Dean Kellye Testy
Well good evening everyone I'm Kellye Testey the Dean of University of Washington School of Law and it's a great pleasure to welcome you here to law school and to Gates Hall for this important celebration event. I'm just so glad you can join us. I know there may be a few more people out there on the parking hunt but they will join us as they can if they don't get pulled into judgment court on the way down the hall. I again do want to extend the warmest welcome from the school of law. We are just so pleased to be here tonight and celebrating this event with you.
I want to provide just a few introductory remarks. The country Myanmar formally Burma is in the midst of a momentous political change which is seen the country emerge from decades of repressive military rule and international isolation to be lauded by Western leaders as a model of political development. While clearly not a democracy yet the new quasi-civilian government has brought the opposition into Parliament and has revitalized the country's political life in many ways. There are a lot of questions that remain however as would be the case in any such transformation, many questions about how Myanmar will grow its economy and how it can do so in a way that is inclusive and bring benefits to its entire population including the diverse ethnic minorities within its borders.
So this event tonight exploring these issues as part of an ongoing series of events that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Asian law center here at UW law the oldest such center in the country. And our program today demonstrates that centers commitment to research, to teaching about changing geopolitics in Asia and also demonstrates our commitment to understanding the growing importance of Southeast Asia as part of the larger fabric of the Asian Pacific region. This spring in addition to marking the 50th anniversary of our Asian law center also marks the 20th anniversary of a wonderful and unique program that has been housed within the Asian law center. That is known as the sustainable international development graduate program. We sometimes refer to that as SID so if I slip into that in a moment you will know that means sustainable international development. We have tonight with us a wonderful group of current SID LLM students and also seminar alumni from that program here and I want to welcome our alumni back and want you to know that we are particularly proud of all of you as our alumni in this program as leaders for the global common good what a wonderful example of the law school's mission.
And today’s program focuses on the core issues that are SID students learn about: how to help lower and middle income countries grow well protecting human rights, distributing resources to all parts of society and also protecting the environment. These are of course not easy challenges that many of our graduates are working every day attempting to develop solutions to pressing issues such as these.
Now what I want to do is turn to our expert panel and introduce them. We are so fortunate to have three speakers here tonight who are actively involved in the legal and economic transition in Myanmar. First I want to welcome John Pierce second from my right here, one of our alums a lawyer involved in representing companies in major infrastructure projects worldwide. He has and continues to represent multinationals that are interested in investing in Burma.
I also want to pay a warm welcome to Salil Tripathi who is the policy director of the Institute for human rights in business a leading program focused on responsible investment in Myanmar that protects human rights and so very warm welcome to you as well.
It is of course always fun to introduce someone who in many ways needs not one speck of an introduction but I get to have that honor tonight of introducing and welcoming Prof. Roy Prosterman one of the world's foremost experts on land tenure reform. He spent the last 40 years working to secure greater land rights for the poor in many developing countries and today he and his colleagues do that through an organization known as Landessa. And they are actively through that work helping Myanmar farmers and citizens secure their own land tenure rights.
Today we honor the work of Prof. Prosterman and with this event as we celebrate the 20 years of the sustainable international development program that he had the foresight to found 20 years ago. He anticipated then that not only did we need to focus on law as a tool to alleviate poverty worldwide but also the laws are needed to think about conserving the world's resources for future generations meaning that development must also be sustainable. As United Nations moves towards a series of sustainable development goals Prof. Prosterman’s foresight has been embraced by governments worldwide. And I am incredibly grateful that he has always been associated with the University of Washington and has created a program that will allow our students to face the 21st century challenges of allowing countries to develop inclusively and to do so while preventing the Earth's depletion of resources for the future.
I want to take just a minute to ask you all to just join me in recognizing Prof. Prosterman and telling him how glad we are he is here with us tonight.
And Roy I think you will also be glad to know that another program that is closely sustainable with our sustainable international development program the Barer fellows today we reviewed an incredible competitive group of fellows and I think for the first time we will have a fellow next year from Myanmar. So we are really excited about that.
Now when I have the further pleasure to do is to turn this panel over to its moderator Prof. Anita Ramasastry. Anita is a lawn development expert as well and just like Prof. Prosterman I couldn't be happier that she's on the UW faculty. She has become the director of the SID graduate program and is doing just an amazing job. Talk about a little intimidation to have the shoes to fill of Prof. Prosterman in assuming this role. But they are working together in an extraordinary way and I am very confident that the legacy that Prof. Prosterman has brought for this law school will continue under Anita is able leadership. So I need I want to turn it over to you and I want to say thanks again for everyone for being here and I know that and trust that your discussion will be an enjoyable and productive one today as you tackle these pressing issues thank you very much.
Thank you Dean Testey. Today is really a celebration. It's a celebration of the work of Prof. Prosterman and also a chance to explore the University of Washington some of the challenges that lay ahead before political and economic transition in Myanmar. I am just a facilitator so I'm going to really let our panelists each speak about some of their perspectives on issues such as land tenure reform issues, responsible investment and inclusive growth in the country. We have a couple of other people who are out of the audience that our faculty and community members are appointed asked to also make some interventions and respond after the effort our panelists. Then we will just open it up for open discussion and question-and-answer. So thank you to everyone for coming. I'm going to ask John Pierce to begin by setting the stage providing the audience for some of you who are perhaps less similar with the history of Myanmar of why we are at this moment in time and then ask Prof. Prosterman to speak about his recent visit and he will be returning in June and looking at the issues and the challenges of land reform and why it's so important and then Salil will round out by talking also about sort of the challenges of sort of private sector engagement and investment that also is sensitive to issues of human rights. So John?
Thank you. I will use Burma and Myanmar interchangeably if you go to the country I think you will find government officials and almost everybody there does nobody seems to be particularly attached to one or the other necessarily. The origin of Myanmar is really one may be false token of good faith from the slower or the military junta to the populace would just describe it means everybody. So it was there one attempts to try to say okay we are all in this together but of course that wasn't really the case.
A little bit about their legal history to provide some context: Burma wasn't taken over in one fell swoop, one invasion. It was taken over in bits and pieces you know Manipur, Asaam and so on so because India wanted those bits. And they were boisterous and violent and wanted to calm that border down. They moved into the South through Tenerus Rim ultimately taking Yangon ultimately taking Mandalay and exiling the keen to India. And they brought their legal system with them. When they came and took over Yangon and tried to set up the civil administration for the country what was very easy for them to do because it was part of the Raj part of the Indian Empire was to simply say why don't we uplift several thousand Indians from Calcutta into Yangon? And that is essentially what happened. So whatever there was in terms of a legal system customary or otherwise essentially displaced by the legal system, the English common law system that operated in India and then developed from that point. That displaced the Burmese in one of many ways which was the cause, has been the cause of a lot of the violence and a lot of the problems in the country since that time.
A good example on a concrete example with respect to land is that you know the Indians who they brought in who came in as part of the migration into Burma from India from mostly Bengal was the understanding of banking laws, lending, land laws, tenure, things of that nature something the Burmese didn't necessarily have a good handle on and didn't understand until, didn't understand well until they lost control of most of their land, until they lost legal control of their country. And that led to well after independence in 1953 in an effort for the government really and then ethnic cleansing kind of basis to nationalize the farmland which was largely an effort to remove the Indians from the land. So if you read the histories and go back and read some of the commentary is that was what it was about and India literally had to send cruise ships and freighters and everything to remove huge numbers, waves of Indians from the country. Now there is a substantial number that remained obviously intermarried and otherwise. Not everybody could leave, not everybody had the resources or otherwise. But that farmland nationalization is now one of those issues that Roy and I and others have been working on.
The country became its own legal territory within the colonial system in 1937 and so it started to develop its own legal system throughout that up until the war. And then after the war Indian independence in 1948 they had then and still have the remnants of an English colonial based on English common law. If you go back to 1962 look at what Singapore was in 1962 they were very similar in terms of development except Burma was much more developed. Burma had the only really the best law schools, the best medical school systems, the best educational system in the region by far. If you are a medical graduate from Rangoon University you could go immediately to the UK and practice medicine. That didn't exist anywhere else in the English colonial system. That was how highly regarded the educational system was that was created in that country.
And how that relates to the legal system and things of follow-on now: there is no law school, there really aren't any universities per se. There is distance education. You have private tuition, the minority groups. My wife is Karen. She learned English and have her best education in people's living rooms with other children who were taught by professionals either teachers or in some cases neurosurgeon there is a very famous Karen neurosurgeon... But people teaching particular subjects: math, English, the sciences, literature, other things in an organized fashion in your living room going from house to house to do that. That still exists to some extent. The higher education system was essentially, willfully destroyed by the government in an effort to remove this, what had been culturally, historically going back to well before independence, a fairly thriving resistance to the government whether it was British were what followed from that. In doing so they destroyed the legal education system so you have a huge gap between people who are educated and say the English mission schools or subsequently to that and those who tried to get their education after General Ne Win to control of the country in 1962 and that slowly degraded from there to the point where by the early to mid-90s you really didn't have much of an educational, public or formal higher education system available to anybody.
Like my wife if you wanted to go study something the government would what you would study. Now in her case it was law or was physics. Now the one good thing about studying law in Burma at the time had is that it was all done in English. So nobody had, she didn't have any expectation, nobody really had an expectation you're going to have a job being a lawyer in the country. It's a military junta. There is no law or somebody makes the laws are decisions for you. But it was in English so if you want to continue your studies doing something productive you did that. Okay? And I don't think there are any world-renowned for me as physicists not that there couldn't be, they are exceptionally bright people the education system simply did not provide for it. And what you currently have now is no Bar Association, really no legal system in terms of, there are laws, they are drafted and prepared and issued in a glitch and in Burmese. They are rather rudimentary drafted. The regulations come out some period of time after that. It's all in the administration of how these things are actually carried out but the problem with that is that there really is no commercial practice.
From 62 on when they nationalized or expropriated all of the industries there really was nothing for any commercial lawyers to do or lawyers to do. You did maybe a little bit of family law. You transacted and private land which are primarily urban dwellings. There might be some criminal law. There might be a few things of that nature. If you are lucky you had some association with the large accounting firm like Ula Thun who some of the gentleman here might know who he was. He made a very good living winding down companies over maybe five decades. Some of those companies that were expropriated are still being wound up. So that was a way to make a living because he could extend that winding up process for decades, literally.
So what you have now really is literally in the country you probably have three or four lawyers most of them based in Yangon who have any kind of competency, basic competency in law and in practice. Not that people don't have ambitions for that, but there are no law firms. They are starting up now, one or two people aggregating. But there very, very limited practice. It's only now they say the Attorney General Dr. Tun Shin which we know well or I know well who has been in that position for nigh onto decades is now trying to get control of the judicial system. He is trying to assert his power to regulate the courts. And the courts are wholly corrupt. I have been to the courts just a witness things but watching the open bidding between the two sides in the judges to who is going to pay more to get his decision or her decision. So it's a very, very, it's totally broken down, they need to re-create it and that is going to take a long time.
In terms of the foreign investment laws and their ability to take this up and adjust were close up on this point is that their ability to accept the help that so many of you would like to offer is very, very limited. There is literally handfuls of people who work within the ministries who have a facility with English and any understanding of law and any understanding of what goes on outside world. They are literally having cursed at them from all directions not just the United States but Norway, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, Western Europe, Japan all kinds of eight offers: do this, do this, we can help you, we can do all this. They simply can't accommodate it all. They simply don't have the administrative capacity or the bodies to deal with everything that people are offering. And so I'd rather encourage that a lot of people to slow it up a little bit make a very targeted, something Anita and I have talked at length about. Because they are not going to be able to do very quickly. This is going to be a process of rebuilding a legal culture, rebuilding a civil society in the country that is going to take 15, 20 years or more. You simply, it's been ground down, it used to, well it's been referred to as the Burmese passed as socialism.
What it really was one man Nae Win essentially impoverishing everybody else and impoverishing the country not just in terms of its physical well or what people had in terms of physical wealth but their intellectual wealth, the legal wealth, everything that they inherited are they created for themselves was ground down to the point where there was simply very little left in the with human capital to be able to do the things that we would like to see them be able to do. So they need support but we need to be patient and we need to be targeted in the kind of things that we need to give them. That is why the Barers scholarship is so practical because the idea here is to bring those people here, teach them what they really want to know but really insist that they go back and work within the government ministries and spread that knowledge and bring more of the back and teach them more and more and more. That is about the only way you're going to move this forward. So I'll turn it over.
Prof. Roy Prosterman
Thank you. John paints a very sobering picture and I fear it is all too accurate the challenges are enormous but the potential payoff is also enormous and Burma, Myanmar would join the short list of countries that have by and large peacefully emerged from dictatorship. Think for example of Taiwan, South Korea, more recently Indonesia. I think that a successful outcome and Burma would be a very strong, positive signal to other countries in the region seeking to establish and apply the rule of law. We are comparativists. We have over the years under the twin umbrellas of this UW law school and the sustainable development program and Landessa we have worked over those years and more than 40 countries on the land tenure issues including many of the countries that border Burma, many countries that have at least substantial, similar or parallel problems. We have worked in Vietnam. We have worked in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan although to a very limited extent in Pakistan. It's a setting in which comparative experience can provide a considerable amount of guidance and a considerable number of cautions but can only take you so far.
Well just briefly to touch on half a dozen or thereabouts of the issues that we identified as particularly important in the land tenure area when we of course always start with desk research. We were fortunately to do two very intensive weeks of field work and meetings in Myanmar in the first half of February and from that at least have identified what seemed to be an initial list of challenges many of which are prefigured by John's remarks because it's a setting in which so much inadequate information and so much bad history is already present. One of the salient, contextual facts is that Burma with its 60 million people is about 70% rural and agrarian. So that the reforms that affect rural land tenure affect a very substantial majority of the population of Burma. There are a number of false ideas abroad at this point. One was reflected in a highly publicized trip that Burma's president made to the countryside the first Sunday we were there and reflected in newspaper stories. He was singing the praises of big mechanized farms pointing to multithousand acre farms with millions of dollars worth of equipment is the road to go. This unfortunately flies in the face of practically everything that is known about agriculture in the developing world. There are a few crops for which it is helpful to have very large scale production buffer virtually all the crops including nearly every major agricultural crop the best most efficient, most productive per acre approach is through small farms, and not only just small farms but small farms on which the legal system creates a framework in which they have either ownership or substantially equivalent long-term secure rights and can make investments and diversified production. Take for example in agriculture like that in Taiwan where they had a major land reform after World War II, turned the tenant farmers into owner operators. Within the 10 years following the carrying out of the Taiwanese land reform grain production increased by 60% overall farm incomes increased by 150% reflecting the increasing movement of farmers and their investment in higher value and diversified crops. Today Taiwan for example produces roughly twice as much grain per acre as Burma does even though on average and overall Burma probably has more, richer and more potentially productive land. Japan, where they had a major land reform after World War II produces even more per acre and even more in South Korea a site of yet another land tenure reform after World War II. Mainland China produces close to twice as much per acre as Burma which I made one since you can take it as a tragedy and it is but in the other sense he can take it as an opportunity because it reflects all of the running room that exists to greatly increase production, the production base for the 70% of Myanmar's population that is rural and agrarian. So task number one actually we see in this echoes some of the things that John said, task number one is probably an educational task. One of the items it needs to be emphasized is the potential productivity of Myanmar's small farms. We have recommended for example that, we have done this actually with a group of senior officials from mainland China, is travel to Taiwan with a group of senior Burmese agricultural officials and scholars and let them look at what's been done in the small farm agriculture of Taiwan. The same thing could be done with South Korea. I don't think that it's a willful ignorance. I think that it's just that people, even very senior people simply don't know.
Another major area where work is clearly needed is to determine what legal measures would help make those who are on small farmlands secure on those lands. By and large the basic rule is those lands are owned by the government but it is also said that the farmers have use rights to those lands and indeed that the use rights are for an indefinite, essentially permanent. As long as they don't abuse the land or use it badly. Should that be confirmed in a set of documents, well the Ministry of agriculture has recently issued a set of rules for the implementation of farmland act that was adopted last year. Unfortunately, those rules call for every farmer to obtain a land-use certificate in order to confirm his or her rights regrettably it also sets forth a procedure which involves the farmer going to five different administrative levels in a setting involving a great deal of corruption. All we know in terms of the cautions from the comparative experience is that where you have a very inadequate administrative system riddled with corruption and you introduce a documentation process that you have to be extremely careful lest the big guy from the city comes in with the sheaf of paper to the registration office in this case to five different levels of registration offices asserting that indeed it is he who holds the lawfully recognizable rights to that farmland not this battered, tired little fellow who has come in and is obviously confused. That's a tremendous danger at this point and probably one of the key things they can do again is slow down. Weight, don't rush to judgment on the need for documentation. Most of these people are presently getting along fairly well with the customary rights that they are recognized as having locally and to create a situation where a competitor suddenly turns up on the doorstep with the claim of superior rights would be extremely undesirable. Another example of unfortunate new legislative language is in the vacant and abandoned lands act again passed last year, a provision which seems to say that if you fail to use the land for even a year you will be deemed to have abandoned it and it can be taken over by the state and reallocated. Guess who it will be reallocated to the state takes over? But in fact the farmers, much of that land practice customary cultivation that involves rotating agriculture and periodically fallowing fields so that provision is in fact taken seriously and implemented it may bring about the loss of a great deal especially of land that is under customary tenure as a parallel system to the formal land rights system. So again, one important injection in practicing what I might call developmental law is to do no harm. We need to be just as cautious as the medical profession in terms of not doing harm as well as calibrating our actions to do good.
Another issue, and you have seen this discussed I'm sure in the media here, is the whole question of land takings. Both pass land takings which may be very hard to undo especially the ones that have been done by the military to take a fledgling, still very weak democracy and confront the military with some supposed need to return land that they have taken 20, 30 years ago may not be a wise choice politically at this point. Somewhat better chance of undoing some of the takings that were done by the cronies but the most promising route is actually to change and improve the rules for the future so that we don't see very large numbers of people victimized by takings for what may be simply nominal, special economic zones. I won't get into it at this point but we may touch upon it in the questions period some of the takings that we have found in the course of our recent fieldwork.
Another major issue and I will bring this to a close in another couple of minutes. Another major issue is the issue of complete landlessness. The best estimates are that anywhere from 20 to 40% of the rural population is completely landless, have no land of their own not even a homestead. They're there and may be possibilities of whether a number of Indian states are successfully doing now which is were completely landless families at least to distribute in long-term secure rights ownership or ownership equivalent parcels that seem very small to us for example a 10th of an acre in West Bengal it's about one half times the size of a tennis court but it turns out that on a plot that size and erstwhile completely landless family can now produce all of their vegetable needs, most of their fruit needs, most of their dairy needs and an average of about US$200 equivalent a year in income which is what a laborer in West Bengal laboring of course to Burma what a laborer would earn in a whole year's work in the fields. And it would really be transformative for a family and it may be that some of these models may also prove adaptable for the completely landless families in Burma on which there has been very little research done again a key need for substantial improvement in knowledge. br> br>
One thing, going back to the takings issue for a moment: one place in which lawyers can really earn their way in a manner that is greatly beneficial to society is to make sure that when land rights are to be used as part of an investment, land is to be taken to be sure that they do their due diligence. Make your clients look themselves of what the situation is on the ground. How many families will be displaced as a result of this investment? What will their compensation be? What will their source of livelihood be after they lose the land that is about to be taken? Rather than as many of you may be familiar with the Tata disaster in West Bengal in which Tata motor Company was acquiring land to build their minicar and relied on the local West Bengal authorities to tell them that the law had been obeyed and proper compensation paid. Well in fact that was not the case and they ended up with riots and demonstrations being encouraged by the political opposition. They ended up having to abandon a half finished factory at a cost well into the hundreds of millions of dollars equivalent. I have seen estimates as high as 1 billion for the loss to Tata and indeed the political leadership that sponsored that was voted out after 30 years in power, was voted out in the next elections in West Bengal. So it's to everybody's interest to make sure that due diligence is done in looking at investments that involve acquisition of land. br> br>
And finally interest broadly both Johnson my remarks indicate there's a tremendous need for building capacity and acquiring knowledge for the government and the administrators and there is still some very basic things that need to be dealt with. There is for example and dare I say in Myanmar at this point a minister of agriculture who is widely perceived to be hostile to the small farmers and generally hostile to the reform process. So much needs to be done on the positive side there was a tremendous spirit and enthusiasm and indeed optimism on the part of the farmers that we talked to out in the field and the people in towns and cities. I think it is, all being said, it is still a place where optimism can reign. Thank you.
Thank you Roy. We will next hear from Salil. And I think your remarks Roy about due diligence and what companies should do is they rationed to invest is a good transition Salil speaking about responsible investment.
Which is a very polite way that Anita has said that I am not a lawyer so don't expect a legal solution from me at least yeah. Outwardly it is a very normal looking country. You reach Rangoon airport and you soon start getting into traffic jams. There are billboards which have now started showing ads for Coca-Cola and soon there will be an ad for Pepsi I'm sure. Banks have started taking credit cards. ATM cards are being used. Hotels are as deluxe is you can expect them to be in a developing country. In the supermarkets have a lot of products you would find them used to. So there was a BusinessWeek cover some time ago I think about a year and a half ago which said Burma the last gold rush. And you would think it is that kind of a situation. And it also creates his impression of being a very normal country because when you land you have seen images of Slork and SPDC and the generals but there are no machine-gun wielding guards at the airport. No one checks your bags with sniffing dogs or anything like that. It's an extremely polite society as you enter. On the streets you don't see tanks or four-wheel drives with military signs or anything like that and everything seems very normal. And yet it is not. And just as an aside if you go from Rangoon to Naypyidaw the capital by road it's a good 200 mile journey and on the entire five hour journey yours will be the only car. And you wonder why is it because people can't afford question Mark is a because people don't want to attract attention traveling in this way? All kinds of questions emerge at that time. So it's a very, very unusual environment.
Now the story I will share with you today is about an incident that happened in November last year. We have a report coming out at the Institute where I work the Institute for human rights and business actually examining what happened. But more than what happened, what could've been done and what steps could have been taken and what steps could have been taken? And this is a copper mine in the copper mine is in a place called Manywa in Sagaing Region it's called a Padaung that is the place where this copper mine is. In 1985 the Yugoslavs entered a joint venture with that then Burmese government. Nothing really was found it didn't really work out well. And then sometime in the 1990s Ivanhoe a Canadian company got interested in the project and it struck a deal. But then there are two versions about why they were upset about the whole thing. The company's version was that they were not being paid and the local partners are not acting right with them. Campaigning organizations would like to believe that is their campaigning that made the company leave but whatever the reason they did leave and the transfer of the copper mine happened and the new owner was a company called Wanbao mining from China. You would think that is all right until you find out that Wanbao Mining was a subsidiary of a company called Norenco which is a main weapons manufacturer in China. And the other interesting thing you found when you dug was that the company that bought at the local partner was union of me and Mark economic holdings which is the economic holdings of the Tatmadaw or the military. So essentially became a military exercise and there has been, I mean one of the points we haven't touched on and we can talk about it more in the questions later: there has always been resentment of the outsider justice there has been resentment against Indians then in 1962 there was a famous exodus from Burma. There has always been resentment against the Chinese. And that resentment and one of the explanations that you find in books by writers like Emma Larkin why Naypiydaw was chosen as a new capital was that Mandalay was a Chinese city, Rangoon was an Indian cities so you had to create a city which was truly local and homegrown which is why they decided to move it there. And that's where the context you had a situation where the Chinese company was active and most of you must be familiar with the dam that was stopped by President Thein Sein(Inaudible term 44:39) ostensibly because of environmental reasons and probably that was indeed the reason that each of these steps indicate a growing chasm between the Chinese government on one side and the current government of Myanmar's decision to have some rebalancing in its international relationships. Partly prodded by Sein partly opportunity seized by the West and (inaudible 45:04) nations and so on. But we see that dynamic going on. So it's in that context that the transaction took place in 2010. Now to expand the mine they wanted 8000 acres of land. 26 villages requisitioned and they did it the old way which means somebody came and said: dear land is worth $600. Here is $600. Bye-bye. The person didn't have any paperwork to show for that and they left, plucky country right? And there were two women: one vegetable seller in one who looked after cows got very angry about it. And they decided it, they said this can't happen now we have a democracy and they were very angry about it. And they believed in Aung San Suu Kyi and the Constitution is in place. The educated themselves about it and with local lawyers they started protesting. And they said this will not stand and we will oppose. There were also other issues between the community and the company. Now the whole issue business and human rights also when we look at the great crises that have taken place in Colombia, Indonesia, in Azerbaijan and even the Tata case and West Bengal or Nigeria it often starts with something very small but is ignored and there is a contemptuous relationship with the company's officials at certain levels have with the community and that is where the problem began and it escalated and escalated. People were being treated badly, thrown in jail for a few days and so on. And it all became a very big issue in November last year when a few hours before(Inaudible 46:33) she just wanted to visit to find out what was going on all hell broke loose and they used were called smoke bombs but most reports indicate it has not been denied was that it was white phosphorus. A lot of the monks were wearing robes and some of them were nylon some of them were homespun and their bodies were singed and about 50 of them were very badly burned. A couple of them are still in Bangkok under intensive care unit. Obviously I mean I don't have to say I mean how much these monks are revered in Burma. I'm not trying to say they are always pacifist and peaceful. If one looks at recent history we can see that even the monks can be extremely violent particularly the (Burmese term 47:15) and so on. But the fact is that those monks who were protesting were peaceful. Apparently, these are reports, one of the monasteries was attacked at that time. And this was all done by guards who were protecting the mine. The consequence of that was of course people got hurt. Immediately the government said we will have a commission of inquiry. That was headed by (Burmese term 47:37). Immediately expectations rose that she will cancel the project. What she did however was she said that compensation was inadequate. She also argued that while the project had problems in the guards need to be trained batters of that in future these things do not happen and you don't have these sorts of injuries. She didn't use disproportionate force but the argument is that the force should be proportionate and when you read through the report of what she had to say. And she said that more jobs had to be created for the local community. Now which is a reasonable way forward in many ways in a normal society but with the kind of expectations that there isn't Burma now, in Myanmar now, it wasn't the solution that people wanted. They wanted her to cancel the project or to say that. She said I am a politician I'm not going to do something that's popular I am going to do something that's good for the country. And she thinks that the report that she has produced is doing good for the country. Now the reason this case is important is that coupled with that you should look at what the Asian human rights commission has said and the national human rights institution of Myanmar itself has said that the single largest number of complaints at the human rights institution of Myanmar now gets these days is about land related issues. They have said openly. They have set it in Chatham House type meetings. They don't have a record of that but it is something like 70 or 80% you're talking about. Anybody who has a land related to spew comes in lodges a complaint. Now that's a great thing. The thing is that this commission is powerless to do anything about it. And as Roy said people don't have paperwork to prove. They have to go from pillar to post to five different places to get it. Meanwhile someone comes and says: forget all this I'm giving you $5000 just get out of here and give me your land. So these kinds of transactions are happening routinely. It's dangerous. The only consequence I can follow from that some kind of an uprising. And people are upset. Then to that you had the ethnic mix. In certain areas you have ethnic minorities and obviously some of the people who will come maybe Berman's or (Burmese term 49:46). That's not going to go down well with the communities either. An interestingly companies which are now looking at Myanmar for the first time to invest: major Western mining and oil company they are worried that if this is the expectation the communities have that this is how mining company or an oil company behaves and how on earth are we going to set up good relations? Total has been active there for a long time and if you speak to people that total, actually they have gotten a lot of bad press but if you really look at what they have done on the ground there are people who say we would rather stay within the total zone then outside because the security guards around total actually are more respectful of the rights of the community than the security guards who are outside their. But that clearly doesn't mean that total should be providing security training to all the security forces in Myanmar. That is unsustainable and it's wrong. It impinges on Myanmar sovereignty. Basically this is a problem that the Myanmar government has to own. There is a capacity issue. There are probably 25 people in the country who are taking decisions. And these days they want to say yes to every proposal because they think if they say no they will appear to be undemocratic and not so nice. And in that kind of the context they want to be helpful and therefore they say: yes, yes we are a democracy now we must do it right. But then they have no means, they probably don't have the authority or the power and certainly not the capacity to move forward in that area. So when the companies come what today come with? They don't, the legal frame of how to operate. They have the guiding principles from the UN which were adopted a year and a half ago which basically tells them how to do risk and impact assessment, how to have a policy, how to track performance on the ground, how to monitor their own conduct and establish grievance mechanisms after tracking their performance in case things go wrong which is wonderful in the total context because you know that you're in this area. In a very narrow focus you're doing everything right but it doesn't lead to structural and cultural for change instantly everywhere and it also leads to evaluation. The other tools the companies have an a very basic level is the global compact, extremely easy to enter and I believe the last time I checked something like 40 or 60 companies in Myanmar have already signed up to it. On one hand it's a good thing that these companies want to but the awareness of human rights mean is to be honest rather shallow. I was talking to the Union of Myanmar Federation chamber of commerce and industry and they said what does human rights mean? And I said you tell me. And they said it means we should do philanthropy, we do,, we are Buddhists so we believe in charity and to that we add (Burmese term 52:30) and to that we had labor rights protection. That's all we need to do. And it became a very interesting discussion about looking at it from a rights basis versus their assumption of a needs basis of a charitable act. I said it's a nice philosophical discussion we didn't get anywhere because they thought they had everything. Companies actually told me that: oh you come in CSR we good? Aren't we good? Isn't this good for due diligence? At one level it is funny but at the other level it shows you that the companies do want to get it right. When we have talked to some of the smaller companies in Myanmar the question they asked us about was trafficking. How do we stop trafficking, came from a software company, a small software company. So a lot of people are well-trained. They want to get it right. And they want to make sure that Myanmar rapidly moves into kind of a context where things are much better. No in that context we have the global compact you have the guiding principles you have the(Burmese term 53:26) principles which are supposed to help companies have a security arrangement which reflects human rights. Right now 12 NGOs and 21 companies and eight governments are part of that system but Myanmar is not part of it nor is any Myanmar company and certainly not Wanbao mining. So to bring that culture and again as we were talking about is rebuilding society. It's going to take a lot of time. And then in that context how does a company enter and food is a partner with? Is it a politically exposed person? Is it someone who is on a sanctioned list? The Chamber of Commerce as I mentioned if you really look deeply into the Chamber of Commerce you would find that some of the individuals that it's were on sanctioned list or are unsanctioned lists even today.
Or about to be.
Or about to be well there you go. So that's the kind of problem in which you are. So who to choose is very hard. We don't have answers. I mean we are going to set up something called the Myanmar Center for responsible business with the Danish Institute of human rights and we certainly don't promise to give answers but we hope that the frameworks we talk about and the knowledge we will bring through our own research and the research to the companies and the civil society will help them frame the right questions. And perhaps the reality is what happened after the apartheid in South Africa, later to identify the degrees of complicity: those who benefited and built the apartheid because it was their main line of business, those who went along because it was good for them and those who had no choice but to comply. And in the third category which is probably where you're going to find good sound ethical businesses they will be hard to find but digging will have to be done and it will be a very long drawn out process. We will be doing some human rights impact assessment: land tenure, land rights will be a very important part of it but it's going to be a very, very long road. I mean as long as the one from Rangoon to Naypiydaw. Thank you.
Thank you. I don't know whether it's mean are Garrett who can help with the microphone? But we're going to take, I'm going to ask Prof. Clark Lombardi and Dost Bardwell who have also recently visited or recently working on projects related to Myanmar to also provide some of their reflections on what they have heard some mean if you could maybe start with Prof. Marty.
Thank you very much it's really an honor to be here Roy and I think you've turned your attention to Myanmar after so many years where you wouldn't have been permitted to do so. I am clerical Marty I teach constitutional law and comparative constitutional law here. Unlike most constitutional lawyers who teach I was trying and did most of my legal work in transactional law. So I started doing joint ventures and project financings and try to bring that perspective to constitutional law. One of the questions they came to me when I went with a delegation to Burma over to talk about comparative constitutional law one of the questions is interesting to me is what sort of government will permit the type of reforms that have started or will continue to permit the types of reforms that have started and what sorts of government will try and facilitated going forward? One of the things that is very striking to me at least and I would be interested in your comments on it is that this is that very rare thing that one sees which is a top-down reform that could become a top-down revolution. It's extremely thin. It struck me that the impetus for change is really coming from a fairly small number of people in Myanmar and a fairly elite group of people. And there are a whole range of reasons why they might think it's in their best interest to have that happen. But this is one of the reasons why you are having reform with such extraordinarily thin, it strikes me, extraordinarily thin talent pool. The human capital to manage the type of reform that's been envisioned at the top is extremely small. It's not clear to me also that everyone in the government understands all the ramifications of what they're doing. And I can be for a couple of reasons. Among them is simply knowledge-based. There really is a lack of knowledge base, basic knowledge about Myanmarese society. Among them is that there hasn't been a census done for such a long time and it's not actually clear when I was talking to some demographers who work in Burma. It's not clear that people in the cinema government realize how many non-Bomar members of the country there are. They have an expectation that they have a simple majority at least of voters in the country. It's not clear that that's actually true. And no one knows how many ethnic minorities are out there. So that's one thing the demographers have been concerned about which leads to a range of problems of who is going to make decisions as economic reform starts the type of empowerment that Roy you are talking about John you are talking about then Salil you are talking about occurs then there's going to be all sorts of political pressures to decentralize decision-making. That may be just at the village landholding level but it may also be regional and there is a whole range of identities that appear to be bubbling up in the new, open environment of Myanmar: some of them religious, some of them ethnic that are going to create significant tensions. They already have created significant tensions. But they are also going to create pressure for potentially different types of regulatory regime in different parts of the country to respond to local needs. And I would be interested to see how you all think lawyers can try and build up the knowledge base that will allow the decision-makers in Myanmar to understand the consequences of what they are doing and to develop a governmental structure that will allow them to make decisions that they are comfortable with both in the timing of them and in the types of decision-making processes that they are using so that they will be willing to continue this process that they have started.
Thanks. Clark and Dost if you would also make some comments and introduce yourself?
Good evening. My name is Dost Bardwell. I direct the corporate engagement program of CDA. It's a small nonprofit that works on effectiveness of actors when operating in complex environments and conflict related environments. First I want to thank Roy, John, Salil and Anita for your remarks. It really helped to paint a vivid picture of the realities in Myanmar and it's something you just cannot get from a report really. It has to come from your expertise and experience. And I think that's where I'd like to comment is about the understanding of the reality in the country as you have spoken about it.
I took note of something that Roy said about the potential payoff and how to ensure that the potential payoff for Myanmar is a great one, is a good one, is a positive one. And the question that I want to post to the panel is for who? I know that seems like an obvious question but I would like to expand on that based on our experience of working in the country for the past 12 years particularly with Total and Unical which is now Chevron. You know the idea of potential payoff means a successful investment, a secure and successful investment. And that means that a private sector operating in the country or in particular regions has to have, meet their compliance, or be compliant with their home state regulations, their host state regulations as well. But as Salil spoke about that chasm between expectations in the communities with local stakeholders versus what international citations are around particularly human rights obligations we realize, we recognize that in a country like Myanmar legal compliance is necessary but certainly not sufficient. So especially in a country like Myanmar where the legal fair Mark is shaky at best, the state is increasingly willing to meet their obligations to protect human rights but still the capacity isn't there and there really certainly is not, there is no assurance of the permanence of the Democratic rise in the country. So in an environment like that and you have companies who are coming into the country for the first time. It's been so close off for the past 40+ years and they are facing challenges such as weak regulatory frameworks, labor issue around labor rights, issues around business relations as Salil spoke to. Who to partner with in country that wouldn't put a company in a position of potential complicity issues as well as land issues, land tenure issues and land acquisition issues as well as the ethnic conflicts. So faced with those challenges what does the company do? We see that what can result from investments on the legal side is that those business relationships put Western companies, has legal ramifications for the Western companies. We see that the judicial system, the banking system is not up to par for what a company needs to be able to do business there. And we see that from the land acquisition perspective there is not only an issue of figuring out the customary user rights but also how to compensate for that. So I think there's a lot of these legal issues that then segue over into the social aspect of operating in the country. How do you deal with communities who in a primarily agrarian country? How do you work with communities who art, particularly with their high level of education and high level of literacy are more interested in finding jobs and companies rather than continuing their agrarian lifestyle? Or how do you deal with the ethnic conflicts that you are investing in regions of the country you where the ethnic conflict continues and the ethnic groups, minority ethnic groups in those environments say absolutely no investment until we've reached a cease-fire and we are in dialogue in a genuine effort? And then one example from our experience: how do you deal with the labor issues? So when we have been working with Total for the past 10 years the forced labor issue is of great importance or a big challenge particularly in the early to thousands. And what we have found is that a lot of community members, this is an anecdotal story from the field, a lot of community members felt that there was an expectation that they needed to fulfill some community service within their community and so there was apart from their side doing some labor in the name of the community or even for the Army post that was in the neighborhood was expected but that they were being asked too much. Whereas from the outside and international perspective any type of community-based laborer would be considered forced labor. So what that's meant to illustrate is that there is a big chasm as Salil has mentioned between internal expectations of local communities and external international expectations from a legal standpoint. And as John has mentioned the social and cultural, the richness and strength of the social and cultural fabric is not one that will be met entirely by the legal requirements. So to come back around to the question then how do you ensure that potential payoff is a positive one for all actors involved, all stakeholders? How do you achieve sufficient due diligence and coming from, coming into a country you don't know how do you know that you are achieving sufficient due diligence? How do you ensure not only that you are achieving sufficient due diligence but that you do no harm, that you are not causing additional harm or exacerbating the conflicts that are existing? And how do you meet both your human rights obligations as well as community expectations at the same time? Thank you.
Thanks. We have a question about lawyers. We have a question about what the company to do and how do you help them to balance these. I think we will take a couple of other questions before we turn back to the panel from the audience.
Does there exist a cadastral survey of the land and its resources in Burma because if you're going to divide up land you should know it exists?
No. I mean what existed after independence was done away with internationalization and some other things but also whatever records existed, imagine that the country was very, very poor. It got to the point where these government offices, whatever there was an available records or papers went out the back door to be used for tinder or to be pulped or other things happened so records of the country are intermittent, it incomplete if they exist at all.
Today's technology and aerial surveying and photogrammetry you can survey the country and say well here is a stock of land that we have, so much of it is minerals, so much of it is farmland, then we can talk about reform.
And that is somewhat also political because then as to who has that Landon who enjoys those rights, if it's the central government the minorities are for instance the Karen state they have discovered a very substantial resource and diamonds. The Karen's are telling the military: no you can't have any access to this we will decide who gets to invest in and we will prosper from it but not you. And they have drawn very strong lines: no Singaporeans, no Chinese, no Malaysians, nobody who has been benefiting, while they not it US policy they have been supporting the military government during all those years. And the minorities, and most of the people in the country are very much aware of that, so now that they enjoy certain rights, rights which they have asserted are theirs from the very beginning going back to something called the Panglong Agreement prior to independence they are asserting those rights now and again and will continue to do so. Not that any of that can't be done and that might've been done already in part or in whole but I think the central government is going to be very keen not to disturb what equilibrium they have at the moment by trying to distribute that and trying to utilize that is a tool to distribute land origin of resources.
My name is John Badgley I have been running a project in Burma, a couple of projects over the last decade but my time began there as a Fulbrighter in the 50s. I had read in several books about Burma, mostly politics, some economics. But one of the issues that is central that I have touched on in the last book which is called red peacocks is, you just brushed on John, you call it customary law. The Damasats, the history of the five major monarchical periods is rich, particularly in the monarchy but also in the Miel ones and the regional centers. And I think it's a mistake to view Burma as something less than a sophisticated empire. It was. The British came in and the British lawyer talking about has certainly had an impact but one of the mistakes I think that many foreigners make when they are trying to engage in legal enterprises in Burma is to forget that most Berman's who constitute about two thirds of the population are quite accustomed to dealing with that tradition. They can pay for lawyers. They're not accustomed to getting much justice from the center but in the cities such as Monywa which I spent a year in rotor book about which is near the copper mine there is a very powerful tradition of using the monks and using normative customary law which is written in traditional forms. I don't know how much of the Rangoon law school, how much of that was incorporated. John you've been apprised of that more than I have. My sense of the lawyers I have known in Burma is that they are very oriented to Western law and they are not accustomed to cases coming in from the countryside largely because people in the countryside have no money to pay the lawyer but they deal with one another in a fashion that is suitable until some large pocket comes in and it can be a Chinese pocket or an Indian pocket or somebody who struck it rich with gold or Jade and they come in and interfere but I guess my point is is it possible the process of developing your legal inquiry that you could look more seriously at the poly derived law that was part of the 700 year tradition before the British showed up?
Part of my answer would be that the minorities, what the British brought and as you would know is that they essentially they raised up the minorities and suppress the majority. That is part of the long-standing angst or anger at the British by the Bomar, the largest ethnic group. Say, my wife's minor group that Karen and others were rather happy with the British brought because they suddenly had a quality if not supremacy in certain areas: education, military and other things. And they favor the English law. The British did a great deal to try to undermine the customary law by displacing it. I think you are correct about the law giving the essentially consensual relationship between the smaller communities, rural communities with the monks and the monks who have authority, moral authority will sit there and divine an answer for a lot of these things for people. And I don't know that that won't continue but trying to reduce that to, I mean even though the government the military junta has Bumar oriented they have not attempted to do that themselves because I think they view that as being against their interest because they wanted to be the moral authority on the basis that they were keeping the union together and the monks didn't particularly care about the union per se. They care about the local communities or the subdivisions of it.
In a sense it seems to me to be useful to take a moment to go back up to 30,000 feet and looked down from there as I think there is always a danger in these discussions of getting overwhelmed with a sense of how many problems there are and how difficult they are to deal with. It's well from 30,000 feet to keep in mind that there are other countries that had military dictatorships or the equivalent which at the time one might've said have problems, array of problems similar to what we are talking about in the Burmese context. I am thinking of South Africa, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia all of which seem to have emerged into an era of much greater rule of law and still huge problems but much greater rule of law than perhaps we had expected them to achieve in a period of sometimes a decade or less. I do think one thing that is going to be absolutely essential in terms of such things as constitutional law reform is prioritization. We've got a huge issue coming up in terms of the constitutionally provided elections scheduled for 2015. Will Aung San Suu Kyi be permitted to run? If she is not I don't know what the situation will be in terms of stability or return to military rule but of course to be allowed to run because the Constitution now says nobody can run for president who has an immediate family member who is non-Burmese and she was married to an Englishman and has two children who I believe both have English citizenship. So is the Constitution now stands she can't run. And to get the Constitution changed in terms of the amendment process that now exists she has to have the votes of the military members and the legislature. And that's I think an issue we are going to see increasing focus on and it will really be a litmus test of the willingness of the military to see reforms continue and in large.
I’ll just add to that and that I'll probably also explains some of her own political steps in the last few months about being seen at the military day parade, making largely positive sounds about the military at the, BBC has this very popular program called Desert Island discs where you take a celebrity and play pieces of music that the celebrity is very fond of. So she was interviewed I think two or three months ago and she began with the sound of the Army from on songs days that was the first song that she played. And she said that every soldier of the Burmese army is like my father's son because my father was the father of the Burmese army. So there are compulsions why she probably says that. Well maybe she means that I really don't know it's very hard to tell. But what is very clear is that we are now seeing the transformation of somebody who was a democracy icon into a smart politician yeah.
I have worked with Suu Kyi for a number of years. The halo has come off. She cannot be a politician and have the halo and she has had to do that I think because of the political reasons that you have referred to. The Rohingyas, the Muslims from the Bangladesh border area are not popular with much of anybody. They are a very unpopular distinct minority and the violence that has been caused is in part probably because of the military's party which has been promoting, we believe or I believe, a number of instances of violence. They cause an incident. It's reacted to. It's reacted to again. This creates a circumstance where she is being asked: what can you do to stop this? And she has to give something of a moderate response that prior to being in an elected office she would've taken the high road and said it's absolutely wrong we can do this that or the other. Now she has to find an answer that is acceptable to the dominant ethnic group the Bomar and one that is acceptable to the military and so on because her position and her ability to negotiate larger issues is then strengthened or maintained. She is very savvy. She is very smart. Her entire reputation, her entire role, who she is as being the namesake of the father who is the founder of the Burmese military, the independent figure, independence figure who brought the independence of the country. And as such that kept her alive. There were several of the generals like Mongya and others who wanted her dead…
Yeah and there are people who wanted her dead. She was preserved because of the efforts of other people who knew that that would've been disastrous for the country and would've probably brought the country into other than the sanctions that were imposed on them it probably would've created such civil violence in the country that they knew it would have been very, very problematic. She is a very charismatic person. I was going to say she is very charismatic, very smart. I wouldn't say that all of her decisions were ones that were probably well advised but she is who she is and she's the only person who probably has the moral or the political authority on the opposition side to keep things going in that direction and certainly the government recognizes that.
I saw at least one more question. I'm going to take at least that question and asked the panelists to just reflect on Clark and Dost’s questions about the role of lawyers and what are investors meant to do to help the economy grow.
Thank you my name is Hunter Marston I am a student in the school of Public affairs here. My question might have passed its timely window at least in that it was in relation to the gentleman's question over there considering technology and gathering information. I have only been to Burma twice so I have more limited knowledge but in my most recent stay was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in the ministries and hear some very interesting talks especially from the Ministry of national planning and economic development. But I was astounded to find that they only have one or two computers in most of these ministry offices. So I guess word you started learning about the country's productive capabilities and gathering information?
My experience is been the older the information probably the more accurate it is. Literally, they, take the ministry of Forestry which is the successor to the British interest the timber, the teak plantations and all those things. They largely survived with a very solid civil administration and manage those resources really well on the back of what they realized, what they obtained from say the British government. And they have a very good idea. If you go they can tell you within remarkable accuracy what they have and where and what they're harvesting rates are not the rest of it and they been able to protect that from predation from various foreign interests. Some ministries like the Ministry of national planning and economic development were created afterwards. They were staffed to propagandize, not to be accurate about anything, to provide the policy message that would back the economic, the laws or the policies of the government would then execute which include Roy's object of trying to minimize, they are promoting large agricultural holdings because they have been influenced by whom? Malaysia. Siam Darby, plantations, they have looked at that. They have looked at Indonesia. They have looked elsewhere. Oddly enough they have not looked at China which Roy has influenced. They have not looked at Vietnam which Roy is influenced. They have not looked at the very solid examples of other Azian member states are neighbors who have done exactly the opposite. And they continue to be influenced through either misinformation or corrupt methods by members of Azian or companies from Malaysia or Singapore or elsewhere. Not to condemn them, if anybody is here from any of those countries I am not trying to condemn your country per se but there are certain businesses there, India: Tata and Mohindra would just love to sell tractors. You don't need tractors for small holdings. In terms of the technology be thanks mostly the Myanmar foreign trade Bank will show you their 386 computer in a room that nobody gets access to because they are scared to death of the computer. But what they will show you otherwise is rooms maybe three times this link staffed by young women may be eight or 16 deep with massive ledgers. And every piece of paper makes its way through that whole process and it may take you as long, I never did it after the first time I never went back again. It would take some else maybe three or four hours to take that piece of paper and carry it around for you to either withdraw or deposit anything into the bank. They are not going to change necessarily until there is some competition. And just giving them money, USAID is getting ministries and agencies money to go to these things, it's wasted. What they need supervision and assistance, people residing in the ministries with good will wanting to train them in technical matters, not political but in technical matters. I could say one thing about the press with regard to the mines in Moniwa. One of the things that has happened is that they have a free press essentially. With one proviso I will get to the proviso in a minute. They have essentially freed up the press. Before that everything had to be submitted, vetted, and all that and that would take days. And you ended up with this ridiculous she called the Mulatta Myanmar which was just drivel and it was stolen mistaken nature: you know here the rules for the people here so were doing, various photographs of people in formal position screening various foreign ministers and businesspeople. It was just complete rubbish. But what has happened now it since they freed up the press the first year but he did this come out with broadsheets with Suu Kyi’s face on the cover because that would sell. And then you had reporting. And now you have let me see the Ministry of mines and mining enterprise number two suing one of the papers because he reported something accurately. And guess what the reporters are doing, they're saying come on bring it on where happy, we've got ink, we can publicize this, you might go to the courts and pay more than we can but we can publicize it. And we will publicize the judges name and all the rest of this. Now the provider which is interesting and which is very concerning to people like Gen. Tennu who is the executive chairman of the National League for democracy. He has worked with Aung San Suu Kyi for many years. And I'll get to another one of Roy successes in a minute but what is done…
1:26:55 Our food and drink is waiting yeah so we need to wrap it up because we can continue the conversation with libation.
If I could just make this real quick then because of focus. What they have done now is that they have a proviso and they can come and punish you if you do anything that essentially brings the state into a disparaging light. Now nobody is prosecuting that as far as we go yet but that is her ultimate lever. Now with respect to that and this was publicized one of the things one way was there we made arrangements for Roy to meet with general Tennu at the NLD. He and Darrell Veugen who was with Ray made quite an impression on and you obviously gave him your feedback as to what she thought about these laws. Now one of the things that is caused some disruption is an area called Tiliwa which is across the river to the east of Yangon where Mitsubishi is developing a port facility and surprise: people were very upset about being kicked off their land. Well one of the things when Roy informed them of what was going on he had no idea about necessarily so we did was called the Japanese ambassador. What is the Japanese ambassador to? Calls home. Japanese government sends a letter to the Myanmar government knock that off we will allow our companies. And then essentially informed Mitsubishi stopped that, we don't want you to do that. The port will probably still be built but I think what is going to happen there's going to be some sort of equitable compensation that is acceptable to those people, acceptable to the Japanese government and acceptable to the Myanmar government. So Roy is already setting precedents that are going to have affect years going forward. So yes for my part congratulations Roy because you've already had an impact.
So as we wrap up Salil and Roy last words?
Just keep in mind that there have been situations that looked even worse then you might argue Burma looks today and they have emerged a decade later with functioning democracy and rule of law. I think there is great hope.
One reason I entirely agree with you is that in the last year and a half I have met many people that been in jail for 15 and 20 years and they are still smiling and they are optimistic. So they see hope that there has to be hope. And I sincerely mean it people like Zargona and Matida and so on.
Please join me in thanking our three panelists. I think John's comment, really this event is just a tribute to your legacy in so many different ways. I hope many of you will join us. We do have a reception in 115 just around the corner where you can continue to have this conversation with our panelists and with one another. So thank you so much for coming out this evening.
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