What is really happening in Burma today?

142818415 300x201 What is really happening in Burma today?Despite the current euphoria over Burma, the reality is a depressing picture. It is even more important now to study and write on it, and not just about the big picture but the details.

With the help of what I would call “agents of capitalism” (scholars, diplomats, development aid experts, representatives of international agencies, investors, entrepreneurs etc), the land and people of Burma are being robbed and sold off under the lie of development and democratic change.

The state ‘civilian’ government is now being supported by many whose interests lie in having their way with the riches of Burma.  David Cameron, for example, took ten businessmen with him to Rangoon, only as tourists, mind you, because Britain still had some economic sanctions in place.

There are claims that Burma, a very poor country, could benefit from more development aid – as does Cambodia. Since the first Cambodian General Election in 1993, over $6 billion has been provided to official donors and hundreds of civil society organisations. Yet, citizens of Cambodia have not been the major recipients of this aid, but government officials, international experts, and advisers have thrived. There is a nasty ongoing land confiscation by developers. People are displaced from their land – just as in Burma – with no recourse to justice.  Although Cambodia is now a supposed democracy, Hun Sen still rules.

Nor is aid the answer. Real citizen involvement in creating a country is what is needed, not just token involvement by a few. But this is not possible in Burma.

Capitalists, businessmen, and large trading companies of the 17th and 18th centuries opened up the world for the British colonial ruler to step in. The Hudson Bay Company became ruler of large parts of Canada before the Dominion of Canada, Cecil Rhodes was put in power by the British South Africa Company to develop Rhodesia (still grants Rhodes scholarship), and the East India Company opened up India and Burma to the British Government. When the last Burmese king refused the demands of the East India Company, it asked for British Government assistance and Britain declared war.

Now Western governments are prising open new markets for their corporations. They talk only business the market and debt, not health, education, ecology or the common good.

The governments of the EU, Norway, Canada, the USA, and Australia have suspended most sanctions on Burma, rewarding the ‘civilian government’ for its democratic changes. The Australian government has never sanctioned investment in Burma.

Yet Australian, French, American, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Russian, Malaysian oil and gas companies currently operate there. Oil and gas exports are the Burmese leaders’ largest source of income, amounting to nearly US $3 Billion in the 2011-12 fiscal year. Despite this resource wealth, the oil and gas revenues over the last decades have been pocketed by a few corrupt military generals.

Instead of rushing in to Burma we need to study the truth of how Western actions will affect current tensions, relationships and life for the Burmese people.

Dr Nancy Hudson-Rodd is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia

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  • Tracy Cosgrove

    How did Sanctions Work when ALL the bordering countries didnt sign up to agree to sanctions ,, Europe and America now playing the democracy card … what a load of rubbish .. Nothing has changed now all the cronie and the generals have all the opportunites already divid out to each other and their western educated children .. People are running in and yes i will welcome them but i will have my hand out and make sure that they all sign up to CSR programmes and people seem to forget that Education is in Dire need the health care is also .. NOTHING has changed . The NGOs that have been there up to now have been driving round in their 300,000 dollar land crusiers and fab houses etc .. Well i have been there on the ground helping the people slowly but surely for 10 years now .. Now its time for action if some of us small CSR enterprises can show we have done more than Multi Million dollar a year charities that shows something .So if you are going to think you can go to Burma and Make your millions … remember please get intouch and you can make a donation to build another school ..

  • Tracy Cosgrove

    aoart from all i have said i would just like to say the country is amazing but no magic wand has been waved …. The People are lovely and now its a lot more expensive for you to travel than it would have done this time last year 

  • Is Sam

    see ? muslims got burned,killed and executed .. yet , most people calling them TERRORISTS !!

  • Rafiq Soorya

    insa allah.. allah wil help muslims in burma and all over the world aamin

  • Shan Bhatti

    That’s so good to hear about burma ! I hope every thing will be fine and God will do good !

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