Rt a demo­cratic and r, out­go­ing en­voy says

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Business - Photo: EPA

Last month, Myan­mar poet Saw Wai penned an open let­ter to Dublin­bored Bono, an Ir­ish vo­cal­ist. The let­ter con­fuses Ire­land with the UK, say­ing “Let me re­mind you that your coun­try, the UK, chose to sep­a­rate from the Euro­pean Union be­cause you could not bear the ex­trem­ist im­mi­grants in­vad­ing and liv­ing in your coun­try” and “We [Myan­mar] are look­ing for a peace­ful so­lu­tion to the prob­lem that your fore­fa­thers be­gan in 1824.” (The Myan­mar Times has since re­moved the texts in quo­ta­tions on its web­site.) No doubt, Ire­land did not vote for Brexit or colonise then-burma. For a long time, the Ir­ish ques­tion did dom­i­nate the UK’S pol­i­tics, and there was a long and tu­mul­tuous his­tory em­broil­ing North­ern Ire­land in violence.

The en­voy said it was a long and dif­fi­cult process for peo­ple on both sides to aban­don the hos­til­ity and end the violence, cul­mi­nat­ing in the Good Fri­day Agree­ment signed in 1998.

“There were brave peo­ple in both sides of the di­vide in North­ern Ire­land who wanted to work with the other com­mu­nity to avoid violence. Over time, what hap­pened in the UK is that both sides re­alised that they couldn’t win mil­i­tar­ily. There was no military so­lu­tion in North­ern Ire­land. Even­tu­ally peo­ple came out to the idea that they had to be peace for a way for­ward; they had to be in ne­go­ti­a­tion; they had to be in agree­ment; they could find an agree­ment and the peo­ple could try and live to­gether peace­fully.

“One of the things that was most dif­fi­cult was the re­form of the se­cu­rity sec­tor. The po­lice were re­struc­tured in North­ern Ire­land as part of this deal. That was a very dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion but it was the only way which the mi­nor­ity com­mu­nity could be made to feel safe - by hav­ing a more bal­anced po­lice force. I’m not here giv­ing any par­tic­u­lar lessons from Myan­mar, I’m just say­ing that’s the sit­u­a­tion,” he elab­o­rated. In the past, Bri­tain has taken po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, in­clud­ing Aung San Suu Kyi, to North­ern Ire­land to look at the his­tory.

Bumpy road ahead With the on­go­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in north­ern Rakhine as well as es­ca­lat­ing con­flicts in Kachin and other ar­eas. There is clearly a rep­u­ta­tional risk for for­eign in­vestors to come here. The am­bas­sador’s ad­vice for Nay Pyi Taw is the need to rec­on­cile the two com­pet­ing views of the cri­sis.

“Clearly any­one who lives here knows that there is one view of the Rakhine cri­sis here. Out­side the coun­try, there is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent view of the Rakhine cri­sis than in­side the coun­try. Un­til we can rec­on­cile those two views, we’re go­ing to have these is­sues of rep­u­ta­tion risks,” the diplo­mat stated.

Apart from ad­dress­ing the is­sue of refugee repa­tri­a­tion, it’s nec­es­sary to find a way to ad­dress the ques­tions about what hap­pened. The two dif­fer­ent views can only re­ally be rec­on­ciled if there is “a cred­i­ble in­de­pen­dent en­quiry look­ing to what hap­pened” and “hope­fully re­solve the sit­u­a­tion”.

“In the West, peo­ple pay a lot of at­ten­tion to the ter­ri­ble sto­ries com­ing from, ter­ri­ble ac­counts that are com­ing from the camps, and that has a big, big im­pact, and I think that will al­ways be [the case]. Un­less you can find some way to have an in­de­pen­dent as­sess­ment of what hap­pened, you’ll al­ways be on the de­fen­sive,” he ob­served.

It is not a prob­lem of com­mu­ni­ca­tions - it is about the sub­stance.

“Most of the out­side world has called what hap­pened ‘ethnic cleans­ing’ and have very se­ri­ous con­cerns that sig­nif­i­cant crimes took place in Rakhine. Most Myan­mar peo­ple who I speak to think this is a ter­ror­ist at­tack on Myan­mar and that the army did its duty and that the al­le­ga­tions are ex­ag­ger­ated. That’s not a prob­lem with com­mu­ni­ca­tion, that’s a prob­lem with sub­stance. Those are two to­tally dif­fer­ent ac­counts of what hap­pened,” the en­voy con­tin­ued.

Re­form mo­men­tum cru­cial Am­bas­sador Pa­trick stressed that the govern­ment is deal­ing with chal­lenges on many fronts. Over the last year, the author­i­ties have sta­bilised the econ­omy, bring­ing down the in­fla­tion, tack­ling the na­tional debt, the ex­change rate and so on.

“Peo­ple are dis­ap­pointed by the rate of eco­nomic growth. I think it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber the his­tory this is a govern­ment newly in power, it’s com­ing into power af­ter more than sixty years of military rule.

“Un­for­tu­nately for the econ­omy, a lot of peo­ple look at the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion of Rakhine. The head­lines about Rakhine do af­fect the way busi­nesses in Europe and the US see this coun­try. It does make peo­ple more cau­tious about in­vest­ing,” the diplo­mat con­tin­ued.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.