SOLIDARITY: Burma (2); Petronas Money Helps Buy Burmese Bullets

28 09 2007

[ UPDATED ] 070928 . 1745

Latest reports: 13 confirmed dead, hundreds injured, hundreds arrested and missing. Casualty figures likely to be higher than official accounts.

[ all photos below sourced from Reuters ]

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above : unarmed protestors flee as police and troops open fire and baton-charge them.

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above : Burmese troops firing tear gas at the demonstrators.

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above : Japanese photojournalist Kenji Nagai, 50, of APF News Tokyo continues filming even as he lies wounded after being shot by troops. Nagai died shortly after.

reuters-kl-myanmar-protest-070928.jpg

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2 photos above : 2,000 Burmese protestors demonstrated outside the Burmese Embassy in Jalan Ampang, KL this morning.

[ All photos above from Reuters News Agency, article here ]

9 confirmed dead, hundreds injured, hundreds arrested and missing in the ongoing violent crackdown by the Burmese military junta. But the Burmese people are resisting.

BBC videos of the ongoing violence in Burma/Myanmar: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7017496.stm

Photos and latest reports at the Democratic Voice of Burma website: http://english.dvb.no/

———————–

[ ORIGINAL POST ]

Latest reports from Burma/Myanmar indicate that at least 9 persons have been killed, dozens injured and hundreds summarily arrested in the ongoing bloody crackdown by the Burmese military junta on unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators and Buddhist monks. Latest coverage from the BBC.

ASEAN has predictably remained (elegantly) silent over the bloody crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators and monks in Burma/Myanmar… and Malaysia has been even friendlier than most, with Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar going so far as to reassure the Burmese military junta that it was “business as usual”.

Well surprise, surprise.

But of course the UMNO-BN government sees nothing wrong with the Burmese junta shooting and beating unarmed pro-democracy protestors; we just shot two of our own a couple of weeks ago in Batu Burok! Biasalah. The people are so troublesome, always demanding their rights and marching and protesting and making us leaders look bad. Let’s shoot a few and scare them all. Show them who is boss. Tembak satu dua, yang lain tu kita tembak gas pemedih mata, belasah sikit, ha, barulah mereka faham keadaan.

Besides, there’s all that business to worry about. Industry experts estimated that in 2005, just two foreign oil-and-gas firms (France’s Total and PETRONAS) alone generated about USD 1 bil in revenues (link) for the Burmese military junta. Petronas is a major presence in the Burmese oil industry and works closely with the state run Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise for exploration and extraction of oil and gas resources, providing a major source of foreign currency revenue for the cash-strapped military junta which presides over a failed state and economy. In short, Petronas is among a number of companies whose revenues are helping to prop up the regime.

I am sorely tempted to break decorum to spit on ASEAN, possibly one of the most useless and irrelevant regional groups in history. ASEAN’s ‘Non-interventionist policy’ is just a euphemism for “I’ll cover your ass, and you cover mine.” As I mentioned in an earlier reply to a comment, the problem with ASEAN is that almost every single member nation has skeletons in its own closet, and to criticise Myanmar would be to invite unwelcome scrutiny of its own questionable policies and actions.

Dare Malaysia condemn the violence in Myanmar, having just fired on our own unarmed citizens? Dare the Thai military regime — still fresh from their latest coup d’etat and now busily slapping ‘lese majeste’ charges on every dissident in sight — speak harsh words to Myanmar? Even squeaky-clean Singapore has just avoided the problem by simply regulating civil society space virtually out of existence.

The blood of the Burmese people is on ASEAN hands… and Malaysia’s.

Shame on ASEAN. Shame on Malaysia.

———————————————

Excerpt from Malaysiakini: (red highlights mine)

Burmese crackdown: Blood on our hands
Andrew Ong
Sep 27, 07 3:27pm
     

Numerous Malaysian activists have condemned Malaysia’s continued diplomatic niceties towards Burma despite a violent crackdown against dissidents by the Burmese military junta.

Activist groups are fuming over Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar’s announcement yesterday that Malaysia would not impose any form of sanctions on Burma.

According to the Star today, Syed Hamid said the crackdown in Burma was an “internal problem” and that Malaysia’s position was “not to interfere”.

On the contrary, many Western countries condemned the violence in Burma and have vowed to come down hard on the military government, primarily through economic sanctions.

PKR information chief Tian Chua today condemned Syed Hamid’s statement and said that Malaysia was taking an unprincipled stand.

Syed Hamid is basically giving the junta the green light to continue their oppressive ways,” said Tian Chua in a press conference at the party headquarters today.

The Petronas factor

Activists also pointed out that the fact that Malaysia had numerous business interest in the country could explain the soft approach towards Burma on the violence.

Malaysia’s biggest company operating in Burma is quite possibly state-owned oil and gas giant Petronas which has had major deals with the junta since 1997.

“These investment enrich the junta and prolong their helm. Worse still, they use such money to buy weapons deployed against their own citizens,” said DAP Parliamentarian Teresa Kok when contacted.

Petronas’ heavy investment there, said Tian Chua, would undermine Petronas’ standing in the international community and in Burma due to the company’s role in “backing up the junta”.

“At the very least, Syed Hamid must say clearly that if there is any further violence, Malaysia would review its investment (particularly Petronas),” he added.

Asean indifference?

Meanwhile, two influential news organisations have condemned the overwhelming collective silence of Asean nations over the violence in Burma.

Singapore-based Channel News Asia in a column today described Asean as Burma’s “only hope” while Indonesian daily Jakarta Post published a articled titled “Shame on Asean”.

Social activist and political economist Charles Santiago pointed out that like Malaysia’s Petronas, almost all other Asean countries have a vested interest in Burma which explained their soft position on the matter.

The blood of innocent Burmese are on Asean hands,” he told malaysiakini.

According to Santiago, Asean had shown that it was unable to rein in on Burma on basic issues such as democracy and human rights since the country entry into the regional body in 1997.

“The whole point of getting Burma on board is to join the family of nations and (compel them) to subscribe to international standards,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Burma Caucus is urging Asean nations to push for immediate reforms at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Obviously Asean has to move in very quickly and has to at least put a collective voice for once and remind the regime not to do anything that will cause harm to the people,” said caucus head Zaid Ibrahim, reported Voice of America online edition.

On the home front, Burmese and Malaysian activists are expected to hold a protest in front of the Burmese Embassy near Jalan Ampang tomorrow morning.

 
 
 

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7 responses

28 09 2007
Scott Thong

Let’s play spot the difference:

Religious people in Myanmar do not like the government’s policies. They protest peacefully and are met with disproportionate force by the army.

Religious people in Thailand’s south do not like the government’s policies. They begin a reign of terror, butchering anyone who doesn’t support them, and respond to both government retribution and reconciliation with more and worse violence.

Warning: extremely graphic photos.
http://www.zombietime.com/thai_jihad_photos/


[ GhL ]
: Thank you, Scott. There is some evidence that the terrorists may have bases or are obtaining logistical support from the border areas of northern Malaysia. Of course, instead of investigating, the government automatically denied such a thing.

Warning to readers: the photos in the link above show graphic violence and are extremely disturbing.

28 09 2007
Kavilan

they wouldnt protest when peace-loving monks are shot and beaten, but readily make a big commotion about the Palestine-Israel issue when Condoleeze Rice came over… Regional discrimination???

[ GhL ] : Palestine-Israel is a fashionable cause for wannabes (who have nothing to do with the regional conflict) to instantly improve their ‘Islamic credentials’. Burn a US flag, and shout a few anti-Semitic slogans, if you have a gun shoot it in the air… suddenly you’re a hip Islamist.

It’s kind of like Paris Hilton’s dog-in-a-bag.

In addition to performing the above monkey antics (except shooting), Khairy Jamaludin recently made one of his most stupid remarks to date when he accused Anwar Ibrahim of being “a puppet of the CIA and Jews”. I won’t even bother to comment on that.

28 09 2007
Scott Thong

Some of the Zombietime photos, censored with yellow boxes to reduce the goriness levels. What the Pattani terrorists did is still evidently gruesome.

http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/photos-of-brutally-murdered-victims-of-the-southern-thailand-pattani-insurgency/


[ GhL ]
: Hello again Scott. As horrifying as the pictures are, I’d leave the photos uncensored myself. The horrible truth needs to be faced. Thank you, I think I will be writing a follow-up post on this topic soon.

The ugly fact is that throughout human history, more death and destruction has been unleashed on fellow human beings in the name of religion than for all other reasons combined.

30 09 2007
Satya

seriously, i didn’t know how to face my burmese friends after reading about petronas’ connections with the junta. the thing is, we the rakyat, have received benefits from petronas as a whole (even if many so-and-sos have actually pocketted a lot fo the money). especially right after the ’97 economic crisis. petronas is said to be pretty much the only thing that managed to get us back up on our feet without IMF aid. well, surprise, surprise! ’97 is when petronas’ relationship with the junta started. anyway, the point is, that we malaysians have benefited from this blood money. we HAVE to get petronas to stop dealing with myanmar, while this issue is still hot.

i was also reading up on where the myanmar junta get their arms from. that china was a supplier was something you’d guess even before seeing the facts. india supplies them some of their tanks too, in a bid to counter china’s regional influence. but here, to me, was the real shocker. the blood money given to them by petronas, was used by the burmese junta to buy singapore-made m-16s and bullets, to shoot the monks.

http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/reg.burma/archives/199510/msg00015.html (may be outdated, but it details china’s arms dealings with the junta, and how they’ve turned to singapore, among others, to diversify their sources)

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22085187-2703,00.html (on india’s arms sales to myanmar)

[ GhL ] : Nice job researching the blood money background. The extent of Singapore’s involvement in supplying arms to Burma surprised me.

Besides Burma, Petronas is chummy with some of the most reviled regimes in the world, including Sudan and Chad. Of course, they’re not the only oil-and-gas company to befriend pariah regimes in order to secure access to natural resources, but Petronas being in our own backyard, we need to expose the connection. I haven’t found the latest figures, but Petronas’ contribution to the Burmese junta’s coffers must be in the region of USD 1 bil by now, hardly chump change in a country with a severely-underdeveloped economy.

In 2006, petroleum export revenues accounted for over 40% of Malaysia’s GDP and the figure is rising: a damning indication of Malaysia’s overdependence on petroleum revenues and the anaemic state of other sectors of the economy. Industry experts estimate that by 2011, plateauing/declining production and increasing consumption will result in Malaysia becoming a nett importer of petroleum; in other words, we will lose 40% of our GDP almost overnight, and have to spend additional money to procure petroleum from elsewhere.

My own analysis is that this is one of the factors driving the Badawi administration’s panic-driven rash of ‘magic bullet’ economic corridors in the blind hope that these will magically reinforce the Malaysian economy overnight (but perhaps I give too much credit to Badawi – the Corridors may be nothing more than crony vehicles after all). Of course, economic restructuring requires a good deal more than fancy launching ceremonies and grandiose speeches.

3 10 2007
Satya

More on the Singapore connection:

http://www.smh.com.au/news/business/singapore-a-friend-indeed-to-burma/2007/09/30/1191090945019.html

[ GhL ] : Thanks, that’s an interesting and discomfiting article. There is one factual error in the article though: the ailing Burmese general now receiving treatment in Singapore is Soe Win — the no. 3 man — not Than Shwe.

21 01 2008
partnervermittlung thailand

very nicely done article, thank you.

21 05 2008
Selective amnesia and selective pacifism « Foggie Ramblings

[…] Wanna know what Petronas have been up to in Sudan and Burma? Well, go here, here, here and here. And while you’re at it, why was our “beloved” Dr.M quiet when our […]

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