I am a Burmese exile taking a near-permanent refuge in New York and Sydney. Here are my essays about Burma and anything else I feel like writing about. And posting the articles I like from selected sites. Bridging Burma to the world this Blog is more of a Politically-Oriented Literary Blog than a Plain News Blog or a Sophisticated Thoughts Blog.
Aung Moe and Amy: Sanctions' Collateral Damage (3)
Aung Moe's Crime Scene?
Then in 2002 I read about Aung Moe in a popular Burmese crime magazine in a Burmese restaurant in Sydney’s inner west suburb of Strathfield. The short story described Aung Moe’s stabbing murder case as a crime of passion. He basically killed a foreign businessman from South Korea or Taiwan, I couldn’t recall now, in the fight following an altercation outside a karaoke bar in Rangoon’s notorious entertainment strip at the Theingyi Bazzar on the Signal Pagoda Road.
The story shockingly added that a young Anglo-Burmese escort named Amy who was with the murdered businessman was also injured in the fight. As soon as I got back home from the restaurant I called my friend’s house in Rangoon’s Golden Valley. This was roughly what happened to Aung Moe and Amy, according to my friend.
Amy’s fall into Darkness
After losing her job from the garment factory shut down by the American sanctions Amy became a dancing girl in one of the new tourist hotels. Many hotels large and small catering for the rapidly increasing number of tourists are sprouting like mushrooms all over Rangoon and the industry employs attractions of female kind like Amy for mainly male tourists and visiting foreign businessmen.
Traditionally Burmese women are not the type visiting clubs and pubs and hotels looking for one night stands so these hotels had to employ many attractive women and girls as the dancing partners for the visitors. So Amy became one of the dancing girls and from there it didn’t take long to fall into the next level of darkness in the sex chain given the amount of money involved in the sex trade.
Within two years she became an expensive escort providing services to the visitors either tourists or businessmen. Had she still been employed in the garment factory she would not have gone down that way, my friend reckoned.
Aung Moe’s Agony
Even though Amy didn’t care about him no more our stubborn Aung Moe couldn’t let her go from his dream which was slowly turning into a nightmare. Whenever he had a rare free time he would try to steal a glimpse of Amy at whatever hotel or club she was working. And according to my friend the young man had been behaving as if he was permanently depressed.
And finally the slowly ticking time bomb inside Aung Moe’s young head just exploded in one night in early 2002. Late at that night he saw Amy with a foreigner coming out of the karaoke bar and he snapped and tried to kill her as if he was going to save Amy from her sinking life. He had a knife on him. The foreigner intervened and Aung Moe stabbed him in the chest and killed him on the spot. He then tried to harm Amy but managed to only injure her.
Aung Moe and Amy in Hell
Aung Moe was arrested at the scene and charged with first degree murder. Had he killed a Burmese national in his rage he would have been charged with lesser manslaughter. But in new Capitalist Burma harming a foreign businessman from a friendly Asian country was a serious crime and accordingly Aung Moe was treated harshly by the law. He was quickly prosecuted and sentenced to death by hanging.
Almost at the same time Amy knew of her death sentence while she was being treated for the knife wounds from Aung Moe’s desperate attempt to kill her. She was HIV positive. The AIDS epidemic rapidly spreading and killing thousands and thousands of men, women, and children in Burma had got her eventually. According to WHO statistics, one in every three sex workers in sanctions-wrecked Burma is now infected with HIV virus.
Shift to the Right: From Socialism to Crony Capitalism
As a legacy of late General Aung San (ironically the founding father of modern Burmese Army and the biological father of that Army’s nemesis ASSK) and under the thumbs of his left-wing extreme-nationalist comrades Burma had been on the 40 years long Socialist Road to Ruin since the British left Burma and her people to their own devices in 1948.
To save Burma and her people the Socialism and the left-wingers from the society are to be totally routed from Burma and that’s what the ruling military junta has been doing since 1989.
The Section 35 of the 2008 Constitution of Burma enshrined Capitalism by rigidly proclaiming that “The economic system of the Union is market economy system.”The Section 36-C even stated that “The Union shall not nationalize economic enterprises.” and the 36-D guarantee that “The Union shall not demonetize the currency legally in circulation.”
No other constitution has such a watertight guarantee of Capitalism and free markets, except the new Burmese Constitution.
People of Burma especially the military had learnt their bitter lessons dearly from the economic collapses brought upon by the rampant nationalizations and wanton demonetizations during both U Nu and Ne Win eras. And they will never go back to the left whether it is Socialist or Communist or even a popular Social Democratic one.
But thanks to the selfish or naive Burmese Exiles and their so-called dissident media or Donor Stooges like Irrawaddy and DVB funded by the likes of Sorros and NED the rest of the world especially the Western Bloc did not see the significant about-turn in Burma and ruthlessly imposed devastating financial and economic sanctions against the long-suffering destitute people of Burma.
Even Zar Ni and his FBC have already abandoned their pro-sanctions stance and now they have this comment by Dr. Khin Zaw Win, a former political prisoner, displayed prominently on their website, “For 26 years Myanmar experienced impoverishment in the name of Socialism; it now appears there is to be impoverishment in the name of democracy, (thanks in part to the misguided Western sanctions against our country).”
Sanctions have definitely impoverished the people of Burma and indirectly been killing many thousands of them since 1997. Therefore, the newly-elected Parliament by the 2008 Constitution has called for the immediate removal of devastating financial and economic sanctions against Burma by US led West Bloc.
Parliament’s bitter Protest against the Sanctions
Union Parliament of Burma.
The horrible effects on the people of Burma by West Bloc’s Economic Sanctions were passionately debated in recently-elected Union Parliament in its March 25th Session.
Before the Parliament unanimously approving the motion protesting the economic sanctions imposed against Burma by the West Bloc nine members of Burma’s Semi-democratic Parliament passionately highlighted the horrible affects of the sanctions and they all supported the motion proposed by U Htay Oo from Irrawaddy Division Hinthada Constituency.
Sanctions harm the Ordinary People!
U Win Myint from Sagaing Region Constituency (3) stated that the West Bloc countries has been gradually tightening their economic sanctions against Burma since 1997 and thus considerably slowing down nation’s economic growth and harming the ordinary people as the undeniable result.
Due to economic sanctions, he added, there are bad consequences such as considerable slowing down of Burma’s foreign trade, diminishing FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), receiving the least ODA (Official Development Assistance) among the developing countries, receiving no monetary and financial assistance from the international financial organizations (World Bank, IMF, and ADB), the substantial drop of labor-intensive industries, and the minimal growth in tourism and hotel industries.
The economic sanctions widely and adversely affected the export-oriented industries. Burma used to trade widely with the world around 1990 but now because of the sanctions, he added, Burma mainly trades with Asian countries only. However, there has been a marked increase in trade with Asian countries as Burma’s trade with western countries dwindles.
From 878 million US$ worth in 1987-88 Burma’s trade with Asia grew substantially to over 12 billion US$ in 2009-2010. The contribution to trade with Europe and America declined sharply from 30% of Burma’s total trade in 1990 to only 5% in 2010.
Because of economic sanctions Burmese exports lose the world market and our exporters face the severe difficulties in payments and transfer of money for international trade. Costly and time consuming efforts to overcome these difficulties also harm the competitiveness of Burma’s exports.
Since economic sanctions hinder the growth of exports and hence the growth of industry producing exports it seriously affect the development of nation, private businesses, and majority of the working class. Furthermore, economic sanctions and trade embargos are grossly violating the fundamental principle of WTO the freer international trade, and so by this discussion he supported U Htay Oo’s proposal, he said.
Sanctions harm Owners and Workers all together!
U Thein Nyunt of Rangoon Division Thingangyun Constituency said that because of the economic sanctions imposed by US, EU, and Canada the trade embargo harms both employees and employers and at the same time the financial embargo hampered the money transfers.
He added that the rich natural resources alone do not provide necessary ground for national development. Investment, technology transfer, and human resources to utilize that technology are required for establishing the industries and the businesses. Economic sanctions basically prevent Foreign Direct Investment. Therefore in the interest of the nation he supports U Htay Oo’s motion.
But instead of tackling the sanctions problem with emotional sovereign pride, he suggested, a skillfully clever foreign policy is required to address the issue. As their own economic sanctions also have adverse results on the West Bloc these countries are now reconsidering their sanctions.
The ASEAN countries are also demanding to lift the sanctions and in these opportune situations, he suggested, a wise foreign policy should be carefully considered to persuade the West Bloc to lift their sanctions.
Sanctions harm the Ethnic States!
U Htun Aung Kyaw from Arakan State Ponnagyun Constituency said that the economic sanctions imposed on Burma for the sole purpose of influencing the political development for whatever reason undeniably harm the nation’s economy especially the economies of the states which really need the economic development.
Since 1997 the US Government has imposed economic sanctions against Burma exercising the Customs and Trade Act. The Freedom and Democracy Act was passed in 2003 and it brought in harsher sanctions against us. European Union also followed US and placed embargo on timber products and gems exports from Burma in addition to prohibiting the money transfers. Some other Western countries also imposed sanctions like US and EU.
The international sanctions have damaged the fishery industry and the finished-timber- products industry from all the states and divisions including the Arakan State. The tourist hotels, handicraft industry, and travel businesses relying on the Myauk-U archaeological site and Ngapali Beach resort in Arakan State have also been severely affected.
In 2003 Burma ranked the fourth among the Asian countries exporting marine products to the US. Prawn farms in Arakan State had reaped the benefits from the marine exports. But due to the trade embargo the prawn farming businesses suffer as the prawn meat exports are blocked.
Since 2010 the political parties have been allowed to establish in Union of Myanmar and the multi-party election was held. We have taken the first democratic step towards a parliament democracy. Therefore, the US and EU countries should accept the positive political progress happening now in our country and thus lift the financial and economic sanctions as a positive response on the immense struggle of our people, he said.
He concluded by saying that he wholeheartedly supported U Htay Oo’s motion.
Women have taken the full brunt of the Sanctions!
Dr. Daw Myat Myat Ohn Khin of Irrawaddy Division Constituency (10) said that in Burma there is no official sexual discrimination between male and female as the State has been laying down various laws and acts to provide equal opportunities for the females. In the other hand everyone here knows that our women enjoy their due rights as the State has various laws and acts to protect the weaker sex.
Even in this great Union Parliament I can see happily with pride that here with me are many women parliamentarians and most of us have been assigned into the important parliamentary committees, she added.
Since 1988, as the market economic system was being introduced, many women got skilled and non-skilled jobs in accordance with their skills in the factories and the garment factories established with direct foreign investment and those women with jobs were able to provide adequate income to their families.
However, the economic sanctions imposed in 1997 and tightened further in 2003 led to the unavoidable closure of so many factories including the most garment factories producing for exports. And tens of thousands of workers, many were women, lost their jobs and it had adversely affected more than 200,000 dependant members of their families. The damage is not just financial but also social and developmental.
The worst were the jobless women who were forced, by the necessity, to work in indecent profession such as prostitution just to feed their families. And many fell victim to human traffickers and ended up abroad working for cruel employers and getting unfair treatments. Some were even being forced into marriages abroad.
There are so many cases of our trafficked women being rescued by the Myanmar Women Welfare Organization and our people with patriotic mindsets are affected understandably. And the public outrage can turn against those foreign countries imposing sanctions against Burma as the result.
Our women have suffered much because of these unjust one-sided sanctions and trade embargos, she said. Therefore, she protested against the economic embargos and also the disinformation campaigns (by the exiles industry and foreign media organizations) causing the foreign governments to impose the sanctions.
On behalf of all Burmese women she supported U Htay Oo’s motion protesting against the unjust Sanctions, she concluded.