Sunday, August 17, 2014

Response to Derek Tonkin's article in the JAS

This is in response to Derek Tonkin’s article: The R-word, and its ramifications, which was posted in the JAS:

 As I first noted in one of my articles, Derek Tonkin,  former British Ambassador to Thailand and Advisor to Bagan Capital Limited, is in the business of promoting the agenda of the Burmese government, as this is part of his job making some money out of that friendship that he enjoys. He has been intellectually dishonest on the issue of the Rohingya cause knowing that his Burmese patrons in the administration of Thein Sein and his British patrons for whom doing business in Myanmar is more important than human rights of the persecuted minority. So, time and again, he comes out of his turtle nest to repeat flawed theory. In this endeavor, he does not miss to quote another intellectually dishonest researcher Jacques Leider, well known for anti-Muslim, missionary bias.
Mr. Tonkin may like to read the British report of 1826 in which the then British administrator Paton cited the presence of 30% Muslims in Arakan soon after the territory was annexed by the East India Company. What did happen to those Muslims? Are they not the forefathers of today's Rohingya people? What about the report of the British surgeon, Dr. Buchanan, who visited Burma in the pre-colonial days of the late 18th century when he mentioned the Rohingya people? None of these historical facts, let alone tomes of literature - prevalent in Bengal and Arakan - pointing to the rich history of Rohang, Roshang - desh and its people matter to paid agents like Derek Tonkin. He is a joke and sounds like an intellectual fraud.
One of the signs of genocide is denying the right of a group to self-identify itself. And that is what the Burmese authorities and their racist Buddhists have been doing for the past half a century when it comes to the Rohingya people. Instead of twisting facts to hide such a horrendous crime, what Tonkin and Leider ought to do is to take a moral stand and condemn it vehemently. That would be proper rather than wasting everyone's times with nonsense that is untrue and cannot be justified under any circumstance.

Derek Tonkin is Founder & Chairman of Network Myanmar - an organization promoting engagement with Myanmar. During the 90s, Mr. Tonkin was Chairman of the Beta Vietnam Fund and the Beta Mekong Fund, that made investments in Myanmar. He is also in the Advisory Board of Bagan Capital, which promotes business with Burma.

You can find the info about his activities by clicking
As to the group's justification of business with Burma, see the quote below from its website:

Why Myanmar?
Myanmar is the last frontier market opportunity in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar is a country with enormous economic potential based on its strategic location, its size and its stock of human and physical resources.

Since elections in 2010, Myanmar has been caught in a whirlwind of excitement, intrigue and change. The Government has demonstrated a general commitment to the far-reaching political and economic reforms that began over two years ago – with new laws, policies and engagements. As a result, a rapprochement with western economies and lifting of most of their sanctions has renewed investor interest in the country.

Reforms have seen the Myanmar Government moving to dismantle anti-competitive elements of the domestic business environment and encourage foreign investment, with the aim of increasing economic efficiency and driving economic growth.  Reform of the banking system and development of the financial sector is also well under way. We believe government policy has now established a base for extensive social and economic renewal in Myanmar, allowing the country to make the leap into the 21st century.  There is immense potential for rewarding participation by foreign investors.

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