Daily News- February 07- 2002- Thursday

  • Thai FM Visits Myanmar
  • Building Stronger Ties
  • Burma army moves in on Shan bases
  • Burma not allowed to attack from here
  • Ailing ceasefire leader whisked to Hongkong
  • Myanmar To Hold Annual Gems Emporium
  • Myanmar Increases Machinery Import in 1st 10 Months of 2001
  • Malaysia Introduces New Foreign Worker Recruitment Method
  • Man arrested after trying to smuggle out 2 Burmese nationals in Singapore
  • South Korea's Kang defends Myanmar Open title

  • Thai FM Visits Myanmar

    YANGON, February 6 (Xinhua)--Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai arrived here Wednesday on a three-day official visit to Myanmar.

    During his visit, Surakiart will meet with First Secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt and will have talks with his Myanmar counterpart U Win Aung on the issues of Myanmar displaced persons, illegal immigrants, drug control, trade and fisheries, informed sources here said. The two sides are likely to sign an agreement on avoidance of double taxation between the two countries.

    Myanmar-Thai relations once became tense due to a series of border clashes between the two sides during the period from last year's February to June. However, after the visit of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to Myanmar in June last year, the bilateral ties have been obviously improved.

    In September last year, Myanmar established a Myanmar-Thai Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association, while Thailand also set up a similar organization. In October last year, the two countries agreed to build the Second Friendship Bridge to link Tachilek of Myanmar and Maesai of Thailand.

    Thailand is Myanmar's largest trading partner and third largest investor. According to official statistics, in the first ten months of 2001, Myanmar-Thai bilateral trade amounted to 744.53 million U.S. dollars, accounting for 17.2 percent of Myanmar's total foreign trade. Since Myanmar's opening to foreign investment in late 1988, Thai contracted investment in the country has reached 1,289.75 million dollars, ranking the third after Singapore and Britain.

    To The Top

    Building Stronger Ties

    The Irrawaddy
    By Kyaw Zwa Moe/ Chiang Mai, Thailand

    February 6, 2002- Thai foreign minister Surakiart Sathirathai visited Burma today to discuss a range of issues with his counterpart, Burmese foreign minister Win Aung, during his three-day trip that will end on Feb 8.

    The two sides will continue to discuss politically sensitive issues that were raised when the two sides met in Thailand last month, including the repatriation of Burmese migrant workers and displaced refugees, narcotics suppression, joint fishery ventures and bilateral trade.

    Last January 7, the Thai-Burma Joint Committee held a three-day meeting in Phuket, Thailand. Win Aung and Lt-Gen Kyaw Than, head of the Burmese-Thai Culture and Economic Executive Committee, led the Burmese delegation.

    Last November, the Thai government forcibly repatriated 63 ethnic Karen asylum-seekers to Burma. The move drew formal protests from human rights groups and some European governments. Over 100,000 refugees who fled Burma due to human rights violations such as forced labor and relocation by the military government, are being held in refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. The majority of them are ethnic Karen.Also, the Thai government has announced a plan to send more than 100,000 Burmese migrants working in Thailand back to Burma. It is estimated that nearly a million Burmese migrants work in the kingdom.

    Meanwhile, on the same day that Surakiart left for Burma, it was reported that several thousand Burmese soldiers had been moved to the northern Thai border of Chiang Rai. The troops seem to be deployed in order to attack a major command center of the ethnic Shan State Army (SSA), according to Thai security sources.

    At the beginning of last year, Rangoon forces clashed with the Shan army near the Thai border. Several clashes between Thai and Burmese forces followed Rangoon’s attack on the Shan base of Gor Wan. Both Thai and Burmese soldiers were killed in the fighting between the two Asean members.

    To The Top

    Burma army moves in on Shan bases

    Bangkok Post, Wed 6 Feb 2002
    Subin Khuenkaew

    Thousands of Burmese troops have been deployed along the border, opposite Mae Fah Luang in Chiang Rai, and appear poised for an assault on the Shan State Army, security sources said.Targets were likely to include the Shan army's major command post at Gor Wan.

    Several thousand troops, with artillery, had been reported moving south from Tachilek to the area opposite Ban Pang Noon.``This year's reinforcement is quite unusual since only a few hundred Shan troops have been operating at the border area,'' a military observer said.

    Last year's clashes between Thai and Burmese forces occurred after an incursion during a Burmese assault on Shan forces at nearby Gor Wan base.About 200 Burmese troops seized the Third Army's border outpost at Ban Pang Noon for use as a springboard for the assault on Gor Wan.

    Army assistant commander Gen Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, who was then Third Army chief, drove them out with a sustained artillery barrage.``It is unlikely the Burmese could seize Gor Wan unless they use the same tactic they employed last year,'' said a security official.

    The Burmese had moved artillery into the area near Gor Wan, an army source said. ``It is quite clear they are determined to overrun all the SSA bases in this area.''The Shan army has four other outposts opposite Mae Fah Luang.

    Maj-Gen Nakorn Sipetchphand, Phamueng Task Force commander in charge of border security in the upper North, said Ban Pang Noon was a most sensitive area and could touch off a new round of border tensions.``Any intruding forces will be pushed back,'' he said, but unnecessary clashes with accidental intrusions would be avoided.

    To The Top

    Burma not allowed to attack from here

    Bangkok Post, Wed 7 Feb 2002

    Shan still predicting cross-border raids

    Wassana Nanuam Subin Khuenkaew

    Burmese forces will not be allowed to use Thai territory as a springboard to attack the Shan State Army inside Burma, said Third Army commander Lt-Gen Udomchai Ongkhasingh.

    Thousands of Burmese troops have deployed along the border opposite Chiang Rai's Mae Fah Luang, where SSA has five bases including its major command, Gor Wan base.

    Closer ties between Thailand and Burma have touched off speculation, especially among SSA troops, that the Third Army might allow Burmese soldiers to make cross-border assaults.Lt-Gen Udomchai, however, said the army's policy had not changed.``The army will not support either SSA or Burmese troops and will not allow Burmese forces to pass through Thailand,'' he said.

    The troop build-up was nothing unusual as it signalled the start of Burma's dry-season offensive against SSA rebels. However, he hoped the Burmese attacks would not heighten border tensions.SSA military commander Jao Yord Serk said he believed Burmese forces would launch cross-border raids again this year.``We have deployed our forces for counter-attacks around Ban Pang Noon,'' he said.

    Thai and Burmese troops clashed in Ban Pang Noon in Mae Fah Luang last year after Burma crossed into Thai territory to attack Shan forces at nearby Gor Wan.Jao Yord Serk said Burmese troops would have a tough time seizing Gor Wan unless they attacked from inside Thai territory.However, a large-scale assault was unlikely as it would heighten border tensions with Thailand.``If they fire shells at us some are likely to stray onto Thai soil,'' said Jao Yord Serk.Mae Fah Luang district chief Chainarong Boonwiwatanakarn said local people should avoid venturing into the area.

    To The Top

    Ailing ceasefire leader whisked to Hongkong

    Shan Herald Agency for News No: 02 - 02 (6 February 2002)

    Sai Leun a.k.a. Lin Mingxian who suffered a second massive stroke in late October was transferred to Hongkong on 28 January after a Kunming hospital decided he was a hopeless case, said an informed source from the Chinese border, reports Moengzay.

    Sai Leun, 53, leader of the National Democratic Alliance Army a.k.a. Eastern Shan State Army was moved to the island hospital after a period of debate and inquiries. "Since he has already been removed from the annual blacklist of the United States in 2000, his wife and the executive committee finally decided it was safe to send him there," said the source. "Anyway who'd want to arrest a suspect who cannot even move or speak?"

    Sai Leun was replaced by Kyi Myint a.k.a. Zhang Zhiming, his closest comrade since their days as red guards during the Great Cultural Revolution (1966-70). Another vice-chairman office was also created for Sai Leun's son (name unavailable as yet). The other two vice chairmen are Sarm Pler and Khun Sanglu.

    Gen Khin Nyunt who was on his way to Tachilek also called at Mongla, NDAA's headquarters, on 17 January to inquire about his condition, said the source.

    Mongla, 60-miles northeast of Kengtung and opposite Taluo, is "a town that drugs built," according to Andrew Marshall in Time, 28 January issue. It used to be a transshipment area for smuggling Chinese laborers throuth Thailand and into America. About 10,000 Chinese tourists visit it everyday to see the transvestite "trannie" shows, the Reclining Buddha, the National Races Museum " actually a kind of human zoo," "Burman" ladies washing and playing with water, the opium museum and gaudy casinos. "(Mongla) sounds a bit like Shangrila," he writes, but among those who know it, the border town has been nicknamed "the anus of China."

    To The Top

    Myanmar To Hold Annual Gems Emporium

    YANGON, February 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar will hold its 39th annual gems emporium from March 4 to 12 this year to put on sale locally-produced quality gems, pearl and jewelry through competitive bidding, tender and at fixed price, according to the Myanmar Ministry of Mines Wednesday.

    In addition to making arrangements for foreign gem merchants to attend the forthcoming nine-day emporium, the Myanmar mining authorities will also allow local gem traders to buy gems and jewelry at the emporium. Besides the annual events taking place every year in March since 1964, Myanmar also used to hold mid-year ones in October to boost the country's gems sale.

    At the 38th annual and 10th mid-year Myanma gems emporiums held during 2001, 10.12 million and 9.556 million U.S. dollars were fetched respectively. Each emporium attracted hundreds of merchants from over a dozencountries and regions, mostly from China, the Hong Kong SAR, Japan,Singapore and Thailand.

    Myanmar, a well-known producer of jade, ruby and sapphire in the world, has earned a total of 339.834 million dollars of foreign exchange from its 38 annual and 10 mid-year gems emporiums,according to official statistics. Myanmar enacted the New Gemstone Law in September 1995, allowing national entrepreneurs to mine, produce, transport and sell finished gemstone and manufactured jewelry at home and abroad. Since April 2000, the government has reportedly started mining of gems and jade in joint venture with 10 private companies under profit sharing basis.

    To The Top

    Myanmar Increases Machinery Import in 1st 10 Months of 2001

    YANGON, February 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar's import of machinery equipment was valued at 744.38 million U.S.dollars in the first 10months of 2001, up 44.2 percent compared with the same period of 2000, according to a latest data published by the country's Central Statistical Organization.

    Of the import, the value of electric machinery apparatus amounted to 168.91 million dollars, a 17.68 percent increase fromthe same period of 2000, while that of the non-electric and transport equipment reached 575.47 million dollars, up 54.41 percent from the corresponding period of 2000. The country's import of machinery accounted for 30.8 percent ofthe 2,416.7 million dollars' total import during the first 10 months of 2001. According to official statistics, Myanmar imported 628.05 million dollars' worth of machinery equipment in 2000.

    Myanmar, an agriculture-based country, has to depend on import for the majority of different machinery equipment in need. Meanwhile, the country is striving to transform its traditional farming to a mechanized one for its agricultural development.

    To The Top

    Malaysia Introduces New Foreign Worker Recruitment Method

    KUALA LUMPUR, February 6, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Malaysian Cabinet Wednesday decided that from now on recruitment of foreign workers will be based on a government to government agreement. Through this approach, all groups could avoid problems such as foreign workers being cheated or not being able to find the employment that had been promised them in this country, Human Resource Minister Fong Chan Onn told reporters here Wednesday.

    "The Cabinet has decided that recruitment will be on a government to government basis. This is a policy decision," he said. Fong said the countries from which workers could be recruited -- the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan-- would come under this new condition.

    At present most of the foreign workers are recruited through agents. Employers also recruit workers directly from the approved countries. Fong said recruitment of workers through government to government agreement could also prevent misunderstanding and could avoid certain problems such as countries not accepting illegal workers being deported, claiming that there was no confirmation of their status.

    The Human Resource Ministry would draw up a memorandum pertaining to the agreement in about two or three months and would contact the various countries to discuss all relevant matters including methods of recruitment, he said. Fong said the conditions in the agreement would depend on each of the countries as they were likely to impose their own conditions. He said the government decided to recruit workers from various countries to avoid social problems as experience had shown that too many workers from one country could give rise to problems.

    To The Top

    Man arrested after trying to smuggle out 2 Burmese nationals in Singapore

    Source : Channel News asia

    A Malaysian man trying to smuggle 2 Burmese nationals out of Singapore was arrested at Tuas on Tuesday.

    At about 5.40pm, the 19-year-old Malaysian driving a purple Malaysian-registered Proton Perdana car was stopped at the Tuas departure section.

    Immigration officers searched the car and found the two Burmese nationals, aged 24 and 25, hiding in a secret compartment underneath the vehicle's backseat. Two pipes were connected to the compartment for ventilation.

    All three were arrested.

    Preliminary investigations found that the two Burmese nationals are likely to be immigration offenders.

    They will be charged in court and if convicted, the trafficker faces up to 5 years' jail and 3 strokes of the cane.

    The immigration offenders can be jailed up to 6 months and get 3 strokes of the cane or a fine of up to S$6,000.

    To The Top

    South Korea's Kang defends Myanmar Open title

    Source : AFP

    South Korea's Anthony Kang will defend his Myanmar Open title at Yangon Golf Club this Thursday.

    Kang won last year's event by two shots from compatriot Charlie Wi after firing a six-under-par 66 in the final round.

    He qualified for the US Open for the first time and ended the year 11th on the Asian order of merit with earnings of US$78,636 after three top-10 finishes and two more in the top 20.

    Las Vegas-based Kang, whose only other Asian Tour title came at the 1999 Philippine Open, said his own highlight of the year was in June when he qualified and played in all four rounds of the US Open at Southern Hills.

    Four past winners of the Myanmar Open are playing this week - Thailand's Boonchu Ruangkit (champion in 1996 and 1997), Pakistan's Taimur Hussain (1998), Taiwan's Wang Ter-chang (1999) and South African James Kingston (2000).

    Also in the field for the second Asian Tour stop of the year are 2001 order of merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and second-ranked Charlie Wi of South Korea.

    To The Top