Posted by Thomas Crampton

I wrote a story on the Global fund deciding to pull out of Myanmar on Friday.

The fund fights HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, diseases that are the scourges of many developing nations. Click here for their press release.

The fund had been criticised by some for going into the country (some feared they could be seen as providing a support for the goverment) and they were also criticized for pulling out (they did not try hard enough).

Who is correct?

BREAKING NEWS: Rumor is that general Maung Aye has ousted general Than Shwe. If true, we may see even more hardline actions by the government. Maung Aye already beat out general Than Shwe (considered one of the more open members of the ruling clique). now Maung Aye may have consolidated his power further.

In sum: Factions have long weakened Myanmar's military regime, but one of the tougher generals now appears to be consolidating power.

Anyone else have thoughts on Maung Aye?

12 Comments

What's the Myanmar government's reasoning on this?

Given the information provided, it's difficult to conclusively say who is correct. But it is clear that the survival of human life is at stake. That should be compelling enough to inspire someone, somewhere, to rip all the bullshit away and get the job done. Both parties, for whatever reason(s), were ultimately unable to do that; so it seems that they share culpability.

Bureaucracy, corruption, or diplomacy don't constitute good enough reasons abandon vulnerable people at death's door. If either party truly valued those human lives, they'd get the funds through no matter what obstacle may exist -- da bottom line.

Because "Myanmar" was SLORC's choice of name, I prefer to call the country Burma. Wikipedia claims that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has recently used "Myanmar" in some speeches in English; if I find that she endorses the new name I'll start using it, but not otherwise.


Nev, the Myanmar government has just been throwing up so many obstacles that the Global Fund finds it too difficult to do their work. Perhaps they would feel threatened if the people of Myanmar see assistance coming from foreign sources.

Sennoma: I would guess Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was saying Myanmar in Burmese, not in English.

The Myanmar vs Burma question is fascinating.

The name of the country, when pronouced in Burmese, sounds like Myanma (without the R). Burma is the colonial name given by the Brits, so has foreign resonance. In some ways, Myanmar makes sense.

On the other hand, I once asked Daw Aung San Suu Kyi what she thought (interviewed her when she was briefly out of house arrest in 1998 or so) and she said Myanmar is fine if a legitimate government changed the name.

But what should outsiders to do?

David Steinberg, great scholar on the country based in Georgetown, disarms the question by always writing Burma/Myanmar. I like that solution.

My publication, The International Herald Tribune, switched over to Myanmar a few years ago after much hesitation. The argument that prevailed, I think, is to generally follow United Nations name designations.

Only the foot that wears the shoe, knows hoW much is the pinch.

My Dad, is orignally fr b
Burma and he inisted that it was burma and Not myanmar!! For some reason, those outside burma still call that county by its brit name.

I say, funding to that country shpold be stopped and the world at large should parley for a proper democractic process, likewise with tibet too !!!

Tibet and Burma have common facades in their political and economic agendas !


It's always difficult to concentrate on those one *can* help rather than the one most in need. Still, it only makes sense for the global fund to spend its money and time wherever it can help the most. If a lack of government support makes it difficult to achieve results, it only makes sense to spend the resources somewhere else.

I'm sure that doesn't lessen the disappointment and frustration that the global fund must feel about the whole project, though.

Personally I find any arguments about the global fund lending legitimacy to the government rather pointless when the Thai, Singaporean and Chinese governments (among others) lend considerably more legitimacy through trade and other relationships such as ASEAN.


As for lending legitimacy: One interesting change is the way that India has now started courting the government in Rangoon/Yangon. not long ago they shunned the country, but now they have decided to deal with the generals because it is more in their interests than shunning them entirely.

"but now they have decided to deal with the generals because it is more in their interests than shunning them entirely."


Can you elaborate on that a little? More in whose interests? What sort of interests?

The Indians kept Burma/Myanmar at arms length for a long, long time for reasons of history and principle.

History: Following independence, the military regime kicked out all the ethnic indians in the irrawaddy delta. The loss of those farmers helped speed Burma/Myanmar's transition from the world's largest rice exporter into a country that now faces internal food distribution problems.

Principle: Indian reasoning was that as Asia's largest democracy (the world's largest, actually), they should not deal with the military government.

In the last few years, however, the Indian government has realized that the vacuum created in Myanmar by western sanctions has been filled by Asia's other great power: China. (Myanmar offers a land and possibly river route - along the Irrawaddy - to the sea for China's landlocked southern province of Yunnan)

As a result, the Indian government has changed position dramatically. They now attempt to deal with the generals diplomatically and in business projects.

The Indians, by the way, are some of the very best informed diplomats about what is happening in Burma/Myanmar. (But I probably shouldn't give away a trade secret like that!)

BREAKING NEWS: Rumor is that general Maung Aye has ousted general Than Shwe. If true, we may see even more hardline actions by the government. Maung Aye already beat out general Than Shwe (considered one of the more open members of the ruling clique). now Maung Aye may have consolidated his power further.

In sum: Factions have long weakened Myanmar's military regime, but one of the tougher generals now appears to be consolidating power.

Anyone else have thoughts on Maung Aye?

Myanmar rejects coup rumors

(CNN) This says Than Shwe is still in power.

Really hard to know who is in charge. Inner politics of Myanmar/Burma is so complex on some levels (faction fighting within the leadership) and so simple to see on others (nasty human rights abuses).

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