Daily News-June 07 - 2001- Thursday

  • U.S. envoy calls for Burma talk results soon
  • Myanmar military prepares veterans for politics
  • MWVO Presented K 330.5m to War Veterans and Children
  • Anyone caught with anti-junta books, items to receive heavy jail terms
  • A Cabinet Minister Detained in Burma
  • Hundreds Believed Dead in Train Disaster
  • Burma text 'could hurt relations'
  • Little love crosses region's borders
  • Thailand Distorts It's Own History With Burma-Analysts
  • Burmese columnist panned for misinterpreting facts
  • Thai police get tough on illegal immigrant workers
  • Illegal alien driving bogus Telekom van to ferry Burmese busted
  • US diplomat says Burma talks will soon yield results
  • No official protest over history textbook
  • Two Thai rangers wounded in clash with Wa troops
  • Thai Senate wants to end spat caused by textbook slur

  • U.S. envoy calls for Burma talk results soon

    BANGKOK, June 6- A senior U.S. official called on Wednesday for progress in historic talks between the Myanmar military and pro-democracy opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi, following reports that the dialogue may have stalled.

    ''We hope the dialogue, which has been going on for eight months, would produce a result in the near future,'' Ralph Boyce, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for East Asia, told reporters after meeting Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.

    Boyce's trip to Southeast Asia follows a four-day visit to Myanmar by veteran Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail, the U.N. special envoy to Yangon. Razali's trip ended on Monday.Razali is reported to have said he hoped civilian rule would emerge in the decade-long military-ruled Myanmar within four years and urged the opposition to have confidence in historic peace talks with the military government.

    But Boyce, speaking in Thai, urged ''Myanmar-interested nations'' to wait for the outcome of the dialogue before they gave any extra assistance to Myanmar.

    The United States has long been one of the sternest critics of Myanmar's ruling military and its suppression of Suu Kyi and the pro-democracy opposition. Washington has imposed sanctions against Myanmar including the suspension of assistance programmes, a ban on sales of military items,suspension of Myanmar's access to favourable tariff rates and opposition to multilateral lending. The United States has also banned new U.S. investment in the country and visas for senior Myanmar officials.


    But Japan said in April it would grant Myanmar a 3.5 billion yen ($29 million) aid package to reward the military government for entering talks with Suu Kyi.The grant, for developing a hydroelectric power plant in eastern Myanmar, was the largest Japanese aid package for Myanmar since 1988, when many countries ceased assistance to Myanmar after the current military government took power.

    Leading members of the military have been holding regular meetings with Suu Kyi since October, raising hopes that the political statemate that has gripped Myanmar for more than a decade could finally be broken.

    Both sides agreed to keep the content of the talks confidential and even senior members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won elections by a landslide in 1990 but has never been allowed to govern, say they have no information on what progress has been made.

    Foreign diplomats in Yangon say they believe the dialogue has been stalled in recent months, amid talk of a heightened power struggle between senior members of the government.

    Boyce said he was still not happy with the human rights situation in Myanmar where many political prisoners have been jailed.

    In February, the U.S. State Department strongly criticised the military government in its annual report on human rights, saying the people of Myanmar were denied the most basic social and political freedoms.
    Myanmar military prepares veterans for politics

    YANGON, June 6- Myanmar's military government has called on war veterans to take a greater role in politics amid signs the ruling generals may be preparing for some form of democracy and civilian government.

    State-owned media on Wednesday quoted Myanmar leader Than Shwe calling for the Myanmar War Veterans Organisation (MWVO) to become a stronger political force.

    ''You have to make efforts for the emergence of a strong organisation with dynamic efficiency in order to successfully carry out the...tasks of the War Veterans Organisation: national politics, state defence, security, economy, community service, social activities and welfare,'' Than Shwe told a MWVO conference on Tuesday.

    Local political observers say military leaders may be setting the war veterans up as their political vehicle, together with the government-sponsored Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), for possible future national elections.

    At the conference, Than Shwe told the war veterans to step up co-operation with the USDA.

    ''The USDA, formed with 16 million new generation youths, is already discharging national political duties in the whole country as the leading national political association,'' he said.

    The speech came a day after United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail wound up a visit to Myanmar by telling diplomats he expected a transition from military to civilian government in two to four years. During his visit, Ismail met senior military leaders and pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who have been in delicate talks since the end of last year.

    The MWVO, founded in 1975, has a vast organisational network with some 91,000 members. The USDA was originally formed in 1993 as a social association, but it has since become a key pro-government organ, carrying out anti-opposition campaigns and mass rallies.

    Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the last democratic elections in Myanmar by a landslide in 1990. The party was never allowed to govern by the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and Suu Kyi spent long periods in the 1990s under house arrest.
    MWVO Presented K 330.5m to War Veterans and Children

    MIC- Information Sheet/ N0. B-1839 ( I ) / 6th June, 2001

    The Central Organizing Committee of MWVO has formed 17 state/division Supervisory Committees, 64 district Supervisory Committees and 313 township Organizing Committees with 91,172 members.

    While the MWVO is carrying out five tasks---National Politics, State Defence and Security, Economy, Community Welfare Services, and Social Activities and Welfare--- the Myanmar War Veterans Organization Conference (2001) was held with full national political essence at Hsinbyushin Hall of Defence Services Orthopaedic & Reconstructive Surgery Hospital in Yangon from 1 to 5 June.

    The Central Organizing Committee presented K 151.2 m to 3,024 members over 75 years, K 174 m to 3,173 disabled members and K 5.3 m to 53 outstanding children of the members totalling 330.5 million Kyats.
    Anyone caught with anti-junta books, items to receive heavy jail terms

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jun 5, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 4 June

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that announcements have been put up at the ward Peace and Development Council [PDC] offices in Rangoon that anyone caught with anti-SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] government books and tapes will be arrested. DVB correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report.

    [Myint Maung Maung] These announcements signed by the district chairmen have been posted at the ward PDC offices in Rangoon since 1June. The announcement stated that anyone caught with anti-government magazines, books, tapes, CDs, or videos in their possession will be arrested and sentenced to 5 to 10 years imprisonment while anyone caught renting, selling, or reproducing such items will be arrested and sentenced to 10 to 20 years imprisonment. The announcement also stated that anyone caught publishing, producing, selling or renting any pamphlet, magazine, book, tape, CD, or video without the approval of the relevant government ministry or the regional administrative authorities will be regarded as an anti-government individual and will be punished accordingly.

    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 4 Jun 01
    A Cabinet Minister Detained in Burma

    By Tin Maung Htoo
    Burma Media Association
    June 6, 2001

    In the past years the interest of business and its rapidly emerging conflict among Burmese military generals have been getting wider and looming clear as a minister of Telecommunications, Post and Telegraphs Brigadier General Win Tin is reportedly being detained in Burma, BMA observed based on reliable sources in Rangoon.

    This is the second time to ruin its top ministers after the deputy minister of Economic and Planning Maj. Gen. Zaw Htun was ousted last year on charges of criticizing his government's incompetent economic plans, false statement of economic data and rampant corruption. But this case is, according to sources, not related to political dissent or opposing against the ruling military.

    Sources in Burma said Brig. General Win Tin has been in Yaykyiai detention center for one month and has been under investigation on his role over a business conflict between his son and Kyaw Ne Win,the son of Sanda Win. Both have the interest of conflict in illegal Burma's unstable currency market.

    The BMA sources monitoring the development in Burma from neighboring countries Indian and Thailand confirmed about this news and suggested the business interest of conflict could be the matter of victimizing the minister Win Tin.

    There have been some scandals reported in recent months regarding telecommunication sectors, which is under the supervision of the detained minister. Particularly, Skylink, mobile phones company, which is owned by Sanda Win and her husband Aye Zaw Win, reported to sell to Wa ethnic could be another possible matter of the center of the conflict, suggested some other observers.

    According to sources, Sanda Win, the daughter of former dictator Ne Win, could be the main player of this arising sign of conflict as she effectively manipulates some influential generals in the current military government. She is supposed to be a closed friend and a leading collaborator of military leader Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt in lunching a counterrevolution against the 1988-democracy movement in Burma, thus it could a retroactive effect of her influence in today's Burma.
    Hundreds Believed Dead in Train Disaster

    By Ko Thet
    The Irrawaddy News Magazine

    June 6, 2001-Early last week a passenger train bound from Mandalay to the Kachin State capital of Myitkyina derailed as it crossed a river in Kanbalu Township in Sagaing Division, reportedly killing over 300 people on board. The train crashed into the river when the Sindaw Bridge, located between Nyanug Khin and Htantabin villages, collapsed around 4:00 PM on June 1, according to local sources.

    An eyewitness was quoted as saying, "While the train was crossing over the bridge, the bridge just collapsed and the train engine and fours cars went directly into the river."

    According to a local source, the bridge was in state of extreme disrepair, and recent flooding had further weakened its structure. The source added that inspectors recently reported the condition of the bridge to railway department officials, but no measures were taken to prevent its collapse.

    On June 2, the state-run Myanmar TV acknowledged that a crash had occurred outside of Mandalay, but did not report any casualties. Railway Transport Minister Pan Aung and local authorities reportedly inspected the crash scene and instructed rescue crews not to comment on the number of casualties.

    The official passenger list had only 280 confirmed passengers on board, but survivors of the crash said that there were many other passengers traveling without tickets. All of the derailed cars are to be salvaged when the high waters subside over the next few weeks, said one source. Rainfall in Upper Burma this year has been the heaviest in almost a decade.
    Burma text 'could hurt relations'

    source : The Nation

    The release of a Burmese textbook that condemns Thais as servile and lazy would worsen already fragile bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said yesterday.

    Surakiart ruled out lodging a diplomatic protest against the textbook, but said he would raise the issue with Burmese leaders when he accompanies Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on an upcoming trip to Rangoon.

    The depictions of Thais in the textbook, which will be used to teach fourth-graders from this academic year, looks set to further fuel tensions with Burma, which have been worsening over the past five months. It is the latest in a string of tit-for-tat moves that began with a border incursion and have recently evolved into invoking past animosities.

    "The references to Thai people are very explicit," Surakiart said. "We do not agree with this interpretation. They [Burmese authorities] should be careful because this is not conducive to building strong ties. "I don't know whether or not publication of the textbook was an order [from Burmese authorities], but it is not constructive."

    Surakiart urged more exchanges between academics and historians from both countries to help bridge historical differences, adding that Thai historians should also accurately present facts to the public.

    "Disseminating the facts to a civil society would have a more profound effect," he said.

    Historically, relations with Burma have often deteriorated into hatred and warfare. Thaksin said yesterday that the portrayal of Thais in the textbook was a result of lingering mutual mistrust.He also blamed elements of the media for being too heavy-handed in their comments on Burma, saying the Burmese leaders were very sensitive about what appeared in the Thai press.

    However, Thaksin was optimistic that foundations could belaid for future relations during his upcoming trip. Surakiart said the date of the visit was only a matter of scheduling.
    Little love crosses region's borders

    source : The Nation

    Academics say nationalism, bias common in Southeast Asia

    Thai academics and historians yesterday offered slightly differing views about Burma's latest anti-Thai textbook - some said historical bias towards neighbours existed in all Southeast Asian textbooks, while others said Burma was unusually harsh in its recent portrayal of Thais.

    The 12-page history textbook, which is supplementary reading for fourth graders in Burma who began a new academic year Monday, portrays Thais as servile and lazy.

    One section of the book says: "Thai people are given to fun and appreciation of beauty. They are disinclined to self-reliance and hard work." It also says Thailand has consistently throughout history launched anti-Burmese campaigns, and those who grew up during such campaigns have a deep-rooted hatred for people from Burma.

    Chulalongkorn University history lecturer Sunait Chutintaranond said the textbook could have a lasting impact on Thai-Burmese relations, particularly if young people in Burma were taught to hate Thais.Sunait said the Burmese had never generally thought of Thais as their enemies.

    The Burmese expert said, however, that Thailand should set its own house in order and stop portraying its neighbours in a negative light in its own textbooks and movies.

    "In Thai history textbooks, we talk about our neighbours as our enemies. We only tell stories of wars that we won and [how we] made people of neighbouring countries our slaves," said Sunait. "From now on we should put other aspects in our textbooks," he said.

    Ramkhamhaeng University's Professor Pornchai Dheppanya said he saw nothing wrong with Rangoon writing such a textbook.

    "It is normal, because history texts in several other countries were mostly written to glorify their countries, while cursing on others," the political scientist said.

    Pornchai said he wondered why Thailand was paying attention to the Burmese textbook now - considering the fact they had always been written like that, particularly when regarding ancient Thai-Burmese relations.He said the government should act sensibly and avoid "dancing to the Burmese tune".

    "We cannot stop Burma from doing this," he said. "Nor do I think we should protest. It is better not to pay much attention to it."

    Professor Charnvit Kasetsiri, president of Thammasat University's Southeast Asian studies programme, said that most textbooks in Southeast Asian countries that touched on historic relations with neighbours tried to instil nationalism among youths, and provoke a hatred of their neighbours.

    However the latest Burmese effort was far too lopsided, and explicitly targeted Thai people. Charnvit said the release of the anti-Thai textbook was a spin-off related to the current problems between the two countries.

    He said it was a ploy to incite hatred among the Burmese people against Thais and divert people's attention from the ruling military junta's failures.
    Thailand Distorts It's Own History With Burma-Analysts

    BANGKOK (AP)--Thailand is equally guilty of distorting history concerning its neighbors, analysts said Wednesday after Myanmar published a new fourth-grade textbook that portrayed Thais as lazy and servile.

    Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, apparently hoping to prevent a new war of words with Myanmar, or Burma, declined to comment on the book and urged both sides to stop trading angry words.

    "Myanmar is very sensitive to news reports from Thailand, so the best thing for both sides it to stop trading accusations and let the leaders settle matters," Thaksin told reporters.

    The Education Ministry in Myanmar introduced the 12-page history textbook supplement for the 2001-2002 academic year in state-run schools that reopened Monday. One section of the book says: "Thai people are given to fun and appreciation of beauty. They are disinclined to self-reliance and hard work."

    The textbook was published as Thai-Myanmar relations are at their lowest level in years, principally over Thailand's accusations that Myanmar's ruling military junta aids drug traffickers.Myanmar denies the charge and accuses Thailand of supporting anti-government rebels. Their arguments have sparked frequent border skirmishes since January.

    Myanmar history expert Sunait Chutintranon warned that the textbook will have a lasting impact on bilateral relations if young Burmese were "taught to hate the Thais." But Sunait and other experts said Thailand must also stop portraying its neighbors in a negative light in its textbooks and movies.

    "In Thai history textbooks, we talk about our neighbors as our enemies. We only tell stories of wars that we won and made people of neighboring countries our slaves. From now on we should put other aspects in our textbooks," Sunait told ITV television network.

    Thai textbooks portray medieval Myanmar kings as thieves who only wanted to loot Siam, as Thailand was formerly called.

    "In a way, the Myanmar textbook is a quid pro quo," said Sulak Sivaraksa, a leading Thai social critic.

    He said the textbook may be a Myanmar government effort to deflect attention from its own troubles - a weak economy, accusations of human rights abuses and international pressure to allow a return of civilian rule.

    "The (Myanmar) government is very weak right now and they need to find a common enemy. I feel sorry for them," Sulak said.

    He said he didn't believe the Myanmar people would be influenced by the textbooks issued by their "oppressive government." "It's very simple. In Burma nobody takes the government texts seriously. The Burmese people are a lovely people and, on the whole, they like the Thais," he said.

    "Thailand and Myanmar should be more open to each other in terms of culture and academic knowledge exchange," said Kraisak Choonhavan, a senator and a proponent of better relations with Myanmar."We cannot change history, but we can make it based on truth," he said.
    Burmese columnist panned for misinterpreting facts

    source : The Bangkokpost
    Bhanravee Tansubhapol

    Articles no cause for alarm, say experts

    Thailand should not easily be agitated by "profane" articles in the Burmese media because they had misinterpreted Thai history, historians told a seminar yesterday.

    The Burmese columnist Ma Tin Win of the Institute of Education misinterpreted the implications of the Bowring Treaty, which Siam signed with Britain in 1855 during the reign of King Mongkut, said Chalong Soontravanich, a history professor at Chulalongkorn University.

    Many historians and several historical writings acknowledged that the Bowring Treaty caused a dilemma for Thai sovereignty and freedom of monetary management, he said.

    "But this concern was solved by King Chulalongkorn, who later amended the controversial part of the treaty by signing other treaties in which Thailand sacrificed portions of its land to France and Britain in exchange for extra-territorial rights and tax rights being abolished," Mr Chalong said.

    In her article "Never Been Enslaved But a Real Slave" published May 21 in the official mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar, Ma Tin Win misinterpreted the late historian Rong Sayamanond's statement that the Bowring Treaty cost Siam its power of jurisdiction and the right to use money.

    Mr Chalong said the manner in which she'd written her piece showed she was only a columnist, not a historian, so Thai readers should be more thoughtful and not so easily agitated.

    "We have also condemned others in history so the article should be a mirror to warn ourselves. Of course it hurts to be spoken of like that, but it's like a diamond which can be viewed from many sides. We could insteadask why Ma Tin Win hates Thaisinstead of the British, who colonised Burma."Thamsook Numnonda, a retired history professor from Silapakorn University, said Burma signed a treaty with Britain in 1826 surrendering the opium trade to the British, while King Rama III banned the opium trade.

    She said King Rama IV, or King Mongkut, signed the Bowring Treaty which allowed opium to be traded by the British and Chinese in 1855 in order to contain the opium problem and tax opium money.

    "Ma Tin Win simply chose to voice those facts which suited her own assumptions," Ms Thumsook said.

    Suthachai Yimprasert, another Chulalongkorn University history professor, disagreed with the Thai government's protest over the article.

    "Our bilateral relations have been deteriorating due to conduct by both sides. We should not take up this article and retaliate."The real problem, he said, stemmed from a too-close association with Burma. Rangoon was allowed to enter the same regional grouping without tending to its human rights record.
    Thai police get tough on illegal immigrant workers

    BANGKOK, June 6 (Reuters) - Thai police said on Wednesday they were launching a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigrant workers, aiming to drive almost a million of them, mostly from Indochinese neighbours, out of Thailand by 2005.

    Deputy national police chief Sant Sarutanonda told reporters the national police force was asking the Ministry of Labour to import legal workers from Cambodia and Laos to replace the illegal ones doing dirty and dangerous jobs.

    "We want to get rid of illegal workers within four years. After that we think the Ministry of Labour should liaise with the government of Laos and Cambodia to bring in legitimate labour," Sant told reporters.

    "If we don't address the problem now, we would face a minority problem like our neighbours," he said referring to Myanmar.

    Sant said since January Thai police had arrested and deported about 120,000 illegal workers, mainly from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and South Asia. There is no official figure on how many illegal immigrants are working in Thailand, but authorities estimate the number could be close to one million.
    Illegal alien driving bogus Telekom van to ferry Burmese busted

    by Shahrum Sayuthi

    source :nstp.com.my
    06 June 2001

    An attempt by an illegal immigrant agent to disguise his van as a Telekom Bhd vehicle failed to dupe the authorities, resulting in his arrest along with 15 Myanmar nationals.

    Perlis Anti-Smuggling Unit officers last night detained the "tekong darat" and the illegal immigrants after a two kilometre high speed chase along the Jalan Kampung Syed Omar near here. The van carrying the illegal immigrants which bears a Telekom Bhd sticker was also seized.

    Anti-Smuggling Unit operation commander for Chuping, Inspektor Muhd Azhari Chik, who led the operation said the Telekom sticker was believed to have been used as a ruse to confuse the authorities. "The tekong darat could had probably tried to disguise the van in such a way so that the illegal immigrants would appeared to us as Telekom workers," he said.

    Muhd Azhari, who was speaking to reporters at the Anti-Smuggling Unit camp in Chuping after the operation said the van was rented by the 28 year old local man from Kampung Simpang Empat. He said the man would be charged for harbouring illegal immigrants under Section 56(1)(d) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 which carries a maximum compound of RM3,000 for each illegal immigrants.

    The illegal immigrants were detained for entering the country without proper travelling document under Section 6(3) of the same Act pending their deportation order.

    Recalling the incident, Muhd Azhari said the enforcement officers received a public tip-off about the "tekong darat" and the illegal immigrants at 8.30 pm. They spotted the van as it was moving out of a secluded area at a nearby secondary forest and gave chase after the driver failed to stop after ordered to do so. Muhd Azhari said the van however stopped after two kilometre, probably because the driver realised he cannot outrun the enforcement officers' four wheel-drive vehicle.
    US diplomat says Burma talks will soon yield results

    BANGKOK, June 7 (AFP)

    Landmark talks between Burma's junta and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi should soon yield concrete results, visiting US Assistant Deputy Secretary of State Ralph Boyce has said.

    Boyce said Wednesday that he welcomed signs of a political thaw in Burma where the junta and its pro-democracy nemesis are holding their first dialogue since 1994.

    "It has been going on for eight months," he told The Nation newspaper after a meeting with Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai. "We expect to see a concrete result in a short while."

    The United States embassy Thursday confirmed the comments, which also touched on the Japanese government's recent decision to give Burma its largest aid package in a decade as an incentive to pursue democratic reforms.

    Boyce said there was no conflict between Washington and Tokyo over the approval of a 3.5-billion-yen (28.6-million-dollar) revamp of a hydropower dam built by Japan in the 1960s.

    But he indicated that the United States would wait to see more solid signs of change in Burma before softening its position towards the military regime.

    "We did not disagree," he said. "We have our own approach."

    Boyce's comments will be welcomed by dissident groups and pro-democracy activists who have become increasingly frustrated at the apparent lack of progress made in the secret talks which began last October.

    At the outset the contacts were accompanied by a flurry of modest goodwill gestures including an order to the state-run media to halt its vicious personal attack on Aung San Suu Kyi.

    However, in recent months the dialogue appears to have faltered after reaching a sensitive decision-making phase that exposed splits within the regime.

    United Nations envoy Razali Ismail Monday ended a four-day mission to Burma where he met with both sides on the country's political divide in a bid to revive the talks, which he helped initiate.

    The decision to allow Razali to visit, after a worryingly long absence of five months, was hailed as a sign that the reconciliation process was back on track.

    And in another positive development, sources in Rangoon said he was expected to pay another visit in July.

    But there was also disappointment over the fact that the Malaysian diplomat left without any of the concessions he was expected to extract -- including the release of a batch of political prisoners and permission to issue a statement on the direction and intent of the talks.

    Dissident groups and the nation's many ethnic minorities, whose support will be crucial in any transition to democracy, have made increasingly loud calls for light to be shed on the secret dialogue.

    On Tuesday the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) demanded that the junta and the opposition National League for Demoracy (NLD) open the talks to public scrutiny, claiming that they had failed to make any head way.

    "The current talks are not open. People are frustrated waiting for information while human rights abuses and forced labour are still occurring inside the country," said spokesman Sonny Mahiner.

    "We ask the NLD and SPDC to open up the talks so the people of Burma and the world can see if there is progress."
    No official protest over history textbook

    Source : Bangkok Post

    No official protest will be made over a Burmese school textbook which distorts history, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said yesterday.

    However, Burma experts warned the textbook could instill a hatred of Thai people in young Burmese,Thammasat University history professor Charnvit Kasetsiri said countries in Southeast Asia shared a common but indecent practice in writing ultra-nationalistic history and teaching their youngsters to hate their neighbours.

    But Burma's introduction of a supplementary 12-page textbook for fourth-grade pupils was an extreme case, he said.

    The history textbook supplement, released Monday for the 2001-2002 academic year in Burmese state-run schools, says: "Thai people are given to fun and appreciation of beauty. They are disinclined to self-reliance and hard work."Mr Charnvit said it would have a long-lasting impact as Burmese youth would be taught to hate Thai people.

    Historian Sunait Chutintranon, of Chulalongkorn University, warned that a tit-for-tat war of words could have a deep impact on future relations.

    "Now we have to look at ourselves. Our textbooks, literature, drama and films have also portrayed our neighbours in a negative way," he said.
    Two Thai rangers wounded in clash with Wa troops

    Source : Bangkok Post

    Two Thai rangers were wounded yesterday when a patrol team clashed with United Wa State Army guerrillas near Doi Lang in Mae Ai district.

    Col Chainarong Kaewkla, commander of the 212th Cavalry Battalion, said the Red Wa were probably trying to smuggle drugs across the Kok river.

    After the clash, a combined unit of army-trained rangers and 2nd Cavalry Regiment soldiers was sent to reinforce Ban Pakui, about 2km from Doi Lang.

    Meanwhile, Col Wanthip Wongwai, commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment task force, said Burmese soldiers at Kuteng Nayong overlooking Mae Sai district were continuing with construction of a pagoda in the disputed area despite a Thai protest.

    Under a standing Thai-Burmese agreement, neither side is allowed to build a permanent structure in a disputed area.

    On the Burmese side of the border, two battalions were reportedly sent from Tachilek on Tuesday to beef up a Burmese border force opposite Doi Lang.
    Thai Senate wants to end spat caused by textbook slur

    Source : Bangkok Post

    Thailand and Burma should "clear up the historical mess" between them rather than slandering each other about their past, claimed Senate foreign affairs committee chairman Kraisak Choonhavan.

    His comments follow a diplomatic spat after the AP news agency reported Rangoon had described Thai people in Burmese school textbooks as "lazy and servile".

    Mr Kraisak suggested historians from both countries hold a seminar so Thai and Burmese schoolchildren could learn the truth about their shared past.

    The senator said the remarks contained in the textbook would not seriously affect relations, or a planned trip to Rangoon by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

    The movie Bang Rachan , which portrayed Thais as freedom fighters and the Burmese as invaders, may have raised Burmese hackles, he said, as well as claims that Burmese authorities were involved in drug trafficking. "Don't let whatever happened 500 years ago disrupt relationships."Kobsak Chutikul, a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry said: "The Burmese should not prolong ill-feelings they have long adopted against Thais. It's a sensitive matter which might affect future agreements. Mr Thaksin's visit could merely become a short-lived rapprochement."The premier declined to comment on the book and urged both sides to stop trading angry words.

    "Burma is very sensitive to news reports from Thailand, so the best thing for both sides is to stop trading accusations and let the leaders settle matters."The premier said Rangoon has been agitated by a news article in a Thai-language daily which reportedly entertained the idea of sending someone to assassinate the Burmese leadership.

    Other Thai historians pointed out anti-Burmese bias in Thai textbooks which portrayed medieval Burmese kings as thieves who only wanted to loot Siam, as Thailand was formerly called.

    Sulak Sivaraksa, a leading Thai social critic, said the textbook might be a Burmese government effort to deflect attention away from its own troubles of a weak economy, accusations of human rights abuses and international pressure to allow civilian rule.

    The Education Ministry is to get a copy of the book, in a bid to rectify any inaccuracies.

    Education Minister Kasem Wattanachai said no one in the government had seen or read the book and the permanent secretary is to study the content.

    Education Ministry officials want to know the author's name, who translated it into English, and the purpose of publication.

    Interior Minister Purachai Piemsomboon said it was more important to make younger generations understand national history.

    "What others say about us isn't the substance. What matters is how we feel about ourselves."He said past leaders had saved Siam from foreign colonialists because they exercised wisdom rather than emotion.

    Mr Purachai suggested neighbouring countries' cultures be included in the Thai curriculum to enhance awareness.

    "We shouldn't let a trivial matter snowball into something more serious than it deserves to be," hesaid.