ASEAN divided on whether to lift sanctions in Burma

ASEAN leaders and members disagree on the question of easing economic and politics restrictions in strife riven country. Easing economic restrictions in Burma could see a business bonanza for foreign corporations at the cost of local communities.

The ASEAN Inter Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) welcomed signs of political reform in Burma but warned that lifting international sanctions could pose a threat to the reform process.

“AIPMC is concerned by the possible ramifications of the lifting of sanctions and believes the international community and ASEAN should continue to use their leverage to push for more fundamental reforms and address the very serious concerns that remain.”

In a statement released to the media, AIPMC said.

“Holding a flawed by-election does not undo the past injustices and gross violations of human rights committed against the Burmese people by successive military regimes. Focus must remain on the bigger picture. As history has shown, independent corporations cannot be trusted to act in the interests of the people of the country’s they are investing in; they must be regulated by both local and international laws.”

The AIPMC’s media statement comes as ASEAN leaders have renewed calls to lift economic and political sanctions in Burma after a recent by-election on April 1 Aung Sun Su Kyi claim a seat in parliament with 43 other NLD party members.

“Myanmar lacks the laws and infrastructure to cope with the consequences of an influx of foreign investment. The negative experience of sizeable investment from China and other neighbours in Myanmar over recent years testifies to the social, environment, political and economic impacts that come with foreign investment and large-scale development projects,” said Eva Kusuma Sundari, Indonesian MP and President of AIPMC.

“A vast amount of work is needed to draft and enact laws and legislation to regulate business and industry and protect the environment and the rights of the people in the face of large-scale investment. Not only is there no reason to trust the USDP and military- dominated parliament to draft the necessary legislation, it also has no legitimate authority to do so said Son Chhay, Cambodian MP and Vice President of AIPMC.

Despite signs of reform, power in Burma remains firmly held by a military backed government led by its President, ex-general Thein Sein. There are concerns that any large-scale contracts signed with foreign corporations will be made for economic gain for those in power, but at the cost of the people.

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