Ethical Minefields: The Filthy Business Of Performing Deals With Myanmar’s Army

Ethical Minefields: The Filthy Business Of Performing Deals With Myanmar's Army

Regardless of the junta’s formal dissolution in 2010, the release of political prisoners including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, along with democratic reforms permitting National League Democracy to acquire authorities in 2015, the army (formally referred to as the Tatmadaw) keeps huge political and financial power.

A quarter of parliamentary seats are earmarked for military appointees. The Tatmadaw also controls many important industrial conglomerates with disproportionate financial sway, having prospered through decades of cronyism and corruption.

The acute international sanctions imposed on Myanmar throughout junta rule have been raised. But, United Nations human rights advocates have cautioned against doing business with the Tatmadaw because of the human rights atrocities.

Many reports from recent indicate foreign organizations are neglecting to take this direction severely. Two British banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered, have allegedly lent US$60 million into a Vietnamese business building a cell community in Myanmar.

The Tatmadaw-controlled Myanmar Economic Corporation owns 28 percent of this community, called Mytel. An Israeli tech firm, Gilat Satellite Networks, has also allegedly been doing business using Mytel.

Its Future Fund has spent A$3.2 million (roughly US$2.5 million) at a subsidiary of Indian multinational Adani, which will be doing business with the Myanmar Economic Corporation.

The subsidiary, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zones, is financing the rail link to join Adani’s contentious Carmichael coal mine in Queensland into some vent on the Great Barrier Reef. It’s also constructing a container port near Yangon on property owned by the Myanmar Economic Corporation.

War Crimes And Other Atrocities

The United Nations’ call to stop from doing business with the Tatmadaw stems from the 2016 operations contrary to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, the separatist Islamist insurgency located in the western state of Rakhine.

Rahkine is all about one-fifth Muslim, largely ethnic Rohingya, a team with its own distinctive language and culture.

The crackdown rapidly escalated to a human rights catastrophe. Around 350 Rohingya villages were destroyed, in accordance with Human Rights Watch. (Hundred of thousands were living in refugee camps because of previous persecution.)

In March 2017 that the United Nations Human Rights Council made a different fact-finding assignment to investigate allegations of atrocities. They printed their first complete report in September 2018.

Telephone To Sever Economic Ties

In September 2019 the assignment published a study on the Tatmadaw’s economic pursuits. It advocated foreign companies sever ties and stop all business transactions with Tatmadaw-controlled entities.

Both of these businesses have gained from near-monopoly control over several tasks and businesses under the junta. They’ve amassed enormous land holdings and companies in manufacturing, building, property and industrial zones, finance and insurance, mining and telecommunications.

They became public firms in late 2016, but their gains nevertheless largely flow into the army. The report also advocated authorities and institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) do it to effectively isolate the Myanmar army.

Ethical Responsibility

It’s very important to be aware that the UN report didn’t call for overall disinvestment in Myanmar. It encouraged companies to input, invest and bring about much-needed economic growth without associating with the army.

The issue of isolation engagement has become a longstanding one for Myanmar. Until 2011 that the United States, the European Union and nations including Australia enforced broad trade and diplomatic sanctions.

But, foreign firms often found a means to conduct business in Myanmar through different low-profile strategies. Firms in neighbouring countries specifically mainly operated on a “business as usual” basis.

Doing business in Myanmar without doing business with Tatmadaw pursuits is not an simple job. Access to property and land is particularly thorny, given much is possessed by crony businesses.

It notes its interface branches in Myanmar have been “held through Singapore-based entities and stick to the rigorous regulations of the Singapore authorities”.

However, doing business with the army conglomerates is less essential than previously. Creating separate subsidiaries doesn’t protect investors from their moral responsibilities not to help line the pockets of those responsible for genocide.

Whether or not essential, when high-profile foreign companies decide to enter into these deals they’ll surely continue to be detected and criticised for making those decisions.