Daily News- November 30 - 2002- Saturday

  • Tough gal Suu Kyi: NLD leader must stand firm that 1990 polls result is honoured
  • Burmese drugs body vice-chairman inspects drugs prevention tasks in Shan State
  • Burmese woman held in Chiang Mai, pills seized

  • Tough gal Suu Kyi: NLD leader must stand firm that 1990 polls result is honoured

    By Roger Mitton
    Channel NewsAsia - Friday, November 29, 2002

    Earlier this month, Malaysia’s Razali Ismail, the United Nations special envoy to Myanmar, visited Yangon to try to advance the political peace process.Unfortunately, his trip, the ninth since reconciliation talks began in October 2000, was not auspicious.

    Things got off to a bad start right after he met National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi on his first day. When their chat ended, she took off promptly on a tour of NLD offices in north-eastern Shan state.

    What on earth prompted her to leave town for almost the entire duration of Mr Razali’s visit?

    Two reasons. First, her swing through Shan state was highly sensitive.It is potentially the most volatile part of Myanmar and, at the junta’s insistence, she agreed to keep it low-key.That is why there was no press coverage of the trip. Having Mr Razali in Yangon at the same time ensured that media attention was on him, not on Ms Suu Kyi being feted by the party faithful in Taunggyi, Lashio, Kengtung and elsewhere.

    The second reason was because Ms Suu Kyi felt that the continued refusal of the junta leader, General Than Shwe, to meet her meant that little would be achieved in the reconciliation talks.Indeed, Gen Than Shwe is rarely even accessible to Mr Razali.

    That is why the UN emissary told the media that he might quit if progress in the talks did not come more quickly.He wanted to jolt the regime and make sure that this time he did get to see its leader, Gen Than Shwe, the only one who can really make decisions.

    Well, Mr Razali did get to him and, though their meeting was short, there was time for him to stress how each side must calibrate its actions in response to the evolving dialogue.

    After Ms Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest in May and her subsequent trips around the country, this process had been going well. Ms Suu Kyi herself was optimistic, if not exuberant, and spoke of being willing to compromise. However, dating from the time of Mr Razali’s previous visit in August, things began to go downhill and her optimism dissipated.

    Two things caused this.

    One: The regime’s continuing delay in releasing political prisoners.

    And two: Gen Than Shwe’s refusal to meet Ms Suu Kyi to discuss substantive issues “leader to leader”.

    Replying, Gen Than Shwe said the release of prisoners had been continuing since the talks began and would continue at a pace that would not threaten national security.As if to reinforce this point, days later, another 115 prisoners were freed.

    As for seeing Ms Suu Kyi, Gen Than Shwe said that several of his senior colleagues had been liaising with her and discussing serious topics.Among this core liaison group are Labour Minister U Tin Win, a former Ambassador in Washington, and Brigadier-General Thein Zaw, the influential Telecommunications Minister.Ms Suu Kyi had also met Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister “Sonny” Khin Maung Win and Major-General Kyaw Win, the deputy head of military intelligence.Along with Mr Razali’s favourite, Colonel Tin Hlaing, the bold Home Affairs Minister, these are the men driving the talks.In Gen Than Shwe’s view, they should continue to do so on his behalf.

    Mr Razali wanted to fly up to Shan state to report all this to Ms Suu Kyi.But officials warned him that it would attract too much attention to her presence in the restive region and might cause unrest.Instead, he wrote her a note explaining what had happened and urging her to continue meeting the liaison group.He sent his Yangon point man, Mr Leon de Riedmatten, to speak to her.The outcome was not good.

    Ms Suu Kyi, annoyed by the note, said Mr Razali should not be counselling her to meet lower-ranked ministers but rather urging Gen Than Shwe to meet her.

    Rightly, she contends that as leader of the NLD — which won the 1990 elections with more than 80 per cent of the vote and is thus a government-in-waiting — she must meet the leader of the transitional military regime, Gen Than Shwe, on equal terms.

    For the moment, however, Gen Than Shwe feels no pressure to do so. Despite reports to the contrary, the economy is in no danger of collapse.With new oil discoveries, booming tourism and soaring trade with China (and, increasingly, with India and Russia), the economy may even be growing stronger.Certainly, it can withstand misguided — and faltering — Western sanctions.

    So where does Ms Suu Kyi go from here? Well, she will have to swallow her pride and agree to meet with the liaison group, rather than Gen Than Shwe himself.Provided they have a mandate to deal with key issues, it should not be a great hurdle.

    In fact, her initial pique against the group members may have been tactical.She needs to constantly reassure her party that she is not compromising too much, as many NLD members had begun to think.The release of the 115 detainees will help.

    She must now insist that the rest are released soon and that the 1990 election result is honoured.In short, she must hang tough.She has no other choice.

    The writer, a foreign correspondent based in Bangkok, has been covering South-east Asian affairs for the past 15 years.

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    Burmese drugs body vice-chairman inspects drugs prevention tasks in Shan State

    Source : Hoovers online

    Vice-Chairman of Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control [CCDAC] Minister for Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs Col Thein Nyunt, together with Director-General of the Progress of Border Areas and National Races Department Col Than Swe and officials, inspected regional development and drugs prevention tasks in Mongma [Mong Ma] and Mongla [Mong La] region on 24 November.

    They also inspected plantation of opium substitute crops such as lychee, mango and orange in Mongma village. Mongla was announced an opium free zone ever since 1997. Then, the minister and party inspected Mongla People's Hospital and donated two wheelchairs for the hospital.

    The minister and party met with local authorities and staff and urged them to actively participate in the development works in border areas and narcotic drugs elimination tasks. Later, the minister and party inspected Mongla Drug Elimination Museum, re-transmission station in Mongla and progress of opium substitute tea leaf plantation, re-transmission station in Silu.

    Central Executive Committee Member of the Union Solidarity and Development Association [USDA] Col Thein Nyunt met with executives and members of Monghkat and Mongyan township USDAs at night and gave instructions on four tasks of the association including management, organizing, economic and social and cultural matters.

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    Burmese woman held in Chiang Mai, pills seized

    Source : Bangkok Post

    A Burmese woman was charged with possessing 300,000 methamphetamine pills following her arrest on Thursday in Chiang Mai's Chiang Dao district.

    Police said Aju Yang, 34, was arrested as she and her two accomplices were crossing the Thai-Burmese border on foot with four bags stuffed with methamphetamine tablets. The two accom-plices escaped back into Burma, police said. The woman was charged will illegal entry and drug possession.

    The arrest resulted from close collaboration between the Narcotics Suppression Bureau and the Third Army, said Pol Lt-Gen Chareomdech Chompunuch, head of the NSB.

    He added that Thailand would also work closely with Burma to fight drugs.

    Meanwhile, state officials in Chiang Rai will need fellow officials to verify that they are not involved in drug-dealing, according to a plan to clean up government agencies' backyards.

    Chiang Rai governor Narin Panichkij said officials would require colleagues to vouch for their conduct. Those without ``guarantors'' might not be considered for promotion.

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