WikiLeaks on Junta Leaders: 'Like Talking to Dead People'
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WikiLeaks on Junta Leaders: 'Like Talking to Dead People'

By SIMON ROUGHNEEN Wednesday, December 15, 2010


BANGKOK — Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew told US officials that the Burmese military rulers are “dense” and “stupid,” saying that talking to the regime was akin to “talking to dead people,” according to documents released by WikiLeaks this week.

Ridiculing the junta generals' mismanagement of what he termed Burma's resource-laden economy, Lee said that the US should approach Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to act as an interlocutor with the Burmese junta, or failing that, sound out Vietnam as a possible mediator. Dismissing his own suitability for the job, Lee said that he was perceived as too close to the US for the junta's liking.

In this November 13, 2009 file photo, Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew speaks at the APEC CEO Summit in Singapore. (Photo: Reuters)
Lee's comments were made to then US Ambassador to Singapore Patricia Herbold in Oct. 2007 as the Burmese dictatorship crushed the monk-led “Saffron Revolution” protests taking place in cities across the country. A confidential briefing on a 2007 conversation between Lee and US officials was released by WikiLeaks this week.

Earlier in 2007, China facilitated talks between the US and the Burmese government, with Beijing's diplomats suggesting that the US deal directly with junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe, according to the documents released by WikiLeaks.

In a March 2007 meeting between Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tankai and recently-departed US Ambassador to Thailand Eric John—who was then Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asian Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs—the Chinese representative said that if the US wanted to make a difference in Burma, it should engage directly with Burma's apex senior-general. According to the March 2007 meeting transcript, China had repeatedly urged the Burmese junta to release political prisoners and to engage with the ethnic minority groups to promote national reconciliation.

While Lee appeared to find the Burmese rulers difficult to deal with, Chinese diplomats had a more benign view. In a meeting held in Beijing on October 14, 2009, the Director-General of Asian Affairs Department at China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yanyi Yang told US envoy Kurt Campbell that Than Shwe is “easy-going” and not difficult to engage in conversation, according to words attributed to her by an American diplomat who attended the meeting. Than Shwe holds the US in high regard, said Yang, who believed that the junta was “not seeking enemies.”

More than year ahead of the Nov. 7, 2010 election, which the Burmese junta front party known as the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) is alleged to have rigged in its favor, Yang told Campbell that Burma “had expressed its commitment multiple times to free and fair elections in 2010,” and “had taken positive steps in advancing the democratization process.”

Going further, Yang said that “the regime was emphasizing economic development and paying increased attention to the needs of the Burmese people, particularly in the wake of Cyclone Nargis,” according to the US Embassy notes. In contrast, speaking months before the May 2008 cyclone which killed over 140,000 Burmese, Singapore's Lee said that Burma's generals had mismanaged the country's natural resources, saying that China had “heavily penetrated” the Burmese economy.

According to the American account of her meeting with Campbell, Yang “asserted that the junta was committed to building a peaceful, modern, democratic Burma” and that the Burmese rulers “viewed positively the advice of the international community and recently had taken positive steps, including meetings by top Burmese officials with UN leadership and a meeting between Snr-GenThan Shwe and Senator Jim Webb.”

Webb traveled to Burma in August 2009, securing the release of American John Yettaw, whose unannounced visit to Aung San Suu Kyi's Rangoon home led to an 18 month extension to the opposition leader's house arrest. Suu Kyi was released on Nov. 13.

In March 2007, the Chinese diplomats told their US counterparts that the Burmese rulers were open to talking to Suu Kyi, suggesting that they had sought to instigate a dialogue with the National league for Democracy (NLD), Suu Kyi's now-defunct opposition party.

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Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
Dr W Taw Wrote:

"Perhaps somebody knowledgable and brave enough can step forward and take the place of ASSK !"

REPLY:already done,mate. You don't know much. Her godmother insulted, guess who?. Why?
she thinks UK should be the only monarchy.
Do you understand what is meant by "Victorian Design"? We are not talking about furniture.

European royals of Great Powers were to be preserved by intermarriage. All Asian monarchies and African triabl chiefs and kingdoms were to be destroyed by colonisation.But states (in the form of politicians and military)were at odd with monarchies and thus the Russian and German eagles fell.
As for Burma, there was an interregnum, because of colonisation.
When the English officers leading Indian soldiers invaded the royal palace of Mundalay they burnt the royal archives.

When the history of a people is destroyed they become slaves,that was the objective! They would be a subject race.

Our ancestors never submitted! SuuKyi did.

PB Publico Wrote:
Mr. Lee is a credible statesman who had placed his city state of Singapore on the right track to general prosperity. He had lauded U Ne Win when the general staged a coup and took the rein, thinking that was good for Burma.

But quite some time ago, he had lost heart with the current regime, seeing no improvement in the peace process and economic wellbeing of the country.
He was wrong then, but right now.

He is still a senior Chinese who has his own Asian values rooted in Confucious traditions. We can't fault him there. For who in Burma can match him in bringing about the national prosperity and some significant freedom of his own people?

When has he caused to kill and imprison so many of his own tribe and others? Just give us an example of his action due to hate with vengeance!

No, he is not Burmese. His people would think it better that way. Yes, he is an outsider. So, he is right saying what he thinks is right. Perhaps, he has a heartfull of goodwill towards Burma.

Moe Aung Wrote:
Soe Thane

"the generals know nothing about running a modern economy. The problem is the opposition knows even less."

Evidence? Accusing the opposition of being worse than the generals is a line of attack getting a little tired. It's just a bit too transparent where you are coming from.

Tettoe Aung

I agree. Singapore like China is an accessory after the fact. It has aided and abetted the regime from the start according to the principle 'looking out for number one'.

tocharian Wrote:
Lee Kuan Yew is a hypocrite, speaking with a forked tongue, like a lot of Chinese politicians. He is the one who is becoming sclerotic!
Why are there so many regime proxies/cronies doing business with their bank accounts in Singapore? Why do these fake generals go to Singapore for medical treatment? (real generals are not afraid to die!)
Why do the rich ladies and all these entertainment celebrities of Burma go to Singapore for shopping? Tay Za's sons went to school in Singapore, don't they?
I don't live in Singapore, but I know some Burmese who live there (happily!), so I can go on, but I don't have to. Everyone knows about these Singaporean ties to the Burmese regime. A Commonwealth country! LOL

Dr W Taw Wrote:
Perhaps somebody knowledgable and brave enough can step forward and take the place of ASSK !

How come there is nobody ?
Talk ... talk ... talk ....
Talk is cheap !

Soe Thane Wrote:

Nothing new. He said the same thing (and more) three years ago:

He's absolutely right - the generals know nothing about running a modern economy. The problem is the opposition knows even less.

Tettoe Aung Wrote:
Well, Senior Lee sounds more like 'biting the hand that feeds him'. If it hasn't been for the dense and stupid generals his 'garden state' would not have their stolen loot in their banks. It's amazing how his 'holier than thou' stance when it comes to the generals. Who were the ones that have projects like Sin-Mar Dev (Singapore-Myanmar Development Corporation)? Knowingly or unknowingly his sons were allowing the generals ill gotten wealth to be invested in their banks. Like they say, "Everything is fine(d) in Singapore" - from chewing gum to drugs. It's death penalty if you're caught with a few kilos of heroine but if you happen to be the son of a drug lord like Lo Hsin-han then you can open your business in the garden state as 'Asia World'. Who said the generals are running the country? They are 'RUINING THE COUNTRY' at the gunpoint.

PB Publico Wrote:
The junta has had time enough to prove their worth as protector and nation-builder. The opposition is as fresh and clean as when they come to power.

Who else would be better than them, if they are predicted to be less capable of running a country? The Americans? The Chinese? Or some other zombies?

kerry Wrote:
Zaw Min, the whole world does not just look on. We are not all sycophantic or afraid of China. No-one has a clear idea what 56 million people want, and look where the major powers (who everyone deride) are wasting lives.

Why doesn't China stop this travesty, when in fact it condones it for ever increasing profit (and deaths)? Big 21st question. Why don't the Singapore banks freeze the assets from murder. Excellent question. Why doesn't the UNSC call a halt. Interesting also, to see that the UNSC has major humanitarian flaws. Why doesn't Thailand appeal for a stop. Also interesting. India is entertaining China this week, knowing they are still murdering Tibetans and others. Why?

Ah, China again. China, China, China. They want our love, demand our respect, but earn our contempt. What a pity they didn't do this when everyone else was, after WW2!
How shameful, in 21st century, this level of ignorance.

Sad, Tragic, brutal, unacceptable. They may be 'displeased', but they have no human heart.

PB Publico Wrote:
China is true to its form and Cui is its representative. Listening to her or any Chinese representative is just as misleading as listening to any associate or cronies of the Burmese junta.
"The Ser. General is easy-going!"
Oh yes, I think he is, as far as that refers to the dire plight of his own people, but not to his own securiity or power when it comes to that.
And Cui and all Chinese officials know it.
It would be hard to be able to persuade the junta chief or his closest younger associates to come to terms with democracy and freedom. For these principles and practices are the very antithesis of their training and upbringing in the post-1962 Burma Army traditions. Their ethos are very largely opposed to those of the civilian character and values.
But all the same we will have to persevere, come what may. We will have to finish strong.

Soe Thane Wrote:
Nothing new. He said the same thing (and more) three years ago:

He's absolutely right - the generals know nothing about running a modern economy. The problem is the opposition knows even less.

George Than Setkyar Heine Wrote:
China is “very concerned about the potential for unrest or political change” in Burma and implied that Beijing prefers the status quo to any form of democratization.
See, the cat is out of the bag now!
Beijing would not tolerate a DEMOCRATIC BURMA next to its doorstep, of course.
And 'unrest' could be translated as ATTACKS on China's proxy UWSA and its allies, Shan drug runners, of course, taking a foothold since decades ago until today.
Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew saying the Burmese military rulers are “dense” and “stupid,” and talking to the regime was akin to “talking to dead people" holds nobody in AWE.
However, Hu Jintao taking the reins of the 'ZOMBIES' in Naypyidaw and arming them with NUKES certainly AUGURS ILL for humanity.
With a DEVIL in Pyongyang and a ZOMBIE in Naypyidaw in hand, Hu Jintao is holding world citizenry hostage.

King Lee Gyi Wrote:
Singapore the Great Democracy!

Dr W Taw Wrote:
"dense” ? “stupid" ? “talking to dead people” ?
Well said ... Mr Lee Kuan Yew !

But I think you are understating it!
Is that diplomacy ??

Zaw Min Wrote:
The junta leaders themselves knew they are like dead people. But instead of really dying they are mercilessly letting the whole nation of millions die to prevent their unpreventable death and demise. The surprising thing is that still the whole world looks on as though nothing is happening.

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