Singaporean PM Tours Naypyidaw

By The Irrawaddy 12 May 2014

RANGOON — During a weekend of tense discussions in Naypyidaw, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took a break from the 24th Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to tour some areas around the Burmese capital.

The prime minister described for his Facebook followers what he saw.

“Took a drive around, including to the older nearby town of Pyinmana, which has a population of 100,000 (about the same size as Toa Payoh),” he wrote in a post on the social media site on Sunday, referring to a Singaporean district.

Of the Burmese town, he wrote, “The streets were lined with shophouses, and thronged with people. It looked and felt like Singapore or Penang in the 1950s and 1960s, except that many of the residents were taking pictures of us with smartphones!”

Pyinmana, located about 2 kilometers from Naypyidaw, is a logging town and sugar cane refinery center which was formerly a base for the Burmese army during World War II.

Lee Hsien Loong was in Naypyidaw on Saturday and Sunday for the Asean summit, which Burma is hosting for the first time.

He was accompanied by other Singaporean senior government officials, including Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang, and Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

During the summit, the 10-member regional bloc agreed to issue a joint statement calling for restraint over escalating disputes in the South China Sea.