Is Tony Blair Pursuing a ‘Governance’ Mission in Burma?

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets Burma’s Vice President Nyan Tun at the Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw on Saturday. (Photo: President’s Office website)

Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair was in Burma on Saturday meeting with top government officials.

He led a “delegation,” including Britain’s ambassador to Burma, Andrew Heyn, which met with Vice President Nyan Tun at the ostentatious Presidential Palace in Naypyidaw on Saturday.

The representatives from The Office of Tony Blair, an organization staffed by Blair’s aides that oversees his numerous charities and companies, discussed the “implementation of a long-term plan for economic development that is crucial for frameworks of economic and social reforms,” according to Burma’s President’s Office website.

But the exact details of what was discussed are being kept quiet.

When asked about the meeting, a spokesperson for Blair’s office said: “At the present time we are simply having wide-ranging discussions with the [Burmese] government on the development of the country because Mr Blair is interested in it.”

Blair made a previous trip to the country in October last year. This weekend’s visit, during which he also met Aung San Suu Kyi, according to his spokesperson, was to continue discussions that began in October.

But the goal of Blair’s two appearances in Burma remains a mystery, and there are lingering questions over the exact nature of his sudden interest in a country his critics say he showed little interest in while in power.

An official source, who wished to remain anonymous, said the talks could pave the way for a “governance initiative” Blair is considering establishing in Burma.

It is not clear what such an initiative could entail, but it is possible he may assume an advisory role with the Burmese government if he has not already done so in an unofficial capacity.

“The problem is that he hasn’t taken the time to contact or try to meet with any democracy activists or human rights groups before his visit,” said Mark Farmaner, the director of Burma Campaign UK. “He’s showing more interest [in Burma] now, but he backtracked on sanctions and getting his government to do anything was a struggle.”

While in office, Blair called for stronger sanctions on the military junta and warned tourists to stay away from the country, which was ruled by a military dictatorship until a nominally civilian government was elected in 2010.

During the trip he also met with presidential insider Soe Thein, the former industry minister and head of Burma’s navy, before calling on ethnic Kachin and Karenni groups to “be patient” with a shaky ceasefire in the country’s north, in what The Irrawaddy’s insider source called an “impromptu” visit to the National Peace Center.

According to Farmaner, Blair is “desperate for any contacts in the [Burmese] government.”

If Blair was to assume a role as an adviser to Naypyidaw, it would not be the first government he has worked for with a dire record on human rights.

In 2011, Blair added the Kazakhstani regime of Nursultan Nazarbayev to his roster of resource-rich client states, a deal said to be worth about US $13 million, although Blair’s aides denied he profited from the arrangement.

As well as Kazakhstan, he has advised Kuwait, South Korean oil firm UI Energy Corporation, and Abu Dhabi investment fund Mubadala, and is employed by investment banking giant JP Morgan. A Financial Times investigation last year found he earns about £20 million ($30 million) a year through such deals.

16 Responses to Is Tony Blair Pursuing a ‘Governance’ Mission in Burma?

  1. Blair led Britain to war under false pretense in both Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which were strategically disastrous. He also deregulated the city and allowed the banks to determine economic policy that ended up in one of the worst crisis in British history.

  2. Blair, that odious, despicable co-war criminal with “Bad” Bush is a rent boy for further criminal acts. Only dubious characters associate with him. So it fits the narrative. (Oh! Ex-Prime Minister of the Great Britain, Wales and Northern Ireland!)

  3. Uk needs Business with Burma but should be careful not slip into the messy, like copper mines such as energy sector. Most natural resources are owned by ethnics.

  4. Warmonger Blair. He shouldn’t be allowed into Myanmar.
    He is a liar. He might come up with another big lies, claiming Myanmar got
    Nuclear arms. He should learn lessons from Iraq and should apologize to Iraqis.

  5. Dear Sir,

    Your reporter Daniel Paye failed to highlight in his news article, “Is Tony Blair Pursuing a ‘Governance’ Mission in Burma?” that ex premier of UK has also being alleged to have successfully made $1 million in less than three hours brokering a takeover deal between two world largest mining firms Glencore and Xstrata.

    Glencore is alleged to have raised its revenue margin through ‘transfer pricing’ of Zamibian copper. The transfer pricing is a mechanism through which the local joint venture company of Glecore in Zambia allegedly sells copper at local rate to Glencore (Switzerland) thereby Zambian government receives less in tax on exported copper. Norwegian government is reported to have helped the Zambian government in investigating transfer pricing and corruption practices by Glecore.

    The sources close to the international business community in Burma claim that currently the most profitable ventures for the foreign investors are in mining, exploration and to an in tourism sectors. Tony Blair’s visit to country may well be to do with mining investment opportunities in the country. It would have slightly more interesting if your reporter had investigated the possible links between Tony Blair and mining investments.

  6. Don’t forget that Tony Blair was one of the most responsible culprits of the gang that destroyed IRAQ for their own profits using knowingly false documents that supported them Iraq having WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction). He is still insincere, but despised even by many of his citizens in England. He destroyed the Labour Party’s Socialist stance. People of Myanmar should learn about him more and be careful. He’s a snake, too.

  7. Governance or not, former British P.M and other British citizen like Sir Cliff Richard visited Myanmar last year just to show their supports for reform. Britain and Burma has the longest history background and a special relationship. They like Burma and we love them too.

  8. Being steered by war criminals is what Burma is trying to get away from, not move towards – Blair is the last thing the country needs. Message to Mr. Mark Farmaner: there are plenty of human rights defenders and democracy groups in Burma that Blair could’ve met. There’s a more pluralistic and representative democracy and HR movement for the country now that we should all welcome.

  9. Ha ha ha I wondering how the British are always wrong when it take to international affair. 1947 and 1948, tThey did not carry their promise which they said every nation who help to conquer Nazism or despotism will have their own self-determination related to their country.But they failed in Chin, Shan, Kachin, and other ethic nationalities in now called ethic nationalities in Burma. Weather Tony Blair try to repeat the mistake made by the British or he try to make a case for ASSK to become president of Burma.

  10. No doubt Blair had done his part in the Iraqi fiasco.
    But he is human, and an anti-militarist as far as the rule of the juntas in Burma is concerned.
    And he is a Labour man, like Atlee who contributed his energies to the granting of Independence to Burma. Churchill, the Conservative, would not do that for Burma or for any colonial for that matter.
    Let us wait and see what he really is doing. We cannot be too smart.
    We live the present day, not in the past, looking forward to a better world.
    Muddling through the contributes of these columns are, yes, but we learned it from the character of the old colonial character of the Englishman.
    Forget it and be proactive, as against reactive, to events unfolding before us.

  11. Very much right Blair the Lieyer , this very bad man not only inflicted the whole world with Blood Brother Bush to war and than only terrorism came to many countries he also pushed for the sanctions against the Myanmar people , never had any effect to whom they wanted to hit. Stupidity in Politics that stands for the populist Toni Blair. One thing Blair still can do and find a solution for the Rohingas and take at least the many which UK than brought with them back to the place where they took them or give them a place in England,– but just not be only quiet over a problem in Myanmar which is very much Great Britons and of course old Rakhine Kings problem ( he as well brought them as slaves into the own land) . Do not forget that it was England which trained in the 60ties and 70ties the Myanmar Air force — so why to sanction than the own students.

  12. There is nothing mysterious about Tony Blair’s visit to Burma. He is just one of many hundreds, if not thousands, of vultures descending on Burma to exploit the natural and human resources for their own personal profit.

    Since he left UK government, he has been everywhere “advising” various governments (most of them dodgy), becoming the richest former UK Prime Minister amassing millions for himself in record time. Yes, he would be “desperate for any contacts in the Burmese Government”, wouldn’t he?

    @ Joe Sein ….. what is this “longest history and special relationship” between Burma and Britain are you referring to? That they have ruled us and raped and pillaged our country for hundreds of years? And are you happy to entertain the idea again?

  13. Dirty rotten scoundrels seem happy in each others company. All the people they have killed, all the lies they have told have come back to haunt them.

  14. Churchill “A Bull Dog!”
    Blair “An American Poodle!”
    Induced Democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan…….
    “Middle East on Fire!”
    Can Bush and Blair walk in The Street of Baghdad and Kabul…….
    Burma Beware!
    Pakistan on Fire Also….
    B & B are Fiddlers!
    “Crime Against Humanaty!”
    In The Name of Democracy
    Burma is catching The Fire……..

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