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

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

Myanmar military vehicles are seen inside City Hall in Yangon, Myanmar February 1, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

SINGAPORE: Some Myanmar nationals living in Singapore said they were shocked to hear about the military coup back home and are worried about their families.

Many told CNA they heard the news through social media and personal messages from friends and family. 

“When I got the first message, I didn’t believe. When I got the second message, I didn’t believe. I only believed it when I confirmed with the news,” said a 48-year-old man who did not want to be identified for fear of his family’s safety.

His shock quickly turned to worry as he tried to contact his family in Myanmar. He could not reach them, but received a message online from his sister. He said phone services were down, but that some service providers have been able to continue operating their wireless connection services.

Live updates: Aung San Suu Kyi, other Myanmar leaders detained

It was earlier reported that phone and Internet connections in the capital Naypyidaw and the main commercial centre of Yangon were disrupted and state television went off air, after the military seized power on Monday (Feb 1) in a coup against the democratically elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.  

The de facto leader was detained along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

The generals made their move hours before parliament had been due to sit for the first time since the NLD's landslide win in a Nov 8 general election.

READ: Aung San Suu Kyi calls on public to reject and protest military coup

Another Myanmar national in Singapore, a 30-year-old man who also did not want to be identified, said: “There are a lot of things in my mind which I can’t express in words. I’m speechless."

He managed to get in touch with his parents over the phone at about 6.30am and spoke to his mother.

She is not okay, but she is trying to be, he told CNA.

READ: Myanmar military allays coup fears, says it will protect constitution

“They (the older generation) have that experience from the 1980s, so she managed to calm herself down,” he said, referring to a period of military rule in Myanmar.

When he called again about an hour later, he was unable to get through.

“I’m worried. We cannot tell when the telecommunications services will resume, he said.

Mr Maung Hla Shwe, a businessman who has lived here for 24 years, said he speaks to his family in Yangon every day and last spoke to them on Sunday night. He too was worried about not being able to contact them, with the services shut down.

Engineering geologist Tin Maung Win said he was “so so angry” about the situation.

Mr Tin, who is in the executive council of the Myanmar Club in Singapore, is also worried about the progress of COVID-19 vaccinations in his home country. The club has been raising money to send to Myanmar to fund vaccinations. 

“I am worried about whether the vaccination process will go smoothly because of the coup,” he said.

“What can we do? We have to hope for the best, prepare for the worst."

Mr Khin Latt, an engineering geologist, said his family did not know what had happened until he told them. While he was not shocked about the development in Myanmar, he is upset that it happened.

“They (the military) made our country unstable,” he said.

When CNA visited Peninsula Plaza, a shopping mall frequented by Myanmar nationals, many tenants, who are Myanmar nationals, did not want to talk. They said they were waiting for more information on what was happening.

Ms Sam, a 40-year-old engineer, was at the mall for a meal with her husband and for grocery shopping. She said the situation back home has been the topic of the day in her circles.

“We are worried for our country, and praying,” she said. 

Source: CNA/ja(gs)

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