Daily News- January 07 - 2002- Monday

  • Nuclear Burma
  • Myanmar Says 2001 -- An Unprecedented Year for Int'l Cooperation
  • Government warns filmmakers at Myanmar Oscars to avoid foreign influences
  • Myanmar's Tourism Industry Under-Developed: S1
  • Thai-Burma talks on how to repatriate alien workers
  • Myanmar's Ship-Building Industry Makes Progress

  • Nuclear Burma

    The Washington Post : Editorial : Sunday, January 6, 2002; Page B06

    SO NOW Burma is going nuclear. The Southeast Asian nation also known as Myanmar, one of the poorest in the world, has purchased a 10-megawatt "research reactor" from Russia. Groundbreaking is scheduled for this month at "a secret location near the town of Magwe," reports the Far East Economic Review.

    The news coincides with reports that two Pakistani nuclear scientists, wanted for questioning in their own country for reported connections to Islamic extremists, found refuge in Burma.

    None of this means, necessarily, that the thuggish generals who run Burma have aspirations for a nuclear arsenal. Maybe, like dictators throughout the atomic age, they see nuclear power as a glorification of their otherwise unsung rule.

    More interesting perhaps is the seller's motivation. Put differently, is there nothing the Russian Atomic Ministry won't stoop to? Most civilized governments shun the Burmese regime. Democratic leaders who had to fight their own dictatorships, such as South Korea's Kim Dae Jung and the Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel, tend to be the most supportive of Burma's beleaguered democrats. But even governments less inclined to act on the basis of morals or ethics find the odiousness of Burma's dictators too pungent to ignore -- which leaves the "engagers" in a kind of isolation of their own.

    Leader of those engagers and arms suppliers, not surprisingly, is China. The Burmese junta's corruption and its history of massacring peaceful pro-democracy students must be comforting to Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who recently toured Burma. He said the nation "must be allowed to choose its own development path suited to its own conditions" -- the usual words of dictators who do not allow their own people to choose anything.

    Then we have Japan, ever eager for commercial advantage, and some U.S. and European clothing importers and energy companies, such as Unocal. These, at least, show occasional signs of embarrassment at the assistance they render the world's leading practitioner of forced labor. And then there is Russia, selling MiG-29 fighters as well as nuclear technology and demonstrating, yet again, its less than full embrace of the democratic values it claims now to cherish.

    By aligning themselves with the junta, the governments of Russia and China may gain commercially in the short term, but they are unlikely to reap long-term strategic advantage. Burma's economy is imploding.

    The regime is so fearful of its own people that it recently banned a Norwegian postal stamp honoring Aung San Suu Kyi, the rightful leader of Burma who remains under house arrest a decade after winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

    The junta puts people in jail for owning fax or copying machines. That is a leadership without much prospect, and when it falls, and the nuclear reactor is rusting, most Burmese people are likely to remember who stood with them and who sided with their oppressors.

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    Myanmar Says 2001 -- An Unprecedented Year for Int'l Cooperation

    YANGON, January 6 (Xinhuanet) -- 2001 was a year which marked an unprecedented year for Myanmar in terms of international cooperation, said a government press release here Sunday.

    The release cited the visits to the country during 2001 of high-ranking officials of the United Nations organizations, including those of the Special Envoy of the U.N.Secretary-General for a number of times and International Labor Organization, the U.N. Special Rapportuer on Human Rights and several other envoys from European Union (EU), United States and United Kingdom.

    All of them have consistently witnessed a situation that "the people of Myanmar, the national government and majority political parties seem determined to find a solution among themselves," the release said, adding that the situation was applauded and encouraged by the U.N. secretary-general who openly favors a settlement that is "home grown."

    However, the press release charged that some groups and non-governmental organizations with vested interests wanted to keep the Myanmar related issues alight for their own domestic political agendas and were "paradoxically frowning and developing an apprehension or even a fear that the disappearance of such issues may deprive them of their 'roles' both domestically and internationally" in spite of the positive development viewed by the U.N. and crucial regional organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the EU.

    It said that for the first time at the U.N. in 2001, major power in Asia such as China,India, Japan and the ASEAN countries had expressed their indignation in one form or another on the language and on some unacceptably negative paragraphs contained in the Myanmar resolution on human rights.

    The press release stressed that "A home grown settlement that engenders a steady evolution towards a multi-party democratic state should ensure proper adaptation of the democratic process which in turn should prevent disruption of long standing cultures and traditions of the diverse Myanmar people."

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    Government warns filmmakers at Myanmar Oscars to avoid foreign influences

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ A cabinet minister warned film artists at Myanmar's annual Motion Picture Awards to preserve national culture and avoid foreign influences, official press reported Sunday.

    "The way an artist dresses or speaks influences the youth and is infectious to the audience," Information Minister Maj. Gen. Kyi Aung told the awards ceremony in Yangon Saturday.

    "If the alien styles are apef/ it amounts to neglecting the national culture," he was quoted as saying by the state-run, English-language newspaper, the New Light of Myanmar. Kyi Aung told film artists to abide by the two fundamental elements in Myanmar culture, which he said were a "sense of shame" and fear of sinning or indulging in uninhibited desire, the report said.

    All media, including Myanmar's small cinema industry, are subject to strict censorship by the nationalistic military government that took power in 1988 after a bloody crackdown on nationwide democracy protests. Myanmar is also known as Burma.

    "Nga-ye-tha," or "Denizen of Hell," swept the awards for best film, director, actor and best supporting actor. It's the story of a man who killed, robbed and bullied villagers all his life, and only realizes his wrongdoing on his deathbed. The awards were contested by the 12 films that were made in Myanmar during 2000. The awards are presented after a delay of one year.

    In its heyday of the early 1960s, Myanmar churned out about 100 films a year. Filmmakers say it is now difficult to import film stock because of a lack of foreign exchange.

    Kyi Aung said there are 201 registered cinemas and 32,283 video parlors in Myanmar. Some 136 of the cinemas and all of the video parlors are privately owned, the report quoted him as saying.

    Award winners of Myanmar Motion Pictures for 2000

    The Best Cameraman Award went to Than Nyunt (Pantha) for his performance for the film " Maunt-mu-paing-shin ",

    the Best Supporting Actor Award to Aung Khaing for his role in the film "Nga-ye-tha",

    the Best Film Award to the film " Nga-ye-tha",

    the Best Supporting Actress Award to Khin Than Nu for her role in the film "Tha-me-shin",

    the Best Film Director Award to Thiha Tin Soe for the film " Nga-ye-tha ",

    the Best Actor Award to Thiha Tin Soe for his performance for the film "Nga-ye-tha",

    the Best Actor Award to Yan Aung for his performance in the film "Maw-ha-myin-pyaing-mya", and

    the Best Actress Award to Myo Thanda Tun for her role in the film "Hna-khan-htet-ka-da-thwa".

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    Myanmar's Tourism Industry Under-Developed: S1

    YANGON, January 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar leader Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt has admitted that his country's tourism industry is under-developed in spite of abundance in favorable conditions in the nation.

    Speaking at a meeting here on Saturday of Myanmar's Management Committee for Development of Tourism Industry, Khin Nyunt, First Secretary of the State Peace and Development Council, called for ways for the development, official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Sunday.

    "Although most sites all over Myanmar can attract tourists, implementation of tasks for tourism development is weak," he complained.

    According to official statistics, tourist arrivals in Myanmar registered at 77,773 in the first eight months of 2001, a year-on-year drop of 48.82 percent. The number of tourist arrivals also dropped sharply due to the negative impact of the last September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

    The statistics also show that since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in late1988, contracted investment in the sector of hotels and tourism has amounted to 1.054 billion U.S. dollars in 42 projects. The country targets to draw 500,000 foreign tourists annually.

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    Thai-Burma talks on how to repatriate alien workers

    The Bangkokpost
    By Achara Ashayagachat

    Thailand hopes to make headway towards repatriating more than half a million illegal Burmese workers in talks starting in Phuket today. But sources expect the Thai-Burmese joint co-operation commission to face obstacles on the more thorny issue of what to do with 108,584 displaced people, mostly from Burmese ethnic minorities.

    The commission, with senior officials meeting today and tomorrow before the country's foreign ministers come together on Wednesday, will also address problems with fisheries, drug control and trade.

    With 568,000 illegal Burmese workers registered since September last year, and an estimated 100,000 more remaining unregistered, Thai officials were anxious to find a solution, sources said. The sources said Thai officials would table options on how to send the illegal workers back to Burma as well as attempting to create a framework for the legal entry of workers.

    Burma has proposed the Township Border Committee handle the repatriation of the illegal workers while Thailand wants to set up a new mechanism to deal with the problem.

    ``Sending them back secretly across the border is not appropriate as there is no guarantee that they will not return [to Thailand],'' a source said.`Rangoon should have people and money to deal with the issue.''

    Another source said that with the 1,000 baht registration fee for each foreign illegal worker, Thailand could support the repatriation if identification could be proved by the workers and the Burmese authorities. ``However, the Burmese should co-operate in curbing the illegal crossing of these job seekers,'' the source said.

    Pornpimol Trichote, a Burma expert at Chulalongkorn University's Institute of Asia Studies, said Burma should not have a problem with taking back the illegal workers as most were of Burmese origin.However, she said Rangoon would be reluctant to accept the more than 100,000 displaced people as most were from ethnic minority groups which had fought against the military junta.

    Of the 108,584 displaced people living in 11 camps in Thailand, 89,564 of them are Karen, with the rest being Karenni.

    Thailand has insisted that the displaced people be repatriated in safety, with provisions for a decent livelihood after their return to Burma.However Burma would take back insurgents and their dependents only ``if they are genuinely interested in leading a normal way of life in the legal fold by exchanging arms for peace,'' according to the minutes of the 19th Regional Border Meeting held in Pattaya in September last year.

    ``We might have to accept the reality that reconciliation inside our neighbour Burma might not come easily, but while the internal process is under way, we have to help develop other positive options,'' a source said.

    The commission is meeting for the first time in 212 years. The resumption of talks is seen as a sign of success for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's government in its bid to mend sour ties with Burma.

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    Myanmar's Ship-Building Industry Makes Progress

    YANGON, Jan 6, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Myanmar has made certain progress in ship building in recent years with the support of the government. According to figures published by the Myanmar Ministry of Transport, since 1995, the Myanma Shipyard (MS) under the ministry has successively built and delivered six vessels to marine companies of two Southeast Asian (SEA) countries.

    Of the six vessels, two were exported to Indonesia which are a 38-meter-long sea pollution control vessel and a 29-meter-long pusher tug, while the other four were built for Singapore which are transporters having 50 meters, 55.5 meters, 56 meters and 63 meters in length respectively.

    Official statistics also show that since 1988, Myanmar has built over 30 vessels for cargo and passenger services and imported over 100 passenger and cargo vessels to improve its inland water transport, of which 72 were imported from China' Yunnan Machinery Import and Export Corporation. So far Myanmar owns 721 state-owned vessels for its inland water transport services and 23 ocean vessels engaged in overseas and coastal shipping services.

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