Daily News- February 10- 2002- Sunday

  • Japan govt granted refugee status to 26 last year
  • DVB says over 50 Shan troops arrested under drugs pretext
  • Thai army to watch Burmese troop activities
  • Thai, Burmese companies agree to joint fisheries off Burma's Tenasserim
  • Conference reviews situation of country's information technology
  • Thai to launch major crack down on Illegal Burmese tomorrow
  • lllegals caught hiding in car boot
  • U.N. human rights envoy arrives in Burma
  • U.N. special envoy Razali to visit Burma in March
  • Thongchai claims play-off victory in Myanmar Open

  • Japan govt granted refugee status to 26 last year

    Yomiuri Shimbun

    The Justice Ministry recognized 26 foreigners as refugees in 2001, up from 22 in 2000, ministry officials said Saturday. Two of them obtained refugee status by appealing the ministry's initial rejection of their applications. There were 353 applicants for refugee status in 2001, a 1.6-fold increase over 2000. The ministry approved only 7 percent of the applications.

    The officials said the growing number of applicants was attributable to increasing abuse of the system and also to Europe and the United States tightening restrictions on the influx of refugees. The United States accepted 24,000 people as refugees in 2000, and the Netherlands that year accepted 23,626 refugees from Afghanistan alone.

    Among the 26 refugees accepted by Japan, 13 fled Myanmar's military regime, eight were from Iran, and three from Afghanistan, according to recently compiled ministry statistics.

    According to the ministry, an additional 67 people were given special permission to stay in Japan with protected status for humanitarian reasons. Among the 353 applicants, the largest number came from Turkey (123), followed by Afghanistan (78), Pakistan (47), Myanmar (23) and Iran (20).

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    DVB says over 50 Shan troops arrested under drugs pretext

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 9, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 8 February

    Personnel from SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] military columns have arrested more than 50 members of the Shan State North Army, SSNA, a nationalities armed group that have signed a cease-fire agreement with the SPDC military government, last month.

    The incident occurred when the SPDC columns inspected a SSNA camp in Mongli village of Hsenwi township, Shan State, over suspicion of narcotic drugs activities on 30 January morning. The SPDC military columns involved were from Infantry Battalion [IB] 69 and Light Infantry Battalion [LIB] 322.

    Personnel engaged in searching the village were Maj Tin Ngwe-led Military Intelligence Unit No 19 and Col Soe Tint-led Military Operations Management Command No 16. They seized over 20 knapsacks full of ephedrine powder used in making stimulant drugs.

    Witnesses said that immediately after the drug seizure all SSNA troops were disarmed and arrested together with those in the village, and sent to Lashio jail the same day. Over 50 SSNA troops including a battalion commander and a company commander were arrested and about 30 assorted weapons were seized.

    Border sources said that at present Mongli village is under the control of LIB 323 and they are interrogating local villagers about their involvement with the SSNA and their knowledge of the narcotic drugs.

    The SSNA signed a cease-fire agreement with the SLORC [State Law and Order Restoration Council; predecessor of SPDC] in 1990 and they are active in Mu-se, Kutkai, and Hsenwi Townships of northern Shan State.

    DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] correspondent Myo Win Thant reported that the SPDC has been pressuring the SSNA for an unconditional surrender of their weapons and has been frequently arresting its members under various pretexts.

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    Thai army to watch Burmese troop activities

    The Bangkokpost

    The army is keeping a close eye on Burmese troop movements in Tachilek in the wake of the ongoing suppression drive by Rangoon soldiers against the Shan State Army.

    Col Surasak Boonsiri, commander of the 4th Cavalry Task Force, said Gen Surayud Chulanont inspected Mae Fa Luang district on Friday and ordered all border units to be alert and watch out for stray shells that might land on the Thai side during the suppression drive.Col Surasak said the situation was generally normal and Burma showed no signs of wanting to close the border checkpoint at Tachilek, opposite Mae Sai.

    Gen Surayud insisted the army would not support rebel groups, including the SSA, and would not allow the conflicting sides to use Thai soil to attack one another.A source said Gen Surayud ordered soldiers to concentrate their attention on Mae Mo village in Mae Fa Luang district, Kuteng Nayong area in Mae Sai district and Pang Noon base in Mae Fa Luang district, Chiang Rai.

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    Thai, Burmese companies agree to joint fisheries off Burma's Tenasserim

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 9, 2002
    Text of report in English by Myo Lwin, carried by Burmese newspaper The Myanmar Times web site on 9 February

    Myanmar [Burma] Fisheries International JV Limited [MFIJVL] and Thailand's TTC Fishery have signed an important agreement to jointly fish in Myanmar territorial waters off Tanintharyi [Tenasserim] Division. At a signing ceremony at the Micasa Hotel last Friday, MFIJVL chief executive officer Mr Jean Pichon said the venture would make a significant contribution to the national economy. MFIJVL is a joint venture in which Setraco International of France has a 60 per cent share, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries owns 30 per cent and a local private company, 10 per cent.

    Speaking to Myanmar Times after the ceremony, Mr Pichon said the venture would benefit from the knowledge which Thai fishermen had gained while operating in Myanmar waters while providing valuable employment and transfer of skills to southern fishermen Mr Somchai Kinkaew, president of TTC Fishery, said the company had 15 years experience of fishing in Myanmar waters, mainly near Myeik [Mergui].

    "We have modern equipment such as radar monitoring systems which we will share with our Myanmar counterparts, Mr Somchai' said. He said his company would bring in 10 fishing vessels in two or three weeks time and gradually built up the fleet to 100 boats.

    "When we can operate at full capacity, we expect to generate revenue of between 2m to 3m US dollars a month," Mr Somchai said. Profits would be shared 50-50 with MFIJVL, he said, adding that his company would adhere to all rules and regulations.

    Speaking earlier at the ceremony, Mr Pichon said more needed to be done to protect Myanmar's marine resources. Fisheries operators needed to respect maximum sustainable yields or marine resources would be depleted in three or four years, he said. The venture would prove that the catch could be increased by several times the existing figure without causing any concern about the depletion of resources, he said.

    Department of Fisheries figures show that seafood exports from Tanintharyi Division last year was 22,000 tonnes. The Deputy Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, U Aung Thein, said they hoped to export more than 300m dollars-worth of seafood products a year, he said.

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    Conference reviews situation of country's information technology

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Feb 9, 2002
    Text of report in English by Win Kyaw Oo, carried by Burmese newspaper The Myanmar Times web site on 9 February

    Myanmar [Burma]'s information technology sector promised to contribute to the nation's economic development but there were still many challenges to overcome, the Minister for Communication, Post and Telegraph, Brig-Gen Thein Zaw, said last week. The challenges included financial restraints, the need to improve the telecommunications infrastructure and a shortage of IT specialists, Brig-Gen Thein Zaw said. Myanmar was confident it could overcome the challenges because of people's ability to learn new skills quickly and the government's increasing support for the IT sector, he said. The Minister was delivering a keynote address at a conference titled "Information technology in Myanmar: Business outlook and opportunities", held to coincide with the opening of the Myanmar Information and Communications Technology Park and the Bagan Cybertech teleport and internet data centre. The conference enabled state and private sector specialists to discuss how they can cooperate more closely to help the development of Myanmar's infant IT industry.

    "The launch of the country's first information technology park is a concrete example of cooperation between the government and private enterprise," said Brig-Gen Thein Zaw. Many participants at the conference said human resources development would play a critical role in the development of the IT industry.

    Myanmar has more than 6000 IT specialists but would have "about 30,000 IT technicians by 2004," said U Pyone Maung Maung, the joint secretary of Myanmar's e-National Taskforce, established in 2000 to encourage greater cooperation in IT between the state and private sectors. Referring to the outlook for the industry, U Pyone Maung Maung said global IT business last year was valued at about three trillion US dollars, of which software development accounted for about 430bn dollars.

    "Myanmar's IT industry is competitive in terms of costs," he said, using as an example the United States, where the cost of developing software was about 10 times more expensive. Infrastructure being introduced into the country would help to expand to IT sector. U Pyone Maung Maung referred to the first phase development of the satellite-based VSAT (very small aperture terminal) network. About 200 VSAT terminals had been installed throughout the country, but the network could be expanded up to 5000 devices, U Pyone Maung Maung said.

    Overseas participants at the conference said Myanmar would need to join global institutions such as the Global VSAT Forum and the World Wide Web Institute before locally developed software could penetrate the international market. Mr Martin Jarrold, a director of UK Global VSAT Forum, said that individual firms or consortia should be members of such institutions to secure business outside the domestic market. "Local operators could also be outsourced by foreign businesses," he said.

    The conference was jointly organized by Bagan Cybertech and the Singapore Information and Resources Centre and sponsored by Japan-based Sasakawa Southeast Asia Cooperation Fund.

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    Thai to launch major crack down on Illegal Burmese tomorrow

    Network Media Group

    Chiang Mai, February 9, 2002 -Thai authorities are going to launch a three-month long crack down on illegal Burmese living in Thailand starting tomorrow, February 10, according to a Thai NGO staff member working with Burmese migrant worker and refugee issues.

    "This time, the people arrested will be sent to the Myawaddy detention center and the Thai authorities are aiming to send back 300,000 illegal Burmese in this operation", she said.

    Thai authorities will use the budget for this operation to arrest and send back illegal Burmese from the registration fees collected from previous foreign worker registration programs last August and September. Baht 450 from each registration will be used for sending back the illegal workers, at that time more than 560,000 workers were registered. So, the Thai government has more than 255 million Baht to use for sending back the illegal workers, mentioned in February 8 issue of "Matichon" Thai language newspaper.

    A leader from a workers' organization based in Mae Sod said "About one third of the Burmese workers in Mae Sod have not registered because they could not pay or they arrived after the registration".

    An agreement was reached between Thai and Burmese foreign ministers during a meeting in early January held in Phuket, Thailand. The agreement stated that Burma was to open centers at the borders to accept illegal workers who are sent back from Thailand. But, if illegal workers who are sent back will be punished or not, is not mentioned in the agreement.

    Thai foreign minister Surakiat Sathiathai made a statement in yesterday's press conference just after coming back from Rangoon, that he got the promise from Burmese counterparts that sent back workers will not be punished if they can prove they are Burmese citizens. But, how to prove Burmese citizenship was not mentioned.

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    lllegals caught hiding in car boot

    The Star

    KANGAR: The lure of a better life in Malaysia forced three Myanmar citizens to hide in a locked car boot for several hours on Wednesday. However, their attempt was in vain as the boot was forced open by a state Customs enforcement team during a routine anti-smuggling check in Taman Seri Intan, a residential area about 15km from here.

    Four Myanmar passengers who were sitting in the back seat of the vehicle, were also detained and surrendered to the immigration officials. The driver and his female companion who were both holding Malaysian identity cards were later detained on suspicion of attempting to smuggle foreigners in.

    Perlis Immigration Department director Rosli Mahmud told reporters that the three male Myanmar stowaways, who crawled out dazed, were shocked to have been nabbed. The seven paid RM120 each to the driver to bring them in through the Padang Besar border crossing, Rosli said.

    He said the 23-year-old driver and his 25-year-old companion were residing in Langkawi and Perlis respectively and the immigration department had obtained a remand order to further investigate the case.

    Rosli said initial investigations revealed that the Penang-registered vehicle was heading towards the southern part of the country. In a related case, an immigration enforcement unit detained 15 foreigners for working without valid documents at two construction sites on Thursday.

    Five were from Myanmar, six from Thailand and four were Indonesians. They were caught in construction sites behind Taman Sena Permai and Bohor Pulai here. A Malaysian worker was also detained for harbouring illegal immigrants, Rosli said. He added that a major operation, codenamed Ops Kutip, would be launched soon for a major sweep of illegal workers in Perlis.

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    U.N. human rights envoy arrives in Burma

    Rangoon (Reuters)- - The U.N.'s human rights envoy to Burma arrived in the military-ruled country on Sunday, his third official visit since he took up his post a year ago.

    Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma, told reporters after his arrival the purpose of his latest mission was to complete a report to be presented to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in April.

    Pinheiro said he did not know if he would definitely meet opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi -- under virtual house arrest for more than a year. -- who he met on his last visit in October.

    "I don't know yet, but probably of course," he said. "I just have a tentative programme."

    Burma's Deputy Foreign Minister U Khin Maung Win said Pinheiro would be free to go anywhere and meet whoever he wanted during his visit, expected to last until February 19.

    "According to the tentative schedule, Pinheiro is going to Kachin State where he will visit Myitkyinar Prison and some representatives from the ethnic Kachin armed group which has reached a peace agreement with the government," he said.

    During his last visit in October, Pinheiro met senior military figures as well as Suu Kyi.

    The Suu Kyi's NLD won 1990 elections in Burma, but the military have refused to hand over power.

    Diplomats said releasing political prisoners, including Suu Kyi, would top the agenda of Pinheiro's talks with officials of the ruling State Peace and Development council.

    In November 2001, Pinheiro submitted a report on his findings to the U.N. General Assembly, in which he called for Burma's government to grant more political freedoms to opponents and ethnic minorities and free political prisoners.

    Amnesty International estimates there are some 1,500 political prisoners in Burma's jails.

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    U.N. special envoy Razali to visit Burma in March

    Source : MSNBC / AP

    Rangoon- Razali Ismail, the U.N. special envoy to Burma, will make his seventh official visit to the country next month, an official told Reuters.

    Burma Deputy Foreign Minister U Khin Maung Win said late on Saturday that Razali's four day visit was set to begin March 19.

    A U.N. official said the special envoy would meet with senior leaders of the ruling military government and opposition leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner who has been under de facto house arrest.

    Burma is regarded as a pariah state by much of the international community because of its human rights record and treatment of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD).

    Razali, a former Malaysian U.N. ambassador and General Assembly president, was named U.N. special envoy in April 2000 with a mandate to work for democratisation and national reconciliation in Burma.

    During his last visit in November and December, Razali met with Suu Kyi, who heads the National League for Democracy (NLD), as well as leaders of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

    Suu Kyi has been under virtual house arrest since September 2000 despite having entered into secretive talks Razali brokered with the military government.

    The talks have yielded the release of 207 NLD prisoners and opening of 32 NLD township offices in Rangoon Division.

    But the NLD criticised the SPDC on January 4 in its Independence Day Declaration for the sluggish progress of the talks.

    SPDC Chairman Senior-General Than Shwe and Suu Kyi secretly met at a government guesthouse on January 22, diplomatic sources said.

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    Thongchai claims play-off victory in Myanmar Open

    Rangoon (AFP) - Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee showed why he is the No.1 player in Asia when he claimed the 200,000 dollar Myanmar Open in a play-off at Yangon Golf Club.

    In a gripping final day which saw five players jostle for the lead, Thongchai, winner of the Asian PGA Order of Merit last season, subdued American Edward Loar with a par on the first extra hole on the 18th.

    Thongchai, joint 10th in the Johnnie Walker Classic two weeks ago, started the day two shots behind the overnight leaders but fought into contention with a three-under-par 69 to end the week on 11-under 277.

    Loar, who closed out with a 71, had a glorious chance to clinch victory in his debut in Asia but a birdie attempt on the 72nd hole stopped short of the cup. He bogeyed the play-off hole following a poor approach.

    "I'm very lucky to win the title," said Thongchai, who picked up the winner's cheque of 32,300 dollars.

    "I thought I didn't have a chance. The turning point was on 17 when I birdied the hole despite driving into the hazard. But when Edward failed to birdie 17 and 18 to allow me to get into the play-off, I was confident of finishing the job."

    Thongchai's unlikely birdie on the par-five 17th came despite driving into the hazard. After hacking the ball back onto the fairway, Thongchai launched a five iron from 210 yards to 15 feet of the flag and drained the birdie putt.

    "The five iron was the winning shot for me. I thought that 12-under would be the winning number and felt that Edward (who was playing in the group behind Thongchai) could easily birdie the par five 17th as he was 11-under with two holes remaining," added that Thai star, whose victory is his third in his career.

    Loar, a former Walker Cup player, was disappointed with the defeat. "I had my chances during regulation but I didn't take advantage of the par fives, especially the 17th," said the American.

    Thailand's Thammanoon Sriroj gave himself a shot at the title when he eagled the 17th from the greenside bunker to be tied with the leaders but bogeyed the last hole to settle for third place on 278.

    "I had a terrible lie in the bunker on 18th and shanked my third shot into the crowd. But I nearly chipped in for the par. I'm still delighted to finish third and it is a good start to the year for me," said Thammanoon, a four-time winner in Asia.

    India's Arjun Atwal, the overnight joint leader, was a further stroke back in fourth place after signing for a disappointing 73.

    Burma's Aung Win raised local cheers by grabbing a share of the lead on two occasions on a hot and humid final day but settled for joint sixth place after running up a bogey and double bogey on the 15th and 18th holes.

    "I'm disapppointed with my final-round effort. I gave myself some opportunities but just couldn't hole the putts. And my finish was very poor," said Win.

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