Daily News-September 05 - 2001- Wednesday

  • Top security for Myanmar intelligence chief's audience with Thai King
  • Thai govt's Bt20m pledge to junta
  • Burma and Thailand seek closer ties
  • Junta Prepares for ILO Visit
  • Karen Action Group will hold conference on the treatment of refugees in Burma
  • Burmese drugs official receives visiting UN delegation
  • SEA Games:Myanmar Trash Malaysia In Women's Football
  • Myanmar intelligence chief wraps up Thailand visit
  • Good news expected soon in Myanmar talks-Thailand
  • Mae Sot-Rangoon road gets new push

  • Top security for Myanmar intelligence chief's audience with Thai King

    BANGKOK, Sept 4 (AFP) - Myanmar's intelligence chief Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt made a tightly guarded trip to the seaside resort of Hua Hin for an audience with Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej Tuesday, police said.

    Khin Nyunt's motorcade was trailed by a Thai military helicopter for the three-hour journey south which skirted sensitive areas along the Myanmar border including a camp for exiled student activists.

    Special Branch police said the journey to the king's seaside palace was a major focus of security operations during Khin Nyunt's three-day official visit which began Monday.

    After holding talks with Thai leaders on the first day of the trip, Khin Nyunt spent Tuesday visiting the ground operations centre for Thailand's satellite telecommunications network.

    "He wanted to see the fundamental structure of this technology," said Defence Minister General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh who invited the influential junta number-three to Thailand.Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai also hosted a luncheon in Khin Nyunt's honour Tuesday.

    Thailand has laid on "maximum" security precautions for Khin Nyunt, intent on preventing demonstrations from shadowing the visit which cements a return to friendly ties after a bitter six-month row over the border drugs trade.

    Dissident sources said that activists had assembled in Bangkok to mount a protest, but were dissuaded from taking action by Thai intelligence officers who had them under 24-hour surveillance. Khin Nyunt is due to depart for Myanmar on Wednesday morning after spending the night in Hua Hin.
    Thai govt's Bt20m pledge to junta

    source : The Nation
    Pranee Muenpangwaree - Panya Tewsangwarn

    Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said it was a firm indication of the two sides' commitment to stop the global traffic in drugs. Surakiart said the extra money would provide technical assistance such as drug tests during investigations.

    Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra informed Burma's visiting Lt-General Khin Nyunt of the extra funding at a dinner reception last night, Surakiart said.

    Yesterday was the Burmese general's second day of a three-day visit. The extra money will also help fund meetings between officials from both countries.During talks with Thaksin yesterday, the visiting general reiterated that Burma was sincere in its efforts to stop drug trafficking.

    Surakiart said Thailand would later this year host the first drug summit between China, Burma and Laos to map out a plan for a joint "war" against drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle. The prime ministers of the four countries will all attend the summit. Lt-General Khin Nyunt, also Burma's military intelligence chief, yesterday visited a satellite station operated by Thaksin's telecommunications company Shin Corporations Plc in Pathum Thani province.

    Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said Khin Nyunt was visiting the ThaiCom satellite station to observe first-hand Thailand's high-tech communications industry, as "a model for development in his own country".

    An informed source said Burma was looking for a satellite from which its newly opened MRTV 3 could transmit."China, Indonesia and Thailand have already offered to rent Burma satellite frequency," he said.

    The Burmese government says it will use English-language programmes to present a "true" picture of Burma - and dispel widespread beliefs that it is a major drug producer and is allied with the Wa ethnic group, allegedly a major producer of amphetamines.

    According to the source, Burma made use of the ThaiCom satellite six years ago, but only people in Rangoon could receive images from it, because of the mountainous terrain that dominates much of Burma's territory.

    The Burmese general was yesterday granted an audience with Their Majesties the King and Queen at the Klai Kangwon palace in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

    Agence France-Presse reported that Khin Nyunt made a tightly guarded trip to the palace. The report said his motorcade was trailed by a Thai military helicopter for the three-hour journey south, which skirted sensitive areas along Thai-Burma border, including the Maneeloy holding centre, home to many exiled student activists. Special branch police said the journey to the king's seaside palace was a major focus of security operations during Khin Nyunt's three-day official visit, which began on Monday.

    Khin Nyunt faced only a small protest on Monday. A group of about 10 protestors waved banners calling for the end of Burma's dictatorship.
    Burma and Thailand seek closer ties

    source : BBC
    By regional analyst Larry Jagan in Bangkok

    The trip to Thailand by one of Burma's most senior military leaders is aimed at soothing tensions over drug smuggling and a simmering border row. The two sides will also be talking business - Burma is anxious to get access to Thai capital to help sustain its crumbling economy.

    Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, Burma's head of military intelligence, was given a welcome usually reserved for heads of state. That is how important Bangkok sees this visit. But for Rangoon the trip is equally important. It is the first major bilateral visit to Thailand by the military intelligence chief for several years.

    Border trouble

    That is because the previous Thai Government led by Chuan Leekpai pursued a policy that it called "flexible engagement". This meant that they were often critical of the Burmese, and did not always support them in international forums like the United Nations or the Internation Labour Organisation. As a result the exchange visits of senior leaders were in effect suspended.

    When Thaksin Shinawatra was elected Prime Minster earlier this year he and his Defence Minister Chaovalit Yongchaiyut had expected to immediately improve relations with Rangoon. But cross border incursions by Burmese troops and the rebel Wa - who are regarded as responsible for most of the drug production in Burma's Golden triangle - put paid to that.

    For several weeks there were heavy exchanges of fire across the border. Several Thais and Burmese refugees were killed. According to Burmese military sources, several hundred Burmese soldiers also died in the fighting.Both sides blamed each other, saying the other was supporting ethnic groups involved in drug production. The Thais said the Burmese were supporting the Wa, while Rangoon blamed Bangkok for supporting the Shan.

    Diplomatic moves

    Mr Thaksin's government has spent much of the last six months trying to convince Rangoon that it really did want to enter a new relationship. A Rangoon-based Asian diplomat told the BBC that Mr Thaksin's visit to Burma in June was the turning point.

    "Now with Khin Nyunt visiting Bangkok, they'll be able to get down to business on fighting drug-trafficking and improving bilateral relations generally," he said. Combating the drugs trade has already dominated the bilateral discussions."We need cooperation from all sides to effectively suppress drug trafficking," the deputy head of Thailand's anti-drug force, Chatchai Suthiklom told journalists.

    Prime Minister Thaksin has also reportedly told Khin Nyunt that Thailand was prepared to help Burma's efforts to suppress the trade with technical assistance and know-how. There were also offers to support Burmese crop substitution programmes financially in the Wa area, and import the produce at preferential rates.However US drug experts remain sceptical that the Burmese and Wa will deliver on this promise.

    Khin Nyunt for his part told the Thais that the Wa - who have a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese army - have agreed to make the region a drug-free zone by 2005. It is this news, Thai Foreign Minister Surakiat Sathirathai told journalists, that has prompted the government's offer of financial support.

    Road project

    But both sides have also been discussing other business projects. Mr Thaksin's government is committed to expanding the country's economy, and part of that involves strengthening bilateral ties. Burma is a high priority for these sorts of schemes.

    Already there are plans to transfer sugar cane plantations along the border in western Thailand across the border into Burma to utilise the cheaper labour force that is available there. The Thai Prime Minister signed a contract on his June visit to Rangoon which provides funds for a major access road from Thai border town of Kanchanaburi to the Burmese port town of Tavoy.

    The Tavoy project, as it is called, is now to be replicated further south. The Burmese for their part have promised Thailand priority in the offer of fishing concessions in the Andaman sea. Predictably there is opposition in Thailand to this proposed close economic relationship with Burma.

    Opposition MP Kraisak Choonhavan - who is also chairman of the Thai Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee - told the BBC that the previous Thai policy of flexible engagement had failed. "Something new should be tried," he said. "But Thaksin government's 'forward engagement' only means business engagement which benefited Thaksin's cronies."
    Junta Prepares for ILO Visit

    By Maung Maung Oo
    source : The Irrawaddy

    September 4, 2001-Burma’s military government has ordered administrative bodies throughout the country to take steps to ensure that an upcoming inspection visit by International Labor Organization (ILO) representatives yields positive results, according to sources inside Burma. The four-member team led by Sir Ninian Stephen, a former chief justice of the High Court of Australia, is expected to arrive in mid-September to investigate the alleged continued use of forced labor in the country.

    Burma’s Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered all township- and division-level administrative offices to speed up an "awareness campaign" in rural areas to prepare area residents for the visit of the ILO inspection team. The visit marks the fourth time the ILO has come to Burma to investigate the use of forced labor.

    The campaign aims to educate local people about Bill 1/99, an order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on May 14, 1999 that bans the use of forced labor. Villagers will also be informed about a supplementary bill issued in October 2000 that allows the government to call on citizens to work for the country under certain circumstances, such as during national security emergencies or natural disasters. The campaign also seeks to instruct individuals on how they should respond to questions from the ILO team, according to the source.

    The government has also been circulating petitions in villages where the ILO team is scheduled to visit. Each village has been instructed to have at least eighty signatures on the petition, which states that the villagers have never been forced to work against their will or without pay.

    "I don’t really understand the meaning of forced labor, but whenever our village headman asks us to work on army projects, we have to go and work. I signed the sheet because they (village officials) told me I had to sign it," said a villager in Bokpyin Township, Tenasserim Division.

    Although the regime has been more circumspect about forcing civilians to work on infrastructure projects or as military porters since the ILO first warned it to end the practice in June 2000, reliable reports of forced labor in remote areas continue to come out of the country.

    In the Tenasserim Division townships of Ye and Bokpyin, for instance, forced labor continues to be used in military construction projects and land reclamation schemes, according to local residents.

    "Every three months the military troops change their position and the government ‘catches people’ in Kawthaung and forces them to porter supplies to the new positions," said a resident of Kawthaung, a port city in southern Burma.

    In preparation for the ILO visit, military forces in the Tenasserim Division have been ordered not to use forced labor until after the team has completed its inspection tour, according to local sources.

    Meanwhile, in Rangoon the government has ordered textile companies to fully cooperate with the ILO team in hopes of convincing the United States to discard a Senate Bill that calls for new sanctions against Burma. Garment exports to the US, last year valued at US$454 million, or 28.5% of all Burmese exports, would be hardest hit by Senate Bill 926, which seeks to ban all US imports from Burma. The regime also circulated petitions to be signed by garment workers, asking the US government to rethink its proposed ban. An estimated 300,000 workers have signed the petitions.
    Karen Action Group will hold conference on the treatment of refugees in Burma

    source :This is Exeter

    Speakers from across the globe will fly into Devon this weekend to attend an international conference on the treatment of refugees in Burma.

    The Karen Action Group (KAG) will hold its second summit in support of the displaced Karen people of Burma at Uffculme School. The conference will feature guest speakers including Timothy Laklem, an expert on Asian affairs who is flying over from Thailand, and Lt Col Sam Pope who campaigns on behalf of the Karen who helped the British during the war.

    The Karen population is a predominately Christian group which is indigenous to Burma but is persecuted by the ruling junta. There are currently around 136,000 of them living in camps on the Burma/Thailand border, with another 800,000 trapped inside the Burma jungle fighting the Government.

    The KAG was founded in Uffculme in 1997 to lobby the Government, raise funds and set up other groups across the country to increase awareness of the Karen's plight.

    David Lewis, spokesman for the KAG, said Britain owed the Karen a debt of honour. He said: "They were our allies during the Burma campaign in the Second World War and at the end of the war they were promised independence for their homeland a principality about the size of Wales.

    "The Atlee Government reneged on its promise and for the Karen the war has never ended because they were hated by the Burmese for siding with the British." Last year David visited the refugees living on the border to deliver outside aid.

    The group also campaigned strongly for the release of British human rights protester James Mawdsley who was jailed by the Burmese Government two years ago.

    Other dignitaries due to attend the conference include Graham Watson, South West MEP, and pastor Chris Searle, of the Brixham United Reformed Church, who will chair the meeting.

    In the past three years the KAG has raised more than £50,000 for the Karen people mainly through Asian Tribal Ministries to which it is affiliated, providing schools, hospitals, water systems, teaching materials, food and shelter for the people.

    The aim of the conference is to put more pressure on MPs to act on behalf of the Karen. The conference is due to take place on Saturday from 10am-4.30pm and admission is free.
    Burmese drugs official receives visiting UN delegation

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 4, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese radio on 3 September

    Police Maj-Gen Soe Win, secretary of Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control [CCDAC] and director-general of Myanmar [Burmese] Police Force and officials met a United Nations International Narcotics Control Board [INCB] delegation from Vienna, Austria, led by Board Manager Mr Chinmay Chakrabarty in the hall of Myanmar Police Force in Yangon [Rangoon] on 3 September.

    The delegation came to Burma to hold discussions on drug elimination tasks in Myanmar and on congressional resolutions on drug abuse control. Maj Gen Soe Win said Myanmar [Burma] had laid down a 15 -year plan to eliminate drugs in 1999-2000 and INCB officials can also meet directly with concerned officials of CCDA on drug elimination tasks.
    SEA Games:Myanmar Trash Malaysia In Women's Football

    KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 (Bernama) -- Myanmar registered an easy 5-1 win over Malaysia in their opening SEA Games women's football match at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium Tuesday night.

    Myanmar, who had beaten Malaysia 4-0 in a friendly match in Yangon recently, were clearly the better side and dominated the game right from the start. They had to wait for only 12 minutes before scoring. Mar Lar Win lobbed the ball into the net from just outside the penalty box, helped partly by Malaysian keeper Nur Atiqa Lilia's half-hearted attempt to save the ball.

    The Myanmar players thereafter took advantage of Nur Atiqa's weakness and try to lob the ball into the goal. They succeeded in doing that in the 32nd minute through Mar again. Although Nur Atiqa managed to catch the ball it then slipped and went into the goal. Two minutes later, Myanmar increased their lead with another lob by substitute Nu Nu Khaine Win.

    Malaysian coach Jacob Joseph said that despite the defeat he was satisfied with the performance of his players."They were not lucky. The goalie failed to give a good performance by letting in goals easily and this affected the morale of the players," he said int his post-match comments. Jacob said Nur Atiqa had just recovered from an injuruy. "This is her first performance in three months," he said, adding that she would probably be fielded again in Malaysia's next match against Thailand on Thursday.

    Malaysia: 1-Nur Atiqa Lilia Abdullah, 17-Bobby Kalam, 10-Rozana Roslan, 7-Samilin Salah@Sadah (21-Norlelawati Ngah), 11-Rita Gani (2-Nor Aishah Ishak, 5-Haineh Liem, 8-Elizabeth Oyau, 6-Ritip Taim , 14-Widiya Habibah Shamsuri, 9-Mariam Alias, 16-Mariah Usan (3-Lanti Manggi).

    Myanmmar: 1-Myint Myint Than, 11-Mar Lar Win (18- Nu Nu Khaine Win), 19-My Nilar Htwe (10-Zin Mar Wann), 7-Hla Hla Than, 8-Thu Zar Htwe, 6-Thet Thet Win (15-Yin Moe Aye), 9-Aye Nandar Hlaing, 4-Moe Moe War, 5-San San Maw, 2-Nwe Nwe Toe, 3-San San Thien.

    SEA Games:Myanmar's Chances Hard To Tell

    By Jamaluddin Muhammad

    PETALING JAYA, Sept 4 (Bernama) -- It is hard to tell Myanmar's chances in the coming SEA Games shooting competition after the team's absence from international scene for almost four years.

    "We hardly know our opponents," said Myanmar shooting team manager Lt-Col Bo Lwin when met at the Subang Shooting Range here Tuesday. Their last international appearance was in the 19th SEA Games in Jakarta. In Indonesia, Myanmar collected one silver in air pistol and five bronze for standard pistol, free pistol and air rifle.

    "We have been training for the past one year and I think our shooters will give a good fight," Lwin told Bernama. Myanmar with 18 shooters will take part in nine pistol and rifle events excluding the shotgun.

    Meanwhile, this time Indonesia is counting a gold medal from the women's air pistol after grabbing the only gold medal in the event at the recent Southeast Asia Shooting Association (SEASA) meet in Bangkok.Indonesian team manager Benny J. Mamoto said there is also the possibility of Indonesia defending their two gold and one silver haul from trap and double-trap events in the Brunei SEA Games. "I think we can expect a close fight in trap and double-trap from Thailand and Vietnam," he said.

    Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysian shooters have started their practise at the Subang Shooting Range while the others have not turn up so far. -- BERNAMA
    Myanmar intelligence chief wraps up Thailand visit

    BANGKOK, Sept 5 (AFP) - Myanmar's powerful chief of military intelligence, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, left Thailand Wednesday after a three-day trip aimed at smoothing over a row centred on border issues and the drugs trade.

    Thai authorities clamped a heavy security presence around the junta number-three during the visit, fearful that exiled dissidents would embarrass the government by staging disruptive protests.A major focus of the operation was the journey to King Bhumibol Adulyadej's seaside palace in Hua Hin, three hours drive south of Bangkok, where Khin Nyunt was granted a royal audience Tuesday.

    According to the official itinerary which was confirmed by police, the intelligence chief was to travel in motorcade trailed overhead by a military helicopter as it skirted sensitive areas including a camp for exiled students.But a Special Branch source said Wednesday that in fact Khin Nyunt had flown to Hua Hin in a C-130 military transport plane, and that the motorcade had driven south without him, before picking him up at the local airport and taking him to the place.

    The press were barred from accompanying Khin Nyunt for much of his three-day program, where he met with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.Surakiart promised Wednesday to brief the press later in the day on progress made during the trip.

    But Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh -- who has close ties with Myanmar's junta -- was quoted as saying the old foes were "best friends" again after resolving the argument which raged for the first half of this year."I would like to repeat what I said 10 years ago (during a visit by former Myanmar leader General Saw Maung) that our best friend is our neighbour. I have proven this," he told the Bangkok Post newspaper."We could reach agreement on 10 issues in only about an hour, since we are friends," he said.

    Khin Nyunt returned the sentiment, saying he viewed Chavalit as his "big brother"."Coming to Thailand this time, I feel so good because of the warm welcome from General Chavalit," he said of the former Thai army chief.

    The comments were a far cry from the slurs and insults the countries exchanged earlier this year, as they accused each other of involvement in the rampant drugs trade along their common border.The row was set off in March when the two national armies staged a half-day clash after becoming embroiled in fighting between rival ethnic militias accused of involvement in drug trafficking.Thaksin's inaugural visit to Myanmar in June largely defused the argument and Chavalit has since declared that relations are "back to normal".
    Good news expected soon in Myanmar talks-Thailand

    BANGKOK, Sept. 5 — Myanmar military intelligence chief Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt expects ''good news'' soon from talks between the government and the opposition, Thai Defence Minster Chavalit Yongchaiyudh quoted him as saying on Wednesday.

    Chavalit told reporters that Khin Nyunt had briefed him on reconciliation talks between Yangon's ruling military and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

    ''He told me that everything is very good (and) maybe we will have good news soon,'' Chavalit said at Bangkok's military airport after seeing the general off at the end of a three-day official visit intended to help improve relations between the two nations.

    ''He told me of the progress in national reconciliation. He told me he talked with Aung San Suu Kyi every two weeks... and they understand each other very well.''

    Khin Nyunt, the third most senior member of Myanmar's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), arrived on Monday and held meetings with Thai leaders including Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He also had an audience with Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, an honour usually given to heads of state and very important national figures. Khin Nyunt was the most senior member of Myanmar's military government to visit Thailand since SPDC Chairman Senior-General Than Shwe in March 1999.

    In a rare news conference before boarding his plane on Wednesday, the general said his trip had been very successful. ''Our discussion totally is in an atmosphere of sincerity, understanding and promises to help each other,'' he said. ''Both sides are completely satisfied with this visit and we were able to reach amicable solutions on the topics we discussed. I believe we were able to promote friendship and understanding while finding new areas for cooperation,'' he said.


    Chavalit, who often talks about his strong ties with senior military figures in Myanmar, said Khin Nyunt had assured him Yangon was ''determined'' to set up a political system that gave people freedom and liberty.

    ''This is to confirm that Myanmar leaders now are determined to do what we all would like to see, (set up) a political system that works for the people and the country with a peaceful reconciliation approach,'' he said.

    The secretive dialogue between the military government and the opposition began last year with United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail as mediator. Razali visited Myanmar late last month and a U.N. spokesman said that the envoy was satisfied that all parties were committed to the process of national reconciliation.

    Suu Kyi's NLD won Myanmar's 1990 elections by a landslide but has never been allowed to govern. Instead, its members have been detailed and harassed. Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has been under de facto house arrest since September last year following a renewed military crackdown. Tensions between the two sides have eased in recent months and the military has released more than 150 political prisoners, including two top NLD leaders. But human rights groups say at least 1,500 political prisoners remain in detention in Myanmar.


    The visit to Thailand was part of a series of high level exchanges aimed at soothing tensions. Both countries have accused each other of involvement in the illicit drugs trade.

    A series of skirmishes earlier in the year along the 2,400 km (1,490-mile) Thai-Myanmar border took ties to a new low. But relations have improved since Thaksin visited in June.Thaksin told Khin Nyunt during his visit that Thailand would help Yangon with job creation schemes and offer trade incentives for substituted crops to help Yangon stem the tide of illegal drugs and migrant workers flooding across the border.
    Mae Sot-Rangoon road gets new push

    source : Bangkokpost
    Supamart Kasem

    Inspection of 4-lane route next month

    Deputy Prime Minister Pongpol Adireksarn will lead a Thai delegation to inspect the route for a planned four-lane road linking Mae Sot district with Rangoon next month.

    Tak Chamber of Commerce chairman Panithi Tangphati said Mr Pongpol would look into how Thailand could co-operate with Burma on building the Mae Sot-Moulmein-Pa-an-Rangoon route. He believed there would be progress after the visit to Thailand by State Peace and Development Council first secretary Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt.

    A joint survey by Thai and Burmese highways agencies in 1998 concluded construction of the most difficult section, 65km from Myawaddy to Rangoon, was possible if more bridges were built.

    Rangoon was also interested in linking Myawaddy to Kawkareik and Pa-an, and Kawkareik and Pa-an to Moulmein, which would cost around 700 million baht.

    Mr Panithi said Mr Pongpol would also join Nan's Chamber of Commerce in inspecting a 284-km route linking Ban Huay Kone of Nan to Pak Beng and Boten in Sayaboury, Laos.Tak finance office chief Pranee Siripairoj said private operators had proposed upgrading the road surface of the 420km route linking Myawaddy to Rangoon to improve cargo movement.

    ``The road is rough and narrow and passes through mountains. Buses and trucks must travel for 15 hours. High transport costs make commodity prices higher than they should be,'' she said.

    Officials, chamber of commerce members and local enterpreneurs met in Mae Sot yesterday to look at how to boost cross-border trade with Burma.The government, they decided, would be asked to increase quotas allowing Thailand to import soy bean and corn from Burma in line with market demand.

    Some 1.5 million tonnes of soy bean and 2.5 million tonnes of corn are imported a year.With imports of frozen fish and shrimps likely to increase, Burma would be asked to improve packaging and food preservation methods.Thailand imports more than 130 million baht worth of frozen fish and shrimps a month.