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Activists target Li’s Myanmar investments

Originally appeared in South China Morning Post

February 8, 2010

By Annemarie Evans

Myanmese activist Khin Omar said yesterday businessman Li Ka-shing should either put pressure on the Myanmar junta to democratise or get out of her country.She said the head of Cheung Kong (Holdings) (SEHK: 0001) had a responsibility as an investor in the Southeast Asian regime’s logistics industry to influence the government and not permit it to perpetrate war crimes against its own people.

Khin Omar, the co-ordinator of the non-governmental organisation Burma Partnership in Mae Sot, Thailand, was invited here by the Hong Kong Coalition for a Free Burma.

She led a group of demonstrators from the Sun Hung Kai Centre in Wan Chai yesterday in a bid to protest outside the Myanmar Consulate.

They were stopped by police officers and the building’s security men.

“They told us the Myanmar Consulate is shut – for a holiday,” said one of the demonstrators.

Some wore masks depicting democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and waved placards for democracy in Myanmar. The small group then moved on to Cheung Kong Center in Central, where they passed a petition to a company representative inside, while shouting “Free Burma” and “Election not selection” outside.

“I would like Cheung Kong to be ethically and socially responsible for their business in Burma (Myanmar),” said Khin Omar. “They should not allow the Burmese government to use their money to commit war crimes against their own people.”

Khin Omar said Li’s money indirectly paid for weapons used on Myanmar’s people. She also said his port operations could allow ships in that had weapons on board.

“Recently a North Korean ship headed for Myanmar was turned back by the Americans, but it would have come through his port,” she said.

Hutchison Whampoa (SEHK: 0013) invests in Myanmar through subsidiary Hutchison Port Holdings which operates the Myanmar International Terminals Thilawa in Yangon.

A spokesman said Hutchison Port Holdings made a port investment in 1996 when Myanmar was in the process of being accepted into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, expecting the country to be opened up.

“We are still hopeful our investments can help to spur economic improvement and that economic progress of the country will bring about overall benefits to the community in the longer term,” the spokesman said, adding Hutchison Port had offered scholarships to Myanmar Maritime University since 2004.

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