Tony Blair Criticized for Poor Transparency in Burma Dealings

By The Irrawaddy 16 May 2014

RANGOON — A UK-based Burma advocacy group has criticized former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for lacking transparency in his dealings with Burma President Thein Sein.

Burma Campaign UK says Blair has visited the Southeast Asian nation three times and is believed to be advising Thein Sein in some capacity. In a statement on Thursday, however, the advocacy group said Blair’s office has failed to explain what type of advice the former prime minister is providing.

Blair’s office responded with only one letter to 11 requests for clarification over the past year from Burma Campaign UK, the advocacy group said.

“The letter stated, ‘We are currently carrying out governance work on a short-term basis, supporting the government to build delivery mechanisms to help deliver their long-term strategic goals,’” Burma Campaign UK said of the response in December 2013 from Blair’s office. “This description in the letter was so general as to be meaningless.”

Zoya Phan, the campaign manager at Burma Campaign UK, called on Blair to transparently disclose his involvement with Thein Sein.

“Given that Tony Blair has ignored eleven requests over the past year asking what he is doing in Burma, we can only assume that it is controversial and he wants to keep it a secret,” she said in the statement on Thursday.

“Giving strategic, political and public relations advice to the military-backed government while its soldiers are still attacking and killing civilians and raping ethnic women, would be deplorable. Tony Blair used to preach the need for transparency, now he should practice it and come clean about what he is doing in Burma.”