Daily News-September 03 - 2001- Monday

  • MiGs, Drugs and Thugs
  • Rebel group assure Thailand a safe visit for Myanmar intelligence chief
  • Angry students to rally against Khin Nyunt
  • Activist groups to protest visit by Myanmar's number-three
  • ILO mission to have full access in Burma
  • Port Authority and Asia World Sign Contract To Build No.3 Ahlon Wharf
  • Rangoon will pressure Wa if Thailand pays the bill
  • Chin National Front will Strictly collect Tax money along Indo-Burma border
  • SEA Games : Myanmar pull out of menís hockey competition

  • MiGs, Drugs and Thugs

    The Washington Post
    Sunday, September 2, 2001; Page B06

    THERE AREN'T many places in the world where the visit of a United Nations diplomat can cause a stir. But the Southeast Asian nation of Burma, also known as Myanmar, is so paralyzed by political repression and economic backwardness that any movement can cause excitement.

    Last week U.N. envoy Razali Ismail, a Malaysian, was in Burma trying to promote talks between the ruling military junta and the democratic leaders who have spent most of the past decade in prison or under house arrest. The release from house arrest of two of those leaders was enough to trigger speculation of an impending thaw and calls for renewed aid to the impoverished nation.

    Burma certainly needs reconciliation and a transition to democracy. But those who root for such an outcome should not allow wishful thinking to cloud their judgment. It is gratifying that the generals have released some 200 prisoners of conscience, but more than 1,500 remain locked up -- and there is nothing to prevent the generals from taking more hostages anytime they want. Nothing internally has changed for the better:

    The press is muzzled, forced labor remains a common practice, child soldiers are still pressed into service, drug profits continue to sustain the regime.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, head of the National League for Democracy, a woman frail in appearance but indomitable in spirit, remains under house arrest, virtually cut off from the world. There isn't much to cheer about yet.

    Humanitarian groups have pressed for a resumption of aid, as have some Japanese officials; plenty of corporations are eager to get back into this resource-rich nation. No one can doubt the needs of Burma's population of 48 million. But the priorities of their government make any aid a questionable proposition. This summer, the ruling generals concluded a deal with Russia to buy a dozen advanced MiG-29 fighter jets.

    This was not only "an indication that the Russians are willing to sell military hardware to anyone, anywhere," Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, but also a reminder that the welfare of their impoverished people is not a priority of the "thugs and thieves" who rule Burma.

    The generals seized power in 1988. Two years later they allowed parliamentary elections; but when Aung San Suu Kyi's party won an overwhelming victory, the junta locked her away and refused to honor the results. Ever since the once-promising and well-educated nation has been slipping downhill. Until the democrats are allowed to assume the positions they earned in election, no amount of aid is likely to stem the slide.
    Rebel group assure Thailand a safe visit for Myanmar intelligence chief

    MAE SOT, Thailand Sept 2 (AFP) - The rebel Karen National Union (KNU) said Sunday that ethnic militias along the Thai border would not sabotage Myanmar Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt's three-day visit to Thailand.

    "Minority groups will not create any disorder or sabotage that would make problems for the Thai government during the visit to Thailand by General Khin Nyunt," said KNU secretary general Pado Mansha."Sabotage is not the way to solve the problem," he added. "It must be by negotiation only."

    Myanmar's powerful intelligence chief will make a three-day official visit to Thailand beginning Monday. Thai police have vowed to lay on "maximum" security precautions.

    Authorities fear Myanmar dissidents living in Thailand will stage violent or disruptive protests during the September 3-5 trip.Police said that as well as a security shield placed around Khin Nyunt, venues on his schedule including the royal residence in the seaside resort of Hua Hin would be thoroughly protected.A police surveillance helicopter will trail the motorcade taking him to an audience with Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej on September 4.

    Khin Nyunt will hold talks with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as well as Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai during the trip, which is seen as a step towards reconciliation after a bitter six-month-long row.

    Surakiart said Thailand will raise the issue of cooperation in cracking down on drug trafficking and ask Myanmar to open its markets to more Thai goods.As relations between the two countries normalise after the spat, which was focused on the rampant border drugs trade, Thailand also wants to discuss Myanmar's ban on Thai boats fishing in its waters.Thailand will also ask Myanmar to take back thousands of displaced people camping along the border, who fled to escape fighting between Myanmar troops and ethnic militias.The KNU is the largest rebel group yet to sign a ceasefire with the Myanmar regime.
    Angry students to rally against Khin Nyunt

    source : The Bangkokpost
    Anjira Assavanonda

    Premier accused of betraying democracy

    The Students' Federation of Thailand and other democracy groups will stage a rally in front of Government House to protest against the official visit of Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt today.

    The first secretary of Burma's State Peace and Development Council will be here until Wednesday and plans to hold separate talks with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.

    The visit has drawn harsh criticism from pro-democracy groups, who released a statement yesterday opposing the trip.

    Metha Maskhao, president of the student group, said the military strongman should not be welcomed to a democratic country like Thailand, which endured a long fight against dictatorship.Mr Metha baulked at suggestions the visit was aimed at strengthening ties and solving drug problems, since Burma did not seem interested in either.

    There were many other unsettled problems, he said, such as human rights violations against Burmese refugees, illegal migrant workers, ethnic nationalities and the brutal suppression of members of the democratic movement in Burma.

    ``During the past year, the relationship between Burma and Thailand has been built on the benefits of certain groups of people rather than the well-being of the two countries. Such relationships should be condemned as being insincere in genuinely helping both countries,'' Mr Metha said.

    The government's actions could destroy Thailand's positive image among the international community, which is closely watching the political situation in Burma.

    Suriyasai Katasila of the Campaign for Popular Democracy said he was not sure if the government still respected the democratic system.He said all dialogue between the two nations should be based on the principle of human rights and conducted out in the open to make sure the interests of the Thai people are considered.

    Mr Suriyasai also called on the government to remain firm in its policy to declare war on drugs.``This is the time the government can prove its sincerity since the Burmese military regime has been internationally recognised for its major involvement with narcotic rings.''

    He said Thailand should take the lead in Asia and adjust its relationships with Burma from one of ``constructive engagement'' to ``flexible engagement''.

    Moe Zaw Aung, of Burma's Democratic Party for a New Society, said he was surprised the government was willing to talk with the Burmese military leader. The group urged the government to halt all business deals with Burma until the country attains democracy and a legitimate government. It said talks must touch on human rights and insisted the government review its policy of deporting Burmese refugees while political conflicts still go unsolved in Burma.

    Mr Metha said the rally would be staged at Government House, where Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt is expected to meet Mr Thaksin. Moe Zaw Aung said Burmese students decided not to join the protest for safety reasons, although they really wanted to.
    Activist groups to protest visit by Myanmar's number-three

    BANGKOK, Sept 2 (AFP) - An alliance of Thai and Myanmar activist groups Sunday said an official three-day visit this week by Myanmar's intelligence chief was "against the will of Thai people."

    The Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma and nearly a dozen democracy, labour and student organisations said they would protest Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt's visit Monday, calling on Thailand to "reconsider its relationship with the regime."

    "Khin Nyunt's arrival should not be welcomed in a democratic country like Thailand, which has passed through a long fight against dictatorship," the groups said in a joint statement.

    "It not only goes against the will of the Thai people, who democratically elected this government, but also wrongfully approves the existence of oppressive tyranny."

    Khin Nyunt is scheduled to meet with Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra during his September 3-5 visit, which is to improve relations after a bitter six-month-long row between the two neighbours.The historically tense relationship with Myanmar erupted into open hostility in February when the two national armies staged a half-day clash sparked by skirmishes between rival ethnic militias on the border.

    In a list of demands released Sunday, the protest groups demanded that the Thai government halt all business deals with the junta until the military-run nation restores "democracy and a legitimate government."

    The activists urged Thailand to focus talks on the problem of illegal migrant workers fleeing Myanmar, encouraging talks between the junta and the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and the freeing of political prisoners.

    The groups said they would convene at Bangkok's Government House at mid-day on Monday (0500 GMT), when Khin Nyunt is due to arrive for a meeting with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

    Thai police said last week they would lay on "maximum" security precautions for the visit, including use of a police surveillance helicopter to trail Khin Nyunt's motorcade to an audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej on September 4. In addition to talks with Thaksin, Khin Nyunt will hold talks with Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai during the trip.

    The rebel Karen National Union (KNU) sought to assure Thailand Sunday that ethnic militias along the border would not sabotage the visit amid fears that Myanmar dissidents living in Thailand would stage violent or disruptive protests.
    ILO mission to have full access in Burma

    September 2, 2001; Durban (South Africa)
    Mizzima News Group

    The authorities in Burma have assured the International Labor Organisation (ILO) that it will have the freedom of access to the places and people it want to meet during the visit of its high level delegation to the military run-country, according to ILO Director General Mr. Juan Somavia Without mentioning the exact date, the ILO Director General today once again confirmed that a high level delegation of ILO is visiting Burma soon as "a mission of objective assessment" on the forced labor situation in the country.

    "Through a series of the decisions taken by the Conference and in dialogue with the government of Burma/Myanmar, the government changed its legislation in relation to forced labour. But the governing body of ILO made the point that unless there was possibility of an objective assessment of the impact and the implications of the legislation, it was really difficult for the issue to be taken up in positive way. After some conversation with the government of Myanmar, it was decided that a mission of objective assessment would go there," said Mr. Somavia.

    Mr. Juan Somavia was responding to a question of a journalist in the press briefing this afternoon in Durban. He is leading the ILO delegation to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

    "I think that the high level quality of the mission will ensure that they will observe, they will know what to ask, they will know what to look, and we will have a good report back. And the authorities have given us the assurance that they will have freedom of access to whatever they want to talk to, and wherever they want to go.

    The military government in Burma is currently under pressure from the International Labour Organisation to end the use of forced labour in the country. The international labour rights groups and opposition Burmese groups have accused the military government of using the forced labor widely in Burma.

    Meanwhile, an informed source in Rangoon said that the government has been taking actions against some military officers who committed the forced labor but it is not willing to make any public announcement on that effect.

    The ILO mission is composed of Sir Ninian Stephen, former Governor-General of Australia; Nieves Roldan-Confessor, former Philippines Secretary of Labour and Employment; Mr. Kulatilaka Arthanayake Parinda Ranashinghe, former Chief Justice of Sri Lanka; and Mr. Jerzy Makarczyk of Poland, a judge with the European Court of Human Rights.
    Port Authority and Asia World Sign Contract To Build No.3 Ahlon Wharf

    Information Sheet No. B-1940(I), 2nd September 2001

    Myanma Port Authority of the Ministry of Transport and Asia World Port Management Co Ltd signed a contract to construct No.3 Ahlon Wharf at the Sedona Hotel on 1 September.

    Ministry of Transport is handing import and export cargo of departments and local and foreign companies with 13 bridges. The ministry is handling cargo with 21 bridges including No.1 and 2 Ahlon Wharves built by Asia World Port Management Co Ltd, and one bridge of MIPL for oil palm and five bridges of MITT for containers in Thilawa region. Altogether 8.859 million metric tones and 128,750 containers were handled in 1999-2000, and 10,548 million metric tones and 150,507 containers in 2000-2001.

    Asia World Port Management Co Ltd built No.2 Ahlon Wharf in 1996 and No.1 Ahlon Wharf in 1997, and both bridges were opened on 30 May 2001. The present contract signing ceremony for construction of No.3 Ahlon Wharf is the third one between Myanma Port Authority and the company of the national entrepreneur for construction of Ahlon Wharves.

    The ministry is planning to build No.3 Ahlon Wharf taking into account the prospects of development of waterways as a result of reduction of customs duty in the ASEAN region on the basis of the market economic system.The nations with adjacent coastlines in the Asian region are building ports, big and small, to handle import and export cargo more efficiently. A 30-year plan is drawn up to develop Myanma ports in view of "globalization transport".

    The construction of No.3 Ahlon Wharf is included in the master plan. No.3 Ahlon Wharf to be constructed is 852 feet long and 100 feet wide. On completion of the wharf, the total length of the wharves will be 2,014.5 feet. It will be come a modern port where general cargo and containers can be handled efficiently. Four big ships of five medium-size ships can be loaded and unloaded at the same time.

    It can be said that in the time of the State Peace and Development Council, it is the biggest modern port of a national entrepreneur-owned company.The Ministry of Transport will provide assistance for Asia World Port Management Co Ltd within the framework of rules and regulations.

    Managing Director of Myanma Port Authority and General Manager and Managing Director and Director of Asia World Port Management Co Ltd signed the contract.
    Rangoon will pressure Wa if Thailand pays the bill

    source : The Bangkokpost

    Beijing talks `frank', says Thammarak

    Rangoon will help encourage the United Wa State Army to quit the drug trade in exchange for Thailand's help in developing the Wa's administrative zone along the border, Gen Thammarak Issarangkul na Ayudhya, PM's office minister, said yesterday.

    Gen Thammarak, who is in charge of the government's drug suppression drive, said he had raised the proposal informally during last week's meeting in Beijing of top anti-drug officials from China, Burma, Laos and Thailand.

    Burma's Home Affairs Minister Col Tin Hlaing had agreed to help mediate with the UWSA, Gen Thammarak said on his arrival back from China. ``We are quite optimistic that this idea will get a positive response that will lead to further collaboration along the border area,'' he said.

    The former armed forces intelligence chief said it was only a handful of Wa people, not all of them, who were directly involved in the production of methamphetamine and heroin.

    ``My frank discussion of the drug problem with Col Tin Hlaing helped us toward an understanding that is crucial for our further co-operation,'' said Gen Thammarak.

    The Beijing meeting had been significant since it publicly showed the whole world that countries in the region were serious about rooting out drug trafficking. The four countries had agreed to step up cross-border co-operation on drug suppression, and made a commitment to share information and collaborate in tracking down and arresting drug traffickers. This would include assigning drug officials to border checkpoints.

    Thailand and China had already exchanged drug liaison officers, who were assigned to their respective embassies, he said. It was unnecessary for Thailand, Burma and Laos to have the same arrangement. It would be much more effective to post drug officials at border checkpoints.

    Gen Thammarak said the venue for the first four-nation summit on drugs had not been settled, but it was likely to be Thailand. ``Not only the drug issue will be raised during the summit, it will likely extend to a discussion of trans-national crime,'' he said.
    Chin National Front will Strictly collect Tax money along Indo-Burma border

    September 1,2001
    Mizzima News Group(www.mizzima.com)

    Chin National Front (CNF) has decided to collect tax money from traders strictly to carry out its revolution for the people and the nation.

    Since the traders and drivers of the vehicles had not given tax money to the CNF in the past months , the CNF has banned the travel and transport of goods from Tiddim and Falam of Chin state to Indo-Burma border between August 5 and September 5 for one month period.

    As per the local traders , the CNF has successfully bolcked the Indo-Burma border trade in the said period. There has been no movement of trading and vehicles from Tiddim and Falam to Rih, border village of Burma with India and Indo-Burma border trade has halted for a month.

    " There has been no violence in the period. We did this to encourage the traders to give us the tax money without any hesitance." They have their duties to support us while we are sacrificing our lives to achieve genuine Federal Union of Burma", said the spoke person of the CNF.

    During this period, on the 25th of August, Indian army has occupied and destroyed Victoria Camp, one of the CNF camps inside Indian territory. " The reason of the ban may be given by them but we believe that it is became of the pressure from the SPDC. Because this is not the first time. Indian army attacked our camp in 1999 and this is it's job to be done "whenever pressure comes from Burma side." added the spoke person of the CNF.
    SEA Games : Myanmar pull out of menís hockey competition

    source : The Star

    KUALA LUMPUR: Myanmar have pulled out of the SEA Games menís hockey competition. The Malaysian Hockey Federationís (MHF) secretary, S. Satgunam, said yesterday that Myanmarís withdrawal leaves four teams in the fray Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. The same teams will also feature in the womenís competition.

    We have no idea why the Myanmar menís team have decided against competing in the Games, said Satgunam.He added that they had made slight changes to the fixtures and there would be only two matches daily, which begin at 6pm and 8pm.

    Myanmar marksmen hungry for action and medals

    PETALING JAYA: The Myanmar shooters are not the favourites to emerge as the overall champions but their 18-member squad have one strong thing going for them. They are hungry to compete and even hungrier to win medals.

    Team manager Min Than said that his shooters rarely got the chance to compete in championships outside of their country.The last time the shooters took part in an international competition outside the country was at the 1997 Jakarta Games. We did not sent any shooters to the Brunei Games (two years ago) because the rifle events were not in the programme,said Min Than at the National Shooting Range in Subang yesterday where the Myanmar shooters had their first training session at the Games venue since their arrival on Friday.

    According to Min Than, their shooters for this Games were selected from a big group of about 150 shooters, who had been in training for the past four years.

    This team was supposed to participated in Brunei but it did not materialize. The good news is that we managed to keep them all together. It will be their first international competition in four years and all of them are raring to go. Hopefully, they can shoot down some medals,íí said Min Than.

    At the Jakarta Games in 1997, the Myanmar shooters bagged one silver and five bronze medals. For this Games, Min Than said that they had not set any targets for their shooters.

    It is very difficult to set targets and it will also not be fair to the shooters. We donít really know where they stand among the shooters from the other countries, said Min Than.We also donít want to put pressure on them by setting targets. All we ask of them is to give their best.Min Than pointed out that his shooters are mentally, physically and technically ready to face the challenges.We have given the best that we can possibly do to prepare the shooters and it is now on them to try to deliver the goods,íí he said.