Except for the bizarre phenomenon of Asean luminaries fallen over one another in ingratiating themselves to Myanmar, the pariah nation would have been isolated by the international community, especially the west, like a leper. And so would it not be like a comic opera for the sagacious Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong to make a fraternal visit to this despotic state at a time when the whole democratic world is appalled by its ruthless suppression of its citizenry, including the iconic Aung San Suu Kyi? Quite true, this visit is ostensibly at the invitation of Myanmar's Prime Minister, but the Senior Minister cannot be worth his salt if he is not ingenious enough to find a credible excuse to postpone the trip to a more propitious time. Of course he did not and would have considered it not to be in accord with his stature not to have accepted the invitation, to the dismay of Asean's western allies.
Myanmar rulers, on the other hand, are astute enough to capitalise on SM Goh's visit to enhance their discreditable reputation in the hope that the pariah nation could become more acceptable in the democratic world. So they hide their fangs and turn on their artificial charms on a gullible prominent guest including a diplomatic offensive in the form of a meeting with the egregious General Than Swee, chairman of the so-called State Peace and Development Council.
SM Goh is just human and to say that he is overwhelmed by his host's attention is not an overstatement. How else could one explain his gaffe in stating openly in TV news report that the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi is a domestic affair? When the whole democratic world is furiously attacking the despotic Myanmar regime for the persecution of Aung San Suu Kyi, it is entertained by a comic utterance that this is a domestic affair of the Myanmar government by a no lesser personality than an eminent Senior Minister of the Singapore government. Would it not be sending a wrong signal to the democratic world? Indirectly, would SM Goh not be echoing the warning of Myanmar's Deputy Minister of Defence at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue to the international community to keep their hands off the internal affairs of Myanmar?
Myanmar's military junta will be having the last laugh.