Photo of Aung San Suu Kyi with Lee Hsien Loong from xinhuanet

Speaking at the IE Singapore’s Global Conversation dialogue today (Nov 30), Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi said that the Myanmar economy will aim to overtake Singapore in 20 years.

“At the beginning of Singapore’s independence, the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said that in 20 years’ time, Singapore would have caught up with Burma. I think we have to change that a bit and say: In 20 years’ time, Myanmar will have overtaken Singapore and you will help us to do that because success in one part of the region means success throughout the region and we have never found it difficult to engage with Singapore economically.”

According to the 71-year-old leader on a 3-day visit to Singapore, Myanmar was held back by “different factors” and left behind by South East Asian neighbours over the past few decades. Aung San Suu Kyi diplomatically called for Singapore to assist in Myanmar’s developments:

“Politics and business cannot be separated particularly at this time when we are trying to make our country not just united and peaceful, but also prosperous. For that, we look to you to advise us, to work together with us and to make our country vibrant, not just politically but also economically.”

Aung San Suu Kyi highlighted that Myanmar is building a new workforce by introducing vocational training to its education system, and that she hopes that the country could attract more Singapore businesses to invest. Given her assurance that Myanmar is ramping up on a pro-business environment, the Myanmar government will also be introducing a new investment law which to revise income tax and land use for businesses by April 2017.

“Our new investment law is intended to be business friendly and we hope the new procedures that we are putting in place can make it much easier for you to go about your businesses in security… You will not be deprived of your businesses unjustly, unexpectedly, directly or indirectly.”