Daily News-August 29 - 2001- Wednesday

  • Burma envoy continues talks
  • Chavalit urges Burmese students to stay calm during Khin Nyunt visit
  • Curfew reportedly imposed to prevent student unrest at Sittwe
  • Veteran politician Thakhin Ohn Myint gives details on release of democracy party prisoners
  • Authorities take steps to prevent unrest in region hosting gas pipeline
  • China, Neighbors Fight Heroin
  • Assam Rifles raids Myanmarese outfit's camp in Mizoram
  • Used Car Crackdown
  • Malaysian defence minister and delegation arrives in Rangoon
  • Burma seeks Malaysian cooperation in setting up first Internet network
  • UN envoy meets with Suu Kyi, diplomats, ethnic leaders

  • Burma envoy continues talks

    By Larry Jagan in Bangkok
    source : BBC

    United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail is continuing his efforts to mediate between Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country's military rulers.

    The Malaysian diplomat met General Than Shwe and military intelligence chief Lt General Khin Nyunt before visiting Aung San Suu Kyi in her home.She has been under house arrest since last September.

    Talks, initiated by Mr Razali, have been going on for nearly a year. On the eve of this trip,Burma's military junta released two other senior leaders of the National League for Democracy, Aung Shwe and Tin U.

    With their release, the NLD can now work much more effectively.Aung Shwe and Tin U have held several long meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi.

    The main issue for the NLD remains the release of more political prisoners. There are more than 1,500 political prisoners still in Burma's jails.

    A senior NLD member told the BBC that Aung San Suu Kyi's message to Mr Razali was very clear - the military government should release all political prisoners as soon as possible as a goodwill gesture.

    Timetable for releases

    A party spokesman said they accepted that not all prisoners could be released immediately, but a timetable should be drawn up aiming to free them all by the end of the year.

    The NLD is also beginning to feel that talks should proceed beyond what it calls the confidence-building stage.Party leaders understand that the military must see benefits from continuing the talks.

    As a result, the NLD's leaders are prepared to see the international community offer Burma what it calls limited assistance.A senior NLD source said humanitarian aid for child care, health and education would be considered acceptable if the military agreed to certain benchmarks.

    It now remains for Mr Razali to convince the Burmese generals that they should accept the NLD's proposals. Only then will the international community consider reducing Rangoon's economic isolation.
    Chavalit urges Burmese students to stay calm during Khin Nyunt visit

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 28, 2001
    Text of report by Thai radio on 28 August

    Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh has appealed to Burmese students not to engage in any unbecoming activities during the visit to Thailand by Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, secretary of the State Peace and Development Council of the Union of Myanmar in September.

    Gen Chavalit said the upcoming visit to Thailand of Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt is aimed at working with the Thai side to find solutions to the problems between the two countries concerning trade protectionism, fishery, and illegal labour.

    The Burmese students who are now taking refuge in Thailand have no right to make any movement during the visit and must remember that Thailand is a sovereign country. The deputy prime minister said:

    [Chavalit] They have no right even to talk to us [about the visit]. Thailand is a sovereign state. We do not think only about our national interests. We are generous enough to allow them to stay here under the patronage of His Majesty the King. They should always be aware of this.

    Source: Radio Thailand, Bangkok, in Thai 0500 gmt 28 Aug 01
    Curfew reportedly imposed to prevent student unrest

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 28, 2001

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has already reported about a fight that broke out between some GTI [Government Technical Institute] students and local youths in Sandoway, Arakan State on 24 August. A curfew was imposed the following day.

    The incident happened when four GTI students, who were returning home after visiting a friend at Sandoway general hospital, were attacked by a group of local youths at about 2100 on 24 August. The four students suffered severe injuries... When the students in town heard about the news hundreds of students turned up at the GTI compound. After that, the GTI compound was cordoned off by riot police from Myoma Police Battalion, Sandoway and personnel from LIB [Light Infantry Battalion] No 55. A curfew was later imposed.

    The following afternoon Brig-Gen Tin Thein from Military Operations Management Command No 5 based in Ann arrived at Sandoway with an office staff and a battalion of soldiers. Later, a temporary command centre was set up at Sandoway Peace and Development Council Office where the situation was monitored. At night, Brig-Gen Tin Thein went to the GTI and warned the teachers and students not to create any unrest.

    According to latest reports received by DVB, although the situation has not improved, a curfew remains in place.

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 27 Aug 01
    Veteran politician Thakhin Ohn Myint gives details on release of democracy party prisoners

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 28, 2001

    Democratic Voice of Burma [DVB] has contacted veteran politician Thakhin Ohn Myint and inquired about the release of NLD [National League for Democracy] Chairman U Aung Shwe and Vice Chairman U Tin Oo yesterday.

    [Thakhin Ohn Myint] Well, we all went to the NLD Office today. No details are known yet.

    [Reporter Khin Hnin Htet] We have learned that after the restrictions on U Aung Shwe and U Tin Oo were lifted yesterday they went and saw Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. What can you comment about that?

    [Thakhin Ohn Myint] Well, they were taken away so I think they went to see Daw Suu. They might meet with other officials as well. They met Daw Suu for about an hour. Yes, I think they met her yesterday for about an hour.

    [Khin Hnin Htet] How is the health of U Tin Oo and U Aung Shwe?

    [Thakhin Ohn Myint] Their health is generally good. Once in a while U Aung Shwe suffers from high blood pressure and (?Dr Tin Myo Oo) will go and treat him, that's all. As for U Tin Oo, he recently had his dental check up. He has his diabetes tested also.

    [Khin Hnin Htet] What about the health of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi?

    [Thakhin Ohn Myint] It is good but as you know sometimes there are rumours that Daw Suu is not well and that she has been admitted to a hospital. It is quite clear. I do not know what you will hear from that end. Others are the same too. There are people who are not well inside the prison but the number is not much. Of course, some are in pretty bad shape but definitely not all. Sometimes the news is a bit exaggerated. As for U Win Tin he was treated by a (?specialist) and was admitted to Rangoon General Hospital.

    [Khin Hnin Htet] Can you tell us about the present condition of Saya U Win Tin?

    [Thakhin Ohn Myint] He had a mild stroke before and now he has some heart problem. He also had a hernia operation and frankly speaking it was an emergency so he was taken outside to have the operation. The surgeon was good and the operation was very successful. After seven or eight months there were some pains in that area. He said it is worse when it's cold. That is all we know.

    [Khin Hnin Htet] Are there any prospects for the release of Saya U Win Tin?

    [Thakhin Ohn Myint] I am hopeful. After Daw Suu is released and if the talks between the NLD and the junta is going on there is no one left from NLD except him. The junta also needs to release some from the student side too...

    [Khin Hnin Htet] According to our sources we heard that some NLD offices in Rangoon Division are still not allowed to reopen especially from Botataung and Pazundaung townships. Can you tell us about the condition of the NLD offices?

    [Thakhin Ohn Myint] Well, some NLD offices are up and running but I don't think all have been reopened. It is different from place to place. Some are opened but some have to wait. Of course nothing is smooth...

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 27 Aug 01
    Authorities take steps to prevent unrest in region hosting gas pipeline

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 28, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 27 August

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the Tenasserim State General Administration Department has issued an order to the district and township offices in order to prevent any mass unrest during the year.

    To implement the order, Staff Officer U Than Aung, on behalf of the administrative officer of Kawthaung District, Tenasserim Division, issued a reminder on 12 August. DVB correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report.

    [Myint Maung Maung] In accord with the directive issued on 20 July and based on the headquarters programme, a practical plan including the factors below to prevent religious, political, and social unrest in the township must be written and sent to the divisional administration department in Mergui as soon as possible. The factors are:

    . a. The names of the leaders and number of members of the political parties active in the township.

    . b. The names of the leaders of religious organizations and their strength, and the location of the mosques and churches.

    . c. The list of renowned abbots and monasteries in the township. The names of the residing abbots and the number of monks residing at the monasteries.

    . d. The names of headmasters or headmistresses of the state high, middle, and primary schools in the township, the number of teachers, and the list of students.

    . e. The list of people's volunteers and the organizational structure.

    The above details must be presented to the divisional office as soon as possible.

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 27 Aug 01
    China, Neighbors Fight Heroin

    By JOE McDONALD / Associated Press Writer

    BEIJING (AP) -- Fighting a booming heroin trade, China and three Southeast Asian neighbors announced an agreement Tuesday to step up cross-border police cooperation.

    The pact came after the first meeting of top anti-drug officials of a region where gangs that straddle borders have benefited from lack of coordinated enforcement.

    The agreement by China and the countries of the heroin-producing " Golden Triangle" -- Myanmar, Laos and Thailand -- stops short of letting police from one country operate in another. But it commits them to sharing information and collaborating in tracking and arresting smugglers.

    Trafficking of cheap, abundant Southeast Asian heroin into China -- and to foreign markets beyond -- has boomed in recent years. Gangs also are branching out into methamphetamines and other manufactured drugs. The trade has fed growing violence in rugged, hard-to-police border areas. Chinese police say dozens of officers have been killed in gun battles with better-armed smugglers. Health officials say intravenous drug abuse plays a large role in China' s spreading AIDS epidemic.

    " With this mechanism, we will push drug-control cooperation to a new stage, " Yang Fengrui, chief anti-drug official of China' s police ministry, said of the new agreement.

    The pact streamlines cross-border action, though police can' t simply raid other countries, said Kyaw Thein, an official of the Defense Ministry of Myanmar, also known as Burma." This agreement will allow law enforcement officials to cross the border on short notice to discuss with their counterparts what they want to do, " Kyaw Thein said.

    The pact also promises better political cooperation. Thailand assigned its first anti-narcotics liaison officer to its Beijing embassy this week, said Rasamee Vistaveth of the country' s Narcotics Control Commission. The officials said they would share information on anti-drug treatment to reduce demand, and on switching opium farmers to coffee and other crops.

    China, Myanmar and Thailand have cooperated on anti-drug efforts on a small scale since the early 1990s.Myanmar has carried out arrests at Beijing' s request, extraditing one gang leader to China and another to Thailand, he said.
    Assam Rifles raids Myanmarese outfit's camp in Mizoram


    The Assam Rifles has raided a camp of the Chin National Army (CNA), armed wing of Myanmar's Chin National Front (CNF) at Zawngling area, in the southern parts of Mizoram, on the India-Myanmar border but the rebels had fled before the raid.

    Assam Rifles sources said on Tuesday there was no exchange of fire during Saturday's raid at the camp, located inside the jungle.The rebels managed to escape as they appeared to have got wind of the raid.

    CNF has launched an armed struggle against the Myanmarese military rulers for federal autonomy for Chin Hills and restoration of democracy.

    The raid was conducted following a tip-off about the hideout, strategically hidden behind two steep hills to carry on activities against Myanmarese authorities, the sources said. Over 200 activists were being trained in the hideout, according to reports.
    Used Car Crackdown

    By Ko Thet
    source : The Irrawaddy

    August 28, 2001--Burma's largest market for used cars, the Hanta Wady market in Rangoon, has seen it's stock depleted by almost 90% since a government crackdown began on the used car industry two weeks ago, according to a business source in Rangoon.

    Officers' from the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) have been disguising themselves as buyers at the market to see if the traders are charging a government sales tax. The market that is usually bustling with activity has been all but abandoned in response to the crackdown, the source said.

    "Some riskier traders have been showing up for a few hours each day," said Myint Than, a car broker in Rangoon, "When MIS approaches them they claim that they are looking for friends or they give another reason for parking their car in the market."

    MIS has reportedly been investigating fifteen of the larger and more famous car dealers. The officers have been inquiring about total stock, bills of sale and are also investigating the origins of the money being used to finance the large number of cars, according to a trader who was recently questioned by an MIS officer.

    "In our business, we have been facing situations like this since the used car business began. In my experience, after these crackdowns, the value of most used cars is greatly reduced," said an experienced car dealer in Rangoon.

    To combat inflation in Burma businessmen invest their money in lands, gold and luxury items such as cars to protect themselves from the inflation. Quite often in Burma during times of high inflation, the government temporarily arrests and investigates people in these businesses.

    "When inflation gets out of control and profitability becomes difficult, the car markets dry up completely," said a businessman Rangoon.
    Malaysian defence minister and delegation arrives in Rangoon

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Aug 28, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese TV on 27 August

    Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Sri Mohamed Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, his wife and delegation arrived in Yangon [Rangoon] at 1530 [local time] today to pay a goodwill visit to the Union of Myanmar [Burma] at the invitation of Lt-Gen Tin Hla, deputy prime minister, minister for military affairs, and quartermaster general of the Union of Myanmar.

    The Malaysian defence minister and his wife and delegation were welcomed at Yangon International Airport by Lt-Gen Tin Hla, deputy prime minister, minister for military affairs, and quartermaster general, and wife; Yangon Commander Ma-Gen Khin Maung Than and wife, Foreign Minister U Win Aung and wife, Joint Adjutant- General Brig-Gen Maung Nyo and wife, Joint Quartermaster-General Brig-Gen Kyaw Win and wife, Malaysian Ambassador to Myanmar Dato Mohamed bin Noh and wife, Military Attache Lt-Col Haji Harun bin Hitam and wife.

    Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Sri Mohamed Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak and his delegation called on Lt-Gen Tin Hla, deputy prime minister, minister for military affairs, and quartermaster at 1700 [local time] today in the reception hall of the Ministry of Defence.

    Lt-Gen Tin Hla, deputy prime minister, minister for military affairs, and quartermaster-general of the Union of Myanmar, and wife Daw Win Kyi hosted a banquet in honour of Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Sri Mohamed Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, his wife, and delegation at 1900 this evening at Karaweik Palace.

    Source: TV Myanmar, Rangoon, in Burmese 1330 gmt 27 Aug 01
    Burma seeks Malaysian cooperation in setting up first Internet network

    Source: Bernama

    Yangon [Rangoon], 28 August: Myanmar [Burma] has sought Malaysia's cooperation and expertise to set up its first Internet network, an aide to visiting Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Tuesday.

    The Myanmar Deputy Prime Minister Lt Gen Tin Hla, who is also the minister for military affairs, conveyed the request when Najib called on him here yesterday.

    "Datuk Seri Najib will forward the request to the Malaysian government," his press secretary Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad said.Malaysia's advancement in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry and success in creating the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) motivated Myanmar to seek such assistance, he said.

    "Furthermore, Myanmar believes in the spirit of friendship in ASEAN since both countries are ASEAN members," Tengku Sariffuddin said.

    During their meeting at the Defence Ministry's guest house here Najib and Tin Hla discussed military and general matters, including Malaysian investments in Myanmar.

    Najib, accompanied by several senior officers, arrived in Yangon yesterday for his first visit to Myanmar aimed at enhancing bilateral military ties between both countries. The group flew to Mandalay in upper Myanmar today to tour the vast defence industrial complex located there. Mandalay is about 12 hours' drive from here. Najib ends his visit on Thursday.
    UN envoy meets with Suu Kyi, diplomats, ethnic leaders

    YANGON, Aug 29 (AFP) - UN envoy Razali Ismail met with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and top members of her party Wednesday, and scheduled talks with diplomats and ethnic leaders as he worked to speed democratic reform in Myanmar.

    The Malaysian diplomat, whose fifth trip to the military-run country ends Thursday, consulted widely among the groups whose support will be crucial in any transition to civil government.

    He made a return visit to Aung San Suu Kyi's lakeside residence where he spent almost two hours the previous day discussing her landmark dialogue with the junta which began 10 months ago.

    On the eve of Razali's arrival Monday the regime released two top members of the opposition National League Democracy (NLD), but the party's figurehead remains under loose house arrest restrictions imposed last September.

    Razali visited the NLD's downtown headquarters earlier Wednesday for meetings with its decision-making body, the Central Executive Committee, as he tried to accelerate the pace of the political thaw.

    He was characteristically tight-lipped after the talks, saying he had "no statement to make", but a senior party spokesman confirmed that a mood of cautious optimism continued to prevail.

    "We did have many problems to talk about and we are satisfied he understood them. His main function here is to mediate and facilitate and he said he would do everything in his power to achieve success," said party spokesman U Lwin.

    The NLD secretary sidestepped suggestions that Aung San Suu Kyi had become frustrated over the slow pace of prisoner releases which form a vital part of the confidence-building process set in motion by Razali.

    "We have already called for the release of all political prisoners and we will continue to do so," he said."We have our speed and they have their speed," he said when asked whether the release of almost 200 of Myanmar's estimated 1,800 political prisoners over recent months had been enough to satisfy the party.

    With the release of top NLD members Tin Oo and Aung Shwe over the weekend, rumours are beginning to swirl that another development may be in the offing, such as a statement on the content and progress of the secret dialogue.

    But U Lwin said it was impossible to say what the next move would be in the reconciliation process which has moved painfully slowly since starting late last year."I'm not a fortune teller and I can't foresee the future," he said.

    As well as seeing Aung San Suu Kyi Wednesday Razali is due to hold a session with diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

    His packed schedule includes talks with non-governmental organisations as well as the ethnic political parties who have expressed frustration over their exclusion from the dialogue between the democratic opposition and the military government.

    In the evening he will hold a dinner meeting with diplomats from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations.

    Razali is to leave Yangon at noon Thursday (0530 GMT) with a stop-over in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur before flying to New York where he will report on the visit to UN chief Kofi Annan.