Singaporean radar engineer to speak at Myanmar military science & tech conference as military set to launch “Anawrahta” operation

October 25, 2021

Former Singapore Ministry of Defence engineer Lee Kar Heng is a keynote speaker at the Myanmar military’s Conference on Science and Technology Development this week. The conference is organised by the Defence Services Academy, Defence Services Technological Academy (DSTA) and Office of the Chief of Armed Forces Training.

The event takes place as the Myanmar military intensifies its campaign of terror, with an unprecedented build-up of troops for the impending “Anawrahta” operation, which will involve a new wave of atrocity crimes against people of Chin State and Magway and Sagaing Regions.

Lee Kar Heng will be presenting on radars and electronic warfare as one of four keynote speakers, two of who are professors from Russian universities. The conference website describes the invited speakers as “professors and experts from famous international universities around the world”.

Lee Kar Heng's speech comes as the people of Myanmar continue to resist the military’s illegal coup attempt in the Spring Revolution, and face inhumane acts, including the military’s murder 1,196 people and arrest of over 9,000.

The conference will take place in Pyin Oo Lwin from October 26 to 27, ending with a “grand dinner” on the lawn. Lee Kar Heng is presenting virtually.

Lee Kar Heng’s address follows his engagement with the DSTA and the Defence Services Science and Technology Research Centre (DSSTRC) that includes training for Myanmar military personnel in Pyin Oo Lwin and Singapore, using US and European technology.

Lee Kar Heng’s business with the Myanmar military demonstrates the urgency for Singapore authorities to prevent the Myanmar military’s use of Singapore as an international hub for banking and procurement.

Recent engagement with the US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet shows Singapore is considering using its financial leverage over the illegal military junta. Justice For Myanmar calls for urgent action without delay.

TBSS Group aids the military’s atrocities

Lee Kar Heng is the sole proprietor of TBSS Group, a private Singapore company that specialises in radar and electronic warfare supply, training and engineering services. According to the company’s online profile, TBSS Group has provided private radar and electronic warfare training to the Singapore military and police, and actively pursues business with state security forces in Vietnam.

In Myanmar, TBSS is a partner of military broker Life and Challenge Company Limited, which has a history of procuring technology for the Myanmar military. Leaked 2015-16 military procurement files show Life and Challenge supplying dozens of items to the DSSTRC. Purchases are routed through LANC Pte. Ltd., Life and Challenge’s Singapore business.

In 2018, TBSS and Life and Challenge were jointly awarded a contract to design and deliver a radar capability development program for Myanmar military officers from the DSTA, DSSTRC, Directorate of Signals and Directorate of Defence Industries, according to TBSS Group social media posts.

The nine-month program involved training in Singapore and Myanmar, the supply of hardware, the establishment of a radar laboratory and project supervision.

A presentation on the conclusion of the program published online by TBSS Group claims that participants gained skills to build their own radar signal processor and display. This may increase the military’s self-reliance in radar technology.

Life and Challenge managing director Dr Zaw Ye Htet, a graduate of the first batch of DSTA, led the radar display design team. Dr Aye Ko Ko, also a graduate of the first batch of DSTA, led the signal processing team. One of the program participants was Captain Nyein Min Ko, a DSTA avionics lecturer.

According to the presentation, participants were provided with a training radar, FPGA software development kit, radar display software development kit and hardware. The supplied radar transceiver for the prototype came from Swiss company RFBeam.

The training radar is likely from SkyRadar, headquartered in Luxembourg and based on technology developed in Germany. Photos posted online by TBSS show Myanmar military personnel with SkyRadar equipment. SkyRadar appointed TBSS as their authorised dealer for Myanmar in 2015.

In January 2019, Myanmar military officers received in-person training in Singapore in radar interface and signal processing using SkyRadar and Dspnor.

Dspnor is a Norwegian company that specialises in radar signal processing, tracking and simulation.

Trainers in Singapore included SkyRadar co-founder, Eric Moskwa, and retired German air force master sergeant, Christian Wolff, who owns the website.

The Myanmar participants received SkyRadar branded certificates presented by Christian Wolff, Lee Kar Heng and Zaw Ye Htet.

The 2019 training in Singapore involved a visit to the office of US corporation Keysight Technologies.

Keysight Technologies has also provided technology to the Myanmar Army’s Directorate of Signals, via the Myanmar military broker Mega Hill General Trading, which Justice For Myanmar recently investigated.

In November 2019, Lee Kar Heng travelled to Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar, where he trained military personnel in radar engineering.  

Through TBSS, Myanmar military scientists and engineers have also gained access to online training and regional conferences.

In 2020, TBSS and Keysight Technologies provided a joint online training in FMCW radar design using SystemVue, design simulation software from Keysight Technologies. The bulk of the participants were from Myanmar and Singapore, and included Aye Ko Ko. The online training involved additional seminars in electronic warfare.

Since 2019, TBSS have organised annual Asia Pacific radar conferences which Myanmar participants have attended, providing military personnel with an opportunity to gain knowledge, international legitimacy and network with experts and suppliers. Sponsors of the conferences include Keysight Technologies, IAI (Israel), Rohde & Schwarz (Germany), Saab (Sweden) and Terma (Denmark). Keysight Technologies has used the conferences to demonstrate and sell their products.

Stop aiding the Myanmar military’s crimes

The training, support and technology TBSS Group and its partners have provided to the Myanmar military took place after the 2017 campaign of genocide against the Rohingya and ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity. These deals were agreed to knowing the military is responsible for grave international crimes and that equipment and added capability can aid and abet atrocity crimes. This is inexcusable.

We demand TBSS Group immediately end all business with Myanmar. Until they do so, international businesses should cut ties with TBSS.

Singapore is the international financial hub for Myanmar military procurement. TBSS Group’s activities show that Singapore territory is also being used for training and assistance to the Myanmar military. Singapore authorities should prevent businesses and individuals from providing arms, related material, training and technical support to the terrorist Myanmar military. These business aid and abet the Myanmar military’s crimes.

Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland should investigate the role of their citizens and companies in the training and transfer of equipment to the Myanmar military, in case there has been a breach of the EU arms embargo on Myanmar (or its equivalent in Norway and Switzerland). EU law prohibits “technical assistance” to the Myanmar military, which is broadly defined as being related to all types of arms and related materiel. If the European technical support and equipment provided to the Myanmar military in collaboration with TBSS Group was lawful, then the EU must amend its arms embargo on Myanmar so it is strengthened and reinforced.  

The US government should investigate whether Keysight Technologies has breached US arms controls by training Myanmar military personnel and providing both software and hardware to the Myanmar military, in full knowledge of the atrocities being committed. Under United States arms control regulations, “defence services” include both formal and informal training of military personnel, held abroad and by correspondence.

The Myanmar military’s reign of terror is spreading, causing immense human suffering as the military carries out mass killings, torture, rape, mass displacement and mass arrests. The international community must urgently act to stop the flow of arms and funds by imposing a global arms embargo and targeted sanctions on arms brokers, including Life and Challenge. Stop businesses profiting from the blood of Myanmar people.