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BurmaNet News February 15, 1996 #34

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Subject: BurmaNet News February 15, 1996 #344

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

The BurmaNet News: February 15, 1996
Issue #344

Noted in Passing:

		We hereby give notice that we are calling on Malaysians 
		to totally boycott 'the Visit Myanmar Year' in 1996 as 
		launched by the SLORC military dictatorship. - Group
		of 17 Malaysian NGOS in open letter to the SLORC


February 13, 1996
from ABSDF-MTZ <lurie@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

12 February 1996

The following letter has been endorsed by the following NGOs:

(1)  ABIM (Islamic Youth Movement of Malaysia)
(2)  ALIRAN    
(5)  MSRI (Malaysian Sociological Research Institute) 
(6)  Third World Network
(7)  South East Asia Forum for Development Alternatives (SEAFDA                                                                                                           
(8)  Tamil Support Group for Human Rights
(9)  Malaysian Gurdwana Council
(10) World Tamil Relief world 
(11) Jarmu-Kashmir Forum for Human Rights
(12) Society for Christian Reflection
(13) JCS (Jaffnese Cooperative Society)
(14) PKPIM (National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students) 
(15) MEM (Malaysian Youth Council) 
(16) IIFSO (International Islamic Federation of Student              
               Organisations, East Asia)
(17) PRM (Parti Rakyat Malaysia)

(signed here)
Kan Yaw Theng
Campaign Coordinator

                                             12 February 1996

General Than Shwe, Chairman 
State Law and Order Restoration Council, Burma

General  Than Shwe,

NGOs Call to Boycott " Visit Myanmar Year "

When the State Law and Order Restoration Council ( SLORC )
military dictatorship unconditionally released Aung San Suu Kyi,
the leader of the democracy movement of Burma, from almost six
years of house arrest, in July 1995, we heartily welcomed the
move as a possible sign that at long last, the long night of
brutal repression in Burma could soon be over.

Subsequent action by SLORC have proved that our cautious optimize
was somewhat misplaced. It is crystal clear by now that your
release of Aung San Suu Kyi was merely a tactical move to placate
growing international and domestic opposition to your brutal and
corrupt regime, in last desperate attempt to perpetrate illegal
and illegitimate and unrepresentative power in Burma.

The following facts are proof that the SLORC military
dictatorship has, no intention of giving up its ill-gotten power:

(1) Far from releasing all political detainees, the SLORC has in
fact arrested and detained more of its critics, especially those
from the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi:

(2) There are still all sorts of restrictions on legitimate and
democratic political activities by political parties: 

(3) Although the SLORC has taken back the Rohingya Muslims from
Bangladesh, between 30,000 and 40,000 of them are still
languishing in refugee camps in that country, moreover, the
Rohingya Muslims allowed to go back to Burma are taken back as
"aliens", not as citizens of Burma or Myanmar:

(4) The SLORC is still persecuting and killing many Karens, the
Rohingyas and other minorities:

(5) The SLORC is continuing with the uncivilized practice of
using forced labour on a massive scale. Human Rights watch/Asia   
estimates that the SLORC has used two million people as forced
lobour for the development of railways, roads and tourist
facilities since 1992. Many of these people have been either
Subjected or exposed to severe human rights abuses including
arbitrary killings, dismemberment, systematic rape and beatings.
Most have been denied food, shelter or access to medical
treatment. The abduction of people to be used as slave lobour is
widespread throughout Burma. Forced labour is also rounded up
from village areas, according to quotas set by local army commanders.

(6) The SLORC is devastating Burma's environment with foreign
companies. The World Bank estimates that Burma is being
deforested at mammoth rate of 776,000 hectares per year.

(7) The National League for Democracy which won 82% of the seats
in the May 1990 elections under the leadership of Nobel Peace
Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has ever since been denied its right
to assume power and governance, NLD supporters continue to be
arrested , harassed , interrogated and detained.

(8) In October 1995, Professor Yozo Yokota, the United Nations,
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma/Myanmar reported that
women are also the target of serial abuse and systematic rape.
This lack of economic and personal security has been conducive to
debt slavery, particularly amongst poor villagers in rural areas.
Young Burmese girls as young as 10 are sent to work in brothels
in Thailand. And thanks to SLORC's lack of commitment to public
health, a horrifying HIV/AIDS epidemic is brewing in Burma.

(9) In December 1995, the United Nations General Assembly passed
a resolution deploring the continued violations of human rights
in Burma. It was the fifth consecutive resolution on Burma
adopted by consensus since the situation was brought to the
intention of the United Nations General Assembly in 1991. The
resolution expressed grave concern and named the abuses as (a)
killings; (b) arbitrary arrest; (c) restrictions on freedoms of
expressing and association;(d) torture; (e) forced labour; (f)
forced portering; (g) human rights abuses in border areas in the
course of military operations; (h) forced relocations and
development projects; (i) abuses of women; (j) imposition of
oppressive measures directed in particular at ethnic and religious minorities.

We, the undermentioned NGOs, strongly condemned the continued
refusal of the SLORC to hand political and administrative power
to the NLD and the continued grave violations of human rights as listed above.

We hereby give notice that we are calling on Malaysians to totally
boycott 'the Visit Myanmar Year' in 1996 as launched by the SLORC
military dictatorship. We shall also call on  people in other
parts of the world to join the boycott.
For more information, please contact: 
Mr. Fan Yew Teng, CENPEACE, Tel: ++603 758 3272/755 fax:++ 603
758 3273 or 
Ms. Debbie Stothard, SUARAM, tel: ++ 603 794 3525, fax ++ 603 794 3526

THE NATION, Boycott urged over rights abuses in Burma, on February
13, 1996 adds: 

A GROUP of 17 Malaysian non-governmental organizations' (NGOs)
yesterday condemned the Burmese junta for its ongoing human
rights abuses and called on fellow Malaysians and Asean citizens
to boycott the Visit Myanmar (Burma) Year.

During a rally staged yesterday morning in front of the Burmese
Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, the group, which represents a range of
human rights, youth, environment, religious, student and
development interests, condemned the Burmese junta for its
refusal to hand over power to a democratically elected civilian government. 

The activists, who displayed posters and placards highlighting
the crisis in Burma, attempted to deliver an open letter to junta
leader Gen Than Shwe but found the Burmese embassy closed, said a
press statement released yesterday by the group.


February 13, 1996
>From <caroline@xxxxxxxxxx>

"Students' Sport Festival 1996" in Tavoy leads more taxation
	This year "Students Sport Festival 1996", a yearly festival since
Slorc took power will be held in Tavoy, Tanessarim Division. For preparing
to successfully and magnificently hold the festival, the Slorc ordered to
give 5,000,000 for each township in Tanessarim Division.  A special fund
collecting and receiving committee led by U Htay Aung (Secretary of
Township Lorc) in Palaw township was formed .  According to the order No
2/95 dated Dec 22, 1995, the committee would levy the taxation to all
business owners and people in accordance with the fixed rate until the end
of October 1996.
	 Small business like tailor, beauty saloon, hairdressers, book
rental shop, betel-nut shop are ordered to pay 5-10 kyats daily while
restaurant, grocery shop and store are required to pay 20-30 daily. All
government service sections and departments are also ordered to levy the
fixed rate such as 150 kyats for one trip of passenger car in the
township, 500 kyats for one trip of boat to Rangoon, 50 kyats for one acre
of rubber per day. The rate depends on the size of business.  Even the
animal are not spare for the tax. Each pig or cattle that passes through
the township are levied 15 kyats.
	Anyone who need the recommendation letter from the Township Lorc
are forced to pay 500 kyats for the "Students Sport Festival". 

Recent forced relocation in Tanessarim Division
	With the accusation of having contact with the ethnic armed groups
in the region, hundreds of villages in Tanessarim Division have been
relocated one place to place by the order of Slorc.  Many villages in the
specific village groups have been ordered to the Slorc's designated area
under their control.
	The former villages were closed to the villagers' farming land
where was convenient for them and rich of natural fertilizers.  Recently,
military commander from LIB (403) based in Thetyetchaung township has
ordered the villages in Ait Ait village group to relocate or burnt down if
the villagers do not cooperate with the army. These villages are Ait Ait,
Kyauk Takwa, Mee-laung-chaung, malakar Chaung, Pa-on (Karen), Pa-on (Mon),
Kyauk-Se, Kin Pun Chone, Se Taw, Kamar Ain, Pe-Chaung Pya and Padauk, all
from Ait Ait village group. 

one more tax for upgrading Tavoy College
	Since they became power, the Slorc has been attempting to build up
the new colleges.  Some two-academic-year colleges are upgraded into
four-academic-year university in every 14 states and divisions. It seems
Slorc is promoting the education sector in Burma and all the regions are
developing. However, one of the main reasons of the Slorc to do so is to
decentralize the student movement and make the students scatter all over
the country. In this way, when the student-led demonstration occurs, Slorc
can easily handle by all means. 
	Tavoy College was opened in 1977 and giving two-academic-year
courses. Slorc is now upgrading the college into a four-academic-year
degree college in the future. Unsurprisingly, local people in Tanessarim
Division are ordered to contribute for the cost of upgrading Tavoy
College.  All townships in Tanessarim Division are obliged to donate
15,000,000 kyats. 

Censorship on theater jokes
	There are about 15 local Burmese traditional theater groups in
Tanessarim Division and most are based in Tavoy township.  They all are
under the control of Division Traditional Theater Art Council according to
the Slorc order. A new regulation was imposed on the Burmese comedians to
get permission from the local authorities before their performance. 
	No political jokes or jokes on forced labor and human rights
situation in the region are allowed during the performance.  Last December,
two well-famous local comedians;  U O.K (from Thitsa Oo group) and U Pan
Pwint (from Shwe Tharapu group) were strongly warned by the Slorc
authorities for their jokes about the Ye-Tavoy railway forced labor.
	The regulation is less restricted in the rural area but in the
urban area, it is very restricted, according to the one comedian from Palaw
township. Comedians are only allowed to make jokes which have been
permitted by the Slorc.  Sometimes they are ordered to perform without any
for the military. 

ABSDF News Agency


February 13, 1996

New year celebrations this month took on a special meaning for
tens of thousands of Mons scattered around Burma. For the first
time in their 49-year struggle for self-determination, there was
a feeling of safety at least.

Celebrations were held at various Mon communities on February 4,
new year's day in their calendar. During the fighting against
Rangoon domination, the Mons could only host one party at their
headquarters on the Thai-Burmese border at Three Pagoda Pass
across from Kanchanaburi .

The New Mon State Party under president Nai Swe Gyin hosted the
biggest celebration at Khani village in Ye town in Moulmein
province, five-hours' drive ' through mountainous terrain and one
day's walk from Three Pagoda Pass. It was attended by
representatives from the State Law and Order Restoration Council,
ethnic Karens and other minorities.

For 1,000 Mon households at Ban Palengtunpei in the Bladkhani
refugee camp there was added joy.

"We don't have to worry that fighting will erupt again, as a
ceasefire was negotiated with SLORC representatives," Hong Sa, a
member of the central committee of the New Mon State Party, said
at the camp which is 60 kilometres from the Thai-Burmese border
at Sangkhaburi, Kanchanaburi.

"We made up, we don't have to be afraid that they (the Burmese)
will shoot us," one of several villagers interviewed by Inside
Indochina said of the ceasefire signed on June 29.

In his new year message,-Mr Swe Gyin said the Mons must never
forget their ultimate aim of freedom and democracy, while working
to keep up with other countries in strengthening national
stability and economic development.

In a written message to all Mons in Burma, Mr Swe Gyin promised
that everything would improve, including personal safety and
livelihoods, now they no longer had to fight the SLORC.

Unlike other ethnic groups which negotiated with the SLORC, the
Mons did not have to lay down their weapons. However, Mr Hong Sa
said that of the 17 point-agreement made with Rangoon, only a few
clauses have been respected.

The SLORC insists on maintaining control over petroleum
exploration and exploitation and gold mining in Mon-controlled
areas. But for other businesses, such as fisheries, land
transport, logging, import and export, the Mons can either form
joint ventures with the SLORC or pay taxes.

Most of the fishing grounds in the Andaman Sea in southern Burma,
as well as land routes between Thailand and Burma, are controlled
by the Mons. The New Mon State Party has also formed a joint
venture with a company based in Moulmein, Ramanya International
Ltd. to carry goods between the two neighbouring countries .

However, the SLORC maintains the Mon's logging export must pass
through its hands.  

"We don't have much experience in business and have to take it a
step at a time," said Yuang Thon, governor of Moulmein province.

No progress had been made on Mon participation in the drafting of
Burma's new constitution and their participation in government he

While the agreement with the SLORC is not perfect, Mon leaders
see the ceasefire and business opportunities as a way to build
solidarity among all Mons in Burma and spread their cause. The
SLORC has allowed the Mons more freedom of movement.

"The SLORC has given us 100,000 kyat to build a high school. This
is the first assistance from them since the ceasefire was
signed," Mr Yuan Thon said, adding the New Mon State Party had
its own plan to build 400 schools at every level before the
agreement was signed.

However, Mr Yuan Thon said Thailand's policy not to allow
international assistance to reach Mons living along the
Thai-Burmese border would have an impact on the Mons very soon.

Thailand wants to pressure Mon refugees living on the border to
return home now the ceasefire has been signed.

"It will affect people. They have little income and it will be
difficult if the party has to support them all without the help
from international organisations," Mr Hong Sa said.

He is especially concerned about Mon refugees in camps near Three
Pagoda Pass in Kanchanaburi and across from Singkhon checkpoint
in Prachuap khiri Khan. These people are still unwilling to
return home, citing a lack of confidence in the SLORC.

Many of these refugees travel illegally into Thailand to find
work. At the new year celebration in Bladkhani, those who have
worked in Bangkok an elsewhere in Thailand preferred to wear
modern clothes, rather than the Mons' traditional wear usually
worn on special occasions such as new year.

"We have to pay 3,000 baht an someone will arrange our trip to
find work on the Thai side," said Ms Tan, a 17-year-old who was
recently sent home by Thai authorities.

Some Mons have found work on trawlers in Mahachai district In
Samut Sakhon, others at construction sites in Bangkok, as
mechanics at garages, and in shops. Some are lucky and work long
enough to save money, others are sent back to the refugee camps,
only to try to find their back into Thailand's workforce. They
say to stay idle in the camp, means no money and no food.


February 13, 1996     Associated Press  (slightly abridged)

RANGOON - Dissident leader Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday accused
Burma's military government of going back on its word by treating
captured opium warlord Khun Sa as an ethnic leader instead of as
a criminal.

Government officials insist they made no special deal with Khun
Sa, who surrendered in early January along with more than 13,000
guerrillas of his self-styled Mong Tai Army.

But Khun Sa has so far remained ensconced at his headquarters in
Homong in eastern Burma, and no charges have been filed against him.

"It is the military government which has always said that Khun Sa
is not to be considered as an ethnic leader, but only as a drug
trafficker," Suu Kyi said.

"It is not so surprising to us that they have gone back completely on their 
word, and are now treating him as an ethnic leader," she added.

The Khun Sa case was a major topic of discussion among the nearly
4,000 followers of Suu Kyi who gathered at her Rangoon home
yesterday to celebrate Union Day.

"Everyone wants to ask the government about this, but no one
dares," said a local merchant who was too afraid to give his
name. "But it's the talk of the town."

The holiday marks the signing of the 1947 Panglong agreement that
Suu Kyi's father Aung San - the country's independence hero -
forged with the nation's kaleidoscope of ethnic groups as the
basis of a federal Burma.

That agreement granted the Shan people the right to secede.
Successive military governments have refused to recognize that right.

Burma's military government had branded Khun Sa a narco-
terrorist, and said it would never negotiate with him. They waged
a three-year military campaign in which nearly 600 of their
troops were killed, and almost 2,000 were wounded trying to break
his grip over the Golden Triangle - the opium-rich area where the
borders of Burma, Thailand and Laos converge.

"If Khun Sa is a drug trafficker, which they seem to have known
and accepted all along, they should treat him as a drug
trafficker," Suu Kyi said.

But the state-run media has hinted of a policy shift by referring
to Khun Sa with the honorific U instead of its usual description
of him as a traitor and terrorist.

During her public talk to supporters on Saturday. Suu Kyi drew
cheers when she said the government had given the opium king his
liberty while thousands of small-time drug offenders are still in jail.

"Khun Sa asked for forgiveness and was allowed to go free," she
said. "If all the other drug offenders ask for forgiveness, will
they be allowed to go free also?"

Meanwhile, Burma says it will cut the production of opium from
areas of the country previously under the control of drug warlord
Khun Sa by 70 per cent, a UN narcotics suppression official said

Giorgio Giacomelli, executive director of  the UN International
Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), said while Burma seemed
determined to cut output in Khun Sa's former zones there was a
danger that opium growing would rise elsewhere as a result.

Giacomelli said Burmese authorities said they would take direct
control of Khun Sa's former areas and would not cede control to
drug-producing ethnic minority militias.


February 13, 1996

The Rangoon junta  will be asked to take responsibility for
casualties from border incursions by minorities, Third Army
Commander Lt-Gen Thanom Watcharapuk.

The State Law and Order Restoration Council could not deny
responsibility for raids launched from Burma, he said.

Last year, Rangoon demanded that Thailand take responsibility for
raids launched from Thai soil.

Lt- Gen Thanom called on Supreme Commander Gen Viroj Saengsanit
who had expressed concern at last month's border skirmishes in
Tha Song Yang, Tak, in which SLORC backed renegade Karen killed
three Thais.

The Chulachomklao Military Academy Class 9 member said the SLORC
would be urged to make itself accountable at the 11th Regional
Border Committee meeting scheduled for Moulmein on Feb 1922.

The SLORC has denied responsibility for the assault in Tak, claiming it 
could not control renegades of the Democratic Buddhist Karen Army.

Gen Viroj said the SLORC was expected to demand 43 million baht
in compensation for the deaths of three Burmese in 1995 in Thachilek 
when Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army launched an assault from Mae Sai.


February 13, 1996  (slightly abridged)

DEFENCE Minister Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said yesterday
Thailand would not push refugees from Burma back across the
border but would provide them with refuge until the situation in
Burma allows their safe repatriation.

He said he would undertake a two-day inspection tour on Thursday
and Friday to observe the situation from Tak up to Mae Hong Son
and Chiang Mai provinces.

Chavalit will receive a detailed briefing on Thursday from the
Fourth Army Division's Special Task Force at Mae Sot and visit
several refugee camps, including Shoklo, which have been
repeatedly attacked by armed Karen Buddhist forces from Burma.

The defence minister, who will be accompanied by Deputy Army
Chief Chettha Thanajaro, will also visit the disputed strategic
mountainous terrain in Mae Ai district of Chiang Mai where
Burmese troops moved after the withdrawal of opium warlord Khun
Sa's Mong Tai Army in early January.

The deployment of Burmese army units, especially close to Chiang
Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son, and the ongoing Burmese
assaults against the armed ethnic Karenni group near Mae Hong Son
have forced thousands of refugees to flee into Thailand and
prompted the Thai Army to send additional troops into the areas.

Chavalit said the influx of refugees had caused problems for
Thailand and there was no policy to move them deeper into the
country as they might not want to return home later.

He said the refugees would be allowed to stay at locations near
the border and that the government would increase measures
designed to protect them.

Third Army Region Commander Lt Gen Thanom Wacharaputh said he
believed Chavalit would try to use the information he gathers
during his trip to find a solution to the ongoing problems with

Thanom, who will head the Thai delegation to a meeting of the
Regional Border Committee between Thailand and Burma on Feb 19-22
in Moulmein, said he would ask Burmese authorities to help
control various active armed ethnic groups inside Burma.


February 13, 1996

U Myo Myint, assistant chief engineer of Myanmar Electric Power
Enterprise, examines the prospects for Independent Power Producer
(IPP) Development in Burma.

Electricity utilization in Burma has been increasing every year.
Increases in the annual growth rate of up to 20 per cent are
expected due to the market oriented economic policy adopted by
the government, encouraging development in the industrial,
agricultural and commercials sectors.

Until now, the electricity sector has been run solely by the
state owned Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (Mepe). To meet the
rapid growth in electricity demand, the government alone cannot
contribute the needed investment. Consequently, local and foreign
investors are invited to participate in wholly-owned or joint
ventures with Mepe in its gradual turn toward commercialization
of the power sector.

Present status

The Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (Mepe), under the Ministry
of Energy, is fully responsible for the generation, transmission,
distribution and sale of electricity within Burma.

It includes investigation, planning design and project
implementation. The head office of Mepe is located in Rangoon.
The Mepe is organized with six departments; Planning,
Hydro-Electric Construction, Operations, Materials Planning,
Finance and Administration.

Electricity demand

The present electricity requirements of the country are fulfilled
by generation from hydro-power and thermal power consisting of
gas turbines, steam turbines and diesel generating sets. With
respect to increasing electricity utilization in the country,
electricity generation has increased from about 2,676 GWh in
1991-92 to about 3,647 GWh in 1995-96. The average annual growth
rate was about nine per cent.

Gas turbine generating sets have been installed in the National
Grid System (the Interconnected System) as a stop-gap measure
before major hydro-electric power stations, with their long lead
times, become operational. The first gas turbine power station at
Kyunchaung was completed and commissioned in 1974.

Recently, two new gas turbine power stations, each with an
installed capacity of 33 megawatts x (3) units, had been
installed in Rangoon to augment the present demand for
electricity. The first gas turbine generation station located in
Ahlone was commissioned in April 1995 and had been generating its
full installed capacity since the end of May 1995. The second gas
turbine station located in Hlawage was commissioned in January.
Plans have been made by Mepe for installation of Combined Cycle
Plants in both of the generating stations to be completed by the
1997-98 fiscal year.

An additional installation of Combined Cycle Plant (34.9
megawatts) for the Thakayta Gas Turbine generating station, which
has an initial installed capacity of 57 megawatts, is also
underway and it is expected to be completed by the year 1996-97.

In areas of supply from isolated generating stations, the sources
for electricity are mostly diesel power stations and micro-mini
hydroelectric power stations and a few medium capacity gas
turbines and steam power stations. The majority of these are
operated as isolated rural electrification stations and only a
few operate as central stations distributing to neighbouring
towns and villages.

Potential demand

As mentioned earlier, the peak load within the grid system is
about 610 megawatts at present. However, there are lots of
housing projects, industrial zones, agricultural and commercial
sectors waiting for power supply. These could amount to 430
megawatts totalling potential demand around 1,000 megawatts. This
demand is expected to grow at an annual rate of 20 per cent
toward the year 2000. But for case study, a conservative growth
rate of 10 per cent per annum is applied.

Burma is blessed with abundant water supply resources within its
territorial area of about 677,000 square kilometres over half of
which is highland bisected by north-south trend mountain ranges
combined with heavy rainfall from the southwest monsoon. The
highest potential lies in the Chindwin, Irrawaddy, Sittoung and
Thanlwin river basins. According to preliminary studies, the
major hydro-power resources are about 37,000 megawatts, of which
about 25,000 megawatts are of large scale and the remainder are
of medium and small scale.

The total developed capacity of theses renewable energy hydro
power resources, existing plus under implementation, is about 316
megawatts only. Which in comparison with the country's potential
is less than one per cent and therefore the remaining 99 per cent
of the potential is still available for expansion of electricity
generating capacity and implementation by both the government
sector and the private sector to meet the rapid growth in the
electric power demand.

There are also a number of promising sites for hydro-power
developments which are of such magnitude that the economic
feasibility of exploiting them for the domestic market alone may
not be adequate. Such major hydro-power projects along the border
with Thailand are under consideration for energy export.
Regarding potential hydropower sites in the Thanlwin River,
extensive basin studies should be undertaken to make the best use
of water resources available in the sub-region.

The country is estimated to have total coal resources of only 200
to 230 million tones in numerous deposits, mostly of
sub-bituminous rank, and mainly in the northern regions.
Presently, there are only two mines in production. Kalewa Coal
Mine, using an underground mining technique and Namma Coal Mines,
using open cut mining, are producing at about 12,900 tones per
year and 25,810 tones per year respectively.

The Kalewa deposits are the only significant deposits for
consideration for future coal development at the present time.
The highly volatile content and good burning characteristics
makes it ideally suited for pulverized fuel of flautist bed
boiler operations for power generation. A mine mouth electricity
generation plant of about 200 megawatts is estimated by
preliminary studies but a detailed exploratory to determine the
reserves in place is essential before such a project could go

Namma Coal mine, however, is a short term operation, lacking
reserves for any major expansion.

This is the most exciting area in the Burmese energy scene.
Natural gas supply from the presently developed on-shore reserves
will be sufficient for the present domestic consumption and
supply to two 100 megawatt gas turbine power plants in Rangoon.
The supply of natural gas on-shore is limited and exploration by
the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise continues.

Sites open to investors

In early 1994, permission for the private sector to participate
or jointly implement in government activities was introduced to
the power sector. The possible project sites are listed as

Kalewa Coal, due to its easily friable nature, limited the
feasibility of transporting the coal over long distances.
However, the highly volatile content and good burning
characteristic of Kalewa Coal make it ideally suited to certain
specialized types of boilers f or power generation. The power
generations station, thus, should be located close to the Kalewa

The present limited on-shore gas reserves will be sufficient only
for the two 100 megawatt gas turbine power stations in Rangoon.
Mepe is also willing to operate these two power stations in a
joint-venture with any foreign investor.

Substantial investments are also needed to convert these two new
100 megawatt stations as well as older gas turbine power plants
to combined cycle. This should add some 200 megawatts to the
generating capacity.

Discussions have already been held with several interested
foreign companies to form a joint venture for the Ahlone 100
megawatt gas turbine power plant.

However, the prevailing low tariffs in local currency and the
present small amount of customers in foreign currency have been a
draw-back to the commercialization process.


February 13, 1996   (abridged)
Nussara Sawatsawang and Supapohn Kanwerayotin
Rangoon, Taunggyi and Bangkok

A "RED BULL" is taking Burma by storm, overcoming the closure of
border checkpoints and an alleged campaign by Burmese authorities
against Thai goods.

Sales of Krathing Daeng (Red Bull) energy drink are bullish as
the product becomes perhaps he best-known Thai import in Burma.

The Burmese, downing Red  Bull as if it was tea or a soft drink,
believe it helps people convalesce and include it in gifts for
people in hospital. 

Red Bull is apparently above polities. Burma and Thailand still
have to resolve border disputes and signs of strained relations
are said to be reflected in an anti-Thai goods campaign by the
Burmese authorities.

Burmese merchants in Rangoon and Shan State said they were not
aware of the campaigns, but noted Thai products had become dearer
since Rangoon closed border checkpoints last year.

Seasoning powder, instant noodles, fish sauce and plastic ware
had doubled in price since the closure, they said. 

"Prices have gone up, yet those who can afford them continue to
buy just the same," said a shop owner at Rangoon's bustling
Mingala Market, which holds the largest stock of Thai goods for
both wholesale an retail distribution.

Burmese traders said prices for Thai consumer products in general
had risen by at least 70 percent.

The Burmese authorities  closed the checkpoints at Tachilek-Mae
Sai in Chiang Rai and Myawaddy-Mae Sot in Tak last March,
accusing Thailand of supporting ethnic Shan and Karen rebels. The
Kawthaung [checkpoint opposite Ranong was closed in August.

Thai goods nevertheless found their way to Burma "through the old
channels" without tax on the Thai side according to a
Ranong-based customs official. But the volume of such trade is
negligible compared with the turnover of 200-300 million baht a
month before the border closure.

Official border trade is estimated to be worth 10 billion Baht a
year, while contraband  believed to be worth six times that figure.
Instead of simply crossing the border, Thai products now have to
be trans-shipped through Bangkok and Singapore. For instance,
sending a 20-foot cargo container from Bangkok to Burma costs
US$1,250, while the same amount of goods could be transported by
land for $800.