Daily News-May 08- 2001- Tuesday

  • Question Of Razali Denied Permission To Visit Burma Does Not Arise
  • Talks with Suu Kyi may collapse
  • Burma santions' value
  • Burmese paper says Japanese aid result of "positive" steps, "dialogue"
  • DVB reports 12 dead in Mandalay bomb blast
  • Burmese official arrested for drug trafficking
  • Drug raids net four
  • Thai Army to flush out dug-in Burmese intruders
  • 30 drug factories spotted in Burma and Laos
  • Large Amount of Stimulants Seized in Myanmar
  • M'sia Wary Of Burma Threat in sepaktakraw

  • Question Of Razali Denied Permission To Visit Burma Does Not Arise

    KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 (Bernama) -- The question of the Myanmar government denying permission to United Nations envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail to visit Myanmar never arise, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said on Monday.

    He said this was because the Myanmar government, now in talks with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, had wanted the talks to be held under conditions of strict secrecy.

    "Since it (Myanmar government) has said that it is in the midst of talks and does not want the presence of other parties, let us wait and allow them to proceed with the process. So it is not a denial," he told reporters at Wisma Belia here. -- BERNAMA
    Talks with Suu Kyi may collapse

    The Hindu
    By Amit Baruah

    SINGAPORE, MAY 6. The seven-month-old secret dialogue between Myanmar's military Government and the pro-democracy leader, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, is on the verge of breaking down, the Far Eastern Economic Review reported in its latest issue.

    ``The junta has deferred numerous requests by United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail - the main catalyst behind the talks - to revisit Burma (Myanmar). Suu Kyi, under virtual house arrest, is said by a source close to Razali to be increasingly frustrated with the secrecy and isolation of the talks...'' the magazine claimed.

    Another report from Yangon today stated that the secret talks between the junta and Ms. Suu Kyi were in jeopardy as dissenting factions within the military are wary of the prospects of far- reaching reforms. Last week, Myanmar's Foreign Minister, Mr. U. Win Aung, told reporters in Yangon that the talks were still on track.

    ``We are not playing games for the sake of the media... this is not a public relations stunt... But we hope that this process, which is very complex and delicate, should be left at a distance right now because the freedom of the country depends on this,'' he was quoted as saying. ``There is no set time for the dialogue or peace process in Northern Ireland, or in Sri Lanka or the Middle East... This is also not a process where you can start a countdown. This is timeless,'' the Foreign Minister was quoted as saying.

    According to the Review article, the opacity surrounding the talks was working to the military junta's advantage. The ``cautious optimism'' with which the international community greeted the talks is beginning to break down.

    ``Until April, many in the region - most significantly Japan - had tacitly supported Western-led isolation of the junta as a concerted protest against the regime's abysmal democratic credentials... but in early April, Japan broke ranks with a Western-led 12-year ban on non-humanitarian assistance to Burma (Myanmar) by quietly agreeing to provide a Yen 3.5 billions ($28 millions) aid package to rehabilitate a hydroelectric dam as a direct reward for the talks...''

    The Review claimed that the sun was setting on the talks. ``So far, Suu Kyi has remained silent as the talks stall and her negotiating leverage slides. In part that's because she desperately wants the release from prison of her political supporters... with more regional support for the junta in the pipeline, the incentive for the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) is waning.''
    Burma santions' value


    WHEN IT comes to the military dictatorship ruling Burma, President Bush has an opportunity he should welcome to demonstrate the realism his advisers commend and, simultaneously, a firm commitment to America's democratic ideals.

    The Burmese junta stands condemned by much of the world for its horrendous abuse of human rights, its complicity in the trafficking of heroin and methamphetamines, and its thwarting of the democratic government that was elected with 80 percent of the seats in Parliament in Burma's last free election, in 1990.

    Currently, there are varying sanctions on the junta. The International Labor Organization, for the first time in its 81-year history, asked its members to sanction the regime for the continuing, brutal imposition of forced labor on Burmese and minority ethnic groups. There are also European Union sanctions and restrictions imposed by the Clinton administration that prohibit new US investment in Burma and ban senior officials in the regime from obtaining visas to enter the United States. Although it is far from clear that the junta intends to permit a revival of democracy, there is little doubt that it has engaged in talks with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi - who is held under virtual house arrest in Rangoon - in large part because of the unremitting pressure of sanctions.

    As a result of sanctions, the officers in power cannot disguise their bankrupting of what had been one of Asia's most literate and resource-rich countries. Even the junta's principal sponsor for membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia, has counseled Burma's ruling officers to ease the embarrassment of their fellow ASEAN members by opening a dialogue with Suu Kyi.

    In a letter last month to Bush, 35 senators including Edward Kennedy and John Kerry made a strong case for maintaining sanctions, noting that ''the sanctions have been partially responsible for prompting the regime to engage in political dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters.''

    The letter also said there is ''strong evidence directly linking members of the regime to'' the trafficking of ''the heroin which plagues our communities.''

    Bush should insist that the junta take measurable steps toward the retrieval of democracy in Burma, and not merely for altruistic reasons.

    Next to the regime in North Korea, the Burmese junta has been Beijing's chummiest ally, permitting China to project its burgeoning power into the Bay of Bengal, to the dismay of India.

    Were a democratic government to replace the junta, neighboring Thailand, which is now suffering from an influx of drugs from Burma, would join India and the rest of the region in breathing a sigh of relief.
    Burmese paper says Japanese aid result of "positive" steps, "dialogue"

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 7, 2001

    Text of report in English by Burmese newspaper The Myanmar Times web site on 7 May

    Myanmar's [Burma's] continuing warm ties with Japan has resulted in a 28.6m US-dollar assistance package to revamp a hydro power station in Eastern Kayah State, about 400 km from the capital Yangon [Rangoon]. International media reports painted the assistance as a change of stance by Japan, but both Myanmar and Japanese officials were quick to point out the grants came under the auspices of technical assistance and cooperation, something Japan has been doing in a low key manner for some years now.

    The spokesman, quoted by Agence France Presse, said a team of consultants would soon arrive in Myanmar to prepare a report on the dam, which was originally built in the 1960's. The hydro station is important in supplying electricity to the capital and outlying areas.

    After reviewing the feasibility study, Tokyo plans to officially approve the project some time after December. The decision was made "in light of the fact that there are positive steps being taken by the government, and a dialogue is going on", said an embassy official, confirming a report on the International Herald Tribune's web site. "We wanted to give some sort of encouragement to the parties concerned that they will engage more with each other to bring about some positive results," he told AFP.

    The embassy official said that although talks at the highest level between Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt on behalf of the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remain shrouded in secrecy, he was optimistic they would yield results. "Cautious optimism is everyone's attitude and there's no sign that we should see the situation in a less positive manner," he said.

    A Myanmar official, who declined to be named, said the government and people appreciated the assistance, noting that Japan continued to be a leader in recognizing the need to help the country at a time when sanctions and embargoes had hurt everyone. Japan has been supporting rebuilding efforts in a quiet, but purposeful manner over the past few years, resuming grants in 1994.

    In a 1995 aid project it committed 15m US dollars for health projects and over the past year has given numerous "grass roots assistance" grants to build schools, initiate health projects and help in agriculture, particularly with drug eradication efforts.
    DVB reports 12 dead in Mandalay bomb blast

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 6, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 5 May

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that many people were wounded when a bomb explosion occurred at Mandalay Zaycho Market yesterday evening. Immediately after the explosion Lone Htein [riot control] police and defence services personnel arrived at the scene and cordoned off Zaycho Market. It has remained closed since then. DVB correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report.

    [Myint Maung Maung - recording] On Friday, 4 May, at 1230 [local time] a powerful bomb exploded near the pork meat stall of Kaingtan Bazaar at the western part of Zaycho Market in Mandalay. Since the bazaar was packed with shoppers at that time, 12 persons died instantly from the bomb explosion and eight people were seriously wounded while many suffered slight injuries. Soon afterwards, over 100 Lone Htein policemen and defence services personnel arrived at the scene and cordoned off the area.
    Burmese official arrested for drug trafficking

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 6, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 5 May

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] authorities have arrested U Kyaw Myo Nyunt, assistant immigration officer, from Kunlong Township in northern Shan State for his involvement in trafficking stimulant tablets.

    Maung Thant Zin who resides at Chanayetharzan Township in Mandalay was arrested with hundreds of stimulant tablets on 12 April. According to his confession the drugs were given to him by U Kyaw Myo Nyunt, Kunlong Township assistant immigration officer, who came back to Mandalay on leave. The authorities thus brought in U Kyaw Myo Nyunt for interrogation.

    It is believed that government employees who are stationed at the stimulant drugs producing region of northern Shan State usually traffic in stimulant tablets whenever they go back on leave to supplement their meagre salary. This report was filed by DVB correspondent Kyaw Sein Aung.
    Drug raids net four

    source : The Nation

    Police on Sunday seized 570,000 methamphetamine tablets and 24.5 kilograms of heroin in separate raids, Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) commissioner Lt-General Priawpan Damapong revealed yesterday.

    Priawpan said four people had been arrested for drug trafficking in the two cases, one of which occurred in Chiang Rai and the other in Kamphaeng Phet.He said Ounkaew, or Yee Kamsaeng, 52, along with two Burmese men, Tid and Chaiton, had been arrested at a restaurant in a petrol station in Chiang Rai with 570,000 speed pills in their possession. Ounkaew, a Chiang Rai resident, had reportedly ordered the drugs from Tid and Chaiton and planned to resell the pills to drug users in the North.

    In Kamphaeng Phet, Ching Chiang sae Wang, a 35-year-old Chinese Haw, was intercepted carrying heroin at a police checkpoint while on his way from Chiang Rai to Malaysia. The suspect said he had been paid Bt1million to deliver the drugs."The heroin seized is worth about Bt8.7 million," Priawpan said.

    The NSB chief said it would be difficult to bring the masterminds behind these drug-trafficking attempts to justice as most of them were not Thai, and gave their orders in Burma to subordinates who carried out the smuggling for them.
    Army to flush out dug-in Burmese intruders

    CHIANG MAI, May 7 (The Nation) -- The Third Army said it would flush out scores of Burmese/United Wah Army forces that had taken positions in Thai territory in Fang district of this northern province, according to the regional army's spokesman.

    Spokesman Col Chucheep Meesomboon said at Pha Muang Task Force headquarter that about 50 intruders, who had dug in about 200-400 metres inside Thailand since May 3, ignored warning shots by Thai army troops in the area.

    "We have fired warning shots, and lodged a protest with the Burmese Township Border Committee, but there was no response from the Burmese side," Chucheep said.

    "The army is left with no other choice but to flush them out." However, the spokesman did not say when the regional army would take military actions against the intruders.

    It is believed that the Burmese/Wah troops were using positions in Thai territory to stage attack on ethnic Shan rebels who had been active in the areas straddling Thai-Burmese border.
    30 drug factories spotted in Burma and Laos

    THE NATION - May 07, 2001.

    As PM's office minister Thamarak Isa-rangura prepares for a high-profile drug meeting in Rangoon, an Army intelligence officer yesterday released a detailed list of heroin and methamphetamine labs just across Thailand's borders with Burma and Laos.

    Thamarak is expected to raise the sticky issue with Burma at the upcoming meeting of drug tsars from China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Thai-Burmese relations are at one their lowest ebbs following cross-border shelling over two months ago after fighting between Shan rebels and Burmese troops spilled over onto the Thai side.

    The incident was followed by an exchange of stinging accusations from the military leaders of both sides, who accused one another of being involved in drug trafficking. According to the report obtained by The Nation yesterday, 26 of the 32 drug labs along the border are in Burma and the rest in Laos.

    At least two of the labs in Burma are partly owned by Thai nationals, while four of the labs in Laos have dealings with suspected Thai drug traffickers. The vast majority of the 32 labs, including those in Laos, are run by Chinese drug lords and members of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), a 20,000-strong outfit headquartered in Panghsang in northern Shan State on Burma's border with China.

    The UWSA entered Burma's "legal fold" in 1989 after signing a cease-fire agreement with Rangoon's ruling junta. A number of the UWSA's top leaders, including Pao Yuchang and Wei Xuekang, have been indicted by a US federal court and have US$2 million (Bt90 million) price tags on their heads.

    The report says one heroin lab in the Mae Kun area adjacent to Mae Hong Son's Pai district receives protection from a unit of the Shan State Army (SSA). It is uncertain if the SSA, once a faction of opium warlord Khun Sa's Mon g Tai Army (MTA), is directly invol-ved in the business, but since breaking away from Khun Sa, SSA leader Colonel Yawd Serk has tried to put the group's past behind it by attacking clandestine border drug labs and handing over confiscated drugs to Thai authorities.

    One major lab known to produce some of the world's purest heroin is over from Ban Therd Thai in Chiang Rai's Mae Fah Luang district, according to the report. The operation is managed by a Tai-wanese, Saw Win, while about 380 armed troops from the UWSA under the command of Yao Kweh Kuy and Ailishi provide security. About four drug labs, all over from Mae Hong Son, belong to Mahaja, a former MTA commander who joined Khun Sa in surrendering to Rangoon in return for an amnesty.

    Mahaja stayed in Hua Muang, the MTA's old headquarters, where he runs a militia and has set up logging and gem-mining operations.

    Narcotics officials say Burma and Laos are likely to surpass Afghanistan as the world's leading producers of opiumfollowing an approximately 50 per cent reduction in the latter country's production after the ruling Taliban banned cultivation of the crop.

    In its latest report, the US State Department said the UWSA and other groups including the Myan-mar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA, known as the "Kokang Chinese"), "remain armed and heavily involved in the heroin trade and in the manufacturing and distribution of synthetic drugs.

    "They are also largely immune from government action. To cite only one example, under the terms of the cease-fire, Burmese troops cannot even enter Wa territory without permission from the UWSA", the report said. Under pressure from the government, however, the UWSA, the MNDAA and other groups that have signed cease-fires with Rangoon have declared their intention to establish opium-free zones in their territory by 2005.
    Large Amount of Stimulants Seized in Myanmar

    YANGON, May 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The Myanmar authorities seized 14,540 tablets of stimulant drug in a village in the country's eastern Shan state last month, state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Monday.

    The seizure was made by a combined team comprising local intelligence unit and the police force when they searched traffic passing by at the entrance of the Wansaung village in Kengtung in the state on April 26. Two villagers were arrested in connection with the case, the report said.

    According to official statistics, in 2000, the Myanmar authorities confiscated 26.6 million tablets of stimulant drug along with 1.52 tons of opium, 158 kilos of heroin and 590 kilos of marijuana. During the year, the authorities also exposed a total of 3,535 drug-related cases, punishing 4,881 drug offenders, the statistics show.
    M'sia Wary Of Burma Threat in sepaktakraw

    KUALA TERENGGANU, May 7 (Bernama) -- Even though the focus on regaining sepak takraw supremacy at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in September is on Thailand, Malaysia are wary of the threat posed by dark horses Myanmar.

    National team manager Dr Mohammad Omar said the last time Myanmar were seen in action in the international scene was at the Brunei SEA Games two years ago. Then, the Malaysian national side were humbled by Myanmar 1-2.

    "As there is only silence from them (Myanmar) all this while we suspect that they are formulating strategies before meeting us (Malaysia) and Thailand at the (SEA) Games. "We are taking precautions as the focus all this while is on our traditional rivals Thailand...Myanmar may spring a few surprises against us in Kuala Lumpur," he told Bernama here on Monday.

    Dr Mohamad said the Thais, during the Khon Kaen Cup tournament last month, had also expressed concern over Myanmar's "secret" preparation. He said the national squad had tried to arrange several friendly matches with Myanmar but had received negative response.

    "Malaysia cannot take Myanmar lightly as they almost upstaged Thailand in the last SEA Games in Brunei."Their form in Brunei two years ago was simply brilliant apart from puzzling as our boys had beaten them convincingly in the Bangkok Asian Games in September a year before," he said.

    Dr Mohammad said Myanmar's rapid rise could be attributed to their team management, efficient training and players' tenacity."Their ability in turning the tables against us after only nine months and using the same players is something which should be learnt by our national squad," he said. -- BERNAMA