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Protest in Japan; Letter: "Destruct
- Subject: Protest in Japan; Letter: "Destruct
- From: carol@xxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 11 Dec 1996 06:58:00
Subject: Protest in Japan; Letter: "Destructive Engagement"
Asahi Evening News, Wednesday, December 11, 1996
PROTEST OUTSIDE MYANMAR EMBASSY
Thirty people, some of them students from Myanmar (Burma), held a
demonstration today outside the Embassy of Myanmar in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward
to protest the military junta's crackdown on students in Yangon.
The group specifically protested the junta's detention of pro-democracy
students and the lockout of universities.
The protest was organized y the Japan branch of Myanmar's National League
for Democracy, an association of volunteers and related organizations.
Japan Times (Letter to the Editor), Wednesday, December 11, 1996
Your recent feature written by two members of the European Parliament
regarding slave labor and the horrid tactics of Burma's ruling State Law and
Order Reform Council (Nov. 22) brought vivid images back to me of the time I
spent in business negotiations with SLORC generals in a stint at a real
estate developer quite some time in the past. They are memories at which I
cringe. (I quit the company for moral reasons.)
SLORC officials, when they formalize a contract with business entities from
overseas, usually attach a stipulation to the contract that a certain "sign
bonus" must be paid. These are not kept secret, and are openly publicized,
often in project finance magazines and other speciality financial
publications. This is in effect similar to "key money" for an apartment in
Japan, and without it, no contract can be consummated.
These bonuses usually run into several millions of U.S. dollars, money with
which SLORC can purchase ammunition and weapons. With this arsenal, SLORC
is comfortably able to suppress the call for democracy in Burma.
Effectively, thus, the iron-fisted, oppressive rule of SLORC is largely
funded by the overseas companies who grudgingly pay these bonuses. No
bonus, no contract. No contract, no access to the potential Burmese market
(in reality, a huge majority of Burma's populace hardly has the funds needed
to buy the televisions and mobile phones companies think they can sell there).
The contractual documents, when publicly available, of foreign companies,
especially Japanese companies, who in tandem with Southeast Asia prefer to
"constructively engage" Burma, should be evaluated by some sort of
international business council on ethics to determine if these "bonuses"
(read: bribes) are being paid, and some sort of penalizing sanctions on such
companies should exist.
Evidence exists that Japanese companies in particular, beaten by Korea and
others in Vietnam, etc. and thus in search of some sort of pioneer market,
blindly ignore SLORC's horrific actions, convinced that a new office
building or an airport will somehow benefit the average citizens who can't
afford the rising cost of rice. This is far from a reality. A "Ginza" in
the middle of Rangoon will do nothing but bring more hard cash into the
coffers of the worst military dictatorship in Asia, and smiles on the faces
of indignant businessmen just as narcissistic as SLORC.
--Scott R. Docie, Yokohama