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Burmese Response in Washington Post

Subject: Burmese Response in Washington Post,05/08/97

This is a pretex send by SLORC's Embassy in DC and published in Letters TO
THE EDITOR on Wednesday, May 8, 1997 with editing by the Post. The artical
was too bad and lied public; therefore, I decided to post old articles that
former Gen. Saw Maung promised to hold election and then transfered power to
the elective represenatives. See at "Reminder of SLORC Promises." 

I have lived and worked in the U.S. long enough to appreciate the
American penchant for truth and spirit of fair-play.  I therefore find the
Washington Post editorial, " When Sanctions Make Sense" (April 24, 1997)
most appalling. In your headstrong rush to support the Clinton 
administration's decision to impose economic sanctions on Myanmar, you not
only ignore historical precedent but also fail to check the facts in
portraying Aung San Suu Kyi as " democratically elected ".  This is
nothing less  than a disservice to your readers, and to your countrymen at
	Your support for sanctions is apparently based on the assumption
that there are widespread human rights violations in Myanmar and that you
have the moral responsibility to act to end those abuses and support 
legitimately elected governments.  Should the Post not have checked the
facts before endorsing the unsubstantiated allegations? Central to any
assessment of the proper policy toward Myanmar is an understanding of the
conditions that prevail there today. The government is endeavouring to
strengthen  the unity  of the 135  national groups that make up the
country, rebuilding its infrastructure, and  setting the country on the
path of economic development. It launched  a series of economic reforms
aimed at transforming the inefficient planned economy into a
market-oriented one. Private investment and domestic entrepreneurial
activity has been  opened to direct foreign investment.  Since the
promulgation of the foreign investment  law in 1988, foreign investment
has climbed to US $6.05 billion. The economic reforms have led to
discernible GDP growth, reflecting increased employment  opportunities and
better living standards. The pace of economic activity has quickened, and,
in addition to attracting foreign investment, the new economic atmosphere
has encouraged more and more expatriates to return to resettle and to do
more business.( The U.S. is currently the fourth largest investor in
Myanmar, with investments totalling $582.07 millions as of March 31,
	The Government has negotiated successfully the return to the legal
fold of 15 armed groups that had been  challenging successive governments,
leaving only one, the KNU, in armed opposition. The Government continues
to leave  the door open to that group which after four rounds of talks
last year, unilaterally ended the negotiation. Who cannot, save those who
see only  a hole in a doughnut, welcome such unprecedented achievements? 

	With regard to the reference that Aung San Suu Kyi is a "
democratically elected leader " I should like to put the record straight.
Aung San Suu Kyi was never a candidate for the 1990 elections which were
held to choose representatives   to draft principles for a new
constitution. To claim that  she was elected would  tantamount to
deceiving the public. In keeping with the election laws which were
established at the time of our independence from Britain, and which are
known to all  political parties, no citizen married to a foreigner is
eligible  to be a Representative. Thus Aung San Suu Kyi who is married to
Mr. Michael Aris, a British citizen and who resided in Britain all her
adult life, save for the 2 years period prior to  1990 was not eligible to
stand for election. I am sure you will agree with me that every country
has its own good reasons to lay down elections laws as it sees fit. The
U.S. Constitution, for example, clearly stipulates that " No person shall
be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five
years, and been  seven years a citizen of the United States. .."   or  "
No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of
thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States..."and
"No person except  a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United
States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be
eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible
to that Office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five
years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States ".

	Given the findings of the considerable research carried out on
sanctions, I find your conclusion " rarely has a nation been more
deserving of economic sanction ", contrived. First and foremost, the
Clinton administration's decision smacks of hypocrisy coming as it does at
a time when the President  has not been able to act on analogous
situations. It is unconvincing why Myanmar should stand so starkly apart
from other regimes. The political system in some of the U.S. allies is not
notable for their concern with individual liberties. Secondly, the chances
that unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States would have a
measurable impact on Myanmar is nil. Eighty percent of Myanmar's trade is
with other Asian countries and any void that US may leave in the wake of
the sanctions will be quickly filled by Asian investors.

	It should be noted that unilateral sanctions are particularly
ineffective. One needs only look at US policies toward Cuba, Iraq and
Libya. What about South Africa?   Myanmar is not South Africa. There are
crucial differences. Myanmar is undergoing important change and
transformation. The white minority government of South Africa tried to
maintain the status quo. Myanmar on the other hand,  is moving rapidly
towards a market economy and regional integration. The Government is
moving away from self-imposed isolation of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and is
seeking to uplift the living standard of the people by opening its doors.
Most importantly, in contrast to the broad support enjoyed by advocates of
sanctions against South Africa under apartheid no consensus can be  found
on Myanmar sanctions even in the U.S., leave alone the world. 

	The US lawmakers and the media should not forget their
responsibility as molders of public opinion. From the Branch Davidians to
Heaven's Gate, recent history is replete with examples of what can go
wrong when a few are allowed to poison the minds of others. In recent
years,  as a result of the concerted campaign carried out by the US media
and Members of the Congress such as Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and
Mitch McConnell and Representatives James  Leach and Dana Rohrabacher, the
situation in Myanmar has been viewed through jaundiced eyes.

	It is time to question the wisdom of the current punitive stance
towards Myanmar by the  Members of Congress and the  media. If you
continue to act as Applewhite by poising   the minds of the public , you
will only be doing a disservice to your  nation .

	At a time when there is significant change and transformation in
Myanmar, when it is opening its doors, creating opportunities for other
countries to make a difference not only in the economic field but also in
other spheres, it is important for the U.S.  not to be influenced by the
rhetoric of dissidents. The sooner the U.S. realizes this, the better its
chances of achieving progress on bilateral issues as well as in bringing
about positive change in Myanmar.