Daily News-August 11 - 2001- Saturday

  • Air force chief of staff said replaces commander over Feb chopper crash
  • Commander claims Rangoon's military developments arouse Thai interest
  • Troika meets to show its 'spirit'
  • Sub-regional meeting on drug control opens
  • Authorities blind to an opium business in Mandalay
  • Thailand and Burma agreed to build Second friendship bridge in Mae Sai

  • Air force chief of staff said replaces commander over Feb chopper crash

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 10, 2001

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 9 Aug 01

    Maj-Gen Myint Swe, air force chief of staff, has replaced Lt-Gen Kyaw Than as the Burmese Defence Services' air force commander-in-chief since the past two months.

    The appointment was not publicly announced and it was not known until Maj-Gen Myint Swe inspected some air bases on 17 July in his capacity as the air force commander-in-chief. Accompanied by other staff officers, he inspected Meiktila, Namhsan and Myitkina airbases. When Thai Defence Minister Gen Chavalit [Yongchaiyudh] was welcomed at Rangoon Airport on 23 July, Maj-Gen Myint Swe was mentioned as air force commander-in-chief.

    Although the date of appointment of Maj-Gen Myint Swe was not known, former Air Force Commander-in-Chief Lt-Gen Kyaw Than has disappeared from public view for over two months now. He was last seen in mid May after his return from Malaysia.

    Lt-Gen Kyaw Than assumed the position of air force commander-in-chief on 15 November 1997 when the State Law and Order Restoration Council changed its name to the State Peace and Development Council [SPDC].

    Though the underlying factor for his dismissal was not known, it is believed to be related to the helicopter crash that killed SPDC Secretary-2 Lt-Gen Tin Oo and party. The helicopter crash in February killed more than a dozen high-ranking military officers including Lt-Gen Tin Oo.

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that Air Force Commander-in-Chief Lt-Gen Kyaw Than was relieved of his post as the air force was deemed responsible for the crash.
    Commander claims Rangoon's military developments arouse Thai interest

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 10, 2001

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 9 Aug 01

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that Brig-Gen Aye Kywe, the commander of the Coastal Region Military Command, has urged military units along the Burma-Thai border to always have military awareness relating to the security situation of the border.

    Brig-Gen Aye Kywe, who arrived Kawthaung on 29 July, reportedly said that at a meeting on border security matters held there. He noted that the modernization of Burma's defence services has prompted Thailand to investigate and gather intelligence reports on Burma.

    DVB correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed the report relating to Brig-Gen Aye Kywe's remarks on military awareness.

    [Correspondent] Brig-Gen Aye Kywe met with regional battalion commanders and local militia leaders of villages along the border at the Hanthawaddy Meeting Hall on 29 July. At the meeting, Brig-Gen Aye Kywe said although the Tachilek-Mae Sai border conflict is over, border security matters could not be taken lightly. The country on the other side has taken more interest than before on the modernization and development of our defence services.

    They are gathering intelligence reports on battalion bases and tactical command centres, including border outposts and the movements of naval vessels and military aircraft. Many informers from the country on the other side have also seeped into the country, including Kawthaung and other border areas.

    He urged those responsible to expose them and to always have military awareness concerning the security of the border areas.
    Troika meets to show its 'spirit'

    source : The Nation
    Don Pathan

    Thai, Burmese and Lao foreign ministers gather at former 'hot spot' Tachilek for informal talks

    In what was billed as a show of Asean solidarity, foreign ministers from Thailand, Laos and Burma met yesterday in the border town of Tachilek, a scene of cross-border shelling earlier this year and a place where seven Thai counter-narcotics officials were kidnapped by the Wa drug army.

    "This is a show of Asean spirit," said Somsavat Lengsavad, the Lao foreign minister.According to Laotian Ambassador to Thailand Hiem Phommachanh, ministers from Laos, Burma and Thailand will travel to Beijing later this month.

    The three met informally for three hours to discuss the preparation for the drug summit to be held in China's Kunming later this year.They then crossed over to the Thai side to Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai's private residence in the Mae Chan district.

    Earlier this year, Thai and Burmese troops engaged in cross-border shelling, bringing bilateral ties between the two Asean neighbours to one of its lowest points, as well as putting a big dent in so-called Asean solidarity.

    Moreover, just two weeks ago, seven Thai narcotics officials were kidnapped just on the outskirts of Tachilek while they were on a field trip by the pro-Rangoon United Wa State Army.

    The gathering of the three ministers came immediately after the closing of the 10th Joint Com-mission meeting, which was held in Chiang Rai between the Thai and Lao foreign ministers.At the meeting, the two sides formed a joint committee to settle business and investment disputes between the private and the public sectors of the two countries.
    Sub-regional meeting on drug control opens

    Xinhua (New China News Agency)

    Yangon [Rangoon], 10 August: A Senior Officials Meeting among China, Laos, Myanmar [Burma] and Thailand opened here Friday [10 August] to enhance cooperation for control and suppression of narcotic drugs in the sub-region. This is the first meeting of its kind of the four countries hosted by Myanmar.

    Speaking at the opening of the two-day meeting, Myanmar Home Affairs Minister Col Tin Hlaing said illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, crimes related to narcotic drugs, terrorism, the laundering of proceeds from narcotic drugs have an adverse effect on the political, economic and social well-being of the nations of the world, and it is also detrimental to regional peace, security and stability.

    Tin Hlaing, who is also chairman of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, noted that the problem of narcotic drugs cannot be addressed by any one country alone, calling for cooperation and coordination in the sub-region to find a solution.He also urged the international community not only to provide assistance but also to take an active role in the fight against drugs.

    The initiation of the four-country meetings at three levels - senior officials' meeting, ministerial meeting and meeting of the heads of states - was raised by Myanmar and Thailand during Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's visit to Yangon in June and the present meeting was agreed upon during Myanmar Foreign Minister U Win Aung's visit to Bangkok later in the month.The senior officials meeting will be followed by a ministerial meeting by the end of this month in Beijing.

    China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand and the United Nations Drug Control Programme are founding members of the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding signed in New York for drug control in the sub-region, the membership of which was later enlarged to conclude Cambodia and Vietnam in 1995.
    Authorities blind to an opium business in Mandalay

    August 10, 2001
    Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

    The government-controlled newspaper in Burma "the New Light of Myanmar" reported on July 8 that the authorities seized 3.6 million stimulant tablets and some opium oil in northern Shan State of the country in searching a car last month. However, Mizzima has learnt that the authorities are silent about an opium business, which is being operated in Mandalay, mainly because the owner of the businesss is closed to the family of powerful Secretary (1) of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt.

    An inside report of Mizzima says that buying and selling of Phensedyl, opium, and gem-stones are being undertaken in a four-story building located between Street No. 61st and 62nd, East of Chan Mya Thazi Airport in Mandalay.

    The building owned by a retired Army officer Maj. Soe Myint Thein has a basement where all the illegal activities are taken place. The basement has some buying-selling counters with number-operated drawers and it is equipped with several air-conditioners.

    Eight security guards are guarding the building day and night while the dogs are free inside the compound at night. The business associates, either opium customers or Phensedyl carriers or even gems sellers are given identity cards signed by U Soe Myint Thein.

    Although Mandalay residents are rarely seen in the compound, gems merchants from Khamti and Homalin from northern Sagaing Division, Phensedyl carriers from Tamu-Moreh in Indo-Burma border, opium sellers from Taunggyi-Lashio in Shan State are seen in the building, according to a Phensedyl carrier who himself is involved in this quietly-busy business.

    India's Phensedyl is being sold there to the customers at the rate of Kyat 4,500 (Rs. 400) while the same can be bought with Rupee 39 from the chemist's in Delhi. The owner U Soe Myint Thein is known for his close association with the Burmese junta and he is a beer-drinking partner of U Ye Naing Win, son of Gen. Khin Nyunt.
    Thailand and Burma agreed to build Second friendship bridge in Mae Sai

    Source : Bangkok Post

    Thailand and Burma have agreed to discuss fishery rules and to build a second bridge linking Mae Sai and Tachilek, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said yesterday.

    Mr Surakiart and his Burmese counterpart Win Aung discussed the issues during a tripartite lunch in Tachilek that was joined by Somsavat Lengsavad, the Lao foreign minister.

    Mr Win Aung also offered to host, in Mandalay, the first discussion with Thailand and India of a proposed road linking the three countries.

    The Burmese minister proposed another road link between Laos, Thailand, Burma and India, according to Bounkeut Sangsomsak, the Lao deputy foreign minister.

    In order to sustain the tripartite forum, Laos, which had initiated the lunch meeting in Tachilek, might also invite Mr Surakiart to a similar gathering after a Lao-Burma Joint Commission meeting in Huayxay, northern Laos, at the end of this year, Mr Bounkeut added.

    The Thai and Lao ministers had co-chaired meetings of their joint commission and arbitration committee before crossing the border to lunch with their Burmese counterpart in Tachilek. Mr Surakiart said the question of fishery rules would be on the agenda of the Thai-Burma Joint Commission due to take place in Phuket early next month. It would be the first formal discussion of the issue since Burma banned Thai fishermen from its waters following the storming of the Burmese embassy in Bangkok by exiles in October 1999.

    The joint commission would also touch on the Thai-Burma-India road link in preparation for the later meeting in Mandalay.

    The second Mae Sai-Tachilek bridge would give Thailand a new access to South China's market of 42 million people through northern Burma, Mr Surakiart noted. Thailand and Laos earlier agreed to develop a road from Chieng Khong to Huayxay and Luang Namtha to South China.

    The new Mae Sai-Tachilek bridge, which would take about two years to build, would be bigger, and more suited to accommodate heavy trucks than the existing one, which would then be used for smaller vehicles and pedestrians, Mr Surakiart said.

    Burma was currently working on the road, due to be completed in March, from Tachilek to Kengtung in northern Burma that would link up with Jinghong, in China's southern Yunnan province, he added. The three ministers did not discuss drug co-operation as their senior officials and colleagues from China were currently meeting in Rangoon on the matter, he said. Their ministers would meet in Beijing later this month, and in Brunei in November to pave the way for the four-country drug summit in Beijing close to yearend.

    The Thai and Lao ministers agreed in Chiang Rai that a committee set up to arbitrate trade and investment conflicts would not interfere in the legal procedures of either countries.

    Mr Surakiart said the committee would not have the same powers as the courts of law or tribunals but its opinions and recommendations would "carry weight and reliability."The meeting also set up two subcommittees to be respectively headed by Prachuab Chaiyasarn, Trade Representative, and the Lao deputy foreign minister.

    Thailand had submitted 34 cases to the committee, most of which concerned violations of investment rules in Laos. Laos was expected to submit about 20 cases.