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.
Zar Ni: The Traitor on Islamists’ Payroll? (Part 1)
Dr. Maung Zarni.
or Dr. Zarni as he prefers to be addressed used to be a prominent Burmese
activist who’d done enormous damage to the struggling Burmese economy by
forcing Pepsi out of Burma in 1997 and thus triggering the horrible exodus of
most Western investment from Burma the following years.
are in following excerpts from my earlier post “Aung Moe and Amy: Sanctions’ Collateral Damage” the truly sad
story of a Karen-Burmese boy and a pretty Anglo-Burmese girl whose young lives
were tragically cut short by the US-led
West’s economic and financial sanctions against Burma.
Boycott & Shocking Pressure on Pepsi-Cola
would be hard to explain the beginning of the economic sanctions against Burma
without mentioning the particularly shocking case of Pepsi-Cola’s withdrawal
from Burma in 1997. This edited extracts fromBurma Boycott Quarterly; Summer 1997 by Reid Cooperis self explanatory about the enormous pressure being
applied on the Pepsi back then to abandon its much profitable operation in
“On November 22, 1991, a Pepsi
bottling plant in Rangoon formally opened. The plant was joint venture between
Pepsi Co. and Thein Htun’s Pepsi-Cola Products Myanmar. Thein Htun had built
his business carrier on being a representative for foreign firms in Burma,
developing a reputation as a SLORC (military junta) businessman.
In the West, however, Burma activists were concentrating their efforts
on oil companies like Texaco, Amoco, and Petro-Canada. Their attention
elsewhere, these activists outside Asia left the PepsiCo issue on the
backburner if they were aware at all. But Petrol-Canada pulled out of Burma in
late 1992, Burma activists in Canada, working in consultation with handful of
US based activists, turns their attention to PepsiCo.
Meanwhile, socially responsible investors at such organizations as
Franklin Research Development were pressuring PepsiCo to leave Burma. Dialogue
between shareholders and management started in 1992, with PepsiCo producing its
first report on its Burma operation in 1993. Political pressure on companies
like PepsiCo to leave Burma grew with Burma Boycott.
But the real explosion in PepsiCo/Burma Boycott came with the creation
in 1995 of theFree Burma
Coalition (FBC)founded by the University of Wisconsin basedZar Ni. Making more effective
use of the Internet as an organizing tool, the FBC began to coordinate national
and international actions to raise awareness of various Burma Boycotts.
In particular, FBC groups across USA and Canada began a concerted effort
to stop PepsiCo from getting exclusive marketing deals on their campuses. One
key victory for FBC was Harvard. On April 8, 1996, students there succeeded in
blocking a $1 million contract when they raised ethical concerns about
PepsiCo’s dealings in Burma.
course there were no representation for the poor people of Burma and their
hopes on the economic reforms while the exile industry led by the likes of Zar
Ni had twisted the actual facts and dishonestly presented to the North American
The students’ campaign generated headlines in such places as the
Washington Post, which increased PepsiCo shareholders’ concerns. Shaken, the
PepsiCo responded with a paper-shuffle by announcing on April 24, 1996, that it
was selling its interest in its Burmese operations to its partner, turning them
into a franchise.
Aung San Su Kyi, Burma’s opposition leader, responded by saying ‘As far
as we are concerned, Pepsi has not divested from Burma.’
Nearly 100,000 Garment Workers lost their jobs.
In late 1996, the PepsiCo/Burma Boycott picked up momentum in the UK
when Third World First, an organization with chapters at 40% of British
universities, made the Pepsi Boycott a major campaign. Now PepsiCo would soon
be facing in Europe a repeat of its disasters at North American campuses.
PepsiCo then made the decision to cut all ties to Burma by May 31, 1997.
It is a significant achievement for Burma’s democracy movement. A major Western
corporation has promised, after much resistance, to leave Burma.
The PepsiCo cited ‘the spirit of current US Government policy’ for its
departure, rather than follow the example of Levi Strauss and Liz Claiborne and
admit that it had erred in entering Burma in the first place.”
Pepsi has left Burma for good in late 1997 the exit door for Direct Foreign
Investors’ was wide opened and the textile industry in Rangoon was basically
shut down within a year as all the South Korean and Taiwanese investors slowly
went back home.
Wrong General’s Balls, MIS Khin Nyunt’s
MIS General Khin Nyunt.
After making his notorious name by causing West’s business and
investment exodus from Burma that goat-testicles (Seit-La-zeed) Dr. Zarni
had sort of about-turn in 2,004. After
his March 2004 secret trip to Rangoon where he met MIS General Khin Nyunt and
his gang of MIS thugs he suddenly declared that his policy now was “Strategic
Engagement” with the Burma military Junta.
He then renounced his 14 years long political asylum in the United
States and returned to Burma with a great hope that his handler Khin Nyunt
would eventually become the top dog in Burma. Instead Khin Nyunt and the whole
MIS gang were purged by Senior General Than Shwe in October 2004 and Zarni
became the tree monkey without a branch to hang on.
Leaving Burma again he did another about-turn becoming a
sanctions-proponent again. But almost all of his followers led by Aung Din and
the funding donors had already abandoned him and formed rival Burma Campaign.
Since then Zarni has been a bitter Burmese exile without followers and genuine funders like NED.