Daily News-August 20 - 2001- Monday

  • Lao premier arrives in Yangon for 4-day visit
  • DVB reports on poppy cultivation
  • Thai-Burma summit set to focus on drugs issues
  • India's northeast flooded by cheap drugs from Golden Triangle
  • Thai soldiers arrested for trafficking in migrant workers of Myanmar
  • Burmese Poly students clinched Lee Kuan Yew Award in Singapore
  • Diplomats say senior Japanese official met Aung San Suu Kyi

  • Lao premier arrives in Yangon for 4-day visit

    YANGON, Aug. 19, Kyodo - Lao Prime Minister Boungnang Vorachit, his wife and a 19-member entourage, arrived in Yangon on Sunday for a four-day goodwill visit.

    The Lao leader was welcomed with a 19-gun salute on arrival at Yangon International airport. Myanmar leaders led by Prime Minister and Chairman of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Senior Gen. Than Shwe welcomed the delegation.

    The Lao leader will visit Gen. Than Shwe later in the afternoon at the Parliament building, according to his publicized schedule.

    It is Boungnang's first visit to Myanmar as prime minister of Laos. He visited Myanmar last year as deputy prime minister and finance minister.Boungnang will also visit Mandalay in central Myanmar before leaving Myanmar on Wednesday.Myanmar shares a common border of 233 kilometers with Laos.
    DVB reports on poppy cultivation

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 19, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 17 August

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that although Col Tin Hlaing, chairman of Burma's Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, claimed that the country is making all out efforts to eradicate narcotic drugs at the recent drug control meeting of Burma, Thailand, Laos, and China held in Rangoon, in practice poppy cultivation has been increasing.

    This was disclosed in a report sent from Lashio-based Northeast Military Command to Rangoon military headquarters. The report noted that there are over 76,000 acres of poppy plantations in northern Shan State alone.

    According to that report which DVB has received a copy, the poppy cultivation and destruction acreage was explained by charts. It showed less than 20,000 acres of poppy fields were destroyed.

    One table showed the list of regions where poppy fields were unable to be destroyed. They included over 50,000 acres in Wa special region, about 15,000 acres in KIA [Kachin Independence Army] special region, about 7,000 acres in Laukkai region, and nearly 2,000 acres in Mong Ko region. Furthermore, there are also thousands of acres of poppy fields in SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] controlled regions such as Hsenwi, Tangyan, Kutkai, Namhkam, Mu-se, Kunlong, and Ho-pang.

    According to the United Nations Drug Control Programme UNDCP, US based DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration], and Thailand based ONCB [Office of the Narcotics Control Board], Burma ranks second to Afghanistan as the world's greatest producer of drugs. But international magazines have been widely speculating that top SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] generals themselves are involved in the production and trafficking of narcotic drugs.
    Thai-Burma summit set to focus on drugs issues

    Subin Khuenkaew
    Bangkok Post - August 19, 2001.

    Next month's Regional Border Committee meeting will focus on strengthening ties with Burma and curbing border drug activities.

    Lt-Gen Watanachai Chaimuanwong, the Third Army commander, was optimistic about the meeting and said improved relations between Thailand and Burma would help yield encouraging results.The Thai delegation would be led by Lt-Gen Watanachai while Maj-Gen Thein Sein, the Triangle Region commander, leads the Burmese delegation.The meeting, the 19th of its kind, would be held in Pattaya between Sept 4-6.

    ``I'm quite hopeful the meeting will yield positive results which will help strengthen ties and understanding between our two sides,'' he said.Drug problems would top the agenda since trafficking was considered a threat to national security, Lt-Gen Watanachai said.

    Co-operation from Burma was vital to efficiently resolving border disputes,he said.``All border problems could be raised for discussion once we have a good understanding with each other.''

    The commander said border tensions were unlikely to escalate if the leaders of both countries had a good relationship.Recent border skirmishes almost became explosive because of the strained relationship between the leaders of both sides.

    Lt-Gen Watanachai hailed the success of a meeting with Maj-Gen Thein Sein earlier this week in Chiang Rai and said their frank discussion helped bolster a good understanding.Maj-Gen Thein Sein told him the border conflict between Thailand and Burma was not unusual since it existed for a long time.He said border tensions and misunderstandings were unlikely to escalate ``if both sides maintained their close ties and good understanding with each other''.

    Maj-Gen Thein Sein said Mae Sai river, which borders the two nations, was like a tiny silk cord demarcating the border when both sides understood one another.However, mistrust and suspicion would only turn the area into a Berlin wall preventing local people from contacting each other, he said.

    Maj-Gen Thein Sein apologised for the recent apprehension of seven Thai security and anti-drug officials who crossed the Burmese border into Tachilek.He promised Lt-Gen Watanachai there would not be a repeat of the incident if local Burmese officials were informed of such trips in advance.

    A local observer secured the rapid release of the seven officials, led by Col Duangkamol Sukhonthasap, director of Division 12 of the Supreme Command's Security Centre.``They might not have been returned alive if it weren't for the much-improved ties between the two nations,'' the observer said.The seven were held in the town of Mong Hsat after Burmese soldiers apprehended them at gunpoint and accused them of spying.
    India's northeast flooded by cheap drugs from Golden Triangle

    Australian Broadcasting Corporation

    Indian customs officials say the country's remote northeast is being flooded with cheap amphetamines as drug traffickers from the notorious "Golden Triangle" switch their focus away from heroin.

    They say young people in the seven states bordering the "Golden Triangle" of Burma, Laos and Thailand, are particularly vulnerable to the increase in availability of synthetic stimulants which are much cheaper than opiates.

    The chief of Narcotics and Border Affairs in Manipur state N Kipgen, says the porous border with Burma is helping the trade in narcotics, including amphetamines. Anti-drugs campaigners say there could be more than 200,000 intravenous drug users in India's seven northeastern states, which have a total population of around 30 million.
    Thai soldiers arrested for trafficking in migrant workers of Myanmar

    The Times of India

    AE SOD, Thailand: An army officer and a lance corporal were arrested on Saturday on charges of trafficking in illegal migrant workers from Myanmar into western Thailand, police said.

    Sub-lieutenant Samphan Mahaphan, 36, and Lance Cpl Yongyud Ngisuwan, 34, of the Special Operations Command in Lopburi province were caught with an army van carrying 17 women and three men, all of them Myanmar nationals, a police official said.

    The van was stopped at the Naung Boa checkpoint between Mae Sod and Tak towns, said the official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. The area is about 400 kilometers (245 miles) northwest of Bangkok.If convicted, the two men will be sentenced to not less than five years in jail. They also face being discharged from the army.

    Some of the Myanmar migrants in the van will be detained to be witnesses and evidence in the case, and the rest would be deported, the official said.He said the migrants told the police that each one of them was charged 4,000 baht ($90).
    Burmese Poly students clinched Lee Kuan Yew Award in Singapore

    By Jane Lee
    Straits Times

    Two foreign students at Ngee Ann Polytechnic clinch Lee Kuan Yew Award, despite a poor command of English when they first arrived here

    ENGLISH was their main stumbling block. Not surprising, considering that the two Ngee Ann Polytechnic award winners,both 22, hardly spoke it in the countries from which they come.

    Mr Ko Ko Win is from Myanmar and settled here with his parents in 1997. Miss Yang Xuan left China because she was tired of being 'born and bred in Hubei University' all her life. Her father is a Chinese literature professor there and her mother is a teacher.

    They are among the polytechnic's three Lee Kuan Yew Award winners. The third winner is Mr Yusry Harfuddin, 20, who hopes to enrol in Stanford University to study computing and programming.

    When Mr Ko Ko Win and Miss Yang arrived here, they could read English and the polytechnic provided language lessons. But speaking English was still a struggle.

    Said Mr Ko Ko Win, who is now doing national service: 'I don't know Chinese, I don't know Malay. So I had no choice but to speak English. 'At first, many people made fun of the way I talked. But I just kept on trying until I could get the pronunciation correct.'

    Miss Yang said she was surprised that people here did not use Mandarin more often. Today, thanks to 'listening to the radio, watching television and reading English fashion magazines', she is fluent in English.

    Yesterday, both received diplomas with merit at the first of the polytechnic's graduation ceremonies, which will end on Thursday.Of Ngee Ann's 4,645 graduands this year, only 6.5 per cent are international students. But they took six of the 23 gold medals awarded for outstanding performance.

    At the ceremony, Education Minister Teo Chee Hean told the information and communications technology graduates that they needed to be innovative and flexible to compete successfully with professionals from all over the world.

    He said: 'You may have invented a new product today. Someone will come to know about it tomorrow. 'A few months later, he would have created new knowledge and invented something more innovative that would knock your product off the market shelf.
    Diplomats say senior Japanese official met Aung San Suu Kyi

    Rangoon (AP)--- An influential Japanese official met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her home where she has been held incommunicado by the military junta since September, diplomats said Sunday.

    Hisashi Owada, the president of a Foreign Ministry-approved think-tank, the Japan Institute of International Affairs, met with Suu Kyi on Friday at her lakeside home, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity. They said Owada was accompanied by Japan's ambassador to Burma, Shigeru Tsumori.

    Owada and Tsumori were with Suu Kyi for nearly two hours but details of the talks were not known, the diplomats said.

    Owada, Japan's former ambassador to the United Nations, is the father of Crown Princess Masako, a former diplomat.

    The Japan Institute of International Affairs is a private, nonprofit and independent research organization that was founded in 1959 through the initiative of former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. Suu Kyi has been held under detention at her residence since Sept. 22 after defying a travel ban by the authorities.

    During her restriction, she was allowed to see U Lwin, a senior member of her National League for Democracy party every week and some high profile visitors at her house.

    Suu Kyi also met with U.S. deputy assistant secretary of State Ralph Boyce on Aug. 3 and former Asia Pacific director of the British Foreign Office, Robert Cooper, late last month.

    Owada who arrived in Rangoon on Thursday called on Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, Secretary One of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, on Friday.

    Japan is the biggest aid donor to Burma, having given about dlrs 4 billion until 1998, the latest year for which figures are available.

    Despite its considerable influence over Burma, the Japanese government has rarely criticized it for suppressing democracy. But recently Japan advised Burma to speed up the process of democratization as well as the release of political prisoners.

    The current crop of Burma's ruling generals came to power in 1988 after the army killed thousands of protesters to suppress a popular uprising against military rule. The regime called national elections in 1990 but refused to honor the results when Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won.

    The opposition has since then been regularly harassed and Suu Kyi has been prevented from carrying on political work. The junta's actions have drawn severe criticism from the West.

    The government, however, has been holding closed door talks with Suu Kyi since last October but the contents have not been publicized.