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Miriam Segal Speaks (r)

/* Written  9:26 PM  Jul 15, 1994 by uneoo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:soc.cult.burma */

COMMENT: It is true that almost everybody now a day engaged in business
activities in Burma. But Ms Segal went a step further: lobbying for the
illegitimate regime which she clearly know little about. Anyone who have 
businesses in Burma should have an understanding about the implications
of such an act. There is also a danger of Burmese people perceived this
as colluding with SLORC in oppressing them.

U Ne Oo, Adelaide, Australia.
[Begin transcript]
Testimony of Miriam Marshall Segal, Chairperson, Peregrine Capital Myanmar
Ltd., Presented before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the
Pacific.  June 29, 1994.
Mr. Chairman:
I am grateful for your invitation to present my views on Myanmar to this
My name is Miriam Marshall Segal and I am chairperson of Peregrine Capital
Myanmar Ltd.--MMAI.  I would like to take a moment to tell you a little about

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1994, in which it was reported that Myanmar's rulers raffled off rights to
fish its waters for the purpose of raising hard currency to finance the cost
of purchasing Chinese weapons.  Since I have been so intimately involved in
the fishing industry in Myanmar for the last four years, I can only describe
this news item as undiluted non-sense.  The truth is that for over three
years, a courageous minister, intent on developing Myanmar's fisheries
resources with due regard to conservation and an orderly development of
Myanmar's resources, threw out Myanmar's waters nearly 650 fishing vessels
from other nations.

>>> There have been frequent reports about Burmese Navy is sinking
   the Thai-fishing boats. However, this do not remedy or to do anything
   with  the sufferings of native-fisherman, who live on subsistance
   income, working  solely for their primitive survival,
   deprieved off their fishing rights.

     This problem is especially serious with SALONE tribal
   people at the Tennassarim Division. The SALONEs are deprived
   off their fishing rights, so that their wives went to Ranong
   in Thailand to work as prostitutes.

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The most obviously visible change in Myanmar, at least from a foreigner's
perspective, is the sharply increased number of tourists and business
visitors now pouring in Myanmar.  What was once a completely closed country
is now enthusiastically rolling out the welcome mat even to dissidents. 

>>> I doubt that Ms Segal know what she is talking about: continuing detention
    of political dissidents, Dr Ma Thi Da, U Tin Oo and Aung San Suu Kyi, 
    and many others dissidents, make dissidents outside should feel welcome? 
    Ofcourse, when amnesty is granted to all dissidents and allowing 
    political freedom for us then it can be said that dissidents are welcome.

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constitution of 1974 called for the nationalization of all capitalist
enterprises.  Each and every sector of the economy has blossomed under the
more liberal atmosphere.  Production of paddy increased to 835.7 million
baskets--an increase of 124.6 million of the prior year.  In 1993-4, crude
oil output was 7.3 million U.S. barrels and natural gas 38.7 million cubic
feet as against a mere 1.9 million U.S. barrels and 10.4 million cubic feet
the year before.  Output in tin, tungsten, gold, refined silver and lead have
also surged.  In foreign trade, the private sector by far outperformed the
public sector and the role of the public sector is steadily shrinking. 
Similar progress can be seen in infrastructure projects--a total of 16,770
miles of new and old roads were extended or repaired in 1993-4 and 95 new
bridges have been built.
>>> It must be pointed out that these things were done mostly by forced labour.
    Rice was purchased from farmers at procured price(60 % of market price)
    through intimidations.
    These so-call 'development activities' took the form of slave-labour
    and unreasonable taxation on the rural population who live at
    subsistent level.

A new four year national health plan has been adopted with large budgets and
authority given to local authorities.  An aggregate of 45 specific programs
have been developed to meet the needs of woman and children such as
immunization of all children under the age of one as well as their mothers;
the providing of post natal care; growth monitoring, etc.

>>> This job is not done by the Government; SLORC have no right to claim credit
    on this. This Job on the care of women and children is done by UNICEF:
    the only humanitarian organization worked in Burma long before we 
    were born. The oppositions, who is making a staunchest protest on the 
    involvement of UNDP and UNDCP with SLORC, even  not dare protesting 
    because of UNICEF's reputation in Burma.
Yet another striking and easily verifiable example of the new directions and
initiatives are the vigorously stepped up narcotic control measures.  A new
congressional committee of the United States and our Drug Enforcement Agency
have commended Myanmar's efforts to stem the cultivation of plants which
eventually yield narcotic drugs.  Myanmar acceded to the U.N. Convention
against illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs, and in compliance with the
requirements of the convention, enacted a new narcotic drugs and psychotropic
substance law in January '93.  United Nations observers.
A newly created work committee for the development of border areas has
commenced a series of programs to offer alternatives to cultivating the opium
poppy, and large budgetary allocations have been made for the purpose. 
Sadly, the Myanmar government's effort in controlling cultivation and
trafficking in narcotics are aggressively countered by local chiefs and
warlords with slogans on behalf of democracy and human rights.  Columbian and

>>> The UNDCP efforts were failed because of inadequate monitoring process.
    Furthermore, SLORC allied with warlords at Kokang and Wa area in 
    Shan State, allowing them to engage in business at which way
    they please in return for a ceasefire. This has major impact on
    narcotic production and trafficking in Burma.

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inevitable question--when will democracy return.  Any answer to that question
must be based upon the simple premise that in virtually every country a
written constitution is a prerequisite to a functioning democracy.  The
prevalent view in Myanmar was that the elections were held to organize a
convention which would draft a constitution rather than form an
administration to take over the reins of government.  It must be remembered
that 93 parties contested the election, and members from 27 parties were
elected.  The only sure outcome of the elections was not orderly government
but the most ominous signs of fratricidal strife.  The military could not
wait for a Yugoslavia type situation to develop; it stepped in to forestall

>>> Ms Segal seems to be indicating the ethnic groups and expatriate
    Burmese who have been working
    for a Federal Union in Burma. We have had some ethnic tensions in the
    past due to manipulations by British. These days of ethnic
    division is now over. The SLORC is the only one who is talking about
    that so-call 'ethnic tensions' and certainly wouldn't like to see that
    dying off naturally, simply because SLORC see profits in that.

The dilemma between preserving national unity or advancing the cause of
liberty is not new.  Abraham Lincoln faced the same situation in 1862 when
the editor of the N.Y. Tribune accused him of not enforcing certain anti-
slavery measures.  Lincoln replied, "My paramount objective in this struggle

>>> It is fine for SLORC to use the word 'national unity' at which way
    they pleased. Every countries and societies can have similar social
    and political evolution in general, but will not certainly proceed
    the same trend and pace. But I must say that the comparison is too
    shallow and irrelevant. For example, Abraham Lincoln is in no comparison
    to Gen Saw Maung, Gen Ne Win or any one of SLORC leaders. Furthermore,
    in Burma we don't have that kind of slavery either.

      She better should have  checked, for the sake of consistency,
    her script with SLORC's foreign  minister,  who is
    repeatedly saying 'Myanmar is unique: no country's system or culture
    should  be superimposed etc..'.

is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery."  Our
history also tells us that Lincoln, more than anyone, was responsible for
abolishing slavery.  But Lincoln also was unwavering in establishing his
priority--National Unity.  Can we really blame the leadership for doing the
same?  The price we paid for preserving the Union pales in comparison with
anything that has happened in Myanmar--360,000 dead in the Union army and
288,000 on the Confederate side, not to mention the wounded.

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Sanctions and enforced isolation will do little to speed a country like
Myanmar along the path to democracy.  That is far more likely to happen if we
proudly and forcefully promote American values and efficiently advance the
cause of private enterprise.  We must first understand the tides of history
in that region.  We can made an important contribution to Myanmar's process
of democratization and economic liberalization only if, on the basis of such
understanding, we engage in an active dialogue.  We should take active steps

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incompatible with a history that is directional and universal, just as the
existence of business cycles does not negate the possibility of long term
There is much wisdom in Fukuyama's observation.  If we choose to believe it,
constructive dialogue rather than coercion or sanctions should be our policy
in Myanmar, unless, of course, we are determined to forget the lessons of our
recent history.
>>> It is important to engage in  dialogues: not only with NLD leader but
    also with SLORC and ethnic minorities.  It is far more important
   to make coercion, and impose limited sanctions, to ensure that the dialogues
    are truely constructive .

U Ne Oo, Adelaide, Australia.
[End Transcript]