Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Burmese opposition eyes U Lin Myaing's US visit

By Zar Ni

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese Opposition has its eye on former Burmese ambassador to the United States, U Ling Myaing's current visit to the US.

Speculations abound that the visit of U Ling Myaing, who has a reputation of being flexible and diplomatic, has a lot to do with the Burmese efforts at lifting of the economic sanctions imposed by the US on Burma. However, others are of the opinion that he is on a personal tour.

People have also been speculating that the junta uses him because of his reputation of having good relations with the US government, while residing in that country during his diplomatic obligations.

On the other hand, Burmese observers and analysts feel that if he really tries to get the US sanctions imposed on Burma lifted, he will undoubtedly fail.

Thailand- based Burmese analyst U Win Min told Mizzima, "I do not think he will succeed in persuading the US administration to lift the sanctions. It will only be possible depending on the Burmese government's good gesture before the upcoming general elections such as releasing political prisoners and the quantum of political concessions offered to the people".

Former Naval Officer U Lin Myaing served in the Burmese Navy for 26 years. He also worked for the Narcotic Eradication Programme in association with the US government.

With the Burmese junta intensifying its repression against political dissidents and activists by more arrests, doling out harsh prison terms to them, the US government is also moving ahead with their economic sanctions on the junta, targeting the top brass of ruling generals and their cronies.

According to the US Finance Department, they targeted major state-run businesses, the senior officials of the junta, the cronies and cohorts of the ruling junta and their economic networks and empires. Currently over 100 people are under this economic sanction.

When ousted Prime Minister Gen. Khin Nyunt was in power, the military regime hired DCI lobby firm at the cost of USD 300,000 for lifting the US sanctions and facilitating recognition of the junta by the US government.

However, the junta stopped all its dealings with DCI later and U Lin Myaing lobbied on their behalf besides performing his diplomatic duties. He lobbied a great deal with US Congressmen, the diplomatic community said.

According to intimate friends of U Lin Myaing, he is tolerant and flexible and he managed to contain the US government's economic sanctions on Burma to some extent, with his diplomatic skill.

During his diplomatic tour to the US, under Gen. Khin Nyunt's policy, he met and discussed with the opposition parties in the US. In these meetings, he persuaded and organized these opposition parties to oppose the US economic sanctions on Burma.

When Gen. Khin Nyunt was ousted from his post in 2004, he was recalled to Burma along with many other diplomats and reassigned to the Foreign Ministry as Director General.

After two years, he retired from this post and is currently working as advisor to a company, which has close proximity with the top brass of the ruling military generals.

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