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Singapore links 'aiding drug trade'

South China Morning Post. May 13, 1998.
William Barnes in Bangkok

Related: Burma-Singapore Axis: Globalising the heroin trade

SINGAPORE'Ss links with the Burmese junta are vital in propping up the military regime and channelling drug profits into legitimate business, an article claims.

Although Singapore habitually executes heroin couriers, the government and its businessmen had become firm friends with the regime and its drug-trafficking supporters, said American risk assessment magazine Covert Action Quarterly.

Singapore's link with the junta was also central to "the expansion of the heroin trade", US-based Burmese economics professor Mya Maung told the magazine.

The city-state is Burma's biggest trading partner and foreign investor: more than half that investment is allegedly with ex-heroin kingpin Lo Hsing-han, whose son Steven Law is banned from the US on suspicion of trafficking.

The article claimed "both Burmese generals and drug lords have used Singapore's liberal banking laws and money laundering opportunities".

In 1991, for example, US$400 million was passed through a Singapore bank as downpayment for a shipment of mainland arms and, given the state of Burma's economy then, that money could only have been drug money, said one military analyst.

In 1988, Singapore had even shipped arms to Burma amid world condemnation of a massacre of pro-democracy protesters.

Singapore had also acted as the middle-man for arms shipments from countries like Israel and Belgium.

A Singaporean Cabinet minister was quoted yesterday as saying his government rejected Western criticism of Burma. "It is easier to criticise than to build," Minister of Information and Arts George Yeo said during a visit to Burma on Monday.

 Published in the South China Morning Post. May 13, 1998

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