Myint Shwe took a journalism program from Ryerson University 2004


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hillary Clinton's " To do list " on Burma trip

  Myint Shwe

  November 28, 2011

  What Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will ask the Burmese 
  President, Thein Sein, when she arrives Burma on November 30th.

  No doubt, release of political prisoners will come first to her mind. 
  Then she would insist on speeding up things remaining to complete 
  the democratic reform.

  That is right. But what are they. Mrs. Clinton needs an exact shopping list in hand. 
  The Burmese will try to impress her team showing their newly built jungle capital, 
  Nay pyi daw, along with the brand new Assembly of the Union in sessions and
  probably, the replica of Shwedagon Pagoda, the country’s most sacred shrine.

  She must not be led by distractions, should gain net results from the trip.  
  Here is a brief homework prepared for Secretary Clinton ready to use in her trip.

  So far, Burma has done less in comparison with credits it has won recently. 

  Aung San Suu Kyi has awarded the biggest one by way of her decision to 
  re-register her party and stand in the by-election. It is her who has given 
  generously - not the new Government to her – in return for its promises to 
  the people and cordiality shown to her as different from Gen. Than Shwe’s days. 
  Suu Kyi’s cooperation has given the ex-generals the much needed legitimacy 
  of their political reform named, Roadmap.  

  There is still nothing solid to say that Burma has moved a good distance. 
  Here are the facts. No citizen owned independent daily newspaper is allowed to publish yet. 
  Foreign media is piloted to come in to cover Government occasions. 
  But the domestic media is still heavily censored. The notorious Press 
  Scrutiny Board - the one even its own ‘reform-friendly’ boss once 
  admitted that it should not exist anymore - is still there.

  Thein Sein’s recent disclosure made in Bali to the Burmese language media is discouraging. 
  He categorically rejected the notion of ‘political prisoners’ and hinted no date of their release. 
  There also is still no fixed date for the by-election which Suu Kyi’s NLD has decided to enter. 
  The new constitution needs to revise drastically, her declared reason to enter the game.

  Worse, the state bureaucracy remains intact. This Socialist era relic is 
  saturated with military families, notoriously corrupt and deadly predatory to 
  ordinary citizens. There is no media coverage on due punishments on corrupted 
  high officials like in China and Vietnam. Because there are no such punishments yet. 
  Thein Sein, himself ex-General, who wishes his Government to be ‘clean’ and ‘good,’ 
  can do nothing without removing those who are benefiting from the status quo. 
  Burma’s regime change from above contains too many of continuity within the change.

  Ask them to release the remaining prisoners - now. Ask for the early date for the 
  by-election to enable Suu Kyi enters the legislature. She has picked up the generals’ 
  gauntlet thrown on her table. Technicality is no excuse of delay.

  The Civil war is still fighting in the peripheries. Washington should ask the Burmese 
  Government to unilaterally halt the operations first. The current ‘shooting and talking 
  simultaneously’ tactics may achieve Government’s military aim. But it is detrimental 
  to the permanent national reconciliation.

  One US Administration official said that the trip is ‘about Burma, not about China.’ 
  Good, but few would buy that. Obama’s speech in the Australian Parliament is still   
  resonating in the region. The November 18th editorial of the Global Times, thought 
  to be the mouthpiece of Chinese Communist Party leadership, warned small Asian 
  states cannot have both the benefits from economic integration with China and 
  anti-Chinese mindsets espoused by alliance with Washington.

  Clinton should put Burma’s China and North Korea connections at the bottom of her list. 
  Any expert will say Burma is at least 20 years away from any kind of weapon status 
  the West would care.

  The Burmese Government is too opaque on budgetary issues. Defense spending and 
  expenditure for the new capital construction are said to have special budgets 
  separated from the national sum and out of public knowledge. Multibillion dollar 
  mega projects like Chinese hydro power dams are infamous for their big chunks of 
  brokerage collected by regime cronies.

  Clinton’s visit should herald to address these issues before expecting any resumption 
  of economic and humanitarian assistance. Time has also arrived to realistically set 
  the policy on sanctions and tell them what is in Washington’s mind about it.

  Finally, assuming Aung San Suu Kyi, the dame of Burmese democracy movement, 
  will be recruited to the Government eventually by somehow, Washington should 
  seriously reconsider to restore full diplomatic ties with the country to re-accommodate 
  bilateral relations similar to the pre military era. Mrs. Clinton should discuss about it with 
  Nay Pyi daw.

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