Daily News- September 17- 2002- Tuesday

  • Myanmar political group marks anniversary with call for democracy
  • Protest-hit oil firm bows out of Burma
  • Petronas cancels plan to buy stake in Premier Oil
  • Myanmar consumes 500,000 tons of steel annually
  • Burma agreed U.S to search for remains


  • Myanmar political group marks anniversary with call for democracy

    YANGON, Sept 16 (AFP) - Myanmar's Committee Representing the People's Parliament (CRPP) Monday vowed to continue pushing for democracy in the military-ruled country, in a ceremony to the group's fourth anniversary.

    "The CRPP will continue to exert its undiminished efforts until democracy is finally achieved," it said in a statement.

    The group also welcomed the return of its secretary Aye Tha Aung, who joined the gathering held at the headquarters of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) after being released from jail recently.

    CRPP chairman Saw Mra Aung has also spent time in jail for his involvement with the group, which campaigns for parliament to be convened according to the results of 1990 elections won by the NLD.Neither Saw Mra Aung nor Aye Tha Aung are members of the party, but the group was formed under its sponsorship.

    The NLD's election victory has been doggedly ignored by the ruling junta, which has insisted instead that a new power-sharing constitution be put in place before it agrees to hand over power wrested through a military coup in September 1988.

    The military took over on September 18 of that year, claiming that anarchy had beset the nation and that it would assume control under the self-proclaimed State Law and Order Restoration Council.

    The low-profile anniversary, watched quietly by official security agents, was also attended by representatives of pro-democracy ethnic political parties, witnesses told AFP.

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    Protest-hit oil firm bows out of Burma

    source : BBC

    UK's Premier oil has bowed out of its highly controversial gas project in Burma.Premier was the biggest British investor in Burma, with a stake estimated at $200m in a project to pipe gas to Thailand from Burma's vast Yetagun offshore field.

    Activists concerned about Burma's poor human rights record have claimed the withdrawal is a victory for their 10-year long campaign against Premier. But the oil firm insists that the decision to pull out of Burma was related to wider commercial interests rather than political pressure.

    Only one battle

    A spokesman for Premier told BBC News Online that the oil firm did not breach human rights in any shape or form. But Premier's involvement in Burma has attracted a huge amount of bad publicity, including direct criticism from the British government and Burma's pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

    "The demise and fall of Premier is a warning to any company thinking about investing in Burma," said John Jackson, director of the Burma Campaign UK. "It's more trouble that it's worth," he added. But Mr Jackson warned that Premier's withdrawal was only one battle in the war, and vowed to increase pressure on other oil firms, such as TotalFinaElf and Unocal, operating in the region.

    Takeover target?

    Premier's withdrawal from Burma is part of a $670m restructuring deal which will see the firm also dispose of assets in Indonesia.

    Malaysia's Petronas will take over Premier's Burmese assets, and continue to pump gas from the Yetagun field. The news of the change of ownership came as the firm announced a 20% rise in its six- monthly profits.

    Premier will continue to operate in Britain, Pakistan and Indonesia. In London, Premier Oil shares closed 6% higher 25.75p on the news, with some analysts suggesting the firm would become a more attractive takeover target without its Burmese burden.

    Petronas cancels plan to buy stake in Premier Oil

    The Star

    LONDON: Premier Oil has announced completion of its restructuring plans following the cancellation of the 25% stakes owned by both Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and Amerada Hess Corp of the US, in return for some of Premierís assets in Burma and Indonesia.

    As a result of the restructuring, Premier becomes a totally independent oil company, opening up the possibility of it becoming a bid target.

    Under the agreements, Premier will transfer its entire interest in the Yetagun project, Myanmar to Petronas, a 15% interest in Natuna Sea Block A, Indonesia to Petronas, and a 23% interest in Natuna Sea Block A, Indonesia to Amerada Hess.

    Petronas will assume and repay at completion Premierís Yetagun project debt of £98mil and make a cash payment to Premier of £134mil. Amerada Hess will make cash payment to Premier of £11mil. Following the transaction, pro forma net debt was reduced by £204mil to £111mil. Pro forma gearing was reduced from 98% to 39%. Net asset value is increased by 20% to 40.6 pence per share, at a discount rate of 10%.

    Its chairman Sir David John said the restructuring would allow the company to pursue its refocused strategy of exploration and commercial deal-making. AFX

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    Myanmar consumes 500,000 tons of steel annually

    YANGON, Sept. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar consumes about 500,000 tons of steel annually, according to government industrial sources here Tuesday.

    There are six steel makers in Myanmar -- one Myanmar-ROK (Republic of Korea) joint venture, four Japanese companies and one Myanmar national firm.

    With an investment of 5.3 million US dollars, the Myanmar PoscoSteel Company (MPSC), a joint venture between the semi-official Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. and the Pohang Iron and Steel Company of ROK, has since 1999 been producing simple steel products in the country such as galvanized iron corrugated sheets and plain sheets for roofing purposes. The joint venture, with a production capacity of 20,000-30,000 tons per year, takes about 23 percent market share in Myanmar's local market, while the rest belongs to other five.

    For steel production in the country, 80 percent of raw materials are to be imported, while the rest are available domestically.

    Steel raw materials have to be imported because of the fact that although there are core iron mines in Myanmar, it lacks technology to produce semi-finished steel plates which are used asraw materials in producing galvanized roofing sheets.

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    Burma agreed U.S to search for remains

    WASHINGTON (AP)- - Burma has agreed to permit a U.S. military team to explore four sites believed to contain the wreckage of U.S. military planes that crashed during China-Burma-India supply missions nearly half a century ago, officials said Monday.

    The agreement was reached Saturday during talks in Rangoon, the Burmese capital, between senior Burmese officials and Jerry D. Jennings, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW-MIA affairs.

    It is the first time Burma, which is ruled by a military junta, has agreed to permit U.S. searches on its territory. Technical talks are to be held in Burma in November to arrange details for experts from the Army's Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii to visit the four sites early next year.

    Burma has lived under military rule since 1962, when former dictator Ne Win took power in a coup. The United States discourages trade and investment with Burma to protest military suppression of democracy.

    A Pentagon statement on the Rangoon talks said Jennings invited Burmese officials to visit the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii in October to meet with U.S. specialists who lead field excavations for missing military personnel and conduct forensic identification work at the laboratory.

    The laboratory has pinpointed four World War II crash sites of C-47 cargo aircraft that went down in northern Burma in 1944 and 1945. In their initial visit to the sites next year the U.S. specialists will survey the areas for subsequent excavation in hopes of finding remains of the air crews.

    The Army lab has conducted similar searches at World War II crash sites in other Asian nations, including China.

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