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Suu Kyi woos investors in Singapore

File photo of NLD leader and Burmese State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (Photo: DVB)

Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi wooed foreign investment at a business forum in Singapore on Wednesday amid criticisms about ethnic unrest in Arakan State.

Suu Kyi, on a three-day visit to the city state, is bidding to attract more overseas businesses to create jobs and improve Burma’s crumbling infrastructure.

New investment approvals have fallen since she took power in April this year, with some businesses and investors criticising her for failing to prioritise the economy.

Some foreign investors had previously complained that protectionist measures left over from decades of military rule favour local firms.

“Our new investment law is intended to be business-friendly and we hope that the new procedures that will be put in place will make it much easier for you to go about your businesses in security because part of our investment law assures that your investments will be given that you will wish to see. You will not be deprived of your businesses unjustly, unexpectedly, directly, or indirectly,” Suu Kyi said to a group of senior business leaders gathered for the dialogue session.

No questions were allowed from reporters at the forum, which made no mention of the growing conflict in Burma’s northwest, sending hundreds of Rohingya Muslims fleeing across the border to Bangladesh amid allegations of abuses by security forces.

The crisis poses a serious challenge to Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, who swept to power last year on promises of national reconciliation.

“So national reconciliation and peace is unavoidably important for us, it’s not a matter of choice, it’s unavoidable. We have to achieve peace and national reconciliation that our country may be able to progress and that those who wish to invest in our country may find the right amount of confidence to engage in the kind of economic transactions that will be favourable and beneficial to both nations,” said Suu Kyi.

Soldiers have poured into the area along Burma’s frontier with Bangladesh, responding to coordinated attacks on three border posts on 9 October that killed nine police officers.

Burma’s military and the government have rejected allegations by residents and rights groups that soldiers have raped Rohingya women, burnt houses and killed civilians during the military operation in Arakan, also known as Rakhine.

The violence, the most serious bloodshed in Arakan since hundreds were killed in communal clashes in 2012, has renewed international criticism that Suu Kyi has done too little to alleviate the plight of the Rohingya minority, who are denied citizenship and access to basic services.