Kirin re­struc­tures do­na­tion pol­icy af­ter Amnesty re­port

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Business - KYAW SOE HTET busi­[email protected]­times.com

JA­PANESE brewer Kirin has tight­ened its do­na­tions pol­icy and will fa­cil­i­tate a hu­man rights im­pact as­sess­ment on its op­er­a­tions af­ter an Amnesty In­ter­na­tional re­port re­vealed it do­nated money to the Myan­mar mil­i­tary or Tat­madaw.

As a re­sult of the do­na­tions, Kirin has also been listed in the Burma Cam­paign UK’S “The Dirty List”, which names in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness with the Tat­madaw, along­side Face­book and Visa. The Tat­madaw has been linked to war crimes in Rakhine State by a UN Fact Find­ing Mis­sion.

Kirin Hold­ings re­leased an up­date on De­cem­ber 14 on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion it launched af­ter Amnesty In­ter­na­tional re­ported last June that Kirin sub­sidiary Myan­mar Brew­ery Ltd (MBL), was do­nat­ing to the Tat­madaw. A six-point ac­tion plan was also launched by Kirin.

The firm’s plan in­cludes sus­pend­ing do­na­tions made by MBL, tight­en­ing its do­na­tion pol­icy, hold­ing reg­u­lar in­ter­nal au­dits to en­sure the new pol­icy is be­ing fol­lowed, and con­duct­ing a hu­man rights im­pact as­sess­ment on its op­er­a­tions by an ex­ter­nal in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant.

MBL had made three do­na­tions to­talling US$30,000 be­tween Septem­ber 1 and Oc­to­ber 3 last year for hu­man­i­tar­ian pur­poses but Amnesty in its re­port sug­gested that the do­na­tions were made to the Tat­madaw.

In re­sponse, Kirin clar­i­fied last June that three do­na­tions – two fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions as well as an in-kind do­na­tion of rice and cook­ing oil – were made to the Rakhine State govern­ment.

The com­pany be­lieved that there was no rea­son that two of the con­tri­bu­tions would go to the mil­i­tary as they were handed di­rectly to civil­ians.

How­ever it con­ceded that it had do­nated US$6000 to Com­man­der-in Chief of the Tat­madaw Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing, at a tele­vised cer­e­mony in the cap­i­tal Nay Pyi Taw on Septem­ber 1, 2017.

Kirin sub­se­quently launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion but was “un­able to de­ter­mine con­clu­sively” if the amount was ac­tu­ally used for its in­tended pur­pose.

The devel­op­ment comes as western in­vestors have held back their ex­pan­sion plans in Myan­mar due to the refugee cri­sis in Rakhine which be­gan in Au­gust 2017.

Some large multi­na­tional firms have also faced stake­holder pres­sure over do­ing busi­ness in Myan­mar. ‘‘This isn’t a ques­tion of Kirin chang­ing the way it be­haves in Myan­mar.

“The prob­lem is that their busi­ness part­ner is ac­cused of geno­cide by the United Na­tions. There is no re­spon­si­ble way that Kirin can op­er­ate in Myan­mar as long as it is do­ing busi­ness with the mil­i­tary,” said Mark Far­maner, Burma Cam­paign UK di­rec­tor.

Phil Robert­son, deputy di­rec­tor of the Asia Di­vi­sion for Hu­man Rights Watch, said that Kirin’s in­ter­na­tional brand is ‘‘se­verely tar­nished by this in­volve­ment.”

Re­gard­ing the lat­est in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Mr Nobuhiko Hiro, deputy di­rec­tor of Kirin’s group cor­po­rate depart­ment said via email that the com­pany is “con­stantly work­ing to in­crease our un­der­stand­ing, im­prove our sys­tems and re­in­force our safe­guards in or­der to give us the con­fi­dence to grow our busi­ness in Myan­mar and en­able us to con­trib­ute to the eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment of the coun­try”.

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