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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Burmese Highlights

VZCZCXYZ0008
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGO #0383 1360613
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 150613Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7604
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 2481

UNCLAS RANGOON 000383

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/PA, EAP/PD, IIP/G/EAP

BANGKOK FOR PAO (ACASPER) AND DCM (JENTWISTLE)

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO OIIP PGOV BM
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: BURMESE HIGHLIGHTS
DELIVERY OF U.S. HUMANITARIAN AID POST CYCLONE
NARGIS

1. Following the arrival of the first USAF C-130
flights with humanitarian aid at Rangoon Airport on
May 12 and 13 an unprecedented amount of positive news
coverage appeared in the Burmese media.

2. In the nationally broadcast news on state-
controlled MRTV May 12, nearly seven
minutes were dedicated to the plane's arrival,
showing the supplies on board and prominently
featuring footage of the leaders of the delegation:
USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore, PACOM Commander
ADM Timothy Keating, Charge d'Affaires Shari
Villarosa, and US Ambassador to ASEAN Scot Marciel.

3. The television coverage followed the plane
landing, the handover of relief foods, Fore's and
Keating's meeting with Burmese Navy Commander-in-
Chief VADM Soe Thein and other officials, and the
VIPs' review of the aid that was off-loaded and
prepared for transfer to Bogalay in the delta
via helicopter.

4. The same television coverage appeared on all other
state-owned and controlled channels: MRTV-3 (English
broadcast), MRTV-4 (a joint venture Burmese broadcast
with a private company) and Myawaddy TV (a military
channel).

5. Significant newspaper coverage appeared on May 13
and 14. In the English language govrnment propaganda
daily "New Light of Myanmar," as well as all three major
Burmese language dailies(all state controlled), the
entire back page was dedicated to this story, with
numerous photographs of American VIPs, aircraft and
US-donated relief goods. On May 14 the same daily gave
prominent coverage under the headline "More US relief
supplies arrive" which provde a detailed and accurate
itemization of the donated goods.

6. To most ordinary Burmese, the positive coverage of
the deliveries of U.S. humanitarian aid was
extraordinary. One Burmese businessman, a contact of
the PAO, called it a real "breakthrough."

7. An excerpt from The New Light of Myanmar under the
headline "US Relief Supplies Arrive in Myanmar:" "Vice-
Adm. Soe Thein in his speech thanked the US for the
donation. He said that requirements for the victims
have been fulfilled to an extent that the Tatmadaw
(the military), the people and social organizations
are now contributing voluntary service with heart
and soul reaching all the affected areas, that relief
and rehabilitation tasks call for a lot of relief
supplies and funds; that so far, the nation does not
need skilled (foreign) relief workers yet; and that the
(U.S.) donation will enhance friendship between the
governments, armed forces and the peoples of the two
countries."
8. It is too early to predict whether this unprecedented
positive coverage of U.S. generosity is the start of a
trend or a rare regime-sanctioned aberration from the
usual media diatribes against the U.S., but we should
know more when the more independent weekly papers try to
run their own articles about U.S. assistance through the
regime censors this week. Today in Burma, where we have
been unable to place even the most innocuous press release
about the diversity visa program or U.S. cultural programs
under normal circumstances, we are enjoying the most positive
attention we have ever received.

Villarosa

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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