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Burma Related News - Aug 17, 2000.

Reuters - Myanmar's kyat stabilises after fall to record low
South China Morning Post - Burmese migrants arrested in raids
AP- Myanmar puts hopes on weightlifters
AFP- Three More Bodies Found in Landslide on China-Myanmar Border  
WIRE:08/16/2000 03:25:00 ET
Myanmar's kyat stabilises after fall to record low
YANGON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Myanmar"s beleaguered kyat currency has stabilised and edged higher against the dollar on the black market after diving to record lows in recent weeks amid spiralling inflation, currency dealers said on Wednesday. "The kyat stopped falling after hitting a floor of 395 to the dollar last week and is trading at 385/390 at the moment," one dealer said. The kyat"s fall to its weakest ever levels against the dollar was sparked mainly by sharply rising prices of imports and luxury goods, the weakening of the Thai baht and by panic buying of some commodities as a hedge against inflation. Before this month"s slide, the previous record low was 384 to the dollar in August 1998. The official rate is six kyat to the dollar. A commentary in the Myanmar-language Kyemon newspaper earlier this month warned against "unscrupulous speculation" and said the authorities would take action to bring prices under control. Newspapers in Myanmar are regarded as official mouthpieces of the regime. The Myanmar government increased the salaries of civil servants by five to eight times in April to bring them more into line with spiralling prices, but the move helped fuel inflation, estimated at around 30 percent a year. Prices of common consumer goods have not risen too steeply, residents say, due to measures taken by the authorities, including the opening of five tax-free markets in Yangon. But prices of gold, cars and other imported items have risen sharply. Analysts say there was strong demand for these items as a way of guarding against inflation and the weakening kyat. Prices of low-market reconditioned vans and cars more than doubled in the last three months. Myanmar authorities imposed strict regulations on cars in late 1997, virtually stopping the flow of passenger cars into the country. Car prices eased last week after the authorities took action to try to reduce demand, locals said. Regulations were introduced obliging car buyers to declare the source of the money used for the purchase, and enforcing the payment of all taxes when car licenses were renewed. Myanmar"s economy remains tightly controlled despite the introduction of some market reforms in 1988 after 26 years of central planning. The economy is commodity-based and relies heavily on the export of rice, pulses and prawns.
South China Morning Post
Thursday, August 17, 2000
Burmese migrants arrested in raids
ASSOCIATED PRESS in Mae Sot, Thailand
Updated at 5.27pm:
Thai authorities arrested 417 migrant workers from Burma in dawn raids on Thursday on garment factories in northern Thailand, the deputy national immigration chief said.
Some 200 border patrol police raided 19 factories in Mae Sot district, 370km northwest of Bangkok, near the Burmese border. The arrests were made at three factories.
The other 16 factories were found closed, leading to suspicions the owners were tipped off, said Major-General Chanwud Watcharapoot, who led the operation.
He said all the arrested migrants would be deported to Burma after details about them were recorded by Thai authorities.
Police also arrested three Thai factory managers and would take action against them under Thai law, said General Chanwud, without elaborating.
Since late last year, Thailand has deported tens of thousands of the estimated one million migrant workers from its poorer neighbours - Cambodia, Laos and especially Burma. Many have sneaked back to Thailand.
Paniti Tanpati, chairman of the Tak province chamber of commerce based in Mae Sot, said he would meet on Wednesday in Bangkok with Thai Deputy Prime Minister Korn Dabbarangsi to ask the government to let local businessmen hire more Burmese labourers.
At the moment, just 3,000 migrants are authorised to work in Tak in construction and farming, he said. Many more are thought to work in the province illegally.
Numbers staying in Tak have in the past been estimated at more than 100,000. Many are thought to stay in hiding making it difficult to establish a reliable figure.
Thai businessmen value the migrants as a cheap source of labour, working for around 70 baht (HK$13.80) per day or less, compared with the minimum wage for Thais of 162 baht.

Myanmar puts hopes on weightlifters

Latest: Wednesday August 16, 2000 12:37 PM

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Myanmar's small contingent to the Olympics in Sydney says its best performances will likely come from three women weightlifters.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is sending seven athletes and four officials to next month's games. The country has never won an Olympic medal.

The athletes, including six women, will compete in track and field, archery, women's weightlifting and swimming, Kyaw Oo of the Sports and Physial Education Department said Wednesday.

"We are sending a small but hopeful group of athletes to Sydney. Myanmar lays high hopes on the three-member women weightlifting team," he said.

The three -- Kathy Win, Swe Swe Win and Khin Moe Nwe -- have notched some fine performances in international competition.

Khin Moe Nwe won her first medal at the 1997 world championships, the official said.

Swe Swe Win broke her own record in the 87.5-kilogram snatch and the 110-kilogram clean and jerk at the 1998 Asian Games, he added, while Kathy Win broke a national record at the 1999 world championships in Greece when she hoisted 85 kilograms.

Myanmar first entered the Olympic scene at the 1936 games in Berlin when a Myanmar athlete was included on the British Empire's India team.

The impoverished Southeast Asian nation has never excelled in international competition.

Three More Bodies Found in Landslide on China-Myanmar Border

BEIJING, Aug 16, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Three more bodies were dug out of the debris of a landslide on the China-Myanmar border, bringing the death toll to 12, state media said Wednesday.

Six people are still missing, the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting Li Maozeng, deputy general manager of the Dehong Power Company.

The victims were among 45 people buried when the landslide occurred Sunday afternoon in the Dai-Jingpo autonomous prefecture of Dehong in south China's Yunnan province, Xinhua said.

The landslide hit the staff dormitory of a hydraulic power station, killing nine instantly. Twenty-seven people were rescued.

Continuing rainfall has hampered rescue efforts, officials said. ((c) 2000 Agence France Presse)