During the past month the world has witnessed two terrible natural disasters, the earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, and Cyclone Nargis in Burma. The response of the two affected countries' governments has been a marked contrast.

The Chinese government has done all that it could to help its people, welcoming international relief efforts and pouring resources into the affected regions. The Burmese junta, on the other hand, has acted with callous disregard for the welfare of its own people, blocking international aid efforts and caring more about its own political control of the country than the plight of its people.

I have watched with growing anger the natural disaster of Cyclone Nargis in Burma being turned into a man-made disaster by the Burmese generals. Current reports from foreign aid agencies say a quarter of a million people have still not received any help.

Despite claims by the Burmese generals that the relief operation is now over, aid workers say there remains an urgent need to provide food, shelter, clean water and other basic aid. Despite the junta agreeing to let foreign aid experts into the most affected regions there are still reports of these experts being holed up in hotels in Rangoon unable to provide the desperately-needed direction and help.

In the midst of this human misery and tragedy what have the Burmese generals been doing? They pressed ahead with a referendum on constitutional changes consolidating their power and renewed pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest.

Ms Suu Kyi's Party said the vote was a "sham" that was not free or fair, and claimed the authorities "used coercion, intimidated, deceived, misrepresented and used undue influence" to boost the number of "yes" votes.

As I said in the recent debate on Burma in Parliament: "It is important that the international community should not only take action to overcome the disaster and help the communities affected now, but ensure that political action is taken to bring forward a more democratic system in Burma; otherwise, the Burmese will continue to suffer not only from natural disasters, but from human disasters."