Daily News- May 14- 2002- Tuesday

  • Suu Kyi wants immediate talks with junta
  • Democracy leader Suu Kyi resumes party work since release
  • Suu Kyi travel plans debated at seminar
  • ISS Recommends Unocal Shareholders Vote for Global Labor Standards
  • Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi meets Japanese official
  • Myanmar releases nine opposition members from jail
  • More Foreign Investment in Myanmar's Hotel Projects
  • Japanese businessman found slain in Yangon hotel room

  • Suu Kyi wants immediate talks with junta

    By Aung Hla Tun

    YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, released last week from 19 months of house arrest, called on Monday for an immediate start to reconciliation talks with the ruling military junta.

    The 56-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner also said her top priority was to get other members of her pro-democracy movement freed from jail.

    "We believe these kinds of talks and meetings should happen immediately in view of our national interest," the charismatic leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) said in a telephone interview with the local language service of Voice of America radio.

    In a separate interview with CNN monitored in Bangkok, Suu Kyi said her support for economic sanctions on the military-ruled country, formerly known as Burma, remained unwavering.

    "There are many things that we have to do at the same time, but I have to say that our main priority is the release of all political prisoners who still remain in jail," she said.

    Suu Kyi and her NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990, but the military did not allow them to rule. Instead, members of her party have been imprisoned and harassed by the authorities. About 1,500 members of her party and other political prisoners remain in Myanmar's jails, according to Amnesty International. Suu Kyi, released from house arrest on May 6, said any humanitarian aid to the impoverished Southeast Asian country must be monitored by her party.

    "Matters of policy remain unchanged because conditions remain unchanged," she told CNN. "We have always said that the minimum necessary requirement (for aid) is independent monitoring, and certainly the National League for Democracy should be part of the independent monitoring process, as a basic requirement."


    After four decades of military rule, Myanmar is one of the poorest nations on earth, its economy in tatters. Diplomats say the country suffers from chronic bad management and sanctions by countries including the United States and the European Union have also taken a heavy toll.

    Suu Kyi, who has spent much of the past decade under house arrest, said her stand on sanctions against the Myanmar junta was motivated by the need for change and she was not concerned that it could affect her popularity.

    "I have never worked for my own personal popularity," she said. "It is very important to remember that most of the foreign investment in Burma are not American investments, but investments made by countries which have not imposed economic sanctions on the country. If other businesses have decided not to come, they have decided not to come for purely economic reasons."

    Secret talks between the junta and the NLD aimed at a transition to democracy in Myanmar began in late 2000 under heavy international pressure after Suu Kyi was confined to her home for defying orders not to travel outside the capital Yangon to meet party supporters. Those talks have so far made little progress, beyond securing her release from house arrest. Both sides say they remain stuck in the confidence-building phase.

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    Democracy leader Suu Kyi resumes party work since release

    YANGON(AP) Myanmar - Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has resumed a full schedule of activities with her National League for Democracy party since Myanmar's ruling junta released her from 19 months of house arrest a week ago, meeting Monday with the women's wing of the party.

    Suu Kyi also maintained contacts with her protagonists in the military government, meeting with Gen. Kyaw Win, the deputy chief of military intelligence. Details were not divulged.

    Suu Kyi spoke for about 90 minutes in her meeting with about 200 women gathered at the NLD headquarters in Yangon. She thanked them for their "active and unwavering support," said Tin Tin, a woman party member in her late forties, who said she was "elated" to hear the democracy leader. She said Suu Kyi had not changed during confinement and still had a "mind of steel."

    Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar, was placed under house arrest in September 2000 for defying a government travel ban. She was freed on May 6.Suu Kyi has also met with several diplomats and friends since her release, which has raised hopes that the military junta may be preparing concessions to the pro-democracy movement.

    NLD spokesman U Lwin said Suu Kyi would visit the party's branch offices in the capital "very soon." But U Lwin denied reports that Suu Kyi and the military regime were gearing up for a fresh round of conciliation, that were held behind closed doors since October 2000 during her confinement.

    The director of the Southeast Asia division of Japan's Foreign Ministry, Taeko Takahashi, is scheduled to meet Suu Kyi Tuesday, according to the Japanese Embassy.Takakashi, who arrived in Yangon Monday, is apparently the highest-ranking foreign official to meet her since her release.

    On Saturday, Suu Kyi attended a wedding ceremony for the daughter of a friend at Yangon's Inya Lake Hotel.

    Myanmar's military junta came to power in 1988 after violently crushing a pro-democracy uprising. It called elections in 1990 but refused to honor the results, which gave the NLD a resounding victory. The country was formerly known as Burma.

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    Suu Kyi travel plans debated at seminar

    Achara Ashayagachat
    The Bangkokpost

    Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi could work for her country from abroad if she were banned from Burma after visiting Norway, senator Kraisak Choonhavan said yesterday.

    The chairman of the Senate foreign affairs committee said he was not worried about a possible ban on her return to Burma. She had the necessary ``network'' to work for improvements in her country from outside. ``I have confidence in her ability,'' senator Kraisak said after taking part in a seminar on Burma organised by Thammasat University.

    Mrs Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest in Rangoon on May 6, says she would like her first overseas trip to be to Norway, home of the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991.She earlier held out against travelling abroad because the military junta had made it clear that she would not be allowed to return.

    Mr Kraisak said he had asked to see Mrs Suu Kyi during a proposed June 8-9 visit to Burma. He has also asked to meet Burmese Foreign Minister Aung Win and members of the ruling State Peace and Development Council, as well as the Norwegian ambassador and American charge d'affaires. Mr Kraisak said his delegation hoped to gauge the situation in Burma and the impact of Thai government policy.

    There was still no guarantee Mrs Suu Kyi's release would result in real change in Burma, Mr Kraisak told the seminar. He would await the outcome of her dialogue with the SPDC. The ruling junta had released Mrs Suu Kyi from house arrest before, in 1995, and still detained as many as 1,500 political prisoners, he said.

    Somchai Homla-or, secretary-general of Forum Asia, believed Mrs Suu Kyi should ensure her ability to return to Burma before going to Norway.Mr Somchai said the government should strengthen Burmese ethnic minority groups to boost chances of national reconciliation in Burma. It should also establish direct relations with Mrs Suu Kyi and her opposition National League for Democracy without waiting for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to forge a position, he said.

    Charnvit Kasetsiri, an historian, said Thammasat should test Mrs Suu Kyi's freedom of movement by renewing its invitation for her to come to Bangkok to receive an honorary degree in political science.

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    ISS Recommends Unocal Shareholders Vote for Global Labor Standards

    PR Newswire - USA; May 13, 2002

    Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS), the leading independent proxy advisory firm in the United States, has recommended that shareholders of Unocal Corporation vote in favor of a proposal concerning worker rights at the company's upcoming May 20 annual meeting.

    The proposal calls on the board of directors to adopt and implement an enforceable company-wide employee policy based on the International Labor Organization's (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, including the right to no child and forced labor, the right to form and join trade unions and to bargain collectively as well as the right to no discrimination or intimidation in employment.

    The LongView Collective Investment Fund of the Amalgamated Bank and the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union are the sponsors of the proposal. The AFL-CIO, the British Trades Union Congress, and the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) are also urging shareholders to support this resolution.

    "ISS recognizes the value of labor standards and formal company policies on human rights practices, particularly for companies that have operations in countries where there are fewer protections for workers," ISS's report stated. "Ethical issues aside, there may also be very real implications for the bottom line. As borne out by the recent experience of some high-profile manufacturers and retailers, an increasing number of consumers and shareholders are seriously concerned about whether low wages and abusive working conditions exist in facilities patronized by U.S. companies; firms that do not share that concern can risk damage to their corporate reputation and possible consumer backlash."

    "We are pleased that ISS -- a truly independent expert -- recognizes that Unocal's endorsement of global labor standards would benefit the company and its shareholders," said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka.

    "ISS' recommendation is one more indication that this proposal is gaining support among institutional investors," added Kenneth Zinn, ICEM North American Regional Coordinator. "We believe its adoption would promote shareholder value."

    ISS noted that a similar proposal submitted at last year's Unocal annual meeting received approximately 23 percent of the vote. "This turnout suggests that many mainstream investors, in addition to socially conscious investors and human rights activists, are concerned about the company's human rights record and involvement in Burma," the report stated.

    "In light of the serious human rights concerns in a number of the countries where the company operates (including Burma), we believe that this step of publicly endorsing these international labor standards and adopting independent monitoring will benefit the company and its shareholders."

    The AFL-CIO represents 13 million working men and women who participate in the capital markets as investors through defined benefit and defined contribution plans, as well as through mutual funds and individual accounts. The ICEM is a global trade union federation representing 20 million workers in 100 nations, including more than nine million energy workers.

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    Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi meets Japanese official

    YANGON(AP) Myanmar - Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday met with a visiting Japanese Foreign Ministry official, the latest in a string of diplomats she has seen since her release last week from 19 months of house arrest.

    Suu Kyi met for about an hour at her lakeside residence with Taeko Takahashi, director of the Southeast Asia division of Japan's Foreign Ministry, who arrived in Yangon Monday.

    "She (Takahashi) is meeting today to convey her best wishes for her release," said a Japanese Embassy official on condition of anonymity. No other details of the meeting were immediately available.

    Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel peace laureate who has led a struggle to bring democracy to Myanmar, was placed under house arrest for defying a government travel ban.Suu Kyi has met with several diplomats and friends since her celebrated release, which has raised hopes that the military junta may make concessions to the pro-democracy movement.

    Suu Kyi is expected to meet later Tuesday with Brig. Gen. David Abel, a minister in Myanmar's military regime who handles economic affairs.

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    Myanmar releases nine opposition members from jail

    YANGON (Reuters) May 14 - Military-ruled Myanmar released nine members of the pro-democracy opposition from jail on Tuesday, the first political prisoners to go free since their leader Aung San Suu Kyi emerged from house arrest last week.

    The junta said in a statement the nine were all members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which won the country's last elections in 1990 but has never been allowed to govern. ''They are all in good health and reunited with their respective families,'' the statement from the office of the military spokesman said.

    After mounting international pressure, Suu Kyi was released from 19 months of house arrest on May 6 and has called for immediate substantive talks with the military government aimed at political reform.

    She has also said her top priority was the release of her NLD party members still in jail. More than 1,000 are still in Myanmar's jails, according to Amnesty International. Secretive reconciliation talks between the military and NLD began in late 2000, but have yielded few concrete results beyond the release of Suu Kyi from house arrest and the release of some 250 party members from various jails.

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    More Foreign Investment in Myanmar's Hotel Projects

    YANGON, May 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Foreign investment in Myanmar's hotel projects, which have been completed and are in operation, has amounted to 585.275 million U.S. dollars, according to the latest figures published by the country's Ministry of Information.

    The 25 new hotel projects, implemented since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in late 1988 and were completed between 1993 and 2001, include 19 in the capital of Yangon, three in the secondlargest city of Mandalay, one in the ancient city of Bagan, one each in southern border town of Kawthaung and Tachilek linking Thailand.

    Total amount injected in the capital's foreign-invested hotels went to 453.545 million dollars, taking up 77.49 percent of the total. Among them, three Singapore-invested hotels are leading. They are the 450-room Sedona Hotel with an investment of 103.27 million dollars injected by the Straits Steamship Land (Kappel Land Group), the 496-room Traders Hotel with an investment of 84 million dollars injected by the Kuok and Shangri-La and the 359-room Hotel Equatorial with 50 million dollars by the Yangon Investment Ltd.

    It is followed by a Thai-invested 315-room Nikko Royal Lake Hotel (38 million dollars), a Japanese-invested Yangon Sakura Tower(30 million dollars), Singapore-invested 250-room Summit Parkview Hotel (29 million dollars) and a Thai-invested 208-room Kandawgyi Palace Hotel (27.5 million dollars). Others remain as those built by China's Hong Kong and Macao, France and Malaysia.

    Meanwhile, there are 11 more such foreign-invested hotel projects under construction with a total contracted investment of 583.68 million dollars.

    The official figures also show that there were 498 local private hotels, motels and inns with 11,292 rooms in the country invested mainly with local currencies of 14,417.03 million Kyats (30.54 million dollars) as of September 2001.

    Myanmar drew 182,400 foreign tourists annually in the last fivefiscal years, earning about 33.75 million dollars a year. It now has 582 travel agencies. Among the tourists, 70.6 percent were from the Asian continent,18.5 percent from western Europe, 6.5 percent from America and 4.4percent from other regions.

    Myanmar targets to draw 500,000 foreign tourists annually. However, in 2001, tourist arrivals in Myanmar were 119,000, a fallof 49.32 percent from 2000's 234,900, indicating that it accomplished only 23.8 percent of its annual target.

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    Japanese businessman found slain in Yangon hotel room

    The star

    YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - A Yangon-based general manager of Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. and an unidentified woman were found dead with stab wounds in a luxury hotel room in northern Yangon, officials said Tuesday.

    The bodies of Suho Yamanoguchi, 55, and the woman were discovered Monday morning at the Renaissance Inya Lake hotel, police and hotel officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Both had been dead since Saturday, according to a police official who cited a coroner's report. The identity of the woman has not been ascertained and police are trying to determine the motive for the killings, he said.

    The alarm was raised after a company car arrived at the hotel to pick up Yamanoguchi on Monday. When there was no answer from his room - which had a "Do Not Disturb'' sign hanging outside - hotel staff opened the door and found the bodies. Yamanoguchi is believed to have been living in Yangon for the last six years. No other details of the case or Yamanoguchi's work in Myanmar were available. The Japanese Embassy refused to comment.

    Mitsubishi Corp. is a diversified company with seven main business groups that include information technology, electronics, power, metals, machinery, chemicals and consumer goods. Details of its Myanmar operations were not immediately available.