SINGAPORE – The Singapore government on Thursday (March 4th) called on its citizens currently in Myanmar to leave the country being protested as soon as possible.
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also asked Singaporeans to avoid traveling to Myanmar, where civilians protesting against the February 1 military coup clashed with security forces across the country.
The United Nations said 38 people were killed in the bloodiest clash since the coup on Wednesday, when police and soldiers opened fire with live shelling in several cities.
More than 50 people have been killed in an uprising against the military, which last month seized control of the democratically elected government following the arrest of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and President Wing Myint.
While Indonesia has pursued shuttle diplomacy and Singapore has said it is “shocked by the violence”, no country in the region has said it will support sanctions or any other measures that could affect military finances.
“Given the rapid escalation of clashes between protesters and Myanmar security forces and the increase in civilian casualties in Myanmar, Singaporeans are strongly encouraged to postpone all travel to Myanmar for now,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“Singaporeans currently in Myanmar should also consider leaving as soon as possible by commercial means, although this is still possible.”
Myanmar is home to at least 500 Singaporeans who have registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and some have taken the ministry’s advice to return home.
Student Ethan Sui, 17, returned to Singapore two weeks ago with his mother and younger brother.
“The violence was getting worse, so it was about our safety,” he said, adding that his father still works in Yangon and the family worries about him every day.
Singaporeans in Myanmar told The Straits Times that tensions and uncertainty have increased, and the sound of gunfire has become more common in recent days.
Mr Kenneth Lim, 58, a senior real estate executive who has lived in Yangon for almost four years, said: “It was quite scary and more stressful.”
The Foreign Ministry said that Singaporeans who have decided to stay in Myanmar are strongly advised to stay indoors as long as possible and avoid unnecessary travel, in particular to areas where protests are taking place. They are also reminded to remain vigilant and follow local news closely.
Mr. Lim has decided to stay in Myanmar for now, as he feels responsible to his company and his employees.
“But if it’s really necessary, I won’t hesitate to leave,” Mr Lim said, adding that he and some Singaporean friends in the middle were deciding whether to stay in the apartment closer to each other so they wouldn’t be alone.
He registers with his family in Singapore every day to report that he is safe. In the last few days, he left his apartment only for groceries and does not leave after 18:00.
“There is an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. We never know what will happen tomorrow, “he said.
Singaporeans in Myanmar are urged to register immediately on this website so that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Singapore in Yangon can stay in touch with them and provide the necessary consular assistance in case of emergencies.
On Tuesday, the foreign ministers of the 10-member Asean group, which includes Myanmar, called on “all parties to refrain from incitement to further violence” and “a peaceful solution through constructive dialogue.”
Although some individual ministers called for Ms. Suu Kyi’s release and return to democracy, the statement did not mention her name and refrained from using the word “coup.” Asean’s desire to find a way out of the crisis has drawn criticism inside Myanmar, with concerns that it will legitimize the junta and not help the country.
Singaporeans in need of consular assistance while in Myanmar should contact the Singapore Embassy in Yangon or the 24-hour Foreign Office on duty at:
Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Yangon
238 Dhamazedi Road, Bahan Town, Yangon, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Phone: + 95-1-9-559-001
Emergency phone (outside working hours): + 95-9-250-863-840
Regular office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (round the clock)
Phone: +65 6379-8800, +65 6379-8855
Fax: +65 6476-7302
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