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Apple breaks with Burma

[Please do not reply to this e-mail address. It terminates Oct 10, 1996.]

 * Apple Computer will cease doing business in Burma (Myanmar). *

As reported in the August 1996 editorial of The Active Window, The
Commonwealth of Massachusetts prohibits state agencies from buying goods or
services from any company doing business with any Burmese entity.  According
to sources,  Apple Computer conducted business in Burma through
intermediaries and therefore would have been subject to this sanction.  In
fact, the Boston Globe named Apple Computer as one of many  companies that
would be affected by the Selective Purchasing Act.

The Los Angeles Times  broke the story  on Oct 3.  In the article, Apple's
manager of International Public Relations, Nancy Keith Kelly, specifically
cited the Massachusetts regulations as the reason for Apple's withdrawal from
that market. 

The Massachusetts law mirrors growing concerns about Burma in Congress. On
October 4, the U.S. goverment barred members of the SLORC government from
entering the United States in response to violent reprisals against peaceful
democratic opponents. The U.S. is expected to follow up with tough economic
sanctions soon.

Once again, Apple has proved itself capable of making tough decisions
quickly. Bear in mind that Apple's recovery strategy depends increasingly on
the booming Asian markets. Apple's southeast Asian revenues are growing
annually at a double-digit pace.  Although Apple's sales of tens of thousands
of Macintoshes (primarily) to Burma's Ministry of Education were a healthy
addition to the bottom line, it is small recompense compared to the
difficulties Apple would have faced by ignoring the political landscape.

Apple is wise to avoid being drawn into this controversy, and reserve its
resources for regaining its vigor and financial health.  It should be
commended for taking decisive action. 

Final note: Although The Boston Computer Society has closed its doors, thus
ending almost 13 years of continuous publication by The Active Window, I will
continue to report and write about issues, such as this legislation, that
directly affects the interests of our community. It's been a privilege to
serve you.

Pat Weinthal   (pat_weinthal@xxxxxxxxxxx)
former Editor-in-Chief
The Active Window
Boston Computer Society

This article is copyrighted (c) 1996 by Pat Weinthal. You may freely
reproduce this article upon the condition that you include this copyright
notice, and give proper credit to the author.
wordcount: 388

Contact info:   pat_weinthal@xxxxxxxxxxx
Mailing address:  P.O. Box 1417; Cambridge, MA 02142; USA

A copy of the original August editorial follows:

Editorial title: Burma Bill makes Apple a rotten Investment
Author's Bio: Pat Weinthal is the Editor-in-chief of The Active Window, a
publication for the Macintosh users of The Boston Computer Society. The BCS
is the oldest and largest computer user organization in the world with over
22,000 members worldwide.
Wordcount: 423
With a flourish of his pen, Gov. Weld signed H.2833 into law. As of June 25,
1996, no state agency in Massachusetts may buy goods or services from Apple
The law prohibits the state from purchasing goods or services from any
company conducting business in Burma, making Massachusetts the first state in
the country to pass an economic sanction against the repressive regime. You
should expect more states and the federal government to follow suit in this
up-coming election year. There already is a proposal before Congress - the
Burma Freedom And Democracy Act (S.1511).
Since the military overturned democratic elections in 1990, Burma (renamed
Myanmar by the junta) has increasingly become the focus of international
concern. Hundreds of political opponents have been beaten, jailed, and
tortured. The pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who received the Noble
Peace Prize in 1991, was only recently released from almost 6 years of house
arrest. Readers of the Boston Globe and the New York Times are aware that
arrests and beatings have escalated this spring. To bring pressure on the
SLORC government, Aung San Suu Kyi has asked the international community for
an economic boycott against the country. 
Apple first sold 3,000 Macintoshes to the Ministry of Education in 1995
through an intermediary, Denis Win Thein, an executive with the New Zealand
Apple reseller, Capital Mac. Almost all the Ministries are now buying Apple
computers - as many as 10,000 Macs in 1995-1996. 
Is the SLORC worse than other military dictatorships around the world? Why
should we care? Southeast Asia is one of the most rapidly growing economic
regions of the world. International companies like Eastman Kodak, Gillette,
and Pepsi have been flocking to that part of the world, attracted by cheap
labor and growing incomes. It is precisely this flood of investment that
finances the SLORC, giving it the wherewithal to repress pro-democratic and
labor movements. It is also legitimate to ask how many of these jobs used to
be performed by American workers for a few dollars an hour and instead are
now being performed by Southeast Asians for a few dollars a day.
Make your own decision about whether Apple should get out of Burma or use its
influence to improve political and working conditions there. In the meantime,
be aware that there is now an economic consequence for turning a blind eye to
the conditions under which business is conducted. With the spread of
computers, satellites, the Internet, and telecommunications systems, there
are no more "far away corners of the world" anymore.
Copyright (c) 1996 by The Boston Computer Society Macintosh Users Group