Letters to the Editor — September, 2011
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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Letters to the Editor — September, 2011

By THE IRRAWADDY Monday, September 19, 2011

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Attacking Academic Freedom or Legitimate Scrutiny?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dear Irrawaddy,

The remarkable vitriolic and personalized article by Mr. Mark Farmaner of Burma Campaign, UK ("Attacking Academic Freedom or Legitimate Scrutiny" 9-15-2011), which attacks me and obliquely Mr. Ashley South, demonstrates more eloquently than ever I could that indeed there are bullies on both sides of the Thai-Burma border (Steinberg-Asia Times, "Bullies across Borders").  By vilifying through personal innuendo legitimate policy  disputes, referring to critics of some of the policies of the establishment to which Mr. Farmaner is associated as sycophants of the Burmese military (he obviously has not read what I have written), bringing in Lenin (wow!), and then charging that  we "have been directly paid for our work,"  he has crossed the line of legitimate disagreement and civility, and will cause many thoughtful people to question the democratic goals of his organization.  By stating that I have been paid for my writing on Burma, either by the regime in Naypyidaw, as he implies, or even by Georgetown University, is libelous.

The liberal use of scurrilous adjectives both by Mr. Farmaner, and earlier by Mr. Mathieson of Human Rights Watch Asia, are antithetical to the admirable goals they seek and undercut their very objectives.  Democracy calls for civility in debate, and as these gentlemen have amply illustrated,  it has been gravely lacking.
David Steinberg

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dear Irrawaddy,

I would like to respond to Naw Htoo Paw's article "Karen Struggle Divides Opinion as Refugees Fight Deportation", an earlier version of which was published in 'The Nation'. The original article included a response from myself, which is not reproduced in the Irrawaddy article.

My report, 'Burma's Longest War: anatomy of the Karen conflict' (http://www.tni.org/briefing/burmas-longest-war-anatomy-karen-conflict) describes the KNU a key actor, but only one among several organisations seeking to represent the Karen community. This analysis might be perceived as threatening to some. However, I have had positive feedback on the report from a wide range of Karen people. These include KNU officials who have privately stated that my analysis is accurate and that, if the KNU is to avoid further marginalisation, it needs to address the issues I have raised.

Over the past 20 years, I have travelled extensively in Karen lands and worked with different Karen organisations, including KNU departments and personnel. However, I have never made any direct payments to the Karen National Liberation Army - and certainly not for security. Although I am currently based in the UK, I have visited Burma eight times this year, including several trips to Karen areas.

I am concerned that Naw Htoo Paw's article is part of a campaign to silence alternative viewpoints regarding Burma. This attack on myself was followed on Tuesday by an article in Asia Times online, personally criticising the Burma scholar David Steinberg. These two articles represent an ugly (although not entirely new) development. Exiled political activists and their supporters are denigrating independent researchers who dare to challenge orthodox views and long-held assumptions regarding the political situation in Burma. Given the dynamic and fast-changing situation in the country, it is important that a wide range of views are expressed and discussed. Of course, a vibrant debate between different viewpoints is necessary, and indeed healthy. However, I would like to make a plea that commentators focus on substantial issues, rather than descending into personal insults.

Sincerely, Ashley South

Saturday, June 28, 2011

Subject: Request for the correction regarding PARKROYAL Yangon from online article on 14th June 2011 “ As Dollar Falls, FECs Plummet”.

To The Editor

I as Marketing & Communications Manager of PARKROYAL Yangon here by confirm that PARKROYAL Yangon is still accepting both FEC and USD.

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