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Suu Kyi. (r)


By Mark Baker

RANGOON, Sunday: The Burmese opposition leader, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, has 
called on international business, including Australian companies, to 
suspend investment until her country is democratic.

She said a recent boom in foreign investment was enriching the military 
leadership and doing nothing to help ordinary Burmese, who were living in 
worsening poverty.

I would like those companies to wait and see, to wait for the time when 
whatever they do will benefit the people who need it most, she told the 

The Burmese regime has approved projects worth about $4 billion since it 
took power after crushing a pro-democracy uprising in 1988. Most of the 
investment has been in mining, logging and the construction of new 
tourist hotels.

Despite Canberras policy of neither encouraging nor discouraging 
investment in Burma, there had been a threefold increase in the number of 
Australian companies sending exploratory missions there in the past 18 

It is believed that several big Austrlian companies - including BHP, CRA 
and Transfield - are discussing substantial new projects with the regime.

Ms Suu Kyi, who was released from six years of house arrest in July, has 
called for dialogue towards a return to democratic government. But the 
military is pushing ahead with plans for a new constitution which will 
entrench their control.

Foreign investors should realise there could be no sustained economic 
growth and opportunities in Burma until there was agreement on the 
countrys political future, Ms Suu Kyi said.

You cant sustain economic development without peace and stability, and to 
have peace and stability there must be trust, and that is one thing that 
is lacking, she said.

Inflation is absolutely terrible. I think you judge the progress of a 
country basically from how the peoples health and education is, and there 
has been a deterioration.

She said hospitals were seriously short of medicines, and spending on 
education was contracting. Burmas inflation rate is about 40 per cent, 
with the price of rice soaring in recent months.

Ms Suu Kyi also said Burma should not to be admitted as a member of the 
seven-nation Association of South-East Asian Nations until it had a 
democratically elected government.

( The Sydney Morning Herald, September 4, 1995, Monday).