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BurmaNet News: June 21, 1995 [#187

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Subject: BurmaNet News: June 21, 1995  [#187]

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The BurmaNet News: June 21, 1995
Issue #187


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Information about Burma is available via the WorldWideWeb at:

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[Note new address!]

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Burma fonts: 

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Look under the International Political Economy section, then
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or the Burma section of it, please contact BurmaNet:


BurmaNet regularly receives enquiries on a number of different
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JUNE 14, 1995

Myanmar dissidents held a blood donation ceremony Sunday to
celebrate the 50th brithday of incarcerated prodemocracy leader
Aung San Suu Kyi, participants said.

Some 30 dissidents from four groups donated blood to honor Suu
Kyi, who turns 50 Monday and will probably pass the day alone at
home where she has been under house arrest since July 1989.

Her detention began 10 months before her National League for
Democracy party won a landslide general election victory.

Acts of chartiy on one's birthday are a time-honored custom in
Myanmar but the ruling junta "has denied Aung San Suu Kyi even
this simple right," said a statement from the groups.

The dissidents were representing the Burma Youth Volunteer
Association, the International Network for Burmese Relief, the
Democratic Burmese Students Organization and the Burmese
Association in Japan under the banner of the NLD.

The ruling State Law and Restoration Council [sic] recently
discontinued its talks with Suu Kyi, which the world has welcomed
as a sign of progress toward her release, dimming hopes for a July
release of Myanmar's one and only Nobel laureate.

She was recently denied visits from anyone, including members of
her immediate family.


RANGOON (Kyodo) The Japanese government has offered a grant
of 4 billion yen to the Myanmar government for debt relief, the
state-owned daily New Light of Myanmar reported Saturday.

June 20, 1995

( Hi friends.... The half-page-full cover article enclosing a big
colour photos of our national leader [Ngar Do Amyo Thar Gaung
Saung] Aung San Suu Kyi which is printed in a postcard handed out
by the Burma Support Group based in Oslo, Norway, to send to her
as moral support on her 50th birthday on June 19, was today
appeared on the front page of the "INSIDE INDOCHINA" of BANGKOK
POST Newspaper......including The Burmese text reads beside the
photos as follow:  

    Happy birthday! In deep respect for the personnel sacrificed you
    have made during your six years under house arrest, I would like
      to send you this personnel greetings for your 50th birthday. 
               I wish for your immediate release and for 
                    the restoration of democracy and 
                     peace in Burma ......absdf)   

Japanese adamant aid for Burma is purely humanitarian
         Japan stands by its decision to resume ODA to Burma, but
      stresses it is "humanitarian" and will lead to grass roots   
                         political mobilization.

        Nussara Sawatsawang and Saritdet Marukatat                  

A delegation from the Japan International Cooperation Agency has
held talks in Rangoon with Burma's Work Committee for Development
of Border Areas and National races on way to spend a one-billion-
yen(290 million baht) aid package which Tokyo granted in March.

The timing of the resumptions of Official Development Assistance
(ODA) surprised many.

Even though Japan is trying to assume a grater role in
international politics, it is still unusual for it to brake ranks
from the United States and its friends in the Association of
South East Asia Nations to take a lone initiative in Burma, least
a controversial one.

Last Friday Tokyo also extended four billion Yen (1.16 billion
baht) as a debt relief grant, "Associated Press" reported,
quoting an unnamed Burmese State-owned newspaper.

AP also reported that similar grants have been given over the
past three years. There were no details.

Japanese officials now make it a point to stress that it is
"humanitarian aid" and "a continuation of the limited
humanitarian aid" it has been extending to Burma since it cut off
ODA in 1988 in protest at military suppression in that country
following a multi-party election which saw a landslide victory by
the National League for Democracy.

A Japanese source in Rangoon defended Tokyo's decisions to resume
aid only weeks after Burma's ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council captured two key karen strongholds at
Manerplaw and Kawmoora, sending 100,000 Burmese fleeing into
Thailand. The Japanese insist the aid is for the people of Burma
and in no way to support the Slorc.

The aid will be used in food production for people who live along
the Thai-Burmese border and crop substitution programs for the Wa
and the Kokang ethnic groups in the opium producing Shan State. 

The provisions of fertilisers and agricultural machinery would
receive special attention to overcome food shortages, the source

She also said some progress had been made by the Slorc last year,
citing the release of several political prisoners, holding of
talks with dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi on two occasions,
and with the United Nations and the European Union.

But criticism, both from inside and outside Japan, did not come
short as some Western governments, even through supportive of
some form of "engagement" with the Slorc, want to see definite
benchmarks in the process of democratisation in the country,
before resuming normal diplomatic relations and aid.

For these governments, the SLORC should not be encouraged with
such major aid, following its major offensive against the ethnic
Karens, refusal to give the International Committee of the Red
Cross full access to prisons and failure to pursue dialogue with
Aung San Suu Kyi.

A European diplomatic source in Bangkok said there was no need to
hurry in extending aid to Burma in March.

"The possibility is there(for Japan) when the SLORC release Aung
San Suu Kyi, has proper dialogue with her, brings the country
toward proper democratisation and stops abusing human rights", he

He claimed the aid was handed to the SLORC, not the people.

But an analyst closed to the Japanese Foreign Ministry said the
decision to resume aid was made with a long-term view.

It is unlikely the SLORC will change in the foreseeable future .
After all there is no coordinated international pressure on the
SLORC to improve its record while economic ties continue to
expand with ASEAN and some Western countries.

There is even increasing recognition of the SLORC, demonstrated
by  the recent visit to Singapore and Indonesia by Burmese
military leader and Prime Minister Than Shwe which concluded two
trade agreements. ASEAN is also standing by its invitation for
the SLORC to attend the meeting of its foreign ministers next
month in Brunei, "as guest of the host".

Another strategy was needed to help bring about changes, this
time from bottom up, the analyst said.

He explained that the aid is intended for areas along the Thai-
Burmese border, where Thailand's democratic way has influence,

With improved quality of life and ability to acquire radios or
even televisions, Burmese will receive news from the outside ,
laying the foundation for political mobilisation and change from
the grassroots.

The Japanese source in Rangoon said Tokyo was not giving aid
without a clear message of concern about Aung San Suu Kyi and

"There is no signal way to deal with the Burmese government. We
are attempting to tell them at the same time what we expect from
them and, of course, whether or not we will continue our
assistance should depend on more progress on human rights and how
the project this yet is implemented," the official said.

The results of such an initiative can be judged only in time. But
the idea of grassroots mobilization, even if long-term, it was is
worth trying because-as the Japanese analyst noted- there is
little chance for top-down change given current international

Details of the projects are still to be finalised. The May 15-17
JICA mission, led by Hirishi Izaki, together with the work
committee and officials from the ministries of agriculture and
foreign affairs, have just started to work on tender procedures
and a tentative schedule for implementation of the projects.

The process could take some time and implementation might begin
next year, according to the source closed to the issue.

Before 1988, Japan was Burma's largest aid donor. According to
the Japanese Embassy in Rangoon, loans totalled 4.029 billion
yen(1.168 billion baht), grant aid 1.128 billion(327 million
baht) and technical cooperation 162.17 million (47 million baht).

After 1988, Japan extended 40 million yen (11.6 million baht)
each year, mostly through the United Nations and non-government
mental organisations for HIV/AIDS prevention and medical
assistance, including a five-year programme with the United
Nations International Children's fund(UNICEF). 

According to Thailand's Office of Commercial Affairs in Rangoon,
as of March 31, Japan ranked eighth among foreign investors in
Burma after Britain, France, Singapore, the United States,
Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia respectively.


June 20, 1995

Burma's Department of Fisheries and Thailand's NCC Asian Fishery
Industries Co have formed a joint venture to fish and process
marine products, produce fishmeal and raise prawns. The 
department holds 40 per cent of Myanmar Narong Fishery
Industries, with a registered capital of 120 million Kyats.


June 20,1995

by Supramart Kasem

Agencies concerned should enforce more appropriate measure to
control the number and behaviour of Burmese immigrants now
seeking employment in Thailand to prevent problems from arising
while Thailand searches for a solution to its need for unskilled
Tak Chamber of Commerce Chairman Niyom Wairachphanich yesterday
said Thailand could not afford to repatriate all these immigrants
back to Burma for two reasons.
One is that a large number of unskilled workers are apparently
needed in the country as Thai workers themselves have improved
their skills to the extent that they no longer needed to accept
the low pay usually offered to the unskilled.
And the other, he said, is the fact that those illegal immigrants
who had been sent back home had actually returned to Thailand
because they could not find employment there.
But Mr Niyom said the Government would be able to cope with the
problem of illegal immigrants more efficiently if concerned
agencies could keep track of the number of these people and
control their behaviour.
According to Mr Niyom, the Local Administration Department has so
far made official personal records of and issued identification
cards to some 27,603 Burmese immigrants presently living in Mae
Sot, Mae Ramad and Phrop Phra districts in Tak Province.
The number is out of 100,356 who have registered in 36 districts
in nine provinces bordering Burma which include Chiang Rai,
Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Tak, Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Prachuab
Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Ranong. 

But Mr Niyom said the Tak's three districts could offer
employment to only 20,000 immigrants at most, forcing more than
7,000 of them to work illegally there.

Some had resorted to encroaching on to forest land for
agriculture while some became thieves, he said.

The Chairman of the Tak Chamber of Commerce said the Government
would have to find ways to at least minimize this problems.

It is expected that over 400,000 Burmese immigrants are working
both legally and illegally in Thailand.

According to an official record, 48,000 immigrants seeking
political asylum in Thailand before March 9, 1976 and 100,356
entering Thailand after March 9, 1976 have registered with the
Interior Ministry.

Another 70,000 from Burmese minority groups have been seeking
temporary shelter from fighting in their home along the Thai

And between 100,000 and 200,000 Burmese people are estimated to
have illegally entered Thailand seeking employment.

Many employers in Tak also agreed with Mr.Niyom, calling on the
Interior Ministry to amend Article 12 of the Aliens Employment
Act to cope with an increasing need for unskilled workers in the
local market.

June 20, 1995


Exiled Burmese dissidents yesterday condemned the continued
detention of Aung San Suu Kyi calling once again on Rangoon's
military government to release her unconditionally.

"We are very sad that she has no opportunity to be with her
family, colleagues and her loving people of Burma on the occasion
of her 50th birthday," the All Burma Student's Democratic
Front(ABSDF) said in a statement in Bangkok.

The daughter of the Architect of Burma's independence from
Britain, Gen Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi, emerged as the heroine
of Burma's democracy movement during a nation-wide uprising
against military rule in 1988.

The demonstrations were finally crushed with the loss of
hundreds, if not thousands, of lives but Aung San Suu Kyi
continued  her efforts to promote democratic rule.

She was detained in her home on July 20, 1989, for "endangering
the state" and remains there almost six years.

"on the day of her birthday, on behalf of the Burmese people, we
are really concerned about the condition of her health and
request her release along with her colleagues and all political
prisoners detained in the different jail in Burma," the ABSDF

Aung San Suu Kyi who won the 1990 1991 Nobel peace prize for her
non-violent campaign for political change, had two meeting with
top general late last years, rasing hope that SLorc might finally
softening its position towards her.

But since then there has been no sign of further meetings and   
the Slorc refused her husband, British academic Michael Aris, a
visa to travel to Burma and visit his wife.

US congressman Bill Richardson , who in February, 1994, became
the first non-family member allowed to visit her in detention,
was refused permission to visit her last month.

Diplomats in Rangoon says there is little hope the Slorc will
release her in July, the sixth anniversary of her arrest.

Earlier this year, Slorc leaders told a visiting Thai minister
that she would not be released until after a new constitution,
now being drawn up, is finished.

The ABSDF was formed by the students and other young people who
fled Burma's towns and cities in the wake of the bloody 1988
crackdown to take up arms alongside ethnic minority guerrilla in
Burma's remote border regions.

Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC)
yesterday gave us the reason for closing down its office in
Rangoon and failure of the Burmese junta to give the organization
proper access to political prisoners.

The ICRC said in a statement in Bangkok, it first requested
access to political prisoners in Burma in May last year. The
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council(Slorc) finally
responded to that request in March.

"This reply was not satisfactory as it took no account of the
customary procedures for visits to places of detention followed
by the ICRC in all the countries where it conducts such
activities," the Statement said.

"The ICRC has tried to persuade the Slorc to reconsider its
position, but in vain," it said. 

Human rights groups and Rangoon-based diplomats estimate there
are several hundred political prisoners in Burma including Aung
San Suu Kyi and many members of the pro-democracy political party
she co-founded.

An ICRC official in Thailand said the main problems in Burma were
that the organization was not allowed to talk to prisoners in
private and had no guarantees of follow-up visits.


June 20, 1995

The Chicago City Council has unanimously passed a resolution
calling for federal legislation banning United States business
links with Burma.

The statement released by the US-based Seattle Campaign for a
free Burma, said the resolution was passed on June 14 in response
to its view that Burma has moves closer becoming the South Africa
of the 90's.

Chicago is the third largest city in the US with a population of
2.8 million people. It became the third American city after
Seattle and Berkeley to pass legislation to either boycott
American companies doing business with Burma or totally ban
business links with the Burmese.

The Statement said similar legislation was afoot in Oakland,
San Francisco, New York, Madison WI, and the State of

"The heat will rise when the US$ 40 million Hollywood film
"Beyond Rangoon" is released this summer," the group said.

American companies, Amoco, Levi Strauss, Eddie Bauer, Liz
Claiborne and Macys have already withdrawn from Burma, while
Coca-Cola, Reebok and Starbuck have vowed not to enter the
Burmese market.

However, Pepsi, Unocal, and Texaco have refused to cut ties
despite being subject to boycotts and shareholder pressure,
according to the statement.

The statement said that "forced labour is rife in Burma and may
be directly related to US business activities."

The resolution followed a congressional initiative spearheaded by
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to draft a Senate
sanctions bill banning all US economic activities with Burma.


JUNE 20, 1995

Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi turned 50 yesterday, while
still under house detention by the ruling military junta in
Burma. It will have been six years on July 19, that she has been
held under house arrest by the State Law and Order Restoration
"Even while under detention, sacrificing her life and facing such
loneliness, her struggle for democracy and human rights active
and vital with utmost vigour and perseverance for the entire
people of Burma," said the All Burma Student's Democratic Front,
in a press release commemorating Suu Kyi's birthday.

The Pro-democracy leader's struggle has indeed been a very brave
one. In the face of repression, and being denied any emotional
comforts of being together with her family, she still has managed
to stand her ground and hold firm to her convictions. Her
imminent release, however, seems bleak and this was confirmed
recently by US Congressman Bill Richardson, who return from
Rangoon in a bid to visit the Nobel Laureate.

Speaking at a press conference in Bangkok, Richardson said he was
denied access to Suu Kyi or any other political prisoner during
his visit. The Democrat also said he did not believe the National
League for Democracy(NLD) leader would be released on July 19,
the day that marks her sixth year under house arrest, which is
the maximum length of time under Slorc Law. Richardson quoted the
Burmese junta as saying that Suu Kyi was surrounded by communist
elements and that she had been forgotten by her own people and
therefore should not be released-- excuses which Richardson said
very weak.

Economic Stakes

The Slorc has a reason in wanting to isolate Suu Kyi. At this
moment in Burma, she represents the only hope of the pro-
democracy movement fighting for the removal of the military junta
which seized power in 1988. The Slorc refused to acknowledge the
results of the 1990 general election, which the NLD won by a
landslide, and retaliated by rounding-up and detaining NLD
activists and politicians. Clearly, if Suu Kyi goes, Burma's
fight for democracy will be doomed.

The sad thing is the international community has not accorded
Aung San Suu Kyi's struggle the same status as that of Nelson
Mandela in his fight against apartheid in South Africa. Mandela's
incarceration triggered off global economic sanctions against
South Africa's white regime, and led to an international uproar
against the human rights abuses occurring there.

The overriding question is why hasn't there been a similar outcry
against Slorc's brutalities? Is it because Suu Kyi is an Asian
woman? Is it because the economic stakes are too high for
sanctions to be imposed against the Burmese junta? The questions
are there, but the answers are not forthcoming.

Even Congressman Richardson expressed his frustration "As
millions of dollars pour into Burma without any constructive
pressure and dialogue on human rights, the cause of democracy in
Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi is forgotten. This is not right."

Soon after taking power in 1988, Slorc invited foreign
businessmen to capitalize on the country's resources. Many
business flocked to Burma to take advantage of the opportunity to
make handsome profits along with the generals. The results of the
open-market economy has been to deposit a good deal of the
country's wealth in the hands of a few top military officers and
business families. And despite the relative poverty of Burma,
more than one-third of the country's annual budget still goes to
defence-spending. There's no doubts that foreign investment is
funding repression in the country.

As Slorc's rule grow old, there is no sign that the generals are
easing their reign of terror. The Burmese junta last week
appointed six senior army commanders to Cabinet posts in a move
designed to open up positions for afresh crop of military leader.

Economic Engagement

A key to pressuring the Slorc to ease up on Burma is with Asean.
Unfortunately with the regional grouping, it has been business
first, business second and business again. In the name of
"constructive engagement", Thai, Singaporean, and Malaysian
businessmen rushed in with hundreds of millions of dollars in
investments. With a finger in every pie, the Slorc generals were  
ready to reap the rewards from their conversion to capitalism in
a specular fashion. Shamelessly, Asean now looks set to invite
Burma as a guest of their ministerial meeting next month in
Brunei Darussalam.

Economic engagement has not turned Burma around. and there is
little evidence to indicate that constructive engagement will
make the Slorc less of monsters. The international community must
pressure Asean to yank Burma's invitation to be present in Brunei
Darussalam unless Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners
are freed.

The beacon of hope for Burma's struggle for freedom is Aung San
Suu Kyi and all democracy-loving people have moral duty to ensure
that she is never forgotten. 

20 JUNE 1995

A Thai delegation leaves for Rangoon today try to break the
deadlock on Burma's abrupt decision to suspend construction of
the Thai-Burmese friendship bridge, a source said yesterday.

The delegation is made up of members of the Bridge
Construction Committee and is led by Sawat Bunterngsuk, an
academic from Chiang Mai University, the source said.

They are scheduled to hold talks with Deputy Burmese Minister
of Construction Aung San, the managing director of the Public
Works Department, and other agencies concerned in the
construction of the bridge linking Thailand's Mae Sot to
Burma's Myawaddy.

The future of the bridge, which is now 95 per cent complete,
will be known within two months' time, the source said.

Udorn Tantisunthorn, a former Tak MP and deputy chairman of
the committee, said the fact-finding committee needed time to
investigate  allegations made by Burma that Thailand had
reclaimed land on the Moei River.

Rangoon voiced its dissatisfaction after the Thai side filled
the river with rocks to build structures in anticipation of
increased trade at the border, and ordered construction
suspended on June 7.

The fact-finding committee, which is chaired by Yont
Soontnornsaratoon who is an inspector attached to the Interior
Ministry, is looking into  the allegations.

The committee is also made up of officials from Defence and
Foreign Affairs ministries, and from the Land and Highways

There is speculation that Burma will order a long suspension
of construction after the State Law and Order Restoration
Council replaced Construction Minister Khin Maung Yin last
Thursday with Maj-gen Saw Tun, who is the commander of Burma's
Eastern Force.

Khin Maung Yin had played an important role in pushing for the
construction of the bridge. (BP)     

20 June 1995

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said
yesterday it was closing down its office in Rangoon because it
had failed to get proper access to political prisoners in

The ICRC sad in a statement it first requested access to
political prisoners in Burma in May last year. The ruling
State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) finally
responded to that request in March.

"This reply was not satisfactory as it took no account of the
customary procedures for visits to places of detention
followed by the ICRC in all the countries where it conducts
such activities," the statement said.

"The ICRC has tried to persuade the Slorc to reconsider
position, but in vain," it said.

Human rights groups and Rangoon-based diplomats estimate there
are several hundred political prisoners in Burma including the
1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and many
members of the pro-democracy political party she co-founded.

Saturday, June 17, 1995
Nara, Japan

A call for solidarity in support of the opposition leader under
house arrest in Myanmar

Todaiji and other temples and churches throughout the country
are holding services on June 17 and 18 praying for democracy
in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and for the release of Aung San
Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who is under house arrest in
Myanmar.  A volunteer group, Burmese Relief Center--Japan,
directed by Ken Kawasaki and his wife Visakha, who are
junior high school teachers living in Kashihara, has been
sending computer messages all over Japan regarding Suu Kyi's
birthday, June 19.

In 1988 there were huge demonstrations in Myanmar calling
for democracy, but these were suppressed by a coup d'etat in
September.  Aung San Suu Kyi continued opposing the
government and calling for the protection of human rights of
those who had been arrested.  Aung San Suu Kyi herself was
placed under house arrest in July 1989.  In 1991 she was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but this did end her house

The Kawasakis are both Buddhists from the United States.  In
the eighties they served as relief workers in Indochinese
refugee camps.  In 1988 they became involved with activities
opposing the government of Myanmar, and in 1990 they
founded the Burmese Relief Center--Japan.  The Center carries
out various campaigns directed toward the release of Aung San
Suu Kyi and democracy in Myanmar, including letters and
petitions to the Japanese government.  Having learned about
various demonstrations and prayer sessions planned for the
weekend of June 17 and 18 in Washington and other places
around the world,  they sent out by computer network a
"prayer request" including Suu Kyi's own words,  "Even the
smallest light cannot be extinguished by all the darkness in the
world . . ."

On June 18  the Kawasakis are sponsoring a ceremony in
Nara.  In the ceremony, attended by a Myanmar monk living
in Japan, sutras will be chanted and 50 Japanese carp will be
released into Kagami Pond in the compound of Todaiji
Temple.  The couple is hoping that many people will join the
ceremony.  "Everyone will be free to pray in his own way,"
they said.

June 20, 1995
Toronto, Canada

At 56 University Ave., Rangoon, behind a green and yellow fence, the
winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize turned 50 yesterday. It cannot have
been a happy occasion. Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest    
in her Rangon compound since July 20, 1989, accused of " endangering the
state ". Her British husband, academic Michael Aris, was recently denied
a visa to visit her. Her two teen-aged sons are far away, studying in
England and the United States. Her supporters say they see no sign that
Burma's military junta will soon let her go. Perhaps most troubling,
some of her foreign friends seem to be abandoning her.
Officially, the government of Canada remains committed to her cause:
democracy in Burma. Only yesterday it called for her release, adding its
voice to an appeal by the Group of Seven leaders in Halifax. And since
1988, when the junta put down pro-democracy demonstrations and killed as
many as 3,000 protesters,Canada has sent no development aid to Buram.
But last month, at ameeting in Vancouver with foriegn minsters of the
Association of Southeast Asia nations  (ASEAN), Foreign Affair Minister
Andre'Ouellet said that Canada's policy would henceforth " be guilded by
those closer to " Burma. This appears to mean that Canada accepts
ASEAN's view that building trade links with Burma will hasten the dawn
of democracy there.
This would represent a sharp break with Canada's previous Burma policy,
which emphasized continuing diplomatic and economic pressure on Rangoon,
with pressure in response to improvements in  human rights policy. On
the other hand, it would be perfectly consistent with Canada's approach
to China, Burma's neighbour, arm suppliers and ally. Canada has muted
its criticism of China's repression, arguing that trade will open up
Chinese society.
U.S. president Ronald Reagan, applying it to South Africa, called this
policy "constructive engagement ". Does it work ? In Burma and China,
its too early to know. But the early signs are discouraging.
Human-rights organizations say that China's repression has
actually worsened in the past two years as Western governments have
rushed to do business there.
     The story in Burma is similar. While the country has enjoyed a
foreign-investment boom in the past couple of years, turning much of
Rangoon into a construction site, the junta has not loosened its grip.
Along with Aung San Suu Kyi, about 90 members of parliament elected in
the 1990 election ( annulled after her party won a huge majority ) are
believed to be in detention.

All meetings of five or more people are banned. All media is government
controlled. Torture and forced labour are routine.
If anything, the boom has strengthened the military, giving it the
foreign currency to buy weapons from China and make the armed forces the
second biggest in the region, with 375,000 men. " Perhaps people thought
they could break us, "one Burmese general told The Globe and Mail's John
Stackhouse in April."  Look at us today." Even through Mr. Ouellet's
tinted spectacles, it is not a pretty picture.
June 21, 1995

Somchit Rungchamratrasmee

MAE SOT- Burmese authorities in Myawaddy have launched a campaign
urging local people to boycott Thai products and purchase goods
from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, Thai businessmen

Anti-Thai leaflets, which were said to have been produced in
Rangoon, being distributed to public and civil servants at
government offices in this eastern Burmese border town opposite
Thailand's Mae Sot district, they said.

Posters were also said to have been put up in several public
places urging the boycott.

No official explanation was for the campaign, but some
businessmen in Mae Sot suspect the move was initiated to help
promote local products manufactured in the country by foreign
investors from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Thailand and Burma have been at odds following several border
incursions and the alleged safe have provided to ethnic Burmese
groups in both countries enabling them to carry out attacks
across the border.

Several Burmese traders, who regularly cross into Thailand on
business said they do not think the campaign would succeed
because people, including senior government officials, still
preferred Thai products.

"Thai goods are better in quality, and they have been very
popular among the Burmese people for a long time," one trader

Burmese sources in Mad said the leaflets and posters were
produced in Rangoon and dispatched to several Burmese border
towns for distribution.

The sources said acquiring Thai goods was still legal and the
ruling Burmese junta was merely asking the public to promote
everyday and basic necessities locally manufactured by foreign

Suchart Triratwattana, general secretary of the Tak Chamber of
Commerce, said he did not believe the campaign would effect the
sale of Thai goods to Burma because most of the customers were
from the country's middle-class.

But he said the campaign could have a psychological impact on the
Burmese people in general.

The majority of those living at grassroots level do not buy Thai
products, only the middle class have the purchasing power. But
the move could have psychological effects on the population in
general," Suchart said.

The Tak Chamber of Commerce, he said. would not take any action
over the campaign because the issue was d domestic affairs.

However, it would suggest to local Palang Dharma MP Udon
Tantisunthorn the establishment of several committees to help
resolve a number of pending Thai-Burmese and disagreements,
including the sudden halt to construction of a bridge linking Maw
Sot and Mad, he said.

Mae Sot traders have cautioned the Thai government and the
private sector against rasing too many hopes of economic
opportunities in Burma, saying Thai businessmen and investors
were still lagging behind those from other countries in terms of
trade and marketing strategies.

They said the anti-Thai campaign was another move by foreign
investors in Burma to brake the Thai monopoly among the Burmese
middle class, the investors were also targeting low-income
earners, they said.


June 21, 1995

Agence France-Press

RANGOON- Burma hopes to see direct foreign investment reach Bt4
billion by the end of this year thanks to "growing confidence" in
the business climate here, a government minister said yesterday.

Brigadier General David Abel, who heads the military government's
ministry of national planning and economic development, said
Britain currently topped the investment list, follow by France,
Thailand and Singapore.

Addressing a news conference at the opening of an international
exposition in Rangoon yesterday. Abel said there were already 139
foreign investment projects under way valued at $2.725 billion.

On the completion of these projects by the end of this year we
hope that the amount will be four billion(dollors)," he said.

Abel spoke of a notable increase in foreign investments which
indicated "a growing confidence" on the part of foreign companies
in the investment climate in Burma.

Britain headed the list of investors largely due to the fact that
companies from Hong Kong, the British virgin Islands, Bermuda and
other territories were registered around the world.

But with changes taken place "almost by the minute" in the
investment fields, other countries might surpass Britain, Abel
said, adding that Thailand and Singapore had a largest number of
companies doing business in Burma.

Investment sectors included agriculture, forestry, fisheries,
mining, oil and gas production, manufacturing and services, he

Some 116 companies from 18 countries were taking part in the
four-day international exposition, 60 per cent of them returning
after taking part in the first such fair last year, according to
organizer Koh Kim Seng.

"It also shows confidence in the overall environment in Myanmar
and demonstrates investment has to be easy here" said Koh, of
Applied Investments(Asia) Pte Ltd.

Myanmar is the official name of Burma. 

The show was divided into three broad categories, Koh said- 
building materials and construction machines, garment and textile
machinery and accessories, and computer, telecommunications and
consumer electronics.