Daily News- March 02- 2002- Saturday

  • UN envoy hails Myanmar releases
  • Five freed in Burma
  • Military still maintains tight control in Burma; Australian Ambassador
  • Seized arms bound for Burmese pirates
  • Bangkok Workers Deported: Mae Sot Workers Return
  • Mon National Day Celebrated
  • Trans-Myanmar-Bangladesh gas pipeline plan by local co
  • Myanmar's Electric Power Generation Increases
  • Myanmar Factories Reach Over 57,000

  • UN envoy hails Myanmar releases

    By Patrick Chalmers

    BANGKOK, March 1 (Reuters) - The U.N. special envoy to Myanmar on Friday hailed the Yangon government's recent large-scale release of political prisoners and hoped opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi leader would also be given more freedom.

    "That's a very welcome decision indeed," Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail told Reuters by telephone from Kuala Lumpur.

    "The fact that they released people in big numbers is a change from the earlier releases, which were a handful of people," he added.

    "I hope in the weeks ahead there will be more releases and I hope soon that Aung San Suu Kyi herself will be out of the custody of her house," he said.

    Suu Kyi, who leads the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), has been placed under virtual house arrest by the military since September 2000.

    Razali was speaking after Myanmar authorities announced the freeing of five more political prisoners, a day after they let out and granted amnesty to 68 women who were in prison for "various criminal activities". Razali said he had heard a further four political prisoners were released on Friday.

    Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi has been prevented from organising nationally since it shocked the military with landslide victory in Myanmar's last democratic elections in 1990. But it was never allowed to rule after the win. According to NLD Secretary U Lwin, there are still about 800 NLD members in prison.

    Razali said Myanmar authorities' amnesty for political prisoners, rather than their simple release, was a positive sign.

    "It's very encouraging because it's done under the umbrella of an amnesty. It adds to the impetus of national reconciliation," he said.

    "The U.N. doesn't want to contest how or why these people have been put into custody or detained -- that's something that the authorities themselves have determined," he added.

    The European Union and the United States have aid and trade sanctions against Myanmar, citing Yangon's human rights record, failure to cooperate on fighting drugs, and political repression.

    Washington said last month it would consider lifting sanctions on Myanmar's military junta in return for what it called "significant progress" in talks with democracy leader Suu Kyi, including her release from house arrest.

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    Five freed in Burma

    source : BBC

    The Burmese military government says it has released from detention another five members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). Prisoners released are Kyaw Aye,Myo Myint,Hla Sein, Tin Kyi and Thein Zaw.

    The move follows a recent visit by the United Nations human rights envoy, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who urged the authorities to release all political prisoners, and to speed up the process.

    On Thursday, 68 women detained for what the authorities described as various criminal offences were freed. More than 200 opposition members are now reported to have been released since the Burmese Government began talks on national reconciliation with the NLD leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in October 2000. The NLD says that about 800 of its activists are still in prison. The NLD won Burma's last democratic elections in 1990, but the military prevented it from taking power.

    Visit blocked

    Earlier this week, officials from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said they had been prevented from seeing Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest in Rangoon. They said police refused to let them through a checkpoint blocking the road to the house.

    The two officials were at the end of a week-long visit to Burma to check whether the government had put an end to the practice of forced labour. Aung San Suu Kyi has been held under virtual house arrest since September 2000. For much of that time, the government has been involved in secret talks with Ms Suu Kyi and her opposition National League for Democracy.

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    Military still maintains tight control in Burma; Australian Ambassador

    Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)

    March 1, 2002 : Although there are some significant political developments taking place in Burma, the ruling military regime still maintains tight control over all aspects of life and the people suffer in terms of economic, social and cultural opportunities available to them.

    This was stated by the Australian Ambassador to Burma, Trevor Wilson at a Burma conference in the Australian National University last month. In his presentation, as personal level and not as Australian government's official position, the Ambassador pointed out that there have been some encouraging developments over the past 18 months in Burma, particularly in the light of on-going talks between the junta and the democratic leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

    However, what the international community and the people of Burma have yet to see is any real sign that the Burmese military regime is readying itself to transfer power to an elected government. Imposition of "heavy censorship" against the Australian joint venture - Myanmar Times - by the authorities in recent months is regrettable, said the Ambassador.

    Mizzima News has obtained the copy of his presentation and click the link below for the whole paper. The Ambassador had detailed the overall current situation of Burma.

    For full paper>>>

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    Seized arms bound for Burmese pirates

    The Bangkokpost

    A police taskforce traced a large cache of mines and war weapons seized in Muang district on Thursday. Songkran Petchnoy, Paknam police deputy superintendent, said the weapons were found abandoned near Klong Kiew-Kho Lui.

    Police believe they were destined for a gang of Burmese pirates based in the Andaman sea off the coasts of Ranong and neighbouring Phangnga.The gang, members of the Arakan ethnic minority, ran a fleet of speed boats carrying heavy weapons.The gang leader, identified as Kala or Tinsu, was thought to be a go-between for the Sri Lankan terrorist group, the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

    Pol Lt-Col Songkran said the origin of the weapons was unknown. Checks by bomb experts revealed they were made in China and did not come from the Thai military arsenal.He declined to comment on reports the Sri Lankan embassy had contacted police about a possible connection between the weapons and LTTE.

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    Bangkok Workers Deported: Mae Sot Workers Return

    By Tony Broadmoor
    The Irrawaddy

    March 01, 2002- Burmese migrant workers arrested in Bangkok on February 24 after a series of raids by police have been deported to a holding center in the Burmese border town of Myawaddy, according to sources along the border.

    The move, however, comes in stark contrast to the arrest of workers in Mae Sot, a Thai border town opposite Myawaddy, during similar raids last week. The illegal migrants found in Mae Sot were escorted to a checkpoint near the Thai-Burma Friendship Bridge, which separates the two towns, and then released. Sources said the majority of those workers were able to return to Mae Sot the same day.

    "The workers from Bangkok were handed directly to Burmese authorities and have been taken to the holding center in Myawaddy," said Mo Swe of the Mae Sot-based Burmese Labor Solidarity Organization (BLSO).

    The exact number of deported workers housed in the holding center is not known but it is thought to be near 1,000, according to the BLSO. The holding center was established after Thai and Burmese officials met in Phuket, Thailand earlier this year to discuss the burgeoning number of Burmese migrant workers illegally working in Thailand.

    The BLSO said police have begun to crackdown on migrants found in Mae Sot who do not posses work permits or whose employer only provided them with a copy of their permit.

    More than one million Burmese migrants are thought to be living in Thailand. Last October over 500,000 Burmese workers received work permits for a cost of 4,450 baht (US$ 100). The permits are good for one year, however, workers must pass a health examination after six months to remain in the country.

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    Mon National Day Celebrated

    By Win Htein
    The Irrawaddy

    March 1, 2002- The New Mon State Party (NMSP) held ceremonies in southern Burma yesterday marking the 55th anniversary of Mon National Day after Burma’s military government prohibited celebrations in Rangoon and the Mon State capital of Moulmein, according to party members. One ceremony was held in Pha-Lan, in Ye Township, and a smaller gathering attended by Mon officials and local Burmese military officials took place in Peyathosu, near Thailand’s Three Pagoda Pass.

    "The authorities in Rangoon only allowed us to gather in the compound of a Mon monastery," a member of Mon Independent News told the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) yesterday.

    NMSP Chairman Nai Shwe Kyin urged the Mon to unite and fight for ethnic rights during his annual national day speech. The 89-year-old party leader also said that the NMSP had issued an official statement regarding the ongoing reconciliation talks in Rangoon, according to the DVB.

    "We, the ceasefire groups, welcome the talks between the State Peace Development Council (SPDC) and the National League for Democracy (NLD), but later we also hope to participate in the talks," Nai Shwe Kyin told the DVB.

    The statement, which was endorsed by seven ceasefire groups, was released on Feb 12 and urged Burma’s military government to respect the Union Spirit, according to the DVB. Nai Shwe Kyin added that although the government was not happy with the statement, the groups must speak out on their true feelings.

    The NMSP, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the Shan State Peace Council (SSPC), the Shan State Nationalities People’s Liberation Front (SSNPLF), the Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF), the Kayan New Land Party (KNLP) and the Palaung State Liberation Party (PSLP) all signed the document.

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    Trans-Myanmar-Bangladesh gas pipeline plan by local co

    The Daily star

    The "Trans-Myanmar-Bangladesh Gas Pipeline" project, proposed by 'an international consortium', is actually the proposal made by Bangladeshi company Mohona Holding Ltd three years ago.

    The proposal was made in mid-'99, coinciding with US company Unocal's unofficial advocacy for gas export from Bangladesh to India and a visit by the-then foreign minister of Myanmar to Bangladesh. However, the proposal mysteriously became 'dead' within months, even before any meaningful negotiation or discussion with the government.

    Industry insiders said the company has revived the proposal again now, coinciding with the visit of Unocal's regional chief to Bangladesh. Few months ago, Unocal officially proposed to the government for export of gas from Bibiyana gas field to India.

    According to sources, the Trans-Myanmar- Bangladesh Gas Pipeline project proposal lacks any feasibility study, and available information on gas resources shows no scope for export of gas from Myanmar to India. The only surplus gas in Myanmar is being produced by Unocal, and the company is committed to supply that to Thailand for power generation.

    The proposal also claims to add gas to its pipeline from India's Tripura region, where large-scale gas production remained uncertain for years due to insurgency.

    Besides, the pipeline infrastructure will require investment of over two billion dollars. But Mohona Holdings does not have any expertise or investment in this regard. Its only partner in the deal is Indian oil com pany ONGC.

    Mohona Holdings categorically claims that its proposal in no way competes Unocal's gas export proposal or is linked with it. But the sources said its aim is to reach 'some understanding' with the US company. "There is nothing to be excited about it," commented an official source.

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    Myanmar's Electric Power Generation Increases

    YANGON, March 1 (Oana-Xinhua) -- Electric power generation of Myanmar in the fiscal year of 2000-01 reached over 5.024 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh), a-125.79-percent increase from 1988-89, according to the state-run Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE) Friday.

    Since 1988, altogether 32 new power plants -- 26 hydro power plants and six gas-fired and combined recycle plants -- have been built in the country. According to other figures of the MEPE, the installed generating capacity (IGC) of Myanmar remained at 1,172 megawatts ( mw) at the end of October 2001.

    The country is planning to add 2,000 mw more of the IGC in the next five years to meet the growing domestic demand of electric power, especially by the agricultural and industrial sectors involving major projects and the public use.

    The plan covers the 280-mw Paunglaung hydro power project in Myanmar's northern Mandalay division being built by a Chinese company under contract and the 780-mw Yeywa hydro power project in the same division.-- Oana-Xinhua

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    Myanmar Factories Reach Over 57,000

    YANGON, March 1 (Oana-Xinhua) -- The number of small-, medium- and large-sized factories and plants in Myanmar reached over 57,000 in the fiscal year 2000-01, an increase of over 15,000 from 1988-89, according to the Myanmar Industrial Development Committee (MIDC) Friday.

    With the increase of the number of factories, it has resulted in a lot of employment opportunities in the country with the number of employees in the three sectors of state, cooperative and private rising to over 25 million from 18 million in 1988.

    The MIDC figures also show that the net value of goods produced in the industrial sector increased up to 10,204 million kyats (about US$29.15 million) in 2000-01, up 149.24 percent from 1988-89.

    Meanwhile, Myanmar has set up 18 industrial zones in nine states and divisions, where a total of 4,496 factories and plants have gone into production.-- Oana-Xinhua

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