Daily News- October 31- 2002- Thursday

  • Myanmar junta says three embassies received letter bombs
  • UN envoy Razali to visit Myanmar in November
  • UN gives thumbs up to Australia's human rights work in Burma
  • Korea power company completes power project for Myanmar
  • Sixteen Burmese jailed for illegal entry to Malaysia
  • Thai Special forces chief given inactive post after Rangoon complaints
  • Burma calls surrogate parliament expansion 'normal'
  • Myanmar lodges official protest over Thai border shootings

  • Myanmar junta says three embassies received letter bombs

    YANGON, Oct 31 (AFP) - Myanmar's embassies in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore have received letter bombs over the past few days, prompting an upgrade in security at home and abroad, the military government said Thursday.

    "We can deduce that this is the work of a dissident group residing in our neighbouring country as all the letters had Bangkok post-marks," junta spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Nyan Lin told reporters.

    The first of the packages, all sent between October 28 and 30, was received in Tokyo on the same day that former dissident leader and US resident Moe Thee Zun had arrived in the country, he said.

    The devices were defused without causing any casualties, he said, adding that they were marked with 8/8/88 -- the date when widespread anti-government unrest broke out in Myanmar, eventually leading to a military takeover.

    "I would like to submit that this is definitely the work of a dissident terrorist group being harboured there (Thailand) aiming to disrupt peace inside Myanmar," Nyan Lin said.

    Deputy military intelligence chief Major General Kyaw Win told the briefing that he did not believe the spate of letter bombs indicated the start of an intensification of anti-junta activities overseas.

    "Nevertheless we are taking security measures both inside and outside of the country just in case," he said, without specifying details of the new precautions.

    Singapore military defuses device sent to Myanmar embassy

    SINGAPORE, Oct 31 (AFP) - Singapore's military bomb squad have defused a letter containing a detonator sent to the Myanmar embassy here, a police spokesman said Thursday.

    Singapore Police Force spokesman Stanley Norbert said the embassy had received the suspicious letter bearing a postage from Thailand on Wednesday and called the bomb squad, which found a "low-grade detonator" but no explosives.

    Suspicion was aroused because the letter bore similarities to parcels received recently by the Myanmar embassies in Japan and Malaysia, which were thought to contain explosives.

    Norbert said the detonator was unlikely to have caused significant damage."If it went off, there might have been a spark or flash. Somebody's hand might get burnt, but that's all," he told AFP.

    Like other Asian countries, Singapore is on heightened security alert over rising threats of terrorist attacks.

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    UN envoy Razali to visit Myanmar in November

    YANGON, Oct 31 (AFP) - United Nations envoy Razali Ismail is to visit Myanmar next month, the government said Thursday, on his ninth mission to the country where he is attempting to promote democratic reforms.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win told reporters that the Malaysian diplomat would arrive in Yangon on November 12.

    Razali described his last visit to Myanmar in August, where he again met with the ruling generals and opposition leaders including Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, as "productive".

    Razali, who was appointed two years ago as the personal representative of United Nations chief Kofi Annan, is credited with brokering landmark secret talks between the junta and Aung San Suu Kyi which began in October 2000.They have so far led to Aung San Suu Kyi's release in May after 19 months of house arrest, but are yet to progress beyond an initial confidence-building stage and in recent months are seen as having completely stalled.However, since her release the charismatic leader has been permitted to make a number of political visits outside the capital, drawing huge crowds of supporters.

    Razali's last trip to Myanmar was aimed at establishing when the two sides will begin a fully fledged political dialogue and the new visit is likely to be focused on the same issue.

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    UN gives thumbs up to Australia's human rights work in Burma

    ABC Online, Australia

    Australia's policy of engagement with the military regime in Burma has won the strong backing of the United Nations' human rights envoy to the country.

    Australia has been running human rights training workshops for Burmese Governments officials for the past 18 months.

    The program has been dismissed by democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi as a waste of time, but the UN's Burma human rights envoy Paolo Sergio Pinherio says the workshops are a positive step.

    The Brazilian diplomat has urged the rest of the international community to follow Australia's lead in engagement with Burma, saying it was absurd to wait until after transition to democracy.

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    Korea power company completes power project for Myanmar

    The Korea Herald

    Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) has completed a one-year project to diagnose and research the electric power network in Myanmar, KEPCO said yesterday.The project marked the company's first overseas venture in the power transmission and transforming sector.

    Under the project, the power company engaged in overall analysis of the Southeast Asian country's electric power system and made proposals of short- and long-term measures to improve it. This will pave the way for Korean firms to make advances into Myanmar's power generation and transmission market, a KEPCO official said.

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    Sixteen Burmese jailed for illegal entry to Malaysia

    Source : The Star (Malaysia)

    Sixteen Burmese nationals were jailed a total of 99 months by two magistrate courts yesterday for entering Malaysia illegally, while one was jailed six months for overstaying.

    The 16 were Tahir Suitalor, 20, Syed Kasim, 51, Maung Gye, 35, Maung Ta, 30, C. Alam Mohamad Sidik and Habas Ahmad Abdul Rahman, both 26, Mahmud Husin Omar Hakim and Abul, both 32, Ahlin, 19, Win Naing, 28, M.D. Rashid, 33, Abeng Kin and Ong, both 23, Win and Lwin, both 25, and Nai, 22.

    They were separately charged with entering the country without valid passes or permits between Aug 2 and Oct 19.

    They were each ordered to serve jail terms ranging from six months to eight months. All were also ordered to receive one stroke of the rotan, except Syed Kasim and Ahlin because of their age.

    Maung Win Tin, 34, was jailed six months for being in Taman Sri Hijau, Perak Road here, at 5.10pm on Aug 14, although his social visit pass had expired on July 15.

    All pleaded guilty yesterday after a Burmese language interpreter explained the respective charges to them.

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    Thai Special forces chief given inactive post after Rangoon complaints

    Source : Bangkok Post

    The head of the Thai army's special forces, Col Boonchu Kerdchoke, has been transferred to an inactive post following complaints from Rangoon.

    The Burmese junta accused the head of the Lop Buri-based unit of causing tension along the border, an informed army source said yesterday.

    The transfer was ordered by the new army chief, Gen Somdhat Attanand.

    It came as a surprise to army insiders because the colonel was widely known to be close to former army commander Gen Surayud Chulanont, now the supreme commander.

    Gen Somdhat did not see eye-to-eye with Gen Surayud, sources said.

    Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra moved Gen Surayud to the supreme command in September in a move seen to appease Rangoon following complaints he had also caused tensions.

    During the army's Surasi 143 military exercise in May, special forces under Col Boonchu's command were deployed near the border with Burma in Chiang Mai's Wiang Haeng district, not far from fierce clashes between Burmese troops and rebel fighters of the Shan State Army.

    Rangoon alleged Thai forces under the colonel's command assisted the Shan rebels.

    Col Thirapong Urairert, deputy chief-of-staff of the 1st special forces division, will become Col Boonchu's successor.

    ``Col Boonchu's transfer was directly related to his supposed direct involvement in the rising of tensions along the border area with Burma in May,'' a source said.

    Col Boonchu had been expecting the change ever since Gen Surayud was removed from the army command.

    The source said Gen Somdhat was unhappy Col Boonchu failed to inform him about the alleged covert operation. Gen Somdhat was then army chief-of-staff. ``Gen Somdhat was not aware of what was going on at the border area since the officer had direct contact with the army chief and bypassed him,'' the source said.

    A source close to Col Boonchu said the colonel totally rejected the allegations made by Rangoon. ``Thai border forces never went across the border as claimed by Burma. All he did was fulfil his duty as a soldier and protect the country's sovereignty,'' he said.

    The colonel is a graduate of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy Class 26 and was army security chief when Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was army commander.

    Gen Surayud appointed Col Boonchu regimental commander of special forces last year.

    - Col Chamni Rukrueng, one of Gen Somdhat's trusted aides, will take over the 1st infantry regiment, Col Ek-nant Rattanasopha, 1st infantry division chief-of-staff, will take over the 11th infantry regiment and Col Prasop Srimuangphan, 1st artillery regiment deputy commander, will now head the regiment.

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    Burma calls surrogate parliament expansion 'normal'

    Rangoon (AP)

    - Burma's military government Thursday shrugged off as "normal party activity" a recent move by the democratic opposition to expand a surrogate parliament that the junta considers illegal.

    The Committee Representing People's Parliament, or CRPP, was established Sept. 16, 1998, by the opposition National League for Democracy party and other activists. The military responded by detaining dozens of would-be members.

    Last week, CRPP members expanded the self-proclaimed proxy parliament's membership from 10 to 13 to give fuller representation to ethnic minorities.

    "The move is nothing unusual," said Brig. Than Tun on the sidelines of a press conference. "The expansion of CRPP is just a normal party activity."

    The opposition party said in 1998 that the CRPP would perform the functions of a legislature until a formal parliament is convened, but its activities have been limited to low-profile meetings. The military has not set a date for opening a parliament.

    National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the ruling junta have been holding closed-door political reconciliation talks since late 2000, but with little apparent progress aside from the release of several hundred political prisoners and release of Suu Kyi from 19 months of house arrest in May.

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    Myanmar lodges official protest over Thai border shootings

    YANGON, Oct 31 (AFP) - The Myanmar government Thursday lodged an official protest with Thailand over a spate of killings of Myanmar nationals on the troubled common border and insisted the culprits be caught and punished.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win told reporters that Thailand's ambassador in Yangon was summoned to receive the protest note and that one had been sent to Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.

    Military intelligence official Lieutenant Colonel Nyan Lin said the shootings occurred on October 27 at the Tachilek- Mae Sai border crossing.He said a group of more than 20 people, 15 of them wearing Thai police uniforms, had deliberately shot at three Myanmar nationals, killing one and seriously injuring another."The other victim, Aung Ko Lat, who was quietly fishing on our side of the river border was also shot and killed," he said.

    Nyan Lin said the incidents showed that elements in Thailand were attempting to provoke a border incident, shortly after the frontier was reopened after a five-month diplomatic row between the neighbours was resolved.

    Khin Maung Win said these sorts of incidents inevitably cropped up along the 1,300 mile (2,100 kilometre) border and that they would not necessarily impair the recently normalized relations between the two countries."We have emphasized however that since these uncalled for incidents, especially after the border gates had just been recently opened, could impact negatively on our friendly relations, serious and effective action should be taken against the culprits," he said.

    Myanmar slammed its border checkpoints shut in May after clashes between its troops and another ethnic militia which it accused Thailand of assisting.They were finally reopened after intensive negotiations between the neighbours defused the row.
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