Daily News-June 08 - 2001- Friday

  • Dam collapsed, caused by heavy rain and flood
  • Court to Hear Burma Brewery Case
  • Envoy to tackle Burmese textbook dispute
  • Japan confident of better investment scene
  • Subtle pressure from business for greater Internet access
  • Internet and mobiles a priority New Telco chief promises action

  • Dam collapsed, caused by heavy rain and flood

    Tin Maung Htoo
    Burma Media Association (BMA)
    June 7, 2001

    One of the irrigation dams located at the middle of Burma was reportedly collapsed due to the heavy rainfall and cataclysm, sources in Burma said.

    The dam called Monetie, which is between two townships, Maline and Meiktila, showed an early sign of bursting out, directing the populace place of Meiktila, but the authority changed different direction, said sources.

    With the new direction, a village near the dam was taken away from its original location and serious damage and death were occurred in the Shawpin village and estimated between 50 to 300 lives. But the government news agency did not confirm yet the occurrence and the number of death.

    It is also reported that the surrounding places, especially Wantwin Township are affected in terms of heavy rain and flash flood. This is the second tragedy occurred within a week in Burma.

    The first accidence was the Mandalay-Myitkyina passenger train that derailed at Sindaw Bridge on June 2. It is reported that over a hundred lives dead although the government did not confirmed the exact number and said to be still looking for the missing bodies in the Sindaw river.
    Court to Hear Burma Brewery Case

    Far Eastern Economic Review >June 07, 2001.

    The International Court of Justice has decided to hear the controversial case of the Burmese government's 1998 nationalization of Mandalay Brewery.

    On May 16, the court, which is the United Nations' principal judicial organ and has its seat in The Hague, appointed a three-member tribunal ofinternational law experts from the United States, Britain and France. The case is scheduled to open later this month.

    Yaung Chi Oo Trading, the Singapore-based company that invested $6.3 million in the Mandalay Brewery joint venture with the government, had vainly attempted to get its case heard by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' dispute-settlement mechanism.

    The ICJ's willingness to hear the case appears to have made certain quarters of Burma's ruling junta skittish.

    On May 31, military intelligence official Gen. Kyaw Min, recently assigned the task of striking a settlement, made Yaung Chi Oo's managing director, Win Win Nu,a do-or-die offer: Return to Burma and present her case in person to intelligence chief Lt.-Gen. Khin Nyunt, or be banished permanently. Until it was nationalized, Mandalay Brewery was Burma's largest taxpayer.
    Envoy to tackle Burmese textbook dispute

    source : The Nation

    Thailand’s ambassador to Burma has been ordered by Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai to seek clarification in relation to a textbook that includes a slanderous depiction of Thailand’s people and its Kings.

    Surakiart yesterday hinted there could be a protest if the textbook was found to divert from historical fact or cause slight to the monarchy.He said the Education Ministry was currently translating the textbook to clarify its content.

    Thailand at this stage is seeking a “factual explanation about the book and its contents, something of a turnaround from Wednesday, when an apparently disturbed Surakiart described publication of such a book “unconstructive” to bilateral ties.

    The textbook at the centre of the storm will be mandatory reading for Burmese youngsters this academic year.It takes the form of a supplement and has been added to the gradefour curriculum at a time when the two country’s governments are at each other’s throats.

    Mainly the protest will be lodged in case there happens to be a travesty of history, like that between China and Japan,he said.But if it [cast aspersions on] the royal institution we will immediately protest.

    Meanwhile, a well-known Burmese historian yesterday expressed unhappiness about the new textbook, which portrays Thais as lazy and servile.We are not happy about it. Neither side should indulge in hatred, said Than Tun, one of Asia’s leading historians. As Buddhists, enmity should not be responded to with enmity. The matter should be dealt with diplomatically.

    Wars between the two countries in the past were conflicts between the feudal kings and not between the people of two nations,” said Than Tun, 79.

    Than Tun, who received a PhD from London University in 1952, worked in various capacities at the Rangoon and Mandalay universities until 1982.He later worked as professor in charge of the Burmese language branch of Tokyo University and as a visiting professor at Michigan University in the United States.He won Japan’s Fukuoka Asian Academic prize last year.

    Another Burmese historian, who declined to be identified for fear of retribution by the ruling military junta, said the textbook could instil in young minds a hatred of Thais.He said the book was apparently introduced in the curriculum to counter antiBurma Thai textbooks that portray Burmese kings as thieves and barbarians.

    Many Thai analysts said on Wednesday that Thailand was equally guilty of distorting history in relation to its neighbours. Burmese history expert Sunait Chutintranon said Thai history textbooks portrayed neighbouring countries as enemies.

    Surakiart said every effort should be made to prevent misunderstanding between the people of Burma and Thailand, especially the youngsters. He agreed with an idea to establishing a joint committee to review ThaiBurmese history and enhance contact between the two countries.He said he believed talks at a ministerial level would be adequate, but did not rule out the matter being take up at a summit meeting. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said he will go to Burma only when things have been worked out.
    Japan confident of better investment scene

    Myanmar Times June 4 - 10, 2001/ Volume 4, No.66
    By Myo Lwin

    THE fourth meeting of the Myanmar-Japan economic co-operation concluded in Yangon on May 29 with the visitors expressing confidence that the government would create an investor-friendly environment for foreign operators.

    "We are confident that the Myanmar Government will create an investor-friendly atmosphere. That's why we are here," Mr Iwao Toriumi, chairman of Marubeni Corp told Myanmar Times after the two-day meeting. The key speaker on the Yangon side was Brig-Gen Abel, Minister at the Office of the Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council. The Tokyo team was led by Mr Toriumi, who is also the chairman of the Japan-Myanmar Joint Economic Committee, or "Keidanren".

    The first meeting of the two groups was held in June 1997. During the latest talks, the sides agreed not only to promote economic and trade ties but also to further enhance foreign direct investment (FDI) and to attract more Japanese investors to Myanmar. The Myanmar team stressed the potential for investment here and agreed to extend any possible assistance to the investors. The Japanese in turn pledged to offer any possible assistance towards the development of Myanmar's software industry.

    "We have requested our counterparts (provide) updated explanations of changes in Myanmar government policies, procedures and also process relating to investment and trade at the time of occurrence," Mr Toriumi told Myanmar Times. "The most important factor for the investors is stability in social, political and economic sectors," Mr Toriumi said. "We are also quietly watching the progress of negotiations between the government and the NLD," he said.

    In his opening speech to the forum, the Marubeni chairman said the greatest danger threatening a nation, a company or even a family was the failure to have a shared sense of crisis.

    "Now is the time for the people of Myanmar to consider what kind of nation they wish to build and to share a common sense of crisis and to think and act together and to show the entire world how they plan to proceed," he said.
    Subtle pressure from business for greater Internet access

    Myanmar Times June 4 - 10, 2001-Volume 4, No.66
    By Thet Khaing

    YANGON'S business community has sent a clear signal to the government that it needs widespread Inter-net access to facilitate its growth.

    At a Business Forum organised last Wednesday at Equatorial hotel, 30 members of the city's developing business sector called for access to the net to be broadened beyond the handful of IT and related companies which are already logged on.

    Speaker Dr Khin Khin Kyaw explained the benefits for Myanmar entrepreneurs of increased involvement with e-commerce, which has become a standard vehicle for conducting business in other parts of the world. Dr Kyaw said Internet clients registered with Bagan Cyber Tech had access to IT-related web sites only. But expressions were made at the meeting for access to be increased, to encompass business related and sports websites.

    U Hla Myo, Bagan Cyber Tech's system engineer, said that if requests were made for access to surf business, sport and other websites his company could grant permission subject to government approval.

    Dr Kyaw said Myanmar students were another group that would greatly benefit from greater access to educational web sites, particularly for overseas-based remote studies. Membership to Bagan Cybertech for local businesses costs FEC150 plus a monthly fee of FEC50. Students need to pay only K10,000 plus a monthly fee K3000.

    But Dr Kyaw said Bagan Cyber Tech was reluctant to provide access to websites which offered free email services as they caused confusion with the current email provider, MPT (Myanma Post and Telecommunication) Mail.

    "We would like to get access to sites like yahoo.com and other popular sites to make our work easier," she said. U Hla Myo said the governments plan to construct the ICT park would bring wider Internet access.

    More interaction between the service provider and public, according to Dr Kyaw, would make Internet culture a stronger force in the country. Dr Kyaw said she would spend the next few months sponsoring seminars on the benefits of using the Internet if permission to hold such forums could be obtained.
    Internet and mobiles a priority New Telco chief promises action

    Myanmar Times June 4 - 10, 2001 -Volume 4, No.66
    By Thet Khaing

    A CONTINUED push to introduce the Global System Mobile (GSM) phone network and further development of Internet and email systems in the country would remain top priorities for Myanma Post and Telecommunication (MPT) under the leadership of a new Minister, said MPT officials in an exclusive interview with Myanmar Times last week.

    Deputy General Manager U Tin Tun said incoming Minister Brig-Gen Thein Zaw, the former Chairman of the Magwe Division Peace and Development Council, who assumed his new position last month, would pursue the Ministry's existing strategy at least for the time being. Chief Engineer U Han Win said the installation of 55,000 digital telephone lines, including 38,000 connections in Yangon and 17,000 in Man-dalay, Pyay and Taun-gu over the next two years, was among the top priorities.

    U Han Win said MPT had entered a US$16.9 million deal with China's Shanghai Bell telephone company to install new telephone connections around the country. For the new intranet system, which is widely seen as a precursor to the Internet, MPT has provided US$400,000 worth of equipments to the service provider, Bagan Cybertech.

    U Tin Tun said the Ministry would also work towards the phased substitution of manual telephone exchanges with automatic systems. The department would also move towards the installation of optical fibre telephone cable, which transmits via a fast light wave compared with the slower electronic wave of the traditional copper cable. U Tin Tun said no timetable had been confirmed for the project.

    Meanwhile, U Kyaw Win, the man responsible for the MPT's GSM phone project has reiterated that the mobile phone handsets will be available in Yangon and Mandalay from next month. He said it was too early to confirm an exact price for the handsets. U Kyaw Win said the handsets to be sold by MPT would be 2000 model German-made Siemens. He claimed the 12-month-plus delay in commencing the start-up of the GSM network had been caused by delays in the availability of equipment, and by the need to conduct exhaustive trials to ensure the system's eventual smooth operation.

    The MPT officials said the department had a vision to achieve the establishment of a quality multi-media telecommunication system infrastructure which, globally, is increasingly hailed as the single most important factor to economic development and growth. The new Minister was not available for a personal interview last week. Brig-Gen Thein Zaw replaces outgoing minister Brig-Gen Win Tin.