Time to consider the most critical objectives

21 August 2008

Today, I read a commentary from Irrawaddy, titled "Danish Viewpoint Merits Debate". It analyses the impact of economic sanctions and tourism boycott on Burma.

This debate on how effective the economic sanctions and tourism boycott against Burma seems to be ongoing for a considerable amount of time without being able to reach to a favorable consensus. I feel that the pros and cons behind such debate are also not as straightforward as the writer has stated in his commentary.

First of all, in such profit-driven world, even the governments which have adopted the universal economic sanctions on Burma, may be unable to persuade their countrymen to do the same. And Burma offers too many lucrative business opportunities to resist for companies driven largely by their profit and loss, rather than by the "humanitarian grounds". The same idea is applicable to those countries in ASEAN as well as China and India, etc. As long as such situation remains, whether we like it or not, I believe trade sanctions will end up as nothing more than just showing support for our democracy movement.

Secondly, though a large pie of revenue from tourism industry goes into the pockets of the junta and their associates, it still seems reasonable to think that many restaurants, guest-houses, hotels, and resorts that sprung up to cater for the tourists, have created a certain number of job opportunities, regardless of how insignificant the number might be, for Burmese people.

Many travelers, being empathetic towards the plight of Burmese people under the hands of repressive junta, have rallied among their own community to stick to private-owned small guest-houses and eateries, etc in the hope of not becoming a contributor towards the pockets of the junta and their associates. Such actions, though arguable at their effectiveness, seem to provide a more down-to-earth approach in supporting the livelihood of some of the common people in Burma.

Having said all this, there will always be two camps to this kind of debate. At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves what is the best practical support for our Burmese people, not forgetting that when a person is suffering in poverty, and dying from malnutrition, the meaning of democracy no longer seems critical to him.


Mr Bush, why only now?

14 August 2008

I was reading this article from Irrawaddy by Aung Zaw about his recent encounter with Bush.

No doubt, to many of us, Bush appears as an amicable man who has genuine interest and concern for Burma and its citizens. In fact, when Bush took up the presidency, I was elated to have someone who seemed prepared to take on a tougher stand against the junta. Now, despite Aung Zaw's generous comments about his "seemingly wonderful" encounter with Bush, I can't help but just to say "talk looks really good on the table".

My question to Bush: Mr Bush, why do you have time for Burma only when your term in office is almost over?