Daily News- February 06 - 2002- Wednesday

  • Junta to reorganize development association to gain people's trust
  • Thai Military, businesses to help fund road project in Burma
  • Three Burmese soldiers killed in Karen rebel ambush
  • Notorious Gold Triangle Drug Dealer Shot Dead by Police
  • Myanmar Overruns One Opium Refinery
  • China, Myanmar Sign Contract on Supply of Water Pumps
  • Tourist Arrivals Drop in Myanmar in 1st 10 Months of 2001
  • India, China, Bangladesh, Burma discuss regional cooperation
  • Asia's best tee up to take on red-hot Thongchai in Burma

  • Junta to reorganize development association to gain people's trust

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 5, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 1 February

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that Kyant Phut [derogatory term for Union Solidarity and Development Association, USDA] central has drawn up plans to organize and convince the populace to accept the fundamental objectives of the USDA from December 2001 to February 2002.

    In accordance with the programme, minister-level USDA Central Executive Committee members have been delegated to take charge and organize the various states and divisions. According to news received by DVB, National Planning and Economic Development Minister U Soe Tha and Finance and Revenue Minister Brig-Gen Ohn Myint will be in charge of Mon State, while Deputy Forestry Minister Col Thaik Tun and Deputy Commerce Minister Brig-Gen Kyaw San are both assigned to Magwe Division.

    It is not clear how the organizing programme started but explanations have been given in the military and police circles that Kyant Phut is believed to be the association that would take over state power in future. Rumours have been spreading in the military circle that it is even ready to accept the political leadership of the Kyant Phut.

    Similar organizational activities have been reported in the police force as well. At a weekly meeting in January, Police Lt-Col Salai Ba Sein, principal of No 2 Police Training School, mentioned that all armed organizations should respect and accept the political leadership of Kyant Phut.

    Kyant Phut public rallies have been held to influence the people and members are ordered to participate in rural development activities together with the people in order to gain their trust and reliance. Regarding the matter, National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma Minister U Maung Maung Aye gave the following views.

    [U Maung Maung Aye] We see the USDA as a lackey organization of the SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] where it has given its full backing. The objectives of the USDA are also what the SPDC wants. That is why explaining the USDA objectives amounted to explaining the SPDC's objectives. The USDA was formed as a social organization with political motivation and I believe that the USDA's activities are not sincere. Thus, it is not beneficial to the country and the people.

    [DVB correspondent] What changes do you think will take place after these organizational activities?

    [U Maung Maung Aye] Regardless of the people's desires, these kind of mass rallies are normally held in totalitarian regimes. The USDA will never be able to obtain the real support of the people. As long as the SPDC is holding the reins, they might have some expectations but I feel that they will not get any real support from the people.

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    Thai Military, businesses to help fund road project in Burma

    The Bangkokpost
    Wassana Nanuam

    The military and the private sector have agreed to fund a road project in Burma as part of transport and trade co-operation between Thailand and Burma.

    The agreement was made during a recent visit to a Burmese military base in Myawaddy by Gen Phat Akkhanibut, adviser to Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and chairman of the Thai-Burmese Cultural and Economic Association. Gen Sanan Khachornklam, secretary to the defence minister, said Gen Phat told Myawaddy governor Lt-Col Kyaw Soe that Thailand would provide financial support for the 400-km Myawaddy-Pang San-Rangoon road project. He quoted Gen Phat as saying Thai businessmen would jointly make contributions to the project.

    Thailand has also reached an agreement with Burma on the planned establishment of an industrial estate in Myawaddy, Gen Sanan said. Under the agreement, the industrial estate would be located near the Thai-Burmese border, opposite Tak's Mae Sot district. The estate is expected to create jobs for Burmese refugees living in Thailand once they return to their country. About 110,000 refugees are now under the care of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). To facilitate cross-border trading, a Thai-Burmese co-ordination office has been set up in Mae Sot.

    Gen Sanan said Adm Narong Yutthawong, the supreme commander, would make a two-day official visit to Burma on Feb 7-8 to strengthen ties between the two countries. He would meet Gen Than Shwe, chairman of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, and Gen Maung Aye, vice-chairman of the council and supreme commander.

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    Three Burmese soldiers killed in Karen rebel ambush

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 5, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 4 February

    Karen guerrillas from No 16 Battalion under the KNU [Karen National Union] 6th Brigade ambushed the second column of LIB [Light Infantry Battalion] No 354 led by Company Commander Maj Aung Moe near Thabyegon Village early yesterday morning. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that although the ambush lasted only 15 minutes, three SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] soldiers including Second Lt Ohn Hlaing from LIB 354 were killed.

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    Notorious Gold Triangle Drug Dealer Shot Dead by Police

    The People's Daily (China)

    It has been confirmed Liu Ming, a notorious Chinese Gold Triangle drug dealer was shot dead by police Monday in a co-ordinated drug raid between China and Myanmar, in southwest China's border province of Yunnan.

    The 43-year-old Liu was one of the most notorious drug dealers in the drug production center of the Golden Triangle. Chinese police's investigation showed his involvement in the organization of drug operations since 1993 in which some 510 kg of heroin was smuggled from the drug region to China's inland provinces, such as Yunnan, Hunan and Guangdong,

    Liu was shot on January 28 in a fierce gun-fight between the police and Liu's armed drug ring. His body was identified during an autopsy jointly conducted by Chinese and Myanmar police.

    A search of Liu's residency led to a seizure of an artillery, three machine guns, six long-barrelled guns and seven pistols. Liu's name was added to the police in Yunnan's wanted list in 2001, when the police began working with their Myanmar counterparts in the search.

    Hard blow to drug cartels

    Sources with the Yunnan Police Bureau say that China has recently intensified anti-drug cooperation with Myanmar police in the northern part of Golden Triangle, which has helped dismantle a number of hidden drug-making workshops.

    Sun Dahong, vice-director of the bureau, say that the coordinated police operation has dealt a hard blow to drug cartels in the Gold Triangle. Some have changed their headquarters or sought refuge elsewhere.He says the cooperation has strengthened China and Myanmar in their commitment against drug trafficking.

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    Myanmar Overruns One Opium Refinery

    YANGON, February 5 (Xinhuanet) -- The Myanmar authorities raided an opium refinery in Kutkai township, northern Shan state of the country, at the end of last month, according to the Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control Tuesday.

    The refinery near Chain Sin Kyaing area in the township was overrun by a combined team comprising the local army unit, intelligence and police force on January 28 and 29.During the raid, the authorities confiscated some 30 kinds of chemical precursors among others used in refining drugs, it said.

    In March and August last year, the authorities also raided one opium refinery each in the same state's Lashio and Tachilek townships respectively, according to an earlier official report.

    Meanwhile, another latest official report said that in December 2001, the Myanmar authorities exposed 194 drug-related cases in the country, seizing 49.688 kilograms (kg) of opium and 2.1473 kg of heroin as well as 469,593 tablets of stimulant drugs.

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    China, Myanmar Sign Contract on Supply of Water Pumps

    The People's Daily (China)

    China will supply Myanmar with water pumps to help expand its irrigated area. Under an agreement signed Tuesday in Yangon by the China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation International Engineering Co., Ltd and the Water Resources Utilization Department (WRUD) of the Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, China will supply 228 units of centrifugal water pumps for the Myanmar ministry's pump irrigation projects.

    The project is one of the important ones of the Myanmar ministry to expand the country's irrigated area, raise paddy production and boost rice export and foreign exchange earning. On completion of the project, it will greatly improve the framework of Myanmar's farm irrigation, expand irrigated area and boost food production.

    Myanmar is an agricultural country having a cultivable land of 18.225 million hectares, of which 10.125 million have been utilized. Of the cultivated area, 1.92 million or 18.96 percent ofthe total are cultivated through irrigation. Up to now, the country has only 253 river-pumped water stations.

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    Tourist Arrivals Drop in Myanmar in 1st 10 Months of 2001

    YANGON, February 5, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Tourist arrivals in Myanmar dropped by 50.6 percent in the first 10 months of 2001 compared with the same period of 2000, reaching 92,388, the country's Economic Indicators said in a latest issue.

    The declination of tourist arrival was attributed to the sharp fall in the number of cross-border tourists from neighboring countries during the 10-month period, showing a fall of 94.8 percent compared with the corresponding period of 2000.

    Myanmar depends largely on cross-border tourists, especially from Thailand and China, the two close neighbors linking its southeastern and northeastern parts. There occurred border clashes between Myanmar and Thailand between February and June last year and tourism business was very much affected during the period. In addition, the industry was also impacted by the September 11 terrorist attacks in theUnited States last year.

    According to official statistics, in 2000, tourist arrivals registered at 234,900, of whom 49 percent entered the country by land through border points. The statistics also show that since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in late 1988, contracted investment in the sector of hotels and tourism has so far amounted to 1.054 billion U.S. dollars.The country targets to draw 500,000 foreign tourists annually.

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    India, China, Bangladesh, Burma discuss regional cooperation

    DHAKA (AFP)- - Increased cooperation among China, India, Bangladesh and Burma -- including a potential free trade zone -- could jump start the regional economy, officials and experts said at the start of a conference here.

    "Without regional cooperation we cannot take our people forward and achieve our goals," Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Morshed Khan said Wednesday.

    "If we can change the mindset of the people who execute different policies then a new horizon of regional cooperation will open," he said.

    Experts at the conference said greater trade among the four countries could lead to billions of dollars in new investment.

    Shao Qiwei, vice governor of China's southwestern Yunnan province, said the countries should boost cooperation and could even form a free economic zone.

    Burma's chief of border trade, Nay Winn, said such a zone could be expanded to include other countries.

    The meeting of experts from the four countries is the third of its kind, after similar conferences in China in 1999 and India a year later.

    Debbapriya Bhattachary, executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue, a think tank which is hosting the conference, stressed that the region where the four countries meet -- long wracked by violence and the drug trade -- was rich with natural resources.

    He said the four countries could expand cooperation in transportation, infrastructure, tourism and other areas.

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    Asia's best tee up to take on red-hot Thongchai in Burma

    Rangoon (AFP)- - Thailand's red-hot Thongchai Jaidee declared he was ready for an early-season victory at the London Myanmar Open as Asia's best golfers converged on Yangon Golf Club for the 200,000-dollar event.

    The second-leg of the 2002 Asian PGA Tour, which begins Thursday, has attracted 140 players from 21 countries, including Las Vegas-based Korean Anthony Kang, who won here last year.

    But Thongchai, who claimed the Asian PGA Order of Merit crown last season and maintained his impressive form finishing 10th at the co-sanctioned Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia a fortnight ago, is the favourite this week.

    "I'm very confident with my game and I've just started using a new driver which I picked up on the final day during the Classic," Thongchai said Wednesday in a warning to his rivals.

    "I missed only one fairway with my first try in Australia and since arriving in Yangon, I've not missed a single fairway in practice.

    "I believe I can still improve, especially with my mid irons."

    Kang, who won here last year with a six under par total, said he had hopes of another victory.

    "If a player won it before, he wants to do it again," he told reporters. "Obviously I want to play well here."

    Home-grown Kyi Hla Han, 42, winner of the APGA Order of Merit in 1999, has been playing on the course for the past 20 years and has also set his sights on this year's title.

    The Myanmar pro based in Hong Kong has pinned his hopes on a "home course advantage," although his best effort in the Myanmar Open has been third placing.

    "This course demands a lot of course management, and I think experience here does count a lot," he said.

    "I've been home since last Saturday and played a few more rounds. It's certainly an advantage to know the layout well and also the direction of the wind."

    Han added that he had been working with Asian PGA Director of Player Development Kel Llewellyn on his short game, which he said had been his weakness in the past couple of years.

    A new breed of young professional players is also expected to make a strong showing at the tournament, with Korean twins -- Alex and Brad Oh -- making their debut along with Aaron and Eric Meeks, the only other pair of identical brothers to feature in an Asian PGA event.

    Korean-American James Oh is another bright prospect. The 19-year-old claimed the 1998 US Junior Amateur championship after beating Australian Aaron Baddeley in the final and joined the paid ranks last September.

    With lots of dog-legs and tree-lined fairways, the 7,000-yard-plus Yangon Golf Course is expected to pose a tough challenge for players, the course management said.

    "On tournament day, players will be surprised to discover that the conditions are quite different from what they have seen and experienced during their practice sessions," a Yangon Golf Club official told AFP.

    Local experts say the player who has the best short game this week will be the victor.

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