s thriving heroin trade has plagued the majority of
countries around the globe. While these countries blithely pour money into drug-connected companies based
in Burma and thereby help them to expand into foreign markets, an abundance of the world’s finest heroin
continues to plague their citizens. At the same time, the line between legitimate and illegitimate investments
grows dimmer in the global economy.„SINGAPORE’S economic linkage with Burma is one of the most vital factors for the survival of Burma’s
military regime,“ says Professor Mya Maung, a Burmese economist based in Boston. This link, he continues,
is also central to „the expansion of the heroin trade.“ Singapore has acieved the distinction of being the
Burmese junta’s number one business partner – both largest trading partner and largest foreign investor. More
than half these investments, totaling upwards of $1.3 billion, are in partnership with Burma’s infamous heroin
kingpin Lo Hsing Han who now controls a substantial portion of the world’s opium trade. The close political,
economic and military relationship between the two countries facilitates the weaving of millions of narcodollars
into the legitimate world economy.

Singapore has become a major player in Asian commerce. According to Steven Green, US Ambassador to
Singapore, free market policies have „allowed this small country to develop one of the world’s most successful
trading and investment economies.“ Singapore also has a strong role in the powerful 132-member country
World Trade Organization. Indeed, the tiny China Sea island of three and a half million people is known far
and wide as the blue chip of the region – a financial trading base and a route for the vast sums of money that
flow in and out of Asia.

If the brutal Burmese dictatorship’s international pariah status is of any concern to its more powerful partner,
Singapore shows no sign of it. Following the March 24 visit of Singapore’s Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong to
Rangoon, a Singapore spokesperson proclaimed, „Singapore and Myanmar should continue to explore areas
where they can complement each other.“ As both countries continue to celebrate their „complementary“
relationship, the international community must take note of the powerful support this relationship provides
both to Burma’s illegitimate regime and to its booming billion dollar drug trade.

Drugs ‘R’ Us
THE Burmese military dictatorship – known by the acronym slorc for State Law and Order Restoration
Council until it changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council (spdc) last November –
depends on the resources of Burma’s drug barons for its financial survival. Since it seized power in 1988,
opium production has doubled, equaling all legal exports and making the country the world’s biggest heroin
supplier. Burma now supplies the US with 60 percent of its heroin imports and has recently become a major
regional producer of methamphetamines. With 50 percent of the economy unaccounted for, drug traffickers,
businessmen and government officials are able to integrate spectacular profits throughout Burma’s permanent
economy.

Both the Burmese generals and drug lords have been able to take advantage of Singapore’s liberal banking
laws and money laundering opportunities. In 1991, for eaxample, the slorc laundered $400 million through a
Singapore bank which it used as a down payment for Chinese arms. Despite the large sum, Burma’s foreign
exchange reserves registered no change either before or after the sale. With no laws to prevent money
laundering, Singapore is widely reported to be a financial haven for Burma’s elite, including its two most
notorious traffickers, Lo Hsing Han and Khun Sa (also known by his Chinese name Chang Qifu).
SLORC cut a deal with Khun Sa for his „surrender“ in early 1996, allowing him protection and business
opportunities in exchange for retirement from the drug trade.

Khun Sa now bills himself as „a commercial real estate agent who also has a foot in the Burmese construction
industry.“ Already in control of a bus route into the northern poppy growing region where the military is
actively involved in the drug business, he is now investing $250 million in a new highway between Rangoon
and Mandalay, an spdc cabinet member confirmed. „The Burmese government says one thing but does
another,“ according to Banphot Piamdi, director of Thailand’s Northern Region’s Narcotics Suppression
Center. „It claims to have subdued Khun Sa’s group…However the fact is that the group under the supervision
of…Khun Sa’s son has received permission from Rangoon to produce narcotics in the areas along the
Thai-Burmese border.“

Khun Sa’s son is not the only trafficker reaping benefits in the Shan State area which borders Thailand and
China and serves as Burma’s primary poppy growing area. Field intelligence and ethnic militia sources
consistently report a pattern of Burmese military involvement with drug production in these remote areas.
Government troops offer protection to the heroin and amphetamine refineries in the area in exchange for
payoffs and gifts, such as Toyota sedans, pistols and army uniforms. The only access to the refineries is
through permits issued by Burmese military intelligence – without this, the heavily guarded areas surrounding
the refineries are too dangerous to approach. The military is also involved in protecting the transport of
narcotics throughout the region, which the authorities have sealed off from the outside world.
„There are persistent and reliable reports that officials, particularly army personnel posted in outlying areas,
are involved in the drug business,“ confirms the March 1998 US government narcotics report. „Army
personnel wield considerable political clout locally, and their involvement in trafficking is a significant
problem.“ Intelligence sources, working for ethnic leaders combating both the drug trade and the military
dictatorship, report that the pattern of government involvement extends all the way to the top. The central
government in Rangoon demands funds on a regular basis from regional commanders who, in turn, expect
payoffs from the rank and file. The soldiers get the money any way they can – through smuggling, gambling or
selling jade – with drugs being the most accessible source of revenue in Shan State. The officers in the field
also „tax“ refineries, drug transporters, and opium farmers.

At great risk, the intellignce sources – who go undercover to infiltrate troops in the field — collect
painstakingly detailed data including names, dates and places, such as these delivered in March 1998 from
Shan State: „On 10th Jan. 98, spdc army no. 65 stationed at Mong Ton sent 40 troops to Nam Hkek village,
Pon Pa Khem village tract, collected 0.16 kilo of opium per household or [collected payment of] Baht 600.
Then the troops sold the collected opium to the drug business men at the rate of Baht 6000 for 1.6 kilos „
Another report states: „Troops from spdc Battalion nos. 277 & 65 stationed at Mong Ton are still protecting
heroin refineries situated at Hkai lon, Pay lon & Ho ya areas, Mong Ton township. Those who can pay
B.200,00 per month are allowed to run the heroin refineries.“ And: „On 3rd of Jan. 98, Burma Army no. 99
collected opium tax in Lashio township. They charged 0.32 kilo per household. They arrested and beat
seriously those who failed to give.“

These sources also report that Ko Tat, Private 90900 from spdc battalion no. 525 stationed in Lin Kay,
recently defected from the Burmese army and said that his company had been giving protection to the opium
fields around Ho Mong. While the lower ranked officers struggle to meet their quotas in the field, the highest
levels of the goverment in the capital city strike deals with Burma’s two top traffickers, one of whom is the
prosperous partner of Singapore.
Lo Hsing Han: At Home in Singapore
WITH massive financial ties to Singapore, Lo Hsing Han is now one of Burma’s top investors. He, along with
Khun Sa, the former „king of opium,“ is a major player in the Burmese economy.
In the early 1990s, Lo Hsing Han controlled the most heavily armed drug-trafficking organization in Southeast

Asia. He was arrested in 1973 and sentenced to death, but was freed under a general amnesty in 1980. Now,

like Khun Sa, he wears the public persona of a successful businessman in Rangoon – where no one does
business without close government cooperation. Although he still overseas rural drug operations with the
status of a godfather, according to US narcotics officials, the notorious Lo currently serves as an advisor on
ethnic affairs to Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, the military intelligence chief and the junta’s powerful „Secretary 1.“
Lo Hsing Han is the chair of Burma’s biggest conglomerate, Asia World, founded in 1992. His son, Steven
Law, is managing director and also runs three companies in Singapore which are „overseas branches“ of Asia
World. Although Singapore is proud of its mandatory death penalty for small-time narcotics smugglers and
heroin addicts, both father and son travel freely in and out of the friendly island nation. „The family money is
offshore,“ said a high level US narcotics official. „The old man is a convicted drug trafficker, so his kid is
handling the financial activities.“

In 1996, when Law married his Singaporean business partner in a lavish, well-publicized Rangoon wedding,
guests from Singapore were flown in on two chartered planes. According to a high-level US government
official familiar with the situation, Law’s wife Cecilia Ng operates an underground banking system, and „is a
contact for people in Burma to get their drug money into Singapore, because she has a connection to the
government.“ The official said that she spends half her time in Rangoon, half in Singapore; when in Rangoon,
she is headquartered at Asia Lite, a subsidiary of Asia World. The husband-wife team are also the sole
officers and shareholders of Asia World subsidiary, Kokang Singapore Pte Ltd. Founded in Singapore in 1993
with $4.6 million, the company „engages in general trading activities in goods/products of all
kinds/descriptions.“

Singapore’s ventures with Asia World include both government and private investments. Kuok Singapore
Ltd., a partner with Asia World in many ventures, was Burma’s largest single real estate investor as of late
1996, with over $650 million invested. Other Singaporean companies are mentioned in Asia World’s company
reports. Sinmardev, another major Singaporean project linked to Lo’s company, is a $207 million industrial
park and port on the outskirts of Rangoon, which broke ground in 1997. Singaporean entrepreneur Albert
Hong, head of Sinmardev, described the project as the largest foreign investment in Burma outside the energy
field. The Singaporean consortium leads the joint venture along with the Burmese junta, Lo’s Asia World, and
a slew of international shareholders.

Kuok Singapore Ltd., Lo Hsing Han’s Asia World, and the Burmese junta are also partners in the luxury
Traders Hotel. The hotel’s November 1996 opening ceremony was attended by the Singapore ambassador, the
president of Kuok Singapore, and briefly by Lo Hsing Han himself. The presiding Burmese minister publicly
thanked Steven Law and the government of Singapore „without whose support and encouragement there
would be very few Singaporean businessmen in our country.“
While government and business connections in Burma and Singapore have boosted Asia World’s prospects,
other factors have contributed to the company’s extraordinary growth. In the last six years, Asia World has
expanded from a modest trading company to become Burma’s largest and fastest-growing private sector
enterprise with interests in trading, manufacturing, property, industrial investment, development, construction,
transportation, import and distribution, and infrastructure. „How is it that a company that has a humble
beginning trading beans and pulses is suddenly involved in $200 million projects?“ a US government official
said, requesting anonymity. „Where did all that start-up capital come from?“

The US government ventured a guess in 1996: it denied Asia World’s CEO Steven Law a visa to the US „on
suspicion of drug trafficking.“ Asia World’s operations now include a deepwater port in Rangoon, the Leo
Express bus line into Northern Burma, and a $33 million toll highway from the heart of Burma’s poppygrowing
region to the China border. On December 20, the conglomerate opened a wharf with freight handling,
storage, and a customs yard for ships carrying up to 15,000 tons. „If you’re in the dope business, these are the
types of things that you’ve got to have to be able to move your product,“ said a high level US narcotics
official. „They have set up institutions to facilitate the movement of drugs. And in all probability, they are

using laundered drug proceeds, or funds generated from investments of drug trafficking proceeds, to build this
infrastructure,“ he added.

The activities of Lo’s company Asia World have triggered an international narcotics investigation lead by
Washington. US investigators allege that Asia World’s relationship to Singapore paves the way for the
narcotics trade to be woven into all legitimate investments between the two countries. „Singapore’s
investments in Burma are opening doors for the drug traffickers, giving them access to banks and financial
systems,“ said one government official familiar with the situation.
One Stop Shopping: Intelligence to Repression
THE Burmese junta’s control of its impoverished population through crude methods such as torture, forced
labor, and mass killings leaves it open to international condemnation. In contrast, Singapore takes a more
sophisticated approach to repression, both at home and abroad. While the island-nation’s citizens have
material benefits and the appearance of rule of law, they live in fear of an Orwellian government that closely
monitors every aspect of their lives. The ruling party often sues those who dare to oppose it on trumped up
defamation charges, forcing many into bankruptcy or exile.

The FBI is investigating complaints by US citizens of harassment by Singapore’s Internal Security Department
(ISD). One California academic, a widely respected specialist on Southeast Asian affairs who asked not to be
identified, says ISD agents broke into his home because he was working to bring leading Singaporean
opposition figure Tang Liang Hong to an American university. The operatives tore out his door handle to get
in, then searched his computer and desk. A week later, an Asian man, waiting in a tree, photographed and
videotaped the academic while he walked in the park. After temporarily blinding the academic with his bright
flash, the man jumped from the tree and made a getaway in his car. Tang – who is facing a $4.5 million
defamation lawsuit by Singaporean senior ministers – was not surprised by the burglary. „I’ve been followed
everywhere, whether I was in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia or in London,“ he said in a phone interview
from Australia.

Singapore has been more than willing to share its expertise in intelligence with its Burmese counterparts. The
Singapore-Myanmar Ministerial-Level Work Committee was set up in 1993 in Rangoon to „forge mutual
benefits in investment, trade and economic sectors.“ The committee includes intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Khin
Nyunt, other top Burmese ministers, and high-level Singaporean officials. At the December 23 meeting, Khin
Nyunt urged his ministers to give priority to projects arranged by the Singaporean Government. „Pilot projects
are being implemented to transfer know how to Myanmar,“ said Khin Nyunt in his address.
One such project is a state-of-the-art cyber-war center in Rangoon. Burma’s military leaders can now
intercept a range of incoming communications – including telephone calls, faxes, emails and computer data
transmissions – from 20 other countries.

The high-tech cyber-war center was built by Singapore Technologies, the city-state’s largest industrial and
technology conglomerate, comprising more than 100 companies. This government-owned company also
provides on-site training at Burma’s Defense Ministry complex, and reportedly passes on its „sophisticated
capability“ to hundreds of Burmese „secret police“ at an institution inside Singapore.
Burma has no external enemies, but the ruling junta goes to extremes to terrorize the population through its
elaborate intelligence network. Intelligence officials have already used their newly-acquired talents from the
cyber-war center to arrest pro-democracy activists, and it is well known that Burma’s feared military
intelligence often tortures its victims during lengthy interrogations.
Singaporean companies have also helped suppress dissent in Burma by supplying the military with arms to use
against its own people. The first shipment of guns and ammunition was delivered on October 6, 1988.

Throughout the month, hundreds of boxes of mortars, ammunition, and other supplies marked „Allied
Ordnance, Singapore“ were unloaded from vessels in Rangoon. Allied Ordnance is a subsidiary of Chartered
Industries of Singapore, the arms branch of Singapore Technologies – the same government-owned company
which built the cyber-war center. The shipments also included rockets made by Chartered Industries of
Singapore under license from a Swedish company and sold in violation of an agreement with Sweden
requiring authorization for re-exports.

These shipments from Singapore arrived only weeks after the 1988 military takeover in Rangoon, in which
the new leaders of the SLORC massacred hundreds of peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators in the street.
These killings followed another wave of government massacres earlier that summer, when longtime dictator
Ne Win struggled to keep power in the face of nationwide strikes and demonstrations for democracy. He
eventually stepped down but, operating behind the scenes, installed the puppet SLORC. As the killings
continued, thousands of civilians fled the country fearing for their lives. When numerous countries responded
by suspending aid and Burma’s traditional suppliers cut shipments, the SLORC became desperate. Singapore
was the first country to come to its rescue.
Singapore companies have continued to supply Burma’s military, sometimes acting as middlemen for arms
from other countries. In 1989, Israel and Belgium delivered grenade launchers and anti-tank guns via
Singapore. In 1992, Singapore violated the European Commission arms embargo on the Burmese regime by
acting as a broker and arranging for a $1.5 million shipment of mortars from Portugal.
„It is highly unlikely that any of these shipments to Burma could have been made without the knowledge and
support of the Singapore Government,“ wrote William Ashton in Jane’s Intelligence Review. „By assisting
with weapons sales, defense technology transfers, military training and intelligence cooperation, Singapore
has been able to win a sympathetic hearing at the very heart of Burma’s official councils.“

Singapore’s Stakes
LAST November, Singapore deployed its diplomatic arsenal to defend Rangoon at the UN. Singaporean UN
representatives made an effort to water down the General Assembly resolution which castigated the Burmese
government for its harsh treatment of pro-democracy activists, widespread human rights violations, and
nullification of free and fair elections that had voted it out of power. In an „urgent“ letter to the Swedish
mission, which was drafting the resolution, Singapore representative Bilahari Kausikan cited „progress“ in
Burma and said that „the majority of your co-sponsors have little or no substantive interests in Myanmar.
…Our position is different. We have concrete and immediate stakes.“
Objecting to parts of the resolution and attempting to soften the language, Singapore’s representative
circulated the letter to key members of the UN’s Third Committee on Human Rights „The driving force was
definitely business connections,“ according to Dr. Thaung Htun, Representative for UN Affairs of Burma’s
government-in-exile. „Singapore is defending its investments at the diplomatic level, using its efforts at the
UN level to promote its business interests.“

The protection of Singapore’s „concrete and immediate stakes“ is essential to the ruling party’s success in
maintaining power and the basis of its support for Burma, said Case Western Reserve University economist
Christopher Lingle. „Singapore depends heavily upon its symbiotic relationship with crony capitalists and
upon accommodating a high enough rate of return to keep the citizenry in line. Therefore its very survival is
tied up with business and government investments.“
William Ashton, writing in Jane’s Intelligence Review, suggested an additional incentive for Singapore’s
alliance with Burma. As Rangoon’s major regional backer and strategic ally, China has provided much of the
weaponry, training, and financial assistance for the junta. China’s expanding commercial and strategic
interests in the Asia-Pacific region, coupled with its alliance with neighboring Burma, is a source of great

concern in Singapore. The desire to keep Burma from becoming Beijing’s stalking horse in the region may
provide another motivation for Singapore’s wooing of Rangoon.

Turning a Blind Eye
THE Singapore government has consistently disregarded the gross human rights violations perpetrated by its
allies in Burma. The UN Special Rapporteur, appointed to report to the United Nations on the situation in
Burma, has been barred entry into Burma since 1995. The new US State Department Country report on
Burma for 1997 states that its „longstanding severe repression of human rights continued during the year.
Citizens continued to live subject at any time and without appeal to the arbitrary and sometimes brutal
dictates of the military dictatorship.“ Amnesty International reports that there are well over 1,200 political
prisoners languishing in Burmese dungeons where torture is commonplace.

Singapore has issued no urgent letters about a recent report by Danish Doctors for Human Rights which noted
that „sixty-six percent of [the over 120,000] refugees from Burma now living in Thailand have been tortured“
and subjected to „forced labor, deportation, pillaging, destruction of villages, and various forms of torture and
rape.“ The doctors reported that refugees witnessed the junta’s military forces murder members of their
families.
Singaporean leaders also seem unconcerned about the fact that the Burmese government shut down almost all
of Burma’s colleges and universities following student protests in December of 1996 and imprisoned hundreds
of students. At a February ceremony of the Singapore Association in Myanmar, the Ambassador to Singapore
presented a large check to Gen. Khin Nyunt – who is also Chairman of the government Education Committee
– for the „Myanmar education development fund.“ While depriving young Burmese of higher education, the
junta’s „Secretary 1″ Khin Nyunt responded that „Uplifting the educational standards of our people is one of
the social objectives of our Government.“ He then went on at length to extol the „firm foundation of growing
economic and trade ties“ between Singapore and Burma.

The Burmese government has also kept computers and communication technology away from students and
others in opposition to the regime. All computers, software, email services and other telecommunication
devices – which hardly anyone can afford anyway – must be licensed, but licences are almost impossible to
obtain. Yet Singapore has made the best computer technology available to the ruling elite and their business
partners. Singapore Telecom, the largest company in Asia outside of Japan, was the first to provide Burmese
businesses and government offices with the ability to set up inter-and intra-corporate communications in more
than 90 countries.

Complimentary Relations
SINGAPORE’Ss concerns are dramatically different from those of countries sharing a border with Burma.
Thailand has to deal with the deadly narcotics trade and an overwhelming number of refugees arriving on a
daily basis. Banphot Piamdi, the Thai counter-narcotics official, believes Thailand made a big mistake when it
voted for Burma’s entry into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean), given Burma’s lack of
cooperation in fighting drugs. Not surprisingly, the Singapore government lobbied hard for Burma’s 1997
acceptance into the powerful regional trade alliance.

Ironically, Burma’s inclusion in asean may force member nations, including Singapore, to address the havoc
that their newest ally is imposing on the region – especially since Burma provides approximately 90 percent of
the total production of Southeast Asian opium. China and India, Burma’s other neighbors, now face severe
aids epidemics related to increased heroin use in their bordering provinces. Most of the heroin exported from
Burma to the West passes through China’s Yunnan province, which now has more than half a million addicts.
And even Singapore – whose heroin supply comes mostly from Burma – had a 41 percent rise in HIV cases in
1997.

As we head into the „Asian century,“ Singapore has become Washington’s forward partner in the unfolding
era of East-West trade. Ambassador Green called the country „a major entry port and a natural gateway to
Asia for American firms.“ US companies exported $16 billion worth of goods to Singapore in 1996 and more
than 1,300 US firms now operate in the country. Singapore’s strategic and economic importance to the US
cannot be overstated. The two countries just reached an agreement allowing the US Navy to use a Singapore
base even though the deal violates asean’s 1997 nuclear-weapons-free zone agreement.

The US has condemned the Burmese junta’s record of human rights abuses and support for the drug trade, but
has turned a blind eye when it comes to Singapore’s dealings with the regime. Although President Clinton
imposed economic sanctions on Burma partly for it’s role in providing pure and cheap heroin to America’s
youth, he has not commented on Singapore’s willingness to play ball with the world’s biggest heroin
traffickers. Ambassador Green told Congress last year that the US „has an important role in working with the
Singapore government to deal with illegal drug and weapons proliferation issues,“ but most US officials have
remianed silent about Singapore’s investments with Lo Hsing Han and Burma’s narco-dictatorship. It’s
unlikely Clinton made any mention of this issue last fall while golfing with Singaporean Prime Minister Goh
Chok Tong during the apec summit in Vancouver.

Unless the financial crisis in Asia limits profits, Singapore will probably continue to expand its investments in
Burma. „Our two economies are complementary and although we can derive satisfaction from the progress
made, I believe that there still remains a great potential that is yet to be exploited,“ said the junta’s Gen. Khin
Nyunt last February. Aided by Singapore’s support, Burma’s thriving heroin trade has plagued the majority of
countries around the globe. While these countries blithely pour money into drug-connected companies based
in Burma and thereby help them to expand into foreign markets, an abundance of the world’s finest heroin
continues to plague their citizens. At the same time, the line between legitimate and illegitimate investments
grows dimmer in the global economy.