Daily News- April 20- 2002- Saturday

  • Burmese questioning UN envoy's ability to find solution
  • National League for Democracy MP for Zigon Township dies
  • Gen Maung Aye to face many big issues
  • Both different approaches to same goal, says Shan leader
  • Myanmar Makes Remarkable Achievements in Drug Fight, Economic Development
  • Kachin pledge to halt drug production in Burma

  • Burmese questioning UN envoy's ability to find solution

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Apr 19, 2002
    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 18 Apr 02

    The UN special envoy to Burma, Mr Razali Ismail, said today that the reconciliation dialogue will include the release of democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners. Mr Razali, who has been instrumental in facilitating dialogue on national reconciliation between the military regime and National League for Democracy [NLD] leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, told AFP news agency that he would visit the country for three days from Tuesday, 23 April.

    Mr Razali declined to answer when asked if he was happy with the progress of the long-running talks between the military government and the opposition and said that he does not want to comment on that before he goes to Rangoon. Mr Razali was appointed as a special envoy of the UN secretary-general in April 2000 and this would be his seventh trip to the country.

    When DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] contacted political sources in Rangoon to learn more about Mr Razali's forthcoming visit, U Khun Tun Oo, chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, said Mr Razali has informed the nationalities parties that he would see them on 23 April.

    [U Khun Tun Oo] - He [Mr Razali] will meet with us, the Shans, on 25 April and other nationalities groups on 23 April. It seems he wanted to see them separately this time. By other nationalities I mean the Mon, Karen, and Zomi [Chin]. I am not sure about the Arakanese. He will meet with them on 23 April and with us on 25 April. As for us we have to explain and present to him the progress and success of the dialogue. Of course, we also have to ask his help because we cannot carry on this way. Everything - political, economic, and social situation is all in a disorder. I believe it all boils down to lack of a political settlement. We have plans to urge Mr Razali to find a solution as soon as possible.

    [Htet Aung Kyaw] Could you tell me briefly whether you expect anything better to emerge out of Mr Razali's forthcoming trip?

    [U Khun Tun Oo] Frankly, I do not have any expectation at all. We expected some changes and the release of some political prisoners on Burmese New Year's Day [17 April], since it did not materialize we do not pin any hope in Mr Razali's visit either. But who knows, the situation [in Burma] has come to a crossroads and things must change and depending on Mr Razali's efforts and diplomatic skills it could have an affect. [End of recording]

    Just as political leaders are discontented with Mr Razali's actions, ordinary citizens are also beginning to lose hope. One unidentified senior lawyer explained this to DVB.

    [Unidentified lawyer] The public is not convinced any more because there is no improvement. The public has now almost lost their confidence in Mr Razali. How much can he do? What result can he show? The public might accept him with confidence only when he could show some outcome. They are slowly beginning to lose hope because nothing has changed. The political prisoners which the military government released were those whose release dates were overdue. That is why I would like to warn the world not to be too eager to praise the military junta. The prisoners were not released while serving term. Some had their sentences increased and were released after their release dates have passed while some were released on their due date. That's about all and I am sure those concerned will agree. It's not because of Mr Razali. They did not release U Win Tin [NLD executive] or U Naing Naing [NLD MP]. If they were released, at least we would have been convinced but that is not the case. Furthermore, when the world gave them credit for the release of political prisoners then they will keep on lying and keep on doing what they did.

    [Htet Aung Kyaw] What is the public opinion? As you have mentioned they have lost confidence in Mr Razali so what could be an alternative?

    [Unidentified lawyer] It is rather difficult to give an idea from inside the country. Even though the NLD township offices have been reopened, in reality there is no freedom of organization or speech. It is a stalemate and we do not know anything about the ongoing dialogue with the NLD as well. Besides, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest and has not been released. They are keeping her like that to prevent her from going out of town for organizational work. If Mr Razali alone could not do anything then the UN resolution and other sanctions must be made more effective. At the moment it is very mild. What we want is if you cannot treat an ailment by administering the patient a single dose of medicine then give the patient a multi dose. The situation has proven that a normal dose won't work and a multi dose is warranted. We think that way the condition will improve.

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    National League for Democracy MP for Zigon Township dies

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Apr 19, 2002
    Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 17 Apr 02

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that U San Tin, National League for Democracy [NLD] elected people's representative [MP], died on 15 April during the traditional Thingyan Water Festival. An NLD source told DVB that U San Tin who died at his home was 68-years-old and was elected as a representative from Zigon Township Constituency in Pegu Division. The cause of his death is still not known.

    U San Tin became the 40th MP to die after the May 1990 elections. Two NLD MPs who died last month were U Tin Maung from Kalewa Township Constituency and U Ant Kyi from Chaung-U Township Constituency.

    A total of 485 MPs were elected in the May 1990 elections of which 392 MPs were from the NLD. According to the latest statistics, 183 MPs have resigned because of pressure from the military junta, 40 MPs are dead, 26 MPs have gone into exile, and 19 MPs remain in detention.

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    Gen Maung Aye to face many big issues

    Wassana Nanuam Yuwadee Tunyasiri
    The Bangkok Post

    Thailand hopes to ease border tensions with Burma after talks with Gen Maung Aye, Burma's army chief, who visits on Tuesday. Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said talks with the Burmese general would be an opportunity for the countries to bring about better understanding.

    Gen Maung Aye, who is also vice-president of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, heads for Phuket after holding talks with the prime minister and cabinet members on Tuesday. Border conflicts have soured relations in the past few months. On March 25 troops of the United Wa State Army intruded into Thai soil to clash with Thai soldiers preparing for a visit to Chiang Mai by Her Majesty the Queen.

    A security source said better understanding between the governments could improve border relations. Other issues on the agenda include co-operation in the drug fight, agricultural promotion and investment.

    Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said the government would seek closer collaboration with Burmese leaders in cracking down on Burmese ethnic minority groups making drugs. The countries would expand a plan on substituting crops for drugs. Burmese workers working here illegally would need incentives to stay at home, too, and the government had a plan to promote cash crops in Burma.

    The prime minister had told the Agriculture and Co-operatives Ministry to map out an investment plan in Burma to promote agricultural and livestock production under a profit-sharing scheme, he said. A source at the Supreme Command said the prime minister would highlight the farming assistance project in his talks with the Burmese general by supplying technology and experts to help Rangoon with production and marketing strategies.

    Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh would discuss with Gen Maung Aye in Phuket on Thursday how to deal with armed ethnic groups, and a proposal by the Shan State Army to hold talks with Rangoon with Gen Chavalit as a mediator. Thailand would reiterate its position on supporting national reconciliation in Burma. There were no plans to open more border passes but Thailand would offer a soft loan to build a road link from the Thai-Burmese Friendship Bridge in Mae Sot district, Tak, to Myawaddy and central Burma and India, on condition that construction firms and materials come from Thailand, he said. The road project would boost Thai exports through the Mae Sot border and promote tourism, he said.

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    Both different approaches to same goal, says Shan leader

    Shan Herald Agency for News -No: 04 - 10:

    In response to questions whether concurrent draftings of federal and state constitutions were going in opposite directions, the chairman of the Shan State Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC-S) replied today the two were parallel approaches to the achievement of federal democracy in Burma.

    "The non-Burmans' aim and objective are the same as those of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi," Sao Sengsuk told the 13-member commission at its 18th meeting, "that is, to rebuild Burma as a genuine federal democracy."

    The draft union constitution is being charted by the National Council of the Union of Burma's Constitution Drafting Committee since 1999. State constitutions, meanwhile, are in the process of being written by non-Burman groups known as CDCs (Constitution Drafting Committee or Commissions).

    "The workings of the federal CDC and state CDCs are complimentary to each other," Sao Seng Suk said "The federal CDC's work is equally important as those of the state CDCs."

    Chao Tzang Yawnghwe of the National Reconciliation Program, agreed. "(Some think) the non-Burman leaders... should be more focused on the federal constitution than on state constitutions because the latter is ... rather divisive. I argue that one has to focus on both, and both should however not be carved in stone at the moment, before a real political settlement is achieved," he added.

    The recent report of the CDC-Shan State that was elected at a conference, 8-11 September 2000, sounds rather optimistic.

    "The response from the grassroots, despite security problems capacity differences among diverse communities, is positive," it says. "The CDC also conducts capacity building trainings and awareness raising campaigns," which it claims are producing encouraging results. The report however noted that "a peaceful political environment" was necessary in order to achieve its goals.

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    Myanmar Makes Remarkable Achievements in Drug Fight, Economic Development

    YANGON, April 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Using agricultural crops to replace poppy plantations and make more investments in farming to help local economic development is a fresh experience gained in drug control by Myanmar's Special Region-4 in the "Golden Triangle".

    "Substitute plantations" have now evolved into "substitute development" which will greatly contribute to total drug eradication and realization of all-sided social development, U Myint Eain, Vice Secretary-General of the Region Government said.

    In a recent interview with Xinhua, he stressed the grasping of drug control on the one hand and economic construction on the other to solve livelihood of the people after eradicating drugs.

    Speaking in Mongla, the regional capital, he said remarkable achievements have bee achieved in fight against narcotic drugs through 11 years' efforts since the region was established.He noted that the special region, which lies in the border area of northeastern Shan state with a land area of 4,952 square-kilometers, was formally established on June 30, 1989.

    In the early period, the condition of drug control was very grim with 262 villages out of 401 in the whole region growing poppy. The annual production of opium reached 9.8 tons, while the number of drug addicts accounted for 5 percent of the total population.He recalled that the special region carried out anti-drug campaigns for two times in 1991, totally destroying 23 acres (9.3 hectares) of poppy plantations and burning up 150 million U.S. dollars worth of narcotic drug processing plant, narcotics and raw material as well as equipment.

    To realize the target of total elimination of drugs, the special region worked out in 1992 a five-ban drug eradication plan-- grow-ban, manufacture-ban, transport-ban, trade-ban and addiction-ban.

    During the six-year period from 1992 to 1997, the special region got rid of a total of 1,958.3 acres (792.5 hectares) of poppy. At the same time, through persuasion, the opium growers abandoned plantation of poppy of 405 hectares. The two measures brought about a reduction of poppy cultivated area by 1,197.5 hectares.

    U Myint Eain said during the years, the regional police force exposed a total of 503 drug-trade and drug-addiction cases, detaining 830 persons involved in the cases and seizing 13.6 kg of opium, 72.37 kg heroin and 298 kg raw material.He added that through joint efforts of the army and the people,the anti-drug undertakings have achieved a major break-through with the strong support and assistance extended by the international community, especially by the Chinese authorities concerned.

    The special region placed emphasis on agriculture, infrastructure construction and tourism while eradicating drugs.He said the total grain production of the region in 2001 reached 20,100 tons and the per capita possession of grain was 298 kg, a 6.35-percent increase from 2000, basically feeding the local people.

    In the first 11 years, investment in the infrastructural construction amounted to 6.62 million U.S. dollars with 674.4 km of roads and 21 bridges as well as facilities such as wharves, hydropower stations and reservoirs completed.Mongla has now become a new rising border town. As a many as 350,000 Chinese have come on sightseeing yearly, spending 2.24 million dollars.

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    Kachin pledge to halt drug production in Burma

    Source : AFP

    The Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), one of 17 former anti-government ethnic groups to strike cease-fire deals with Burma's ruling military junta, has pledged to halt drug production in Kachin state, the state press reported.

    "We will work together with the government as well as other international agencies involved with eradicating illicit drugs, and call on the people to support and assist us in this objective," the KIO said in a statement issued in early February, the report said.

    The KIO said they would prevent production and trafficking of drugs, support crop-substitution, discourage drug-use and rehabilitate addicts inside Kachin state in the country's north.

    It is the first time the group has explicitly stated its opposition to drug production.

    Meanwhile, former Kachin insurgents in Special Region Three in Shan state, which borders Kachin, also joined the Wa and the Kokang ethnic groups in pledging to make their respective regions drug-free by 2005, the report added.

    In a directive issued earlier this month, the chairman of Special Region Three said that all illicit drugs as well as their trafficking, transporting, storage and usage would now be "totally prohibited".

    "This action has been taken in response to government urgings and to stop further international censure against Myanmar," the directive said, adding that it would carry out "effective action" against violators.

    The international community has roundly condemned Burma for allegedly turning a blind eye to the massive production of drugs in areas controlled by ethnic armies which have signed fragile cease-fires with the junta.

    The Burmese ruling junta launched a 15-year drug eradication programme in 1997, but it continues to receive strong international condemnation for its failure to seriously address the issue.

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