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Singaporeans in Myanmar say situation appears 'calm' a day after military coup

Singaporeans in Myanmar say situation appears 'calm' a day after military coup

Myanmar's military checkpoint is seen on the way to the congress compound in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, February 1, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

SINGAPORE: A day after the military seized power in Myanmar, Singaporeans living there said there the situation appears to be "calm" despite disruptions to work.

Phone lines and mobile data services that had been shut down have been restored, they said. The long queues of people trying to withdraw money at ATM machines have also abated. 

Mr Raymond Phee, who owns a logistics firm and lives in Yangon, said he drove around to check the situation a day after the army seized power in a coup on Monday. 

"I made a round from the port to the warehouse to the supermarket to the banks. There was nothing (happening). It was very much normal," he said. 

“The banks are open, the customs are open, the ports are open," said Mr Phee who has lived in the country for 25 years. 

Similarly, Mr Joshua Tan, chief administrative officer in a rice-producing firm said that everything in Naypyidaw was "calm". 

"But we are quite concerned that it's too calm, it's not normal," he said. 

"It feels like the calm before a storm." 

READ: Singapore gravely concerned over events in Myanmar, monitoring situation closely: MFA

There, however, continued to be some disruption to daily life.

Mr Tan said that last week, the army started to set up temporary checks along the borders of Naypyidaw. All vehicles entering the capital city are checked and some are turned away, he said.

"My staff coming to work are body searched," he said, adding that his office will be closed for one more day "in case something goes south". 

"We are being careful, just waiting, telling staff to avoid going to places where there may be riots," he said. 

READ: Myanmar nationals in Singapore express disbelief over military coup back home, worry about families

Similarly, Mr Kenneth Lim, a developer, said that his company operations will be closed for a few days to “see what happens”. 

He added that a recently drawn-up business strategy has been scrapped, given the change in the climate in the country. 

"Banking hours are reduced; government offices, can't find people there," he said. 

“Life is not about waking up and going to work, but what are you going to do at work."

Mr Phee on the other hand has tightened security at his warehouse for the week. 

The men have also generally stayed indoors. 

BEING PREPARED 

Many Myanmar nationals scrambled to stock up on essential items once news of the coup broke. Alongside them was Mr Tan. At the top on his list of items was water. 

"The (tap) water here is not drinkable, so I sent out a lorry and a truck to stock up on water," he said. 

"Usually, we call and the water truck would come, but the phone lines were down," he said.

While he and his colleagues had rice in abundance, he stocked up on other lasting items such as biscuits, rice puffs and instant noodles. 

He also sent one week's worth of food to his workers. 

Mr Lim similarly found himself in a very crowded supermarket buying items such as rice and instant noodles. 

"You just need to be more prepared," he said. 

CONCERNS ABOUT THE FUTURE 

Those who spoke to CNA said that while things seem quiet at the moment, they were concerned and apprehensive about what is to come. 

Mr Lim said: "You're afraid of live demonstrations on the road. So far, I haven't seen protesters, but I'm very very concerned." 

"There's absolutely nothing you can do - just keep yourself busy instead of being stressed."

Despite the sense of normalcy, things can take a turn anytime, Mr Phee added. 

“There’s just a lot of uncertainty regarding what’s happening and what’s going to happen,” said 17-year-old student Ethan Swee. 

The international school he studies at was transitioning to physical classes, after offering only online classes due to COVID-19, but that has come to a halt, he said.  

While Internet services have allowed him to stay connected to the rest of the world, he fears that they may be cut off anytime. 

“The situation seems really volatile, so I have no idea what to expect later today, let alone tomorrow,” he said.

Source: CNA/ja

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