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News: August 4
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Subject: Thai papers on 4/8/95
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Thai envoy has hour-long talk with Suu Kyi
REGIONAL NEWS REPORTERS
THAI Ambassador to Rangoon Poksak Nillubon, arriving with a
bouquet in hand, yesterday met for an hour with Burmese
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, becoming the first Asean
envoy to make official contact with her since her release.
The encounter took place after Thai Foreign Minister MR Kasem S
Kasemsri had informed his Burmese counterpart U Ohn Gyaw in
Brunei last week of the ministry's plan to send Poksak to meet
the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Ohn Gyaw had expressed no opposition to the move, saying that
individual Asean member countries could contact Suu Kyi, but not
as a group, as such a gathering could constitute Asean
recognition of the Burmese pro-democracy leader, according to
well-informed Thai officials who declined to be named.
"The Slorc is probably aware and concerned that allowing Asean
ambassadors to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi as a collective group
would equate to her the same status it has enjoyed-a government
representative," said one official.
Slorc, or the State Law and Order Restoration Council, is the
military regime in Rangoon which has ruled the country after
staging a coup in September 1988.
Asean ambassadors to Burma had to cancel their planned joint
luncheon with Suu Kyi last Friday after the Burmese Foreign
Ministry summoned Malaysian Ambassador John Tenewi Nuek to
protest, saying the gathering would constitute interference in
Burmese domestic affairs. As dean of Asean's diplomatic corps in
Rangoon, Tenewi Nuek had extended an invitation to Suu Kyi on
behalf of Asean.
Asean diplomats have since defended the move and said the joint
luncheon was only postponed, not cancelled.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas expressed surprise when
approached yesterday for comment about the planned Asean
luncheon, saying he was unaware of such and initiative.
Asked whether he knew that Malaysia was acting on behalf of
Asean, he then told the reporter to address the question to
"I am not aware of that. I don't think we have that [luncheon]
initiative," said Alatas,
An eye-witness said during a long distance phone interview that
the Thai envoy, carrying 'a bouquet of beautiful flowers,'
arrived at Suu Kyi's residence at 2.50 pm local time in a
Mercedez Benz. The scheduled appointment was set for 3 pm.
He was seen leaving the compound around 4.45 pm. Poksak, who was
followed by reporters to the Thai embassy, declined to comment
about his talks.
Although Philippine Ambassador to Rangoon Sonia Brady was present
at Suu Kyi's first press conference on July 11, Poksak is
officially the first Asean envoy to have an official meeting with
In Rangoon on July 27 Poksak informed a senior Burmese Foreign
Ministry official of his intended meeting initially scheduled for
last week, with Suu Kyi, but was cautioned to reconsider the
timing of the encounter which coincided with Burmese Minister Ohn
Gyaw's presence at the Asean ministerial forum in Brunei. The
meeting, which Thailand defended as a " Thai goodwill gesture"
was eventually rescheduled to yesterday.
In Brunei, Ohn Gyaw presented to Asean foreign ministers the
Slorc's official accession to the 1976 Asean Treaty of Amity. The
accession is the first move towards becoming an Asean observer
and eventually a full member.
In Brunei, Kasem said yesterday that somebody had accused him of
conducting a "double edged" policy with Burma, recognizing both
the Slorc and the opposition.
"We have to lend every kind of support to Burma in order that
Rangoon would learn how to develop towards democracy. We should
maintain a concerted effort to help Burma," Kasem said.
Defence Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh will leave today for
Burma in an attempt to use his personal ties with Slorc leaders
to improve bilateral relations.
Chavalit, also deputy prime minister, earlier sent former
military intelligence chief Gen Pat Akanibutr, who is his close
personal aide and confidant, to Rangoon to arrange for his
meetings with top Slorc leaders.
Slorc-run papers revive anti-Suu Kyi campaign
Opposition leader's calls for dialogue and reconciliation are
being ignored, Aung Zaw reports.
Three weeks after they surprised the world by releasing Aung San
Suu Kyi from house detention, Burma's military rulers have
renewed their propaganda war against the popular opposition
An article in Tuesday's edition of official New Light of Myanmar
indirectly criticized Suu Kyi and suggested the military rulers
have no intention to relax their iron-fisted grip on the country.
The article's author, U phyoe, said that "an ordinary Burmese has
other things in mind despite their usual rhetoric of forgiveness,
unity and cooperation.
"Unlike [Karen insurgent leader] Bo Mya and drug warlord Khun Sa,
this 'person' has urged the international community to wait first
to see if the junta is laying the groundwork for democratization
and national reconciliation before resuming aid to Burma," the
"This person is jealous and envious of Slorc's achievements," the
article noted. " It is the 45 million people of Burma who are
going to directly benefit from such foreign assistance," it said.
U Phyoe said that "several sympathetic countries in the east"
were getting ready to help. However, the writer seemed to
overlook the fact that many countries, including Japan, may start
giving assistance only because the junta has released Suu Kyi.
He also said that Slorc was doing its best to bring its diverse
national groups together. "The only government capable of really
achieving so much progress swiftly in promoting the people's
living standards, in developing towns and the countryside...is
the present government,'he wrote.
The article appeared the same day as Burmese Foreign Minister Ohn
Gyaw reiterated Rangoon's position that Suu Kyi had no future in
domestic politics. Speaking at this week's Asean annual meeting
of foreign ministers in Brunei, he said that Suu Kyi's marriage
to a foreigner and certain "foreign assistance" she has received
were likely to preclude her from ever participating in politics.
A constitution being drawn up by a military-appointed body
contains a clause barring anyone married to a foreigner from
taking part in politics. It also guarantees the military a
"leading role" in politics.
Media sources in Rangoon also reported that some persons known to
be "anti-Suu Kyi" are planning to release statements and articles
in the state-run newspapers and television. Private magazines
whose editors sought to interview Suu Kyi have also Been
Threatened with closure, they said.
The apparent campaign to undermine Suu Kyi's political popularity
coincided with and increasing number of outings by high-ranking
New education minister U Pan Aung has been touring and inspecting
schools in Rangoon, telling teachers to keep students in
classrooms and to stay away from politics. A student said U Pan
Aung told them not to visit "the house" at University Avenue, a
reference to Suu Kyi's residence. But a Rangoon source said many
students have already been there.
U Pan Aung was accompanied on his visits by powerful military
intelligence chief, Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, who is also chairman of
the Myanmar Education Committee and a patron of the Leading
Committee for the celebration this year of Rangoon University's
diamond jubilee. Khin Nyunt himself is an alumnus of Rangoon
After his visit, photos of Khin Nyunt posing with fellow alumni
and new students at Sagaing, Bago and Inwa halls started
appearing in state-controlled newspapers. But most students said
they did not pose willingly with Khin Nyunt. "We are afraid that
we would be punished if we refused," said a student. Up until her
surprise release, university students had been planning to stage
demonstrations and street protests this month. But many have
since decided to wait and see what happens next. "We should heed
what Daw Suu Kyi take to the street," a student in Rangoon said.
other senior members of the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc), including Vice-Chairman Gen Maung Aye and
Secretary Two Lt Gen Tin Oo, paid visits to upper, central Burma
and the Irrawaddy delta regions.
State-controlled newspapers have been filled with reports on the
activities of the top brass. One Rangoon resident said Slorc's
leaders have been visiting and inspecting the same areas.
"Now that Daw Suu Kyi has been released, they [Slorc leaders] are
busy brushing up their image," said another resident.
On July 10, the day Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, Slorc
Chairman Senior Gen Than Shwe addressed the opening ceremony of
the Management Course No 6 for Union Solidarity Development
Association (USDA) Executive Committee members in Rangoon, which
Slorc established in 1993. It is a mass-based organization, which
could be transformed into a political party. Some branded it as
similar to Indonesia's Golkar party. In his speech, Than Shwe
said that the membership applications of 1.67 million out of the
nearly two million candidates who have expressed interest have
been scrutinized. He also noted that the Tatmadaw or armed forces
has been able to meet all eventualities because of its love for
the nation. Recently, 22 USDA members were sent to Jakarta,
Indonesia to attend a youth festival.
Two days before the release of Suu Kyi, the New Light of Myanmar
ran a series of articles on the "Destiny of the Nation-24." The
author, using the penname Nawratha and believed to be a military
intelligence officer, implied that Burmese were delighted to see
the meeting between Suu Kyi and Slorc leaders in 1994. "The
masses were delighted to see some footage of this meeting in
anticipation of a solution to the crisis." It described the
second meeting, which was held on Oct 28, 1994, as focusing on
"discussions between the Na-wa-ta-(Slorc) leaders and Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi that would surely contribute to national
However, Nawratha said all hopes were dashed when a press
statement from Suu Kyi appeared in Bangkok in January, 1995
shortly after her husband Dr Michael Aris visited her.
Japanese urge Burma to move near democracy
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN-Japan yesterday urged Burma's military regime
to "proceed towards democracy" and improve human rights.
While welcoming the release of Burmese democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi, Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono warned that unless
Burma made progress on these fronts "the harsh assessment of the
world will remain unchanged".
He was speaking at a news conference following a meeting between
Asean and its so-called dialogue partners-the United States,
Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and European
"We and many other countries are encouraging Myanmar [Burma} to
make that kind of progress. We hope Myanmar will also place
stronger importance on its human rights situation,"he said.
Kono said Japan has been encouraged by Burma's release of an
increasing number of political prisoners, including the
"symbolically important" freeing of Suu Kyi last month after six
years of house arrest.
Burmese say they still fear military junta
BURMA'S generals may have released the country's most famous
political prisoner, but many Burmese still feel like captives in
their own country due to tough measures imposed by the military
Although most people say the military has eased up slightly and
there are more basic human rights and freedoms now than when the
ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) seized
power in 1988, they feel they are still nowhere near being free.
"They want to close everybody's eyes and ears," one Rangoon
resident said. "They want to control everybody."
He and others say memories are still fresh of the brutal and
bloody military crackdown in 1988 when thousands were killed or
imprisoned following pro-democracy demonstrations. "Everyone is
afraid of this government," a woman said. "No on wants to die.
The press is strictly censored, people are not free to speak put
or meet in groups without permission, and intimidation, random
arrests and forced labour are commonplace.
One of the best examples of the tight press censorship was seen
after opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was unexpectedly
released from six years of house arrest on July 10.
For nine days the official media ignored her release, even though
some reporters from local paper were at a news conference given
by Suu Kyi the day after she was set free.
The military later tried to restrict some television reports sent
out by foreign correspondents.
Burmese citizens are also afraid to meet foreigners in public,
for fear they might later be arrested or interrogated.
The military often arbitrarily picks up suspects for questioning,
then releases them after a few hours or days.
Several people recounted stories of being detained or visited by
military officers after speaking out against the government or
its leaders. One man said he was blindfolded, arrested and
interrogated just for being in the same room as a person deemed
"I should let you know there are neighbourhood watchers who will
see you leaving and want to know who you were visiting," an
opposition leader said. Military intelligence officers or
informants are also known to be the "all seeing" eyes and ears of
People who seek information from outside of Burma often ask for
it furtively. "I would like to talk to you," one woman whispered
in English as she walked down a deserted street late one night.
"It there any hope for us? Will we be free one day?
Others use code words or names when they speak on the often-
tapped telephones. Retired dictator General Ne Win, who many
still believe to be a strong force behind the current regime, is
"the Old Man" while Suu Kyi is known as "the Lady".
Universities, once a nurturing ground for the democracy movement,
have effectively been silenced by the military.
Professors are restricted on what they can say, they are told not
to discuss politics, support political parties or meet foreign
The universities, closed for several years after the 1988
uprisings, now are strictly offlimits to visitors. Guards at the
gates ensure only students and teachers enter. "Attention. Any
unauthorised person found on the campus at any time of the day
will be subject to interrogation and legal action," says one sign
outside the gates to Rangoon University.
"Severe action will be taken against any unauthorised person
carrying cameras. Video of any kind is prohibited," says another.
The parliament building stands empty, a vacant reminder the
military still controls the country and shows no sign of ceding
power to a democratic government.
The halls and chambers which were intended to group Burmese
politicians now gather dust instead after being left empty during
three decades of military rule. Only gun-toting soldiers stand
guard in front of the unused building.
Now that Suu Kyi is free, many Burmese are hoping parliament
house will once again become operational.
The Slorc has not yet said when or even if it ever plans to begin
talks with democracy forces.
The constitution stipulates the military will play a leading role
in future politics. This issue is expected to be a key point in
any negotiation between the opposition and the military.
"The big question is are they genuinely willing to take further
steps," one diplomat said, echoing what many diplomats and
appositions leaders in Rangoon say about the Slorc.
"The real test will be what they will accept and what they will
Suu Kyi has been working to form a united and stronger party
ready to campaign for democracy. "I think our experience over the
last six years has sorted out the sheep from the goats," she
"Some who could not take the pressure and weren't prepared to
give all for the cause have drifted away. It's now a more
Despite popular support, Suu Kyi does not think the quest for
democracy will be like last time, which ended in a bloodbath.
"One should not do the same sort of things, because we must
change with the times," Suu Kyi said. "We move with the
circumstances and change our tactics and actions accordingly.
Suu Kyi indirectly accused of hindering foreign aid
A STATE-OWNED newspaper has indirectly accused Aung San Suu Kyi
of bearing malice towards the military government in the first
official reaction to her comments since her release from house
The article did not mention the Nobel peace laureate by name, but
referred to comments that were a "hinderance" to foreign
assistance and were broadcast by the British Broadcasting
Corporation on July 15.
The new Light of Myanmar daily, in an article ostensibly written
by U Phyoe, a former Buddhist monk turned layman, said other
countries from helping Burma was being made by one person within
The comments uttered by "just one ordinary individual among the
massed," were motivated by malice, the article said, "despite her
usual rhetoric about forgiveness, unity and cooperation."
The individual not only bore malice against the ruling military
but was jealous and envious of its achievements, it said.
"It is the 45 million people of Myanmar (Burma) who are going to
foreign assistance," it said. "In recognition of this state of
affairs," several "sympathetic countries of the East" were
getting ready to help.
Suu Kyi has publicly voiced doubts as to whether foreign
investments in Burma were filtering down to the people "who need
it the most."
"If you just see a small group getting richer and richer, that's
certainly not going to gain the confidence of the people in
general," she told a recent news conference.
U Phyoe's article, headlined "Let there be no jealousy or envy,"
said the ruling Slorc was trying to build all sectors of the
"The only government capable of really and so swiftly achieving
so much progress in promoting the people's living standards, in
developing towns and countryside...is the present government," he
Chronology of major conflicts
Bkk Post/INSIDE INDOCHINA/1.8.95
THE chronology of Thai-Burmese major conflicts
from the beginning of 1995
Jan 18: Then foreign minister Thaksin Shinawatra invites Lt-Gin
Khin Nyunt, secretary general of the State Law and Order
Restoration Council to visit Thailand as guest of then deputy
premier Chamlong Srimuang. Khin Nyunt agrees but does not come.
Jan 27: A major stronghold of the Karen National Union at
Manerplaw, opposite Mae Hong Son province, falls to SLORC forces.
Feb 14: Lt-Col Than Soe of the Local Burmese-Thai Border
Committee accuses Thailand of obstructing SLORC's offensive
against another major KNU stronghold at Kawmoora, opposite Tak
province, by providing food supplies and medical treatment to KNU
Feb 17: Then deputy premier Supachai Panitchpakdi indefinitely
postpones a visit to Burma, set for February 27-March 2.
Feb 23: Burmese forces take complete control of the KNU's last
major base at Kawmoora.
Feb 23-25: SLORC army Chief-of Staff Lt-Gen Tin Oo visits
Thailand as guest of Commander-in Chief Gen Wimol Wongwanich and
asks Thailand to repatriate all refugees to Burma.
Mar 1: A group of 30 men from the Democratic Kayin Buddhist
Association (DKBA), a breakaway faction from the KNU, kidnaps a
senior KNU member from a refugee camp inside Thailand in Tha Song
Mar 4: Burma closes the Mae Sot-Myawaddy checkpoint.
Mar 17-20 Khun Sa's men attack Tachilek.
Mar 24: Thailand submits its third protest setter to Burma. Then
foreign minister Krasae Chanawong makes an unofficial visit to
Mar 27: Burma closes the Mae Sai-Tachilek temporary checkpoint
and announces a curfew in the Burmese border town a day later.
Apr 2: A Thai national, identified as Thawee Khamtankaew, 38 is
shot dead by SLORC forces at Tachilek.
Apr 4: Then premier Chuan Leekpai orders Thai authorities at all
levels to protest to Rangoon over the death of Thawee.
Apr 7-8: Krasae visits Rangoon. Thailand's ambassador to Burma
hands in a letter of protest against SLORC forces incursion into
Thai territory, which is rejected by the Burmese Foreign
APr 19: The foreign minister issues a protest letter against the
fatal shooting of Thawee to Burmese Charge d'Affairs Nyunt Maung
Apr 23: The pro-Rangoon renegade DKBA crosses the border into Tha
Song Yang to take hostages-three Karens and six Thais of Karen
origin-and seizes a pick-up truck, demanding KNU forestry
minister Aung Sann who took refuge at Ban Mae Woei refugee camp,
be delivered to them.
Apr 26: Burmese soldiers and DKBA raide Karen refugee camps in
Tak And Mae Hong Son provinces.
Apr 28: Thailand protests to the Burmese government about the
DKBA cross-border raid into Thailand.
Apr 29: The Thai Government decides to establish a temporary
centre for KNU Refugees to prevent repeated attacks by Burmese
troops, following a suggestion made by Gen Wimol.
Apr 29: The Thai Government decides to establish a temporary
centre for KNU refugees to prevent repeated attacks by Burmese
troops, following a suggestion made by Gen Wimol.
May 3: Three Thai policemen are shot dead at Baan Mae Ngao, Sob
Moei district, in a series of cross-border raids. They become the
first official casualties of the year.
May 5,8,10: Thai security forces in Tak and Mae Hong Son Launch
their attacks on the DKBA base.
May 9: Burmese military spokesman Col Kyaw Win alleges Thai
support for anti-Rangoon groups: Khun Sa and KNU are the cause of
Thai-Burmese border tension.
May 11: The foreign Ministry issues the eighth protest letter to
Burmese ambassador to Bangkok over the three separate incursions
by the DKBA on April 28, May 2 and 3.
May 17: The DKBA vows to continue its attacks on Karen refugee
camps in Thailand to force all the refugees back to Burma.
May 28: Secretary 1 Lt-Gen Khin implies in a speech given to
teachers in Burma that the Thai-Burmese border incidents were a
game played by Thai politicians to distract Thai public attention
from internal political problems.
June 6: Burma orders a halt to the construction of the Thai-
Burmese Friendship Bridge over the Moei River, demanding the
removal of all construction illegally encroaching on the river.
June 20: Leaflets calling for a boycott on Thai products are seen
June 29: Thailand opens five temporary border crossings in Mae
Sai district, but Burmese authorities keep their side of the
July 15: Assistant Army Commander Gen Chetta Thanajaro holds
talks on a border dispute with newly-appointed Construction
Minister Maj-Gen Saw Tun and Southeastern Force Commander Maj-Gen
Ket Sein in Mae Sot, but fails to convince them to resume the
Typed by the Research Department of the ABSDF(MTZ)