S'porean envoy goes viral in Myanmar for collecting notes from protesters to S'pore govt, says he's 'deeply honoured'

He tried to reassure the protestors that their concerns are heard, and that their requests will be passed on to the Singapore government.

Kayla Wong | February 25, 2021, 01:31 PM

David Liang is a Singaporean who recently went viral on Myanmar social media after he was pictured collecting letters from protesters outside the Singapore embassy in Yangon.

Wife and friends teased him for going viral

On his newfound fame, the 36-year-old who has been stationed in Myanmar for the last two years told Mothership he is both flattered and embarrassed for the attention he has received.

Liang, who is the Deputy Chief of Mission and Counsellor at the Singapore embassy in Myanmar, said: "My wife and friends have had a field day teasing me, but I'm deeply honoured that Myanmar netizens think well of me."

Image via Min Kyaw Paing/Facebook

He added: "Myanmar has been a gracious host to my family during our time here, and I truly hope that a long-term peaceful political solution to the current situation can be found soon."

Letters sought clarifications from Singapore on misunderstandings perpetuated on social media

Liang, who was last stationed by the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Brussels for four years before being posted to Myanmar, said the embassy has been receiving letters from demonstrators over the past week starting from Feb. 16.

He explained that some of the letters sought clarifications from the Singapore government over misunderstandings of the city-state's position towards recent developments in Myanmar on social media.

For instance, Liang said there was a chart circulating on social media which claimed that Singapore “voted” against democracy in Myanmar at the 29th Special Session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council on Feb. 12.

The resolution was in fact, adopted by consensus, not by vote, he explained, adding that Singapore would not have been able to vote anyway as it is not currently a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

Unfortunately, the perception had remained on social media, he said.

Sincere appeals to Singapore to support Myanmar's democratic transition

Most of the letters, however, were "heartfelt appeals" to the Singapore government to support Myanmar's path of democratic transition, Liang said.

Written by people from all walks of life -- including university students, healthcare workers, professionals from various fields, and even children -- some of the letters had specific call-to-action, such as calling on the Singapore government to freeze the financial assets of certain individuals and companies "hidden" in Singapore.

The embassy had sent these letters to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which has since issued a statement that clarified it has not found "significant funds" from Myanmar firms and individuals in Singapore's commercial banks.

Protesters were always polite and respectful

Describing the protesters as "polite and peaceful", Liang said they remained respectful even during the peak of the protests earlier this week when they called for the boycott of Singaporean companies.

The demonstrators were "never aggressive and were always respectful" when passing their notes to the embassy, he said, adding that it is "an understandably emotional time for many people in Myanmar right now".

The embassy did what it could as well.

Liang said: "We try to reassure the protestors that their concerns are heard, and that their requests will be passed on to the Singapore government."

Vivian condemned violence

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has spoken up against the use of violence, saying that in particular, "live rounds should not be fired on unarmed civilians under any circumstances".

MFA has also condemned the use of lethal weapons against unarmed civilians, saying it is "inexcusable".

Vivian said he hopes for a peaceful resolution and national reconciliation in Myanmar, and expressed his hope for the military to release detained members of the National League for Democracy, including democratically-elected civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Nevertheless, he cautioned against embarking on "widespread" sanctions on Myanmar as the "ordinary people" will be the ones to suffer the most.

Top image adapted via Min Kyaw Paing/Facebook