Daily News-April 24- 2001- Tuesday

  • Exiled MP urges support for Rangoon, NLD talks
  • Burmese domestic media silent on Bilin bank bomb blast
  • Burma's intelligence chief meets Malaysian counterpart
  • Burma Urges India To Settle Boundary Dispute
  • Firm puzzled by ban on power plant shipment
  • Power plant part of Maung Aye's pet project
  • Junta prepares counter attack against Shans
  • Burma Seeks Compensation From Thailand For Rebel Attack
  • Six Asian nations to attend two-yearly drugs meet in Burma
  • Thai villagers vow to block shipment to Tachilek

  • Exiled MP urges support for Rangoon, NLD talks

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Apr 23, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 20 April

    In order to know more fully about the situation of the elected representatives of Burma in regard to the resolution of the International Parliamentarians Union [IPU] Conference, DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] interviewed Dr Tint Swe, who was elected as the people's representative [MP] from Pale Township Constituency-2 in Sagaing Division, Burma, in the May 1990 elections.

    Our first question was to explain the latest condition of the nearly 500 MPs who were elected in May 1990. DVB correspondent Htet Aung Kyaw conducted the interview.

    [Dr Tint Swe]
    Altogether 485 MPs were elected in Burma in the 1990 elections and among them 392 MPs were from the National League for Democracy [NLD].

    A total of 39 MPs are currently in prison and 35 of them are from NLD. Furthermore, some 35 MPs are detained at government guesthouses and all of them are from NLD. Altogether 38 MPs have died and 37 MPs among the dead were from NLD.

    There are 24 MPs in exile with 13 MPs belonging to the NLD. Similarly, there were 24 MPs who were forced to resign as an MP as well as a political party member and 13 such MPs were from the NLD. We have found out that of the remaining MPs inside Burma only 148 MPs are now believed to be free to act as elected MPs.

    [Htet Aung Kyaw] Another thing I want to ask about is the talks between the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which are entering the seventh month. During this time were any detained MPs released? Have their situations changed?

    [Dr Tint Swe]
    After the emergence of the talks some political prisoners were released but they were the political prisoners detained in relation to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's out of town travel. No political prisoner including jailed MPs serving long prison terms were included. You can conclude that the SPDC has not released any MP.

    [Htet Aung Kyaw] We have seen that the IPU [Inter-Parliamentary Union] Conference supports the activities of the Committee Representing Peoples' Parliament, CRPP. We have not heard anything about the CRPP's activities since the emergence of the talks, what is your opinion?

    [Dr Tint Swe]
    Yes, there were no CRPP announcements and publications in the news media circle. It is because the CRPP chairman and the panel of secretaries have been arrested. Even Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself is placed under house arrest. That is why we believe we would not be able to see any CRPP activity in practical terms. We also believe that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is leading the talks, will continue only after consulting with the CRPP through the NLD executive committee. Well, this is our notion.

    [Htet Aung Kyaw] According to news we have received, there are conflicting remarks regarding the talks. Some are anxious to know the contents of the talks while some are saying tripartite talks should be held. What are your comments?

    [Dr Tint Swe]
    This is quite natural for other democracy forces including the ethnic minority races to feel unsatisfied with the talks. But the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma [NCGUB] thinks the talks are the very beginning of a very broad future talks. Leaders of both sides - the SPDC and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself - feel it is still premature to reveal information about the discussions, resolutions and the outcome. Those that are uneasy about the talks should be more tolerant and patient and they should believe in and fully support Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who is participating in the talks on our behalf. Only then will the talks lead to a much broader dialogue and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be able to provide a strong leadership on behalf of the democratic forces.

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 20 Apr 01
    Burmese domestic media silent on Bilin bank bomb blast

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Apr 23, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 20 April

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that a bomb exploded in Bilin, Mon State on 9 April morning. It is not known which group is responsible for the bombing. DVB correspondent Ma Sandar filed this report.

    [Ma Sandar] A time bomb exploded in Bilin, Mon State at 1000 [local time] on 9 April, Monday. The time bomb exploded in the Myanmar Economic Bank manager's office. Six employees were injured due to the bomb blast. So far the military government's news media has not issued any report.

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 20 Apr 01
    Burma's intelligence chief meets Malaysian counterpart

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Apr 23, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese radio on 20 April

    Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council, chief of the Office of Strategic Studies [OSS] and director of Directorate of Defence Services Intelligence [DDSI], received the visiting director-general of Defence Intelligence Staff Division of Malaysia, Lt-Gen Dato Azzuddin Bin Ahmad [name as received] and party at the Defence Ministry's Guest House at 1600 today (local time).

    Also present was Maj-Gen Kyaw Win, deputy chief of the OSS and deputy director of DDSI, while the guests were accompanied by the military attache of Malaysian Embassy.

    Source: Radio Myanmar, Rangoon, in Burmese 1330 gmt 20 Apr 01
    Burma Urges India To Settle Boundary Dispute

    Monday April 23

    GAUHATI, India (AP)--Myanmar's military regime favors settlement of its boundary dispute with India through joint surveys to avoid any confrontation, news reports said Monday.

    "We shall open the door for joint surveys to resolve the boundary dispute with India", Lt. Col. San Shwe, a Myanmar administrator, told visiting Indian journalists on Sunday in Tamu, a Myanmar town across India's Manipur state.

    Myanmar's suggestion came less than a week after a bloody confrontation between the borders guards of India and Bangladesh left 16 Indian soldiers and two Bangladeshi soldiers dead.

    San Shwe's interview was published by The Northeast Daily, an English newspaper from Gauhati, the capital of Assam state, on Monday. He is the chairman of the District Peace and Development Council of Tamu in Myanmar's Sagaing division.

    A month-long joint survey by the Indian and Myanmar officials had ended inconclusively in February.The India-Myanmar land border stretches nearly 1,640 kilometers (1,018-mile) in India's remote northeast. Molcham and Satang, two small villages in Manipur state, and some other areas have remained disputed for four decades.

    India often accuses the Myanmar troops of intruding into its territory, attacking police stations, destroying paddy crops and ransacking villages.Myanmar too accuses the Indians of violating their border. "The Indian nationals near Moreh in Manipur have encroached our land and constructed a Hindu temple," Major Muang Aye, a senior army officer, told the Indian journalists.

    Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh visited Myanmar in February, taking the land route through the border state of Manipur.Apart from discussing the border dispute, Singh sought Myanmar's cooperation in dealing with the menace of cross-border terrorism and drug trafficking.
    Firm puzzled by ban on shipment

    source : The Nation

    THE transport company which was prevented from making a delivery to a planned lignite power plant in Burma says it will seek clarification from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra about who should bear financial responsibility for the failed shipment.

    Suraphol Tang-suthiwong, an executive at Praphamart Transport, said the failure to deliver 44 containers of equipment to the Burmese border town of Tachilek could cost his company about Bt4 million.

    Thaksin over the weekend barred the major shipment from China just as it was about to cross the border at Mae Sai-Tachilek. The decision was made in response to Rangoon's closure of the Thai-Burmese border.Thaksin said he would also not permit parts of the shipment to cross over to Burma on a case-by-case basis.

    Suraphol said that Transport Agency Ltd, his firm's Chinese counterpart, was extremely upset by the whole incident. "They said they had done everything in accordance with the law," he added.Moreover, the Chinese transport company was also seeking an explanation as to what went wrong and would be looking to meet the Thai authorities, as well as taking part in any investigation of the incident.

    According to Thaksin, the planned power plant would be detrimental to the environments of both Thailand and Burma as it would be located less than five kilometres from the border. As of last night, more than 33 containers had arrived in Bangkok, while the rest were reported to be on their way.

    The decision to turn the shipment back to Bangkok was made by Praphamart Transport after local residents in Mae Sai threatened to set fire to the entire load of 44 containers. Many suspected that the containers contained precursor chemicals heading for clandestine drug labs in Burma.But Manit Wittayathem, director-general of the Customs Department, dismissed such allegations.

    Meanwhile, in a separate development, the commander of the Third Army, Lt-General Wattanachai Chaimuanwong said yesterday that the government should reconsider its policy towards selling electricity to Burma's Tachilek township.The outspoken commander said the Burmese authorities had been supplying power to drug factories run by a pro-Rangoon group, the United Wa State Army.

    "The power plant has nothing to do with the United Wa State Army... [but belongs] to a private company called the Golden Triangle Hydro Power Public Co Ltd," a Burmese military government spokesman told Reuters news agency.
    Power plant part of Maung Aye's pet project, says Maesai resident

    Shan Herald Agency for News 23 April 2001 No: 04-20

    An informed resident of Maesai told S.H.A.N. this morning the power plant under construction in the twin city of Tachilek across the river was part of General Maung Aye's plan to make the city an industrial zone.

    The lignite power plant, located on a 25 acre land near Ponglo Pagoda at Ban Sansai in Tachilek, is 4 km away from the border. Its foundation was laid down by Gen Maung Aye, who, apart from being Vice Chairman of the ruling State Peace and Development Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Army, is also responsible for economic affairs, on 9 May last year.

    The cost of the plant that is expected to generate 12-megawatt of electricity is reported to be B. 250 million. The generator was purchased from Shandong Yangguang Engineering Corporation in China at a cost of B.160 million.

    The expenditure was reported to be underwritten by Myanmar Mayflower Bank, the largest shares of which belong to Wei Hsiaokang, the Chinese-Wa chieftain who is on the wanted list of both Thailand and the United States.

    Large deposits of lignite coal to be used at the plant are located in Monghpyak and Kengtung, 78 km and 160 km respectively north of Tachilek.

    Both had already been surveyed by Siam Lignite Company last year under the auspices of Maj-Gen Thein Sein, Commander of the Triangle Region Command with headquarters in Kengtung.

    Residents in Maesai, Chiangrai Province, had protested against their district officer on his return from the foundation stone laying ceremony in May last year. The grave effects of the power plant towards the environment and tourism were also discussed at a seminar at Wangthong Hotel in Maesai on 30 August.
    Junta prepares counter attack against Shans

    Shan Herald Agency for News 23 April 2001

    A massive counter attack is being expected to begin soon against the Shan force that took an isolated Burma Army base opposite Chiangmai yesterday, said sources from the border.

    "200 civilian porters and 16 civilian trucks have already been rounded up this morning," said a source from Fang District, 170 km north of Chiangmai who has been monitoring the situation since the Shan State Army's combined force of Brigade 241 and Khunsang Tonhoong Column captured the Pakhee outpost, opposite Doi Angkhang during the predawn hours of Sunday.

    There are 4 battalions stationed in Mongton, apart from other units on rotation. They are IB 65, IB 225, IB 277 and LIB 519. Pakhee base is located 18 miles northeast of BP (Border Poses) 1.

    Apart from some Wa units, no other Burmese units were reported in the vicinity when the Shans made their attack.

    "The Burmese (military) probably believed Shans would hesitate to encroach the area long considered under Wa control," said another source.
    Burma Seeks Compensation From Thailand For Rebel Attack

    MAE SOT, Thailand (AP)--Burma has demanded compensation from Thailand for an armed attack by anti-Burma ethnic rebels at the border that killed four Myanmar civilians, officials said Tuesday.

    But they said Thailand wasn't involved in the attack and wouldn't give any compensation. Thailand hasn't given a formal reply to Burma.

    Burma claimed the rebel Karen National Union troops had crossed from Thailand to make the dawn attack on Sunday, said a local official quoting an official Burma letter.

    The official said Burma held Thailand responsible for the attack and asked for compensation. He declined to say how much.

    Burma often accuses Thailand of giving sanctuary and military assistance to anti-government rebels.

    The latest accusation was made in the official letter written by Lt. Col. Soe Win, the Burmese chairman of a local bilateral border committee, and sent Monday to his Thai counterpart, Col. Chainarong Thanaroon.

    The letter said KNU forces used small and heavy weapons in the assault on houses and warehouses in the Burmese border town of Myawaddy, killing four civilians and injuring five, the official said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

    Myawaddy is linked to the Thai town of Mae Sot by the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge, 370 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of Bangkok.

    In its version of the incident, the Karen National Union said Sunday it had attacked a small hilltop camp of the rival Democratic Buddhist Karen Army, a pro-Burma army, killing one DBKA soldier and injuring four.

    The KNU claimed the camp was used as a transit point for trafficking methamphetamine drugs to Thailand.

    A stray mortar shell landed in Thailand during the fighting but no Thais were injured. However, two Burmese civilians received treatment in Mae Sot hospital.

    The KNU has been fighting for autonomy in Burma, for five decades. It wages a resistance war against the Burma's military regime along the Thai-Burmese border.
    Six Asian nations to attend two-yearly drugs meet in Burma

    Rangoon, April 24 (AFP)

    Ministers from Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam will gather in Rangoon next month for a UN-sponsored meeting on regional efforts to stamp out the drug trade, officials said Tuesday.

    The six nations signed an agreement in 1995 to work together to fight narcotics trafficking by reducing demand, boosting law enforcement and encouraging crop substitution.

    Their home affairs ministers meet every two years to discuss the progress of cross-border drug control projects and to approve new strategies devised by the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP).

    The UNDCP said China was sending its Vice-Minister of Public Security Bai Jing Fu to the meeting, which will be hosted by Burma's Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, First Secretary of the ruling junta.

    Other confirmed delegates are Thailand's minister attached to the prime minister's office Thamarak Issarangkun Na Ayutthaya and Cambodia's Secretary-General of the National Authority for Combating Drugs Em Sam An.

    Vietnam and Laos have yet to confirm who will be attending.

    The ministers will meet on May 11, after a two-day gathering of senior officials which is to be hosted by Burma's Home Affairs Minister Colonel Tin Hlaing. The senior officials hold annual talks, and last year met in Cambodia.

    A series of bilateral sessions are also slated, including talks between Burma and Thailand, and Burma and China.

    The region's narcotics crisis is a hot diplomatic topic at the moment, and the focus of a flurry of visits between Thailand, Burma and China, which produced an agreement for closer tripartite collaboration on the issue.

    Massive drugs production within Burma's borders, which is feeding a serious addiction crisis in Thailand, caused a serious rift between the two neighbours earlier this year.

    A bloody skirmish between their national armies was sparked by rival ethnic armies operating along the border who are both accused of involvement in the heroin and methamphetamines trade.

    UNDCP officials said that during next month's meeting they will present two new anti-narcotics projects -- on cross-border law enforcement cooperation; and drug control advocacy and capacity strengthening in East Asia.

    The second project "aims to present a common strategy for raising awareness about the danger of drugs in the region and (to help) governments produce public information materials and campaigns," an official said.
    Thai villagers vow to block shipment to Tachilek

    Source : Bangkok Post

    People in Chiang Rai have vowed to use any means, including violence, to block any further attempt to deliver power generators and construction materials to a coal-fired power plant project in Burma's Tachilek border town.

    A large convoy carrying power generators and construction materials from China was stopped by the Third Army on Friday before it crossed the border in Mae Sai to Tachilek.

    The shipment was halted at the crossing by regional commander Lieutenant General Wattanachai Chaimuenwong on orders from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose administration launched a "war on drugs" last month. Lt-Gen Wattanachai fears the generators will be used to power drug-making factories.

    A war of words between Bangkok and Rangoon over who is responsible for Thailand being flooded with amphetamines has seen tensions rise between the two countries.

    An angry demonstration followed the attempted shipment on Saturday by some 2,000 Mae Sai residents who feared the power plant would pollute their environment, forcing the convoy to return to Bangkok.

    Pang Polajai, secretary-general of the Rak Mae Sai club, yesterday said his group and local leaders would meet today to plan strategies to block any future attempt to send the cargo across the border to Tachilek.

    "We fear the government may later order [Third Army commander] Lt-Gen Wattanachai [Chaimuenwong] to allow the cargo through Mae Sai," he said.

    Mr Pang said people from Mae Sai and Mae Chan districts would also join today's meeting in Mae Sai.

    The meeting would come up with a "tough" resolution because local people feared their environment could be polluted in the near future by emissions from the coal-fired power plant being built just across the border, he said.

    "If the government allows the cargo to return to Mae Sai, I can bet it won't have a chance to cross the border or even another chance to return to Bangkok. Mae Sai and Mae Chan villagers are ready to fight to the end because they know well what the power plant will bring," he warned.

    Mr Pang also criticised Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's comments linking the power plant project with the Wa's methamphetamine production in Burma.

    The power plant is believed to be partly owned by the United Wa State Army. Mr Thaksin said after the convoy was halted that it was unlikely such goods would be allowed to cross the border since it would help strengthen the Wa.

    Yesterday, Mr Thaksin also said the power plant in Tachilek, once completed, could lead to an increase in the production of methamphetamines destined for Thailand.

    Mr Pang said the premier's comments had clouded the real issue "We are not protesting against drugs but against the coal-fired power plant that will pollute our environment."

    Mr Pang also claimed the prime minister might be trying to buy time for Burma. The government would likely permit the cargo to be delivered to Tachilek once Burmese authorities insisted the power plant belonged to the Rangoon government, he said.

    PM's Office Minister Thammarak Issarangkura na Ayuthaya said the problem over the cargo would likely be be raised for discussion during Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai's May 1-2 visit to Rangoon, if the issue was not already settled before that.

    Meanwhile, the Customs Department chief said yesterday that the 44 containers carrying the generators and construction material for Burma were being kept at a bonded warehouse on Bang Na-Trat highway.

    The containers were not opened for examination because his department did not think there were any illegal goods inside the containers, Manit Withayatem said.

    However, the department would allow other state agencies to open the containers and check the goods if such actions were deemed necessary, Mr Manit said.