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‘Myanmar should not seek to recreate S’pore’s policies’

SINGAPORE — While she welcomed cooperation between the two countries, Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday said her country should not seek to recreate Singapore’s policies and institutions.

SINGAPORE — While she welcomed cooperation between the two countries, Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday said her country should not seek to recreate Singapore’s policies and institutions.

As she wrapped up her four-day bilateral visit here, Ms Suu Kyi had spent the day visiting the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, while also calling on Singapore’s leaders at the Istana.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference later in the evening, Ms Suu Kyi recounted her visit to ITE College East, where she made a remark to Singapore officials that “education in Singapore, as in many other countries, seems to be workforce oriented”.

“That made me think … what is the purpose of a workforce … of work … of material wealth? Is that the ultimate aim of human beings, is that what we all want? In a sense, I want to probe more into successes of Singapore and to find out what we can achieve beyond that.”

Ms Suu Kyi said that while “material achievement” is necessary for the Myanmar people so they can be “free from want”, they had survived many years of oppression with values such as love for each other, loyalty and spirituality. “So there were many things that helped us to survive that had little to do with material achievement,” she said.

During their meeting at the Istana, President Tony Tan and Ms Suu Kyi exchanged views on Myanmar’s development priorities, including job creation, health and education, according to a statement from Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In both her meetings with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Ms Suu Kyi discussed domestic developments in Myanmar and the country’s priorities as regards its development. Mr Lee reaffirmed Singapore’s support for Myanmar’s Chairmanship of ASEAN next year, and reiterated the Republic’s commitment in facilitating Myanmar’s development.

In a Facebook post, Mr Lee described the meeting with Ms Suu Kyi as “good”, adding that they “talked about developments in Myanmar, and how Singapore could grow our friendship with them”.

While she was tight-lipped about her meetings with the Singapore leaders, Ms Suu Kyi told the press conference that in terms of relations between the two countries, Myanmar looks towards Singapore to learn from its education system and economics.

She, however, felt that Singapore also has room to learn from Myanmar, even as both countries shared many similarities in their history, such as colonialism and the struggle for independence. “Singapore could learn from us a more relaxed way of life. Perhaps, warmer and closer family relationships,” said Ms Suu Kyi.

When asked whether there was a way to eradicate corruption in Myanmar, Ms Suu Kyi admitted that it was a “serious issue”, noting that while people have accepted it as a way of life, they also thought that it was “reprehensible”.

She, however, acknowledged that corruption cannot be “rid of entirely”. Ms Suu Kyi said: “We must assume that we will always have corruption of some kind to some extent, but I do want to root it out to the extent that people are able to lead secure lives, confident that they will be protected by the law. If they behave correctly, if they live within the law, they will not be subject to extortions by unscrupulous officials or organisations.”

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