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Government Stakeholders

by Michael last modified 2006-11-08 19:11

Infor mation about Shwe government stakeholders; Bangladesh, Burma(Myanmar), India and Korea.


Bangladesh, with little political or economic clout, has been a cautious and largely undecided player in the Shwe Project. With significant natural gas reserves of its own, Bangladesh has chosen to tap this resource largely for its domestic market and therefore has little interest in the Shwe gas itself.

Bangladesh's strategic game is largely geopolitical. Despite its historically antagonistic relationship with India, Bangladesh could choose to use its key position for a possible energy pipeline between India's Energy-starved central region and its gas-rich western state of Tripura. This could also serve as a key link between Shwe gas reserves and the Indian gas market.

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If the Shwe Project proceeds, it is set to become Burma’s largest source of foreign income. For the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the country’s military regime, it is thus a high-profile undertaking, as profits derived from the project would considerably boost the regime, allowing it to further expand a military that ranks as the highest per capita in the world. This would only prolong the brutal oppression of its people.

Moreover, by strengthening future economic and political advantages, the Shwe Project can lead to a deeper entrenchment of the current regime; by deepening economic ties with neighbouring/regional countries and effectively establishing government-level cooperation in a sector so crucial to regional economic development as gas and oil, the SPDC can expect to strengthen its geopolitical position and increase its bargaining power.

The country’s admission into the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1997 indicates that the SPDC has successfully established itself on the regional political scene, even with its appalling human rights record and illegitimate hold on power.  Despite a devastating defeat for the SPDC in 1990 nationwide elections, none of the election results have been honored. Its close political and economic ties to China have further protected it from much international critique.

Still, some ASEAN leaders, including Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have called for major reforms in Burma ahead of its 2006 leadership of the rotating-chair body, including the release of jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Still, for economic reasons, regional leaders are reluctant to push the Burmese generals too hard on specific issues. [ 1]

Take action! Read more about Burma/MOGE and see what you can do to help!

South Korea:

For South Korean corporations, Burma represents a profitable investment opportunity. By providing cheap labor and huge reserves of natural resources, it is easy for Korea to overlook things like Burma's cultural and environmental destruction.

Although South Korea has been praised for its own human rights record [2] the Government refrains from criticising corporations who are investing in highly controversial contexts, such as Shwe.

The leading player in the Shwe Project, Daewoo International, is one of South Korea’s most leading export trading company. In Burma, Daewoo and the Korean Oil and Gas Corporation (KOGAS), another key Shwe player, effectively fuel human rights abuse by the Burmese military -- out of shameless economic interest.

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India is also making efforts to improve its ties with the Burmese regime. This, however, is not only due to India’s burgeoning economy, but also the subsequent need for energy imports, for which Burma’s natural resources provide a substantial reserve. Moreover, India is concerned about the other regional superpower, China, which has already successfully established itself in Burma. Indeed, India has been alert to Chinese influence since the 1990s, when China began setting up a naval base on the Coco Islands, off the Western coast of Burma in the Bay of Bengal. This base includes massive electronic surveillance establishment to monitor India, thus increasing the fear that China may have found in Burma a suitable partner to advance its dominance in the region. [ 3

While India’s nuclear endeavors can be considered a direct response to that, its increasing presence in Burma is another strategy to respond to the Chinese threat. By supporting and investing in Burma’s military regime, India thus meets both its economic demands as a growing economic power and its security concerns, by attempting to establish a power balance in the region.

At the same time, however, Indian corporations (links to both) GAIL and ONGC Videsh Ltd.--with government approval--are fuelling large-scale human rights abuse by one of the world’s most brutal military regimes. The people of Burma thus are the victims of economic, strategic and geopolitical considerations in the regions, as without the active support of regional governments, the SPDC could not sustain its hold to power.

Take Action! Read more about India and see what you can do to help!

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[1] 1-12-2004_pg4_21



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