Archive for the ‘History’ category

Burma Review back on Web: burmareview.com is now burmareview.org

September 23, 2008

Burma Review is back on web at blogger.com / Google facilities as – burmareview.org / burmareview.blogspot.com web site. The journey of Burma Review was started on 5th of December 2006 at wordpress.com as burmareview.wordpress.com and later

shifted to the domain name: burmareview.com (which has been now taken by the other interested group to destroy the purpose of the concerned domain name, so now please don’t visit burmareview.com, the story of losing domain name on word press would be explained on other occasions, the forces behind it could be well understood) The old posts of Burma Review will remain available at bumareview.wordpress.com

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Lessons of Burma Uprising 2007

December 22, 2007

BY: Richard, Editor, Burma Dialogue (www.freesuukyi.org/blog )      

While we sit back and watch the junta predictably jump back and forth concerning the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi’s level of involvement (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7150488.stm)  in the masquerade they call a “road to democracy” we can at least say those who stood up will be remembered in the back pages of Time’s internet pages(http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/personoftheyear/article/0,28804,1690753_1690758_1693514,00.html).    

Once again ASEAN, the UN, the US and the EU all seem to be under pressure to bring the regime under grand consequence, or the future will simply have no hope for us humanitarians. If my sarcasm is not obvious let me point it out for you. Negligence is the statue in which we embark to resolve.    Though we have done one thing I suppose. The United States passed a Bill(http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKN1962807620071220) ending financial support for the flow of Burmese rubies and timber.  China will be happy to oblige. The real Burma timber market is going to China anyways.  The always reliable Telegraph (yes, more sarcasm) stated that in 2007 blogs (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=FXQWANC3XA4L3QFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2007/10/01/wburma201.xml) helped the Burmese revolution.

They stated three, only one of which is actually a blog.    What the uprising of 2007 has taught me is that, it is not the action or inaction of any government or institution that plays any real role in the fight for freedom for the people of Burma. It is the individual, inside or outside of Burma that makes the case for his and her own freedom according to that which they are prepared to lay down. I have done a little here and there. I would like to do more. But no one has done as much as those in Burma, who were seen publicly, had their pictures taken and their names put on a list for questioning and imprisonment as thoroughly as the Nazi’s did it.    

But Time hides such human courage in the back pages, and names Putin, one of the junta’s largest supporters “Man of the Year”. It is clear we are on our own in this fight. I’m not saying anything new. Others know and are simply waiting for the right….Time.    

(The End)  

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Time has come for UN to act firmly on Burma

December 4, 2007

Burma’s ruling military junta officially known as State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), bolstered by the recent successful trip of the two ASEAN member nations – Cambodia and Vietnam of their Seven-step road map of democracy organized a Press Conference (No. 2/2007) yesterday, which has been published in today’s official media – The New Light of Myanmar;  once again reiterated that, they believed August-September 2007 people’s revolution “were the results of timely conspiracies of  western powers and anti-government groups inside and outside the country as well as at the border.”  Most interesting part of today’s published press conference is related with the news of fine contradictions of Junta appointed Daw Aung Suu Kyi’s liaison minister for Labour’s – U Aung Kyi’s statement with the statement of Information Minister – Brigadier General Mr. Kyaw Hsan’s statement in the same news report published on page number ten. While answering to the question of Nikei Newspaper correspondent, that, “Is there prospect of the negotiation between NLD led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the government or is there any progress for the negotiation?”, the Information Minister replied that, “Before thinking about the prospect of the negotiation, we should see the progress in the meetings of Minister U Aung Kyi and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi first. Regarding the negotiation, the Government issued the announcement No 1/2007. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has not yet responded to the announcement. The announcement No 1/2007 is the basic for all,” proving that the media reported three meetings of liaison minister’s talks with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has not resulted in any positive outcome and progress.        

It is important to note that, earlier Burma’s ruling military junta had announced on 4th of October 2007 through their announcement No. 1/2007 (published on 5th of October of the New Light of Myanmar) that, “If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi declares to give up exerting efforts for Confrontation, Utter Devastation, and Imposing All Kinds of Sanctions including Economic Sanction against Myanmar then the Senior General – Mr. Than Shwe will personally meet her.” 

However, it is noteworthy that till now only one statement of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been published in the world press through the efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy of Burma – Mr. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari issued at Singapore on 8th of November 2007, in which she clearly welcomed, “the appointment on 8th of October of Minister Aung Kyi as minister for relations,” and said that, “Our first meeting on 25th October was constructive and look forward to further regular discussions. I expect that this phase of preliminary consultations will conclude soon so that a meaningful and time bound dialogue with the SPDC leadership can start as early as possible.”  She further reiterated in her 8th of November statement that, “In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the government in order to make this process of dialogue a success and welcome the necessary good offices role of the United Nations to help facilitate our efforts in this regard.”

However, today’s published statement by the Information Minister indicates and proves that, Junta’s intention of negotiation is nothing but fooling the world community, UN and ASEAN member nations, whereas Daw Aung San Suu Kyi seriously wants to cooperate with the military junta towards genuine democratic transformation.       

In the same news report published today, when Reuter’s news Agency correspondent – U Aung Hla Tun asked liaison Minister for Labour – Mr. U Aung Kyi, that, “Is there time frame for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to respond to the announcement No 1/2007 as she has not yet responded to the announcement? Can we expect that she will respond to the announcement? I want to know the progress of the meetings between U Aung Kyi and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi”, the liaison minister replied that, “I met with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for three times. We have made progress at the meetings. The first meeting was aimed at gaining understanding between us. The second meeting was to discuss frameworks for the future. The third meeting was to discuss the facts that should be included in the framework. We will release information related to the meetings when necessary. Regarding the time frame, we will continue to hold meetings with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. We need to consider “what” to discuss and “why”. We are choosing “What” and “Why”. So, we will take “Where”, “How” and “When” into consideration in the future”, indicating the whole structure of negotiations is an attempt  of buying time to go-ahead with their planned seven-step roadmap of democracy and well designed move to suppress the democratic forces led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.     

If after two months of the appointment of liaison minister, Daw Suu Kyi is not allowed freely to meet world press and still suffering under house arrest and SPDC is still wavering on “What”, “Why”, Where, “How”, and “When”, then the time has ripped now to act sternly on Burma with firm hands by the United Nations and ASEAN?       

(Note: For reader’s clear understanding of the issue, please find below the announcement No. 1/2007 as well as the statement of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi released on 8th of November by the UN Special Envoy of Burma at Singapore on 8th of November 2007) 

   

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DOCUMENT No. 1: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Statement released at Singapore by the UN special envoy – Mr. Ibrahim Gambari on 8th of November 2007.  

As you know, I have just completed a mission to Myanmar from 3 to 8 November, where I met today with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. In my capacity as Special Advisor to the Secretary-General for Myanmar. I was authorized by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to make the following statement on her behalf:  

  1. I wish to thank all those who have stood by my side all this time, both inside and outside my country. I am also grateful to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for his unwavering support for the cause of national reconciliation, democracy and human rights in my country.

  2. I welcome the appointment on 8th of October of Minister Aung Kyi as minister for relations. Our first meeting on 25th October was constructive and look forward to further regular discussions. I expect that this phase of preliminary consultations will conclude soon so that a meaningful and time bound dialogue with the SPDC leadership can start as early as possible.

  3. In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the government in order to make this process of dialogue a success and welcome the necessary good offices role of the United Nations to help facilitate our efforts in this regard.

  4. In full awareness of the essential role of political parties in democratic societies, in deep appreciation of the sacrifices of the members of my party and in my position as General Secretary, I will be guided by the policies and wishes of the National League for Democracy. However, in this time of vital need for democratic solidarity and national unity, it is my duty to give constant and serious considerations to the interests and opinions of as broad a range of political organization and forces as possible, in particular those of our ethnic nationality races.

  5. To that end, I am committed to pursue the path of dialogue constructively and invite the government and all relevant parties to join me in this spirit.

  6. I believe that stability, prosperity and democracy for my country, living at peace with itself and with full respect for human rights, offers the best prospect for my country to fully contribute to the development and stability of the region in close partnership with its neighbors and fellow ASEAN members and to play a positive role as a respected member of the international community.

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DOCUMENT No. 2: SPDC’s Announcement No. 1/2007 issued on 4th of October 2007 published on 5th of October 2007 in the New Light of Myanmar:   

The Government of the Union of MyanmarAnnouncement No. 1/20078th Waning Day of Tawthalin, 1369 ME

(4th October 2007)  

1. In the Union of Myanmar, the Government and the people are striving hand in hand to build up a new democratic nation. 

2. However, starting from 28th August 2007, there occurred demonstrations of some monks. The demands made by the demonstrators in the beginning were only to bring down commodity prices but later the demands made by them were nothing to do with monks and it was found to be the wishes of a political party and other organizations aspiring to create unrest. Unrests occurred due to the attempts of those who want to grab power through short-cut and that of some foreign nations to destabilize the nation. 

3. The unrests are now totally under control by authorities for ensuring stability and the rule of law, with the cooperation of Sanghas and people who do not want any unrest. 

4. Due to lopsided broadcasts by some international media, some member nations of the United Nations Organization were worried about Myanmar’s situation and the UN Secretary-General sent his Special Envoy Mr Ibrahim Agboola Gambari to Myanmar to make urgent investigation and submit a report. 

5. Myanmar is grateful to some member nations of the UN for their understanding upon Myanmar’s situation and their principled stances. 

6. Mr Gambari arrived Myanmar on 29th September. He witnessed the situation has returned to normalcy and he had an opportunity to pay a courtesy call on State Peace and Development Council Chairman Senior General Than Shwe. Mr Gambari also had opportunities to meet with those worthy to be met for enquiring the situation. 

7. At the courtesy call, State Peace and Development Council Chairman Senior General Than Shwe mentioned Mr Gambari that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been exerting efforts for Confrontation, Utter Devastation, and Imposing All Kinds of Sanctions including Economic Sanction against Myanmar. If she declares to give them up, the Senior General will personally meet her. 

8. At present, the people of various States and Divisions all over the country are convening mass rallies to support the National Convention and welcome the forthcoming Constitution as well as to denounce recent unrests. 

9. Hence, the Government, with the support and in response to confidence and aspiration of the people, will continue to build up the nation into a discipline flourishing genuine democratic one in accordance with the seven-step Road Map.  

By order,

(Signed)Thant Shin

ColonelSecretary

The Government of the Union of Myanmar    

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The World Must Not Give Up!

December 4, 2007

By: Min Khin Kyaw 

(The author is 88 Generation leader, poet and artist)  

I have been inspired by the international pressure on the junta so far. More recently, both England and France and the US keeps reminding the dialogue must go ahead and for that the pressure on the junta is not waning. Unfortunately, the junta is still refusing to negotiate with the United Nations – let alone with democratic movement as more arrests have been there. And sending troops to KNU and tensions with others insurgent groups also indicates the resurfacing disagreement of the junta over the political developments – is another rejection of the totalitarian rule.

We have seen in Singapore that, how the junta has tried to treat – Mr. Gambari like other special UN envoys to Burma. Unlike previous envoys, he seems to possess a special quality but he still has to outwit the junta even though the international pressures are supporting his mission.   We certainly have to see the dialogue between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Than Shwe. This is the tasks and main objective. However, he has no motive for dialogue and not even responding to let her see her team again. So it’s sure she will not be released – despite EU and ASEAN has asked in Singapore summit. It’s crystal clear that the junta will not give up its ground even an inch.    

Instead of worry, we only have one condition – to push ahead no matter what. I want to see people more united and trying to do just for that. As long as the general population of Burma can boycott the authorities in various ways or showing defiance, I hope the authorities themselves will become inspired and sometimes in the future they would side with the people. The monks must keep leading the way of defying.   

On the other hand, Mr. Gambari must not give up despite knowing how the scenario between him and the junta will develop. I think both NLD and the generals must give their roadmap plans to Mr. Gambari: what to discuss and how to discuss with a timeframe so he will be able to develop a workable structure; and also he can discuss the plan with the concern parties including ASEAN countries. Even if the junta wouldn’t give its plan to Mr. Gambari, as it’s about to push the seven step roadmap ahead as China seems to be happy with it, Mr. Gambari should get the plans of NLD and develop it into the framework for discussion.   It seems the neighbours of the junta are giving no real pressure, although they warmly welcomed Mr. Gambari. I think he has more works to do with them. If necessary, he should ask them to speak with the junta as far as the region concerns; if they don’t, then there is no real pressure – especially from China  

Apart from above, we need that the international community should ask junta to pardon all activists arrested recently.   

ASEAN with Burma Issue  

It is good that, ASEAN still thinks that there is a chance for good change. However, the idea of giving humanitarian aids to the junta, the Cambodian view as a member of ASEAN, is just another repetition. But the lesson of the past is forgotten, that, if a support is not for itself, the junta simply doesn’t accept?

I think, it appears as ASEAN is still hopeful that humanitarian effort of the good offices would be accepted. As ASEAN insists the junta needs support – then, ASEAN has to push the junta to accept such supports and if it ever happens, this effort of ASEAN will not be forgotten. It’s true the people of Burma need humanitarian aids: medical supply and education about various diseases, especially HIV; and the sooner this happens, the better. Therefore, both UN and ASEAN should insist the junta to do just for this.

However, the forced closure of a monastery that provided HIV patients is a contradiction to this idea unfortunately; and also the effort HIV doctor Ma Phyu Phyu Thin was disrupted and now she is detained despite the wishes of international community to keep restraints in further arrests. Yet, ASEAN can do the push and it will be a good task for ASEAN to seek this through firm realistic commitment. But what if the junta denies again? Before any attempt, ASEAN should have alternative ideas.  

If ASEAN is happy about this idea, it must develop the plan agreed by its members as soon as possible. It must include the consideration of refugees along the borders, Burmese workers in ASEAN countries and political developments with various insurgent groups who will have to give up fighting, when they get peace and security of their peoples.   

And ASEAN should consider how politics of all ethnic groups can be improved by humanitarian efforts; it’s true that the ethnics are desperate to get attention from regional countries. As soon as an agreement for peace between the junta and the ethnic groups, especially the Karens, as a fresh fighting between the two sides is looming, the dream of a democratic country of united ethnics of Burma will become closer to be true.   Politically, ASEAN has to be more careful than ever as the seven step roadmap effort of the junta is a serious issue. As the junta is denying to see and free political leaders to participate in the process of reconciliation and composing future constitution, there people cannot accept any development that made by the junta alone with its 54 misrepresentatives of the people. Hence, ASEAN must not show any gesture that can be interpreted as agreement or support to the foul effort of the junta.   Even though Democracy in Burma and peace in the region will certainly benefit every country that has relationship with Burma, as long as the ASEAN is more content with current situation than to be busy with an attempt for a better future, Burmese people will not have equal share of any good things in the region. 

Business with the Junta  

Once again, the debate of doing business with the ruling military junta has re-emerged that, it is ethical or not? And the case of TOTAL is always remain a good example! Recently the management of TOTAL has argued that, “We feel the country would have evolved much more if more responsible companies had remained… Development of human rights goes along with the development of the economy.”   Then how many people are currently employed by TOTAL and how much do they get paid has to be answered by TOTAL? It is also necessary to know that, how much junta receives every year from TOTAL and how much does the junta spends for the people from that income? In the areas where TOTAL operates, do all people get the similar benefits or how have they been affected because of TOTAL’s operations or are they affected to get worse? Now how can TOTAL calculate it gives better life for the people where it operates?  By the argument ‘Development of human rights goes along with the development of the economy’, TOTAL has to come up with a statement how it can improve the entire Burma with its operations with the junta that the junta will comply with the idea of development. And TOTAL has to provide evidences that the junta is doing just that.   And also, as TOTAL has argued for all business tied with the junta by its statement on economy provides human rights development, TOTAL has to prove that all other companies are doing the same to develop the local communities.

But how long will the people of Burma have to wait for the human right development made by this kind of business-bound efforts. Can TOTAL calculate year-by-year improvement that happened in past few years? How many years have passed and what have happened for the sake of the people and are they sufficient enough to be desirable?   And does TOTAL care about entire Burma or just a local where it operates? It’s clear that by its own words, TOTAL cares only about its operation but ignoring the entire Burma and the concern of wider community.  

We all know that many people were forced to move and lost their livelihoods as consequence of business projects. Now also, the dam projects in Burma will make everything bad luck to the local people. TOTAL cannot deny this. Even in China, dams are causing problems every year. There is no regulation in Burma that the project must conduct properly so it will be worse. As doing business in Burma, anything happening in Burma is directly related to TOTAL whilst the entire country is fighting against the junta which TOTAL is supporting. But not only TOTAL, all other businesses that link with the junta are a main concern of income for the junta. As TOTAL and all other companies in Burma cannot improve Burma in a few years, they must leave; the reason is once there is no income, the junta will fall in a year.   

If TOTAL (and any other companies) is really concerned about human rights, it must work with democratic side and oppose the junta. Unless TOTAL changes side, its argument is only a self-serving rhetoric. TOTAL, as a major gas company has to explain, why the junta imposed the price hikes on fossil fuels that caused the recent political movements?

(The End) 

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Revisiting Burma’s Popular Foreign Policy Notion’s & its Reality

November 28, 2007

Burma, which is officially known as Myanmar since 1989 has witnessed a significant change over the years in its foreign policy endeavours. It has been often said by Western Scholars as well as by some Asian Scholars, which popularized the notion’s that, after independence, Myanmar followed the course of ‘Neutralism’ during U Nu’s democratic era, ‘Isolationism’ under General Ne Win’s military rule under SLORC till 1987, then the course of ‘Independent and Active’ foreign policy after 1988 democratic upsurge till today with the world community. These notions have been developed due to the analysis of outcome of unstable internal political situation of Burma during U Nu’s democratic rule and accepting military junta’s definition of foreign policy directed to mitigate the prolonged demand for restoration of democracy under Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the land of pagodas.

Is it ‘Neutralism’ and ‘Isolationism’ during early phase?

Although interestingly Myanmar’s present military dictators of State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) are not definite in defining their foreign policy postures of SLORC rule and they officially in some documents describe General Ne Win’s rule as a period of ‘Isolationism’ and in some documents as ‘independent and non-aligned’ foreign policy. As Burma’s contemporary Ministry of Foreign policy direction (of Year 2006) clearly states that, “Beginning in 1971 Myanmar transformed its independent and non-aligned Foreign policy to an independent active foreign policy.”[i] Whereas their official document entitled, “Political Situation of Myanmar” describes SLORC rule of General Ne Win’s Burmese way to Socialism as, ‘During this period Myanmar more or less stayed away from the regional and international crisis with doors partly closed eventually leading her to a self-imposed seclusion in pursuit of her own ideals.’[ii] Even the Government of India’s External Affair’s Ministry documents till today accepts that, “During the Ne Win era, Myanmar followed an ‘isolationist’ policy withdrawing even from NAM in 1979.”[iii] However before analyzing the true nature of Isolationism under General Ne Win’s military rule, it is important to asses briefly the first phase of ‘Neutralism’ popularly phrased as ‘Everybody’s friend but nobody’s ally’ during early democratic rule under Burma’s first Prime Minister U Nu.

When Burma got independence on 4th January 1948 under U Nu’s leadership, the nation was in pain with the assassination of maker of modern Burma & ‘Tatmadaw’ (military) Bogyoke Aung San on 19th July 1947 with six of his cabinet colleagues. The tragic assassination happened just after eleven days; Burma established their diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom (UK) on 07th July 1947. However after this assassination, soon Burma established diplomatic relations with Pakistan on 1st of August 1947 and then United States of America (USA) on 19th of September 1947 before their independence. However, Aung San’s successor U Nu, after completion of the Constituent Assembly work on 24 September 1947, later decided secession from British Commonwealth in his mid-October 1947 trip to London. Burma’s early endeavour to establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan was result of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s effort to secure distant East Pakistan and diplomatic relations with UK & USA’s before independence was the outcome of second world war.

Although Burmese leadership under U Nu was not late to realize the Asian message of neutralism & struggle against colonialism, which was reflected in first Asian Relations Conference held at New Delhi in March-April 1947. And when Burma became independent on 4th January 1948, it pursued the path of neutralism & non-alignment of India and established diplomatic relations with her on Independence Day. Burma during U Nu’s democratic era truly enjoyed the policy of neutralism and non-alignment with strong relations with India also due to her association with Indian leadership during nationalist movement and personal rapport of U Nu with then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, which didn’t allow Pakistan to find space in Burma’s politics against India’s national interest. When Burma’s great assassinated leader, Aung San’s wife – Daw Khin Kyi (Mother of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) took the ambassadorial position of Burma in India, it saw more closeness with the land of Pagodas. So during democratic era of Burma, from 4th January 1948 to March 1962, the golden land enjoyed further strengthening of relations between India and Burma. So, Democratic Burma’s closeness with India was natural reflection of the past cultural-historical-political relations existing between two countries since time immemorial.

During Burma’s democratic era of neutralism, India always helped Burma in its hour of need by providing weapons to the Burmese government when the insurrection began in 1948, by informing Burma of a plot between two English adventurers and the Karen prior to the Karen revolt, and by offering Burma a substantial loan during its financial crisis of 1955.[iv] Burma became founder member of NAM with India and tried its best to cooperate with Afro-Asian nations in United Nations on international problems.

Although even during its neutralism period, Burma struggling with her nationwide communist insurgency problem also established bilateral diplomatic relations with western cold war blocs or North Atlantic Treaty organizations (NATO) like – Belgium (1953), the Netherlands (1948), West Germany (1954), Canada (1958), as well as Union Soviet Socialist Republic (1948) or Warsaw Security Pact countries and its allies like – Hungary (1956), Bulgaria (1956), Poland (1955), Romania(1956), Czechoslovakia (1956). In addition, it was among first list of countries to recognize People’s Republic of China in 1949, after Mao Zedong’s successful communist revolution. Burma’s growing relations with many important Warsaw pact countries in 1956 was the result of Khrushchev & Bulganin’s visit to Burma in 1955, in which Soviet leadership promised to build a sports stadium and a technical institute for training Burmese in agricultural research and to establish tractor factory. Burma’s initiative to forge links with Warsaw pact countries in 1956 also made it possible for U Nu to get US aid in 1956 through US Economic Co-operation Administration to sell $ 21 million worth of surplus agricultural products for Burmese currency. The initiative of American help in 1956 facilitated the neutral partner of Afro-Asian nation to stand with the Western nations at United Nations in 1956 on the question of Russian brutality in Hungary and went with Western bloc on United Nations report on the Hungarian uprising in September 1957.[v] However despite Burma’s siding with Western Bloc’s on Hungary’s question in 1956, it remained neutral to cold-war politics and cooperated with India in world politics till the military take-over by General Ne Win in March 1962.

However foreign policy of Burma radically changed after the military takeover in 1962. Now for the new military rulers under General Ne Win, it was more important for the regime to find reliable political friends to stay in power to suppress internal discontent for the restoration of democracy in Burma rather than promoting & strengthening historical-cultural ties with any nation including India till 1988 democratic revolution. In this difficult situation to gain diplomatic support with armaments, China and its military arm in South Asia – Pakistan (Although, US policy think tanks are blundering to considers Pakistan as their trustworthy partner in South Asia) provided more homogeneity with Burma’s military General’s than any nations in the first act of diplomacy.

Moreover the more pronounced Burma/Myanmar’s foreign policy period of ‘Isolationism’ was not actually the ‘era of seclusion’ as it was projected to the world community by military regime and even officially accepted by many western nations including India. The country’s leaving of NAM in 1979 on the pretext of considering the movement to have strayed from its original course was well designed diplomatic move by SLORC regime to strengthen the perception of ‘Isolationism’ to avoid criticism by fellow NAM partners for the restoration of democracy in Burma, which had been witnessing continued student protests for democracy after 1962 coup. It was also necessary for the military regime to come out of NAM as Burma’s former premier U Nu and many of his political colleagues were alive and active at that time and enjoyed good rapport with the NAM leaders, who could pressurize Burma for democratic reforms. It was false perception of ‘Isolationism’ because during this period from 1962 to before 18th September 1988 declaration – 3/88 of State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) of independent and active foreign policy, Military regime not only continued their policy of strengthening relationship with China but also established diplomatic relations with twenty four countries including – Cuba, Iran, Syria, Albania, Nigeria etc. And also for the first time Burma tried to break the ice to establish diplomatic bilateral cooperation with Latin American countries like – Argentina (1975), Chile (1982), and Brazil (1982) during this so called isolationism phase.[vi]

China followed the policy of stick & carrot in dealing with General Ne Win’s new military government in 1962. It first acted positively on 4th March 1962, only two days after the coup to recognize the Ne Win’s regime and then also permitted comrades of Communist Party of Burma (CPB) exiles in China to issue their first public statement against new military regime on 01st of August 1962. However, later on Burma’s relations with China improved during military regime apart from few exceptions on the issue of supporting communist movement inside Burma. The volume of Burma’s imports from China increased from Kyats 57.4 million in 1970-71 to Kyats 61.5 million in 1971-72, and further to Kyats 78.8 million in 1972-1973. Similarly, exports to China increased from only Kyats 3.4 million in 1970-71 to Kyats 5.5 million in 1971-72, and further jumped to Kyats 56.7 million in 1972-73.[vii]

Whether Burma is following ‘Independent & Active’ Foreign Policy under SPDC?

After the democratic revolution of 8.8.88, Burma officially adheres to pursue the independent and active foreign policy in world affair with the promulgations of the SLORC declaration – 3/88 of 18 September 1988 to mitigate strong demand of restoration of democratic movement. Burma’s contemporary official document on foreign policy directives states that, “Myanmar practices the Independent and Active Foreign Policy in accordance with the following principles: (a) respect of and adherence to the principle of equality among peoples and among nations and the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence (Panchshila) ; (b) taking a non-aligned, independent and just stand in international issues; (c) maintaining friendly relations with all nations, and good-neighbourly relations with neighbouring countries; (d) continued support of, and active participation in, the United Nations and its affiliated organizations; (e) pursuance of mutually beneficial bilateral and multilateral cooperation programmes; (f) regional consultation and beneficial cooperation in regional economic and social affairs; (g) active participation in the maintenance of international peace and security and the creation of an equitable economic order and opposition to imperialism, colonialism, intervention, aggression and hegemonism; and, (h) acceptance of foreign assistance which is beneficial to national development, provided there are no strings attached.”[viii]

However it is interesting to note that Burma’s foreign policy had been always active serving internal needs of supporting stability of Tatmadaw (military) rule in changing scenario in world affairs. And 1988 pronouncement of pursuing independent and active foreign policy was more related with the outcome of the entry of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Burmese politics in 1988 and her national & international stature as well as support to her from international community, which was lacking in force in pre-88 period. During this contemporary active & independent phase of foreign policy, Burma has been successful in establishing diplomatic relations with twenty-six countries, exceeding only two nations compared with earlier isolationism period reaching presently the total number of Ninety-three nations including great move to become part of ASEAN in 1997. In this active phase, Burma established relations with African countries like – Ghana (1995), South Africa (1995), Kenya (1997) etc. and with break-away nations of Soviet Union like – Ukraine (1999), Azerbaijan (1999), Georgia (1999), Kazakhstan (1999), Kyrgyzstan (2000), Uzbekistan (2001) etc. and strengthened her relationship with South America developed during so called – ‘Isolationism’ phase by establishing relationship with Peru (1989) and Venezuela (1990).[ix]

Burma officially wants to establish relations with all nations based on ‘Panchshila’, but the available facts shows her relying more on China and its partner nations like – Pakistan and now Russia (In 2001 ‘Russia-China Good Neighbourly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation’ signed in July 2001 to cooperate on bilateral ties & major international issues including Myanmar) to counter American, European Union and Western powers pressure to negotiate with Daw Suu Kyi, suffering under prolonged house arrest and National League of Democracy (NLD) party, the winner of May 1990 elections.

Although, presently Burma enjoys diplomatic relations with Ninety-three countries and junta’s official declarations shows that most of the foreign direct investment to Myanmar comes from Asian countries up to September 2006, consisting 79.5 percent of total FDI, worth $ 11,012 million US dollars. After Asian countries, it is ASEAN+3 countries, which has $ 10,462 million US dollars of FDI, then, ASEAN countries – which has $ 9,861 million US dollars of investment in Myanmar in various sectors. Among different nations till September 2006, military junta’s recent FDI data shows that, USA has investment worth $ 244 million US dollars, then, Japan with $ 215 million US dollars, China with $ 194 million US dollars, Republic of Korea with $ 192 million US dollars, Australia with $ 82 million US dollars and India & Russia’s FDI respectively with $ 35 and $ 33 million US dollars.[x] However, one should be very careful in accepting military junta’s Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development data about the nation’s economic achievements and trade ratios with different countries as it lacks transparency and accuracy or probably intentional to create confusion to counter US economic sanctions as part of their diplomacy.

Moreover, the recent economic data of SPDC up to September 2006 intentionally attempts to undermine the presence of Chinese FDI in Myanmar valuing to US $ 194 million making it even lower than USA and Japan’s FDI. But other official sources of Myanmar government itself contradicts later projections, as the government reported data of 2004 itself says only about one Chinese province – Yunnan’s investment in Myanmar, that, “Yunnan currently has capital totaling $ 406 million US dollars invested in Burma/Myanmar”, as well as, “Myanmar made up just US $ one billion of China’s US $ 78.25 billion trade with ASEAN in 2003 and trade between Myanmar and Yunnan province reached US $ 490 million last year (2003), an increase of eighteen percent over 2002.”[xi]

However interestingly Burma’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, economic data showing FDI till 31st December 2002 that, Singapore & Britain as first and second largest investor in Burma valuing US $ 1566.626 millions & US $ 1404.011 millions with 71 & 37 enterprises respectively. And placing China at fifteenth place worth US $ 64.151 (sixty-four point one hundred fifty one) millions with only thirteen enterprises after Singapore (1st), Britain (2nd), Thailand (3rd), Malaysia (4th), United States (5th), France (Sixth), Netherlands (Seventh), Indonesia (Eighth), Japan (Ninth), Philippines’ (10th), Hong Kong (11th), Republic of Korea (12th), Australia (13th), Austria (14th), and interesting to find India at 20th place with $ 4.50 million US dollars.[xii] Although, for year 2001, the Chinese official media – “the People’s Daily” reports differently of Chinese investment in Myanmar. It says that, “In the year 2001 first ten months, the bilateral trade volume amounted worth $ 499 million US dollars, registering 3.1 percent year-on-year growth. And in the first ten months of 2001, Chinese companies signed 87 project deals, totaling US $ 186 million and by the end of 2000, there were 752 contract agreements between Chinese and Myanmar companies with a value of $ 1.786 billion US dollars.[xiii]

According to the another latest figures released by the SPDC’s Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development in the second week of April 2007, “Myanmar has been successful in attracting $ 14.4 billion US dollars since the country opened in late 1988. The concerned FDI related with 408 projects, came from twenty-eight countries among which – Thailand, Singapore, United Kingdom and Malaysia were taking the lead. It also says that, the highest annual contracted foreign investment of $ 6.065 billion US dollars in 2005-06 fiscal years came from Thailand with $ 6.03 billion dollars in the 7,110 MW Tar-hsan hydropower project on the Thanlwin River in eastern Shan state’s Tachilek area. In which it was successful in inviting 34 percent in Oil and Gas sector, 20 percent in manufacturing, 13.7 percent in real estate, 13.3 percent in hotels and tourism and rest of the investments in mining, livestock & fisheries, transport communication, industrial estates, construction and agriculture. But once again it shows surprising minimal investment data about China investment – Seven Lakhs US dollars in mining totaling around $ 35 million US dollars.[xiv] However Ministry of Commerce data of Myanmar government reported in the official media says that, China-Myanmar bilateral trade achieved US $ 1.46 billion in 2006, up 20.7 percent from 2005. And of the total, China’s exports to Myanmar comprised US $ 1207 billion, up 29.2 percent, while it imported $ 252 million worth of goods from Myanmar, down 7.9 percent and China gained a trade surplus of US $ 955 million during this year.[xv] Furthermore, reliability of Myanmar’s economic data could be assessed from the Asian Development Bank’s recent Asian Development Outlook 2006 observation that, “an assessment of Myanmar’s economic development is handicapped by incomplete information and by deficiencies in the reliability of data. Official estimates suggest that the economy grew quickly in financial year 2004, but this is not supported by trends in inputs. Inflation appeared to rise to double-digit rates in 2005 and significant improvements in economic performance are unlikely in view of structural weakness in domestic policies, which include the monetization of fiscal deficits and a dual exchange rate.”

Apart from intensive economic engagement with China, Myanmar’s military junta also enjoys deep defence cooperation with Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and investment in strategic sectors like – Railways and Telecommunications. In the last week of January 2007, Myanmar’s military Chief of Staff and member of the ruling Myanmar State Peace and Development Council – Thura Shwe Mann visited China and met with Premier Wen Jiabao to enhance existing friendly and cooperative ties between the two armed forces. During Myanmar’s Prime Minister, General Soe Win’s visit to China in February 2006, China’s Telecommunications Corporation Director, Mr. Liang Niu discussed cooperation in the telecommunication sector and Chinese Assistant Railway Minister, Mr. Lu Dongfu called for close cooperation in rail transport with Myanmar’s Rail Transportation minister – Mr. Maj-Gen Aung Min. China has earlier donated 130 rail coaches (2005) to Myanmar and interested in construction of railroad from Kunming in Yunnan to Tali and plans to build railway up to Shweli, the border of the two countries and rail route development up to Lashio.[xvi]

The SPDC’s major concession to China in economic & strategic sectors to the level of tilting balance of trade in subjugation to Chinese economy has undermined military junta’s contemporary core objective of foreign policy which states that, “acceptance of foreign assistance which is beneficial to national development, provided there are no strings attached.” However giving concession to China as well as to Russia has been of great benefit to junta recently in successfully vetoing US-UK backed United Nations Security Council Resolution against their rule on 12th of January 2007 in its 5619th meeting. In which, China together with Russia vetoed a draft resolution (the first use of multiple vetoes at the Council since 1989) against Burma to release all political prisoners including Daw Suu Kyi, and to start widespread dialogue and end its military attacks and human rights abuses against ethnic minorities.

In its present active and independent phase of foreign policy, Burma has also tried to follow the footsteps of China in its diplomatic engagement with world community as well as to check future resolution vote against their rule in UN Security Council from present African member nations. After the Beijing summit on the ‘Forum on China-Africa Cooperation’ (FOCAC) in the first week of November 2006, Myanmar also intensified its engagement with African nations established in 1990’s. And, from 1st to 18th February 2007, Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. U Kyaw Thu made a goodwill trip to four African nations viz. – South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Congo to enhance cooperation.[xvii] It is interesting to note that, South Africa voted in favour with China and Russia on 12th of January 2007 UN Security Council resolution sponsored by USA & UK and Congo abstained with Indonesia and Qatar, whereas Ghana voted against Myanmar with Belgium, France, Italy, Panama, Peru and Slovakia.

However despite USA’s & European Union’s opposition & pressure to the military junta for democratic reforms, Myanmar has been able successfully to forge close cooperation with Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam and Singapore in ASEAN as well as with India. In recent year’s, India’s engagement with Myanmar’s military rulers is based on 1992’s initiated Look East policy departing from earlier position of open support to the democratic movement led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Indira Gandhi & Rajiv Gandhi era. However, India’s look east policy found real ground after January 2000 visit of Vice Chairmen, SPDC, Gen. Maung Aye to India. And since then, many high level visit’s had been taken place between Myanmar and India, including the visit of the Chairman of SPDC – Senior General – Mr. Than Shwe to India in October 2004 and Indian President – Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s visit to Myanmar in March 2006. For present policy makers of India, Myanmar is a gateway to ASEAN, BIMST-EC, Mekong Ganga Cooperation as well as strategic to India’s sensitive Northeastern region sharing 1400 KM’s of borders with Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. India’s engagement with junta is also guided to seek cooperation from General’s to control rising Northeast insurgency, drug trade, and smuggling as well as to check Myanmar falling into Chinese and Pakistani embrace and to exploit economic opportunity in energy, transportation, space technology and other trade sectors. For Burma’s General’s support from world’s largest democratic nation – India, has immense propaganda value at the United Nations and other international forums to negate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in national politics as well as to propagate their sincerity towards seven-step roadmap of disciplined democracy.

However over the periods, it has been proved that, Indian expectation has been not fulfilled seriously by military junta. India’s export volume to Myanmar in the year 2005-06 was US $ 489.10 million and import in the same year was worth US $ 80.07 million, which is an insignificant volume compared with China. Although for Indian Foreign Secretary’s view, India’s relations with Burma should be not looked as India-China rivalry in Burma as it is not appropriate to look for India-China rivalry at every nook and corner of Asia and India-Myanmar relations stand on their own.[xviii] In reality, northeast insurgency, drug trade and smuggling have increased during look east phase of constructive engagement with military junta. In July 2004, Government of India’s Border Security Force in Tripura seized a huge consignment of drugs smuggled from Burma borders into India and in August 2004, India’s Assam state Chief Minister – Tarun Gogoi had openly accused Myanmar of fueling insurgency in northeast India.[xix] The situation become alarming on northeast insurgency facilitated Indian External Affairs Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to visit Yangon in January 2007, in which Myanmar General once again promised not to allow its territory to be used for activities inimical to India. However Myanmar and India has MOU signed in January 1994 of Cooperation between the Civilian Border Authorities to organize National Level Meetings (NLMs) and Sectoral Level Meetings (SLMs), in which NLM is led by the Home Secretary and SLM by the concerned Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs to maintain peace and tranquility all along the border including to check insurgency activities. Although few weeks before the trip, India’s leading Newspaper – The Times of India reported on 21st December 2006 about POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) based Islamic terrorist organization – Lashkar-e-Taiba’s have bases in Manipur having connections inside Myanmar borders.

India, China and Russia’s support to military regime has certainly provided required life-line to the military governance in Burma with successfully attaining the ultimate aims of its ‘independent and active diplomacy’ delaying the restoration of democracy and release of noble laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. It has also given positive message to other nations including ASEAN members to easily escape from questions of democratic reforms in Burma, taking refuge in the ASEAN ‘Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia’ signed at Bali on 24th February, 1976, Article -2 (C) and of Panchshila ideals of – “Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another”. But how long freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners of Burma in reality would wait for ASEAN and UN to act firmly to fulfill its officially announced statements?

 


Endnotes:

[i] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Myanmar, Yangon, Foreign Policy Directions: Foreign Policy – Independent and Active Foreign Policy, Year 2007, p.3.

[ii] Political Situation of Myanmar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Myanmar, Yangon, Year 2002, p.15.

[iii] Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi report on Myanmar, Bilateral Relations with Myanmar from the web site: < mea.gov.in/foreign/myanmar.htm >, accessed on 22 March 2007.

[iv] George McTurnan Kahin, General Ed., Government and Politics of Southeast Asia, written by Josef Silverstein – Part II: Burma, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, Year 1961, p.145.

[v] Ibid, pp.145-146.

[vi] List of Countries Having Diplomatic Relations With The Union of Myanmar, Permanent Mission of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland website:

< mission.itu.int/MISSIONS/Myanmar/basicfacts/DipRelations.htm > accessed on 11 March 2007.

[vii] Kalyani Bandyopadhyaya, Burma and Indonesia: Comparative Political Economy & Foreign Policy, South Asian Publishers, New Delhi, Year 1983, pp. 176-177.

[viii] Notes-1, p.3

[ix] Notes-6.

[x] Amount of Foreign Direct Investment in Myanmar (Nation wise, up to September 2006), The New Light of Myanmar, 18 December 2006, Volume XIV, No. 246, p.6.

 

[xi] Moe Zaw Myint, Myanmar and China aim to increase trade to $ 1.5 b by 2005, The Myanmar Times & Business Review, April 26-May 2, 2004, Volume 11, No.213.

 

[xii] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Myanmar, Yangon, Foreign Direct Investments in Myanmar up to 2002.

 

[xiii] China, Myanmar Trade Keeps Growing, People’s Daily, Beijing, 12 December 2001.

 

[xiv] Foreign investment in Myanmar hits 14.4 b US dollars in 19 years, People’s Daily Online, Beijing, 11 April 2007.

[xv] Ye Lwin with Xinhua, Myanmar Inks Deals With China’s Yunnan, The Myanmar Times & Business Review, April 2-8, 2007, Vol. 18, No. 361.

 

[xvi] Myanmar Information Committee, Yangon Information Sheet, Govt. of Myanmar, Yangon, No. D-3592 (I), 21 February 2006.p.3

[xvii] Deputy Foreign Minister Winds up Four-Nation Tour, The New Light of Myanmar, 24 February 2007, Vol. XIV, No. 314, p.8.

[xviii] Press Briefings by Foreign Secretary, Mr. Shyam Saran, on the visit of President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to Myanmar and Mauritius, 8-13 March 2006, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, From the web site of < ministry: mea.gov.in/pressbriefings/2006/03/07pb01.htm > accessed on 10 April 2007.

 

[xix] Surajit Khaund, Assam CM Demand Sealing of Indo-Burmese Border, Mizzima News, 27 August 2004.

(Important Note: The article first appeared in the Indocentric Foreign Affairs Monthly Journal entitled, “World Focus” (published from New Delhi) in its June 2007 special issue on Myanmar/Burma besides me, the other experts who contributed in this special issue on Burma from India are: Dr. Udai Bhanu Singh ( Research Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses – IDSA), New Delhi, Prof. Ganganath Jha (Professor, Southeast Asian and Southwest Pacific Studies Division, School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi) and Ms. Paramita Das (Senior Research Scholar, SIS, JNU, New Delhi), Sonu Trivedi (Lecturer of Political Science at Zakir Husain College, University of Delhi, Dr. Langpoklakpam Suraj Singh (Faculty Member, Department of Political Science, DM College of Arts, Imphal, Manipur), and Mr. Dipanjan Roy Choudhary (a Delhi based journalist, who regularly writes on security and terrorism issues), the concerned special issue can be purchased by writing to – World Focus, B-49, (Ground Floor) Joshi Colony, IP Extension, Delhi – 110092, India : Rajshekhar, Editor, Burma Review, India. )

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Burma Ranks Lowest in Economic Freedom List

November 27, 2007

In a recent economic survey published last month (October 2007) by the prestigious research Institute of Iceland – Iceland Research Centre RSE, Burma ranks lowest in economic freedom list in pursuing and establishing business. Every year RSE publishes economic freedom lists report based on various factors to conduct business. The released economic survey is based on forty-two different factors used to determine “freedom index” for convenient business and economic environment to do business. According to the released reports of RSE the main factors for achieving highest ranks in freedom index are based on entrepreneur’s individual freedom of choice to do business, freedom for economic activity and competition and the protection of ownership of the enterprise. In the concerned list evaluating the situation of one hundred forty one countries, Hongkong tops in the “freedom index” followed by Singapore and New Zealand. Burma’s ranking lowest in the freedom index negates the theory propounded by the present military regime in ASEAN and other regional forums like – ACD (Asia Cooperation Dialogue) and international institutions that, it has successfully pursued the economic policy of free market economy and privatization after post-88 political scenario.

Moreover, it  supports the view that, Burma’s economy which recently faced the worst economic crisis of inflation and price rise of essential commodities could be only redressed properly with genuinely elected government as demanded by NLD (National League of Democracy Party) and other democratic groups.  

It also contradicts the official statement given by the Governor of the Bank of Burma – Mr. Hla Tun to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 22nd of October 2007 proving inflation as moderate and relating it with salary enhancement and rising oil prices that, “Inflation has remained moderate. However, it is on the rising trend due to the raise of the salaries of civil servants last year and increase in energy prices this year.”   

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ENDNOTES:  

IMF Press Release J, No. 13, October 22, 2007, Statement by the Hon. HLA TUN, Governor of the Bank for MYANMAR at the Joint Annual Discussion with IMF, Board of Governors Meeting, 2007, Annual Meetings, Washington D.C., USA.    

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IMF Article IV Consultation on Burma and ramifications of PRGF

November 26, 2007

According to the media information of IMF (International Monetary Fund) released today, the next article IV consultation of IMF with Burma would take place tentatively on 28th of November 2007. Earlier IMF article IV consultation with Burma took place in October, 6, 2006, 25 March 2005, and 17 March 2004. Most importantly, as of October 2007, Burma is also eligible for Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) programme help of the IMF with other Seventy-Seven countries of the developing and under-developed nations, which includes –Angola, Albania, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, India etc.

IMF established the PRGF programme in September 1999 to make the objectives of poverty reduction and growth themes more central to lending operations in its poorest member countries. But here, IMF should also take care of the contemporary situation in Burma under military dictatorship, which lacks any public account mechanism without any elected institutions to direct funds towards poverty reduction. And there have been serious concern raised by many observers of Burma events, that, it might go to the other areas of spending serving little to the core objectives of PRGF of serving poor and needy people of the Burma in its forthcoming article IV consultation.      

It is important to note that, recently in an article published in the military’s official newspaper – “The New Light of Myanmar” of 24th of November entitled, “Duty of All Who Love Motherland Myanmar” by Kyaw Min Aye (page no. 5) wrote about the IMF data on Burmese economy that, “Well, let me point out some facts regarding the present economic situation of Myanmar. A report of IMF says that at the end of 2006-2007 fiscal, it is estimated that Myanmar’s economy would grow by seven percent (7)”. However, according to the latest 2007 World Economic Outlook report of IMF about Burma’s economy released on 17th of October 2007, says that the real GDP figures of Burma in the year 2007 is of 5.5 percent growth rate, and projected growth rate of real GDP for the year 2008 falling to 4 (four) percent.      

Moreover, the announced PRGF programme of IMF has three core objectives. First in principle as a central theme is of “broad public participation and greater country ownership”, which totally lacks in the present circumstances in Burma under military rule. The second priority is that, “each country’s poverty reduction and growth priorities” policies should be taken care of and it is well known that, the present military leadership in Burma is more focused on selling petroleum resources and gems and jewelries to business houses rather then following IMF’s core objectives. Most crucial is the third priority of PRGF programme, which is focused on “strengthening governance”, in order to assist countries’ efforts to design targeted and well-prioritized spending. In which, special emphasis has been given to improve public resource management, transparency, and accountability. And, all the three things – “public resource management, transparency and accountability in governance” are missing in Burma and it couldn’t develop without the freedom of expression and elected institutions in Burma, which present ruling military regime wants to control through proposed drafting of constitution by bringing unelected element of military in Burma’s forthcoming Parliament. The military regime, which has recently faced the human rights resolution in the third committee of UN General Assembly regarding the freedom of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners in Burma has not even obeyed the wishes of international institution like UN, and earlier ASEAN ministerial meetings joint communiqués. It is true that, the concerned human rights resolution of GA third committee is non-binding; but it doesn’t imply that, the concerned nations should avoid the moral accountability of obligations of international institutions like – third committee of UN General Assembly to perpetuate authoritarian rule and suppressing independent observation including economic verification of governance by visiting remote areas of the country.      

The PRGF eligibility is based principally on the IMF’s assessment of a country’s per capita income, drawing on the cutoff point for eligibility to World Bank concessional lending (currently 2005 per capita gross national income of $1,025). And, loans under the PRGF carry an annual interest rate of 0.5 percent, with repayments made semiannually, beginning 5½ years and ending 10 years after the disbursement. An eligible country may normally borrow up to a maximum of 140 percent of its IMF quota under a three-year arrangement, although this may be increased to 185 percent of quota in exceptional circumstances. In each case, the amount will depend on the country’s balance of payments need, the strength of its adjustment program, and its previous and outstanding use of IMF credit.    

And, as per the recent IMF data released on 31st of October 2007, Burma’s financial position in the IMF in General Resources Account of Quota and Fund holding of Currency is – 258.40 million SDR to each segment.  And Net Cumulative allocation in SDR department is – 43.47 million SDR. It is important to note that, Burma joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 3rd of January 1952 during the democratic era of Prime Minister- U Nu.

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ENDNOTES:     

IMF Article IV Consultation: Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year and a staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country’s authorities.     

SDR: Special Drawing Right (SDR) as an International reserve asset created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement to existing reserve assets. Under SDR’s allocation, distribution of SDRs to members is taken by the decision of the IMF. A “general” allocation requires a finding by the IMF that there is a global need for additional liquidity. And the currency valuation of SDR is determined daily by the IMF by summing the values in U.S. dollars, based on market exchange rates, of a basket of four major currencies—the euro, Japanese yen, pound sterling, and the U.S. dollar. The SDR valuation basket is normally reviewed every five years. The last review, which took place in 2000, resulted in a revision of the weights assigned to each currency in order to take into account the introduction of the euro on January 1, 1999 and the growing role of international financial markets. The revisions in the valuation basket became effective on January 1, 2001.      

(Note: Based on the reports of International Monetary Fund (IMF) entitled, “A Factsheet October 2007 – The Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) programme, 2007 World Economic Outlook Reports of IMF released in October 2007 and the official – The New Light of Myanmar, 24th of November 2007 of Burma.)    

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