Hilton justifies Myanmar business link

SINGAPORE, 5 March 2021: Hilton Asia Pacific confirms it manages three hotels in Myanmar on behalf of the Eden Group that the covert activist group, Justice for Myanmar, accused of being a business crony of the military junta.

TTR Weekly asked Hilton for a response after Justice for Myanmar added 26 business associates of the Myanmar military to its name and shame list. It included the Eden Group that has a business partnership with Hilton.

A spokesperson based at Hilton Asia Pacific’s Singapore regional office confirmed it manages properties for Eden’s hotel division.

“We manage three hotels in Myanmar on behalf of Eden Group. Two of these hotels are currently closed for seasonal and Covid-19 pandemic-related reasons, and the third is housing just eight long term guests.”

Avoiding any reference to the Justice for Myanmar accusations, the spokesperson emphasized: “Our presence in any country has always meant that we work for the greater good of the local community, and our experience in Myanmar is no different.

“Since we launched our presence in Myanmar in 2014 with the opening of Hilton Nay Pyi Taw, we have created job opportunities for more than 500 people across our three hotels.

“In 2015, we established the Hilton Vocational Training Center to provide training to local talent who are keen to build a career in hospitality.

“Across the three batches we’ve taken to date, we have had almost 100 students enrolled in the HVTC, of which many have gone on to work at Hilton hotels both in Myanmar as well as other countries. 

“Our hotels have also been a consistent support to many non-government organizations and embassy liaison offices, fostering important connections between Myanmar and the world.

“We continue to believe that the global hospitality industry has the potential to advance responsible business operations, and we remain committed to contributing to Myanmar’s social and economic progress.”

In its account, Justice for Myanmar* didn’t mince its words.

It alleged: “We are appalled that Hilton is operating a hotel in Arakan state that directly finances the Myanmar army. The hotel is located where the military committed genocide against Rohingya, and the hotel pays rent to the same office that buys weapons used in atrocity crimes against the people… (it’s) a shocking breach of Hilton’s human rights obligations. We call on Hilton to immediately end their business with the Myanmar military.”

See the full report posted on 3 March. https://www.ttrweekly.com/site/2021/03/name-and-shame-campaign/

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Business Times reported that “Emerging Towns & Cities Singapore (ETC) has voluntarily converted its trading halt into a trading suspension, and will engage an independent professional to review some of its dealings in Myanmar.

“The review will also look at the group’s fund-raising efforts in recent years to provide stakeholders assurance over the group’s dealings, ETC said late on Tuesday.

“The Catalist-listed property player had been queried last week by Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) after a campaign called Justice for Myanmar alleged ETC had “contributed millions” to the Myanmar army.

“SGX RegCo had asked ETC and ETC’s sponsor to comment on the allegations, which were posted online. SGX RegCo also asked for information on fund-raising efforts by ETC and ETC’s Golden City project in Myanmar.”

Golden City is a USD230 million project in Yankin district, Yangon, that broke ground in 2014. Seven of nine 33-floor, high-rise residential towers are open. The project also includes a four-floor business centre (GCBC), a shopping mall and a five-star hotel managed by an international hotel brand due to open in 2024. 

 *Justice For Myanmar (JFM) is a covert group of activists campaigning for justice and accountability for the people of Myanmar. Its public website launched on 28 April 2020.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I for one will not use Hilton Hotels, anywhere. The governments of the world must learn to respect elections and the vote of its people. What the Myanmar military have done is grabbing the power they were quickly losing to the elected government, and with that all the money that belongs to Myanmar. This junta has always been corrupt, and the whole political world knows it. And the world will know who condones these actions.

  2. Doesn’t look good for the PR image of Hilton hotels. It has long been alleged by the West that Eden Group has been a dodgy bedfellow when the previous military junta ruled.

    The Human Rights Council has this to say about the
    Eden Group in its The economic interests of the Myanmar military: Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar in 2019:

    “The Eden Group, which donated Ks 30 million (USD 21,000) to the Tatmadaw on 1 September 2017, operates the Tigyit mine, Myanmar’s largest coal mine in Shan State, together with a mine-mouth power plant. MAPCO, an Eden Group subsidiary, is also part of Mytel, the mobile network partly-owned by MEC.

    “Chit Khine, the chairperson of Eden Group, has announced that his construction company would build one of two processing sites for returning Rohingya refugees in Nga Khu Ya near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Local civil society organisations have serious concerns that these processing sites will function as internment camps, given their similarities to the displacement camps and sites established after the 2012 violence in Rakhine where around 1.2 million displaced Rohingya people still live seven years later. The Mission has found these camps to be effectively places of deprivation of liberty.”

    https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/FFM-Myanmar/EconomicInterestsMyanmarMilitary/A_HRC_42_CRP_3.pdf

    On the Wikipedia listing for Chit Khine it says:
    “He is known for his close relationship with the former ruling junta, the State Peace and Development Council. He is believed to have funded the wedding of Thandar Shwe, Than Shwe’s daughter.

    “Eden Group was one of the only eight indigenous companies to construct Nay Pyi Taw, the country’s new capital. In exchange, the Burmese government granted Eden Group several highly coveted licenses to import high-end automobiles into the country and it can also be seen that Chit Khine has also amassed great wealth from his role in the construction of Nay Pyi Taw. Chit Khine is also known for his close links to the government, having undertaken a huge range of construction projects in Nay Pyi Taw for the previous military regime. These include the President’s Palace, the Defence Services Museum, which honours the Myanmar armed forces, or Tatmadaw and many more.”

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