Daily News- January 02 - 2002- Wednesday

  • God's Army Twins Moved to Thai Camp
  • Warmer ties good news for border casinos
  • Japan Extends 13.8 Mln Dollars of ODA to Myanmar in 2001

  • God's Army Twins Moved to Thai Camp

    BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) The teen twins who led the Myanmar rebel group God's Army have been discreetly moved from a Thai police base to a camp for ethnic Karen refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border, officials said Wednesday.

    Johnny and Luther Htoo, 13, had been staying in a cramped two-story house at the police base in Ratchaburi province since they surrendered to Thailand last January, after their three-year jungle rebellion against the Myanmar military regime crumbled. Like other refugees, the Htoos are confined to the camp but have freedom of movement.

    "We couldn't keep them at the border patrol police base forever," said Payakkaphan Phokaew, a member of the Ratchaburi provincial border committee. He said the committee decided to move the twins because an application to resettle them to the United States was taking too long.

    A U.S. embassy official in Bangkok said the case was still under consideration pending an immigration service interview with the twins. In November, the Htoos told The Associated Press in an interview that they did not want to go to the United States and would prefer to stay in a refugee camp in Thailand, where more than 120,000 people from their Karen ethnic group currently shelter from civil strife.

    Karen and other ethnic minority rebel groups have been fighting for more autonomy in Myanmar, also known as Burma, for five decades. For about three years, the cheroot-smoking, devoutly Christian twins guided a ragtag army of mostly child soldiers in a guerrilla war near the Thai border. They were reputed by followers to be invulnerable to bullets and land mines.

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    Warmer ties good news for border casinos

    The Bangkokpost
    Teerawat Khamtita

    Cross-border casinos opposite this border province are expected to thrive after relations between Thailand and Burma improve.Two large casinos, Regina & Golf Club and Golden Triangle & Paradise Resort in Burma's Tachilek town, have drawn a number of foreign gamblers, particularly Thais.The number of gamblers has risen after relations between Thailand and Burma showed signs of improvement.

    Regina & Golf Club, opened about 4-5 years ago, is located in San Saitai village in Tachilek, about 4km from Chiang Rai's Mae Sai checkpoint. The casino equipped with a gambling room with 50 slot machines, a restaurant, a 50-room hotel and a golf course is jointly run by a group of Thai businessmen and politicians. It attracts about 50-100 gamblers daily.

    The number of gamblers visiting this casino increased after the Mae Sai checkpoint was reopened late last month. Thai gamblers normally crossed the border to Burma via this checkpoint as it was more convenient. Each was charged 40 baht in border pass fee.

    Laksana Jariyawattanasakul, managing director of Regina Shan Yo Ma Complex, a subsidiary of Regina & Golf Club, was confident more tourists would visit Tachilek and the casino complex in view of better ties.

    Executives of Golden Triangle & Paradise Resort are also optimistic. The casino, opposite Chiang Rai's Chiang Saen district, is run by Prasit Pothasuthon, brother of former agriculture minister Prapat Pothasuthon. It is located on a 100-rai plot opposite Chiang Saen's Sob Ruak village and is equipped with a restaurant, a duty-free shop, a five-star hotel and a gambling hall with more than 100 slot machines. It attracts about 300 gamblers a day.

    The move by Thailand and Burma to build a bridge from Sop Ruak village to Burma was welcomed by the casino management and Thai gamblers.At present, there is only one temporary border checkpoint at Sop Ruak. Thai people are not allowed to cross the border into Burma via this temporary checkpoint.

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    Japan Extends 13.8 Mln Dollars of ODA to Myanmar in 2001

    YANGON, January 2 (Xinhuanet) -- The Japanese government extended a total of 1.689.2 billion yens (about 13.8 million U.S. dollars) of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Myanmar in 2001, according to figures provided by the Japanese Embassy here.

    In 2001, the Japanese government resumed its ODA to Myanmar after a 13-year suspension of such aid to the country since 1988 due to political reason. The Japanese grant programs under the ODA in the year included two health-related, one sports-related and two construction related projects.

    Meanwhile, up to 2001, the Japanese government had provided aid for debt relief to Myanmar for 20 times including that of 3.594 billion yens (about 29.22 million dollars) extended during 2001, according to Myanmar official statistics.

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