News / Asia

Burma Working to Change Image

Burmese President Thein Sein's visits this past week to the United States and the United Nations appear to be moving the country's image in the right direction.  Now the question is how soon the country itself will follow.

At the airport in Rangoon this week, supporters waited for Thein Sein, already proclaiming his U.N. visit a success.

"I came here to welcome Mr. President because I love the speech he gave at U.N. I think I should welcome him, because he is our president and he could really change our country," said one supporter.

Yet even as he drove away, questions about the ultimate impact of the president's U.N. speech linger.  For example, when will he allow foreign investors to start putting money into the Burmese economy?  

In an exclusive interview with VOA's Burmese service before heading back home,  Thein Sein said it is a work in progress:

"There is danger of business people ending with some control in administrative matters," he said. "That’s why it’s important not to have a negative impact on our sovereignty. It’s also important not to destroy our environment.  We don’t want our natural resources to be extracted leaving nothing behind."

The Burmese president also tried to ease concerns about corruption in general, pointing to his relationship with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who herself has been touring the U.S.

"Regarding rule of law, Parliament deems it necessary to take up this matter," added Thein Sein.  "Daw Aung San Suu Kyi also has often spoken about the importance of rule of law.  Since rule of law and anti-corruption are also my priorities, our government is also working on this.  As Parliament is working on it too … this effort of working for the same goal leads to a good future."

High level meetings between Burma and the U.S. seem to have alleviated some concerns in Washington, but not all, says Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell.

"We are also in very close consultation with those in-country - inside Burma, inside Myanmar - that have very strong interests in how the process of American engagement, transparent investment, responsible investment takes shape," said Campbell.

As for whether everything goes according to plan, it seems most Burmese will just have to wait and see.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: KD
October 02, 2012 1:35 PM
I support the Burma president for stating that he will have to control the foreign investment so that they will not deplete Burma's natural resources and leave nothing behind. Yes, he is doing the right thing. Unlike Burma president, PM hun sen of Cambodia has allowed cambodian natural resoureces to be depleted and destroyed through illigal logging, unlawful land concessions, and land grabbing. hun sen is a shame to Cambodia and the international communities.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs