Richardson says Suu Kyi living in a “bubble,” but is Myanmar’s best hope

Aung San Suu Kyi talks during a news conference in this file photo.(Reuters)
Updated 26 January 2018
0

Richardson says Suu Kyi living in a “bubble,” but is Myanmar’s best hope

LONDON: Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi is “isolated” and living in a “bubble,” according to veteran US politician Bill Richardson, who quit an international panel advising her government on the Rohingya crisis after clashing with the Nobel laureate.
Richardson said Suu Kyi — whom he described as a long-time friend — had developed a “siege mentality” in office, but added that Western governments should continue to engage with Myanmar and that Suu Kyi remained the country’s best hope for change.
“The relationship with the West, with human rights groups, with the United Nations, with the international media is terrible,” he told Reuters by phone from New Mexico on Friday.
“And I think Aung San Suu Kyi has brought this upon herself, the constant disparagement of the international community, which I think can be helpful to her ... She seems isolated. She doesn’t travel much into the country. I think she’s developed a classic bubble.”
Richardson resigned from the Myanmar government’s advisory board on Wednesday, during the panel’s first visit to troubled Rakhine State, saying it was conducting a “whitewash.”
Around 688,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Rakhine to Bangladesh in recent months to escape an army crackdown following insurgent attacks on security forces.
“I think the Myanmar military is to blame a lot and the only person that can turn them around, I believe, is Aung San Suu Kyi, and she should start doing that,” Richardson said.
Suu Kyi’s office said in a statement late on Thursday that her government had asked Richardson to step down and accused him of pursuing “his own agenda.”
The former New Mexico governor rejected that version of events. He said he had informed the US Ambassador in Yangon and the State Department of his intention to resign but did not seek their guidance or permission to do so.
Richardson said that before his trip to Myanmar, he was phoned by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But he declined to disclose details of his conversation with the chief diplomat in Donald Trump’s administration.
FURIOUS ARGUMENT
A separate statement from the nine remaining members of the advisory board on Thursday said they met this week “with open minds” and rejected Richardson’s criticism that he feared the panel would be used as “a cheerleading squad.”
Richardson had previously said he got into a furious argument with Suu Kyi at a Monday night dinner when he brought up the case of two Reuters reporters, who were arrested on Dec. 12 on suspicion of violating Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act.
“When I opened my dialogue with her, that was my number one issue, release the journalists. And she exploded,” he said on Friday.
Reporters Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, had worked on Reuters coverage of the crisis in Rakhine.
Myanmar’s armed forces have been accused by Rohingya witnesses and human rights activists of carrying out killings, rapes and arson in Rakhine in a campaign senior officials in the United Nations and United States have described as ethnic cleansing. Myanmar rejects that label and has denied nearly all the allegations.
Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed earlier this month to complete the voluntary repatriation of all the refugees. The remaining members of the advisory board on Wednesday toured temporary camps the government has set up for returnees.
Richardson said he did not believe conditions were yet right for the repatriation process to begin.
“I believe that the Myanmar government has emphasised speed instead of systems,” he said. “There’s been too much emphasis on quick results rather than assuring that safety is guaranteed.”


Indian tycoon Mallya to find out extradition fate

Updated 5 min 32 sec ago
0

Indian tycoon Mallya to find out extradition fate

  • “The focus of our case is on his conduct, how he misused the banks,” lawyer Mark Summers, representing the Indian authorities, said during an earlier hearing
LONDON: Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya will appear in a London court on Monday to find out whether he will be extradited to his homeland, where he is accused of fraud.
Mallya, chairman of the UB Group drinks conglomerate and chief executive of the Force India Formula One team, will discover his fate at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
He left India in March 2016 owing more than $1 billion after defaulting on loan payments to state-owned banks and allegedly misusing the funds.
The loans from the state-owned IDBI bank were intended to bail out his failed carrier Kingfisher Airlines.
Mallya said in July that he had made an “unconditional offer” to an Indian court in a bid to settle the charges, but denies that was an admission of guilt.
“I cannot understand how my extradition decision... and my settlement offer are linked in any way,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
“Wherever I am physically, my appeal is ‘please take the money’. I want to stop the narrative that I stole money,” he added.
The case is being heard by England’s Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who handles the most complex extradition cases.
“The focus of our case is on his conduct, how he misused the banks,” lawyer Mark Summers, representing the Indian authorities, said during an earlier hearing.
He told the court that Kingfisher Airlines had been incurring losses and was forced to defer payments to its creditors. It sought loans in October 2009 and hoped to emerge from the global financial crisis as a profitable venture.
“This was an airline in trouble at this stage, which is why it was seeking financial assistance from a large number of banks,” for large amounts of money, Summers said.
Known for his lavish lifestyle, Mallya made Kingfisher beer a global brand.
He stepped down as the director of the Indian Premier League cricket team Royal Challengers Bangalore last year.
His financial dealings are being investigated by the federal Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate, a financial crimes agency.
Mallya was once known as the “King of Good Times” but dropped off India’s most wealthy list in 2014, engulfed by Kingfisher Airlines’ massive debts.
He has been living in a sprawling $15 million (13 million euro) mansion in southeast England but has denied absconding.