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In Myanmar, Obama Trip Seen as Endorsement

Wall Street Journal – by Sam Holmes

President Barack Obama heads to a land of potential wealth and lingering instability when he makes his historic trip this month to Myanmar, where U.S. companies such as Visa Inc. V -0.03% and Coca-Cola Co. KO -0.25% are testing unexplored investment territory but a deadly sectarian conflict hangs dangerously over the country’ experiment with liberalization.

The first sitting U.S. president to visit the long-isolated country will give a boost to the country’ reforming president and the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The visit is the most important by a world leader to Myanmar since decades of military dictatorship were replaced last year by a quasicivilian government led by President Thein Sein. The new regime has been rewarded by the U.S. for opening up the economy and the political realm with the suspension of nearly all economic sanctions. Mr. Obama’s trip, part of a swing through Southeast Asia fresh off his re-election victory, is seen in Myanmar as a sign of increasing global acceptance.

“The visit of President Obama to Myanmar is very encouraging,” said Zaw Htay, an official in the president’s office. “It reflects his sound support towards Asia, including Myanmar.”

Mr. Obama arrives as a number of U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCoInc. PEP +0.07% and General Electric Co. GE +1.12% have already flagged their intention to do business in the country. Payments groups MasterCard Inc.MA +0.26% and Visa Inc. have tied up with local banks and MasterCard is issuing its first credit cards this weekend. Myanmar recently passed a new set of foreign investment laws designed to be more pro-business.

“It’s a solid endorsement of the country’s transformation and will help focus the business community’s attention on its growth potential,” said Elizabeth Buse, Visa’s group president for Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, said of Mr. Obama’s visit.

As in other parts of the world, Mr. Obama commands a level of popularity in Myanmar that far exceeds his partisan appeal in his own country. When he won his first term in 2008, citizens here hoped that an “Oburma” phenomenon would develop that would help propel reform in the country. The expectations were rekindled when news of his visit arrived early Friday.

“I feel Myanmar now has a great friend who is very strong and powerful,” said Ma Thuri, 22, a fourth-year biology student at Dagon University in Yangon. “It’s like the feeling I get from a good friend who can support me and make my life safe.”

Historically, Myanmar, also known as Burma, served as a major crossroads for people and goods moving within Asia and toward the West, but in recent decades the strategically placed nation—between China, India, the rest of Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean—became an economic backwater under dictatorship, human-rights abuses and mismanagement as the rest of Asia powered ahead.

Now, rewarded by scrapped sanctions and acceptance by the West to encourage more reforms, the country is being eyed by investors who see it as one of Asia’s largest remaining frontier economies with enticing needs for nearly everything from physical to financial infrastructure, industry and services. The low-wage climate is seen as a plus, but the legal and infrastructural framework to make a new business a success remain a work in progress.

Mr. Obama will be the first sitting president to visit Myanmar, according to local historian Thant Myint-U. Others came when they weren’t in office: Herbert Hoover lived in the country in the early 1900s, and Ulysses S. Grant visited as part of a two-year world trip onboard the steamship SS Indiana. Richard Nixon also made visits in 1953 and 1985.

Mr. Obama will spend time with Mr. Thein Sein and Ms. Suu Kyi. His trip is part of a wider swing that includes Thailand, a longstanding U.S. ally, and Cambodia, which will host the annual Association of Southeast Asian Naitons summit. Asean is key to U.S. efforts to check China’s growing military influence. Myanmar has close relations with China, but the U.S. Army commander for the Pacific was part of a U.S. delegation that visited Myanmar last month in a signal that closer U.S.-Myanmar military relations could be possible if human-rights concerns were addressed.

Not everyone thinks the visit is a good idea. Some human-rights groups say that it’s premature in light of still pressing questions, not least the fresh humanitarian crisis taking place in Rakhine state in the west, where clashes last month between the minority Rohingya Muslims and majority Rakhine Buddhists left 89 people dead and thousands of homes burned. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced since the violence erupted in June. In other areas, skirmishes involving ethnic rebels and the military remain unresolved in some areas.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Asia, believes Mr. Obama’s visit now means the calibrated tit-for-tat sequencing of reforms between Myanmar and the international community has been overrun.

“When originally the reform process started, there was supposed to be a dialogue in a back-and-forth where ‘you do some things, we’ll do some things’ ” Mr. Robertson said.“What has been frontloaded evidently is engagement in foreign aid and foreign investment, where human rights has been left behind as a key concern.”

Celine Fernandez contributed to this article.

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5 Responses to In Myanmar, Obama Trip Seen as Endorsement

  1. NC says:

    I bet the sheeple feel really happy that the man they re-voted for and re-elected cared so much about their votes that he stayed in our country only for 3 days after getting re-elected before heading off to the other side of the world on another taxpayer funded vacation.

    Yea he REALLY cares a lot about the American people. When is the last time he has done ANYTHING for the American people and not for some other country? He just gave everyone a BIG F**K YOU!!


  2. NC says:

    Once again, I re-post my personal parody written song about Obama for this very kind of article:

    “MY NAME IS….” Song by NC (A Parody of Eminem’s song, “MY NAME IS…”)

    Hi, my name is…(What?) My name is…(Who?)
    My name is… [Scratches] Barry Soetoro
    Hi, my name is…(Huh?) My name is…(Who?)
    My name is… [Scratches] Barry Soetoro

    Ahem… excuse me!
    Can I have the attention of the media for one second?

    Hi Sheeple! Do you like violence? (Yeah yeah yeah!)
    Wanna see me stick more wars on television and in front of your eyelids? (Uh-huh!)
    Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did? (Yeah yeah!)
    Try smoking pot and get messed up worse than my life is? (Huh?)
    My brain’s the shape of an ape, I’m trying to get the Constitution straight
    But I can’t figure out which U.S. Amendment I want to eliminate (Ummmm…)
    And Janet Napolitano said, “Barack Obama you look like you’ve seen a drone!”
    Uh-uhhh! “So why’s your face blank? Man you stoned!”
    Well since age twelve, I’ve felt like I’m someone else
    Cause I’ve had so many identities that even I couldn’t tell
    Got pissed off and used someone else’s social security card to write off
    And confused the U.S. citizens so much they are running around saying, “Man, what the F**K??!!”
    I am a dirty rat but really just a controlled Democrat
    Like Bill Clinton and others before that
    C’mere Michelle! (Obama, wait a minute, that’s my new dress dog!)
    I don’t give a damn, I’m a dictator ready to piss the world off.

    Hi, my name is…(What?) My name is…(Who?)
    My name is… [Scratches] Barry the Rat
    Hi, my name is…(Huh?) My name is…(Who?)
    My name is… [Scratches] Barry the Rat

    My campaign adviser told me to run on “Hope and Change”
    Thanks a lot, next term I’ll be the one to blame
    I smacked him in his face with an Executive Order, chased him towards the Mexican Border
    And shut his mouth with a Military Order (Owwwwwww!)
    Walked in the Queen’s ballroom, had my glass all held up
    Said a powerful speech, then drank my cup
    During the middle of the Queen’s anthem, I began to tremble
    In a big room full of Royals who were saying to themselves: “WHAT THE BLOODY DEVIL!”
    Ninety-nine percent of Mainstream media I have lied to
    I just found out that the Alternative media knows more truth than I do (Damn!)
    I told them I’d give free visas, end wars and reduce unemployment
    Make a record about how I used taxpayers money to travel everywhere for my own enjoyment (Oh thank you!)
    You know your screwed when the economy falls further in your hands
    And you try to continue with fancy campaign speeches to build-up more fans (Aaaahhhhh!)
    This guy on the campaign trail asked for my autograph
    (Brother, can I get your autograph?)
    So I signed it: “Dear Dave, thanks for your support, SUCKER!”

    Hi, my name is…(What?) My name is…(Who?)
    My name is… [Scratches] Barack Hussein Obama
    Hi, my name is…(Huh?) My name is…(Who?)
    My name is… [Scratches] Barack Hussein Obama

    Stop the terrorists! They all need to be locked away! (Get them!)
    Panetta, don’t just stand there, I need another war today!
    I’m not ready to leave, I’m too narcissitic to die (Screw that!)
    I’ll have to be sent to Guantanomo Bay and be tortured alive (Huh yup!)
    Am I really African or American? I can’t decide
    I just changed my nationality again, dare me to fly? (Go ahead)
    All my life I was a very privileged guy
    I ain’t had a woman in years, maybe it’s due to my bisexual side (Whoops!)
    Prancing around like a Hollywood Celebrity (Hachhh-too)
    I stutter when I talk, I’ll strut towards anything that walks (C’mere)
    When I was in college, I had no friends and I was a bum
    How were you gonna make me a charismatic president, Brzezinski? (Wah!)
    Man, you dumb! (Wahhh!)
    I lay awake at night staring above my bed
    With hidden rage at the U.S. Constitution that’s hanging over my head (BANG!)
    I’m steaming mad (Arrrggghhh!)
    And by the way when you see Bashar Al-Assad? (Yeah?)
    Tell him that I bombed his home, in this dream I had.

    Hi, my name is…(What?) My name is…(Who?)
    My name is… [Scratches] Barack Obama
    Hi, my name is…(Huh?) My name is…(Who?)
    My name is… [Scratches] Barack Obama

  3. NC says:

    Once again, we have a natural disaster and people are homeless and starving to death and this guy is out drinking, either in Ireland or the Far East. Unbelievable!!! How does this guy live with himself is beyond me. NO HUMANITY. NO SOUL. Meaning he is NOT EVEN HUMAN!!! He’s a demon from HELL that needs to be stopped!

  4. NC says:

    “President Barack Obama heads to a land of potential wealth and lingering instability when he makes his historic trip this month to Myanmar, where U.S. companies such as Visa Inc. V -0.03% and Coca-Cola Co. KO -0.25% are testing unexplored investment territory but a deadly sectarian conflict hangs dangerously over the country’ experiment with liberalization.”

    OHH!! So we are going to Myanmar to serve our corporate masters and not the people. I mean the proof is all right here in this very paragraph, people. TREASON!!! TREASON!!! TREASON!!!

    “Potential Wealth”? Are you kidding me? As if they don’t have enough wealth as it is in this country, they have to pillage poor Myanmar?

    Obama in that picture above just looks like a possessed warlord in a gangster movie, riding away in his black car with an evil look on his face that just makes you get angry and want to do you know what to him.

    • # 1 NWO Hatr says:

      JD pointed out in a comment on another article that to be charged with treason, you first have to be a citizen of the country making the charge.

      I think he has a valid claim.

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