Mar 18, 2013

Pariah Myanmar comes out as relations thaw

Burmese president Thein Sein is visiting Australia as tensions thaw between the West and Myanmar. But significant questions surrounding human rights remain.

Professor Damien Kingsbury

Crikey international affairs commentator

thein stein

The four-day visit to Australia by Burmese President Thein Sein, the first by a Burmese leader since the country descended into self-imposed isolation in 1974, marks the increasing international acceptability of the once outcast state. Thein Sein's arrival in Australia on Sunday reciprocates a visit by Foreign Minister Bob Carr to Myanmar (formerly Burma) last year.

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2 thoughts on “Pariah Myanmar comes out as relations thaw

  1. malleebull

    Visiting Myanmar 8 years ago was striking in the lack of development and initially how restful on the eyes and soul that was after the bedlam of Bangkok- under the surface the populace was chafing at the cronyism and suppression but undeniably large elements of complex Burmese culture were intact. Free enterprise and markets and foreign investment will change all this- International Corporatism is the force that will slowly strangle this unique culture when transparently regulated Capitalism is the force that could create opportunity and wealth- Sadly this key distinction is also suppressed and one form of tyranny will be replaced by a less obvious but equally sinister other.

  2. Exactly!

    It seems plain to me that some time ago American industry realised that unless they did something about Burma it would be definitively lost to Chinese business. Meetings were hastily arranged between the US Embassy and the Burmese military.

    American politicians promised to make members of the junta fabulously and legitimately rich if they allocated resource and other concessions to American companies. The price of this deal would be some cosmetic changes to the human rights and democracy discourse in Burma, and a good international PR campaign.

    Enter the experts and the international PR machine to tell us there is a creative tension between the dictatorship and human rights, that “Burmese president Thein Sein is visiting Australia as tensions thaw between the West and Myanmar. But significant questions surrounding human rights remain”.

    Of course human rights issues remain. Third world dictatorship meets international capital, and experts expect democracy to be the off-spring?

    That would be some bas*ard child!

    Professor Damien Kingsbury tells us that US aid is pouring into the country, that Bob Carr visited last year, and war criminals from the Burmese junta are visiting Canberra now. Arrest them, I say!

    This is flotsam. I want to know about the deals and the corruption. Tell me the details of the meetings between US politicians and the junta, the dates, places, and who was involved. Tell me who from within the Burmese regime is going to become part of the next generation of Burmese multi-millionaire, and name the American (and Australian) companies and consultants salivating at the expectations of making fortunes from it all.

    To inform me, follow the money, for heaven’s sake, and don’t mention human rights tensions.

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