Daily News-October 01 - 2001- Monday

  • Ne Win in Singapore for treatment
  • Veteran politicians hope NLD can bring about democracy
  • Khin Nyunt stresses further promotion of ties with Thailand,Malaysia
  • Pakistani paper's "exclusive" interview with Usamah Bin-Ladin
  • Govt offers sympathy
  • Government raps ‘malicious’ rumours
  • Hotels, travel agencies report cancellations
  • Book looks at women in society
  • India`s ONGC Videsh May Buy Stake In Myanmar Gas Proj

  • Ne Win in Singapore for treatment

    YANGON, Oct. 1(Reuters) — Former Myanmar military leader Ne Win, who ruled the reclusive country for more than 25 years and is still rumoured to wield behind-the-scenes influence, has travelled to Singapore for medical treatment, sources said.

    ''Ne Win left for Singapore for medical treatment on September 29,'' a source close to Ne Win's family told Reuters.

    The 91-year-old Ne Win, who has suffered strokes in the past, has at times travelled secretly to Singapore for medical treatment since relinquishing formal power in 1988. His last public appearance was in March 2001, when he held a party at a Yangon hotel and provided brunch for 99 monks.

    Ne Win believes the number nine has mystical significance, and in 1987 replaced the country's banknotes with denominations which are multiples of nine, such as 45-kyat and 90-kyat notes.

    Then army commander Ne Win seized power in a coup in 1962 and ruled the country until 1998, when he relinquished the leadership of the Burma Socialist Programme Party.Under his system of a ''Burmese way to Socialism,'' the country went from being one of the richest nations in Asia to one of the poorest.

    Although Ne Win no longer has a formal political role, he is believed to still command influence and respect among the country's current military rulers.
    Veteran politicians hope NLD can bring about democracy

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 30, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 28 September

    News reports have already been given about the ceremony marking the 13th anniversary of the founding of the National League for Democracy [NLD] held at NLD Headquarters in Shwegondaing, Rangoon yesterday.

    The ceremony was attended by Rangoon-based diplomats, U Saw Mra Aung, chairman of Committee Representing People's Parliament, leaders of national races, Thakhin Thein Pe and veteran politicians, NLD members, and invited guests totalling about 600. It was also reported that NLD Chairman U Aung Shwe, NLD Vice Chairman U Tin Oo, and NLDspokesperson U Lwin presented reports.

    Furthermore, Bohmu Aung-led veteran politicians also sent a special message of felicitation to the NLD. This message was read to DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] by Thakhin Thein Pe, a confidant of Bohmu Aung and a member of the veteran politicians group, who attended the ceremony yesterday and personally delivered the message.

    [Thakhin Thein Pe] Message sent to the 13th anniversary of the founding of the NLD.

    1. We commend the NLD leaders for their unwavering leadership to achieve the party's objectives and all the NLD members through severe political turmoil have remained with the party with firm conviction for the past 13 years since its formation on 27 September 1988.

    2. We also hope that the NLD, with untiring efforts and enjoying the people's mandate, would be able to bring about the emergence of a democratic nation where all the people including the nationalities of the Union of Burma enjoy full human rights. The veteran politicians group. [End of recording]
    Khin Nyunt stresses further promotion of ties with Thailand,Malaysia

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 30, 2001

    Text of report by Burmese radio on 29 September

    A coordination meeting on promotion of economic and trade cooperation between Myanmar [Burma] and Thailand, and Myanmar and Malaysia was held at the Meeting Hall of the Ministry of Commerce on Strand Road in Yangon [Rangoon] at 0900 today. Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council [SPDC], attended the meeting and delivered an address.

    The SPDC secretary-1 said: Myanmar is making all-out efforts for further promotion of friendly relations and economic and trade cooperation with neighbouring countries and ASEAN member nations. During the recent goodwill visit of Thai Prime Minister Dr Thaksin [Shinawatra] he had a cordial meeting with SPDC Chairman Sr Gen Than Shwe, and had discussions on further promotion of friendly relations and economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. Similarly, during the recent goodwill visit of SPDC Chairman Sr Gen Than Shwe to Malaysia at the invitation of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, Sr Gen Than Shwe met his counterpart and had cordial discussions on further promotion of friendly relationship, and economic and trade cooperation.

    Thus, endeavours continue to be made for further promotion of bilateral cooperation between Myanmar and Thailand and between Myanmar and Malaysia. In this era, global changes and international economic changes are rapid, and their impact is very wide-ranging. For this reason, firm economic and trade cooperation needs to be further promoted among friendly neighbouring countries. In this regard, investment and tourism sectors are also to be taken into account.

    In conclusion, he urged the officials concerned from the departments and organizations to strive for successful implementation of working programmes for promotion of economic and trade cooperation between Myanmar and Thailand and between Myanmar and Malaysia, the positive outcome of exchange of goodwill visits by the heads of states.

    Next, Commerce Minister Brig-Gen Pyi Sone elaborated on plans for further promotion of economic and trade cooperation. Afterwards, ministers, deputy ministers and the president and the vice-president of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry also took part in the discussions.The coordination meeting came to a close after concluding remarks by SPDC Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt.
    Pakistani paper's "exclusive" interview with Usamah Bin-Ladin

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 29, 2001

    The Al-Qa'idah group had nothing to do with the 11 September attacks on the USA, according to Usamah Bin-Ladin in an interview with the Pakistani paper Ummat.

    Usamah Bin-Ladin went on to suggest that Jews or US secret services were behind the attacks, and to express gratitude and support for Pakistan, urging Pakistan's people to jihad against the West.

    The following is a part of full text of an interview conducted by a "special correspondent", published Pakistani newspaper Ummat on 28 September, place and date of interview not given.

    Ummat: Are there other safe areas other than Afghanistan, where you can continue jihad?

    Usamah: There are areas in all parts of the world where strong jihadi forces are present, from Indonesia to Algeria, from Kabul to Chechnya, from Bosnia to Sudan, and from Burma to Kashmir.

    Then it is not the problem of my person. I am helpless fellowman of God, constantly in the fear of my accountability before God. It is not the question of Usamah but of Islam and, in Islam too, of jihad. Thanks to God, those waging a jihad can walk today with their heads raised. Jihad was still present when there was no Usamah and it will remain as such even when Usamah is no longer there.Allah opens up ways and creates loves in the hearts of people for those who walk on the path of Allah with their lives, property, and children. Believe it, through jihad, a man gets everything he desires. And the biggest desire of a Muslim is the after life. Martyrdom is the shortest way of attaining an eternal life.

    Full text of Interview
    Govt offers sympathy

    The Myanmar Times-Volume 5, No.82 -September 24-30, 2001
    By Thet Khaing

    DEPUTY Foreign Minister U Khin Maung Win has expressed the Government's deepest sympathy for victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States in a book of condolences opened at the Inya Lake Hotel last week.

    U Khin Maung Win signed the book last Monday morning. "In this hour of great tragedy, Myanmar wishes to reaffirm its friendship with the great people of the United States," the Deputy Foreign Minister wrote in his message. "These acts were indeed in no way acceptable to all mankind," he said.

    The book of condolences was kept open until Wednesday evening. The Government has also sent a message of condolence to the US Government.
    Government raps ‘malicious’ rumours

    The Myanmar Times-Volume 5, No.82 -September 24-30, 2001
    By Thet Khaing

    THE Government has described as "malicious" a rumour circulating in Europe that Myanmer forces were going to Afghanistan to join followers of Saudi-dissident Osama bin Laden, a key suspect in the September 11 attacks in the United States.

    At least one tourism company in Europe has blamed the rumour for cancelled bookings.

    In a statement, the Government accused certain dissident groups of spreading the rumour. The statement expressed regret that the rumour was causing fear and concern among potential and current visitors to Myanmar as well as hurting the growing tourism sector. "The world community has not yet recovered from the effects of the tragic incidents in New York and Washington," it said. "Exploiting this tragically unprecedented incident for a vested interest is indeed tantamount to launching a terrorist attack on innocent world travellers and the people of Myanmar," the statement said.

    Among the tourist companies affected by the rumour is the Paris-based Terre Voyage group. In an email sent to tourist agencies and hotels in Yangon, Mr Christophe Sentuc of Terre Voyage said the rumour had resulted in daily cancellations of bookings to travel to Myanmar. However, the Swiftwinds tour agency in Yangon, which handles bookings made through Terre Voyage, said the cancellations were yet to be confirmed.

    Mr Brett Melzer of the Balloons over Bagan company played down the effect of the rumour. Mr Melzer told Myanmar Times last week that while there had been a few cancellations linked to the September 11 attacks in the United States, there was little indication that the rumour had any immediate impact on his company.

    But Mr Laurent Kuenzle of Asian Trails was less optimistic about the likely impact of the rumour. He said the emphasis which travellers placed on security meant that if the rumour spread throughout the world it could badly effect the Myanmar tourism industry.
    Hotels, travel agencies report cancellations

    The Myanmar Times-Volume 5, No.82 -September 24-30, 2001
    By Myo Theingi Cho

    HOTELS and travel agencies in Myanmar say they are beginning to receive cancellations linked to the terrorist attacks in the United States earlier this month. Most of the cancellations received so far are from the US and Japan, which account for about six per cent and 10 per cent respectively of all tourist arrivals.

    Japan-based tour agency, Sai Travel Service, has been one of the worst affected by cancellations. The tour coordinator at its Yangon office, Mr Katsuya Ota, said last week that 35 cancellations had been received for the next two months.

    However, Hotel Nikko Royal Lake, has reported only a small number of cancellations from Japan. Japanese tourists account for up to 35 per cent of its guests but only about five per cent had cancelled bookings for September and October, said front office manager, U Than Win Htay.

    The general manager at the Strand Hotel, Ms Sally Baughen, said it had received 48 cancellations in the aftermath of the attacks. Both the Summit Parkview and Traders hotels reported cancellations but declined to give numbers.

    However, Summit Parkview sales manager Ma Khaing Nwe Thein said most of the cancellations were from the US and that there had been no effect on bookings from Asia and Europe. The director of sales and marketing at the Sedona hotel, Ms Emileen Yeo, said the attacks did not have a significant effect on bookings. "Tourists from Asia are still coming to Myanmar," Ms Yeo said.

    Travel agencies contacted by Myanmar Times say they have so far received few cancellations. A director of Swiftwinds Travel & Tour, U Phone Thant, said there had been some cancellations from France. The operations director of Road to Mandalay river cruise company, Mr John Hinchliffe, said he was aware of a few cancellations. The general manager of Thai Airways International’s Yangon office, Mr Chatchai Panyoo, said the carrier had received no cancellations linked to the attacks. "It’s business as usual between Yangon and Bangkok," Mr Chatchai said. Myanmar Airways International declined to say whether it had received any cancellations.
    Book looks at women in society

    The Myanmar Times-Volume 5, No.82 -September 24-30, 2001
    By Nwe Nwe Aye

    WOMEN in Myanmar have a longer average life expectancy than men and also outnumber their male counterparts in university enrolments. These are two of the facts included in a forthcoming book which examines the role of women in every sector of society.

    The book is due to be released to the public later this year by the Myanmar National Commission for Women's Affairs. It organised a workshop in Yangon to discuss a draft copy of the book. The book's 12 chapters cover such subjects as population, education, health, economy, employment, decision-making, environment, media and culture.

    "Biologically, the birth rate of boys exceeds that of girls but we found that the number of girls in almost every society is higher than that of boys," said Daw Yi Yi Myint, a member of the MNCWA and also an adviser of the Myanmar Women Entrepreneurs' Association.

    The book shows that average life expectancy of women is longer than that of men. "Men play a leadership role in a family, so they have more tension which makes their life span shorter," said Daw Yi Yi Myint.

    Data collected in 1999 shows that the average life expectancy of women in urban areas is 65.1 years while that of men is 61 years. "Generally urban people live longer than rural people thanks to better access to the health care services," Daw Yi Yi Myint said.She said data included in the draft identified the areas of society in which the involvement of women was weak. "For example, judging by the literacy rate, we believe more attention should be paid to ensuring that the number of girls enrolling at primary school increases," Daw Yi Yi Myint said.

    The draft shows that more boys than girls enrol in schools. But in tertiary education, girls outnumber boys. Daw Yi Yi Myint said women were strongly involved in the private sector, which had more flexible working hours than other sectors. Comprehensive data on the role of women in the private sector was not yet available because financial constraints had prevented a survey from being conducted.

    "In the government sector, although there are no limitations for women to play a leadership role, women are yet to step up the decision-making level," she said.
    India`s ONGC Videsh May Buy Stake In Myanmar Gas Proj

    NEW DELHI (Dow Jones)--India's ONGC Videsh Ltd., the international arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (P.ONG) is in advanced negotiations with Daewoo International Corp. (Q.DWT) of South Korea to buying a 30% stake in Daewoo's offshore exploration block in Myanmar, reports the Financial Express.

    Offshore block A-1 in the Arakan offshore in northwestern Myanmar is estimated have 8 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves and is currently fully owned by Daewoo International, according to the report.