Posts Tagged ‘Burma’

The Curse and the Tragedy of Burma’s Common Resources

January 8, 08

(Thanks to Mei Yee for requesting a post on the suffering of the Burmese people.) 


You may have heard or read about the suffering of the ordinary Burmese people under the harsh rule of the military junta that controls the nation.

Even though Burma is selling its vast natural resources for huge profits, the majority of the population lives in poverty, without electricity or other basic amenities. Despite producing so much oil and gas, the Burmese people have to pay high and ever-rising prices their daily fuel!

This is because all or almost all the foreign exchange earned from Burma’s oil and gas goes to strengthening the military, financing lavish pet projects like the new capital city in the middle of nowhere (not Putrajaya :p ), or making life ever more luxurious for those in power.

Meanwhile, the complaints of the neglected people are ignored or even violently, brutally and fatally silenced.

Burma is clearly suffering from the Resource Curse. The very same natural riches that should help lift its people out of poverty by financing infrastructure and development is instead to blame for perpetuating the suffering, as the wealth is channeled to pampering the select fortunate few and maintain the unfair situation by miltary force.

(This paradoxical occurence is also seen in the Oil States of the Middle East, which despite their decades of record-breaking profits from high oil prices, have a population that is still largely uneducated, poor and decidedly Thrid World.

Even in almost-but-not-just-yet-First-World Malaysia, fuel prices are rising despite our oil production capacity, as profits from petroleum sales go to ego-boosting mega-projects of no practical use to the public.)

In response to this gross imbalance in the distribution of national wealth, common Burmese and their sympathizers and supporters call upon the nations of the world not to do business with the corrupt and oppressive military junta.

If the world stops buying Burmese oil and gas and paying money to the military rulers, the junta will be unable to finance their vast army and keep their soldiers content. Military rule will eventually be forced to give way to a fair and progressive civilian government.

(You can go to SHWE homepage to download some PDF publications released in support of the ordinary, exploited people of Burma.)

But therein a major problem is exposed. If the socially aware Corporation A boycotts Burmese gas and oil, the purely pragmatic Corporation B might not play along, and simply continue to buy Burmese oil and gas – without a competitor. In that case, all that Corporation A achieves is to lose out on relatively cheap and accessible energy, while Corporation B reaps the benefits and the status quo in Burma remains unscathed.

In the real world, this means that even if nations with strong concern for human rights refuse to buy Burmese resources, energy-hungry economic giants like China and India and, yes, ASEAN including Malaysia, will still buy Burmese oil and gas, and keep on providing the money which the ruling military junta uses to perpetuate the oppression and poverty of the common Burmese.

After all, they reason, why should our own people lose out to the Chinese/Indians for the sake of the Burmese? To sacrifice our own nation’s economic growth and development for fanciful ideals is akin to betraying the country.

It is an example of the Tragedy of the Commons – a finite resource is available to all who wish to partake of it, however much they wish. If everyone takes just a little bit, only as much as they need, the resource can last longer. An example of common resources in real life are fish in international waters that belong to whoever catches them first.

But there is nothing to stop a greedy fellow from taking much more than he needs. If other people still ‘play fair’, they will lose out in relation to the greedy man. This becomes much worse if there are many people and only little of the resource. Thus, the self-preserving solution is to join in and also grab as much as you can.

In the Malaysian context, this is like boarding a bus at peak times. If everyone lined up in an orderly manner, things would go smoothly. But there are no enforced rules to keep the line orderly, so whoever pushes their way to the front will be able to board the bus first.

If people act politely and let the shovers move ahead, the polite ones will never get on the bus. Thus the whole thing turns into a jam-packed rugby match for survival – that is, getting to work on time.

In the Burmese context, there is nothing to stop China, India or any other nationalistic country from taking as much cheap Burmese resources as they can. If any righteous nations refuse to partake of the feast, then they will lose out for no gain to themselves or the suffring Burmese.

In all the above hypothethical, Malaysian and Burmese examples, the only way to avoid the Tragedy is for everyone to act with restraint – simultaneously and continually – either through strong self-discipline (unlikely) or strictly enforced rules (difficult in practice).

See also this post referencing strict laws and video games for my thoughts on personal ethics vs rule enforcement

But who will be responsible for taking such as step? The Americans, who are demonized by the rest of the world even as they draw the attention and end the lives of tens of thousands of terrorists who would be doing who-knows-what to our civilians?

Or ASEAN, which can boast a few sports meets as its best accomplishments?

(Notet to all self-righteous critics of American foreign policy: The situation in Iraq is going excellently these days, and it is largely thanks to the situation in Iraq is going excellently these days situation in Iraq is going excellently these daysthat most of Southeast Asia was spared the legacy of the Communist/Socialist yoke that Burma now suffers under.)

I don’t have the answers, but I very much doubt that talking nicely or waving U.N. declarations of intent to vote on a preliminary motion to diplomatically condemn the Burmese junta will achieve anything.

Sadly, neither will just one or two companies or countries cutting off relations and business with Burma’s military dictators.

Photos of Brutally Murdered Victims of the Southern Thailand Pattani Insurgency

September 28, 07

The Myanmar protests against raised oil prices continue on. At this time, the latest update is that government soldiers have responded with violent and fatal retaliation (just like one expect from a Communist dictatorship).

Michelle Malkin has a collection of updates, including on the shot dead Japanese reporter Kenji Nagai. Video of that, small photos.

But that’s not what this post is mainly about. It just serves as a stark contrast and a reminder of another ongoing protest marred by violence in South East Asia.

Religious followers in Myanmar protest the government’s policies that they disagree with by holding peace marches. The government army responds with a violent crackdown, which is met with non-violence and utter pacifism.

Meanwhile, religious followers in Southern Thailand protest the government’s policies that they disagree with by launching a brutal campaign of terror, extortion, torture, murder and mutilation. The government army responds with both retribution and reconciliation, which is met with even more, ever-escalating violence.

We in Malaysia occasionally read/hear about the troubles in Pattani in our local mainstream news. A schoolteacher maimed here, a few soldiers killed there, a couple of monks and a mosque preacher murdered…

But it is so different when you actually see what the Pattani ‘insurgents’ actually do to their victims. There is a very good reason why such people are called ‘terrorists’ – their methods are intentionally designed to cause as much fear, horror and panic as possible.

Anyone who does not support or comply with the terrorists is brutally murdered – perhaps tortured first, and the body hatefully disfigured after death. Through such intimidation, the local populace are cowed into submission – whether or not they agree with the goals and secession demands of the terror-mongers.

School teachers, pacifist Buddhist monks, local ulamas, mothers going to the market – it doesn;t matter who the victims are to these monsters. Their lust for evil and power far overwhelm their shallow facade and excuse of religious righteousness and government unfairness.

The Pattani rebels are nothing more than the usual gangsters, criminals and serial murderers. Nothing justifies their hateful, sadistic, despicable actions. They would likely kill their own families in their depravity. And then gleefully record their evil on their handphones.

Below follow several photos of the South Thailand insurgency terrorism victims. Be warned, although I have censored the most gory parts, they are still very extreme.

Scroll down to view the horrors perpatrated just beyond our very borders. How long before they export this barbaric madness to Malaysia, such a short hop away?

The following photos are sourced from The uncensored versions and more photos can be found there. The photos were apparently sent in by a Malaysian – perhaps a news team member, which would explain how he/she got the photos that we consumers never see.

Zombietime is much respected as a truthful source by bloggers worldwide. I mention and reference his journalistic efforts several times in my own blog, in All Your Fakes Are Belong to Us, Flat Fatima will Make Your News Stories Become The Truth!, and especially Malaysiakini: Are US News Agencies Biased Against Palestine?.

But if you think the Pattani murderers are horrifying and filled with the blackest of all evil… Then you haven’t seen The Jawa Report’s photos of a young Taliban child dressed in battle gear cutting off someone’s head.

Just the same as what was done to Nick Berg and Jack Hensley and Shosei Koda and Kenneth Bigley and Paul Marshall Johnson Jr and Seif Adnan Kanaan and Eugene Armstrong and Kim Sun-il and Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca, Theo van Gogh, and of course, Daniel Pearl.






A beheaded motorcyclist. A threatening warning note was found on the body, you can see it and the translation at Zombietime.


The removed head left near the body. Gruesome…


A soldier after the terrorists had their way with him. I forget, which is the merciless, inhuman organization of oppression again? The Thai government?


Brutalized dead body, probably of a monk, found in a house in a very unnatural position.


A tiny censor box to blot out the gore from a victim left on the train tracks to be run over… But that doesn’t stop you from realizing “Oh **** where’s the rest of the body?!”


Worst of the lot – the viciously defiled body of a monk, so gory and heartless that basically the entire photo had to be censored to post it on my blog.

Again, go to for the uncensored versions and a few other pics. And again, if you think the above is really bad, you need to see the uncensored photo proof at The Jawa Report of jihadis leading a young boy to hack off a victim’s head.

There has to be a stronger word of condemnation for such than EVIL.

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