Labour on Burma

April 22nd, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

seem to have multiple spokespersons and policies on engagement with .

The Dom Post reports:

Three government officials from Myanmar’s repressive military regime are studying English in New Zealand, funded by the taxpayer.

Why, we wonder?

Mr McCully said he had allowed the officials to study here after a review of Myanmar’s involvement in the English Language Training for Officials scheme. That was in line with an international move – led by United States President Barack Obama – to increase engagement with Myanmar in preparation for what were hoped to be democratic elections this year. …

In 2008, Mr McCully – then in opposition – criticised Labour for allowing government-owned company Kordia, formerly BCL, to work in a joint venture doing engineering work on cellphone tower installations in Myanmar. He called the Myanmar government the “Butchers of Burma”. Asked to justify his apparent change of heart, Mr McCully would only say it was “consistent with the international community”.

He said the three studying in New Zealand worked in the civil service in Myanmar. “We don’t do it for people who hold controversial roles.”

Okay – makes sense.  So what does Labour say on it. First their foreign affairs spokesperson:

Labour foreign affairs spokesman said it was important to show the Myanmar officials how democracy should work. “It’s about political education in a way.”

Goodness I am agreeing with Chris. Training up civil servants on how to do a good job, seems worthwhile.

But Labour MP disagrees:

Burma Cross-Party Parliamentary Group chairwoman Maryan Street, a Labour MP, said: “We should not be doing anything to prop up that administration.”

She said the officials – studying in Wellington, Napier, and Nelson – could spy on refugees in this country, leading to possible persecution of families in Burma.

“This is not the same as providing humanitarian support and assistance and training for people who are going back to help develop their country.”

So who speaks for Labour on this issue, and what is their policy?

Finally I wonder if this is a new initiative:

Mr McCully said each participant in the English Language Training for Officials scheme cost about $35,000 to educate over six months – paid for by the New Zealand Government. About 35 officials had visited from Myanmar since 1998.

Guess not.

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15 Responses to “Labour on Burma”

  1. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Labour foreign affairs spokesman Chris Carter said it was important to show the Myanmar officials how democracy should work

    Let him go there, to see how their system works. And make it one-way, and on his taxpayer-funded airmiles please

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  2. RRM (9,418 comments) says:

    It’s almost like asking the Nat-Act-Maori “Hydra” Government what they think about the UN indigenous peoples’ declaration really :-)

    At Least Labour appears to be polarized, which at least shows they care. The Hydra seems to contain For, Against, and Don’t Care…

    [DPF: National, ACT and Maori are separate parties with separate policies. Labour is meant to be one party]

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  3. RRM (9,418 comments) says:

    Curious! That distinction was not an issue when you carried out this piece of electioneering DPF:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2008/10/the_hydra.html

    “A Government of Labour, Winston, Anderton, the Greens and maybe Maori Party is not one likely to cope well. Half of them want to abolish the Reserve Bank Act. Half of them don’t care about government debt. All of them want huge amounts more spending. Do you think they could credibly exercise fiscal and monetary discipline? Do you think they could make hard, even unpopular calls, if deemed necessary for the NZ economy?”

    Ooh look, Turia and Sharples, demon heads of The Hydra. And where are they now?

    [National only needs one party to pass laws - ACT or Maori. Back then I was pointing out that the only way Labour could win would be an arrangement where they would need Greens, Winston and Maori Party on every single vote]

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  4. djg (72 comments) says:

    $35000.00 to teach each of them english, that’s about 4 times the cost of boarding at Kings College.

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  5. kowtow (7,581 comments) says:

    Pedant alert………initiatives by definition must be new,so you cannot have a new initiative!

    How many of these expensively trained civil servants are still in Burma being civil servants?

    The Burmese wanted independance, they can train their own civil servants.How hard can it be? Pen, paper, desk….GO.

    Maybe Bill could identify this as low quality spending! In the meantime lets keep kicking shit out of the Fijians!

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  6. JiveKitty (869 comments) says:

    We should not be contributing to these pacifist measures! But why should I expect anything else from Neville Key? I’ve lost all faith in him recently.

    Hm, that was fun. I see why people do it sometimes. I assume Neville Key is reference to Neville Chamberlain. I really did think people would be out of the woodwork for this one, even though it is a relatively miniscule amount of spending in the scheme of things. It does seem to be rather unnecessary spending, particularly as it doesn’t appear to benefit NZ citizens, the government’s running a deficit – I thought every little bit helped (or so justifications for targeting smaller areas elsewhere went), and the Burmese junta’s intentions towards democracy are highly suspect.

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  7. tvb (4,192 comments) says:

    McCully should stop calling the place Myanmar and start calling it Burma like all other western countries.

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  8. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    I would sugest that Maryan Street is clueless has to how much time either spying or studying takes up.

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  9. Whaleoil (766 comments) says:

    Has Maryan Street forgotten about the investment of Kordia in Burma, an investment that would have been approved by the cabinet she sat in under Labour.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/1318360/1570223

    Perhaps Murray McCully might like to comment on his position on Burma now and why Kordia isn’t reefing its stuff out of there.

    Yet another case of cross-party hypocrisy. Burma = Good, Fiji = bad

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  10. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Shit $35000 each, I hope they speak English like they have cucumbers stuck up their arse’s for that price. For half a dozen slabs I could have taught them how to swear like farmers.

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  11. OctagonGrappler (84 comments) says:

    About 3 years ago a kiwi company was outed by the media for setting up a cellular network in Rangoon. Jim Anderton said we should reserve our comments of the regime of burma about democracy, As the Chinese Govt were very close to the Burmese Junta and to Be critical could harm our relations with the People Republics.

    How strange that labor has multiple spokesman taking a different tack.

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  12. Hurf Durf (2,860 comments) says:

    I’m sure there are more than a few dozen monks doing somersaults in their mass graves around now.

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  13. V (668 comments) says:

    Reminds me of an economic fluff piece on Burma. – An interesting account regardless of the politics involved.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/guest-post-world-without-banks

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  14. tvb (4,192 comments) says:

    The Labour Party are good at one thing – the art of politics. The whip up resentment against the RICH and the SUCCESSFUL. They hope the losers vastly outnumber the winners and look for ways to punish them through high taxes.

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  15. Sam Buchanan (502 comments) says:

    This sends a pretty clear message from New Zealand to the Burmese – work for the regime and the NZ government’ll pay $35,000 to teach you English. Join a democratic movement, flee the repression and get stuck in a refugee camp and if you’re lucky a New Zealand volunteer will pay their own way to Thailand and give you some English lessons.

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