demand accountability from PM Goh on drugs
Chicago: September 16
PROTESTORS are demanding that Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong respond to US State Department allegations of Singaporean ties to heroin trafficking from Burma. Goh will be subject to protests in Chicago, where he gives an address To the US-ASEAN Business Council at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel at 12:30 today.
On February 28, the State Department said that "over half of (investment in Burma) from Singapore has been tied to the family of narco-trafficker Lo Hsing Han." Singapore has not denied the charge, preferring to withhold comment altogether.
In July, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said "We are increasingly concerned that Burma's drug traffickers, with official encouragement, are laundering their profits through Burmese banks and companies -- some of which are joint ventures with foreign businesses."
Burma supplies 60 percent of the heroin on US streets, according to the State Department.
"Prime Minister Goh has an obligation to respond to these charges," says Zar Ni, a Burmese exile. "If Singaporean companies are tied to drugs traffickers and money launderers, it is not only hypocritical but shameful. Where is Goh's sense of responsibility?"
Singapore has harsh drug laws, including the death penalty for Possession of 15 grams of heroin. Australian television has tied Singapore's Government Investment Corporation, chaired by Senior Minister Lee Kwan Yew, to companies owned by Lo, who was once known as the "King of the Golden Triangle."
US companies have also been embroiled in the same controversy. Wente Vineyards of California dropped its relationship with a company owned by Lo Hsing Han after a boycott, and Northwest Airlines stopped giving frequent flyer miles to travelers staying at a hotel in Burma owned by Lo.
In a sworn affidavit in federal court, LA-based UNOCAL, a member of The US-ASEAN Business Council, is also accused of being in partnership With Burmese drug money launderers.
"Surveys show rising teenage heroin use in the US. If companies from Singapore and the US enable Burmese heroin dealers to launder their money, don't these people need to answer to the parents, families and crime victims who are also hurt by the heroin plague?" asks Don Erickson of Chicago-based Synapses. "You ca'nt just ignore this."