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BurmaNet News January 18, 1996

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------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: January 18, 1996
Issue #324

Noted in Passing:

		It looks like the guy at Stanford has sent a letter to Aung 
		San Suu Kyi asking her to speak to the group - anyway he 
		now realizes what a mistake he has made!! 

				- Patrick Macleod,
		from Abercrombie and Kent travel agency on SLORC's
		cancellation of the Stanford Alumni tour to Burma.


by the BurmaNet Editor
January 18, 1996

American alumni groups have learned the hard way that visiting Burma 
comes with a price.  They must promise that they will not meet with Aung 
San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy leader.  
Anyone who makes plans to see her is not allowed into the country.

The Stanford alumni group which had planned to go to Burma in late January
has had to cancel their trip.  Kyaw Ba, the Minister of Tourism, revoked the
landing permit for their chartered plane after he learned that they had written
to Suu Kyi.  

A letter from Patrick Macleod of Abercrombie and Kent, the travel agency 
organizing the tour, to the local travel agent in Rangoon states:  

"It looks like the guy at Stanford has sent a letter to Aung San Suu Kyi asking her 
to speak to the group - anyway he now realizes what a mistake he has made!!"

The Stanford group tried to appeal by promising Kyaw Ba that they would
not meet with Suu Kyi after all.  Duncan Beardsley, the Director of
Stanford's Travel/Study Programs, wrote to Tin Tun, the representative
of the travel agency handling arrangements in Rangoon, asking him for
assistance in reinstating the landing permit. 

 "I have already written to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi withdrawing my
invitation.  I wish to emphasize in no uncertain terms that neither I
nor any of the passengers or staff will contact this person," said
Beardsley on December 22, 1995. 

In his letter to Suu Kyi, Beardsley wrote, "Further to my November letter 
inviting you to meet with the Stanford Alumni, I am withdrawing my invitation
due to unforseen circumstances."  Beardsley did not tell Suu Kyi the real
reason for the change of plans.

The Stanford group was not the only alumni group which was denied entry
by the Burmese government.  The University of Michigan group was also
told that they could not come because of rumored contacts with Suu Kyi.
Apparently, they were also considering giving her an award.  

TCS Expeditions, which was coordinating the travel arrangements in the 
States, wrote to Abercrombie and Kent to say that,  "we were able to get
in touch with University of Michigan right away and they say no contact
was ever made from their school and there are no plans to present her 
with an award."

Because there was no written evidence of contact between Suu Kyi and 
the Michigan group, Kyaw Ba reinstated the landing permit for their
chartered plane.  

USC was also in danger of not being able to enter the country.  However,
as in the case of the University of Michigan, there was no paper trail proving
they had been in touch with Suu Kyi. 

Macleod asked the Rangoon  travel agency to reassure the proper Burmese 
officials.  He wrote, "you have my 100% guarantee that no one from ...
USC/Michigan will make contact with Aung San Suu Kyi while in Burma." 

Since Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest in July, 1995, the
Burmese government has reacted unfavorably to official meetings with 
Suu Kyi.  When the Malaysian Ambassador announced that he was 
organizing a luncheon for Suu Kyi and ASEAN ambassadors in Rangoon, 
the Burmese government demanded that he cancel the event.  

Foreign officials going into Rangoon have also been warned that they 
must choose Suu Kyi and the SLORC. They would not be allowed to meet 
with both.

Now the Burmese junta has stepped up the pressure.  Even tourists cannot
meet with Suu Kyi.  

The directors of the alumni groups seem unperturbed by the junta's actions.
They have been willing to make whatever concessions necessary as long as 
their trips are permitted. 

Whether the members of the tour groups are aware of  the restrictions being 
placed on them is unclear.  Perhaps not all of the group members would be 
willing to travel to Burma if they knew more about how the military junta
really operates.  

One cycling group which did make it to Burma also experienced problems.
Although they had official permission to bicycle around central Burma,
they were stopped by local military authorities once they arrived in the
countryside.  The reason given: local security.  It seems that the
officials were far more worried about what the cyclists might see than
about any dangers they might face. 

The group of American and British cyclists was detained, then thrown
into a truck, and sent back to Rangoon.  Half of the members immediately
left the country in disgust.  The others flew up to Mandalay, but were
then told that they were not allowed to go beyond the city limits. 

In another recent incident, two Americans flew to Myitkyina, the capital of 
Kachin State, with official permission from Rangoon.  When they arrived in 
Myitkyina, the local authorities said they could not enter the town.  They were 
ordered to fly back to Rangoon, but since there were no more flights that day, 
they were forced to spend the night on tables in the airport lounge with armed 
guards watching over them. 

The argument has been made that tourism can help open up Burma
politically. However, given the way that the Burmese authorities have
handled tourism so far, it is hard to imagine how tourism could play a
positive role in bringing about political change. 


January 16, 1996
>From jjerome@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

By Bill Workman, Chronicle Peninsula Bureau

Burma's military junta has barred a group of Stanford University alumni
and professors from visiting this month after learning they had invited
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to meet with them in the capital
city of Rangoon.

The Stanford travelers, who include population expert Paul Ehrlich and
retired admiral James Stockdale, Ross Perot's vice-presidential running
mate in 1992, were stunned by the Burmese government's action, Duncan
Beardsley, director of the Stanford Alumni Association's travel-study
office, said yesterday.

The cancellation of the Stanford-sponsored visit comes only a short time
after the Burmese government declared 1996 "the year of the tourist" and
said it was preparing to ease travel restrictions.

"Everything had been arranged, everyone had their visas from the Burmese
government, and then we were told we could not come," said Beardsley.

The decision to bar the Stanford alumni, he added, "had apparently been
precipitated by a letter we sent to Suu Kyi in November," inviting her to
speak to the group while they were in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

Suu Kyi won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for leading the campaign to bring
democracy to her homeland.  She had been under house arrest for almost six
years until July, when the ruling junta lifted the order.

Her party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory in
1990.  But the junta refused to honor the results that were expected to
lead to her becoming president.

The United States and other governments had demanded her freedom as a
condition for lifting diplomatic and trade sanctions.

Beardsley said Stanford officials do not plan to complain to the State
Department because there is nothing in writing from the Burmese government
on which to base a formal complaint.

But he said it became clear a few weeks ago that the Stanford group was
not welcome when Burmese authorities notified the ariline handling flight
arrangements that the tour's Rangoon landing permits had been rescinded.

Stanford officials appealed last week to the government to allow the
visit, explaining the tour group was "not trying to make a diplomatic or
political statement," but that the invitation to Suu Kyi was made believing 
she was free to meet with them.  Burmese authorities rejected the appeal.

The canceled three-day visit to Rangoon, also known as Yangon, was part of
a round-the-world trip to begin Friday.  It was organized by the Stnford
travel office through TCS Expeditions, a Seattle-based company that
arranges tours for universities, museums and other educational institutions.

"It just seems to be part of the (Burmese) government's continuing
anti-West, anti-American attitude," said Theodore Swartz, TCS president.

He said arrangements have now been made to substitute Cambodia's ancient
temple city of Angkor Wat for the Burma portion of the $3,290-per-person tour.


January 17, 1996
>From moe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

OSLO, Norway -- A Norwegian-led delegation planning to meet with Nobel
Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma was refused visas Tuesday
because Burmese officials say they're too busy to process the documents.

The delegation, which includes former Swedish Foreign Minister Lennart
Bodstrom and lawmakers from Japan and Sri Lanka, also had planned to meet
with opposition leaders and members of the military government. Instead,
they were leaving for Thailand Tuesday to meet Burma's exiled government.

A short letter from the London Embassy of Myanmar said authorities were too
busy to handle the visa requests.


Burma's army controls economy and government
January 18, 1996      by Bertil Lintner in Bangkok

VISITING Rangoon after a long spell abroad, a Burmese asked 
his taxi driver about life under the current regime. "This government 
is really good," the driver deadpanned. "You get everything you want, 
money, jobs, girls, everything - if you're in the army!"

In Burma, the army wields absolute political power. What's 
more, it controls all major businesses. Not even a small-
scale merchant can survive without solid army connections. 
"They've got it all," says a Rangoon-based diplomat." In 
relative terms, Burma's generals have more economic power 
than the Thai military and they are politically much more in 
control than the Indonesian army."

Nowhere in Asia is an army so deeply entrenched in society, 
and nowhere does that look less likely to change. If 
anything, the Burmese military's political role may soon be 
enshrined in a new constitution, one that clearly borrows 
from the Indonesian concept of dwifungsi (dual function). 
With Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party excluded from the 
ongoing constitutional convention, the army is unlikely to 
meet much resistance to its demand for the right to appoint 
110 of  440 seats in the proposed lower House of Representatives 
and 56 of the 224 members of the upper House of Nationalities.

Politically, the army's grip on power is evident in the huge 
cabinet that rules Burma. Out of 36 ministers and 24 
deputies, nearly all are serving or retired army officers. 
Economically, the liberalization of the past six years 
hasn't meant a loosening of the military stranglehold: A 
holding company formed by the army in early 1990, Union of 
Myanmar Economic Holdings, controls the lion's share of 
foreign investment entering the country.

The army, or tatmadaw, has not always ruled the roost in 
Burma. It became an important factor only after independence 
from Britain in 1948, when the country almost fell apart as 
a result of ethnic rebellions and communist insurgency. 
Several army units even defected. One of the few regiments 
to remain loyal to the government was the 4th Burma Rifles 
of Gen Ne Win. To fight the rebels, the democratic government 
of U Nu appointed Ne Win commander-in-chief and agreed to 
more than triple the size of the armed forces, to 40,000 men by 1955.

By 1962, the army had swollen to 100,000 men and had become 
a state within a state. Ne Win staged a coup, abolished the 
old constitution and installed a military-controlled government, 
which under various guises has been in power ever since.

The 1962 coup established a "socialist" system, which in 
practice meant that the economy was taken over by 23 
military-run state corporations. This led to the economic 
collapse of what was once one of Asia's wealthiest 
countries. According to Burmese economist Mya Maung: "The 
net effect of total nationalization and control of 
procurement and distribution of basic necessities, 
particularly rice, produced a nationwide, giant black-market 
which came to be known initially as Corporation No.24."

The Burmese army's biggest threat came in August and 
September of 1988. It came not from jungle insurgents, but 
from millions of ordinary citizens who marched against 
military rule in virtually ever city, town and major village 
across Burma. The army brutally crushed the pro-democracy 
uprising. American Burma scholar David Steinberg points out 
the army's goal was not to seize power, which it already 
possessed. Rather, "It was the military's way of reasserting 
control over an urban population in revolution."

The crackdown nonetheless spurred the expansion of the armed 
forces, and gave them even more direct political and 
economic power. From less than 200,000 in the late 1980s, 
the strength of Burma's military has now passed the 300,000-
mark. The military junta formed in 1988, the State Law and 
Order Restoration Council, says the goal is a well-equipped 
force of 500,000 men.

The free-market system was reintroduced after 1988, bringing 
some new prosperity into the cities. But the army remains 
firmly in control of the economy. "Whatever the official 
system has been called, it has always been virtually 
impossible to set up a lucrative business without close 
contacts with high-ranking army officers," says a former Western 
ambassador to Rangoon. "Before the 1988 coup, there was sham 
socialism. Now the Burmese have to put up with sham capitalism."

The army's holding company, Umeh, is Burma's largest firm. 
It's also the dominant player in the area of foreign 
investment, controlling 14 joint ventures ranging from 
garment manufacturing to real estate. It's registered 
capital stands at 10 billion kyats, or $1.4 billion at the 
official exchange rate. It notably manages the army's 
pension funds and owns Myawady bank, giving it ready sources 
of financing. It's not hard to guess where a chunk of Umeh's 
hard-currency earnings go: A 40% shareholder is the Defence 
Ministry's Directorate of Procurement, which handles arms acquisitions.

The army has embarked on an ambitious modernization 
programme. The United States estimates that the Burmese army 
imported a record $390 million of military hardware in 1992, 
up from $20 million in 1988. Procurement spending has now 
levelled out at $120 million-140 million annually.

To justify the military's power and privilege, the regime 
has initiated a vigorous campaign to rewrite history. A 
government commission has been set up specifically for this 
purpose, and it has produced a series of books and booklets 
that highlight- and often grossly overstate- the role of the 
army in Burma's past. This tendency is even reflected in TV 
dramas, such as one that portrays 19th-century reformer King 
Mindon as primarily a military commander.

"As a result of its current recruitment drive and arms-
procurement programme, the army is now the largest and best 
equipped military force that Burma has ever mustered," 
Australian Burma scholar Andrew Selth says. It could be 
added that at no time in Burmese history has the army also 
been so powerful in politics and business. If the new 
constitution is promulgated without major alterations, it 
will keep that power for the foreseeable future. (FEER)


January 16, 1996  Report: AP, Bangkok

Raging inflation has left many Burmese families with nothing 
to eat and others consuming meals that are a health hazard, 
opposition leader Aunt San Suu Kyi said in a newspaper 
column. Mrs Suu Kyi, the foremost figure in Burma's 
struggling democracy movement, writes a weekly "Letter from 
Burma" column for the Mainichi Daily News in Japan.

Last week's column, titled "Breakfast Blues", was seen by 
The Associated Press in Bangkok. "One of the most popular 
topics of conversation in Burma today wrote Burmese people 
talks about inflaction "indignantly, incredulously, furiously," she said.

She said many families could not afford meat and, is 
cooking, were forced to substitute items such as palm oil or 
monosodium glutamate for ingredients such as peanut oil. 
This has made meals "not just unsatisfactory but also 
something of a health hazard," she wrote.

After 26 years of the disastrous economic policies of 
military dictator Ne Win's "Burmese government that took 
power in 1988 began moving toward economic reforms and 
establishing a market economy.

While foreign investment has increased and consumer goods 
are easily found, some by-products of the military 
government's programmes have been widening disparities in 
wealth and an inflation rate running above 35%.

Mrs Suu Kyi did not assign blame for rising prices. Shortly 
after her release from six years of house arrest in July, 
she had criticised foreign investment as benefiting the 
military government but not Burma's people. Following some 
harsh rhetoric from the military, suggesting that she was a 
traitor, Mrs Suu Kyi toned down her attacks.

"Those for whom inflation is the worst enemy are the 
housewives," Mrs Suu Kyi wrote. A trip to the market is "an 
obstacle race between brick walls of impossible prices and 
pitfalls of substandard goods".

She gave several examples of pre-1990 prices and the cost of 
food today. Most showed increases of more than 100%, with 
some items going up as much as 600%. She called those who 
can afford to eat even an unhealthy breakfast each day the 
fortunate ones. "There are many who have to make do with 
nothing at all," Mrs Suu Kyi said. (BP)


January 17, 1996     by Sanguan Khumrugroj    (abridged)

MEMBERSHIP in the "respectable" and internationally-recognized
Association of Southeast Asian Nations could have a beneficial influence 
on Burma's conduct, the foreign minister was quoted as saying.

Association with the "respectable [Asean] club of high credibility" would 
make "a new member with a poor image in the eyes of the world community 
follow the club's rules and regulations, thus becoming a good member," Kasem 
S Kasemsri was quoted as saying by Foreign Ministry spokesman Surapong 

Surapong said Kasem made the remark during his luncheon yesterday
with Margie Sudre, the French Minister of State in charge of francophone 
countries. Sudre arrived here yesterday after a trip to Vietnam and Laos.

During the working luncheon, Surapong said, Sudre expressed her
"pessimism" with Burma's political development. She said nearly a
year had elapsed since the release of opposition leader Aung San
Suu Kyi, but there had been no progress towards democratization
nor dialogues between Nobel laureate Sw Kyi and the Burmese junta.


ON KAREN REBELS     January 17, 1996      AFP

Burma has been re-supplying more  than 4,000 troops in the  
country's eastern Kayah State in preparation for another 
assault  on Karenni forces from territory formerly held by 
opium warlord Khun Sa, a Karenni source said yesterday.

"We expect another attack soon as they are bringing food and 
equipment by helicopter from Khun Sa's territory," the 
source said by telephone from the neighbouring Thai province 
of Mae Hong Son.

Khun Sa, opium warlord and leader of an ethnic Shan group, 
controlled the border areas just to the north in Burma's 
Shan State until several thousand government soldiers were 
allowed into the area earlier this month.

The Karenni source said about 1,000 government soldiers had 
already moved south from territory formerly held by Khun Sa 
to join the fighting against the Karenni. The area  has been 
quiet for the last few days a after a Burmese offensive 
failed to take Rambo Hill, near the Thai border, he said. 

The hill was named in honour of a Karenni fighter who earned 
the nickname fighting against the government. The Karenni 
had been one of 15 armed ethnic groups to have signed cease-
fire agreements with Rangoon, but the agreement was 
repudiated last month after government forces refused to 
move out of areas designated as Karenni controlled.

The small ethnic group had only about 1,000 armed men, while 
the ruling State Law and Order restoration Council (Slorc) 
had between 4,000 and 5,000 soldiers in Kayah State, Karenni 
sources estimated.

Burma's ruling Slorc has had a string of successes since the 
beginning of last year which have put Rangoon in control of 
most of the Thai-Burma border for the first time since 
Burma's independence in 1948. 

Thai military sources were said to have reported high levels 
of tension last week as Burmese troops replaced ethnic 
rebels who have longed served as a buffer between the two 
countries along the poorly defined border. (TN)


BLAZE  January 16, 1996              Reuters   (abridged)

Fifty-four illegal Burmese immigrants were badly burnt when 
a truck smuggling them along a highway to prospective 
employers in Phang Nga caught fire, police and hospital 
officials said yesterday. There were no deaths reported, they added.

The 10-wheel truck, jammed with about 100 Burmese illegal 
immigrants hiding under tarpaulin sheets, caught fire late 
Sunday.  Police believed the Burmese had entered the country from 
Burma's southern Victoria Point and were being taken by 
labour racketeers for work in southern Thai provinces.

Those injured will be charged with entering Thailand illegally once 
they recover, police added.


January 16, 1996   by Yindee Lertcharoenchok

Opium warlord Khun Sa's secret deal with Rangoon has 
affected security along the Thai-Burmese frontier. Yindee 
Lertcharoenchok looks at its impact on Thailand.

January 7, 1996 officially marked the end of Golden Triangle 
warlord Khun Sa's armed hostility towards the central 
Burmese military government in Rangoon. Ironically, that day 
also signified the beginning of new security arrangements between 
Thailand and Burma along the common 2,500-kilometre frontier.

Khun Sa's secret dialogues, which began in October, and the 
eventual peace deal_ whether a surrender or a ceasefire_ 
with the Burmese junta has completely changed the face of 
the ever-tumultuous politics in Burma's Shan state.

The deal includes the withdrawal of the warlord's Mong Tai 
Army (MAT) from Doilang area and the MAT headquarters at 
Homong, opposite Mae Hong Son province, and the access of 
the Burmese Army to this strategic, rugged terrain.

Diplomats and Thai officers say the 10-point deal also 
includes an agreement that Khun Sa, a half-Shan, half-
Chinese, will not be extradited to the United States to face 
charges and stand trial for trafficking in narcotics.

The deal, notes a Western observer in Rangoon, "Is more of a 
ceasefire than a real surrender" as the MAT will be able to 
retain sizeable armed forces and still have control over 
portions of the southern Shan State.

Speaking over the weekend, Thai military intelligence 
officers said the latest information they had indicated that 
Khun Sa, or Chang Si-fu in Chinese, was negotiating a deal 
for his surrender with the Burmese junta. The opium warlord wants 
"a written guarantee" that he will not be extradited to the United States.

The Burmese media, which covered the Jan 7 ceremony at 
Homong, described the events as "a surrender" but stopped 
short of elaborating on any secret deals. It avoided showing 
Khun Sa's picture in the TV news footage and press articles.

A report published on Friday by the stated-controlled daily 
New Light of Myanmar said the 5,026 MAT troops had "returned 
to the legal fold" and a large MAT stockpile including a 
workshop making weapons had been turned over.

The US is not only country watching the "opium politics" in 
the Shan state with great concern. Thailand also is quietly 
observing the changing security situation in its western 
neighbour with a certain amount of uneasiness.

For the first time in contemporary Burmese history, the 
government in Rangoon is able to extend its central 
authority and influence to cover the areas in southern Shan 
state hinterland, which had always been independent and out 
of bounds even during the British colonial period.

It is also the first time the Burmese government has, in 
practice, asserted full command of the whole 2,500-km Thai-
Burmese frontier from northern Chiang Rai down to Ranong 
provinces, even though a few pockets of border terrain 
remain under the  control of the Karen National Union (KNU).

Pressured by the drastic changing environment after its 
armed ethnic allies began to strike a ceasefire pact with 
Rangoon one after another, the embattled KNU, whose 
controlled territory has been gradually shrinking over the 
past few years, has been forced to enter into truce 
dialogues with the Slorc.

Thai intelligence and security officers believe that if 
Slorc really wanted to capture the remaining KNU areas, it 
could do so because of the sheer might of their fire power. 
The Thais are monitoring closely Burmese heavy assaults 
against the strongholds of the ethnic Karenni forces 
opposite Mae Hong Son province and at the same time 
speculating whether the Burmese Army will make further 
military advances towards the areas traditionally controlled 
by the KNU, located south of the contested battleground of 
the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP).

Thai officers said they believed that KNPP Dec 20 decision 
to abandon its nine-month-old ceasefire agreement with the 
Slorc was a strong contributory factor towards the Burmese 
Army launching a heavy offensive to capture Karenni territory.

They added that the Slorc had immediately made use of its 
deal with Khun Sa to move 11 Burmese battalions of about 
4,000 troops through the MAT area to attack the KNPP home 
base. Ironically, the KNPP, in preparation for the Slorc 
offensive, had approached Khun Sa and were given a huge 
amount of arms and ammunition in return.

Under the Slorc regime, the Burmese Army has changed its 
military strategy from destruction and withdrawal after 
offensives to strengthened occupation and expansion. The new 
strategy pits Thailand into "direct contact and confrontation" with 
the sovereign rights of the central authority in Rangoon.

During the Cold War, Thailand had been using groups of 
ethnic guerrilla forces along the Thai-Burmese border as "a 
[military] buffer" against its "communist enemy" and 
indirectly against the then "socialist" Burma. The country, 
at the same time, benefited economically from cross-border 
trade deals which involved smuggling in and out of Burma 
through black market routes, controlled and taxed by the 
armed ethnic groups.

Such a luxury enjoyed by Thailand gradually dwindled over 
the years after Slorc, which came into power in Sept 1988, 
began to assert itself through overt military action.

For the Slorc, military stability, and extension of the central 
government's sovereign rights to cover the whole country are 
its top priorities, according to a confidential report on Burma 
compiled by Thai military and government agencies.

The well-being of its people or the economic aspect of the 
country is the Slorc's next concern while politics, if not 
democracy, comes last on its list of periorities. Thailand, 
which used to deal with the assertive armed Burmese ethnic 
groups whose political and military survival depended on 
Bangkok looking the other way, began to feel the sitting 
when Slorc strengthened its military presence and influence 
along the Thai border over the past few years. Rangoon also 
adopted a tough stance in bilateral relations especially 
when economic and border conflicts arose.

With those ethnic groups having been pressured by Thailand 
to enter into truce dialogues with Slorc, Thailand has 
"eventually pushed away its [ethnic] friends and invited the 
foes" to the border, noted one Thai intelligence officer.

Although Thailand welcomes Burma's national stability 
through Rangoon's truce deal with 15 armed ethnic groups, 
Thai officers believe the Kingdom will have a harder time 
dealing with the Slorc, which has grown politically and 
militarily "stronger and tougher" over the years.

They acknowledge "a weak point" in Thai policy towards 
Burma, saying that it "lacks unity". Moreover, they add, 
various government and military agencies do not always have 
a clear and choerent stance in implementing and carrying out policy.

Moreover, local politicians and various national local 
interest groups, including some economic lobbyists, always 
succeed in swaying Cabinet ministers to make decisions in 
their favour, often at the national expense.

The officers also realise that the presence of the Burmese 
army along the border neither bodes  well for Thailand nor 
guarantees safety and stability along the common frontier. 
Four years ago, both countries nearly clashed over the 
disputed Hill 491 in southern Chumphon province after the 
Burmese Army moved in to dislodge KNU forces from the ill-
defined area, claimed by Thailand and Burma.

The Burmese Army's deployment since late December in the 
strategic Doilang area, which  is also contested by 
Thailand, subsequently prompted the Thai Army to deploy its 
armed forces and heavy artillery to defend the strategic 
terrain. The Thai Army and government have tried to play 
down the tension in Doilang by barring all media access to 
the area for fear that public sentiments could run high, 
making military clashes inevitable.

While the Burmese stationed in Doilang could be seen as a 
counter force against the "uncontrolled" expansion of the 
heavily-armed ethnic Wa group, which entered into a 
ceasefire with Slorc in early 1989, the Thai Army however, 
sees the presence of Burmese troops there as a "possible 
threat" to Thai security in the North.

Moreover, any collaboration between the growing Burmese Army 
and Khun Sa's well-equipped MAT forces poses another big 
danger to overall Thai security and stability. At its height, the MAT 
used to command 20,000 troops, but the defection last June of Major 
Kanyord saw a large number of MAT forces switching sides.

According to Thai intelligence officers, a conservative 
estimate of the remaining MAT forces still loyal to Khun Sa 
outs them at about 10,000 strong. Despite a large amount of 
weapons reportedly handed over to the Slorc in the Jan 7 
ceremony, the officers, however, were sceptical. They said 
the weapons given away were "In fact old and broken ones" 
while a huge MAT stockpile of new arms and ammunition 
accumulated over the years remains well hidden in unidentified locations.

The changing overall security along the border with Burma is 
forcing Thailand to review and reassess the situation and 
emerging political environment there. Even adopting a new 
strategy towards the Slorc cannot be ruled out. Ironically, 
the Kingdom,  which expected a new dawn of economic 
prosperity with its neighbours in the region, is in a Catch-
22 situation. Instead of developing market places, it is now 
finding itself deploying more troops and spending huge sums 
to defend its frontier. (TN)


January 16 ,1996     (abridged)
Report: Bhanravee Tansubhapol and Supamart Kasem, Mae Sot

Thailand should not have complied with Burma's demands to 
restore the Moei River to its previous course, according to 
local residents. A total of 140 stalls have been removed and 
the reclaimed land on which they were located will be dug out.

Prime Minister Banharn Silpa-archa, Defence Minister Gen 
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Foreign Minister M.R. Kasem S. 
Kasemsri had been hasty in compromising with Burma, 
residents surveyed said.

A former local administrator who declined to be named said 
the border should have been defined before the site was cleared. 
"Thailand is destroying  the principle of resorting to international 
laws. By removing the causeway and  the stalls, Thailand is conceding 
that it cheated Burma," the source said. "Where is the country's dignity 
and who will be responsible for this."

The Interior Ministry last June set up a committee to investigate Burma's 
complaints. It concluded that the concrete structures were in Thai 
territory and filed a report with Gen Chavalit, Gen Siri Thiwaphan, 
who is the chief adviser to the foreign minister, and to deputy army 
commander Gen Chettha Thanajaro.

Thailand has not mentioned this report in dealing with the 
claims. The Foreign Ministry source said Burma had erected 
stakes in the river in 1977, affecting the water course and 
causing erosion on the Thai side. 

The Burmese had also reinforced the river bank on their side 
by placing rocks under the bridge. Yet when the Thais 
protested, the Burmese government said  local officials had 
acted independently of the central government.


Will Khun Sa's pact with Slorc end drug traffic?
January 19, 1996			(excerpts ony)
by Susan Berfield and Dominic Faulder Bangkok

KHUN Sa, the world's most powerful opium warlord, is 
evidently no slouch at the negotiating table. Neither is 
Myanmar's military junta. For two years, government troops 
in the Shan state have been aiming to subdue Khun Sa's 
independence-minded, drug-running Mong Tai Army (MTA) and 
capture its leader. 

Indeed, the drug lord has implied that if anything happens 
to him, details of his dealing with corrupt officials and 
businessmen will be posthumously broadcast.

No doubt, the audience ratings would be high. During his 30-
year reign, Khun Sa sold out allies, courted his enemies and 
dominated a multimillion dollar empire. At one time he 
controlled most of the exports from the Golden Triangle, the 
heroin-producing area where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and 
Thailand meet. Even when competitors outranked him, he 
always maintained a high international profile. He became a 
media favorite, chatting openly with journalists in his 
thriving jungle capital and posing on his white horse for photographers.

He once described himself as a "Christmas tree" on which any 
political bauble could be hung. Khun Sa often called upon 
his Shan state nationalism to justify his opium trade. And 
while his MTA force at one point grew to a body of some 
20,000 well-trained and well-armed men, its mission was to 
protect the drug trade, not combat the Myanmar army.

But even with Khun Sa out of action heroin shipments from 
the Shan state are not expected to drop. In fact, Thai authorities have 
already warned that heroin production could very possibly increase. 
A truce could mean that Khun Sa's lieutenants or other local groups will 
go about their business with even less official interference; after the Wa 
minority signed on to the government's "border development program" in 
1989 many joined the opium trade with the government's tacit okay.

Armed with privileged information and a hefty surplus of 
cash, Khun Sa may be headed for a retirement that most 
international criminals can only dream about. And he could 
still run a drug business on the side. (AW)

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