Daily News- March 17- 2002- Sunday

  • U.N. envoy trying to promote reconciliation talks in Myanmar will return next week
  • Myanmar man accepted as refugee in Japan
  • UN worried over Chinese farmers growing opium in Myanmar
  • Fair draw as Kallang roars for Myanmar

  • U.N. envoy trying to promote reconciliation talks in Myanmar will return next week

    UNITED NATIONS,(AP) March 15 - A U.N. envoy trying to promote reconciliation talks between the ruling military regime and the pro-democracy opposition in Myanmar will return to the southeast Asian nation next week for a new round of meetings, the United Nations announced Friday.

    After a weeklong visit in late November, Razali Ismail said he was hopeful that ''significant progress'' could be made in the near future on reconciliation talks.

    During his four day visit from March 19-22, Razali is scheduled to hold talks with Senior Gen. Than Shwe, the chairman of the State Peace and Development Council as the ruling junta calls itself, and detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and senior members of her National League for Democracy.

    Secretary-General Kofi Annan hopes Razali's upcoming mission ''will provide the process with a fresh momentum to assist the two sides to develop their confidence-building talks into a more substantive dialogue in the near future,'' U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

    Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been ruled by the military since 1962. The current group of generals came to power in 1988 after leading a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations. The junta called elections in 1990 but refused to honor the results when the National League for Democracy won an overwhelming victory. Instead hundreds of National League activists were jailed. Suu Kyi has been under house detention for over a year.

    Razali, a former Malaysian diplomat, facilitated face-to-face talks between the junta and Suu Kyi, which started in October 2000. The contents of the talks have been kept secret. This will be his seventh visit to Myanmar since his appointment in April 2000. When Razali left in late November he also urged the government to release political prisoners.

    At the end of a 10-day visit to Myanmar last month, the U.N. investigator on human rights in the country, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, urged the military to release all political prisoners and allow Suu Kyi to resume ''normal political activities.''

    To The Top

    Myanmar man accepted as refugee

    TOKYO - The Justice Ministry on Friday issued a certificate to formally accept a 29-year-old Myanmar man as a refugee.The man, whose identity has been withheld, applied for refugee status in April 1998 shortly after arriving in Japan but the ministry rejected the application, prompting him to file a lawsuit seeking a reversal of the ministry's decision. (Kyodo News)

    To The Top

    UN worried over Chinese farmers growing opium in Myanmar

    source : The Straitstimes

    MONG PAWK (Myanmar) - A new trend of Chinese farmers crossing the border into eastern Myanmar to grow opium poppies is alarming anti-drug officials, a UN official said. In the past year, 20 migrants from China's Yunnan province have sown fields in the Mong Pawk area, said the official, Mr Xavier Bouan.

    He said officials feared it would tempt local people to go back to poppy cultivation, endangering a United Nations-sponsored project to persuade the tribal peasants to give up drug farming.

    'It sends the wrong signal to the local farmers,' said Mr Bouan, a UN Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) coordinator of a project to replace poppy fields with legal crops in the Mong Pawk area of the Shan state. 'They say 'See, it isn't forbidden to grow poppies, these people are doing it'. It has set the alarm bells ringing,' he said during a government-arranged trip to the remote area for diplomats and journalists this week.

    With the help of the UNDCP, Myanmar is trying to implement crop-substitution schemes to eliminate opium production in parts of Shan state rife with poppy fields and make it a drug-free zone by 2005.

    The UN claims a 30 per cent reduction in poppy cultivation area in the last four years in Mong Pawk, where one of the projects covers a 2,000-sq-km area.

    It is not known whether the trend of Chinese farmers coming to Myanmar is being repeated elsewhere along the 2,185-km China-Myanmar border where Chinese influence is pervasive.Many areas use Chinese currency and Chinese language is widely spoken.

    UNDCP officials have met Chinese officials from Yunnan province and the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar to voice their concern.They say the response was 'positive'.

    The Myanmar government says it is powerless to take action against the migrants.The area is a Special Region, an autonomous zone run entirely by the Wa ethnic group under a peace agreement with the government that ended years of fighting in 1989.

    'There's nothing we can do. The Wa have to sort it out themselves,' said police Colonel Hkam Awng of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control.

    According to a recent US State Department report, Myanmar is the world's largest producer of illicit opium, and most of it comes from Shan state. China, Myanmar's northern neighbour, is a major transit point for smuggling the drug, and southern China itself has a huge drug-addiction problem. --AP

    To The Top

    Fair draw as Kallang roars for Myanmar

    source : The Straitstimes

    KALLANG lived again last night, 7,000 thanks to the football fans from Myanmar and China residing in Singapore.The atmosphere was electric, such as old Kallang had not seen for years, and they turned the ground into a showplace for unbridled footballing passion. In the end, they saw their teams draw 1-1 in a dramatic Asian Under-20 Championship qualifier.

    Myanmar's fans, about 6,000-strong, sang their throats out in another hair-raising national anthem ceremony which left it in no doubt - like their annexation of Bishan on Wednesday - that they would reign supreme in the stands.China's fans, dressed in red like their heroes on the pitch, were clearly outnumbered.

    Charged with so much emotion, the National Stadium was again transformed into the fiery cauldron that once captured the entire nation's imagination. Spurred on by the vociferous support, Myanmar, the underdog, rose majestically to the occasion - on its very first incursion into Chinese territory.

    The opening goal was a skipping, mid-air volley from just three metres by Aung Kyaw Tun, who was left unmarked right in the middle of the goal area after a wing-to-wing offensive tore the Chinese defence to shreds.Left-back Soe Lin Tun's long, looping lob across the field had found the tall Yan Paing on the right, and while all of China was floundering, Aung delivered the killer blow.And heavens, Kallang roared once again, awoken by Myanmar doing a David on China, now a Goliath of World Cup standing.

    The latter could hardly cope with a pitch on which the going had become tough after an afternoon downpour. Bigger, much taller but yet handicapped by their higher centres of gravity, the Chinese had to look for alternatives to neutralise the 0-1 deficit at half-time.And what an answer it came up with - a David Beckham special, the set piece that defies all ground conditions.Zhou Yi, as tall as Beckham, was also as deadly. He curled a 20-metre free kick round the wall, right to the top left corner.Seven minutes after the interval: 1-1.

    Indeed, it was a showcase event for Asian youth football, one where the short passing game of Myanmar was countered by the longer ball of the Chinese. Three more Myanmar close calls, matched by three Chinese near-misses, drove the 7,000 fans to delight. And as the minutes ticked by in stoppage time, almost all of them were on their feet - stomping and chanting till they burst out in wild cheers when the whistle went off.

    All the tension of the dying seconds was forgotten, all the shoving and pushing and protesting for a disputed throw-in had become part of a classic contest.And if it had to end in a draw, it was football fairness at its purest. Note: China needs to beat Singapore by two goals at the National Stadium tomorrow to win the sole place in the next round.

    To The Top