Singapore advises citizens to consider leaving Myanmar as soon as they can

Protesters running from tear gas in Yangon on March 3, 2021. PHOTO: AFP
Civilians protesting Myanmar's Feb 1 military coup have clashed with security forces across the country. PHOTO: AFP
Police chase after protesters during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on March 4, 2021. PHOTO: AFP
An anti-coup protest in Yangon on March 4, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
An excavator removing a barricade during an anti-coup protest in Yangon on March 4, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS
Demonstrators flee after seeing military trucks during an anti-coup protest in Yangon on March 4, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A protest against Myanmar's military coup in Naypyidaw on March 4, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Government on Thursday (March 4) urged its citizens currently in Myanmar to leave the protest-riven country as soon as they can.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also asks Singaporeans to avoid travelling to Myanmar, where civilians protesting the Feb 1 military coup have clashed with security forces across the country.

The United Nations said that 38 people were killed on Wednesday in the bloodiest face-off since the coup when police and soldiers opened fire with live rounds in several cities and towns.

More than 50 people have died in their revolt against the military which seized control of the democratically elected government last month after detaining its leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

While Indonesia has conducted shuttle diplomacy and Singapore has said it's "appalled by the violence", no countries in the region so far have indicated they would support sanctions or any other measures that would hit the military's finances.

"In view of the rapidly escalating clashes between protesters and the Myanmar security forces and increasing number of civilian casualties in Myanmar, Singaporeans are strongly advised to defer all travel to Myanmar at this time," said the MFA.

"Singaporeans currently in Myanmar should also consider leaving as soon as they can by commercial means while it is still possible to do so."

There are at least 500 Singaporeans living in Myanmar who have registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and some have taken the ministry's advice to return home.

Student Ethan Swee, 17, returned to Singapore two weeks ago with his mother and younger brother.

"The violence was getting more serious, so it was for our safety," he said, adding that his father is still working in Yangon and the family worries about him daily.

Singaporeans in Myanmar told The Straits Times that tension and uncertainty have escalated and the sound of gunfire has become more commonly heard in recent days.

Mr Kenneth Lim, 58, a senior executive of a real estate development firm who has lived in Yangon for almost four years said: "It has been quite frightening and it has gotten more tense."

The MFA said Singaporeans who choose to remain in Myanmar are strongly advised to remain indoors as far as possible and avoid unnecessary travel, in particular to areas where protests are occurring. They are also reminded to remain vigilant and monitor local news closely.

Mr Lim has decided to stay in Myanmar for now as he feels a sense of responsibility to his company and the employees under him.

"But if it is really necessary, I will not hesitate to leave," said Mr Lim, adding that he and some Singaporean friends are in the middle of deciding if they should stay in accommodation closer to each other so they will not be alone.

He checks in daily with his family in Singapore to let them know he is safe. In the last few days he has only left his apartment for groceries and does not go out after 6pm.

"There is an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. We never know what will happen tomorrow," he said.

Singaporeans in Myanmar told The Straits Times that tension and uncertainty have escalated. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singaporeans in Myanmar are urged to immediately e-register at this website to enable the MFA and the Singapore Embassy in Yangon to stay in touch with them and render the necessary consular assistance in case of emergencies.

On Tuesday, foreign ministers of the 10-member Asean, which includes Myanmar, called "on all parties to refrain from instigating further violence" and for "a peaceful solution through constructive dialogue".

While some individual ministers called for the release of Ms Suu Kyi and a return to democracy, the statement didn't mention her by name and refrained from using the word "coup". Asean's bid to find a way out of the crisis has drawn criticism from inside Myanmar, with concern it would legitimise the junta and not help the country.

Singaporeans who are in need of consular assistance while in Myanmar should contact the Singapore Embassy in Yangon or the 24-hour MFA Duty Office at:

Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Yangon

238 Dhamazedi Road, Bahan Township, Yangon, Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Tel: +95-1-9-559-001

Emergency tel (after hours): +95-9-250-863-840

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24 hours)

Tel: +65 6379-8800, +65 6379-8855

Fax: +65 6476-7302

Additional reporting by Tan Tam Mei

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