Daily News- March 04- 2002- Monday

  • Burma exiled MPs reaffirm 1990 election mandate
  • Acreage Under Irrigation Increases in Myanmar
  • Forest Plantations Greatly Increased in Myanmar
  • International Basketball Goodwill Meet Begins in Myanmar
  • Burma releases pregnant women
  • Over 280,000 Telephones in Use in Myanmar
  • Biman connects Yangon, Bangkok via Ctg

  • Burma exiled MPs reaffirm 1990 election mandate

    Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)

    March 3, 2002 - The exiled Members of Parliament from Burma have reaffirmed that they will not ignore the verdict of the people expressed through the general elections held in 1990 and that they will continue to struggle for ending military rule and establishing a federal democratic Union of Burma.

    This was announced at the end of a meeting of "Elected Representatives of the Union of Burma" held from February 25 to March 1 at Bommersvik in Sweden.

    According to the BOMMERSVIK Declaration which was released today, the Burma parliamentarians said that one of their immediate objectives is to "promote and ensure, to the extent possible" that the on-going talks be speeded up to a political dialogue and become a tripartite dialogue involving the ethnic nationalities of the country.

    The ruling military government and opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been entering into political talks since October last year. The military government, however, maintains tight control in the country and refused to hand over power to the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a landslide victory in the election.

    "(We) Affirm that based on the 1990 election results, the NLD led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has the mandate to form the Government of the Union of Burma, and that the NLD and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi have the right to enter into a dialogue with the SPDC and others, and to negotiate a transition to democracy", said the declaration.

    The Burma parliamentarians also appealed to the Japanese government to withhold resumption of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Burma "until a transparent, accountable and responsive government of national reconciliation is in place". They also requested Burma’s neighboring countries to fully support and cooperate with the UN Special Envoy in his endeavors to bring about national reconciliation in Burma.

    The five-day "Convention of Elected Representatives of Burma" was held with the assistance of the Swedish Government and Olof Palme International Center and attended by 19 Members of Parliament belonging to the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) and the Members of Parliament Union (MPU).

    The NCGUB was formed outside Burma with some Members of Parliament after the 1990 elections. It has been facing criticisms from the Burma Diasporas in exile, allegedly for its "inefficiency and monopoly of the exiled democratic movement".

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    Acreage Under Irrigation Increases in Myanmar

    YANGON, March 3 (Xinhuanet) -- The irrigated area of Myanmar has increased by 972,000 hectares to 1.98 million hectares after 130 dams were built since the present government took office in 1988, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation.

    The building of the 130 dams in the past 13 years, which cost 51,453.03 million Kyats (about 147 million U.S. dollars), has brought the total number of dams in the country to 267. Myanmar's irrigated area accounts for 13.16 percent of its cultivated area. Meanwhile, the government has also built 262 river-water pumping stations, undertaking tapping of underground water and digging wells to bring safe drinking water to rural areas. These projects are now supplying drinking water to 15.15 million rural people.

    According to official statistics, Myanmar's cultivable land stretches 18.225 million hectares. Sown area in the country has reached 15.04 million hectares compared to 9.63 million hectares in 1988. As agriculture is the mainstay of Myanmar's economy, the government is giving priority to the development of the sector in order to produce enough food to feed the nation's present 52- million population.

    Agriculture accounts for 42 percent of the country's gross domestic product and 25 percent of its export value.

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    Forest Plantations Greatly Increased in Myanmar

    YANGON, March 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar has established 81,000 hectares of forest plantations under a 30-year master greening project, according to the Myanmar Ministry of Forestry.

    Under the greening project which targeted at the arid zone in central Myanmar, over 243,000 hectares of natural forests have been conserved and protected since 1994 when the project began.During the plan period, 3.03 million hectares of green and lush forests will emerge and the project will be able to prevent desertification of dry regions.

    Of Myanmar's total land area, 50.81 percent are covered with forests. In accordance with the plan, over 26.73 million hectares of land will be covered with forests.Meanwhile, extension of the use of wood-substitute fuel is being encouraged and water supply work carried out with the assistance of Japan.

    According to official statistics, in the first 10 months of 2001, Myanmar exported 256,681 cubic-meters of teak and 304,225 cubic-meters of hardwood, earning a total of 217.26 million U.S. dollars for the country.

    Timber is Myanmar's second largest export goods after agricultural products and foreign exchange earned through the export of timber accounts for about 20 percent of the country's total export earnings.

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    International Basketball Goodwill Meet Begins in Myanmar

    YANGON, March 3 (Xinhuanet) -- A Six-country Basketball Goodwill Meet began here on Saturday. The goodwill meet, organized by the Myanmar Basketball Federation, drew six participating nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and host Myanmar.

    The tournament is aimed at extending the cooperation in sports between ASEAN nations. In men's competition on Saturday, selected Myanmar team beat selected Laos team 82-59 and Singapore edged Cambodia 86-44, while in the women's event, selected Myanmar team defeated selected Singapore team 66-53.

    The competition will continue on Sunday with Singapore meeting Brunei, Laos taking on Cambodia in the men's event, while Malaysia will play Singapore in the women's event.

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    Burma releases pregnant women

    Source : BBC

    The military government in Burma has released 28 pregnant women from jail on humanitarian grounds. The women, in prison for various offences, were the second batch of pregnant women to be freed - 68 were released last week.

    The move was apparently timed to coincide with the consecration of a giant new stone Buddha in Rangoon. Buddhist tradition holds that merits for the next life can be gained by such gestures.

    Also last week, five political prisoners were released from detention - all members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). It followed 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.

    Secret talks

    The BBC Burmese affairs analyst says the releases could be seen as a move by Rangoon to engage the UN and set a precedent for future political releases.

    More than 200 opposition members are 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.

    Speaking after last week's releases, the United Nations special envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail said: "The fact that they released people in big numbers is a change from the earlier releases, which were a handful of people. "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."

    Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest in Rangoon since September 2000. The NLD says 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.

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    Over 280,000 Telephones in Use in Myanmar

    YANGON, March 4 (Xinhuanet) -- There are over 280,000 telephones in operation in the entire Myanmar with 569 exchange stations, according to the state-run Myanma Posts and Telecommunications.

    The number of telephones was up from over 67,000 in 1988 when the present government took office, while that of exchange stations rose from 245 then.

    During the 13-year period, modern digital auto telephone exchanges have replaced the old communication system.Meanwhile, a total of 205 micro-wave stations and over 33,000 micro-wave lines have been installed to extend and develop trunk calls in the whole country, the sources said, adding that the rural telephone system has been initiated in 250 villages in various states and divisions.

    Data sending/receiving system has also been installed in two major cities of Yangon and Mandalay with computers being used at banks, transport services, hotels and department stores to facilitate communication, as a result of which the network of telephone, telegraph, postal and communication services can now cover the entire nation.

    Despite some improvement in the status of communication, Myanmar's communication facilities are still very backward compared with those of other member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations such as Thailand. Take telephone for example, Myanmar possesses only one telephone per 200 people now.

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    Biman connects Yangon, Bangkok via Ctg

    The Independent Bangladesh

    Biman Bangladesh Airlines started operating once-a-week flight on the Dhaka-Chittagong-Yangon-Bangkok route yesterday, reports UNB.State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mir Mohammad Nasiruddin inaugurated the flight at a simple ceremony at MA Hannan International Airport in the port city of Chittagong.

    The national flag-carrier will operate BG 060 A-310 flight on Sundays. In the inaugural flight, a total of 204 passengers left Dhaka for Chittagong, and 178 of them, including six from Chittagong, left for Yangon and Bangkok.

    Welcoming the passengers with flowers at the departure gate, the minister in his inaugural address expressed his optimism that trade, commerce and business activities would be further expanded through this new flight to the two South Asian countries."The business community would have another option for gearing up their ongoing trade relationship with their counterparts in Myanmar and Thailand," he told the function.

    Biman Managing Director Air Commodore M Khusrul Alam, Civil Aviation Authority Chairman Air Commodore M Lutfur Rahman, Chittagong Divisional Commissioner Katebur Rahman, Chittagong Chamber President Farid Ahmed Chowdhury and district BNP general secretary Dastagir Chowdhury, among others, were present.

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