Daily News- December 17 - 2001- Monday

  • UN must press harder on Burma
  • Jiang's Myanmar Visit Successful: Chinese FM
  • India favors Participation of Afghan, Myanmar in SAARC
  • Thai army chief is against log imports

  • UN must press harder on Burma

    The Nation- EDITORIAL: Published on Dec 17, 2001

    UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan early this week received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. It was the same prize that Aung San Suu Kyi received a decade ago. But the two laureates are in different conditions: one is free, and the other is still under house arrest. But both of them want to change the world that they are living in.

    For the past two years, Annan has sent his special envoy for Burma, Tan Sri Razali Ismail, to find ways to bridge the political gaps between the ruling regime and the opposition National League for Democracy led by Suu Kyi. There has been very slow progress as the military-junta leaders continue to play for time.

    Rightly, with the whole world's attention focusing on the aftermath of September 11, they reason that they can buy more time from a distracted international community.

    Only some political prisoners have been released. What Annan should do now is to apply further pressure on Burma to produce tangible results that will advance the ongoing political dialogue between the two sides. With his newly won prize, he is in a position to do so.

    At the very least, all political prisoners must be released as soon as possible. In addition, opposition politicians must be allowed to operate freely. Nobody should forget that the National League for Democracy won the election in May 1990 and their victory was hijacked by the military junta.

    Over the past decade the UN has played its customary role of debating the situation in Burma and promoting usual exchange of views.Now Annan should also push for constructive action from key UN members such as Japan and China, as well as Asean, which continue to support the Rangoon regime regardless of what is going on inside the country.

    Both China and Japan have benefited from the political suppression inside Burma. China continues to build up its political and economic influence, without any challenge, while Japan wants to maintain its economic bridgehead.

    Within the region, Asean has also failed to use its much-valued peer pressure to advocate for positive political changes in a fellow member country. Currently, with no members wanting to stick their necks out, the organisation as a whole remains docile and tolerant of the ongoing political oppression and violation of human rights inside Burma.

    Before the arrival of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand was in the forefront in trying to promote democracy and human rights inside Burma. All such efforts were abandoned with Thaksin in power in exchange for short-run economic and political expedience.

    When Annan meets Thaksin tomorrow in New York, he should address these issues with the Thai prime minister. Annan as a Nobel laureate has a high stake here as Thailand is serving as an auxiliary state to legitimise the Burmese regime. If their meeting ends without any tangible results that would improve the situation in Burma, then it will be a waste of time.

    The Burmese situation and Suu Kyi's and Burmese peoples' plight must not be forgotten. We hope that the peace prize will make Annan appreciate even more what Suu Kyi has been through. He must now instruct his envoy to do more to improve the dire conditions in Burma.

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    Jiang's Myanmar Visit Successful: Chinese FM

    source : Chinadaily

    China's Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said that President Jiang Zemin's four-day state visit to Myanmar is "successful." Tang briefed Chinese journalists on the results of President Jiang's Myanmar visit Saturday just before leaving Mandalay for home.

    Tang noted that this visit is an important event in the history of China-Myanmar bilateral relations and is of significance for pushing forward the overall development of the bilateral good-neighborly friendship and cooperation in the new century. It has helped enhance understandings, friendship and cooperation between the two countries, noted Tang. It will also exert positive impact on the cooperation between China and members of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), as well as on the region's peace and development, added Tang.

    He went on to say that during the visit, President Jiang held talks with Than Shwe, chairman of the State Peace and Development Council of Myanmar, and met with other leaders of the country. They exchanged views on bilateral relations and issues of common concern and reached wide-ranging consensus.

    Jiang spoke highly of the development of bilateral relations, saying the China-Myanmar friendship is based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and was cultivated by leaders of older generations, Tang said at the briefing. Jiang Zemin stressed that the enhancement of long-term bilateral friendship and cooperation is not only in the fundamental interest of the two peoples, but also conducive to regional peace and stability, Tang continued. Jiang noted that China is ready to make concerted efforts to ensure that the two countries remain good neighbors and partners forever, said Tang.

    Myanmar leaders agreed with Jiang and said that Myanmar attaches importance to the development of its relations with Chinaand will further its overall cooperation with China, said Tang. They believe that bilateral "pawkphaw" (fraternal) friendship will be carried forward from generation to generation, the ChineseForeignMinister went on. He also said that Myanmar leaders reiterated that Myanmar will continue to follow a "one China" policy as it has always done.

    Tang cited that leaders of the two countries voiced their satisfaction with the positive progress of bilateral economic and trade cooperation in recent years, and believed that the bilateralcooperation between the two countries has a broad prospect. Both sides agreed to further expand their cooperation, especially in agriculture, human and natural resources development,and infrastructural constructions, stated Tang.

    Tang also talked about the cooperative documents signed between the two sides, saying that the documents will play a positive rolein the development of bilateral relations and cooperation in the future. Leaders of the two countries spoke highly of the progress that has been made in each other's country, noted Tang.

    Jiang pointed out that every country is entitled to choosing its own development path suited to its own conditions and the Chinese government will, as always, support Myanmar's efforts to safeguard social stability and promote economic development, according to Tang. Jiang also praised Myanmar's achievements in protecting its Buddhist relics, noted Tang.

    Tang said that Myanmar leaders hope and believe that China willplay a more important role in safeguarding international and regional peace and development. On regional situations, Jiang stated that China and the ASEAN countries have maintained good relations, and China supports ASEAN's integration and will continue to strengthen relations with these countries, noted Tang.

    Tang said that Myanmar leaders stressed that Myanmar will spareno efforts to support the further development of relations betweenChina and the ASEAN. Leaders from both sides agreed that they will strengthen coordination and support in international and regional affairs, Tang noted.

    Jiang Zemin started his four-day official visit to Myanmar on Wednesday as guest of Than Shwe.

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    India favors Participation of Afghan, Myanmar in SAARC

    NEW DELHI, Dec 15, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- India favors the representation of Afghanistan and Myanmar at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh said Saturday.

    Addressing the valedictory session of the three-day SAARC Writers Conference, Singh appreciated the participation of two exiled Afghan poets and wondered if Afghanistan did not join SAARC then which regional bloc would it belong to.

    "If Afghanistan cannot belong to SAARC then to which region would it belong. We should have representatives from Afghanistan and also Myanmar should be invited here," Singh said in response to an earlier statement of an Afghan delegate who hoped that his country would join the grouping.

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    Thai army chief is against log imports

    The Bangkokpost
    Supamart Kasem

    National security could be affected by the import of illegal timber and furniture from Burma, army chief Gen Surayud Chulanont warned yesterday. He said the ongoing import of timber was a collaboration between Thai businessmen and minority groups in Burma without Rangoon's consent.

    The army has joined forces with forestry officials, police and administrative officials to suppress log poaching along the border. ``We checked with Burma and learned that it has not granted logging concessions to Thai or any other foreign firms,'' Gen Surayud said. He said logs, processed wood and wooden furniture imported by Thai businessmen did not have certificates of origin issued by Burmese authorities.

    The imports were therefore regarded as illegal and Thai authorities must be careful not to allow such practices to continue or risk future border conflicts with Burma, he warned, adding that it would also affect national security. The army chief said some importers were behind the illegal felling of logs in Thailand.

    The logs were sent to be processed at sawmills in areas controlled by the anti-Rangoon Karen National Union and pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, before being smuggled back into Thailand. But the joint suppression drive alone would not solve the problem in the long run. It is necessary for all agencies to convince the public to conserve forests and create strong communities.

    Yesterday he visited Vachiraprakan military camp in Muang district, where 100 drug suspects were undergoing occupational training under a rehabilitation programme. The initiative is a joint programme between the military and Interior Ministry to rehabilitate convicts who have less than one year to serve in jail. The convicts are to be freed after the programme. Similar programmes were undertaken at many other military camps throughout the country and only two convicts have escaped so far. ``Community members must keep an eye on them because we are concerned they would return to drug use,'' Gen Surayud said.

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