4 August 2023
Justice For Myanmar (JFM) is calling on the Singaporean government to expel junta cronies from the city state and demanding that it do more to stop their businesses from providing the junta with funds, arms and military equipment used for escalating war crimes in Myanmar.
The advocacy group launched a Twitter campaign on Tuesday—with the hashtag #DoMoreSingapore—calling on netizens to pressure Singapore’s government to do more against the Myanmar junta and the cronies who supply it.
Arms traffickers have moved hundreds of millions of dollars through Singapore banks as they supply the Myanmar military with weapons and equipment used to slaughter people, including women and children, JFM said.
“The Singaporean government needs to do more and block the junta from Singapore’s financial system,” it added.
In July, the number of Singapore-based entities known to have supplied the Myanmar junta’s military rose to 138 with the addition of 91 entities newly identified by the city state’s government with the help of UN Special Rapporteur to Myanmar Tom Andrews.
The Singapore government identified the additional entities, adding to an initial list of 47 revealed earlier by Andrews. Its foreign minister said investigations were ongoing, suggesting the number would rise.
The Singapore government has not imposed a general trade embargo on Myanmar. Last year, Singapore’s bilateral trade with Myanmar totalled 5.8 billion Singapore dollars (US$ 4.3 billion).
Although Singapore is more than 1,000 kilometers from Myanmar, business deals made there resulted in the murder and mass suffering of innocent people in Myanmar, rights groups say.
In a report published in May, Andrews documented that at least US$ 1 billion of weapons, dual-use technology and materials used to manufacture weapons were imported by the junta between February 1, 2021—the day it launched its coup—and December 2022.
JFM said that businesspeople like Tay Za and Naing Htut Aung have made millions of dollars selling arms to the Myanmar military that are used for murder and inflicting mass suffering.
Dr Naing Htut Aung, a major arms supplier to Myanmar’s military, was also a key weapons dealer for the previous regime led by dictator Senior General Than Shwe.
Registered as a director of the Yangon-based International Gateways Group of Companies Ltd, he has had strong ties with successive military leaders, including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
On March 25, 2022, the United States sanctioned him and his firm, along with a junta military unit, military officers, and other arms dealers and companies, including U Tay Za’s Htoo Group of Companies and his Asia Green Development Bank.
In April, infamous crony and arms-broker U Tay Za resurfaced after a year-long public absence, accompanying a Thai Buddhist monk on a religious trip to northern Myanmar. The last time he had been seen in public was in May 2022 when he joined a high-ranking military delegation to Moscow for the procurement of arms and military hardware.
He has lived in Singapore for years and in 2022, he and his sons—Pyae Phyo Tay Za and Htoo Htet Tay Zan—were sanctioned by Washington for supplying weapons to Myanmar’s military. His daughter Htoo Htwe Tay Za, also known as Rachel Tayza, was sanctioned by the US in January of this year.
“We don’t know how they sleep. But we know where they sleep,” JFM said on Tuesday. “The Singaporean government needs to do more, kick them out and stop businesses from providing the junta with funds, arms and related equipment,” it said.