Aids to Burma Cyclone Victims


Prior to the Sichuan earthquake, the world’s attention on humanitarian disaster was the Burma cyclone disaster. As many as 100,000 lives could be lost. Burma has drawn many criticisms for the way it handles foreign aids. It has refused the entry of foreign aid workers and was supposedly slow in rescue efforts.


Blaming the aids crisis solely on Burmese government is in my opinion, not entirely correct. I would concede that the Burmese government should have accepted these aids without much fuss, particularly those from the UN. On the other hand, the conducts of Western nations in this affair also need to be scrutinised. They have made their aids conditional upon their own aids workers being allowed access into Burma to organise distribution and rescue efforts. They  alleged that Burmese government is untrustworthy, is criminal in behaviour, and would steal the foreign aids, instead of distributing them to the needy.


Having made these kinds of allegations, would they expect the Burmese authority to accept their aids and personnel with open arms. Naturally, the Burmese junta will not take such insults kindly. Moreover, the junta fears Western personnel in Burma will link up with the oppositions in fermenting orange revolution inside Burma. It is an open secret that the West are plotting to topple the current Burmese military leadership, and this disaster presents a very good opportunity.


Lately, Burma has accepted foreign aids personnel from Thailand and India. Hopefully more Asian countries will go there and deliver aids. A better long term solution is that the Asian countries themselves setup a body to organise and coordinate  aids to member countries. The countries I have in mind are China, Japan, ROK, Asean, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.


With their typical arrogance and inability to see someone else perspectives, the West can only deliver rhethorics. In the end, it is the Asian neighbours that can deliver foreign aids to the victims. It requires BG George Yeo of Singapore to lecture them, "We must respect the autonomy of countries and accept the fact that they know local situations better than foreign people ever can".


The followoing report is hearthening. Aids and reconstruction efforts by Asean will prove to be much more useful to Burma, rather than empty rhetoric from the West.

ASEAN FMs Meet in Singapore on Aid to Myanmar

    2008-05-19 09:48:20     Xinhua
Foreign ministers of Southeast Asian nations are meeting in Singapore Monday to discuss help for cyclone-hit Myanmar.

The meeting comes more than two weeks after a deadly tropical cyclone Nargis hit five divisions and states of Myanmar early this month and left more than 77,000 dead, 55,000 still missing and 19,000 injured.

Singapore, the current chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), offered the special meeting to discuss "the humanitarian situation in Myanmar and consider how best to assist Myanmar in its relief and recovery efforts."

The grouping, which has a long-standing policy of not interfering in the internal affairs of member states, is facing the blame that it has been moving too slow to respond.

Members Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines were quick with their individual dispatches of relief supplies and monetary aid in the first days after the disaster.

The Myanmar government has accepted relief goods from foreign countries but refused to allow foreign relief workers to distribute them.

In contrast with more aggressive calls by Western nations for Myanmar to open its doors to foreign aid workers, ASEAN is likely to attempt a compromise to speed up aid delivery and spur reconstruction, observers said.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo has said that countries which want to help others struck by disasters must respect their autonomy.

"We must respect the autonomy of countries and accept the fact that they know local situations better than foreign people ever can," he told reporters on Saturday.

He has played down expectations ahead of the Monday meeting, saying "I don’t think the outcome will be a dramatic one because they have been quite clear about their policy that the rescue effort will be principally their own."

Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win is attending the meeting and is expected to introduce the relief situation in his country.

Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama has said he and his fellow ministers would discuss forming a mechanism within ASEAN to help member nations suffering from similar disasters in the future.


About kchew

an occasional culturalist
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