Daily News-June 30 - 2001- Saturday

  • NLD opens another branch office in Hmawbi
  • Suzuki still under Pressure to Pull out of Burma
  • Gereral Than shwe sees 11.3 pct GDP growth 2001/2002
  • Thai security chief hits out at camp exiles
  • Shan army tightens security
  • Customs Staff Warned Against Corruption, Bribery and Abuse of Authority
  • Smuggling attempt thwarted in corn field
  • Malay-speaking Myanmar caught crossing border with countrymen
  • Burma Beats China Guangdong 3-0 in Volleyball Friendly
  • Myanmar-Chinese Support Beijing's Olympic Bid

  • Suu Kyi's party opens another branch office outside Yangon

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy reopened its second branch office in as many days Friday amid signs the military regime was easing some of its restrictions, a party leader said.

    More than 40 NLD members were in Hmawbi, 15 miles north of Yangon, to see the party's distinctive red sign board go up, said Soe Myint, chairman of the the NLD's Yangon organizing committee.

    Another branch office is due to reopen Wednesday in Shwepyitha, a satellite town in northwestern Yangon, he said.

    Authorities have given the party permission to reopen 18 branch offices around the capital, Yangon, the result of secret talks between Suu Kyi and the generals that began last October, their first direct contact in six years.

    On Thursday, a party office opened at Taikkyi, about 40 miles north of Yangon, the first since the military junta closed many of the 40 branches in and around the capital in a 1998 crackdown.

    The government also freed nine more party members Thursday in its latest concession to the pro-democracy opposition that swept 1990 general election but was not allowed to take power. Dozens of detainees from the NLD have been freed since the start of the year.

    Suu Kyi, however, remains under house detention, enforced since Sept. 22 when she tried to travel to a party office outside Yangon in defiance of restrictions by the military on her movements.
    Suzuki still under Pressure to Pull out of Burma

    By Tin Maung Htoo (Canada)
    Burma Media Association
    June 29, 2001

    After Unocal, Suzuki has become a global target of free Burma campaign. Activists who oppose investment in Burma have been steadfastly pressuring the company with several global actions although the company has still persisted to pull out of its business over the past four years.

    Today in Japan, Suzuki Motor Corp. is to hold its Annual General Meeting. Usually, it is a rising time for activists to generate more pressure toward companies doing business in Burma, but the current location of the company's annual meeting is unreachable for Burma activists since the Suzuki shareholder meeting is planned to hold in Hamamatsu city, 125 miles far from Tokyo.

    Nevertheless, Sayuri Miyazaki from the Network on Suzuki Burma Issue (NSBI) said they are doing a Fax Letter Campaign to protest Suzuki's involvement in Burma, adding: "NSBI is now planning a demo in someday of July, 2001, in front of the Suzuki branch office in Tokyo."

    The Tokyo-based NSBI was formed last year in an effort to jointly pressure the company's withdrawal from Burma by the Consumer Union of Japan, the Transnational Corporation Monitor of Japan, and the People's Forum on Burma after their separate efforts was in vain in the past years.

    In North America, "Boycott Suzuki Campaign" is more widespread although the Headquarter is situated in Japan. Activists pressure the Suzuki through U.S and Canada-based regional offices and retail outlets. Students-based Free Burma Coalition is the most effective pioneer and campaigner to push the Suzuki out of Burma, along with various Unocal campaigns.

    In Canada, Burma activists are also vigilant with the Suzuki Boycott Campaign and have joined in several International Day of Actions with U.S cities. In April, activists from Toronto Burma Roundtable went to see with Suzuki Canada's regional officials and union's leaders in Ingarsoll near London City of Ontario, where the Suzuki Canada plant is located, and encouraged relevant sectors to pressure the Headquarter in Japan to get the company out of Burma.

    However, when U.S-based activists did the similar approaches to their San Francisco-based office, they got an unconvinced response from the regional branch that American Suzuki "has no power" over the company's involvement in Burma.

    An American-Burma activist, Edith Mirante, reacted to the response that, "it's ridiculous for American Suzuki, or divisions in other countries, to claim that they cannot influence decisions being made in Japan." Burma activists still vow that they would intensify the campaign until the company pulls out of Burma.

    Suzuki established the Myanmar Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd in November 1998 with the capital of 6.9 million. It own 60% of the business and 30% is controlled by Myanmar Automobile & Diesel Engine Industries (MADI), a department of Industry No.2 under the minister Maj. Gen. Saw Lwin who is reportedly linked with arms dealing and production in Burma. The company is reportedly employing 50 employees, 11 are Japanese, and the rest are Burmese.

    According a recent article on Myanmar Times on June 4, the Suzuki production of motor bikes, passenger cars and small truck decreased in terms of regulated tough import restrictions. "In its third year of operation the factory had an assigned capacity of 5,000 vehicles, but manager told the Times that this had been reduced to 1,680 vehicles due to a cut back in import allowances for the fiscal year 2000-1," the article stated.

    Another Japanese motor company Toyota that also invested in Burma left the country after it found the business to be unprofitable.
    Gereral Than shwe sees 11.3 pct GDP growth 2001/2002

    YANGON, June 28 (Reuters) - Myanmar's military leader General Than Shwe has forecast economic growth of 11.3 percent this financial year, well above recent trend growth, official newspapers reported on Thursday.

    The Myanmar language daily Kyemon quoted Than Shwe as forecasting Myanmar's gross national product (GDP) for the fiscal year 2001/2002 at 1,001.43 billion kyat, up from 899.52 billion in the previous fiscal year to end-March 2001.

    According to data released by Myanmar's Central Statistical Office, GDP was 794.60 billion kyat in 1998/99. No data is so far available for 1999/2000. The kyat is officially pegged at six kyat to the dollar but trades at only about500 per dollar on the black market. According to official data, Myanmar saw annual economic growth of 8.4 percent inthe five years from 1996/97 to 2000/2001.

    Most independent economists put Myanmar's economic growth far lower than this - probably in low single figures in recent years. They say years of mismanagement by the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has left the economy weak and partly dependent on income from a large, unofficial trade in drugs.

    Political isolation of the military government has also contributed to economic stagnation, they say. In 1990, Myanmar held democratic elections won by the National League for Democracy (NLD) of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. The NLD has never been allowed to govern and many of its leaders, including Suu Kyi, have been detained or harrassed.

    The military government, which has run Myanmar for most of the last 40 years, says it is managing the economy well and says economic growth has been supportedby careful central planning.
    Thai security chief hits out at camp exiles

    source : The Nation

    National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Kachadpai Burusapatana yesterday lashed out at exiled Burmese students who oppose the planned closure of Maneeloy holding centre, saying they had ulterior motives to use Thailand for subversive activities.

    "It is ludicrous to assert that these exiled students should stay on at Maneeloy until Burma achieves full democracy," he said. "Those who oppose the pending closure of the holding centre are worrying about their future because they have failed to verify their status as exiled students."

    Kachadpai said only 400 exiled Burmese students remained at the "temporary" shelter, pending relocation to a third country. Most - 350 of them - had already been accepted for resettlement abroad, he said, and the remaining students should complete the resettlement process by the end of the year.

    The government, in cooperation with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, will close the centre this year, he said.The NSC secretary-general said opponents of the centre's closure might use their student status as a pretext to continue activities targeting Burma. These But "activists" had been residing at Maneeloy without any official sanction, and they had repeatedly refused to register as students or for resettlement, he said.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Norachit Singhasenee said the pending closure of the Maneeloy centre was a policy pursued by successive governments and not a sudden agreement reached during Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's visit to Burma.
    Shan army tightens security

    source : Burmanet/ Shan Herald Agency for News

    June 26, 2001 [Abridged] The Shan State Army of Yawdserk issued an order to its units along the Thai border to increase its vigilance, said one of his deputies on 22 June.

    Col. Khurh-ngern, who is responsible for military affairs, told S.H.A.N. he had just ordered all units to maintain strictest observance of its principles and regulations following Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's visit on 19-20 June.

    "One result, we learned, was Rangoon's agreement to allow Thai inspection of our side of the border," he explained. "Accordingly, we have ordered our commanders to see that our troops keep to our side and that anyone caught dealing in drugs will face capital punishment whatever his past merits are."

    He added that the leadership suspected that the Burmese military might try to implicate the Shans in connection with drugs.
    Customs Staff Warned Against Corruption, Bribery and Abuse of Authority

    Information Sheet N0. B-1869( I ) 29th June, 2001

    Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt met with staff of Customs Department at the Ministry of Fiance and Revenue on 28 June.

    The Secretary-1 pointed out the fact that the aims of the department, to levy taxes on the exports and imports in accord with the law, to ensure that export and import of goods are being conducted in accord with the existing principles, to prevent and expose illegal exports and imports, to compile data on exports and imports and to help promote foreign trade. As regards the department's duties, it has the duty to collect taxes in accord with other existing laws, to make supervision in line with the import and export acts and foreign exchange acts, to prevent smuggling of arms, ammunition and explosive, and drugs, to curb smuggling of wildlife, ancient artifacts and valuables and to search and seize items or printed materials which are counter to Myanmar culture.

    Laws, rules and regulations are not designed to have a detrimental effect on public interests but are aimed at promoting public interests. It is the duty of Government employees to organize the people to abide by the laws. Efforts are to be made to ensure the right cooperation of the people who pay customs duties and employees who assess customs duties. Commodities banned by the Government from time to time are directly concerned with the policy of the State and national interests.

    In addition, when it comes to dealing with insincere trade partners, it is required to safeguard the nation with fervent patriotism. It is the main duty of the Customs Department to prevent the smuggling of ancient culture artifacts, valuables, endangered species and forest products as well as valuable resources of the nation. All the employees are to perform respective duties systematically and correctly with the aim of ensuring the flourishing of the market economic system and success of foreign commercial activities and at the same time to contribute to the development of production work and export activities.

    As Myanmar is cooperating with other nations in preventing and suppressing these crimes, customs officers are to cooperate with members of police forces and security personnel. The Customs Department is a member of the World Customs Organization and is working in accord with the criteria of international customs laws. The committee for ensuring the swift and smooth handling of freight at the port has been formed and assigned duties.

    It is known to all that customs officers, cooperating with departments concerned and acting under the supervision of that committee, are performing customs tasks concerning import and export services. Similarly, border inspection and supervision organizations have been formed and assigned duties in order to supervise the flow of commodities and vehicles in accord with the laws and rules and regulations and to prevent the trafficking of animals and animal products and goods through border gates. Customs officers are members of these organizations, and they are to cooperate with departments concerned.
    Smuggling attempt thwarted in corn field

    Bangkok Post - June 29. 2001

    TAK : A volunteer village patrol yesterday found 200,000 methamphetamine pills in a corn plantation in Mae Sot district. The patrol spotted about 10 men in the plantation. They fled before they could be questioned, but left behind a backpack and a fertiliser sack containing the speed pills.

    The plantation is near Mae Kon Ken village, in tambon Mahawan, about two kilometres from Palu camp in Burma. Samart Loyfa, the Mae Sot district chief, said authorities stepped up patrols a few days ago after Myawaddy officials told border officers an attempt was expected to smuggle 100,000 speed pills into Thailand.

    Also yesterday, a joint police and military unit discovered 50 Burmese, 18 men and 32 women, hidden under vegetables on a six-wheel truck at a checkpoint on Mae Sot-Tak road. Boonrat Sikhamma, 37, the driver, admitted he was being paid 3,500 baht per person to take them to Bangkok. He was charged with smuggling in illegal workers.
    Malay-speaking Myanmar caught crossing border with countrymen

    The New Straits Times Press - June 29, 2001.
    By Shahrum Sayuthi

    A Myanmar, who himself is an illegal immigrant, was caught acting as an illegal immigrant agent along with four of his countrymen after they crossed the Thai-Malaysian border near here yesterday.

    Perlis Anti-Smuggling Unit commander for Chuping ASP Khamis Hamzah said the illegal immigrants, aged between 22 and 48 years' old, were caught by his men and Rela members in the vicinity of Kampung Batu Betangkup at about 7.30am. He said the 24 year-old Myanmar, who could speak Malay, was a construction worker in Penang. Initial investigations showed that he had acted as the guide for the group.

    "The group was caught after they wandered out of a secondary forest area in search of food. We believed they had been in the area for quite a while to wait for other 'tekong darat' to pick them up.."

    Khamis, who was speaking to reporters at the State Anti-Smuggling Unit camp in Chuping today, said the illegal immigrants were detained under Section 6(3) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 for entering the country without proper travel documents. He said the illegal immigrants would be handed over to the Immigration Department for further action.
    Burma Beats China Guangdong 3-0 in Volleyball Friendly

    People Daily

    Myanmar selected men's volleyball team beat China's Guangdong provincial team 3-0 in their second friendly volleyball match Thursday in Yangon.

    The Guangdong team, with an average age of 19.5 and height of 1.94 meters, lost the match against the experienced Myanmar team, which has an average age of 24 and height of 1.84 meters, with the set scores of 18-25, 20-25 and 12-25. The host side beat the young visitors 3-0 in their first encounter on Tuesday in 25-11, 25-16 and 25-13.

    The Myanmar team, which has been preparing for the XXI Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, stood in the third place of the SEA standard after Thailand and Indonesia.

    Guangdong team is on a three-game tour with the Myanmar team and the third match will be on the same venue on Saturday.
    Myanmar-Chinese Support Beijing's Olympic Bid


    Representatives of Myanmar -Chinese and overseas Chinese social organizations in Myanmar signed a letter on Thursday in support of Beijing's bid to the right of hosting the 2008 Olympic Games.

    A total of 184 Myanmar-Chinese representatives signed the letter including those from the Myanmar-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Overseas Chinese Charity Association, Myanmar-Fujian Natives' Association, Yunnan Natives' Association, Guangdong Natives' Association, Nanzhong and Huazhong Old Students ' Associations and Overseas Chinese Women's Association.

    The move was initiated by the Myanmar-Chinese Sports Federation (MCSF). MCSF Chairman Jiang Qingliang told Xinhua that although Myanmar- Chinese and overseas Chinese residing in Myanmar are separated from China by thousands of mountains and rivers, they are concerned with Beijing's bid for hosting the 2008 Games.

    The application move does not only link all the people living in China but also connect Chinese generations abroad. They wish Beijing's move a success. Jiang added that the signed letter will be forwarded to the Beijing Committee for Application to Host the 2008 Olympic through the Consulate of the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar.