Daily News- January 12 - 2002- Saturday

  • Japanese PM agrees to increase role in Myanmar reconciliation process
  • Burma announces nuclear plans
  • Special allowance sought for clash with Burmese
  • Wa use cars stolen from Malaysia
  • Opposition party denies killing villagers
  • Radio says Karen National Union responsible for Thanbyuzayat killings
  • Myanmar Projects Rise in Edible Oil Production in 2001-02

  • Japanese PM agrees to increase role in Myanmar reconciliation process

    BANGKOK, Jan 11 (AFP) - Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has agreed that Japan would play a more active role in the reconciliation process in Myanmar, officials said friday.The agreement came during a meeting with his Thai counterpart Thaksin Shinawatra, as part of a whirlwind tour of Asia.

    "Japan agreed in principle to be a core in creating stability and reconciliation in Myanmar," Thai government spokesman Yongyuth Tiyapairat said after the meeting.

    The ruling State Peace and Development Council and Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) have been involved in secret discussions on a democratization process since October 2000, but analysts say the talks are more or less stalled.

    "Japan and Thailand are going to consult and cooperate more closely for the democratization in Myanmar," a senior Japanese government official told reporters."Political stability and democratization in Myanmar should be approached in tandem.

    "Of course democratization is very important but political stability is also a point that we have to take into account," he added on condition of anonymity.

    "The dialogue between the two parties in Myanmar is developing for national reconciliation but it takes time," the official said.He added that Japan had recently resumed substantial assistance to Myanmar in recognition of the development of a democratization process.

    The United States and the European Union have not given any indication on an early lifting of their sanctions against Myanmar.Both are pressing for the ruling junta to release political prisoners and allow freedom of movement for Aung San Suu Ky, who has been under de facto house arrest since September 2000.

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    Burma announces nuclear plans

    Source :BBC
    By BBC Burma analyst Larry Jagan in Bangkok

    Burma has announced it plans to join the nuclear club. The Burmese Foreign Minister, Win Aung, told the BBC his country was committed to developing a nuclear research facility for medical purposes and possibly to generate nuclear power.

    But it would be some time before a nuclear reactor was actually built in Burma he said. In recent weeks there have been numerous reports that Russia has signed a deal with Burma to supply a reactor.

    The Burmese authorities have admitted more than 200 technicians have received nuclear training in Moscow in the last 12 months. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna has officially asked Moscow to provide details of any deal they have done with Rangoon.

    Safety standards

    Win Aung said no deal had yet been signed but initial research had been done and Burma is keen to explore the use of nuclear energy. He said many other countries in the world are using nuclear power.

    Given Burma's chronic energy shortage, there is little wonder they might want to experiment with nuclear power.

    IAEA officials said Rangoon told them last September of plans to acquire a nuclear research reactor and asked for help to secure one. Two months later the IAEA sent an inspection team to Burma to assess the country's preparedness to use and maintain a nuclear reactor safely. The team concluded that the safety standards in place were well below the minimum the body would regard as acceptable.

    Burma has yet to respond to the IAEA report, but nuclear officials in Vienna fear this means that Burma plans to proceed with their nuclear ambitions without the necessary attention to safety.

    Asian concern

    But nuclear experts say that even if the military government wanted to build a nuclear reactor, it is likely to be several years before this happens.

    In the meantime many countries, especially in the Asian region, will be concerned about the prospect of a nuclear Burma. Diplomats in Rangoon say authorities have trouble maintain existing electricity generators let alone a nuclear reactor.

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    Special allowance sought for clash with Burmese

    The Bangkokpost
    Wassana Nanuam

    The army is seeking the defence minister's approval for a special allowance for soldiers who fought Burmese troops in two clashes in Chiang Rai last year.

    An army source said the Third Army Region had proposed payment of a special risk allowance for about 2,000 soldiers who clashed with Burmese troops at Kuteng Nayong in Mae Sai district in February last year, and at Khao Hua Lone hill in Mae Fa Luang district in May last year.

    The proposal had gone to army chief Gen Surayud Chulanont, and would be sent on to Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the source said.However, the source said Gen Chavalit might not back the move for fear of upsetting closer ties between Thailand and Burma.

    The border at Kuteng Nayong and Doi Lang in Chiang Mai had been sealed by Thai and Burmese troops and the situation had improved.Gen Chavalit will meet Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council first secretary Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt at the opening of a Thai-Burmese trade fair at Tachilek on Friday.

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    Wa use cars stolen from Malaysia

    The Bangkokpost
    Sermsuk Kasitipradit

    Thai criminals are selling hundreds of stolen Malaysian vehicles to the United Wa State Army in Burma for use in drug trafficking.An army source said huge bribes were being paid to allow the smuggling of hundreds of vehicles each year from Malaysia through Thailand to the drug-producing army, known as the Red Wa.

    Up to three stolen vehicles were being smuggled each day, with the Red Wa paying 350,000 baht each for their preferred offroad vehicles.

    The source, from a special unit of the Third Army's 2nd Cavalry Division based in Mae Ai district, said the Thai-run gang received the vehicles after Malaysian officials were bribed.The source said Malaysian thieves, and in some cases crooked Malaysian police, drove the stolen vehicles to border checkpoints at Sungai Kolok or Padang Besar.

    The vehicles were issued with a border passage document with corrupt Malaysian authorities collecting 100,000 baht as bribes, the source said.Thai gangsters picked up the vehicles, put fake Bangkok number plates on them and produced bogus registration records. The vehicles were then driven north.

    The source said a Hat Yai man caught behind the wheel of one of the vehicles in Chiang Mai's Fang district claimed uniformed Third and Fourth Army soldiers were among those used as drivers.The vehicles crossed into Wa-dominated Burmese territory at the officially closed Doi Pa Mee border pass in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district.Bribes of up to 80,000 baht were paid to soldiers and border police to allow the vehicles through.

    Lt-Gen Udomchai Ongkasingha, the Third Army commander, ordered an inquiry into soldiers under his command suspected of being paid to turn a blind eye to the smuggling.Gen Surayud Chulanont, the army commander-in-chief, was briefed and ordered an investigation into Fourth Army soldiers in the South believed to be helping the gang.

    The source said the gang's ring-leader was a Thai man married to the daughter of a Red Wa officer who owned amphetamine pill production bases in the Wa town of Muang Yon.The source said stolen Malaysian vehicles were preferred as Thai vehicles had traceable police records.The source said the sale of the stolen vehicles to the Red Wa posed a threat to national security as the vehicles were used to transport and distribute drugs.At least three stolen vehicles were smuggled into Thailand each day.

    The most sought-after vehicles were off-roaders and preferred models were Toyota Landcruiser and Mercedes-Benz E-class.``The Red Wa are filthy rich. They use money to talk ,'' the source said.

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    Opposition party denies killing villagers

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jan 11, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 10 January

    The SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] has issued a statement today alleging that the KNPP, Karenni National Progressive Party, murdered seven villagers from villages near the Lawpita hydroelectric power plant in Kayah State. Of the seven murdered six from Lawpita village tract were killed on 30 December 2001 while one from Shansu village was killed on 1 January. The SPDC statement did not provide any specific details about the incidents. When DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] asked the KNPP about the SPDC statement, KNPP secretary U Raymond Htoo said the following:

    [U Raymond Htoo] Just recently I asked the regional commander in charge of that area about our troops and learned that there have been no movements there for some time. We do not murder villagers and commit such atrocities. We have never killed any villager and those responsible are definitely not our troops. There are also about three or four small groups that the SPDC has formed which are active in the region. Furthermore, security is very tight in the vicinity of Lawpita hydroelectric power plant.

    [Htet Aung Kyaw] Yes. Just today I heard that the SPDC has sought Japanese aid for the Lawpita plant. What is the KNPP's reaction to SPDC seeking Japanese aid, foreign aid for Lawpita?

    [U Raymond Htoo] We welcome any move made in the name of regional development. Once the country gains peace and stability we will invite and welcome not only Japan but any country willing to partake in development projects. Even if they do not come they are invited. But the KNPP urges foreign nations not to engage in any development project during the time of the military government. If they do then the KNPP will make vigorous efforts to prevent the projects. That is the KNPP's position.

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    Radio says Karen National Union responsible for Thanbyuzayat killings

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jan 11, 2002
    Text of report by Burmese radio on 11 January

    KNU [Karen National Union] insurgents are using various means to disturb community peace and tranquillity, commit destructive acts and torture the people.

    On the evening of 22 December, about 30 KNU insurgents arrived at U Cho's house near the Thanbyuzayat-Ye road in Kaleinmadaw village in Thanbyuzayat Township, Mon State. U Cho, his wife and their daughter Ma Cho Cho Oo were killed by gunfire. Their youngest daughter, Ma The Su, two and a half year old, was seriously wounded in the neck, forearm and abdomen.

    Upon receiving information about the incident, Defence Services columns rushed to the scene and were in hot pursuit of the insurgents. The local people loathe the insurgents who are committing atrocities, disturbing prevailing peace and tranquillity and carrying out destructive acts.

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    Myanmar Projects Rise in Edible Oil Production in 2001-02

    Yangon, January 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar projects to yield 413,000 tons of edible oil during the present fiscal year of 2001-02 ending March, an increase of 32,000 tons over the previous fiscal year, according to a forecast of the state-run Myanma Agricultural Service (MAS).

    The MAS under the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation expects that the increased production would be brought about through growing of three main oil crops of groundnut, sesame and sunflower in three arid divisions of Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway in central Myanmar.

    It is forecast that groundnut oil production would go up by 5,000 tons, sesame by 10,000 tons and sunflower by 17,000 tons. Meanwhile, total cultivated area of the crops would expand to 2.55 million hectares with sesame taking up 1.4 million hectares, more than double the area of the other two crops.

    According to official statistics, annual edible oil consumption of Myanmar is about 500,000 tons. As domestic production is still falling short of demand, the country has to import at least 100,000 tons of palm oil annually from Malaysia.

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