Daily News-November 06 - 2001- Tuesday

  • Japan urges Myanmar to do more on democracy
  • Myanmar's junta vows not to meddle if Aung San Suu Kyi wins future vote
  • Possible future role for Suu Kyi hinted at - Japanese report
  • Turkish press scanner: Myanmar? Where is it?
  • Artillery fire cancels highway inauguration ceremony at Thai border
  • Thai`s king birthday invite for Burmese army chief
  • Plenty of investement oppotunities in Myanmar
  • Tourist Arrivals In Myanmar Drop In First 8 Months
  • Myanmar Targets To Produce 18,530 Tons Of Paper In 2001-02

  • Japan urges Myanmar to do more on democracy

    By Elaine Lies

    BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said that he welcomed recent efforts by military-ruled Myanmar to release political prisoners, but believed more must be done to push for democracy.

    Myanmar has been freeing political prisoners steadily, most recently on October 26, and its military has been engaged in talks with pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The talks have shown no results but have served to build confidence.

    In a meeting with Myanmar ruler Senior-General Than Shwe, Koizumi was quoted by a Foreign Ministry official as saying: "We welcome your efforts for freeing political prisoners and we ask for you to continue."

    "International society is closely watching the role of Aung San Suu Kyi," he was quoted as adding. "We hope you will recognise this and make further efforts for democracy."

    In reply, Than Shwe was quoted as saying that Myanmar will continue to work towards democracy, adding that what sort of position Suu Kyi might be in in the future is no concern of theirs, the official said.

    "If Suu Kyi were to be elected in an election, that is democracy and not something we could interfere in," he was quoted as saying.

    It was not completely clear in what context the comment was made, but the Japanese official said it was apparently made in a hypothetical sense and no specific time frame was expressed.

    Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won elections in 1990 by a landslide but has never been allowed to rule. Instead, her supporters have been detained and harassed. Suu Kyi herself was under house arrest for six years and in the past was frequently reviled by the government for her actions.

    Koizumi met Than Shwe on the sidelines of a two-day meeting of leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations plus Japan, China and Korea that began in Brunei on Monday.

    Tokyo has generally taken a softer approach than the West towards Myanmar, especially on the question of aid, opting for engagement rather than sanctions. In July, Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka told her Myanmar counterpart, Win Aung, that Japan would continue to provide Myanmar with economic aid to improve the country's hydroelectric power generation. Japan, which used to be Myanmar's largest aid donor, suspended assistance -- including yen loans, grant aid and technical assistance -- in 1988 after the military crushed a pro-democracy uprising. However, it has provided limited assistance since Suu Kyi, who favours sanctions, was freed from six years of house arrest in 1995.
    Myanmar's junta vows not to meddle if Aung San Suu Kyi wins future vote

    BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Nov 5 (AFP) - The head of Myanmar's junta on Monday vowed not to meddle if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi wins a future election when the nation turns itself into a full democracy, a Japanese official said.

    "We do not care what kind of position Aung San Suu Kyi would hold in the course of democratisation," the senior official quoted Myanmar's Senior General Than Shwe as telling Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in bilateral talks on the sidelines of an East Asia summit. But the official said the junta leader was speaking hypothetically and "did not make a clear statement" that elections will be held.

    "If Aung San Suu Kyi was elected in votes, it is democracy and is not what we should meddle in," Than Shwe was quoted as saying.

    Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won an overwhelming election victory in 1990 which was never recognised by the military government, which took over the nation in 1988.

    Asked to clarify the junta leader's remark, the official said Than Shwe meant "if Aung San Suu Kyi becomes to play a due role after Myanmar is democratised, it would not be something the current government has a stake in." Koizumi appreciated the recent release of political prisoners in Myanmar and called for further democratisation efforts, but did not ask Than Shwe to elaborate on his election remark, the official said.

    "The international community is paying attention to the role of Aung San Suu Kyi, and I hope you will continue efforts towards democracy by paying heed to this," Koizumi was quoted as saying.

    Japan suspended all but a small amount of humanitarian aid following the 1988 military takeover, but the flow of funds resumed in 1994. Its aid-for-reform pay-off often meets criticism from the Western nations, notably the United States, who says despite signs of a political thaw, it was inappropriate to deal with Myanmar's military rulers.

    Japan provided 1.9 billion yen of grant aid as well as 1.6 billion yen of technical assistance to Myanmar in the year to March.Most recently, Tokyo exchanged notes with Yangon last Thursday to extend debt relief of 1.8 billion yen.

    Koizumi also held separate talks with Laotian Prime Minister BounNhang Vorachith. The Laotian leader noted the importance of Japanese assistance and asked for low-interest loans from Tokyo, the Japanese official said. The talks were Koizumi's first meetings with Myanmar and Laos leaders. Japan is the biggest donor for both nations, but Koizumi promised no fresh aid at the meetings.
    Possible future role for Suu Kyi hinted at - Japanese report

    Source: Kyodo News Service

    Bandar Seri Begawan, 5 November: Myanmar junta leader Senior Gen Than Shwe hinted Monday [5 November] that he will not stand in the way of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi playing a major role in the country should she be chosen by the people of Myanmar in the future, a Japanese government official said.

    Than Shwe told Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that the ruling junta will not intervene if Suu Kyi is chosen as a leader in a possible election sometime in the future, the official said.

    "If Suu Kyi is chosen in an election, that is democracy and is not something for us to intervene in," the official quoted Than Shwe as saying in the meeting.

    The leaders of the two countries were meeting on the sidelines of the annual summit of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its three Northeast Asia partners in Brunei.

    Than Shwe made the remarks after Koizumi urged the Myanmar leader to promote democracy in the country, adding that the international community is focusing on what role Suu Kyi would play in the future.

    There have been signs of a thaw in the confrontation between the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Nobel laureate Suu Kyi and the junta since the two sides began confidential talks in October last year... Koizumi urged Than Shwe to continue the release of such prisoners in their talks on Monday, the official said...
    Turkish press scanner: Myanmar? Where is it?

    Financial Times

    Radikal said: "Ministers were astonished when, in line with a European Union decision, PM Ecevit issued a circular urging them to suspend all relations with Myanmar and to impose an embargo on it.

    They were stirred into action but there was a problem. No one knew where Myanmar was. Bureaucrats could not find it on the maps. The Foreign Ministry rushed to their help, telling them that Myanmar is Burma's new name. Myanmar, a country that has been under military rule for 39 years, has the second-worst human rights violations record in the world."
    Artillery fire cancels highway inauguration ceremony at Thai border

    Text of report by Democratic Voice of Burma on 3 November

    The inauguration ceremony for construction of Kachanaburi-Tavoy international highway, a joint Burma-Thailand development project, has been postponed after heavy artillery fell near the ceremony site. The ceremony held at the Minthamee camp near the border was attended by Thai civil and military officials and responsible personnel from the Thai construction company.

    While they were waiting for the arrival of SPDC No 3 Tactical Commander Col Khin Maung Myint heavy artillery fell near the ceremony site. A Thai delegation member who did not want to be identified said the ceremony was cancelled and the Thai delegation had to return to Thailand. The same Thai official said Col Khin Maung Myint and his entourage were also ambushed.

    He added although the attackers are unknown, since it is in the KNU [Karen National Union] 4th Brigade controlled area the group could possibly belong to the KNU. DVB correspondent Ko Moe Aye contacted Phado Saw Theo, the information official of KNU 4th Brigade and Mergui-Tavoy District, and inquired about the incident.

    [Ko Moe Aye] While the Thai delegation was there waiting for the ceremony to begin KNU heavy artillery fell near the site. What can you comment about that?

    [Phado Saw Theo] From what I figured out the road will connect Tavoy with Minthamee camp. The Thai officials and the Burmese commanders were supposed to meet there. The fighting and the heavy artillery fire in the region is a normal occurrence. These areas are battlegrounds and unstable regions. The fighting is not only at the border region but also at various places inland so it is not an extraordinary incident.

    [Ko Moe Aye] Yesterday we received some news that the SPDC forces were tipped off the KNU was going to sabotage the gas pipeline in the Yebyu-Kanbauk region. Subsequently, during the clearing operation the SPDC forces engaged in a battle with about 40 camouflaged guerrillas. What would you like to say?

    [Phado Saw Theo] I have not heard anything about that. I am also not aware that the KNU is operating in such numbers at the natural gas pipeline region.

    [Ko Moe Aye] Are you implying that the 40 armed camouflaged guerrillas are not from the KNU?

    [Phado Saw Theo] Yes. We are not operating in such large numbers. If it is not an important matter we use a very small and effective force.

    [Ko Moe Aye] We learned that the villages involved are Khaw Sar and Min Tun Hla Lay. Are these KNU-controlled areas?

    [Phado Saw Theo] We can say that there is no such thing as KNU-controlled areas because the SPDC is also in control of their bases just as the KNU and the Mon group are in control of theirs. But where movements and operations are concerned one group enter another group's area and vice versa. I think Khaw Sar and Mi Khaw Sar are Mon names. It is not the KNU but the 4th Brigade has a presence in the region.
    Thai`s king birthday invite for Burmese army chief

    Wassana Nanuam
    The Bangkokpost

    Burma's army chief Gen Maung Aye will be invited to attend next month's trooping of the colours to mark His Majesty the King's birthday, an aide to the defence minister said.Gen Sanan Kachornklam said he would deliver the defence minister's invitation during his weekend visit to Rangoon.

    Burmese top brass had been invited to the Dec 2 ceremony every year, but had never attended.It was hoped the Burmese army chief would set a precedent now that relations with Burma have improved.

    Gen Sanan is secretary of the defence minister's team of advisers, but will visit Rangoon between Friday and Sunday as secretary-general of the Thai-Burmese Cultural and Economic Association. He would make arrangements for a meeting of the association's executives on Nov 28.Topics for discussion include a joint venture on fisheries between Thailand and Burma. Thailand will also give 10 oxen to Burma's Livestock and Fisheries department, he said.
    Plenty of investement oppotunities in Myanmar

    PENANG, Nov 2 (Bernama) -- Malaysian businessmen keen to venture into Myanmar can find a lot of investment opportunies in agriculture and cattle rearing, apart from barter trade, said president of the State Malaysian Malay Traders and Entrepreneurs Association (PERDASAMA), Waris Ali Abdul Carrim.

    He said that a Malaysian trade mission comprising businessmen and port officials to Yangon from Oct 16 to 19, found that the country had good cattle rearing grounds and prospects for barter trade.

    Waris Ali said the mission, led by Penang Port Commission (PPC) general manager Datuk Abdul Rahim Abdul Aziz, found that beef and pork imports could be carried out through barter trading, thus avoiding the usage of US dollar as a medium of currency for exchange of goods. He pointed out that Petronas and PERNAS are already conducting barter trade with Myanmar.

    The objective of the trade mission was to improve bilateral trade and greater use of Penang port facilities for barter trading which had been a traditional mode of doing business between traders and businessmen of both countries through ports in Kedah, Perlis and Penang. Waris Ali said that trading could be further enhanced if Malaysian businessmen took advantage of the various opportunities available in Myanmar. Myanmar is already carrying out barter trade with India, Bangladesh, China and Thailand.
    Tourist Arrivals In Myanmar Drop In First 8 Months

    YANGON, Nov 5 (Oana-Xinhua) -- Tourist arrivals in Myanmar dropped by 48.82 percent in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period of 2000, reaching 77,773, the country's Economic Indicators said in its latest issue.

    The decline of tourist arrivals was attributed to the sharp fall in the number of cross-border tourists from neighboring countries during the eight-month period, showing a 93.71 percent fall compared with the corresponding period of 2000.

    Myanmar depends largely on cross-border tourism in getting foreign tourists, especially from Thailand and China, the two close neighbours respectively bordering its southeastern and northeastern parts.There had been border clashes between Myanmar and Thailand since February, which lasted for four months until June.

    According to official statistics, in 2000, the country registered 234,900 tourist arrivals, of which 49 percent entered the country by land through border points.
    Myanmar Targets To Produce 18,530 Tons Of Paper In 2001-02

    YANGON, Nov 5 (Oana-Xinhua) -- Myanmar's three existing paper plants are targeted to produce a total of 18,530 tons of various kinds of paper in the present fiscal year ending in March 2002.

    According to the Ministry of Industry No.1, the three state-run paper plants under the ministry, respectively located in Mon state, Bago and Yangon divisions, are producing stationery and print paper, exercise books, brown paper, packing paper and tissue paper.

    A new newsprint paper factory, in Mandalay division, set up in April this year with the assistance of the Tianjin Machinery Import and Export Corporation of China, will produce 7,500 tons of paper annually.

    According to the sources, Myanmar is also building a 200-ton- daily-capacity bleached bamboo pulp factory in Ayeyawaddy division 's Thabaung township, buying in machinery from the China Metallurgical Construction (Group) Corporation. When completed, the plant will produce 60,000 tons of the pulp yearly.