Daily News- June 29- 2002- Saturday

  • Chavalit puts halt to army radio attacks
  • Chavalit says writer `enemy of all Thais'
  • Grandson of former dictator says family has no political ambition
  • Rumours that FEC to be taken out of circulation firmly denied
  • Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi wraps up trip to Mandalay

    Chavalit puts halt to army radio attacks

    Wassana Nanuam
    The Bangkokpost

    The military yesterday halted its verbal counterstrike against Burma's official newspaper which has run articles deemed insulting to the Thai monarchy since late May.The move followed what was described as a ``positive'' signal from Burma to the Thai leadership.

    Maj-Gen Palangkoon Klaharn, deputy Defence Ministry spokesman, said it was Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh's policy to let the army hit back at Burma's state-owned New Light of Myanmar for two days and then wait for reaction from the Burmese government.Rangoon had just sent a positive signal but what that was could not be revealed yet, he said.

    ``If they do not stop or take responsibility, the Defence Ministry will order the army to take offensive measures as planned,'' Maj-Gen Palangkoon said.

    The army's Siam Manusati radio programme yesterday morning aired an interview with foreign affairs expert Pichai Wassanasong in which he said the Burmese military leaders had failed to rule with kindness and create peace in their country despite their claims of being religious men.

    ``Senior Burmese military officers wai monks and say they are devout Buddhists. But they have never used the Lord Buddha's teachings to solve problems. This shows Burma may be fake gold rather than pure gold,'' Mr Pichai said in the interview.He continued that Thais had always tried to be Burma's friends although Burmese forces had razed Ayutthaya, Thailand's old capital, to the ground.

    However, the army's other radio programmes Khaosarn Wannee and Tairom Thongthai broadcast yesterday at noon and in the evening were about other issues, not verbal attacks on Burma.

    Chavalit says writer `enemy of all Thais'

    Yuwadee Tunyasiri
    The Bangkokpost

    The author of articles critical of the monarchy published in the Burmese government mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar should be considered the enemy of all Thais, said Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.

    The writer, Ma Tin Win, had been blacklisted as persona non grata and barred from entering the country, he added.

    Rangoon had yet to respond to three protest letters concerning the articles, as well as skirmishes last month on the northern border.Gen Chavalit said affronts against the monarchy would not be tolerated, adding the conflict would be settled if Rangoon agreed not to publish such articles in the future.

    However, the writer yesterday defended the accuracy of her articles and vowed to continue writing along the same lines.During an interview on BBC radio, she admitted writing the articles voluntarily based on information gleaned from her studies and research into Burmese history.She shrugged off the controversy surrounding her work, saying she planned to write more articles on Thai-Burmese relations.

    Ma Tin Win holds a doctorate degree in historical pedagogy from a Russian university.She began writing articles on European and Asian history for several Burmese magazines in 1984, and recently published a book about Burma's Konbaung dynasty.

    But according to Burma's Irrawaddy magazine, Ma Tin Win's work was considered only ``average'' by most of the country's writers and editors, many of whom disagreed with her views.Her attacks against Thailand published in the New Light of Myanmar last year reportedly drew a slew of abusive calls from readers, forcing her to change her telephone number.Her numerous articles included one that strongly criticised King Mongkut, or King Rama IV, for his handling of colonial powers in the mid-1800s.This prompted a strong protest from Bangkok.

    Sunate Chutitaranont, a Chulalongkorn University historian, said Ma Tin Win was not accepted even inside Burma as a recognised historian, adding her interpretations of past events caused uneasiness among many Burmese.

    To The Top

    Grandson of former dictator says family has no political ambition


    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ A grandson of former dictator Ne Win on trial for high treason told a special court Friday that his family stayed away from politics and had not tried to subvert soldiers to help stage a coup to oust the military junta.

    "We never discuss politics at home and we have no interest in politics or have any political ambition," said Aye Ne Win, testifying before a special tribunal that began hearings on May 10.

    Myanmar's military government alleges that Ne Wkn's son-in-law and three grandsons tried to recruit military units to kidnap junta leaders and force them to form a new regime loyal to Ne Win. They were arrested March 7.Aye Ne Win, his two brothers, Kyaw Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win, and their father, Aye Zaw Win have pleaded innocent to charges of high treason, a crime punishable by death. They are also contesting charges of inciting military personnel to commit high treason and the illegal importation and use of telecommunications equipment.

    Aye Ne Win, 25, spent nearly six hours Friday trying to refute government allegations that his family planned the coup because they were upset about losing some economic and social privileges and wanted to regain power.

    Ne Win, who came to power in a 1962 coup, stepped down in 1988 in the face of pro-democracy demonstrations, which were crushed by the military. Some analysts of politics in Myanmar, also known as Burma, have suggested that Ne Win continued to exercise his influence behind the scgnes after 1988.

    "After he retired from politics in 1988, grandfather Ne Win told military leaders not to visit him as he wanted to immerse himself in religion and wanted to stay aloof from politics," said Aye Ne Win, who studied international law and human rights law in England.

    Ne Win, 91, and his daughter Sandar Win "mother of the accused grandsons" were placed under house arrest after the alleged coup plot was uncovered.

    Aye Ne Win also addressed government allegations that the family kept dolls of the ruling junta's top three leaders to use in black magic rituals.He said the dolls were actually given to him by a couple who ran a non- governmental organization that teaches women how to make handicrafts including miniature dolls.The trial will continue Monday when Aye Ne Win will continue his defense.

    To The Top

    Rumours that FEC to be taken out of circulation firmly denied

    By Thet Khaing
    Myanmartimes-June 24 - 30, 2002

    Deputy Finance Minister Brig-Gen Than Tun last week denied the rumours suggesting that government might withdraw the Foreign Exchange Certificates soon. He told a media conference last Wednesday that FEC would continue to be a legal tender for the convenience of the foreign travellers in Myanmar and local people who engaged in transactions in American dollar.

    Central Bank of Myanmar introduced FEC in 1993 for circulation in the place of US dollars, the use of which is legally restricted to specific sections of the population. Only those who earn foreign exchange through lawful means can handle the hard currency. One FEC has an official value equal to that of the corresponding US dollar bill.

    "FECs are fully backed by the Central Bank against the acquisition of US dollars, and even if they were to be withdrawn, the bank would hand out the greenback equivalent," a central Bank official told Myanmar Times.

    The rumours speculated after the government instructed the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication recently to accept the payment of telephone bills in Kyats from those phone users who were before mandatory have pay their bills in FEC.

    Brig-Gen Than Tun said the government’ move was aimed at reducing the exchange rate between Kyat and FEC, which was tumbled down in its value by 15 per cent over the past few month after the new government regulation was introduced. Brig-Gen Than Tun said the foreigners and Myanmar citizen who have been making transactions in foreign currencies will still have to pay their telephone bills in FECs. The government has made it clear that it has no plan to withdraw any of the currency currently under circulation.

    To The Top

    Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi wraps up trip to Mandalay

    Source : AFP

    Burma democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has left the northern city of Mandalay, winding up her first political trip outside the capital since being released from house arrest last month, party sources said.

    "She left Mandalay at around 9:30 am (0300GMT) Saturday and will stop for lunch at Meiktila," a source from the National League for Democracy (NLD) told AFP.

    Despite the success of the trip, in which her freedom of movement was not hampered, an expected meeting with Mandalay's military commander, Major General Ye Myint, did not happen.

    NLD sources had said Friday that such a meeting would have been a "significant development".

    "She did not meet with any high-ranking officials as was expected," said NLD official Maung Maung Than, joint secretary of the NLD Mandalay organising committee, who put it down to a "misunderstanding".

    Suu Kyi and the ruling military regime have been engaged in secret talks on national reconciliation since October 2000, but observers have expressed concerns over the pace of the talks, particularly since her release has yielded no further political developments.

    However, Suu Kyi was invited to the Mandalay's Palace City, the former residence of the last Burmese king, which is now the regional military headquarters.

    She was given a one-hour tour, Maung Maung Than said.

    Suu Kyi is expected to visit government projects along her return route, such as Paunglaung dam in Pyinmana, and will probably spend the night there before completing the return journey to the capital Sunday.

    The immensely popular leader left Rangoon a week ago for her first political trip outside the capital since she was freed from 19 months' house arrest on May 6.

    A trip such as this was expected by observers to be a true test of the regime's undertaking to grant her complete freedom of movement, and so far NLD sources say this is what she has enjoyed.

    The trip is particularly significant because Mandalay, lying some 695 kilometres (430 miles) north of Rangoon, was the city the ruling military regime blocked her from travelling to in September 2000.

    Soon afterwards the regime confined her to her famed lakeside villa in the capital.

    To The Top