Daily News-September 07 - 2001- Friday

  • Myanmar junta has proposed power sharing with Suu Kyi
  • Burma opposition denies 'power share'
  • NLD Division reinforced with new releases from prison
  • Karen refugee pleads for more pressure on Rangoon
  • Thailand asked to mediate talks
  • Exiled opposition fears firms will exploit 'peace dividend'
  • SEA Games :Myanmar Target Three Gold from Women Weightlifters

  • Myanmar junta has proposed power sharing with Suu Kyi

    BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Myanmar's military junta has proposed a power sharing arrangement with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and is awaiting her response, a Thai source said Thursday quoting a top Myanmar general.

    This apparent breakthrough in national reconciliation talks was disclosed by the junta's No. 3 leader, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, during his talks this week with Thai Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh in Bangkok.

    The source, an army officer present during the talks, said Khin Nyunt told Chavalit: ``There has been talk on sharing (power) and we hope to hear good news soon if the other side accepts the proposal.'' Khin Nyunt did not elaborate, the source said.

    But U Lwin, the secretary of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, said in Myanmar that he and other party leaders have no information about the proposal.

    ``I cannot confirm this. We have been meeting Suu Kyi three times a week and ... she has never mentioned the proposal. We have never heard about this so called proposal,'' he said.``We are still optimistic and we are hoping for the releases of political prisoners,'' U Lwin said.

    The Thai source quoted Khin Nyunt as saying that the junta has ``established a channel of contact and contacts have been made every couple of weeks.''

    The contacts were not necessarily direct talks between Khin Nyunt and Suu Kyi but messages sent back and forth through intermediaries, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Khin Nyunt's reported comments are the first solid information to emerge from the closed-door talks going on between the junta and Suu Kyi since October. The talks were kickstarted by a special U.N. envoy Razali Ismail, who last month ended his fifth visit to Myanmar.

    Khin Nyunt was in Thailand from Monday to Wednesday and held talks with Chavalit, a former army chief known to be close to Myanmar generals.On Thursday, the Bangkok Post newspaper quoted Chavalit as saying that he had a positive feeling about Myanmar, also known as Burma.``We expect to see every party in Burma join together to set up a government to work for the people and the country,'' Chavalit was quoted as saying.The Nation newspaper quoted Chavalit as saying: ``He (Khin Nyunt) told me that everything is good and maybe we will have good news soon. I believe that the talks will succeed as the Burmese leaders are sincere and serious in bringing peace to the country.''

    The current group of generals came to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy movement that left hundreds dead. The regime called general elections in 1990 but refused to honor the results after Suu Kyi's party,the NLD, won convincingly.Instead, NLD members were jailed and harassed or put under house arrest. Recently, in a goodwill gesture, the government released in batches nearly 160 political prisoners from jails and 32 NLD elected representatives. Suu Kyi, the 1990 Nobel peace laureate, however, remains under virtual house arrest.
    Burma opposition denies 'power share'

    source : BBC
    By regional analyst Larry Jagan in Bangkok

    Burma's military rulers have proposed a power sharing arrangement with the country's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Thai army officer has said, quoting a top Burma general.But a spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy told the BBC he knew of no such proposal.

    Thailand's Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyut made the claim following a visit to Thailand by Burma's military intelligence chief, Lt General Khin Nyunt."The talks are going well," he told journalists. "There may be good news soon."

    But the NLD spokesman, U Lwin, told the BBC "there was in fact no dialogue process going on at present."He added: "We are waiting for the military to make an offer."U Lwin said the party was waiting for more releases of political prisoners and were very hopeful that this might happen in the near future.

    Thai interests

    The talks between Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma's military leaders are on the verge of a break-through, according to senior Thai military sources.But it is in Thailand's interests to believe Khin Nyunt. The Thai Government has gone overboard in supporting the Burmese military government - with substantial aid packages for crop substitution programmes and promises of major economic co-operation in the future.The government is keen to deflect opposition criticism of its policy of doing business with the junta as well as international criticism that is bound to follow.

    General Chavalit told reporters that General Khin Nyunt told him that he saw Aung San Suu Kyi every two weeks. "That's not the case" NLD spokesman U Lwin told the BBC. "He hasn't seen her for several months."

    Thai military sources told the BBC that Khin Nyunt actually said they were seeing Aung San Suu Kyi through a channel of contacts rather than direct face-to-face meetings. U Lwin said that this was the case, and a military intelligence liaison officer was calling on Aung San Suu Kyi at least once a week.

    Slow change

    This is not the first time that General Chavalit has told journalists that there was about to be a political break-through in Burma. He told journalists something similar in July. He is known to be very close to Khin Nyunt.

    Diplomats in Rangoon say the talks between the two sides are obviously at a crucial stage. Aung San Suu Kyi appears very confident, they say.But the fact remains that no one is revealing what, if any, the substance of the talks are.

    Aung San Suu Kyi has told diplomats and senior party members that she had promised the Generals not to discuss the details of the talks with anyone, and she was keeping to that even if the military were not keeping their part of the bargain.

    The signs in Rangoon seem to indicate that the talks may be on a verge of a break-through of sorts, but according to senior NLD sources this means movement from talks about talks to something substantive.

    "We must remain patient" U Lwin told the BBC.This seems to also reflect the UN special envoy, Razali Ismail's view."Change in Burma is imperceptible and will not be in the form of major milestones," he told the BBC.For the moment everyone is advising patience.

    "Although we don't know what, things are happening," said a diplomat who wanted to remain anonymous. But the talks have been going on for nearly a year and there is growing impatience among pro-democracy supporters inside and outside Burma.They want a clear indication that the talks are moving beyond the confidence-building stage and are becoming a substantive dialogue involving some kind of power-sharing proposals.
    NLD Division reinforced with new releases from prison

    By Tin Maung Htoo
    Burma Media Association (BMA)
    September 6, 2001

    According to a recent report from Burma, opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) rebuilds its mainstream Rangoon Division with those who had been released from prisons, a significant step forward but faced up with some differed views and voices on the notion of its composition.

    Sources familiar to inside party movement said Rangoon Division Organizing Committee consists of 35 members and six different working groups was reformed in recent weeks, reinforced with recently released eight MPs. Among those recently released, Daw San San, Dr. Than Win and U Hla Thein are included in the committee, along with two still detainees, Dr. Than Nyein and U Soe Han.

    However, some rumors brought up along with this formation indicates that there are some discontents particularly on the minimum input of female role and a virtual lack of the youth component in the committee. Sources said only 14% or five female members out of 35 were inserted in the committee and there is, however, no where to see the youth role in the committee.

    Another factor aggravated among its members is the reinstatement of the committee chairman position to Thakin Soe Myint who is said to be now 80 years old, and it prompted some criticisms on his capacity to lead the committee considering his age and health condition.

    NLD Rangoon Division, according to a former Division organizer who stays now in exile, is an important political stronghold of the NLD party, and one of the main mechanisms for the party due to its important location, role and accomplishment in the past.
    Karen refugee pleads for more pressure on Rangoon

    Vasana Chinvarakorn, Bangkok Post

    More than 50,000 refugees and migrants from Burma have signed a petition urging the UN's World Conference Against Racism to address the consequences of racial discrimination and human rights violations committed by the Rangoon junta.

    Naw Chai Mei Hua, a Karen refugee, yesterday addressed more than 1,000 state representatives and non-government organisations attending the World Conference Against Racism, in Durban, South Africa.

    ``I'm here for the people of Burma. I'm here to talk about the multiple discrimination I've faced because I'm a woman, of an ethnic origin and a refugee,'' she said. ``Discrimination is exacerbated in ethnic lands due to the war raging against the ethnic nationalities by the Burmese ruling authority.

    ``The soldiers commit sexual violence against ethnic women with impunity, the most obvious form of discrimination.``The ethnic persecution, a form of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance has led us to flee Burma. Some have become refugees and some undocumented migrant workers in the neighbouring countries,'' she said. ``Again we face more discrimination because we are non-nationals.''

    Between June and July this year, the Women's League of Burma (WLB) where Ms Naw Chai Mei Hua works launched the signature campaign among people exiled from Burma and in the refugee camps to add ``Burma, Country-specific situation and recommendations'' to the declaration of the NGO forum which preceded the racism conference.In all, 51,487 signatures were collected and submitted to the NGO forum.

    Ms Naw Chai Mei Hua also asked the United Nations to encourage the military regime to negotiate a nationwide cease-fire and to enter a genuine dialogue with all political figures in Burma.``Particularly, we request the Asean, China, India and Japan to review their policy toward Burma and to take a leading role for the development of national reconciliation process and meaningful political change in Burma,'' added another WLB member.

    ``If the policies of the governments toward Burma continue as it is now, the military dictatorship in Burma will go on forever.''
    Thailand asked to mediate talks

    source : Bangkokpost
    Wassana Nanuam Subin Khuenkaew Supamart Kasem

    SSA first target for peace negotiations

    Burma yesterday officially asked Thailand to mediate with three rebel armed groups fighting Rangoon to end the armed insurrection and join the government's national reconciliation plan.

    Third Army commander Lt-Gen Watanachai Chaimuenwong said Rangoon made the approach during yesterday's 18th Regional Border Committee meeting near Pattaya.

    Maj-Gen Thein Sein, Triangle Region commander, asked Thailand to negotiate with the groups to end a five-decade-long fight. They would join another 17 armed groups, including the now-defunct Mong Tai Army once led by drug kingpin Khun Sa, which during the past decade had joined a government-proposed national reconciliation programme.

    The groups are the Karen National Union, the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Shan State Army, with a combined force of around 10,000-12,000 armed men.

    Lt-Gen Watanachai, who will become an army assistant commander next month, said he would try his best to end the fighting since neither Rangoon nor rebel groups wanted it to drag on. ``We will try to arrange a meeting and establish communication lines so that they can talk to each other. This could eventually bring peace to the area,'' he said.

    He said Rangoon had agreed not to set any conditions for the talks.``I've told Maj-Gen Thein Sein that both sides should start meeting unconditionally. Solutions could be found once both sides meet and exchange ideas,'' he said. He said that depending on the outcome, drug trafficking on the border could diminish while thousands of refugees sheltering in Thailand could be repatriated.

    A security source said Rangoon wanted Thailand to start mediating with the SSA, led by Col Yod Suk, which is seen as the most active rebel group with 6,000 armed members. The KNU can call on around 4,000 soldiers and is headed by Pado U Ba Thin Sein while the KNPP, led by Aung Than Lay, has 3,000 armed men.

    Sai Aung Mart, SSA member and vice-president of the Shan State Restoration Council, said talks could help bring permanent peace to the region. He suggested that the groups join the talks as an alliance since they were allies in the common fight against Rangoon.

    ``The KNU, KNPP and SSA are political allies and are ready to hold talks with Burma,'' said Sai Aung Mart, adding that the United Nations should send representatives to the talks, which ideally would be held in Thailand.

    Pado U Ba Thin Sein also backed the move saying the KNU's independence fight had caused bloodshed and suffering to Burmese people. The country had lost opportunities for economic development, making Burma one of the world's least developed countries.

    ``We are ready to hold talks with the State Peace and Development Council that could help bring national unity,'' he said, noting that diplomatic channels were the only route leading to national reconciliation.

    At the meeting, the Thai and Burmese sides agreed in principle to conduct joint patrols along the common border. Either side could suggest joint inspections on some specific border area thought to be the base for drug factories or Burmese rebel groups.Rangoon said it was ready to help Thailand destroy suspected drug factories located inside Burma. Thailand agreed to release two Burmese soldiers seized in a recent border conflict.
    Exiled opposition fears firms will exploit 'peace dividend'

    source : SCMP

    The Thai Government is determined to reap a "peace dividend" from establishing good, perhaps even close, relations with Myanmar's military junta, critics of the ruling generals said yesterday.

    No one doubts that Thai authorities are serious in wanting their neighbours to rein in drug traffickers in the bordering Shan state. At the same time,influential businessmen are applauding the latest rapprochement efforts, the critics said.

    "The subtext is business. When you try to analyse what is going on, you always have to remember that, ultimately, this comes down to who gets what deal," one observer said.

    The regime's powerful intelligence chief, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, yesterday ended what may turn out to be a watershed visit to Thailand.One of the first people to greet him was Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who led the first foreign trade delegation to Yangon after the 1988 massacre of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators that rendered the military regime an international pariah.

    Mr Chavalit was able to squeeze a series of lucrative logging and fishing concessions from the cash-strapped generals. But relations later soured, especially when Myanmar-based traffickers started to flood Thailand with millions of amphetamine tablets in the mid-1990s.

    Now, exiled opposition members suspect the relatively undeveloped Myanmar is ripe for exploitation by entrepreneurs as soon as the political negotiations under way between the military and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi yield fruit.

    "We worry very much that the Thais will rush in there without checking to see what harm they might do. We would certainly advocate that every businessman looking at Burma [Myanmar] count to 100 before jumping in," one opposition member said.

    "There will be a time to invest, but it must be the right time." Thai road contractors, mining companies, hotel operators and factory owners have already indicated they expect to get lucrative contracts in Myanmar.
    SEA Games :Myanmar Target Three Gold from Women Weightlifters

    JOHOR BAHARU, Sept 6 (Bernama) -- Myanmar are banking on their women wightlifters to collect at least three gold medals in the SEA Games. Lt Col Thein Aung, deputy chef-de-mission of the Myanmar contigent, said the country's women weightlifters would compete in four categories -- 48kg,53kg 62kg dan 69kg.

    "We are more confident of the women weightlifters and target medals in all categories," he told reporters after part of the contigent reported at Puteri Pan Pacific Hotel here. The SEA Games weightlifting events will be held at Dewan Serbaguna Taman Johor Jaya here.

    Thein Aung said Myanmar were not expecting much from their men weightlifters as they were mostly new faces and did not have much experience. But their women's team are experienced and have been training for a year. They comprise Swe Swe Win (in the 43kg category) Kyi Kyi Than and Kay Thi Win (48kg), Khin Moe Nwe (62kg) and Mya Sanda Oo (69kg).

    Thein Aung said the main challenge for Myanmar was expected to come from Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. The Myanmar women weightlifters collected three gold and one silver medals at the 1997 SEA Games in Jakarta. Weightlifting for women was not included in the 1999 Brunei Games.