Daily News- January 22 - 2002- Tuesday

  • Myanmar to build its first nuclear reactor
  • UN envoy to visit Rangoon
  • Myanmar says no trace of missing French activist
  • Burmese leaders discuss human resources development with Chinese state councillor
  • Myanmar Grants Fishing Rights to Myanmar-Thai Joint Venture
  • Smugglers abandon heroin cargo, flee back to Burma
  • Myanmar's IT Sector Enters Into Stage of Development

  • Myanmar to build its first nuclear reactor

    YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's ruling military has confirmed for the first time that it is planning to build its first nuclear reactor with help from Russia, in a move it says is purely for peaceful purposes.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Muang Win said the reactor would be used to meet demand for radio isotopes for healthcare, agriculture and education. "We have been conducting feasibility studies for building a nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes," he told a news conference late on Monday. "I would like to stress that it is purely for peaceful purposes, purely for nuclear research, purely for training our scientists and also to meet our need for radio isotopes."

    Russia said last year that it was close to finalising talks with Yangon on the sale of a research reactor, which industry sources say is likely to have a capacity of about 10 megawatts. Myanmar's military authorities have previously declined to confirm the negotiations with Russia but said on Monday they had never tried to hide their interest.

    "We have been carrying it out openly," said Khin Muang Win. "We officially informed the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Authority) Director General of our idea and asked for their advice in September 2000," he said.

    IAEA officials have confirmed discussions with Myanmar and say the reactor is unlikely to be suitable for the production of nuclear weapons. But they have expressed concerns over safety and the ability of the impoverished nation to cope with such high-maintenance technology.

    Myanmar, ruled by the military for much of the last four decades and one of the poorest nations in the world, has limited infrastructure and funds. The country has been isolated politically and economically from much of the Western world for its human rights record and alleged involvement in the illicit drugs trade. It has also faced a campaign for international sanctions since 1990 when the military ignored the results of elections won by the National League for Democracy of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Industry sources say the Russian reactor is likely to cost up to $5 million, a price tag that Yangon might choose to meet by bartering produce such timber, rice and fish. Foreign diplomats in Yangon say a number of technicians from Myanmar left for Russia last year for training on how to build and operate nuclear facilities. Nuclear experts say that of the roughly 400 research reactors world-wide, nearly half have been mothballed due to their expense and complicated maintenance.

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    UN envoy to visit Rangoon

    From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

    The United Nations human rights envoy to Burma, Paulo Pinheiro, is to visit the country again next month. Mr Pinheiro's previous visit last October was interrupted because he fell ill.

    A United Nations source said Mr Pinheiro wanted to investigate tension and violence between Muslims and Buddhist monks in some parts of Burma. He is also expected to pursue the case of a student leader, Min Ko Naing, who's been in detention for more than 12 years. The Burmese military government is accused of repressing political opposition and using forced labour.

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    Myanmar says no trace of missing French activist

    The Times of India AFP

    BANGKOK: Myanmar's military government said on Monday it had no information on the whereabouts of a 31-year-old French activist who went missing along its border with Thailand last October.

    Friends of Xavier Tanguy, a known supporter of the opposition ethnic Karen militia, believe he was arrested and detained in Myanmar after he secretly entered the country to meet with Karen insurgents.

    "We still do not have any information on Mr. Xavier Tanguy ... I do believe that if Mr. Tanguy really happened to cross over to the Myanmar side we would definitely know by now," a government spokesmen said in a statement. "We have been working closely with the French Embassy in Yangon to investigate Mr. Xavier Tanguy's alleged disappearance on the Myanmar side of the Myanmar-Thai border since he was reported missing."

    The French embassy in Yangon declined to comment on the inquiry into Tanguy's disappearance. However, the French embassy in Bangkok said the embassy was "working with the local police authorities in Mae Sot," the Thai border town where the French activist was last seen around October 17, according to friends.

    Tanguy's parents were scheduled to take up their son's case on Monday with France's ministry of foreign affairs in Paris. Aside from a possible accident or foul play -- Tanguy's bank account has shown no activity since he was reported missing -- his friends say he could have fallen into a political trap as his Myanmar girlfriend worked as a government informer.

    Tanguy's father said last month that his son had last been seen in the company of a woman from Myanmar whose mother is imprisoned there on charges of trafficking in opium. Myanmar could be seeking some kind of deal "because Xavier, who has entered the country clandestinely several times, is well known to their secret service," he said.

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    Burmese leaders discuss human resources development with Chinese state councillor

    BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Jan 22, 2002
    Source: Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 1523 gmt 21 Jan 02

    Yangon [Rangoon], 21 January: Chairman of the Myanmar [Burma] State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and Prime Minister Senior General Than Shwe met with visiting Chinese State Councillor and Secretary General of the State Council Wang Zhongyu here Monday [21 January]...

    On the occasion, Wang Zhongyu noted that for more than 50 years since China and Myanmar established diplomatic relations, the two countries' good-neighbourly ties have been continuously developing. Through reciprocal visits at high level, it has pushed the continuous expansion of their economic and trade ties and development of Sino[Chinese]-Myanmar relations, he said.

    He pointed out that the common views reached between President Jiang and Myanmar leaders during Jiang's Myanmar visit last year has clearly shown a direction of the two countries' relations, enabling the friendly and cooperative ties between them to enter into a new stage."Our visit this time is to implement the common views reached between President Jiang and Chairman Than Shwe and to further promote the economic cooperation between two countries, especially the cooperation in the sector of human resources development," he said.

    Present on the occasion were Chinese Minister of Personnel Zhang Xuezhong, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Li Jinjun, Myanmar SPDC Vice-Chairman General Maung Aye, SPDC First Secretary Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, Foreign Minister U Win Aung and Chairman of Civil Service Selection and Training Board Dr Than Nyunt.

    On Sunday afternoon, Khin Nyunt, who also met here with the visiting Chinese state councillor, said Myanmar and China jointly advocated the five principles of peaceful coexistence [mutual respect for territorial sovereignty, mutual nonaggression, mutual noninterference in internal affairs, equal benefit and peaceful co-existence], adding that leaders of new generations of the two countries all pay very much attention to the continuous development of Myanmar-China ties,He pointed out that the major achievements made by China in economic construction and the important role played by China day by day in the international affairs have inspired the developing nations deeply.

    He reiterated that Myanmar will always abide by the "one-China" policy as before.The two sides also exchanged opinions over the common views reached between President Jiang and Myanmar leaders during Jiang's Myanmar visit and specially made further discussions on cooperation in the field of human resources development.

    The Chinese personnel delegation, led by Wang Zhongyu, arrived here on Sunday [20 January] on a four-day official visit to Myanmar at the invitation of Khin Nyunt. After its Myanmar visit, the delegation will proceed to Cambodia and the Philippines.

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    Myanmar Grants Fishing Rights to Myanmar-Thai Joint Venture

    YANGON, Jan 22, 2002 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The Myanmar fisheries authorities have granted a Myanmar-Thai joint venture to carry out fishing operation in the country's territorial waters where an exclusive economic zone lies. The move is aimed at attracting more foreign investment in the country's fisheries sector, according to the Fisheries Department (FD) of the Myanmar Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries.

    The joint venture, formed by Myanmar's KTTA Co and Thailand's K Marine Corporation in early January, is the first of its kind ever approved by the Myanmar government to fish in the country's territorial waters. The joint venture, shared by the Myanmar company with 60 percent and the Thai's with 40 percent, has a deposit of 100,000 U.S. dollars as security in Myanmar's state-run Foreign Trade Bank.

    According to the FD, the joint venture's fishing fleet from Thailand is heading towards Myanmar waters batch by batch for the move. The joint venture's trawlers are designated to pay to the Myanmar government 15 percent of the total value of the catch and 10 percent of the value of the exports. In addition to fishing operation, the joint venture will also run related businesses such as cold storage plants, processing facilities and cannery or fish meal plants.

    According to official statistics, there are about 15,000 fishing boats owned by Myanmar companies in operation in the country's territorial waters. In the fiscal year 2000-01, Myanmar produced 1.28 million tons of fish and prawn, of which 140,000 tons were exported, earning 218 million U.S. dollars. It is expected that production for 2001-02 ending March will reach 1.37 million tons and more earning will be brought about.

    Other statistics show that since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in late1988, foreign companies coming from Bangladesh, China, Germany, Japan and Thailand have so far injected 197 million dollars in the sector of fisheries. Meanwhile, the Myanmar government has also worked out a three-year fishery development plan starting 2000, encouraging the local private enterprises to engage in the sector by setting up fishery joint ventures with the government and foreign companies.

    Besides, the government has leased out or sold the majority of the state-owned fishery ponds to the private sector for business operations. Fishery sector is the third productive mainstay of Myanmar's economy after agriculture and forestry.

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    Smugglers abandon heroin cargo, flee back to Burma

    Bangkok Post - January 22, 2002. Methamphetamine seizure in Lampang Manop Thip-osod Authorities seized 21 kilogrammes of heroin and nearly half a million methamphetamine pills in two raids in the North over the weekend. Sixty bars of compressed heroin were seized on Sunday night following a clash between a Thai patrol and a group of armed men in Mae Hong Son's Pang Mapha district near the Burmese border.

    Two smugglers, identified later as Muso tribesmen, were killed in the clash. The rest fled back across the border, abandoning 21kg of heroin. There were no Thai casualties. Third Army commander Lt-Gen Udomchai Ongkhasing suspected the seized heroin was part of a large consignment being smuggled into the country via Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces.

    The heroin seizure was reportedly linked to the arrest of Seri Saengsuk, a Chinese man arrested with his wife, Khamla, on Jan 12 on drug trafficking charges. They were believed to be major traffickers in the North. On Saturday night, Sa-ard Lamyongchalalai, a Muso from Mae Hong Son, was arrested in Lampang with 470,000 speed pills in his possession.

    Pol Maj-Gen Supoj Siripoon, chief of metropolitan division 6, said the suspect was wanted for alleged involvement in drug trading in Bangkok. Six guns and some ammunition were also seized during the arrest. Pol Maj-Gen Supoj said the suspect was believed to have links with a Burmese woman arrested in the seizure of 50,000 speed pills in the Siam Centre shopping complex car park on Nov 11 last year. Further investigation led to the confiscation on Dec 16 and on Jan 11 of 839,000 more speed pills by the same police team that arrested the Burmese woman, he said. The woman was believed to have links with drug warlord Wei Hseuh-kang, Pol Maj-Gen Supoj said.

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    Myanmar's IT Sector Enters Into Stage of Development

    YANGON, January 22 (Xinhuanet) -- The information technology (IT) and software sectors of Myanmar have entered into a stage of development following the current inauguration of an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Park in the capital of Yangon, which brings IT companies together into operation.

    The country's first ever ICT park, opened on Monday at the Yangon University's Hlaing campus, comprises a teleport and internet data center established by the Bagan Cybertech, a semi-government organization. The ICT park, built at an estimated cost of some 10 million U.S.dollars, will create business opportunities for Myanmar software companies. Meanwhile, the teleport and internet data center will help expand the communication infrastructure.The grouping of IT companies at the park would also enable the development of big software projects which a single company alone can not implement.

    The park provides facilities for 32 tenants which include 24 Myanmar IT companies. It also has two Japan-Myanmar e-(electronic)learning centers. The Bagan Cybertech provides the ICT park with high speed data communication broadband internet access and telephony voice services.

    The launching of the ICT park was also marked by hosting two-day meetings of e-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Working Group and e-ASEAN Task Force prior to the event. Myanmar has been selected to promote 8 of 40 e-ASEAN pilot projects including e-tourism. In recent years, Myanmar made some achievements in the ICT sector.

    At present, almost all basic education schools in Myanmar including the primary level have already established or in the process of establishing multi-media classrooms. In addition, 20 computer colleges have also been set up across the country. Myanmar joined in signing the e-ASEAN Framework Agreement in November 2000 and an e-national task force has been formed to implement the framework in an effort to provide access to the country's 52-million population having a tele-density of 0.53 per 100 people.

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