Give Cronies a Chance to Reform, Says Suu Kyi

Zaw Zaw, center right, stands next to Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a children’s hospital in Rangoon’s Yankin Township. (Photo: Max Myanmar Facebook page)

RANGOON — Those who became wealthy during Burma’s era of military rule should be given another chance to reform themselves, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi told reporters while attending parliamentary meetings in Naypyidaw on Jan. 9.

The chairman of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and member of Burma’s Parliament said that cronies of the former ruling generals should be investigated for any alleged wrongdoing, but should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Even if they have committed crimes, they should be given a chance to reform themselves, she added.

“People may have become rich in different ways. But whether they were involved in any illegal action to make themselves rich must be investigated,” said the opposition leader.

The right of criminals to rehabilitate themselves should be regarded as part of the rule of law, she said, adding that punishment that is solely intended to inflict suffering is barbaric. “What civilized people should have is a vision that punishment is for reform,” she said.

Suu Kyi made the remarks following criticism of her party’s acceptance of donations from several well-known cronies and their companies during a fund-raising drive for education and health-care projects.

“Those who are considered cronies have supported the social activities of the NLD and others. What is wrong with that? Instead of spending their money on things that have no purpose, they have supported things that they should support. It’s a good thing,” said Suu Kyi.

“I don’t mind if they approach the NLD or other organizations, as long as their support is beneficial to our people, democratic reforms and our country’s health and education needs. This is something we should welcome,” added the NLD chairman.

On Dec. 27-28, the NLD held a fundraiser in Rangoon to mark the second anniversary of the party’s education network. The event attracted many donors, including some who are known to have built fortunes through their close ties with Burma’s former military regime.

During the event, Sky Net, a television operator and a subsidiary of Shwe Than Lwin Company owned by Kyaw Win, donated 135 million kyat (US $158,824) and Htoo Company owned by Tay Za donated 70 million kyat ($82,353).

Earlier this month, Suu Kyi visited a children’s hospital in Rangoon’s Yankin Township that is supported with donations from the Max Myanmar Company of Zaw Zaw, a Western-sanctioned Burmese crony.

The United States and some other Western countries have put many Burmese business tycoons on their economic sanctions list for having close connections with the former junta, which was accused of committing gross human rights violations across the country.

According to economic analysts, most of Burma’s major businesses are controlled by cronies, the military-backed Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL) and the Myanmar Economic Corporation.

On Jan. 9, Lt-Gen Khin Zaw Oo, the UMEHL chairman, visited Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw. During her foreign trips last year, Suu Kyi publicly stated several times that military-owned businesses in Burma are not transparent.

Dr U Myint, an economic adviser to President Thein Sein, has said that Burmese cronies cannot be abandoned if the country is to develop its economy.

Max Myanmar’s Zaw Zaw, who became one of the top businessmen in Burma under military rule, told The Irrawaddy that he wanted to be a crony who contributes to the good of Burma’s democracy and economic development.

“I don’t want to be a bad crony. I want to be a good one,” said Zaw Zaw.

38 Responses to Give Cronies a Chance to Reform, Says Suu Kyi

  1. Aung San Suu Kyi is right. The most important thing is “forgiveness.” Forget and forgive everything the Regime had done in the past – good or bad. Don’t take any action against them. The christian’s bible also say, “Love your enemy.”
    Give them the chance to change. when you go to church or monastery, pray that the Gods will change them and bless them. To keep the rule of law, you can investigate but don’t take any action because ‘THEY HAVE MONEY.

    • I see this is as an another way of sucking and killing enthnic people, because they(gov’t and these business crony) come to the ethnic territory and then, forcing, torturing, killing ethnic people, and then taking ethnic people jewellery and wealth, bring to their city and donate to their own burman people. how can we say suu kyi has fair treatment and fair passion to all race of people in myanmar. i think she only want to promote poor ethnic burman people, not all ethnic group in myanmar. and show the world that she is the best. another way, i can see suu kyi does not want justice and peace, because if she does love peace and justice, she won’t defend the military and business cronies by their wring doing to the poor people in the past, she must bring them before the court. there is no way suu kyi has to defend these bad guys if she like justice and peace.

  2. So if you so-called “cronies of the military regime” like to do money laundering, you only need to share some with NLD. Everything will be forgiven and you will still have a bright future. Period.

    • That’s what cronyism is all about. Pragmatism is the name of the game. And money makes her world go round, They should re-rename the country The Reformed Republic of Military Crony Myanmar when ASSK becomes president with their blessing.

  3. There is no such thing as a “good crony”. What they did was a crime to humanity since they got rich at the expense of millions of impoverished and deprived citizens.If they get away with it this time, history will repeat itself.

  4. Be a good crony as you have said Zaw Win Myint or Melvin Pe Than Htun. Do something good for the country and the people as you are not a bad person. I know you very well.

  5. Are donations from cronies tax deductible? Since, NLD had already accepted donations from cronies, will the results from investigation be still valid? “Innocent until proven guilty in the court of law” is to slogan of the US justice system. It is not a new thing. However, where and how the cronies make their wealth and their tax records can be proof of evidence. If their tax records and their wealth do not match, that can still be proof of illegal gains of wealth. Thandar Shwe’s wedding gifts must also be investigated because the gifts did not look honest and sincere but bribery.

  6. Tha khoe da yo kun!

    Tha khoe da yo kun!

    Tha khoe da yo kun!

    Stuff the real owners, the people who now have to WORSHIP, like the nurse in the pic, the thieves. Kosala einmet- no.15

    The Soke-kut has come.

  7. And a second chance is what she has already given the generals, so why not the cronies? Do the peoples of Burma get a second chance? This Lady certainly is for turning.

  8. I don’t know how ASSK’s “Rule of law” will work. Can we really say that it is the rule of law if you can take no action on the cronies? For example, if I had sold drugs and become rich and now the investigation result show that I committed crime, will I have a chance to reform? What about the ordinary people? If he or she had sold drug and now the investigation result show that he or she commit crime, will he or she be given a chance to reform as well?

  9. If you get rich for illegal way, just donate some to NLD and you will be forgiven.

  10. George Than Setkyar Heine

    That is what I say “MONEY TALKS” guys.
    Even the HIGH and MIGHTY Daw Suu is NO EXCEPTION in this case man!
    This is a simple case that proves the fact: YOU CAN BUY ANYTHING with MONEY as well.
    The US led West MADE the Chinese PRINCES OUT OF PAUPERS today.
    And the CHINESE MONEY (business) is TYING Obama and his WEST HANDS today.
    Example: Syria, Burma amongst many others in evidence of course.
    Khin Shwe, Zaw Zaw, Tay Za, and many amongst others are APPLYING the SAME POLICY (principle) in Burma no less.
    They are GOING to BURY Daw Suu and her NLD in the MONEY PIT any bets?
    Daw Suu is the POPULAR and UNDISPUTED NATIONAL LEADER and SHE HAS ALL the RIGHT and OBLIGATION to SAFEGUARD the FREEDOM and LIFE of ALL CITIZENRY in Burma specifically the KACHIN PEOPLE today UNDER THREAT on their LIFE and PROPERTY not to mention POSTERITY on the long run by Min Aung Hlaing DOING HIS BID to SECURE the Kachin land in order that Myitsone Dam Project, rails, roads and pipelines (Chinese interests) could continue and meet their DEADLINE in 2013 for completion and become operational as well. Any bets?
    Failing to DO the JOB RIGHT and as ENTRUSTED IN LINE with the OBLIGATION on the part of Daw Suu would certainly CONDEMN HER to HISTORY in the SAME LEAGUE as Ne Win and even more worse than Than Shwe and his lot at Naypyidaw RUNNING BURMA under the TUTELAGE of the communists in Beijing today I say!

  11. [email protected]

    The lady herself is repectable, however, cronies to be forgiven maybe so but how much is enough, perhaps tell the crony ZAW ZAW not to be a wolf in sheep skin…what does he mean by being a GOOD crony…there is no such thing as GOOD crony in Burma our people know very clearly what he gives he gets back double…so what rubbish is he talking…and another thing The Lady herself should not blinded by these cronies and speak too soon on forgiveness…as anyone is open to corruption in Burma…in some ways we are very disappointed with her comment.

  12. As is well known, Tay Za brokered the deal of selling the stakes on the copper mines in Letpadaung of the Canadian Ivanhoe company at a ridiculously cheap price to the Chinese and tay za got a huge bribe for that deal and that’s one reason he is so rich. Ivanhoe had to sell it because of Suu Kyi’s insistence on sanctions from Western countries. I don’t want to think about any kind of conspiracy theory here, but no wonder Suu Kyi never criticised very strongly the government crackdown on the poor farmers and the monks recently at that copper mine. I never expected a lot from “The Lady” anyway, but it is disappointing to find out her real colours under her thin facade.

  13. Power, money and sex. Generals had absolute power. It was followed by money. Then, followed by having mistresses everywhere. This is what we call it “CORRUPTION”. Look at the picture. One of the nurses is worshiping Zaw Zaw the crony. Tell this nurse to go to Natpyidaw and worship Than Shwe too because he made Zaw Zaw a rich man withput earning it but by licking Than Shwe’s butt.

  14. Sorry to say that “The Lady” has become an appeaser. She is now feeding a crocodile, hoping it will eat her last.

    And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom.

  15. Aung Sun Suu Kyi = Greedy Bamah. Takes money why ethnic groups still die at the hands of the military. Shame on this pretender to the throne. She only cares for herself and her fellow Bamah.

    • It is so, so important to differentiate this mad nat-ga-daw like woman from the “Bamar” populace. The Bamar populace simply allow themselves to be misled by putting blind faith in this odious monster witch who is nurturing the toxic regime and all its branches.

      Letpadaung is purely Bamar affair. People do not have a chance. before people can rise up against the government. Now this evil woman is on the way like a witch protecting the demon.

      In time even the intellectually lazy unthinking Bamar will wake up. You see, the Bamar people and in fact a lot of people wring in these columns outsource their reasoning and conviction to wrong person. Someday they will do it themselves and it will be crystal clear between the Saints and the Demons.

  16. [email protected]

    We seems to recall not so long ago zaw zaw said that he is no crony to anyone, but now he is saying he is…” a good crony” so zaw zaw must be very desperate to look good and deceived many who does know him. WE CALL ON ALL OUR BURMESE BROTHERS AND SISTERS, Do Not allow this CRONY to Deceive our brothers and sisters. ZAW ZAW is a WOLF in sheep skin.

  17. Just look in the eyes of suffering Burmese people, I mean the very bottom class of Burmese society and Aung San Suu Kyi should say what she said to those bottom people. I can’t believe that Aung San Suu Kyi is twisted with her own judgement and want to lay down corrupt “Rule of Law” as real “Rule of Law”. If you reward the bad behaviour, you are expecting more of bad behaving people. That is the reality of it. I don’t believe that Aung San Suu Kyi is fit to be icon of Democracy, Justice, Human Rights and Peace. She is becomming crock politician of 2013. Shame on you Aung San Suu Kyi.

  18. wow wow people start talking and forgot where we came from. From those who’s commenting here, what plans do you have for burmese people? All progress we are witnessing now is all of your efforts or who are shout from oversea? Shouldn’t we at least show our Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation to “The Lady” who fought for us till where we are now. All here talking about all “my land, my wealth”. Think about it, we have to stand together to call ourselve my land, my wealth. Talking like a small little kid who doesn’t get a bite of biscuit instead of seeing big picture and thinking strategically how we can achieve full decocracy. We are not even any near Democracy yet mates. When Rule of Law is enforced, all will be purnished according to law. Now so what at least they contributed to our societies and our people benefited from there.

    • The worst way to defend our freedom is to let our leaders start taking away our freedoms! It is exactly during times like these that we need more freedom of speech, a strong and critical press, and a citizenry that is not afraid to stand up and say that the empress has no clothes.

    • Rule of law? Nargis law? Unjust law? Suu Kyi is having difficult time because there is no good law in her hands. Because the current law is called “NARGIS LAW”.

  19. It is about time for us to reconcile but not condemnation. a lot of people get rich during the military rule and this happens not only in Burma. What the cronies did was wrong but we must create a room for them to give back to the community and to the country instead of becoming greedier and more selfish. If a crony donates money for the benefit of the people. what is wrong with that? My questio to all of the Burmese people here is ” What have you done for Burma?”
    instead of having a verbal diarrhea on this column. If the answer is “No”, shame on you!!!

  20. Unfortunately, you have no class or dignity. You don’t know how to respect a democratially elected leader who is well accepted by the Burmese people and by the International Community

  21. I’m Burmese but Burmese people in general don’t have any political knowledge thus becoming emotional talkers. They do talk lkie children here, eh! I fact, it took so long for us to get where we are now , not because of the fact that the dictators are so amart. The fact of the matter is that we, Burmese people are so weak and fragmented and not understanding our short comings. After 60 years of civil war , we still want to have another round? Give me a break!!!

  22. Hey Cmagson,

    How do you know we are not doing anything…as you have so referred.

  23. We are So Dispappointed with ASSK and this might be her true colors appearing of what who she really is…we kind of have our own suspicious sometime back if she(ASSK) is for real. The world community MUST not forget and not allow ASSK to forget the burmese people on the ground…she have not mentioned anything to support the poverty burmese people who is in really need for assistance. With ASSK comment we do not trust her and her NLD. I am so sad for all our brothers and sisters…SO WE SAY HERE DO NOT SUPPORT ASSK/NLD they have turn to the cronies and join their club.

  24. Lo Hsi Han was protected by Ne Win. Khun Sa was protected by Khin Nyunt. Cronies are becoming celebrities of today’s Burma. As long as money can buy everything, keep selling Myanmar Citizenship Cards to the Chinese and the Bengali people. UPAI has money. The Lady may be one of the shareholders of UPAI, we never know.

  25. Well Mr.Sky, now you disappointed with our leader baseed on one comment and an article about receiving fund to support our people who need help? Judging from here, I can tell how childish of your thinkings are. We are not in the era of without power and shouting out our disappointments with amplifier to be heard. It’s the beginning of getting things in realistic way. Why are we seeing so many domestic conflicts? It’s simply that we cannot abandon our typical Burmese thinking and the habits of blaming other for all personal disappointments. It’s really a shame.

  26. Think about it, government funds are in cronies’ pockets, I don’t mind there money are flowing back to people. If she pockets theses money for herself you can tell what you want. She also mentioned that if things have to be investigated if there’s wrongdoings. Of course, it’s wrong to accuse anyone without knowing the real fact as you questioned back how I know about your political activities. We have to reevaluate ourselves before we say something. Without proofs, it will be just an accusation. We have to believe our leader we have chosen and support together to achieve our goal. She’s not God, she can’t achieve everything in short period of time. We need to able to differentiate subjective and objective.

  27. Don,t worrie so much about the cronies. At this moment the real capitalists are entering Myanmar to invest much more than cronies ever can. These capitalists are willing to give the (still) military dictatorship of Myanmar a chance only for their own profit and not for free politics because the Myanmar democracy is a big scam.
    By being a friend of daw suu kyi you w,ont make much money. By being a friend of the military you can do/buy what ever you want. That,s what made the cronies. The opinion of daw suu kyi does not matter in the profits cronies have made in the past or will make in the future.
    At this moment the real capitalist are entering Myanmar to invest more and make more profit any cronie will ever make. These capitalist are willing to give the (still) military dictatatorship a chance for their own profit and not because this government made such a sincerely democracy.
    It,s actualy a shame for the western world that they agree with this fake democracy where half of the seats in parliament are in hands of the military, and the real democracy will have to wait for many years due to a constitutional law that benefits the military. The Myanmar people where forced to vote unfortunatly YES for this rigid law some years ago.
    It,s the western world who opened up Myanmar by giving up the sanctions wich did not allow to do any business with it. Now that there is a small spark of democracy it,s suddenly alowd to do business with Myanmar.
    Years and years the loneley planet tourist guide asked the traveler: if it was wise to travel to Myanmar? They gave the suggestion to go. But it would be best to buy goods or sleep in private owned shops or hotels. One should try to spend their money with those who need it and work hard for it and don,t do business or spend the night in government owned shops or hotels.
    I,m very curious how the western investors will spend their money and if they will be aible to avoid the military or the cronies. I think when you want to do any business in Myanmar it,s not possible to pass the military without any payment over or under the table for many years from now. It,s all about the money……
    If the western world says this is the democracy we have been waiting for to allow ourselfs to do business with this scam democracy. I can not understand why they let the Myanmar people suffer for so long in poverty……

  28. Business Nationalized by General Ne Win 15 March 1962
    Not Compensated!
    Fifty Years!
    Crime Against Humanity!
    All Bo Mu Should Be Tried
    For The Crime Committed
    And The Business Nationalize
    Pyi Thu Pai
    As Ne Win Did!

  29. I don’t trust her to run our country!

    I don’t think she is going to look out for the best interests of Myanmar people but for her own survival. No matter what justification she gives, Dirty money is still dirty money. Can you really take money from Colombia drug dealers and put it to good cause in the United States or the west in general? She has to draw a line somewhere. She also does not have strong educated members supporting her and the party. She made NLD all about her not about the organization that can help bring the prosperity and security to Myanmar. NLD is more like one-man-show. what she did was wrong. No matter what justification she suggests, wrong is still wrong! Money does not make it right!

  30. It’s time for all of the Burmese to reconcile regardless of what they were before as Burma needs reconciliation but not condemnation. If you go after the wrong doers to punish them, you will become a wrong doer as well. This is not the time for ” tit for tat”. Burma needs unity under one great leadership, ” Daw aung San Suu Kyi’ but no on eelse, to rebuild the country!!!

  31. I’m sure many of the Burmese commentators here are Burmese those who live abroad and work in factories thus their comments are far from reality. Come back to Burma and get real instead of having a verbal diarrhea from abroad, doing nothing for Burma but projecting useless words!!!

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