Daily News-November 17 - 2001- Saturday

  • DVB reports military shake-up
  • Burmese legal team visits agencies to learn more about Thai`s reforms
  • Thailand to discuss Myanmar refugees during Japan visit
  • CNPC HK to invest in Myanmar oil project
  • Heroin Traffickers Take To The Sea
  • Fined for not declaring gold bars
  • Myanmar Exports Less Teak, Hardwood in First Eight Months

  • DVB reports military shake-up

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Nov 16, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 14 November

    After the removal of seven high-ranking military officials including Lt-Gen Win Myint [State Peace and Development Council, SPDC, Secretary-3] and Lt-Gen Tin Hla [deputy prime minister], DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned Triangle Region Commander Maj-Gen Thein Sein has been appointed as adjutant general yesterday. He was the person who delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief's Shield Track and Field Tournament held at Aung San Stadium in Rangoon yesterday. He was mentioned as Adjutant General Maj-Gen Thein Sein by Myanmar TV and today's Myanmar Alin newspaper.

    Of the 10 regional military commanders who were recalled back to Rangoon, Triangle Region Commander Maj-Gen Thein Sein became the first person to be promoted but so far the SPDC has not issued any official notification on the matter. Similarly, the SPDC has also failed to issue any official announcement on how the other remaining nine commanders are to be promoted and who will take over their positions.

    According to reports received by DVB, Maj-Gen Thein Sein was appointed adjutant general and Northeast Commander Maj-Gen Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo was appointed as quartermaster general. These two military positions were once held by Lt-Gen Win Myint and Lt-Gen Tin Hla who were both dismissed. While the military positions were filled, the SPDC secretary-3 post and the military affairs minister portfolio were strangely left vacant. But Rangoon-based political observers told DVB that the idea not to fill the vacant secretary-3 position indicates that the SPDC will be run by the top trio - the chairman, vice chairman, and secretary-1.

    Under normal circumstances promoting the regional commanders to lieutenant general and appointing them as adjutant general, quartermaster general, and cabinet ministers could be seen as a promotion, but in fact in accord with the tradition of the Burmese Defence Services it is not considered as promotion but an attempt to breakaway the troops' support from the commanders. Why were only two appointed as adjutant general and quartermaster general from among the 10 commanders? From what different backgrounds do they come from? DVB contacted U Htay Aung, research official of Thailand-based National Democracy Development Alliance, NDDA.

    [U Htay Aung - recording] Maj-Gen Thein Sein, BC-11252, became an SPDC member in November 1997 together with Maj-Gen Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo. He was a general staff officer at the War Office in Rangoon in 1992. Then, he was sent to eastern command where he became chairman of eastern Shan State Peace and Development Council and triangle region commander in 1996.

    Maj-Gen Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo is the current northeast commander. He graduated from DSA [Defence Services Academy] 12th batch and joined the Army in 1970. His officer commissioned number is BC-11701. He received the Thiha Thura title [for valour] in 1988 while fighting the BCP [Burma Communist Party] rebels in Mong Yawng as a major and deputy commander of LIB [Light Infantry Battalion]-11. He became deputy commander of LID [Light Infantry Division]-33 in 1993, Military Operations Management Command commander in 1995, and the present northeast commander position on 15 November 1997 when 14 generals including Lt-Gen Kyaw Ba [former hotels and tourism minister] were purged. [end recording]

    Unconfirmed reports say Southwest Commander Maj-Gen Thura Shwe Mann is tipped to become army chief of staff while Southern Commander Maj-Gen Tin Aye will be appointed as the new Defence Services inspector-general. The remaining six commanders will become army commanders in the newly-formed Tat-Taw or army. There is no confirmation yet about the new army setup and the SPDC has so far remained tight-lipped about the new organizational structure.
    Burmese legal team visits agencies to learn more about Thai`s reforms

    Achara Ashayagachat
    The Bangkokpost

    Thailand offered to help Burma reform its legal infrastructure to attract more traders and investors from the region.Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai yesterday told Burmese legal officials they could learn from Thailand's experiences in legal reforms and suggested Rangoon set up a committee to initiate reforms.

    During a five-day study tour of Thailand, 10 Burmese officials were shown the process of making laws and law reforms.

    ``The visit reflects a stronger mutual confidence because the visitors learned not only our success, but also our failures. I hope the lessons will arouse Rangoon's interest in political and economic development,'' he said.

    The delegation visited several agencies including the Foreign Ministry's Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs, the Council of State, Thammasat University's Faculty of Law, Attorney-General's Office, the Constitutional Court and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

    Mr Surakiart suggested Rangoon conduct a comprehensive study on intellectual property rights before drafting laws to enhance economic development.The drafting of the laws should be conducted by all interested parties such as lawyers, economists and businessmen, he said.

    The study tour was proposed by Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the State Peace and Development Council, during his visit in September as the guest of Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the deputy prime minister.
    Thailand to discuss Myanmar refugees during Japan visit

    BANGKOK, Nov 16 (AFP) - Thailand will discuss cooperation with Japan on the development of Myanmar during an upcoming visit to Tokyo by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, officials said Friday.

    Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said talks between Thaksin and Japanese leaders would focus on the thousands of Myanmar refugees living in Thailand during the visit from November 18 to 21.

    "Japan wants Thailand to be a center for development in Southeast Asia because Thailand borders several countries," Surakiart told reporters."We will talk about how Japan and Thailand can help in development in Myanmar," he added.

    Thailand is home to more than 120,000 refugees from Myanmar, many of whom are from the Karen ethnic group and live in camps on the Thai side of the border. Thaksin will depart Sunday for Japan, where he will meet Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko as well as Japanese business leaders.

    In April, Japan offered Myanmar its largest aid package in a decade, under a 3.5-billion-yen (28.6-million-dollar) plan to revamp a hydropower dam built by Japan in the 1960s.

    Japanese officials said it made the offer in light of positive developments in talks between the junta and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under loose house arrest for the past year. US Secretary of State Colin Powell sharply criticized the move, saying it was not appropriate to deal with the country's military rulers.
    CNPC HK to invest in Myanmar oil project

    HONG KONG, Nov 16 (Reuters) - CNPC (Hong Kong) Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed unit of China's state-owned China National Petroleum Corp, said it agreed on Friday to set up a joint venture with its parent to invest in an oilfield project in Myanmar.

    CNPC (Hong Kong) said in a statement it signed an accord to form a 50-50 joint venture with CNPC International Ltd, which is ultimately wholly owned by China National Petroleum Corp.

    At the same time, the joint venture, known as Chinnery Assets Ltd (CAL), signed a pact to acquire 70 percent interest in the three oilfied blocks in Myanmar from Canada's TG World Energy (Bahamas) Ltd . CAL's investment in the project totalled US$4.4 million.

    The oil resources of the three oilfield blocks were estimated to be around 406 million barrels. TG World would hold the remaining 30 percent of the oilfield blocks, CNPC Hong Kong said. CNPC (Hong Kong) shares fell 3.28 percent to end at HK$0.59 on Friday.
    Heroin Traffickers Take To The Sea

    FEER, Issue cover-dated November 22, 2001

    An apparent increase in heroin shipments using Thai waters has local intelligence officials worried. As one senior official points out, heroin from Burma is normally smuggled overland through Thailand and other neighbouring countries on its way to mainly Western markets. But drug traffickers have recently been using sea routes as well.

    The official says a vessel leaving Burmese shores and passing through Thai waters in early November was thought to have carried 100 kilograms of heroin on its way south to Malaysia or Singapore.

    But the traffickers evaded interception by handing the cargo over first to a Thai fishing vessel and then to a speedboat which disappeared south. "This is one of the routes that worries us, because they use our waters and it's difficult to stop them," says the official.
    Fined for not declaring gold bars

    The Strait Times

    SIXTEEN gold bars weighing about 16 kg were packed neatly inside the luggage of a Myanmar businessman when he arrived at Changi Airport one afternoon in May.

    The fact that Maung Aung Thu Ya, 37, was carrying $240,000 worth of gold into Singapore was not a problem.The problem is that he failed to declare it.

    Now, he must pay an $8,000 fine after being found guilty of failing to declare the gold and, hence, not paying the goods and services tax on the precious metal. The gold bars will be forfeited.The Straits Times understands that forfeited items are auctioned off and the proceeds go to the state.

    The district court heard that when Maung Aung Thu Ya arrived at Terminal 1 of Changi Airport at about 12.30 pm on May 22, he walked through the green channel, which was meant for travellers with nothing to declare. When a customs officer later stopped the businessman and asked him to open his luggage, the officer found the gold bars wrapped in paper.

    During the hearing, Maung Aung Thu Ya's lawyer said his client did not know that he had to pay taxes on the gold. The lawyer added that his client was in transit en route to Bangkok and did not know what the red and green channels meant.

    But the prosecution said the Myanmar national had visited Singapore 15 times before and had admitted that, in all his visits, he used the green channel because he did not carry goods which had to be declared.

    The court also heard that when he was in the green channel, he had entered the customs territory and, thus, the gold bars were taxable.
    Myanmar Exports Less Teak, Hardwood in First Eight Months

    YANGON, Nov 16, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Myanmar exported 212,957.5 cubic-meters of teak in the first eight months of this year, 2.14 percent less than the same period of 2000, according to the latest figures released by the country's Central Statistical Organization.

    During the period, the country exported 215,221 cubic-meters of hardwood, a 38.39 percent reduction from the corresponding period of 2000. Export earning from teak and hardwood totaled 170.46 million U.S. dollars during the eight-month period. In 2000, Myanmar exported a total of 302,810 cubic-meters of teak and 494,259.5 cubic-meters of hardwood with their total earning amounting to 201 million dollars.

    Timber has become Myanmar's second largest export goods after agriculture products and foreign exchange earned through the export of timber accounted forabout 20 percent of Myanmar's total export earning.

    Myanmar's forest covers 50 percent of its total land area, a 7 percent reduction from 1962 reportedly due to indiscriminate felling of trees. Of the forest area, 18.6 percent are reserved and protected public forest, the percentage of which is being targeted to increase to 30 percent.