21 May 2005

Constructive Engagement?

The policy of 'constructive engagement' is a smoke screen for taking money from a morally repugnant regime.

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singapore firm has won a $10.6 million deal to expand the Yangon International Airport in Myanmar.

Singapore information technology company CNA Group said in a statement that under the deal, the firm will design and install engineering systems at Yangon airport.

Myanmar said in January that with $1.57 billion for 72 projects, Singapore tops the list of the 25 foreign investor countries in Myanmar. According to official data from Myanmar, Singapore is the largest exporter to Myanmar, and its second-largest trading partner after Thailand.


"If we don't take their money someone else will."

I searched for a balanced and independent report on Myanmar/Burma and this is the best I could find. Now remember this is trying to be 'objective' and it reads like a full on attack of the regime in Burma:

Prominent pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, has had various restrictions placed on her activities since the late 1980s. In 1990 her party won a landslide victory in Burma's first multi-party elections for 30 years, but has never been allowed to govern.

Military-run enterprises control key industries, and corruption and severe mismanagement are the hallmarks of a black-market-riven economy.

The armed forces - and former rebels co-opted by the government - have been accused of large-scale trafficking in heroin, of which Burma is a major exporter. Prostitution and Aids are major problems.

The largest group is the Burman people, who are ethnically related to the Tibetans and the Chinese. Burman dominance over Karen, Shan, Rakhine, Mon, Chin, Kachin and other minorities has been the source of considerable ethnic tension, fuelling intermittent separatist rebellions.

Burma is the world's largest exporter of teak and is a principal source of jade, pearls, rubies and sapphires. It is endowed with extremely fertile soil and has important offshore oil and gas deposits. However, its people remain very poor and are getting poorer.


The above is quoted from the BBC.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of the assassinated independence leader Aung San, spent 6 years under house arrest [actually she is again under house arrest]. In 1990, her party, the National League for Democracy, won 82 percent of the parliamentary seats. The generals, shocked by an election result they never expected, threw 200 of the newly-elected MPs into prison. Suu Kyi's party has never been allowed to take elected office.


She warns that, far from liberalizing life in Burma, foreign investment and tourism can further entrench the military regime.


http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/inb.html

Related Articles:
Singapore's Blood Money
Horrific account of Burma's suppression

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

>Burma is the world's largest exporter of >teak and is a principal source of jade, >pearls, rubies and sapphires. It is >endowed with extremely fertile soil and >has important offshore oil and gas >deposits. However, its people remain >very poor and are getting poorer.

Perhaps the champions of freedom would wage a war on terror in exchange for some of the valuable resources?

Using embargoes to "encourage" a country to the "right" thing has never proved to be effective, if anything the people of the country suffer because, the rich and powerful will also find some ways to circumvent the restrictions. Take the oil for food program in Iraq for example, or the sanctions against North Korea.

soci said...

Using 'constructive ' engagement doesn't work, but at least you get to fill your pockets at the same time. Companies can actually make a profit from others suffering.

If sanctions are intelligently targeted at the rulers as opposed to the population. If foreign countries refused to accept visits from those rulers and their cronies. It might actually make the rulers realise that their actions are unacceptable in the eyes of world.

And as for your argument that sanctions never work, what happened in South Africa? Sanctions have been effective when as many countries as possible agree to abide by those sanctions. When a few states engage with the regime, they merely prolong the regimes rule.

So have a look at South Africa and the pressures brought on President F.W. de Klerk's government. Then say that sanctions NEVER prove to be effective.

preetam rai said...

Well Burma is not South Africa. The Chinese are big time supporters of the Junta. India which ignored the generals for almost a decade, recently switched sides. The Thais figure it is better to deal with the Junta rather then dozens of groups. So there you have the three neighbours firmly with the Burmese goverment, I suppose there is little countries like Singapore can do other than do business.

Only China can put pressure on the Junta and they are busy siphoning off timber, minerals and other resources from north burma and I don't think any country in the world today is willing to impose sanctions on China.

In the recent Singapore International Film festival, I saw a film on the Burma titled "In the Shadow of the Pagodas". It was very negative of the regime. I was actually surprised that the Burmese embassy in Singapore did not protest.

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