Daily News- February 24- 2002- Sunday

  • Burmese foreign minister plays down stalled Japanese aid
  • Burma releases captive Indian guerrillas
  • U2 Preps 'Walk On' For Three Potential Grammys
  • PTT, Burma sign oil deals
  • Myanmar, ROK Sign Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation
  • Myanmar Fishery Fair Wins Over 27 Mln Dollars' Contracts
  • Wei 'aide' found dead after raid

  • Burmese foreign minister plays down stalled Japanese aid

    Text of report in English by Japanese news agency Kyodo

    Phuket, Thailand, 22 February: Myanmar [Burmese] Foreign Minister Win Aung said Friday [22 February] that Japan's stalled grant aid worth 26m dollars for repairing an ageing hydroelectric power station in his country was "nothing" to compare with national pride.

    Win Aung made the remarks during an interview with Kyodo News on the sidelines of an informal retreat among foreign ministers from 10 Southeast Asian countries on the Thai resort island of Phuket.

    He said Japan is reluctant to help Yangon repair the Baluchaung power station located in Lawpita city in northeast Kayah State.

    He instead praised China, "A friend in need is a friend indeed," though he stressed that China provided "no big loan" to Myanmar and invested little in the military-ruled country.

    Japan has been urging Myanmar's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to continue dialogue with the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) and the party's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Japanese officials have suggested that the anticipated grant is one of the elements that keep open the way for Japan to communicate with Myanmar's leaders.

    Win Aung said the dialogue between Myanmar's junta leaders and the NLD "will move forward." He declined to give any clue about the dialogue contents but said he is satisfied with the momentum of the talks.He also neither confirmed nor denied the report that Sr Gen Than Shwe, concurrently prime minister and chairman of the SPDC, had a discussion with Suu Kyi on 22 January.

    "This is the process going on, there'll be news. For us, it's not important for us. If you believe it, please believe it. If you don't believe it, you don't have to," he said."The important thing is that we have the same mind-set, understanding together," said the foreign minister, who served as ambassador to the United States before being appointed to his current position.

    He also assured that Myanmar is on the road to democratization. "Surely it will come, no backtracking, no side-step," he said.

    The Japanese cabinet was expected to approve the official development assistance grant, the amount of which will likely be around 3bn yen, by the end of last year.Since Tokyo has not yet approved the grant, the repair project is unlikely to start this year as earlier planned, according to Japanese officials familiar with the project.

    The Baluchaung hydropower station currently generates a total of 196 MW, accounting for 30 per cent of total electricity consumption in Myanmar. The power station built by Japanese grant aid began generating electricity in 1960.

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    Burma releases captive Indian guerrillas

    Source : BBC
    Subir Bhaumik in Moreh on the India-Burma border

    Indian officials say Burma has released all the separatist militants from the north-east Indian state of Manipur, who were arrested during a Burmese military operation along the India-Burma border last year. Sources in the Burmese border police say the last batch was let out last week.

    Officials of the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) say that Burma turned down their request to hand over the Manipuri rebels to India.

    In early November last year, Burmese security forces launched a major offensive against the Manipuri rebel bases around Tamu, the Burmese town just opposite Moreh. Nearly 200 rebels of three Manipuri separatist groups active in India and based just across the border in Burma were arrested.

    More than 1,600 weapons were seized, along with substantial quantities of gold and cash in various currencies. Those arrested included RK Meghen, chief of the United National Liberation Front; Jibon Singh, the military commander of the Peoples' Liberation Army, and four other senior rebel leaders.


    The BSF says it made an immediate request to their Burmese counterparts for handing the rebels over to Indian authorities. When Burma refused, India requested detailed information on the arrested rebels and their leaders.

    The BSF's Manipur area commander BK Mishra told the BBC that the Burmese stopped cooperating after initially agreeing to do so. Instead, he said, the rebels were set free in batches this year.

    Sources in the Burmese border police in Tamu talked to the BBC on conditions of anonymity. They said the last batch of 27 Manipuri rebels was set free from a prison in the western Burmese town of Kalemyo last week. They said the rebels had now disappeared into the thick jungles of Burma's Sagaing division.

    It is not clear why Burma's military rulers, who started the offensive against the Indian rebels in their territory last year, decided to release them. This release will surely upset India.

    Earlier last year, following reciprocal visits by their military commanders, the two countries had agreed to coordinate military activities against separatist groups active along the border.

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    U2 Preps 'Walk On' For Three Potential Grammys

    Yahoo Daily News

    After performances at the Super Bowl halftime show and for a private interest at the just-concluded Winter Olympics, U2 is preparing for Wednesday's (February 27) Grammy Awards. The Irish group is the odds-on favorite for a big night, leading all nominees with eight. Among those is "Walk On," which has been nominated in three categories--record of the year, best rock performance by a group, and best rock song.

    U2 frontman Bono tells LAUNCH that "Walk On" was inspired by director John Boorman's 1995 film, Beyond Rangoon: "He got caught up in the story of Aung Sang Suu kyi, this woman who was an academic who left her family and comfortable life in Oxford, England, to go back and be with her people in Burma, facing certain house arrest and even death. It's an extraordinary story." Suu kyi, in fact, remains under government arrest in Burma despite international calls to free her. U2 will perform at the Grammys, which are being held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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    PTT, Burma sign oil deals

    The Bangkokpost

    PTT Plc has signed four contracts to sell 100 million litres a year of petroleum products worth 900 million baht to Myanma Petroleum Products Enterprise, the national petroleum company of Burma.

    The deal was part of PTT's plan to expand its overseas market as well as enhance revenues, said Apisit Rujikeatkamjorn, senior executive vice-president overseeing the oil business group.

    The contracts cover the shipment of 24 million litres a year of diesel oil to Koh Song, opposite Ranong, worth 180 million baht; 9.6 million litres of gasoline to Koh Song worth 84 million baht; 60 million litres of gasoline and diesel to Tachilek in Burma, worth 480 million baht; and 3.6 million litres of lubricants worth 162 million baht to Tachilek. The agreements will run until February next year, with the possibility of annual renewals. Mr Apisit said Burma was considered a high-potential market for PTT.

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    Myanmar, ROK Sign Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation

    YANGON, February 23 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have reached an agreement on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of avoidance of paying income tax between the two countries.

    The agreement was signed here on Friday by Myanmar Minister of National Planning and Economic Development U Soe Tha and visiting Minister of Trade of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of ROK Hwang Doo-Yun, Saturday's official newspaper the New Light of Myanmar reported.

    In addition, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Korean International Trade Association (KITA) on Myanmar-Koreabusiness partnership was also signed on Friday to boost business cooperation between the two countries, according to another report of the paper.

    Following the signing of the MOU, 14 industrial and export-import companies of ROK and 77 companies of Myanmar discussed matters relating to bilateral trade.

    According to official statistics, ROK has poured in 153.11 million U.S. dollars in 26 projects in Myanmar since the country opened to foreign investment in late 1988. Bilateral trade between Myanmar and ROK in the first ten monthsof 2001 amounted to 328.61 million dollars, accounting for 7.61 percent of Myanmar's total foreign trade during the period. ROK is one of Myanmar's main trading partners.

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    Myanmar Fishery Fair Wins Over 27 Mln Dollars' Contracts

    YANGON, February 23 (Xinhuanet) -- The week-long Myanmar Fishery and Livestock Fair, which ended here on Friday evening, won a number of contracts worth a total of 27.25 million U.S. dollars.

    The sale contracts were signed between 19 local livestock and fisheries companies and 14 foreign companies from Australia, America, China, China's Hong Kong and Macao Special AdministrativeRegions, Britain, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore for purchase ofa total of 7,823.73 tons of fish and prawn.

    The fair, jointly sponsored by the Myanmar Ministry of Commerceand the Ministry of Livestock and Fishery, began on last Saturday and was participated by 135 foreign and local companies with a wide range of products related to livestock and fishery displayed which include livestock feedstuff, veterinary medicine, live shrimp and materials for cold storage.

    The fair was aimed at raising international awareness of the country's fishery and livestock products, finding more markets, attracting foreign investment and getting technical expertise.

    According to official statistics, in the fiscal year of 2000-01,Myanmar produced 1.28 million tons of fish and prawn, of which 140,000 tons were exported, fetching 218 million dollars of foreign exchange. It is expected that production for the current 2001-02 fiscal year ending March will reach 1.37 million tons and more export earnings will be brought about as it has reportedly earned 180 million dollars in the first three quarters of the fiscal year.

    Other official statistics show that since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in late 1988, foreign companies coming from Bangladesh, China, Germany, Japan and Thailand have injected 197 million dollars so far in the sector of fishery. Meanwhile, the Myanmar government has also worked out a three-year fishery development plan starting 2000, encouraging the localprivate enterprises to engage in the sector by setting up fishery joint ventures with the government and foreign companies. The fishery sector is the third productive mainstay of the country's economy after agriculture and forestry, contributing 7.5percent to the gross domestic products.

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    Wei 'aide' found dead after raid

    The Nation

    A man reportedly linked to fugitive drug baron Wei Hsueh-kang was shot dead yesterday in Chiang Mai's Muang district, just days after a team led by the Anti Money-Laundering Commission (AMLC) searched his mansion.Police believe that Mana Siridamrongkij, the owner of Chiang Mai Damrongsuk Limited Partnership, might have been killed in a bid to prevent ongoing investigations from getting closer to others involved in Wei's drug-trafficking network.

    Wei, 49, is leader of the United Wa State Army, an ethnic crime syndicate widely regarded as one of the world's biggest producers of heroin and methamphetamines. Convicted of drug trafficking in Thailand in 1987, he jumped bail pending an appeal, and has remained at large.

    Mana, 48, was the subject of last week's AMLC raid after evidence indicated that Wei used his relatives and close aides to run business in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to launder drug money.

    Last week's search, however, did not turn up anything suspicious at Mana's mansion. Chiang Mai Damrongsuk Limited Partnership runs a major cotton and silk-clothes shop in the province.According to police, Mana was on his way to run an errand in his pickup truck when he was shot twice, in the neck and ear.The shooting occurred at about 4pm just 100 metres from his house. Three bullet shells were found at the scene.

    Sudarat Siridamrongkij, an ethnic Chinese Haw woman, aged 44, weeping after the death of her husband, allowed police to search their mansion on a one-rai plot of land. Police took some documents including Mana's car registration, household registration and bank passbooks for further investigation.

    A source quoted Mana's neighbours as saying that a group of unknown men were seen driving cars and motorcycles past the victim's mansion a number of times after the AMLC search. The neighbours said that Mana and his family rarely talked with them."Mana and his family went in and out of their mansion all the time but they kept a distant relationship with those living in the same area," one neighbour said.

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