Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Burmese Prime Minister Soe Win was delivering the usual Burmese junta's platitudes to democracy and human rights during his meeting with President Arroyo yesterday. President Arroyo, on her part, was also delivering the usual platitudes of concern for Aung San Suu Kyi. How predictable (Read the Philippine Star). (Doesn't this remind us of George Bush Senior's toast to Marcos's commitment to democratic principles?)

Anyone who has bothered to look at the record of the Burmese military junta with a sustained interest can tell that Prime Minister Soe Win is simply prevaricating. The Burmese junta has said over and over again in the past that it was democratizating Burma but only to crack down again on the opposition led by the National League for Democracy (NLD). Aung San Suu Kyi has been freed and re-arrested countless of times that she herself must have lost count. Whenever the Burmese junta thinks Aung San Suu Kyi's popularity is fading, it releases her from detention. When crowds begin to flock for her addresses, they arrest her back.

So why does our government choose to believe the military junta represented by Prime Minsiter Soe Win? We are either, one, naively gullible in international relations or, two, do not really believe in the democracy we so ostensibly espouse. Why, even former Malaysian Prime Mister Mahathir Mohamad, no great friend of democracy himself, has of late been stinging in his criticism of the Burmese junta. The much-heralded roadmap to democracy of the Burmese junta and its constituion-writing does no meet the standards laid out by the United Nations.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, probably bothered by the unprecedented display of high-level kaplastikan, filed a Senate resolution seeking to deny Burma chairmanship of the ASEAN next year, right after attending the Malacanang luncheon for PM Soe Win. But the resolution, I think, will not gain traction, because we now have a greater need for Burma: In view of the total log ban hastily pronounced by the Arroyo administration, the local furniture industry needs new forests to denude. The dense foliage of Shan State looks inviting.

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