In an August 3 Newsweek interview, Christope de Margerie, CEO of French oil company Total, said critics of Total's operations in Burma can "go to hell." Mr. de Margerie defends Total's continued presence in Burma and claims that his company has been unfairly criticized while companies from other countries continue to invest in Burma without such scrutiny. Reacting to de Margerie’s statement, ERI's Burma Project Coordinator, Matthew Smith noted that claiming, "Total is a punching bag while other companies invest without criticism is simply untrue (citing ERI and the Shwe Gas Movement’s efforts around a Daewoo led development project). . . He (de Margerie) claims that Total is proud to provide natural gas to Bangkok but at the same time he tries to deflect negative criticism to Thailand. This strategy is consistent with the way Total has handled most of the negative outcry about its presence in Burma: deny and reject any and all negative criticism."
The interview is available on Newsweek's website, and there is an article in The Irrawaddy on de Mergerie's comments and the impacts of Total's operations in Burma. Ka Hsaw Wa, Executive Director of EarthRights International, reacted to de Margerie's comments in a Letter to the Editor, published in the September 7 issue of Newsweek.