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BurmaNet News Aug 10th 1995

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The BurmaNet News: August 10, 1995


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===== item =====

Bangkok Post/Inside Indochina/8.7.95

The New Light of Myanmar, a Burmese state-owned paper, has    
criticised dissident leader Aung San Suu kyi for urging countries
not to rush to resume economic aid to Burma, It did not mention
her by name in last week's article, but said the comment was "a
hindrance" to foreign aid. The article, written by U Phyoe, a
former Buddhist monk, accused Suu Kyi of being motivated by
malice, despite her usual rhetoric about forgiveness, unity and
cooperation. He also said she was jealous of Burma's achievements
and that its 45 million people were going to benefit directly
from foreign aid.

===== item =====

Bkk Post/Inside Indochina/8.7.95

THE Karenni National Progressive Party has rejected the Burmese
junta's invitation to talks in Loi Kaw, the capital of the
eastern Kayah State, within 10 days or face military action. The
party issued a statement last week saying it could not talk when
the junta constantly attacked it.

The Karenni signed a ceasefire with Burma in March, ending 50
years of hostility, and became the 13th such ethnic group to make
peace with the junta. But the pact broke down in June when the
junta allegedly sent 2,000 troops across the Salween River into
the party's designated area.

===== item =====


The Nation/8.8.95

GOLDEN Triangle warlord Khun Sa and his ethnic rival Wa forces,
long involved in the production of heroin, have begun producing
more-profitable amphetamines, acquiring the raw chemicals from
China, according to PM's Office Minister Prasong Buranapong.

Khun sa has set up laboratories in his Hmong headquarters located
opposite Thailand's Mae Hong Son province, while the United Wa
States Army is working from its base opposite Chiang Mai

Prasong cited information from the Office of Narcotics Control
Board (ONCB) indicating that the two Burma-based groups' moving
into amphetamine production was the result of cheap production

The minister said he had instructed the ONCB to cooperate with
the Police Department-both the local police force and border
patrol police-to prevent the trafficking of amphetamines from
Burma into Thailand.

Cracking down on amphetamines is not very effective because the
drug provides a high return, about 10 times more profitable than
heroin, he said.

In Thailand, amphetamines are produced mainly in the North,
Northeast and the Central regions. The drug is widely abused in
Lop Buri and Ratchaburi provinces and injected amphetamine use is
widespread in Sikhiu district of Nakhon Ratchasima province,
Prasong said.

He said the drug, which used to be abused mainly by long-haul
truck drivers, is now becoming popular among students, factory
workers and fishermen, A new study shows that farmers and
villagers who used to regularly take "Thamjai" caffeine-aspirin
pills, are also turning to amphetamines.

Since the Ministry of Public Health banned caffeine in "Thamjai"
pills last year, farmers and villagers were switching to
amphetamines. One amphetamine pill is usually divided into small
pieces which are then taken along with the "Thamjai" pills.

Prasong said the government is considering including money earned
from smuggling, illegal arms and petro-gasoline sales, as well as
trafficking in women into a money laundering bill, which was
initially drafted to allow the government to seize assets and
properties of narcotics traffickers.

The minister said the draft bill would go to Parliament either
this month or next and probably pass Parliament as the current
opposition parties had previously supported it when they were the

He added that he believed all MPs would support the new draft
bill as none would want to support contraband smugglers.

Prasong said the government, however, had not yet reached a
decision as to the minimum amount of cash a person would be
required to explain when making bank deposits.

===== item =====

Bkk Post/8.8.95

SIR: August 8, 1988 was not just another day in a year of
blloodshed, which began on March 17 when a fight broke out
between students and townspeople and the military and police shot
students at the Rangoon Institute of Technology.

After further civil unrest and demonstrations, a nationwide
strike was called for the 8/8/88. The population marched in the
streets, demonstrating peacefully against the Burmese Socialist
Programme Party, which had taken their rich nation to least
developed country status.

Chants of 'Let the world know that Burma has risen against
tyranny" "We want democracy" echoed through the streets, as
demonstrators, believing the army would join with them, dared the
soldiers to shoot them.

They did.

Some 3,000 people died in Rangoon alone. Many were forced to flee
to neighbouring. Thailand and India and others to the precarious
safety of the jungle. Their countrymen and women were left to
face systematic and endemic human rights abuses which, despite
repeated international condemnation, continue unchecked.

The voices from the jungle speak for themselves:

The Dream of a People

You who demand power!
Do you not know
even your greatest demonstrations
of authority
cannot take away 
the dream of a people?
To suddenly lose a dream
just within grasp,
does not destroy 
the will of the people,
but drives it deeper into the soul
and even deeper underground.
It will continue to surface
until it becomes a reality.

by Nyein Chan

===== item =====

Bkk Post/8.8.95

It is now for the international community to let the State Law
and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) know that the situation
they have had, and are creating, will no longer be tolerated and
bring pressure to bear on them to transfer power peacefully to
the people's democratically elected representatives.

The dream lives on, albeit very much underground, but the spark
of hope which greeted Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's release indicates
that it is very ready to surface.

Action Committee for Democracy in Burma

===== item =====

Bkk Post/Inside Indochina/8.8.95

BRUNEI and Burma have discussed the extension of commercial
flights between the two countries and the construction of an
international airport in Rangoon. Brunei Communications Minister
Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Awang Zakaria Sulaiman led a delegation
to Rangoon from August 2 for talks with Burmese Transport
Minister Air Chief Marshall Thein Win and Post and
Telecommunication Minister Soe Tha.

===== item =====

Bkk Post/Inside Indochina/8.8.95

BURMESE Trade Minister Lt Gen Tun Kyi is heading a team of 150
Burmese businessmen and officials to one of the four biggest
trade fairs held annually in China. Burmese products to be
displayed at the fair which opens today in Kunming, Yunnan
province, include gems and jewellery, leatherware, silverware,
agricultural goods, wood products and clothes as well as
electrical goods produced jointly by Burmese companies and the
South Korean firm Daewoo.

Before returning home, the Burmese trade minister will visit Hong
Kong with senior Chinese officials to meet Hong Kong's
businessmen to promote trade.

===== item =====

Bkk Post/Inside Indochina/8.8.95

BURMESE dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi last week denied
reports she had accepted a post as an adviser on human rights at
the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural
Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris. But she said she would be willing
to act as an adviser based in Rangoon.

===== item =====

Bkk Post/Inside Indochina/8.9.95

SOUTH Korea's Deputy Foreign Minister for Planning and
Management, Kim Hang-Kyung, began a four-day visit to Burma
yesterday to strengthen trade and business ties between the two
countries. Kim, who will be acting as a special envoy of Foreign
Minister Gong Ro-Myung, will meet Gong's counterpart David Abel
and Vice-Premier Maung Maung Khin.

===== item =====

Bkk Post/Inside Indochina/8.8.95

Subin Khuenkaew and Nussara Sawatsawang
Chiang Rai

    Shan leaders increasingly see drug warlord as barrier to outside
                     support for independence cause

THE STATE Law and Order Restoration Council has been massing
troops along the Thai-Burmese border from Mae Hong Son to Chiang
Rai in what is described as an all-out attempt to crush the
forces of drug warlord Khun Sa by the end of the year.

The first hint of a large-scale war against Khun Sa came from Lt-
Gen Khin Nyunt, SLORC's strongman, when he announced that the
drug baron's strongholds would be the next target after the
defeat of the Karen National Union early this year. He said
Burma's 200,000 troops would be mobilised to crush Khun Sa's Mong
Tai Army.

Although Khin Nyunt had exaggerated the number of troops to be
put on the warpath, about 10,000 troops have been committed for
the operation.

Well-informed sources said at least 10 battalions or about 4,000
Burmese infantry have since June crossed the Salween River to
face the Karenni National Progressive Party's stronghold,
opposite Ban Nai Soi village in Muang district of Mae Hong Son.

The troops were sent there under the pretext of settling a
logging row with the KNPP. But one of Khun Sa's close aides told
Inside Indochina that SLORC troops intended to secure safe
passage through the KNPP's area to attack Ho Mong township, Khun
Sa's headquarters.

About 90 per cent of the KNPP's territory has fallen to SLORC.

On another front at Doi Pa Daeng Luang, another Khun Sa
stronghold, only 30 kilometers south from Tachilek in Burma,
another 4,000 Burmese soldiers have been engaged in a protracted
battle with the MTA since March. This is the second attempt to
break Khun Sa's defence after a humiliating defeat last November.

About 2,000 Burmese troops have also been massing at Ban Doi
Lang, opposite Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai, which is under the
control of the United Wa State Army (UWSA).

The UWSA, which is made up of former members of the Burmese
Communist Party, surrendered to the junta in 1993 and has since
been allowed to remain in the BCP's territory to guard against
the MTA. However, there is no sign whether the UWSA will join the
SLORC in the battle against the MTA.

Observers said SLORC chose to launch an offensive now because it
felt Khun Sa's military power had been weakened and he also had
been plagued with internal rebellion.

Maj Karnyord, deputy commander of the 16th Brigade, recently
broke ranks from the MTA with 500 men to form his own independent

Karnyord, a young turk in the MTA, reportedly quit the army
because of "discrimination" in the ranks, the MTA's deviation
from the state's struggle for independence, and its infamous
drug-dealing image.

Zao Gunjade, chairman of the Shan State National Congress (SSNC)
believed Karnyord's split was instigated by the SLORC which noted
the Shan resistance would not be able to get any out side help as
long as it associated with Khun Sa.

Analysts said Karnyord's defection was the result of the same
trick employed by the SLORC which led to the Democratic Kayin
Buddhist Organisation's breaking away from the KNU. The defection
of the Karen Buddhists, from the mostly Christian Karens, caused
the eventual fall of the KNU's Manerplaw and Kawmoora strongholds
this year.

"The DKBO was supposed to inform the SLORC of all it knew about
the KNU, both its weak and strong points. Karnyord will likely do
the same about the MTA," they said.

The recent speculation that Khun Sa may soon be forced to step
down as head of the MTA indicates some serious internal problem.

Several leaders in the Shan State national Congress have be gun
to feel that Khun Sa's notoriety as a drug warlord is an obstacle
to their tasks.

The SSNC is to hold a meeting determine Khun Sa's fate. No dates
have been fixed but Gun jade, a much-respected congressman and a
veteran army leader who is tipped to succeed Khun Sa, told Inside
Indochina the meeting is due to be held before the end of

Military and political objectives aside, economic reasons have
played a role in prompting the SLORC to launch all-out war
against the MTA.

A border source said the rich natural resources in the Shan
State, as well as numerous heroin refineries under the control of
the Wa and Khun Sa, could bring in millions of dollars for
cashstrapped Burma.

A potential site for a 5,000 megawatt hydro dam on the Salween
River is in Khun Sa's territory, opposite Wiang Haeng
subdistrict, Chiang Mai.

In Loi Kaw, the Karenni State's capital, a Thai company has
proposed an inland site for the Salween dam. A recent trip to the
site organised by the stateowned Myanmar Electric power
Enterprise was cancelled owing to security problems, a delegation
member said.

A Thai-Burmese border observer said SLORC had prepared its plans
well in advance. He said that in the past two years, the SLORC
had sent intelligence units into Thai-Burmese border provinces to
learn about the MTA's movements.

"They did a good job in identifying Khun Sa's safe houses," he

But Thai authorities had trouble taking action against the
occupants of the safe houses, who hold Thai identification cards.

The Burmese military junta has spent millions of kyats to build
roads and bridges over the Salween River toward Shan State.

A Thai logging company, Thai Sawasdi, has been granted a contract
to build a road not far from the state's capital, Taunggyi, in
exchange for 2,000 tons of logs.

Infrastructure in sensitive areas such as Keng Tung province and
nearby has been completed while that south of Shan State, from
Taunggyi to Mawkmai and Namsang-Mong Nai-Mawkmai to meet Ta-
sobteng bridge over the Salween River, is due to be completed
this year.

"This means Burmese troops are getting closer to our Go Mong
headquarters," an MTA officer conceded.

SLORC's cabinet reshuffle in mid-June saw Maj-Gen Tin Htut
appointed commander of the Eastern Command, replacing Maj-Gen Soe
tun, who was promoted to Construction Minister. Maj-Gen Tin Htut
from the 33th Division was said to be under the direct command of
Gen Maung Aye, SLORC's vice-chairman and the former eastern force

A Thai observer predicted that Khun Sa's strongholds would fall
by the end of this year.

A coording to Gen Zang Zhi Chen of the MTA, Burmese troops
recently received 5,000 mortar shells from a neighbouring
country, apparently China. Observers doubted whether it was a
coincidence that Chinese Defence Minister Gen Chi Haotian paid an
official visit to Rangoon early in July.

Khun Sa is having problems with logistical supplies. His supply
lines, including Ban Mai checkpoint, which was a major passage
for rice, medicine and clothes, have been cut since July last
year, affecting both the MTA and Shan people.

Ban Mai, the opposite site of the stronghold, 45 kilometers north
of Mae Hong Son province, was closed as a result of the Thai
Government's tightening of security. MTA sources also said the
SLORC tried to close another 30 checkpoints along border on its
side to prevent supplies crossing from Thailand.

Khun Sa's close aide said the MTA could remain strong until next
year and would be ready for any offensive.

The SSNC sources said they would conduct a political offensive to
arouse nationalistic sentiment among the Shan to fight for

"The more they (Shan people) are oppressed, the faster they will
join us. The SLORC only builds roads and bridges, but we help our
people farm their land, repair their houses and give first aid.
This way, they inform us about the SLORC army's movements while
understanding better our goal in fighting for independence," one
member said.                           

===== item =====


Bkk post/9.8.95

ABOUT 80 dissidents protested  peacefully outside their embassy
in Bangkok yesterday on the seventh anniversary of a nationwide
pro-democracy uprising in their homeland.

The demonstrators carried banners reading "We Will Never Forget 
8-8-88" and "Long Live 8-8-88" along with their battle flag _ a
red banner with the yellow "fighting peacock" symbol _ and
picture of freed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The student-led pro-democracy uprising began in Rangoon on August
8, 1988 and grew into a nationwide movement that the military
crushed a month later, killing thousands. The generals continue
to rule Burma through a junta called State Law and Order
Restoration Council (Slorc).

"We want democracy for Burma," said Jerry Hla Haung, a teacher at
St Paul Christian High School in Rangoon. "We want (the Slorc) to
release all political prisoners."

"We still want other countries to put pressure on the Slorc," he
told reporters.

He said he was more optimistic since National League for
Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi's release from six years
of house arrest on July 10.

The demonstrators hung a plastic wreath bearing the inscription
"8-8-88 All Burma Students (Thailand)" from the spiked gate
outside the embassy.

One man read a statement demanding the release of all political
prisoners, a halt to national convention that is drafting a new
constitution, a dialogue between the Slorc and "democracy
forces," and that the Slorc recognise the 1990 general election
and cede power to a government led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The opposition NLD won the election by a landslide but the Slorc
refused to stand down.

The demonstrators dispersed after  about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area)
(NLDLA) _  NLD members who fled Rangoon after the crack down and
set up a shadow government in the jungle _ marked the 8-8-88
anniversary with a call for the release of all political
prisoners and a dialogue between the Slorc and Aung San Suu Kyi.

The NLDLA said it was willing to "work in any given role" with
other pro-democracy groups and ethnic minorities "to uphold the
interests of the people." It also thanked all organisations,
individuals and the media "who assisted in securing the release
of our national leader Aung San Suu Kyi."

===== item =====

Bkk Post/9.8.95

BURMESE dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi has agreed to given the
keynote speech at the Non-governmental Forum on Women' 95 later
this month in Beijing, forum convener Supatra Masdit confirmed
yesterday after returning from a one-day visit to Rangoon.

"Mrs Suu Kyi is not only a women's leader, but a world class
leader in her own right," said Khunying Supatra during an
interview screened on Channel 9 last night.

Democrat MP for Nakhon Si Thammasat, Khunying Supatra was in
Rangoon on Monday on behalf of the United Nations to discuss Mrs
Suu Kyi's participation at the forum which begins August 31.

The forum's organising committee had unanimously voted to invite
Mrs Suu Kyi to attend but she declined, saying that she did not
want to leave the country agreeing only to send a speech.

"Her speech will last about 20 minutes and will serve to
stimulate and inspire women to take part in politics. I told her
that we could discuss all the problems in the world, but we won't
be able to solve them unless women take part in politics," said
Khunying Supatra.

Both Khunying Supatra and Mrs Suu Kyi discussed a wide range of
issues, including experiences of both being daughters of well-
known politicians having to prove themselves to the public. They
also talked about corruption and insecurity being one of the
major causes of corruption.

"She stressed the importance of entertaining a vision but going
step by step," Khunying Supatra said. "The six years under house
arrest has given her inner strength. She has been clear about her
goal all along.

The MP gave a T-shirt of the forum to Mrs Suu Kyi. It bears the
picture of eight women from around the world dancing.

"She was very pleased with the number of her democracy movement,"
said Khunying Supatra.

Asked what assistance she might need, Mrs Suu Kyi said she was
waiting for the authorities to allow her to use
telecommunications equipment. She said she also wanted good books
for Burmese Bangkok Post, Newsweek, Far Eastern Economic Review
and The Nation.

Meanwhile, yesterday Foreign Minister Kasem S. Kasemsri said he
wanted to see reconciliation in Burma. He said it would be
possible if Mrs Suu Kyi and the military junta hold discussions
and clear up any misunderstandings between them.

===== item =====


bkk post/9.8.95

THE Army News yesterday criticised Palang Dhama MP Sutin Noppaket
for his criticism of Army Commander Wimol Wongwanich, who is
disagreed with a proposed visit to Thailand by Burmese opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Gen Wimol had said that all sides concerned with the invitation
should be more cautious on the issue since the trip would harm
relations between the two countries.

Mr Sutin, a Bangkok MP, claimed Gen Wimol's comment showed the
Army had no respect for human rights in Burma and did not support
the democratic struggle led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Academics proposed that the Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate be
invited to Thailand to receive an honorary degree in political
science awarded by Thammasat University several years ago when
she was under house arrest.

But Lt-Col Tadtiem Yiemnakorn, the pen name of army colonel
working in the Army Secretary Office, defended Gen Wimol in his
column in the August 8 issue of the Army's bi-weekly newspaper.

The officer said Gen Wimol's remark was in line with government
policy to strengthen relations with neighbouring countries.

"The Army's stance on the issue is in support of government
policy and Sutin Nopket is also a member of the coalition
government as he is a Palang Dhama MP," Lt-Col Tadtiem wrote.

The colonel said Mr Sutin's claim that the Army had no respect
for human rights and did not support the democratic struggle in
Burma discredited the Army and might confuse the public.

He wrote that the military did not oppose the reported visit but
was worried about relations between the two countries.

The colonel said that as Thailand was a neighbour of Burma,
Burmese sensitivity over Aung San Suu Kyi should be considered.

He was concerned over Mr Sutin's "wisdom" in commenting since the
MP was a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee
and should be more cautious in making public comments.

"Mr Sutin's interview has badly affected the Army's image as well
as its feelings," the colonel wrote.

The colonel wrote that many army officers were also fond of the
Burmese opposition leader known for her "charm and hospitality".
But they had to consider the national interest when they gave an
opinion on the issue.

===== item =====


The Nation/9.8.95

DISSIDENT Burmese students yesterday called on Burma's ruling
military to begin talks with freed democracy leader Aung San Suu
Kyi and to release all political prisoners.

Dozens of Burmese dissidents rallied peacefully outside their
embassy in Bangkok yesterday to mark the seventh anniversary of
what has become known as the "four eights" massacre.

"In reality, the only route to peace, justice and development in
Burma is for all parties to come together in good faith for
political dialogue," the All Burma Students Democratic Front
(ABSDF) said in a statement.

"Political questions should be solved by political means," said
the statement issued to mark the anniversary of a bloody
nationwide crack down against pro-democracy protesters on Aug 8,

The demonstrators, many wearing red headbands baring the image of
a fighting peacock, a traditional symbol of defiance, placed a
wreath at the Bangkok embassy gate and held up posters denouncing
military rule and expressing support for Suu Kyi.

Police monitored the brief demonstration but made no arrests
before ordering the protesters to disperse.

Aug 8, 1988 was one of the bloodiest days over the course of six
months of demonstrations in Burma against military rule.

A student call for a strike on the auspicious eighth day of the
eighth month of the 88th year, reported by the British
Broadcasting Corporation's Burmese-language service several days
earlier, was heeded by hundreds of thousands of people in cities
and towns throughout the country.

The Burmese military responded with bullets in Rangoon and
several other towns. Doctors in Rangoon at the time put the death
toll in the capital for that day as high as 3,000.

A week later, military authorities said 112 people had been
killed and 267 wounded.

The pro-democracy uprising, which began in March that year, was
finally crushed in September after the establishment of a new
ruling military body, the State Law and Order Restoration Council

The Slorc, which will still rules Burma released the 1991 Nobel
Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi on July 10 after nearly six years of
house arrest.

She has called for dialogue on national reconciliation but the
Slorc has yet to make any public response.

===== item =====

by poor weather

The Nation/9.8.95

A POOR opium harvest and changing control of opium production in
Burma has sent the price of heroin from the Golden Triangle
region surging, a Thai narcotics suppression officer said

The wholesale price of heroin form clandestine refineries has
risen in recent months from between Bt 70,000-80,000 to between
Bt 100,000-120,000 for one 700 gramme unit of the drug, the
senior officer, who declined to be identified, said.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimates about 60
per cent of the Golden Triangle, the region where the borders of
Burma, Laos and Thailand meet.

The largest amount of illegal opium, and its refined form heroin,
comes from Shan state in Burma, anti-narcotics agents said

Last year's opium harvest was hit by poor weather with production
in Burma falling by 21 per cent to about 2,000 tonnes, according
to the US State Department's Bureau for International Narcotics
and Law Enforcement Affairs.

One tonne of opium produces approximately 100 kg of heroin, the
anti-narcotics officials said.

The Thai narcotics suppression officer said supplies of heroin
reaching Thailand had also been affected by fighting between
Burmese government forces and opium warlord Khun Sa.

The Thai officer also said supplies had been hit by shifting
control of the opium harvest in central and northern Shan state
where alleged trafficker Lo Hsing-han has moved into areas
previously under the control of Khun Sa.

"Opium production near the Thai border has decreased due to the
fighting while at the same time the Lo Hsing-han group has bought
most of the raw opium grown in the upper part of Shan state," the
officers said.

Lo Hsing-han was a government militia commander in the 1960s who
later joined Shan rebels fighting Rangoon.

The opium and heroin being produced by Lo Hsing-han, who is
alleged to have set up refineries in northern Shan state near the
Chinese border, was not being exported to the world market
through Thailand, affecting supplies and prices in Thailand, the
Thai officer said.

===== item =====


Agence France-Presse
bkk post/10.8.95

BURMESE dissident Aung San Suu Kyi will send a videotape address
to the non-governmental forum on women in Beijing this month, the
chairwoman for the conference said yesterday.

Aung San Suu Kyi agreed to record a message for the conference,
which begins on Aug 30, after having turned down an invitation to
attend the forum, which precedes the UN world women's conference,
Supatra Masdit told reporters in Bangkok.

The Burmese dissident was invited to attend the meeting by the UN
organizers, but declined, saying she was not yet prepared to
travel outside Burma.

Aung San Suu Kyi would talk about her political struggle and
describe her experience up tho her release from almost six years
of house arrest on July 10, said Supatra, a Thai MP.

"We want her to talk about her inspirations, her belief in taking
a political role for the world's women," she said.

"She will also tell of her experiences, which will benefit women
who wish to take a political role _ especially for dissident
movements fighting undemocratic forces," Supatra said.

Burma has announced that it will send an official delegation to
the Beijing forum.

===== item =====


bkk post/10.8.95

The Burmese military junta surprisingly announced its desire to
become an Asean observer. Yindee Lertcharoenchok looks at this
crucial stage of Burma at a political crossroads.

With Burma's accession to the 1976 Treaty of Amity and
Cooperation last month, Asean members are jubilant that their
founding fathers' dream of seeing a 10 member Southeast Asian
grouping is finally materializing before the turn of the century.

Asean members believe that the five year time frame is a
reasonable possibility as Vietnam has just become a full member,
with Laos and Cambodia expected to head in the same direction as
both have been granted observer status.

"Its has been the dream of our founding fathers that there will
eventually be an Asean 10. I would like to see it happen by the
turn of the century. There are still five years to work on this.
It is possible, " said Malaysian Foreign Ministry Permanent
Secretary Ahmd Kamil Jaafar in Kuala Lumpur on the eve of the
annual Asean Ministerial Meeting in Brunei last month.

In early July, the Burmese junta instructed its ambassador to
Indonesia to inform the Asean Secretariat Office in Jakarta of
its wish to become an observer at Asean. At the same time,
Burmese Foreign Minister U Ohn Gyaw informed his counterpart,
Prince Mohamed Bolkiah os Brunei, who chaired the Asean meeting
of Rangoon's decision to accede to the Asean treaty. By
tradition, this automatically gives a treaty partner an observer
status in Asean.

With no prior hint, Asean countries were caught off guard by the
sudden decision of the ruling Burmese State Law and Order 
Restoration Council (Slorc). They were even more surprised to
hear about the Slorc's unconditional release on July 10 of its
"arch enemy" and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who had
spent nearly sic years under house arrest.

Upon arrival in Brunei on July 27, U Ohn Gyaw presented to Prince
Bolkiah Slorc's instrument of accession" to the Bali Treaty.
However, Asean members decided to stand by their previous
decision to have Ohn Gyaw attend the Aseam forum as "guest of the
host country." During the Asean meeting in July last year, he
also represented his country as guest of Thailand.

In principle, Asean foreign ministers agreed that Burma would
officially enjoy observer status at their annual gathering next
year in Indonesia.

Slorc's abrupt but deliberate move to associate itself with Asean
is not without account its refusal to join Indonesia, Malaysia,
the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand when founded the grouping
in 1967.

Since Burma's independence in 1948 after 62 year of British
colonial rule, successive governments _ parliamentary and
military _ have strictly adhered to "neutrality" in foreign
policy partly due to its strategic geopolitical location as a
country that borders two Asean giants China and India.

They also adopted the concept of five principles of peaceful
coexistence pro-claimed at the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung,
Indonesia in April, 1955 where Burma was one of the key

The Bandung Declaration, which has served as the basic principle
of Burma's foreign relations with countries across the globe,
calls for mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity
and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression and non-interference in
each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefits, and
peaceful coexistence.

When the Revolutionary Council of Gen Ne Win seized power in
March 2, 1962, it announced Burma's "adherence to a policy of
positive neutrality," guaranteeing "the continuity of existing
cordial relations with all countries."

Burma's "neutrality" was well recognized, especially at the
height of the Cold War in Southeast Asia. During that rough and
tough period, the country avoided suspicion from both the
Communist world and the "free world' by refusing to align itself
with either camps and keeping itself apart from regional
associations, including Asean, which it considered as a staunchly
anti-communist, pro-Western apparatus and a lackey of American
imperialism in the region.

In Sept 1979, Burma withdrew from the Non-Aligned Movement (Nam),
citing the violations of the Movement's basic principles,
including the emergence of some "active factions" within the
organization, the use of force by some members for the settlement
of disputes and interference in the internal affairs of others.
Only after the Cold War was over did Burma seek to restore its
Nam membership.

Senior Thai government diplomats share the view that Burma would
not rush to become a full member of Asean and that the status of
observer would sufficiently serve at least for the time being,
its internal and external interests, politically and
economically. Unlike Vietnam and the two other Indochinese
countries, Burma's integration into the Southeast Asian club
would be a "cautious gradual" precess.

As an observer, Burma would be able to enjoy distant relations
with Asean, which has yet to set a new post-Cold War policy
direction and principles, while earning global acceptance,
recognition and legitimacy from the grouping's growing
international prominence.

Slorc knows that Asean is a good  stepping stone into the global
arena and that it can easily pass the test with full regional
recognition. The Burmese regime is confident that, as an
observer, its self-interests would not be hurt and Asean can
always be relied upon to stand up to deflect and challenge
Western pressure and criticism of Slorc's poor human rights
records and refusal to initiate democratic reforms.

The benefits also include the invitation to attend separate
annual meetings of Asean foreign and economic ministers and, more
importantly, the two-year-old Asean Regional Forum (ARF) where
Asean and its dialogue partners from the world's developed
economies hold talks on political, security and defence matters
in Asia and the Pacific.

Several ARF members, particularly the West, have identifies Burma
and the Spratly islands as the "two potential hot spots" in
Southeast Asia. They have also commissioned studies to seek
preventive measures against a possible violent scenario.

Slorc has cleverly timed and used the release of opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi and its appropriate association with
Asean to neutralize international outrage and backlash. The
stunning release of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner was not
only a domestic agenda but a global requirement and Slorc
maximized its effects to its utmost benefit.

While Burma realizes its inevitable integration into Asean, Slorc
has absolutely no desire or proven sincerity, at least for now,
to be a full member of Asean. Although Vietnam's entry last month
meant the official ending of ideological hostilities in the
grouping, Burma has always pursued a more global outlook and
prefers to associate itself with the United Nations or the Non-
Aligned Movement where its interests and presence are best served
and recognized.

Asean diplomats believe that while Burma would have less
difficulty than the three Indochinese states in attaining Asean
full member status, it would study and watch Vietnam's
integration into Asean closely. Unlike Cambodia and Laos, Burma
has not publicly announced or committed itself to becoming an
Asean member, they noted.

Slorc is fully aware that before becoming an Asean member, it
would be required to fulfill certain criteria and obligations,
although exceptions are possible like in the case of Vietnam
requesting a three-year- grace of period before it fully joins
the Asean Free Trade Area.

Among other requirements, Burma has to carry out internal
administrative, structural and even policy reforms and
preparations to cope with intensive Asean political and economic
activities _ around 200 meetings yearly, huge expenses and an
annual U$$1-million membership contribution.

It also has to conform to numerous Asean rules and regulations as
well as the grouping's principles and stance towards various
international issues which Burma, with its global neutrality
image, could find itself reluctant to commit to.

Although Asean countries have tried to assure Rangoon that
membership into Asean will not be gauged on the basis of the
political situation there , Slorc knows records and implements
further political reforms, its efforts to normalize relations
with the world community, and come into association with Asean,
will not be without criticism.

Suu Kyi's release was warmly welcomed internationally, but the
move does not translate into any political reform in Burma, Slorc
has not projected a softened or reconciliatory stance towards the
pro-democracy movement or ethnic guerilla forces.

Before Burma is fully welcomed with open arms as a member, Asean
has to make sure that Slorc accomplishes the other fundamental
international requirements stated in successive annual UN
resolutions. This includes the release of all political
detainees, respects of human rights, freedom of access to
political prisoners by the International Committee for the Red
Cross, and progress towards dialogue and national reconciliation
with the country's pro-democracy and ethnic movements.