Daily News-September 09 - 2001- Sunday

  • Malaysian defence minister in Burma says democracy not the ultimate goal
  • DVB reports Burmese air force reshuffle
  • High hopes for Burma peace talks
  • Refugees want proof of peace Criteria should be widened, they say
  • Myanmar Agrees to Take Back Displaced Persons
  • Thai firms keen to invest if Rangoon peace effort succeeds
  • Myanmar Exports More Fish, Prawn in First Four Months

  • Malaysian defence minister in Burma says democracy not the ultimate goal

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 7, 2001
    Text of report "Democracy is not a goal, merely the means towards prosperity" by Burmese newspaper The Myanmar Times on 7 September

    "I cannot support a concept that sets the establishment a democratic system as the ultimate goal. But I do agree that it is the only way to achieve prosperity," said the visiting Malaysia's defence minister in Myanmar [Burma].

    The Malaysian minister, Sri Mohamed Najib Tun Razak, was speaking on Monday [27 August] at the opening session of the workshop: "New Thinking in Regional Security" sponsored by the Myanmar Defence Ministry, the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre, and the Sasakawa Peace Fund. The four-day workshop was held at the Traders Hotel in Rangoon from 27 to 30 August and was attended, among others, by Foreign Minister U Win Aung; Maj-Gen Kyaw Win, deputy director of Defence Services Intelligence, Ministry of Defence; Brig-Gen Abel, minister attached to the Office of the Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council; and Mr Shigeru Tsumori, Japanese ambassador to Myanmar.

    The workshop participated by professors and academics from universities in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Japan made an overview of the difficulties that Asia could face and ways to resolve those problems, and also discussed social matters, security in ASEAN region, political and economic development of nations, global changes and their impact on the region.

    The workshop was the second of its kind held by the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre and the Myanmar Ministry of Defence. The first was held at the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre in Kuala Lumpur in August 2000.

    The visiting minister said that the first thing that a country needed was political stability. It was not important what kind of governance system was in place as long as that system served the majority of the people, he added. The visiting minister also noted the need to seek means to strengthen security in the region. Some 50 years ago, Cold War strategists used the methodology of western experts in their approaches to security. Whenever there was a security issue, they merely decided which side to align with. But, when conducting studies on security in the 1980s, alignment was no longer the option and the root causes of the problems were studied so that solutions could be found. Problems were no longer contained but pursued until solutions were found, said the minister in his opening address.

    Source: The Myanmar Times, Rangoon, in Burmese 7 Sep 01 p 1
    DVB reports Burmese air force reshuffle

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Sep 8, 2001
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 6 September

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that many top air force officers from the Burma air force were reshuffled last month. Lt-Col Ko Ko Maung, general staff officer [GSO] from the Air Force Military Intelligence, was named as military attache to Thailand, Col Thein Swe, GSO from the Air Force Commander in Chief's Office [AFCICO], was named as chief of air force's external intelligence, and GSO Lt-Col Sithu was transferred as deputy chief of border security under air force's Intelligence Unit.

    Furthermore, Col Mya Hein, commandant of Meiktila Airbase, was transferred to the AFCICO while Col Khin Maung Tin from the AFCICO was transferred as commandant of Meiktila Airbase. This reshuffle was made after former Air Force Commander-in-Chief Lt-Gen Kyaw Than was replaced with Brig-Gen Myint Swe.

    According to DVB sources, Lt-Col Ko Ko Maung, the new military attache to Thailand, is friendly with former Air Force Commander-in-Chief Lt-Gen Kyaw Than. DVB correspondent Sai Tin Aye reported that the major cause of the reshuffle still remains unclear.
    High hopes for Burma peace talks

    source : The Bangkokpost
    Wassana Nanuam

    Third Army commander Watananchai Chaimuenwong was optimistic that talks between Rangoon and rebel groups would bear a positive outcome that could lead to regional stability.

    Lt-Gen Watanachai said he would try to arrange a meeting between Burma's Triangle Region commander Thein Sein and Col Yord Serk, Shan State Army leader. Rangoon had not set any precondition for the meeting, which was a good sign, he said.``At least they have a chance to meet each other and exchange ideas about how to achieve national reconciliation. We should be optimistic,'' he said.

    During the 19th regional border meeting in Chon Buri, Maj-Gen Thein Sein asked him to mediate with the groups to end the armed insurrection in Burma. ``He personally wants me to arrange the meeting with the SSA first so I will do my best,'' said Lt-Gen Watanachai.

    He was confident about a new round of border co-operation between Thailand and Burma. ``Burma and Thailand agreed that from now on any border area suspected by either side of irregular activities could be jointly examined,'' he said. Citing security reasons, Maj-Gen Thein Sein had proposed closure of the Burmese border pass, BP1, opposite Giew Pha Woak checkpoint in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district. Rangoon wants to rearrange the border area after SSA rebels increased activities.
    Refugees want proof of peace Criteria should be widened, they say

    Bangkok Post - Thailand; Sep 8, 2001

    The government must not repatriate Burmese refugees until there is firm evidence peace and respect for human rights have returned to Burma, NGOs said yesterday.

    In an open letter to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, 18 NGOs and civic groups also called on the government to widen the conditions for accepting refugees, from people who fled fighting to people who fled persecution. They asked for a role in the registration of refugees, as a partner of the provincial admissions board, with government departments and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They asked that the UNHCR be allowed full particiaption in refugee protection in the country.

    The letter comes close on the heels of talks on repatriation between Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary of Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council.Mr Thaksin raised the possibility of military measures but made clear refugees would not be sent back against their will. He also advocated the participation of the UNHCR and other international agencies in the provision of vocational training for returnees in a safe area on the Burmese side.

    The NGOs asked the government to let them conduct capacity-building programmes with refugees, including vocational training, higher education and alternative education. They urged the government to set up a national committee to study and recommend long- and short-term policies on all displaced persons, including refugees and migrant workers. The panel should incorporate academics, NGOs, and relevant government departments, with decision-making and implementation processes that are "transparent and open for public participation".

    "Durable solutions to refugee problems will require the Thai government to deal with complicated issues according to the principles of human rights, non-violence and the Thai constitution," they stressed.

    Signatories of the letter included the Yuwathipat party, Chiang Mai University, Project for Ecological Recovery Foundation, Community Theatre, Foundation for Women, Campaign for Popular Democracy, Empower Foundation, Centre for the Co-ordination of Non-Governmental Tribal Organisations, Institute for the Development of Education for Sustainable AgricultureOthers were the Centre for Ethnic Nationalities Development,Community Forest Support Group, and Thai Volunteer Service.
    Myanmar Agrees to Take Back Displaced Persons

    BANGKOK, September 8 (Xinhuanet)-- The 19th Regional Border Committee meeting, held between Thailand and Myanmar in Thailand's eastern city of Chonburi, has agreed that Myanmar displaced persons fled from their border fights into the Thai soil would be taken home, the Thai News Agency(TNA) said Saturday.

    Myanmar authorities said Friday that they would guarantee for the refugees' homes, security and occupations but rejected to associate the matter with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Chairman of the Meeting and Thai Third Army Region Commander Wattanachai Chaimuanwon was quoted as saying.

    Both sides also agreed not to increase more forces at two stations namely Chiang Rai's Masai district and Chiang Mai's Mae- eye district.Another issue agreed upon was to assign Myanmar officials to be stationed at the Marine Cooperation Center in Thailand's Ranong province.
    Thai firms keen to invest if Rangoon peace effort succeeds

    By Supamart Kasem

    Agro-industries and tourism look good

    The Thai private sector is ready to invest in businesses along the Thai-Burmese border once Rangoon is able to achieve national reconciliation with minority groups.

    This was concluded at a meeting last week in Tak between members of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, provincial chambers of commerce and entrepreneurs during the visit to Thailand of Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary of Burma's State Peace and Development Council.

    Niyom Wairatchapanich, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's border trade committee, said Thai and Burmese investors had long planned to invest in various businesses along the border where land is fertile with water resources, raw materials,labour and natural resources.

    In the past, investments were mostly made in logging but they were hampered by fighting between Rangoon and minority groups, particularly the Karen National Union, Karenni National Progressive Party and Shan State Army. Areas along the Burmese border are suitable for agro-industries and tourism as they are rich in natural resources and culture, he said.

    The private sector in Tak in 1994 tried to promote an air route between Mae Sot and Moulmein in Burma and in 1999 a land route between Mae Sot and Pegu. Efforts were hampered by fighting inside Burma.Moulmein is 96km by air from Mae Sot. It is the second largest port town in Burma and was a popular resort for Western travellers during British rule.

    Many locations along the road between Myawaddy, opposite Mae Sot, and Rangoon have the potential to become tourist attractions. They include Pa-an, the capital of Karen state, and Pegu, where the palace of the late King Bayinnaung was located.

    Panithi Tangpati, president of the Tak Chamber of Commerce, said the checkpoint at Kiew Pha Wok in Chiang Dao district can be promoted as a gateway to the middle of Shan state, where Mong Han and Mong Yawn are located.

    ``If Burma's plan to eradicate drug production in Shan state is accomplished by 2005, the area would be good for investments in tourism-related businesses. They include river tours along the Salween river from southern Shan state to Kayah state and Mae Hong Son,'' he said.

    Trade and tourism would also get a boost with the completion of a 196km road from Kanchanaburi to Mergui and Tavoy, on the banks of the Andaman sea, Mr Panithi said. He said Thai traders also support plans by the government to repatriate Burmese refugees.

    Mr Panithi said about 5,000 Burmese refugees did not want to go back to Thailand after they were provided adequate assistance on their return to an area controlled by pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army soldiers.The rest of the refugees were also likely to be quite satisfied if they were given the same treatment, Mr Panithi said.
    Myanmar Exports More Fish, Prawn in First Four Months

    YANGON, September 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar exported 22,600 tons of fish and prawn in the first four months of this year, 36.14 percent more than the same period of 2000, according to the latest figures released by the country's Central Statistical Organization.

    Of the exports, fish accounted for 18,400 tons, while prawn represented 4,200 tons.During the four-month period, export earnings from fish and prawn reached 39.1 million U.S. dollars.

    There is a total of about 40,536 hectares of fish and prawn breeding ponds in Myanmar at present and more such ponds, especially the prawn breeding ones, are being extended in the country's seven states and divisions along its long stretch of coastline of 2,276 kilometers under a three-year plan,which began from June 2000. It targets to extend such area to 48,600 hectares.

    Myanmar is rich in fishery resources and the fishery sector has become one of the productive mainstay of its economy.Official statistics show that the country produces over 910,000 tons of fish and prawn annually, the export of which covers 49 countries and regions with nearly 60,000 tons, earning about 150 million dollars.

    Fishery sector is the third productive mainstay of Myanmar's economy after agriculture and forestry, contributing 7.3 percent to the country's gross domestic product and standing as the third largest foreign exchange earner.