Daily News- February 04 - 2002- Monday

  • Japan Provides Technical Aid to Myanmar
  • Another regional headache for US?
  • Mass Karen murder : Labour smuggling links seen
  • 14 people killed and dumped in creek in northern Thailand
  • Little impact seen from MiG-29 deal
  • Myanmar Exports Less Teak, Hardwood in 1st 10 Months of 2001
  • Thailand to Promote Chiang Mai As New Aviation Hub
  • Thais lift inaugural AFF under-20 title
  • Thai foreign minister to visit Burma Feb 6-8

  • Japan Provides Technical Aid to Myanmar

    YANGON, February 3 (Xinhuanet) -- The Japanese government has provided about 20 million U.S. dollars of technical aid to Myanmar in the current fiscal year ending in March, according to the resident office of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) here.

    The aid extended by the JICA, which is the Japanese government's overseas aid agency, covered projects in the sectors of agriculture, health, drug control and economy.

    The technical aid in the fiscal year shows a big increase over the 5 million dollars provided by the agency in each of the last three years. Such assistance gave priority to health, education,agriculture, basic infrastructure and economic policy.

    At present, the JICA is implementing four technical cooperation projects in Myanmar -- an irrigation technology center, a seed bank, a forestry development training center and a leprosy eradication program, according to the sources.

    The JICA has been providing technical aid to Myanmar for over 20 years.According to the Japanese embassy here, in 2001, Japan provides Myanmar with the Official Development Assistance (ODA) worth 1.689 billion yens (about 13.8 million dollars and in January this year,a similar aid of 203 million yens (about 1.65 million dollars) for human resources development scholarship project was extended.

    Up to 2001, Japan had provided 20 times of debt relief to Myanmar including a sum of 3.594 billion yens (about 29.22 million dollars) in 2001.

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    Another regional headache for US?

    The Indian Express

    NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 2: INDIA may soon have to reckon with another nuclear neighbour. The military regime of Myanmar is all set to acquire its first nuclear reactor from Russia, the ground-breaking ceremony for this was scheduled last week.

    According to a report in the latest issue of the US journal Science, the reactor is being installed at a military complex in the central province of Magway, the region that has the richest uranium deposits in Myanmar.The 10-MW reactor is being imported ostensibly to produce medical isotopes and to study the feasibility of mass-producing nuclear energy in Myanmar.

    The report says the Myanmar government confirmed to the United Nations that more than 200 of its scientists and technicians have received nuclear training in Russia in recent months.

    An American Defence official has told Science that Washington is worried that the reactor could increase the threat of radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorists.

    A team from Vienna’s International Atomic Energy Agency visited Myanmar and said the country’s radiation-protection infrastructure was ‘‘not meeting the expected standards.’’

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    Mass Karen murder : Labour smuggling links seen

    The Bangkokpost

    4 killed in similar manner last year

    A conflict about illegal workers or drugs is probably behind the murder of 14 Karen workers whose bodies were dumped in a stream, police say.The Karen were found with their throats cut in Huay Mae Lamao stream in tambon Mae Jarao in Tak's Mae Ramat district on Saturday.

    Pol Maj-Gen Winai Nilsri, commander of the Border Patrol Police Region 3, said police were looking at two possible motives: conflicts in the drug trade or smuggling of illegal migrants.He did not believe the murders were the work of Thai people.

    An autopsy found the victims had been murdered more than 10 days ago, some from stab wounds to the body. Their throats were cut later.The seven men and seven women were aged from 14-45.

    Pol Maj-Gen Winai said that in a similar case last year, the bodies of four alien workers were found floating in a stream.Police investigations found the victims had been killed by a job brokerage gang which lured them to work in Thailand.The gang slashed the workers' throats after getting brokerage fees from them.

    Pol Col Saksin Klansanoh, commander of the 13th special task force, said illegal smuggling of alien workers was rampant in Mae Ramat district.Thongmuan Sitthikaew, head of Wang Pha village in the district, said the victims were illegal workers.He believed they might have been killed by a local employer who did not want to pay them wages.

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    14 people killed and dumped in creek in northern Thailand

    The Nation

    MAE SOT, Thailand (AP) _ Fourteen people believed to be migrant workers from Myanmar were killed under mysterious circumstances last week and their bodies dumped in a creek in northeastern Thailand, villagers and officials said Sunday.

    Residents of Wan Phar village spotted seven bodies on Jan. 30 and seven more the next day, floating in the Mae Ra Mao creek in Tak province, said Thongmuang Sittikaew, the village headman. It appeared that they had been stabbed and shot to death, Thongmuang said. None of them had any clothes on and all looked to be between ages 20 and 30, he said.

    However, local officials did nothing to retrieve the bodies and eventually the villagers, unable to bear the stench, pushed them downstream with poles toward Moei River where they sank without trace, Thongmuang said. The village is 4 kilometres (2 miles) from Moei river, which forms the border between Thailand and Myanmar. The area is 370 kilometres (230 miles) northeast of Bangkok. Border patrol police began a search for the bodies in the river Sunday after the news was published in Bangkok newspapers.

    The official apathy was apparently due to the fact that the victims seven women and seven men were not Thais. From their facial characteristics, they appeared to be ethnic Karen people from neighboring Myanmar, Thongmuang said. He said the villagers got a Karen guerrilla army operating across the border in Myanmar to inspect the bodies, but their leader, Maung Chit Thu, said the dead did not belong to his group. Villagers said they heard sounds of shooting on Jan. 28 near the hamlet of Sob Hwe Par Pong, also on the banks of Mae Ra Mao creek.

    It is suspected that the dead were Karen migrant farm laborers who were killed by their Thai employer to avoid paying them wages for the one year they had worked. Migrant workers are paid at the end of their contract, which is usually for a year. Or, they could have been hired to do criminal activities and were killed after the job was done, said officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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    Little impact seen from MiG-29 deal

    The Nation
    Supalak Ganjanakhundee

    Burma's recent purchase of Russian-made MiG-29 jet fighters introduced no significant new threat to Thailand as the 10 aircraft are too few to have an impact on the regional balance of air power, according to a military source.

    Senior military officers last week held discussions on the matter following a move by the US Senate Appropriation Committee to assess Thailand's defence needs, he said.They concluded that just 10 aircraft could not create a major security threat and the fragile Burmese economy could not support a rapid military build-up by Rangoon that would damage the current power balance in the region, the source said.

    The Burmese economy has been affected by the paucity of foreign capital inflow since the regional financial crisis in mid 1997.The ruling State Peace and Development Council may have the capacity to build up its armed forces to 500,000 men as it is a low-cost plan, but installation of advance military capacity needs heavy investment, the source said.

    Worried about regional military balance due to the Burmese fighter purchase, a US Senate committee ordered the Department of Defence to report to Congress on Thailand's security capability by April.The Thai military is monitoring the move closely since it would influence its plans for weapon procurement, the source said.

    Rangoon signed a US$150-million (Bt6.56-billion) contract for the 10 Russian MiG-29s last year to upgrade its air force, made up primarily of Chinese variants of the MiG-21 and MiG-19.

    The junta's air-force build-up was regarded by international observers as a reaction to Thailand's earlier purchase of a squadron of used F-16 fighter jets from the US to add to the two batches of F-16s already in service in the Thai Royal Air Force.

    The source said that while the small number of aircraft was not a direct threat, the Russian influence accompanying their purchase was worrisome and the 10 advanced fighter jets had been offered cheaply to get a presence in Southeast Asia.

    Training for the MiG-29s will allow Russian personnel to set foot in Burma, creating prospects for Moscow to have influence over the country in the long run, the source said.

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    Myanmar Exports Less Teak, Hardwood in 1st 10 Months of 2001

    YANGON, February 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar exported 256,681 cubic-meters of teak in the first ten months of 2001, a 4.57-percent drop from the same period of 2000, according to the latest figures released by the country's Central Statistical Organization.

    Meanwhile, during the period, the country exported 304,225 cubic-meters of hardwood, a 27.58-percent reduction from the corresponding period of 2000.Export earning from teak and hardwood totaled 217.26 million U.S. dollars during the ten-month period. In 2000, Myanmar exported a total of 302,810 cubic-meters of teak and 494,259.5 cubic-meters of hardwood with their total earning amounting to 201 million dollars.

    Timber has become Myanmar's second largest export goods after agricultural products and foreign exchange earned through the export of timber accounted for about 20 percent of Myanmar's total export earning.The country's teak enjoys a good reputation in the world and 85 percent of the teak in the world market is produced in Myanmar.

    According to other official figures, Myanmar produced about 200,000 tons of teak from its forests each year since the fiscal year 1997-98, down from about 400,000 tons in the 1970s. Myanmar's forest covers 50 percent of its total land area, registering 33 million hectares, seven percent less than in 1962.

    To overcome teak shortage, Myanmar launched a special plantation plan five years ago and has been able to plant more than 32,400 hectares of teak. Of the forest area, 18.6 percent are reserved and protected public forest, the percentage of which is being targeted to increase to 30.

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    Thailand to Promote Chiang Mai As New Aviation Hub

    BANGKOK, February 3, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The northern resort province of Chiang Mai will be promoted as Thailand's new aviation hub, as it has high potential to serve the purpose, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said.

    Thaksin made the remark on Saturday that he wanted to develop Chiang Mai into the country's new aviation center between Thailand and northern neighbouring countries, according to a report of the Thai News Agency Sunday.

    Chiang Mai has high potential to become Thailand's new aviation center to serve Thai and foreign tourists travelling between the northern resort province and other similar tourist destinations as Kunming in southern China, Hanoi in Vietnam, and Chittakong and Mandaley in Myanmar, Thaksin said. The Thai leader said that Chiang Mai could also be the aviation center for passengers and tourists travelling between the city and South Asia. He added that he saw the idea as an interesting tourism strategy, as it would take only 50-80 minutes to travel between Chiang Mai and the cities, and only smaller aircraft, like Boeing 737 ones, could serve the passengers and tourists well.

    "I think that the project can be implemented within one or one sand a half year if everything is ready, including positive results of a feasibility study of the project, which will be soon conducted, he projected. Thaksin said that he also raised the issue of constructing a regional highway linking Thailand, Myanmar and India when he visited India on Friday. Thailand would host a meeting of foreign ministers of the three countries in April to further discuss the project, the Thai leader indicated.

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    Thais lift inaugural AFF under-20 title

    BANGKOK (Feb 3, 200) - The skill and the speed of the Thais were simply too much for the Myanmar players and they succumbed to a 4-0 loss in the final of the AFF Under-20 tournament at the Thai Japan Youth Centre Stadium today.

    The Thais proved why they were still the best in the region. And they started proving it just six minutes into the game when Panai Kongpraphan cheekily flicked the ball over the Myanmar keeper.

    The hosts kept up the pressure and blasted further ahead in the 25th minute, this time through Kittipol Papunga, whose shot from outside the box when straight into goal.Just before the break, Thailand were awarded a freekick and Satid Mukkratok made no mistake to place the ball in the back of the net.Thailand closed in on Myanmar and hardly gave them any room to create any moves.

    While Myanmar were trying hard, Thailand sailed further ahead in the 55th minute when Datsakorn raced in from behind to slam the ball in after some good work from Panai and Satid.

    Chanvit Polchivin, the Thai coach, said it was his team's best game of the tournament. "We played our best game today. We marked out their strikers and that made things difficult for them. I am happy with the players performance."

    Myanmar coach, U Khin Maung Tint, said: "The Thais were exceptional, they played very well. Our strikers had no room to move at all. They had chances and scored. But we are happy with our overall performance in the tournament."

    Thailand's Ekaphan Inthasen, who was voted the best player of the tournament, said: "I am happy with this award. This is something very special to me, I hope this will motivate me to play better in future.""We hope what we achieved today will help in our preparations for the AFC Under-20 championship."

    Meanwhile, Myanmar won the Fairplay Award. Thailand were second while Laos were third.

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    Thai foreign minister to visit Burma Feb 6-8

    Source : MSNBC / Reuters

    BANGKOK, Feb. 4---Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai will fly to Rangoon on Wednesday for his second official visit to Burma in nine months, a Thai official said on Monday.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Rathakit Manathat said the talks would focus on progress in cooperation dealing with narcotics, illegal migrant workers, refugees, and on trade.

    Apart from meeting his counterpart, U Win Aung, Surakiart was also due to meet Burma Army Commander in Chief Maung Aye and Secretary One of the ruling State Peace and Development Council and national intelligence chief Khin Nyunt.

    Thailand has said its relations with Burma have improved significantly after visits by several senior officials, including Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to Rangoon, last year.

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