Daily News- December 30 - 2001- Sunday

  • No hope for the release of jailed Rakhaing leaders
  • Official media issues delayed report on major fire
  • A major victory in the drugs fight
  • DRUG LORD HAD STYLE: Home used for TV shows
  • China ships arms to Burma
  • Boon for business: Local Chinese

  • No hope for the release of jailed Rakhaing leaders

    Narinjara news

    Sittwe, 29th December 01: The State Peace and Development Junta of Myanmar have so far released 202 jailed political opposition leaders. On 27th December they released four women members of the National League for Democracy led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Though many of the NLD leaders have been released so far, most of the Rakhaing nationality leaders including U Aye Tha Aung, the General Secretary of the Committee to Represent the People's Parliament (CRPP) and Joint Secretary of Arakan League for Democracy, have been kept behind bars.

    In 1993 the junta banned Arakan League for Democracy. ALD won 11 out of 26 parliamentary seats in Rakhaing State in the 1990 general elections, while CRPP is the body representing NLD and other Non-Burman Nationalities Organizations which won in the 1990 general elections whose results have never been honoured by the Myanmar military regimes.

    U Aye Tha Aung was arrested on 24th April 2000, and was sentenced by SPDC for twenty years on 7th June 2000 in Yangon.

    Only U Saw Mra Aung ( Chairman of ALD, released a few months ago) and U Aye Tha Aung, who are both Rakhaing nationals, were arrested and sentenced for their involvement in CRPP. A prominent political leader of the opposition on condition of anonymity said that, the imprisonment of the two Rakhaing leaders was the result of SPDC junta's jingoistic policy since no other leaders of the CRPP was ever arrested and sentenced.

    U Aye Tha Aung was given treatment at the Yangon General Hospital in October this year for his failing health. An ALD leader said that, since then U Aye Tha Aung has been suffering from complicated heart disease and his condition has deteriorated over the months. Though Amnesty International and some other human rights organizations have demanded for his release, the junta have not yet taken any steps for his release.

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    Official media issues delayed report on major fire

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Breaking a weeklong silence, official media reported Saturday that a fire left more than 1,000 people homeless after raging through a town in southern Myanmar.

    Residents in Myeik said the blaze last Sunday razed more than 1,500 houses and left thousands homeless. It was not known whether any residents of the town, located 540 kilometers (335 miles) southeast of the capital Yangon, had died.

    In the first official media report of the fire, The New Light of Myanmar said Gen.Maung Aye Friday met victims being temporarily housed at Buddhist monasteries. Maung Aye is deputy chairman of the State Peace and Development Council, a military group which imposes tight controls on the media and all political opponents in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

    Officials also have not commented on a fire which destroyed almost the entire market in Lashio in northern Burma on the night of Dec. 25. The thriving Myo-Ma market sells a wide range of goods from Thailand and China. Another fire in Lashio killed more than 100 people and left some 20,000 others homeless in March 1988.

    The newspaper said the blaze in Myeik, which has a history of major fires, destroyed more than 1,000 houses. It did not say how many people were left homeless, but noted that authorities were taking necessary relief measures. Many buildings in rural Myanmar towns are built of wood, bamboo and other flammable materials.

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    A major victory in the drugs fight

    The Nation-EDITORIAL: Published on Dec 30, 2001

    Once again a major criminal has been hit where it hurts most, through the seizure of his ill-gotten gains. The coordinated raids on the houses of fugitive drug kingpin Wei Xieu-kang and his associates led by the Office of the Anti-Money Laundering Commission in cooperation with anti-drug officials and police on December 26 was remarkable in terms of the depth and breadth of the operation, which will have significant repercussions for the anti-drug campaign in Thailand.

    The operation was the biggest anti-money laundering case since regulations under the 1999 Money Laundering Control Act came into effect in October 2000.

    A wide range of alleged ill-gotten assets, including houses, luxury cars, jewellery, cash, bank accounts, land deed titles and other valuables were forfeited.

    Under the money laundering law, the owners of the seized assets will be required to prove beyond doubt that they had acquired them through legal means, otherwise the assets in question will be confiscated and liquidated to raise funds for the anti-drugs campaign.

    Wei Xieu-kang, a major drug kingpin who is known by his Thai names of Prasit or Charnchai Cheewinnitipanya, was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in 1994 after being convicted of possessing 600 kilogrammes of heroin. He had jumped bail a few years earlier and continues to evade the long arm of the law. He is also wanted by United States anti-narcotic officials, who have put a price of US$2 million on his head.

    Bringing the convicted drug trafficker to justice will not be easy. With his enormous wealth, Wei had been able to continue running his drug syndicate inside and outside of Thailand for a very long time before his arrest in the early 1990s, after which he was able to buy his way out of captivity and escaped.

    The seizure of Wei's assets is a powerful reminder to the government that the escape of such a high-profile drug trafficker is a sad indictment of Thailand's law enforcement authorities, many of whom remain rampantly corrupt.

    As long as these people continue to wear their uniforms, it will be impossible to win the war against drugs. It has been said many times before that the drug battle cannot be won unless it is accompanied by a sweeping campaign against corruption in the government and Thai society at large.

    Thailand continues to be a major drug transit point, despite the gallant efforts of a handful of dedicated police officers backed by drug fighters from a number of other countries,particularly the United States. It is also in the grip of a serious plague of amphetamine use that is threatening major social dislocation in many communities unless it is brought under control. All of this is because little is being done to identify the criminals in uniform through relatively simple checks on their assets.

    While the seizure of Wei's assets may signal a significant victory for the authorities, it can in no way be regarded as the tide of battle being turned against the traffickers and the corrupt. However, it is great to see the anti-money laundering law being used effectively by the government.

    Apart from the Bt100 million-plus worth of cash and assets seized from Wei, anti-money laundering officials have also grabbed assets worth about Bt470 million since the beginning of this year, mostly in connection with drug trafficking. The Office of the Anti-Money Laundering Commission deserves kudos for this outstanding performance as it is implementing a law that is designed to hit drug traffickers where it hurts most - taking away the proceeds of their hideous trade.

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    DRUG LORD HAD STYLE: Home used for TV shows

    The Nation

    It may come as a surprise to television viewers that a mansion that served as a luxurious backdrop for their favourite dramas was in fact the home of drug lord Wei Xieu-kang.

    Among the property raided by Thai police this week was a home on Ratchadapisek Road belonging Wei's wife that has often been used as a location for television commercials and drama programmes. In the economic bubble era prior to the 1997 economic crisis, advertising production teams were seen working at the mansion four or five times a month.

    But over the past year or so, the owner of the house did not allow any production, people in the neighbourhood said. Ithipat Ratanapanu, now a director for iTV, said he directed the "Koo Thoranong'' series for Channel 3 and used the mansion as a location. But he never met the owner of the home.

    To get inside, he contacted the housekeepers and paid a rent of Bt10,000 to use the house between 6am and 6pm or Bt1,000 per hour. "This mansion was perfectly embellished. The hall is luxuriously decorated with a standard swimming pool, park and waterfall. Every room was allowed [for filming] except the room of the owner's child," Ithipat said. He said he did not know why the owner had stopped allowing the use of the home as a location.

    Warayuth Milinthachinda, a director of Channel 3, said he used the mansion in his TV drama, "Khunying Chomkaen", a few years ago. He paid Bt15,000 to Bt20,000 for the site from 8am till 9pm. "I have never met the owner of the house. I was shocked when I learnt of the reports,'' Warayuth said.

    Meanwhile police have seized another Bt100 million in assets from relatives of Wei. The move was the latest in the government's bid to crack down on drug-trafficking rings and cut off their funding. Police on Thursday seized houses, land deeds, automobiles, jewellery and cash in bank accounts in the cities of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, where Wei is believed to be operating his suspected drug business.

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    China ships arms to Burma

    Special to World Tribune.com

    China's military recently sent an arms shipment to Burma, highlighting efforts by the People's Liberation Army to back the ruling military junta there.

    U.S. intelligence officials said the delivery was detected Dec. 15 as a 40-vehicle convoy that included artillery, gun carriages and communication equipment. The goods were delivered to the town of Lashio through the China-Burma border town of Mu-se.

    The equipment includes a Chinese-built artillery battery that is part of large shipments of military equipment to the State Peace and Development Council, as the ruling junta is called.Additional equipment provided in recent months includes more than 300 armored personnel carriers that were sent in August. Eight truckloads of other military goods were sent in July.

    Last year, Chinese military advisers took part in overseeing a military exercises by the Burmese forces in conducting combined land-air-sea maneuvers. The exercises also included Pakistani military officers.The ties to Burma are part of China's southeast Asian strategy of developing ties to non-democratic, anti-Western nations along its borders.

    Chinese military elements have been linked to drug trafficking in Thailand through Beijing's backing of the 25,000-strong Wa tribal army in Burma, which is a main supplier of methamphetamines.One intelligence official said Wa militants have been trafficking in PLA weapons to other tribal groups in the region.

    Burmese intelligence chief Gen. Khin Nyunt is said to be the key ally of Beijing within the Burmese junta.Nhunt is dependent on the Wa and the drug trade to fuel his campaign to succeed Gen. Than Shwe as junta supreme leader against rivals who are not as close to Beijing or the Wa. In addition, the Wa army, which was formerly the militant arm of the Beijing-backed Burmese Communist Party, has been commanded by Han Chinese PLA military officers since the 1950s.

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    Boon for business: Local Chinese

    Myanmartimes :Volume 5, No.94-December 17 - 23, 2001

    LEADING members of the Chinese community in Yangon welcomed the visit by China’s President Jiang Zemin, saying it would strengthen business links. A prominent businessman, U Aik Htun, said the visit would give a tremendous boost to business ties between Myanmar and China.

    U Aik Htun referred to the six economic agreements signed during the visit and noted that more business delegations from China were due in Yangon during the coming months. He said closer business ties with China could bring significant benefits to the Myanmar economy.

    "As the Chinese economy will get more international exposure now that it has become a member of the World Trade Organisation, we will have better opportunities for attracting overseas investment and increasing trade," said U Aik Htun, who was among 60 ethnic Chinese business people who attended a reception for Mr Jiang in Yangon last Thursday.

    Another member of the Chinese community, U Kyee Sein, said the visit was good for the people of Myanmar and China. He said the visit was a source of pride. Myanmar’s ethnic Chinese live mainly in Yangon, Mandalay, Myitkyina and Lashio.

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