US Will Be Business Role Model, Ambassador Claims

By Lawi Weng 6 September 2012

The US will serve as a role model when foreign companies begin to invest in Burma, Derek Mitchell, the new US ambassador, told leaders of the 88 Generation Students group during their meeting on Tuesday in Rangoon.

“Ambassador Mitchell told us that American companies are socially responsible, and will act as role models for other foreign firms by supporting human rights and democracy in our country,” said 88 Generation spokesman Ko Ko Gyi.

Although Mitchell has met several times before with the 88 Generation group, which says it is working for an open society in Burma, Tuesday’s was the first such meeting at the organization’s office.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, former political prisoner Ko Ko Gyi said, “The ambassador said he shares the 88 Generation Students’ positive view on the current wave of political changes in Burma.”

Mitchell also told the group that both the political parties contesting the US’ November election—the Democrats and the Republicans— shared the same policy goal of supporting reform in Burma.

Meanwhile, Ko Ko Gyi and two other 88 Generation leaders—Min Ko Naing and Mya Aye—have threatened to return their Burmese passports if other members of their group do not receive travel documents.

Some 20 members of the organization applied for passports, but only three were accepted. The group’s leadership has sent a letter to President’s Office Minister Aung Min requesting passports for all members of the organization, Ko Ko Gyi said.

Min Ko Naing is due to travel to the US soon to receive a human rights award from the National Endowment for Democracy.

Since Burma began a process of political reform last year, the government has made it much easier for foreigners to visit the country. However, there are no clear regulations for Burmese nationals to be allowed to travel abroad, claim rights activists.