SINCE a military junta seized power in Burma in 1988, two
opposing policies toward the illegitimate government have been
followed by the outside world: "constructive engagement" and
Constructive engagement is followed by the most important of
Burma's neighboring countries: China, Thailand, and the ASEAN
group. The disengagement policy was proposed by a group of Nobel
Peace Laureates at the 49th United Nations Commission on Human
Rights in February 1993. So far, the disengagement policy has not
been wholly adopted or endorsed by the UN, the United States, the
European Community, and many other free-world countries, despite
adoption of resolutions charging the ruling junta with violating
the fundamental human rights of the Burmese people. The junta is
not honoring the result of the 1990 multiparty election that was
won by a landslide by the opposition party, the National League for
Democracy (NLD) of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house
arrest since 1989.
On Jan. 1, 1993, after three years of propagandizing the
democratization of Burma, the junta arbitrarily selected some 720
delegates to attend the National Convention under duress with no
freedom of expression permitted against the military regime.
At the same time, "the leading role for the Burmese army," or
the generals in Burmese politics, was forced upon delegates in
drafting the constitution. The convention has been going on and off
for more than three months, and on April 9 it was postponed until
June 7, 1993, after more than three months of discussing and
drafting the 15 chapter headings of the so-called "Constitution of
At the same time, the generals have succeeded in forcing the
delegates to incorporate the chapter on Tatmadaw, the Army, as one
of the chapters in the constitution.
As a recent political ploy to boost its image abroad, the junta
has twice allowed informal fact-finding visits to Burma made by
present and former members of the US House of Representatives. In
February 1993, the visitors were Reps. William Archer (R) of Texas
and Nancy Johnson (R) of Connecticut. The military officials took
them on a five-day tour of different regions. On March 25, Mr.
Archer and Ms. Johnson testified before the US House Committee on
Foreign Affairs, concerning US policy toward Burma and Southeast
Asia. Based upon this brief experience, each of them spoke of the
"impressive" pace of political and economic change in Burma during
the preceding 18 months.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) of California challenged that
assessment, and a UN official who visited Burma twice this year
described the situation as reported to the UN Commission on Human
Rights as "depressive."
AT the same hearing, Miriam Marshall Segal, a US businesswoman
who owns the Myanmar-American Fishery Company, a joint venture
formed in 1990 with the Myanmar Fishery Enterprise, recommended the
US give Burma most favored nation (MFN) status. …