Daily News-August 24 - 2001- Friday

  • Activists Demand Suu Kyi’s Release
  • Authorities dismiss USDA official for contact with opposition
  • Myanmar, Laos Issue Joint Communique to Promote Cooperation
  • Inspection of Construction of MICT Park, Bagan Cybertech Communication Building
  • Indian Company to Build Dyeing Factory for Myanmar
  • Wa taking smuggled cars in barter deals with local help
  • More Than 3,500 Athletes To Compete In SEA Games
  • Megawati arrived in Burma, no Suu Kyi meeting planned
  • Profile: Megawati Sukarnoputri

  • Activists Demand Suu Kyi’s Release

    By Ko Thet
    source : The Irrawaddy

    August 23, 2001-Burmese activists based in Thailand and Japan have called on Burma’s ruling junta to release senior leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), as the first anniversary of their arrest for attempting to travel outside of the capital approaches.

    The demand came amid growing impatience over the pace of progress in secret talks between NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). The talks began shortly after Suu Kyi’s arrest last September.

    In the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) released a statement yesterday denouncing the continued detention of the NLD leaders. "We ask the international community to put more pressure on the Burmese junta for the sake of freedom for the Burmese political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," said the statement.

    This afternoon in Tokyo, a group of activists demonstrated in front of the Burmese embassy, and vowed to do so on the 22nd of every month until Suu Kyi, NLD Vice Chairman Tin Oo, and other leaders are freed.

    In the past two months, the SPDC has released more than twenty NLD members, including a number of elected Members of Parliament. Since the talks began late last year, about 170 prisoners have been freed. The SPDC has used the releases as evidence that the talks are still on track, but most exiled dissidents say that the slow pace shows that the regime is merely stalling, and intends to remain in power indefinitely.

    "Over 2,000 prisoners remain in several prisons around the country, and conditions remain every bit as bad now as they were before Aung San Suu Kyi and the SPDC started their secret talks," remarked AAPP spokesperson Bo Kyi.

    Other critics of the junta have noted that few of those released so far occupy top positions in the NLD. They say that until Suu Kyi is released, there will be little reason to believe that the talks are any more than a public relations stunt.
    Authorities dismiss USDA official for contact with opposition

    Text of report by DVB on 20 August

    DVB has learned that the SPDC authorities have been closely monitoring Kyant Phut [derogatory term for Union Solidarity and Development Association, USDA] members about their involvement in politics. Any USDA member doubted to be involved in politics is dismissed from the association and action taken later.

    On 17 August, ward authorities issued an order instructing Ko Maung Maung Htay, a USDA member and a people's volunteer who resides at Block No 705, Mawraziwar Ward, Chanmyathazi Township in Mandalay, to come to the Ward Peace and Development Council Office every Friday and sign a pledge of not involving in party politics.

    Ko Maung Maung Htay, alleged to have contacts with National League for Democracy [NLD] members, is a frequent visitor to NLD township offices. The ward authorities monitored his movements and then informed the regional Military Intelligence unit which ordered them to make him sign a weekly pledge. According to DVB, Ko Maung Maung Htay happens to be a nephew of U Thet Oo, NLD Chanmyathazi Township Organizing Committee member.

    At present investigations are under way on whether the activities of Ko Maung Maung Htay, dismissed from the Kyant Phut and peoples' volunteers, were controlled by the NLD.

    According to latest reports received by DVB, the SPDC authorities also monitor the movements of Fire Services Department, Red Cross Brigade, and women's association members on contacts with NLD and involvement in party politics.
    Myanmar, Laos Issue Joint Communique to Promote Cooperation

    The People's Daily (China)

    Myanmar and Laos issued a joint Communique here Wednesday at the end of a four-day official visit by Lao Prime Minister Boungnang Vorachith, saying that his successful Yangon visit has set a firm base for enhancing the ongoing cooperative activities of the two countries.

    During the visit, the Communique said, Boungnang had fruitful exchange of views on bilateral, regional and international issues with Senior-General Than Shwe, Chairman of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council and Prime Minister.

    The two prime ministers reviewed with satisfaction the significant progress on the bilateral relations, agreeing that there exists a variety of opportunities for expanding cooperation in the economic, trade, cultural and technical fields.

    Than Shwe reaffirmed Myanmar's independent and active foreign policy, guided by the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and maintaining friendly relations with all countries, especially neighboring ones with firm commitment to closer cooperation with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

    The two prime ministers shared the view that a regional community, comprising all Southeast Asian nations under the ASEAN umbrella, will establish durable peace and security and elevate the well-being of the people of the region, the Communique noted.

    The Communique disclosed that the upcoming 6th meeting of the two countries' Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation will be held in Vientiane. It also disclosed that Than Shwe had accepted Boungnang's invitation to officially visit Laos. Boungnang arrived here Sunday at the invitation of Than Shwe.
    Inspection of Construction of MICT Park, Bagan Cybertech Communication Building

    Information Sheet- N0. B-1930( I ) - 23rd August, 2001

    Chairman of the Myanmar Computer Technology Development Council, Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and party inspected the construction tasks of the Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Park (MICT Park) in Yangon on 22 August.

    Officials of MICT Park explained on progress construction of the work, building of rooms, installation of power lines and communication lines, formation of production rooms, and future tasks by members of Myanmar Information Communication Technology Development Building project.

    Secretary-1 and party attended to the needs and gave guidance on laying down of rules, regulations and procedures systematically, examining of extension of services, and discharging of duties for development of information and communication technology in unison. They also inspected the completion of the MICT Park and the Bagan Cybertech Communication Building.
    Indian Company to Build Dyeing Factory for Myanmar

    YANGON, August 23 (Xinhuanet) -- An Indian company has reached a contract here with Myanmar to build a dyeing and printing factory in the country's northern Mandalay division.

    The contract between the PEC Ltd of India and the Myanma Textile Industries of the Ministry of Industry No.1 was signed on Wednesday, official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Thursday.

    The Yamethin dyeing and printing factory construction project will be implemented on a plot of 6.68 hectares, 8 kilometers north of Yamethin in the division, within 11 months after the signing of the contract, it said.

    According to an earlier official report, India's Angelique International Ltd signed a number of contracts in June respectively with organizations under Myanmar's Ministry of Industry No.2 for purchasing machinery totally worth 4.8 million U. S. dollars to be used at production factories of the ministry.

    India began investing in Myanmar only in February 1999 with 4.5 million dollars as a new foreign investor out of those from 25 countries and regions investing in Myanmar.
    Wa taking smuggled cars in barter deals with local help

    Bangkok Post
    By Anucha Charoenpo

    Northern police have stepped up measures against car-smuggling gangs from Malaysia after being told by informers that most stolen cars were being delivered to the United Wa State Army (UWSA), the key drugs producer and trafficker in Burma.

    Pol Maj-Gen Somkid Boonthanom, the Chiang Rai police chief, said about 50 Burma-bound vehicles with Malaysian registrations had been seized in Chiang Rai over the past 10 months.

    Police in Mae Sai, Mae Fa Luang, Chiang Saen, Muang, Wiang Kaen and Mae Chan districts of Chiang Rai have set up roadblocks to check on suspected vehicles heading for the Burmese border.Pol Maj-Gen Somkid said the gangs were engaged in a barter deal and a lot of methamphetamine pills were being brought into the country in exchange for the stolen cars.

    He cited a case in which a former Phayao policeman, Pol Sgt Banleng Panjakhan, was arrested and charged with trafficking in a million methamphetamine pills, in June this year.He allegedly confessed that he had been employed by a gang of smugglers to deliver a stolen car to the UWSA in exchange for the drugs.

    It was estimated about 500 stolen cars were being smuggled in from Malaysia every year by Thai-Malaysian gangs with the help of corrupt customs officials in both countries who were also profiting from the racket.He said he would contact Malaysian authorities to help trace the gangs' movements and activities in a bid to crack down on the practice.
    More Than 3,500 Athletes To Compete In SEA Games

    KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 (Bernama) -- A total of 3,512 athletes will compete in the 21st SEA Games next month with Thailand, who were the overall champions at the last games, sending 650 athletes, the largest number among the 10 participating countries.

    According to the list of participants for the SEA Games, Thailand are sending 368 male athletes and 282 female athletes. Hosts Malaysia have the second largest number of athletes with 558 participants comprising 335 male athletes and 223 female athletes.

    This is followed by Indonesia with 544 athletes (318 men and 226 women), Vietnam 407 athletes (221 men, 186 women), Singapore 392 athletes (228 men, 164 women), the Philippines 355 athletes (217 men, 138 women), Myanmar 267 athletes (174 men, 93 women), Brunei 139 athletes (119 men, 20 women), Laos 115 athletes (95 men, 20 women) and Cambodia 85 athletes (70 men, 15 women).

    The 21st edition of the biennial games from Sept 8 to 17 will be held in the Klang Valley, Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang.However, the football matches will begin earlier from Sept 1 for men's football and Sept 4 for women.

    A total of 391 gold, 391 silver and 501 bronze medals will be up for grabs in the competition involving 32 types of sports.

    Football has the largest number of athletes with a total of 351 players including women, followed by athletics (273 competitors) and aquatic including swimming, diving, rhythmic swimming and water polo (223). The others include shooting (184 competitors), pencak silat (169), karate-do (144), Volleyball (134), hockey (132), basketball (132), cycling (129). The sports with the least number of participants are squash and netball with each having 26 competitors.
    Megawati arrived in Burma, no Suu Kyi meeting planned

    Source : MSNBC / South China Morning Post

    Rangoon, Aug. 24---New Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri visited Burma and Thailand on Friday, the latest stops in a whirlwind Southeast Asian tour to drum up business and reassure the region that her vast country was on the mend.

    Megawati held talks on Friday evening in Bangkok with Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Officials said the two leaders discussed ways of boosting bilateral trade.

    Mrs Megawati and her team which included the Foreign Minister were welcomed at the airport by Burmese leaders on their arrival from Phnom Penh.

    After a brief airport ceremony, the delegation was conveyed in a motorcade to the state guest house.

    Soon after arrival, Mrs Megawati and entourage held talks with Burmese leaders at the parliament building.

    In Burma earlier in the day, Megawati had lunch with Senior General Than Shwe, chairman of the military government.

    The Indonesian delegation is to leave Rangoon only four hours after arrival.

    During her brief visit to Rangoon, she did not meet pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi -- a woman who Megawati has said she admires, and whose life has many parallels with her own.

    Megawati, daughter of Indonesia's founding President Sukarno, became a symbol of democracy in Indonesia due to her opposition to the military-backed government there in the 1990s.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Burmese independence hero General Aung San, spent six years under house arrest from 1989 and has been held in de facto house arrest for nearly a year because of her pro-democracy campaigning.

    Thailand is the sixth stop in Megawati's eight-day trip to all nine fellow member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia.

    Diplomats have said Megawati's regional tour is partly aimed at displaying her confidence in weathering troubles at home, following her sudden ascent to the presidency last month.

    Megawati's tour highlights a week of diplomatic forays by ASEAN leaders anxious to find ways to put their countries back on the world investment map.
    Profile: Megawati Sukarnoputri

    Source : BBC

    With her appointment as Indonesia's fifth president, Megawati Sukarnoputri has inherited the role her father Sukarno established as Indonesia's founding leader.

    It's a position the ambitious, popular but publicity shy matron of Indonesian politics has long coveted.

    She only narrowly missed out in 1999 when her onetime friend Abdurrahman Wahid crucially won the backing of an alliance of Muslim parties opposed to a woman president.

    Now, after two years she has the support of politicians, her millions of followers and, perhaps most importantly, the military.

    Wahid undermined

    She has a huge task ahead of her. Years of political instability have left Indonesia's economy in tatters, separatist and sectarian violence threatens to tear the country apart, and although opposition to Wahid may have united the country's politicians it will take immense political skill to maintain their support.

    Senior officials from Megawati's party such as Heri Achmadi believe her maternal, if not to say feudal approach to politics is exactly what Indonesia needs right now.

    "First of all, she is a politician", he says. "But she is also a mother with her attention on her followers, on the people and the people who work with her."

    He says that is what the country needs at a time when the majority of Indonesians feel abandoned by the government.

    Family business

    Her father, Sukarno, led the country to independence from Dutch colonial rule after World War II and became its first president.

    He is still revered as a charismatic national hero and that status has been automatically transferred to Megawati.

    She clearly idolises him. "He is very handsome", she laughs. She says, giggling, that sometimes she thinks she is not his daughter as she keeps falling in love with him.

    Unified nation

    Analysts such as Doug Ramage of the Asia Foundation in Jakarta believe she has taken her father completely as her role-model.

    "Megawati's vision of Indonesia is not appreciably different from her father's", he says.

    "This is Indonesia as a unified nation state, where, if anything, decentralisation is slowed down and very few concessions if any are given to separatists in Irian Jaya or in Aceh - which could be a problem for her".

    But, he says, she is known for her integrity, for making a deal and sticking with it.

    Late arrival

    Despite being a member of such a famous political family, Megawati was propelled into the limelight by default.

    Only at the age of 40 did she reluctantly join the opposition to former President Suharto's authoritarian government.

    But her family name soon ensured she became a symbol of popular resistance - so much so that in 1996 Suharto tried to remove her as leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party, provoking demonstrations in the capital.

    His supporters attacked the party headquarters, leaving at least five dead and many others injured.

    Megawati was transformed into a national hero.

    Publicity shy

    But since the downfall of President Suharto in 1998 she has avoided political limelight.

    She rarely gives interviews or makes political speeches - some say her silence is evidence of political cunning, others that she has nothing to say.

    One of the most frequent criticisms is that she is limited intellectually.

    But her supporters point to other qualities - they say she is a good listener, a team player who can get things done.

    And, they point out, who is the viable alternative?