Daily News-June 17 - 2001- Sunday

  • Secretary-General welcomes release of political detainees
  • UN envoy Razali expected back in capital next month
  • Burmese Military OKs Opposition Office
  • Thai PM to Visit Burma
  • Liquidity crunch? Asia Wealth Bank boss scoffs
  • Victims still missing after train accident
  • Contract signed for construction of Salingyi Textile Factory Project
  • Burma's Domestic Tax Revenue Up in First Two Months
  • Country's hopes in football brighten

  • UN Secretary-General welcomes release of political detainees

    source : Un newsservice

    15 June- Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the recent release of a number of political detainees in Myanmar and stressed the need to pursue national reconciliation talks between the Government and the opposition.

    In a statement released through his spokesman, Mr. Annan also expressed hope that more political detainees would be released in the near future.

    "The Secretary-General reiterates that there is no alternative to the ongoing talks between the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to bring about the democratization and national reconciliation in Myanmar," the statement said. "He urges the two sides to make further efforts to achieve tangible progress and calls on the international community to continue supporting the dialogue process in Myanmar."

    The release of the group, which included Saw Mra Aung, a senior member of the National League for Democracy, eight more members of parliament and four others, took place on 13 and 14 June 2001, shortly after the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Razali Ismail, visited the country.
    UN envoy Razali expected back in capital next month

    By Thet Khaing
    Source: The Myanmar Times web site, Rangoon, in English 11 Jun 01

    UNITED Nations Special Envoy Razali Ismail hoped to return to Myanmar by late next month, a Yangon-based Malaysian diplomat has said. The Malaysian Embassy's head of Chancery, Mr Rustam Bin Yahaya, said on Thursday last week that Mr Razali had told Asean ambassadors he would like to next visit the country in seven weeks' time.

    Mr Yahaya told Myanmar Times that Mr Razali, a Malaysian citizen, had used meetings with Asean diplomats to urge their support for the process of dialogue between the government and NLD. But he said Mr Razali told ambassadors he had been unable to glean any more information on the progress of the SPDC-NLD dialogue during this visit.

    The news comes in the wake of Mr Razali's four-day visit to Yangon earlier this month. UN chief Kofi Annan said in a statement from New York last week that his envoy's talks with the government were "important", and the mission "timely". Mr Razali spent four days from June 1 in Yangon where he held meetings with Secretary-1 of the SPDC, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, Foreign Minister U Win Aung and government officials. He twice visited NLD

    General Secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at her lakeside home, and held a final meeting with six members of the party's central executive committee at its Shwegondaine St headquarters. Mr Razali also met with ambassadors from Britain, the US and Japan.

    A spokesman for the SPDC said there would be no statement concerning Mr Razali's visit. The special envoy's June mission was his fourth since being appointed to the position in April last year.

    Talks between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the SPDC, the first between the parties since 1994, began in September but were not made public until Mr Razali's previous visit in January this year. Diplomats in Yangon said Mr Razali's presence after a break of five months suggested the reconciliation process had not broken down. Calls have come from a number of quarters for news on the historic SPDC-NLD talks to be made public.

    Meanwhile, US Assistant Deputy Secretary of State Ralph Boyce has said on a visit to Bangkok that his government expected the SPDC-NLD would yield concrete results. On Wednesday last week Mr Boyce said he welcomed signs of a political thaw in Myanmar. "It has been going on for eight months," he told The Nation newspaper after a meeting with Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathira-thai. Mr Boyce also said there was no conflict between Washington and Tokyo over Japan's approval of a 3.5-billion-yen (US$28.6-million-dollar) revamp of a Myanmar hydropower dam. The dam was built by Japan in the 1960s. But Mr Boyce said the US would wait to see more solid signs of change in Myanmar. "We did not disagree," he said. "We have our own approach."

    April 2000
    Appointment as UN Special Envoy

    June 30, 2000
    First mission to Myanmar

    October 2000
    Second mission

    January 5-9, 2001
    Third mission: UN announces secret talks between SPDC and NLD

    June 1-4, 2001
    Fourth mission: UN describes talks as 'timely' and 'important' Kofi Annan: latest talks were 'timely

    Burmese Military OKs Opposition Office

    June 16, 2001

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Myanmar's main opposition party said Saturday the military government has given it permission to reopen some of its offices in the capital, part of recent moves easing pressure on the pro-democracy movement.

    Eighteen of 40 National League for Democracy offices in Yangon have been allowed to reopen, party secretary U Lwin told The Associated Press. Nine of those will put up their old party signboards, he said.

    On Thursday, the government released eight political prisoners who were elected to Parliament during general elections in 1990. The military refused to honor results of those elections, which the National League for Democracy won by a landslide.The releases marked the third batch of political prisoners freed since January. A group of 84 National League for Democracy members were released from Insein Prison in January, and 16 more were released in March.

    The releases followed talks between National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military government of Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.One of those released Thursday, 83-year-old Dr. Saw Mra Aung, was one of the country's oldest political prisoners.The others released on Thursday night from so-called ``government guest houses'' inside military bases were Maung Aye, Ba Swe, Han Zaw, Tun Kywe, Tun Myaing,Myint Thein and Cin Shin Htan.

    Saw Mra Aung was a member of the Arakan League for Democracy and Cin Shin Htan was with the Zomi National League for Democracy. The other detainees were members of the National League for Democracy.Another 27 winners of the Parliamentary elections remain detained, U Lwin said.
    Thai PM to Visit Burma

    YANGON, Jun 16, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will pay a two-day official visit to Myanmar next Tuesday at the invitation of Senior-General Than Shwe, chairman of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council and Prime Minister, according to an official announcement here Saturday.

    This will be the third leg of Thaksin's journey to three new members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, which came amid tension arising from a series of border clashes between the two neighbors over the last few months.

    It will be his first visit to Myanmar since he became prime minister in January this year and is also the first Thai prime minister visiting Myanmar in more than three years.

    During the visit, Thaksin is expected to meet his Myanmar counterpart Senior-General Than Shwe and the two prime ministers will focus on curbing illicit drug trade, border problems and border trade among others.

    Thaksin said earlier this month before his Myanmar trip that he would try to defuse growing tension between the two Southeast Asian neighbors and bring the spoiled relations back to normal when he met with Than Shwe. He also disclosed then that Thailand would close by early next year the Maneeloy refugee camp in central province of Ratchaburi housing Myanmar dissidents and resettle them in third countries.
    Liquidity crunch? Asia Wealth Bank boss scoffs

    By Myo Lwin and Ross Dunkley
    Source: The Myanmar Times web site, Rangoon, in English 11 Jun 01

    ASIA Wealth Bank's vice-chairman U Aik Htun scoffed at rumours last week the nation's largest bank was facing a liquidity squeeze. Despite a slide in the kyat over recent months he lashed out at word his 39-branch operation was struggling for business.

    "We've never been in a better financial position. In fact, AWB is opening between 800 and 1000 new accounts every day. "As of yesterday we have a loan portfolio of K97 billion and cash reserves of K50b," he said in an exclusive interview with Myanmar Times. And with non-performing loans at only 1.29 per cent, the 53-year-old high-profile businessman said he remained the leading private sector banker in the country. Since 1992 a total of 20 private banks have been given licences, the 15th of which was granted to AWB in 1995.

    With deposits nearing a US dollar equivalent of 250 million, U Aik Htun and his 28-year-old Managing Director son, U Aung Zaw Naing, believe they have the expertise, technology and confidence to expand rapidly and increase market share. The eldest of six children from a southern Shan State family, U Aik Htun is the classic example of a self-made entrepreneur. A controversial figure, his career developed from truck driver to street-side vendor, shop owner and then commodity trader, where he made his name as a shrewd businessman. Now, a Yangonite for 30 years, he counts among his customers some of the biggest names in industry, manufacturing and trading.

    His first big loan was K12m in 1995. "I'd just opened my first branch on 7th Street and I was apprehensive, nervous at the risk I was taking," he said. "My biggest client now has a loan of K950m. But banking has changed much in the past six years. "We follow accepted international procedure and I believe, structurally speaking, the sector has a solid set of guidelines in place. We have advantages here," he said.

    "Although we are a private company, I see the time when AWB can go public. It is entirely feasible that big offshore financial institutions and large local investors will be able to take an equity stake in us. "But, at the moment we are entirely focused on offering more complete banking services including project finance, online transactions and hire purchase." He discounted the possibility of "swallowing up" smaller rivals to emulate the global banking trend. On top of his wish list is the right for privately-owned banks to handle foreign currency.
    Victims still missing after train accident

    Source: The Myanmar Times web site, Rangoon, in English 11 Jun 01

    TORRENTIAL rain forced the derailment of a night train travelling from Mandalay to Myitkyina on June 1. An official from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement said heavy rain and mountain torrents had washed the No 41 Myanma Railways train off its rails, plunging the engine and four carriages into the Hsindaw creek, early on the Friday morning.

    The tragedy occurred as the train was crossing the Seindaung Chaung bridge between Nyaungzin and Htantabin villages in Kanbalu township, Sagaing Division, 550 miles north of Yangon.

    A number of people have been confirmed dead, and many more were injured. The official said that despite ongoing rescue efforts, it had been impossible to recover the bodies of victims who had been trapped under the wreckage, or washed away.
    Contract signed for construction of Salingyi Textile Factory Project

    source : NLM

    Yangon, 15 June-The Myanma Textile Industries of the Ministry of Industry-1and China National Constructional & Agricultural Machinery Import & Export Corporation (CAMC) of the People's Republic of China signed a contract for implementation of the Salingyi Textile Factory Project at Sedona Hotel on Kaba Aye Pagoda Road yesterday evening.

    Present at the ceremony were Minister for Industry-1 U Aung Thaung, Deputy Ministers Brig-Gen Thein Tun and Brig-Gen Kyaw Win, directors-general and managing directors of departments and industries under the ministry, Ambassador of PRC Mr Li Jinjun, Economic and Commercial Counsellor Mr Jin Honggen, Vice-President of CAMC Mr Su Weike, Chief Representative Ms Luo Yan and party and guests. Managing Director of MTI U Oo Thein Maung explained facts about the project.

    Then, Managing Director U Oo Thein Maung and Mr Su Weike signed the contract and exchanged the documents. Mr Su Weike spoke words of thanks, and the ceremony came to a close.
    Burma's Domestic Tax Revenue Up in First Two Months

    YANGON, Jun 16, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Myanmar's State Internal Revenue Department (SIRD) received a total of 8.275 billion Kyats (18.38 million U.S. dollars) in domestic revenue from various taxes in the first two months of this year, up 14.87 percent from the same period of 2000, according to the latest official Economic Indicators.

    Of the revenue obtained during the two-month period, 62 percent were from commodities and services taxes and commercial tax, 13.4 percent from state lottery, 12.1 percent from profit tax, 9.2 percent from income tax and 3.3 percent from stamp duties.

    In Myanmar, individual citizens having an income amounting to 10,001 Kyats (about 22.2 dollars) and above are assessed to tax under the country's Income Tax Law which also covers cooperatives, companies and joint venture enterprises. However, salary recipients are not required to pay for income tax as the tax has been paid by way of deduction at their income sources, according to the SIRD.

    According to official statistics, Myanmar received 53.25 billion Kyats (118.3 million dollars) in domestic revenue from various taxes in 2000.
    Country's hopes in football brighten

    source: The Nation
    Komkrit Napalai

    [SEA GAMES] Thailand's hopes of retaining their men's SEA Games title brightened up yesterday when the four-time champions were drawn in Group A along with Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Burma for the 21st edition of the Games, to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in September.

    The draw was held at the Grand Continental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.Group B consists of hosts Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei.

    Meanwhile, the country's women's team, who are the defending champions, were also drawn in group A along with the Philippines, hosts Malaysia and Burma. Group B comprises Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.

    The men's team will open their campaign against Cambodia on September 1 at the Shah Alam Stadium, while the women's squad will take on the Philippines in their opening match three days later at MPPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya.

    "Our target is to retain the titles. We will not underestimate our rivals. However, our women's squad will have to work harder," said Vijit Getkaew, president of the Football Association of Thailand.Kasem Chanyawong, team manager of the men's squad, said that the team is likely to face a tough semi-final."We are likely to top the group. If we do, we would face the group B runner-up, which is likely to be either hosts Malaysia or Indonesia. Either of the two will be tough for us," he said.

    SEA Games volleyball draw

    Thailand's women's volleyball team, in pursuit of a hat trick of crowns in the SEA Games, were drawn in Group B along with Burma, Vietnam and Singapore for the 21st Games, to be held in Kuala Lumpur.

    Thailand are top seeded, with Vietnam and Indonesia second and third respectively. Hosts Malaysia were drawn in Group A with Indonesia and the Philippines.

    The men's event will be a single round-robin contest as only six teams will vie for top honours. They comprise Thailand, Indonesia, Burma, Vietnam, the Philippines and hosts Malaysia. Volleyball was not included at the Brunei SEA Games two years ago. The volleyball competition will kick off on September 9 at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium in Cheras.