The Irrawaddy

8888 Commemoration Event in Singapore Canceled by Venue Management

A poster for the 30th anniversary of the 8888 Uprising literature talk and musical performance in Singapore.

YANGON – The Singapore-based Myanmar Club has had to cancel a literature talk and musical performance that it had organized for the 30th anniversary of the 8888 Uprising after the event was rejected by venue management said U Myat Maw Tun, the president of the club.

According to U Myat Maw Tun, Singapore Polytechnic Convention Center revoked an agreement for the event to be held on August 26.

“We received the agreement and also paid for a hall in the convention center a month ago. After selling the tickets in Peninsula [Plaza], the center said our event is not allowed to be held due to instructions from higher management,” U Myat Maw Tun told Irrawaddy.

“We are not sure whether the instruction came from [convention] center management or Singapore’s authorities,” U Myat Maw Tun said.

Aug. 8 was the 30-year anniversary of the 8888 Uprising and democratic movement, and people commemorated it in Myanmar with events across the country. The 8888 Uprising was a major democracy movement in Myanmar’s history when the entire country took to the streets, demanding democracy and rising against single-party military dictatorship. The uprising paved the way for changes that brought Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party to power 28 years later.

The Myanmar Club in Singapore had invited a prominent uprising student leader Ko Min Ko Naing and political activist-cum-singer Mon Aung for the event. Min Ko Naing planned to discuss the past and future of Myanmar’s democracy movement with the generations of Burmese living in Singapore.

According to regulations in Singapore, event planners need to arrange the rental of a hall or room first. They must then show the venue approval letter in order to obtain a letter of permission from the police. The Myanmar Club followed the steps and applied for permission from the Singapore police.

“Police approval usually comes one or two days before the event takes place. If we don’t have a place to hold [the event], we won’t get police permission either,” U Myat Maw Tun said.

The Myanmar Club holds important events for the Burmese Community in Singapore and has managed public meetings there with Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi twice in the past.

“We have never had an experience like that. This is the first time they have [retracted] approval of our agreement,” U Myat Maw Tun said.

“We hoped to look back on the past and look forward to the next 30 years among the Burmese community in Singapore. It is really important for our history. But as we are in their country, we have to follow their rules and regulations. There is nothing we can do here, so we had to cancel our event,” U Myat Maw Tun added.

The Myanmar Club expected to sell 700 tickets for the event and around three dozen had already been sold. The club announced an apology statement to the buyers and will refund payments for all tickets on Sunday

“They invited me to sing at the event. I don’t know the detailed reason for canceling; I only know the planner didn’t get permission for the hall,” said political activist-cum-singer Mon Aung.

Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will visit Singapore on Sunday at the invitation of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and will deliver a speech on the challenges and the way forward for Myanmar’s democratic transition during the 43rd Singapore lecture on Tuesday.

The Irrawaddy contacted the media officer from Singapore Polytechnic Convention Center but did not receive a response.