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BurmaNet News:October 7, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: October 7, 1996
Issue #534

Noted in Passing:

=09=09Lim described ASEAN's moves as a "blank- check" for the =20
   =09=09SLORC=92s further repressive measures in the future - Lim Kit=20
=09=09Siang, secretary - general of the Democracy Action Party,=20


October 5, 1996

BURMA'S military government responded to Washington's decision to
bar Burmese government officials from US soil by barring US
officials from entering Burma.

Both moves are largely symbolic, however as neither country is
closing down the other's  embassy, and senior government
officials from the two countries rarely  visit each other.

President Bill Clinton invoked the ban on Burma's rulers and
their families to stir international pressure on the regime
following the arrest of more than 550 members of democracy
activist Aung San Suu Kyi's political party last week.

"In spite of this attempt by the US to pressure us, this action
will in no way affect our correct stance or policies," said Khin
Maung Win, director general of Burma's Foreign Ministry.

He labeled the US move as interference in Burma's maternal
affairs and said his government is moving towards establishing a
multi-party democracy.

In Bangkok, Foreign Ministry spokesman Surapong Jayanama said
although Burma's internal politics is not "the decisive factor"
in determining the country's ASEAN membership, the seven members
of the Southeast Asian grouping are unable to overlook political
developments in Rangoon.

Surapong said the government will not ignore public opinion or
the views  expressed in the media and within the government and
private sector.=20

He added that Thailand wished to see political conflict resolved
positively and the release of all those detained "Successive Thai
governments shared the opinion that although political unrest is
a Burmese domestic affair they wanted to see it resolved through
non-violent means, by dialogue," Surapong said.

Meanwhile the Philippines said yesterday the pace of Burma's
integration into ASEAN was "too fast", a veiled indication that
it could oppose Rangoon's bid to join the group next year.

"The velocity or speed [of Burma's potential membership] was too
fast. They only became an observer [in ASEAN] this year, Foreign
Secretary Domingo Siazon said.

He said Burma's bid for membership in the regional grouping-
comprising Brunei Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - must be given more time, to
allow Rangoon to "adjust" to Asean's programs, including the
setting up of a free trade area.

"You cannot have free trade unless the rule of law is in place. I
also agree that you cannot have free trade without participatory
democracy," Siazon said.

Khin Maung Win also shrugged off the possibility that the United
States might slap economic sanctions on his country as a next
step, saying Burma had not received any assistance from
Washington since 1988.=20

The US Congress is currently considering a bill that will give
President Clinton the option of invoking trade and economic
sanctions against Burma should its rulers re-arrest Suu Kyi or
substantially increase repression.=20
Surapong said ASEAN s policy of constructive engagement provided
for engagement with Burma at various levels and in various
fields, including the economy and social, political and cultural

Although ASEAN welcomed the eventual membership of Burma into its=20
ranks, the member states "have not  reached a consensus as to
when the country will be granted membership", he said.

Two other ASEAN observers - Cambodia and Laos - will have about=20
two years of familiarization before they are fully integrated as
members  next-year, he added.

"Burma only just obtained its observer status, about two months
ago. It still needs time to prepare and familiarize itself with
ASEAN," Surapong said.

Burma's  ruling junta, known  as Slorc submitted an official
request in August to Malaysia, the host nation of next
year's ASEAN foreign ministerial meeting, expressing its desire to
become a full member in 1997.=20


October 6, 1996

The U.S dismissed as "  ludicrous' Myanmarese  clamp-down on entry visas fo=
U.S citizens and said it was "not going to matter one bit" to anyone in the
Government. The statement Department spokesman, Mr. Nicholas burns=20
charged that Myanmarese military authorities had "made of  fools themselves=
by their allegations against U.S. Yangon  imposed the visa restrictions in
to an American ban , announced on Thursday by the U.S. President, Mr. Bill=
Clinton, on travel by Myanmarese Government leaders and their families to=
the United States.

"This is really ludicrous," Mr. Burns said. "This is a desperate attempt by=
military dictators in Myanmar to try to do something to divert attention of
own people from the real problem which exists in the Myanmarese Government,
" he told a news briefing.

"I can assure you that is not going to matter one bit to any of us in
D.C. who make policy or implement it or talk about it, that we can't travel=
Yangon at this time," Mr. Burns told a news briefing.

The complicated restrictions issued by Myanmar did not make clear exactly=
which U.S citizens would be banned, but Mr. Burns said they mirrored the U.=
measures by debarring visas to U.S. Government Officials and their immediat=
families. Diplomats are not affected in either case.

Mr. Clinton's proclamation followed U.S outrage over the Myanmarese militar=
Government's arrest of hundreds of pro-democracy activists over the last we=


October 3, 1996

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, the Burmese regime is once again=20
cracking down on Aung San Suu Kyi and her democratic movement. The=20
large scale repression and violence by Burma 's tyrants we have witnessed=
over the past week justifies a tougher approach toward the Rangoon regime.

 I introduced legislation this year to impose economic sanctions on Burma.=
Although that legislation did not become law, the American people are=20
becoming more familiar with the tragic situation in Burma . I intend to=20
reintroduce similar legislation concerning Burma in the 105th Congress if=
I am reelected.

 Last month, the Burmese regime held a long press conference during which=
various officials criticized Aung San Suu Kyi and the United States.=20
Specifically, the Burmese criticized the International Republican Institute=
and its program officer, Mr. Michael Mitchell, for working with the=20
democratic forces inside Burma . That kind of criticism is a badge of honor=

 Although the international spotlight rarely shines on Burma , I am watchin=
closely what is happening in that tortured land. The escalating reign of te=
against democracy activists and hilltribe people belies Rangoon callous=20
disregard for the infinite value of human life.

Mr. Speaker, the American people stand behind Aung San Suu Kyi and I am pro=
the International Republican Institute is doing what it can to support
in Burma .


October 4, 1996

Kuala Lumpur -- Malaysia's opposition party Thursday blamed ASEAN leaders
for the recent military clampdown in Yangon and called for a review of the
grouping's "constructive engagement" policy with Myanmar (Burma).

"The unconditional admission of Burma as an ASEAN observer and the promise
of a full membership has been interpreted by Slorc as ASEAN indifference an=
even compliance with its anti - democracy crackdown," said Lim Kit Siang,
secretary - general of the Democracy Action Party.

Lim described ASEAN's moves as a "blank- check" for the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC's) further repressive measures in the future.


October 10, 1996 (The Far Eastern Economic Review)
By Bertil Linter in Bangkok

Just as its international image was beginning to improve, Burma's ruling
State Law and Order Restoration Council has once again bared its fangs.

On September 27, the SLORC=92s riot police and troops wielding clubs and
automatic rifles sealed off the Rangoon residence of Burma's main oppositio=
leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Her home on the capital's University Avenue has
been the focus of weekly opposition gatherings since she was released from
house arrest in July last year. The offense this time: Suu Kyi's party , th=
National League for Democracy, had planned to celebrate its eighth
anniversary with a rally at her residence.

By the start of October, say NLD sources, more than 500 democracy activists
had been rounded up. Suu Kyi's phone lines were cut and only the military
was allowed anywhere near her house. Even a few tourists who ventured too
close were briefly detained.

The timing of the crackdown left observers puzzled. Malaysia had just
endorsed Burma's entry into ASEAN. The World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund were considering resuming economic assistance. American
companies lobbied with reasonable success t get the United States Congress
to water down a bill that could have triggered tourism and trade sanctions
against Burma.

Those gains may now be scuttled. Washington was quick to condemn the
crackdown. Under the legislation, now awaiting President Bill Clinton's
signature, US businesses would be barred from making new investments in
Burma "if Slorc physically harms, rearrests, or exiles Daw Aung San Suu Kyi=
or continues its repression of the democracy movement."

In Tokyo, Foreign Ministry spokesman Seiroku Kajiyama told a news
conference: "Japan can't overlook moves that run counter to the
democratization of Burma. Even more worrying for Slorc, Thailand and the
Philippines have expressed strong reservations about Burma's early admissio=

These were predictable reactions - to all except Burma's military rulers, i=
seems. Observers in Burma are asking why the junta seems so unwilling to
listen either to its own people - who voted overwhelmingly for the NLD in
1990 general elections - or the international community.

One possible answer, says Josef Silverstein, a Burma scholar at Rutgers
University in the US, is that "the Burmese generals are living in a mythica=
world which they have created for themselves." The generals' world view is
reinforced by their ties to the leaders of China and the other isolated
regimes. "They have no concept of what internationally acceptable standards
of behavior should be," says Silverstein.

Nor do they seem to know what free political activities are: Burma's embass=
in Bangkok justified the crackdown by saying the NLD planned to present
demands and "the government, therefore, was compelled to take preemptive

Tzang Tawnghwe, an academic and son of Burma's first president, Sao Shwe
Thaike, says the military has a decades-old siege mentality. Gen Ne Win, wh=
seized power in 1962, introduced his own one-man rule over the military as
well as society, and weeded out all offices with any real competence or
independent thinking." Those who are left  "don't understand how the world
works," says Vancouver-based Yawnghwe.

The official media in Rangoon say Suu Kyi's Saturday speeches may not be
tolerated in future. But why this intolerance of political debate? The men
of Slorc, says Silverstein, are "very scared and insecure. That's why they
react in this way."=20


October 5, 1996

Constructive engagement has failed. Tougher policies are needed if Myanmar'=
 junta is to be dislodged
If there is a single issue that has consistently divided western countries
from those of South-East Asia, it is Myanmar.  That may seem odd.  Although
it has 45m people, Myan mar is of little economic or strategic significance=
It provokes disagreement, however, because it involves some basic issues of
principle.  For many in the West, it provides a clear example of the
unacceptable suppression of democracy by a corrupt, military regime: an
obvious case for coordinated international pressure.  Most of Myanmar's
neighbors take a different view.  They see the West as posturing over
Myanmar, trying to impose its own, inappropriate values on an Asian country=
ASEAN, the seven-member Association of South-East Asian Nations, has
consistently argued instead for a policy of constructive engagement.  Such =
policy, it says, will bring about change in a gradual, manageable way
without the risks of disorder that a swift transition to democracy might
bring. But with Myanmar's generals arresting critics and restricting
opponents (see page 83) the arguments for constructive engagement have
collapsed. It is time for a rethink.
         If constructive engagement is ditched, it will mark a significant
shift in
policy for both Asia and the West. In the past few years, it has been the
softer Asian approach that has gained ground.  For all its huffing and
puffing about Myanmar, the West has done little to discomfort its leaders.
When, last year, Myanmar's generals ended the house arrest of Aung San Suu
Kyi, the leader of the democratic opposition, the proponents of constructiv=
engagement took heart.  The next prize they dangled before Myanmar's
generals was membership of ASEAN, an honor that would signal their
acceptance in polite society.  At a recent ASEAN meeting it was made clear
that Myanmar could expect to join within a year.

         In theory -- the theory of constructive engagement, that is -- thi=
have encouraged Myanmar's generals to press ahead in the search for
political reconciliation at home. It didn't.  Encouraged by the belief that
international recognition was around the corner, Myanmar's generals
abandoned any pretense of tolerating opposition.  Over the past week they
have arrested more than 500 members of the National League for Democracy,
Miss Suu Kyi's party. Only her international celebrity has so far saved Mis=
Suu Kyi from a similar fate.  Instead, she is once again a virtual prisoner
in her own home, leading a party that has been largely eviscerated.
         The latest round of arrests is only the most recent example of the
repression that has been taking place for months.  But this time even ASEAN
seems uneasy.  There are now mumblings that Myanmars bid for membership of
ASEAN may be put on hold. If the South-East Asians are sincere in their
protestations that they want to promote change in Myanmar, they must make i=
clear that Myanmar's membership of ASEAN will remain impossible until Miss
Suu Kyi and her followers are allowed back into political life.=20

Not tigers, polecats

As for the West, there is now talk of economic sanctions against Myanmar.
Boycotts organized by pressure groups have persuaded several big western
companies to pull out of the country.  President Clinton has just signed
legislation which gives him the power to ban new American investment in
Myanmar.  He may use the power, if only because Miss Suu Kyi's party --
which unambiguously won a democratic election in 1990 -- has called for it.
Economic sanctions -- porous at best, divisive at worst -- rarely work. But
life can be made harder for the generals. ASEAN is now hesitating about
admitting Myanmar largely because it realizes that it could damage the
organization=92s image as well as its relations with the West.  Democrats
everywhere should make it plain that, until there is real change in Myanmar
-- -meaning genuine freedom for Miss Suu Kyi and her party, and a timetable
for a return to democratic civilian rule -- the country's rulers will be
treated as polecats.


October 4, 1996

IN spite of the current international focus on the human rights issue in
Burma, foreign advertising agencies are still optimistic about the long-ter=
prospects for the Burmese market where a number of multinational firms have
recently made their presence felt.

"The situation is now okay for the business side. We can say the market has
high potential to grow as an emerging market. We are optimistic about the
further as foreign investors will come to Burma or at least have plans to
come, said Aung Tun, managing director of Myanmar Spa Today Advertising
Ltd, in an interview with The Nation.

The establishment of leading advertising firms indicates the potential in
the Burmese advertising industry. At least two multinational firms,
Parkit/FCB and McCann-Erickson, already sell full advertising series, while
leading Thai firm Spa entered into a joint venture with Burma's Today Group
early this year . As well, three Singapore advertising agencies have alread=
become established.

Thomas Crawford, former acting general manager for Bates Myanmar, the first
multinational full-service advertising agency there, said many firms have
lost their chances by focusing solely on Vietnam and overlooking Burma.

"Maybe it's fear of the unknown political situation, but I know from my
experience as Indochina Coordinator for McCann Worldwide that many agencies
are missing big opportunities while they fight it out against each other in
Vietnam's still relatively limited market," said Crawford, who has already
left his post.

 He said with a population of 47 million, the economy is improving visibly,
at least in the urban centers. "Burma and Vietnam both have bright prospect=
in the mid to long-term."

The market now welcome a large number of multinational firms who market
their brands aggressively.

Aung Tun shares a similar view on the rising potential of the Burmese
advertising industry as Crawford. "We have noticed that any brand that come=
to the market first will swiftly get recognition and easily become the bran=
leader. For example, Toshiba, which has marketed products for a long time i=
Burma, has been successful in capturing the largest market share for
electrical appliances while late comers like Sony have to put in a strong
effort to compete with Toshiba."

"The market is changing rapidly and if anybody is adopting a wait-and-see
attitude and is reluctant to come he will lose an opportunity," said Aung T=

Aung Tun said his agency now realizes the change, which is moving towards a
consumer-oriented and distributors are now starting to understand the
importance of marketing and advertising activities, he claimed.

"During the past three years, there was no advertising effort at all and
local Burmese producers thought they could run the advertising by
themselves. This situation has gradually changed since the establishment of
Bates Myanmar more than two years ago, Aung Tun said.

Aung Tun said the market is now very active with all kinds of marketing
activities through mass media - one television station and a number of larg=
circulation newspapers - and event marketing.

Television, according to Aung Tun, is the most popular medium although the
only state-run television station runs just nine and half hours of programs=
between 7.30 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 11 pm. Burmese television prime time i=
from 9.30 pm to 10.30 pm with the highest advertising rate during that time
on weekends costing US$ 1,600 per minutes.

The second most popular outlet is a number of well-established newspapers.

The largest-circulation newspaper in the country Myanmar Alin has a
circulation of 220,000 copies daily.

The Burmese Ministry of Information recently awarded both Myanmar Spa Today
Advertising and Bates Myanmar a special discount rate for the newspaper
published by the ministry.

The move, said Aung Tun, will allow advertising agencies to attract more
customers, discouraging them from buying and planning the media themselves.
Aung Tun's firm charges commission of 17.65 per cent of the media cost, the
same level as in Thailand.

"To attract customers we will seek the same privileges for television and w=
believe we are going to get them in the near future as our agency can use
the minimum amount of airtime buying for television.=EE noted Aung Tun.

Due to the lack of facilities, most television commercials are imported fro=
Thailand and elsewhere but local agencies like Myanmar Spa Today Advertisin=
play a role by adjusting the films to suit local tastes.

"We have our own 'creative team who also discuss the story boards with our
partners. We will soon launch a television commercial for a men's wear bran=
and a necktie brand from Thailand which is co-produced by our 'creative'
team and our partner Spa Advertising," Aung Tun said.

Besides above-the -line  advertising which represents half of all media
expenditure in Burma, below-the-line advertising also plays an important
role as promotion campaigns such as lucky draws have become popular and
there is considerable consumer participation.

"The market is very easy to penetrate at present and there is room for
advertising agencies grow, especially those that provide full services for
clients," said Aung Tun.

He said the promising advertising industry has a great opportunity, but the
priority for every agency is to train its staff with the assistance of its
foreign partners to meet the challenge of the more sophisticated advertisin=
work expected in the further.

The faster advertising agencies can transfer the experience from their
partners, the greater the chance for them to capture blue-chip customers. (=


October 5, 1996

They rule Burma with iron fists but hardly a day goes by  without
the generals showering lavish donations on Buddhist monasteries
or bowing before revered abbots in well-publicized ceremonies.

Not infrequently, however, the same generals order Buddhist monks
harassed and arrested, sometimes on slight provocation.
Dissidents released from Insein Prison, where many political
prisoners are kept and tortured, have reported that about 200
monks are serving sentences there.

One of them is U Kaythara, sentenced in May to seven years for
putting up a poster calling for peaceful dialogue between the
military and democracy activists, according to Amnesty

The ruling State Law and Restoration Council, or SLORC, clearly
seeks to control the powerful Buddhist clergy, who in the past
have been at the forefront of opposition to kings, colonials and
military dictators.

"I do not think the Sangha (Buddhist community) is any freer than
the rest of the people. So if the people are not free, the Sangha
is equally unfree," pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi told
The Associated Press.

But by both wooing and cowing, the military perhaps metes out a
more measured treatment to the monks than other sectors of

With the military already unpopular with the general population,
any residual support would probably evaporate if it trampled
outright on a religion that so deeply permeates Burmese life.

Buddhism is embraced by more than 80 percent of the people, and
draws some 300,000 monks. Lay people flock to Buddhist meditation
centres and hang on the words of esteemed preachers.

To guarantee a happy, prosperous next life, the poor, rich and
generals all of them professed Buddhists "make merit" by generous
gifts to gild pagodas and sustain the monkhood.

"The legitimacy of any government in Burma, including  SLORC; is
in part based on its . religious role," says Sunait
Chutintaranond, a Thai academic expert on Burma. "SLORC tries to
play the role of the patron of the Sangha, just like old Burmese
kings." The  more support it can garner from the  monks, he said,
the more legitimacy  SLORC can claim.=20

In Burmese history, monks served as key advisers to kings, who
gave respect while trying to keep them in line. They shielded
commoners from abuse at the hands of overlords.

Monks led strikes and demonstrations against colonial rule,
including the 1906 "shoe rebellion" to protest wearing of
footwear by the British in pagoda grounds.

During the 1988 uprising, which propelled Mrs Suu Kyi to
leadership of the pro-democracy movement, unarmed monks marched
alongside other protesters and were gunned down by troops.
Hundreds of monks fled to the jungles along the Thai border when
the protests were crushed.

Two years later, Buddhist resistance to the military sparked
raids on some 350 monasteries, the detentions of hundreds of
monks and the replacement of some Sangha leaders with so-called
"SLORC monks" Despite all this, some observers say the military
handles the clergy with less harshness than the populace at large
and would be loath to move against the most senior monks should
they speak out against the regime.

But the Minister of Religious Affairs Gen Myo Nyunt recently
warned members of the clergy about the "subversive acts" of Mrs
Suu Kyi's party, accusing it of attempting to infiltrate the
religious establishment.

With the military and Mrs Suu Kyi's followers engaged in a
momentous struggle, both sides would unquestionably  like to
enlist Buddhism as an ally. This despite Lord Buddha's teaching
traditionally ignored in Burma that politics and religion
shouldn't mix.


October 3, 1996

Tom Plate's "Capitalism vs. Moralism in Burma" (Commentary, Sept 24) ignore=
the hard reality that UNOCAL does not have a legitimate contract with the
elected government of Burma.  UNOCAL may have an invalid lease, since it
signed a contract with the Burmese military government subsequent to the Ma=
1990 elections. =20

Referring to "Shell Oil's controversial project in Nigeria," Plate states
that "UNOCAL appears to have learned many lessons from that ugly venture."
The big difference between Burma and Nigeria is that the Burmese resistance
has established a significant and growing grass-roots organization in the
U.S.  UNOCAL is foolish and deserves to be "shell-shocked" if it doesn't
recognize this hard reality.

The myth of "constructive engagement" is that foreign investors would act a=
"emissaries of democracy" and assist in the evolution of freedom and
democracy.  But the hard reality is that foreign investors end up acting as
"emissaries of dictators" in order to protect their dirty deals and obscene
profits.  The best example of such behavior is UNOCAL.  UNOCAL=92s chairman
has never met with the Burmese military government to promote freedom and
democracy in Burma.  Yet he shows up at U.S. congressional hearings on Burm=
to act as an apologist for the Burmese military government.

To protect its investment in Burma, UNOCAL must make it clear to the Burmes=
military government that it is financially too risky and a public relations
suicide to build the $1.2-billion natural gas pipeline until there is a
political settlement in Burma.

Senior Advisor to the Burmese Resistance


October 5, 1996

The difference between 1988 and 1996 is that the Slorc generals
now have sizeable bank accounts in Singapore. If things get too
hot in Rangoon, they can go into exile and live very comfortable
lives.   =20

The Wall Street Journal (Oct 1996) states that "Burma is facing
severe economic difficulties which threaten to drain the country
of sought-after hard currency and derail the military
government's plan for growth". It concludes the article by
stating that "the only thing that can turn the economy around,
analysts say, is a more liberal political climate which would
enable Burma to seek low interest, long-term funds from the World
Bank and the IMF".

Slorc's inability to pay US$30 million (Bt 750 million) to Mitsui
is a very clear indication that the military government is broke
and bankrupt. Petrol prices have risen during the past month.

Worse, Burma could soon witness rice riots since the country is
having a very poor harvest. The swiftly deteriorating economic
conditions in Burma has prompted foreign investors to quietly
suspend $ 1 billion in announced investments.

The Burmese resistance has fought a long, difficult, and
systematic battle against Slorc.  This is like running a
marathon. And we are now approaching the stadium and will soon
run the victory lap.

Myint Thein
Dallas, US


October 6, 1996

National unity was stressed at the recently-concluded All Burma
Students Democratic Front reunification congress in a liberated
area in Burma. Gen Saw Bo Mya, president of the Karen National
Union, impressed on the once-divided students the importance of
understanding the adage: united we stand, divided we fall.

"Only when there is unity within a revolutionary group, can it
gain the respect of the people within and without the country,"
he said. "I am happy to see the students are united again."

After the Front broke up during its third congress in 1991 in
Manerplaw, the former KNU headquarters, Gen Bo Mya decided it was
time to remind  the students that they had to get back  together.

"Instead of having two chairmen," he told them, "why not have one
step  down to become vice-chairman. After all aren't you all
fighting for the same cause, with identical ideology and goals?"

He  lamented the fact he had to go to great lengths to coax the
young revolutionaries to sit at the table and thrash out their
differences in Manerplaw.
At the reunification congress, he told the students: "I went to
the extent of slaughtering an ox for you people just to make you
get together again. But it didn't work. It was all invain. There
was nothing I could do."
The Front's credibility, said Gen Bo Mya, had hit rock bottom
because of the division in the rank and file. But at the same
time he lauded them for coming together again.

"But it should not stop here," the revolutionary of 48 years
reminded them. "The process of unity must now be fortified.-
Unity must be first and foremost in your minds if you are to
succeed in your endeavor to overthrow the military

In his direct remarks to the students, he went on to  explain the
characteristics of a revolutionary and asked them to state their

"Is it for democracy or is it for your rights, is it a revolution
for the entire country or is it only for the Burmans?

A revolutionary must understand that the  cause is the=20
well-being of the entire country and not a particular group.
"Only then," he said, "can this revolution succeed and gain the
respect of the Burmese people."

If not, he explained, ethnic minorities would neither respect nor
believe in the students' cause. There should be clarity in the
revolution to ensure the people of Burma understand what it is
all about.

To reinforce his message, the KNU leader explained the nature of
the Karen revolution that began 48 years ago. The policy of
Burmanisation had robbed the Karens of their rights, he said.
They lost territory and business opportunities, the right to
teach their language in schools and to practice their customs
freely. He recalled how the U Nu government in the 1950s shunned
the Karen people when they requested their rights be restored.

Gen Bo Mya said U Nu was alleged to have told Saw Ba Oo Gyi, the
then Karen leader: "I won't relinquish even an inch of Karen
State. If you want it, fight for it."

"That is why we had no choice but to fight," said Gen Bo Mya. To
make matters worse, the Karens now have to contend with
atrocities inflicted by the military regime. He vowed the Karen
revolution will continue until justice is restored.

Speaking of Burman chauvinism, the Karen leader said, a
non-Burman had no say in running the affairs of the country. All
decisions were made solely by Burmans in central government. A
non-Burman government official, he said, ran the risk of losing
his job should he dare to speak out in favour of the minority
state he represents or comes from.

Gen 130 Mya also recalled how a Christian Karen brought up the
subject of religious discrimination when Buddhism was declared
the state religion during U Nu's government. Under the policy, it
became necessary to convert to retain positions of

Mah Win Maung, a Karen Christian, was a case in point, said Gen
Bo Mya, "When he was made president of the country, he had to
enter the monkhood for one week."

He reminded the students that the State Law and Order Restoration
Council was not to be trusted when it called for a ceasefire with
the minority groups and democratic forces. Nor should the enemy
be believed when it held out promises of regional development.

A political settlement, he stressed, had to be reached before the
KNU or other Burman democratic forces could consider signing a
peace pact with Slorc. However Slorc has insisted the opposition
forces lay down their arms before political issues can be

The formation of a united front, he said, "is to ensure that
true unity be established among us and  equal rights be restored
to one and all. And we are determined to achieve this goal."

However, he expressed disappointment that 14 minority groups had
returned to what the Rangoon dictators call the legal  fold. They
were members of the Democratic Alliance of Burma, an umbrella
organization which includes 16 groups. The Karenni National
Progressive Party, which came to terms with Slorc early in the
year, has resumed its armed rebellion | after the military regime
reneged on cease-fire pact. The KNU is the only guerrilla group
still to agree to a cease-fire with Slorc, and the two sides are
still in the negotiation stage.

The KNU have met four times with Slorc this year in the Mon
capital of Moulmein, and in Rangoon without little headway being
made because "they insist we return to the 'legal fold' and
abandon our armed struggle" .
Challenging the validity of the term so favored  by Slorc, he
said all laws have been abrogated by the junta except for decrees
it has issued. " So what 'legal fold' would we be returning to?"
"We, the Karens, don't hate the Burmans. What we detest is the
adoption of a superior race policy, military and authoritarian
rule. As you all are aware, we have always formed alliances with
the Burmans. We once formed a united front with U Nu and now it
has been the same with the students. This goes to prove we don't
hate the Burmans but only the system of government.
"So today it is not only important that we have a united student
front but also overall national unity. Our intention is to strive
for national unity and I invite the students to join us in our
task to achieve this goal.


October 1, 1996 (SLORC Press)

[Transcribed Text] The leadership, the State Law
and Order Restoration Council, adheres to the principle of
giving sensibility priority over sensitivity. The
magnanimity it has shown over issues which might escalate
into higher proportions is a unique example of how it
handles the situation case by case, always taking into
consideration the consequences despite the magnitude of
certain problems.=20

Take for instance the current political situation which
threatens to develop into a bigger problem if not handled
mildly, in the words of Senior General Than Shwe who
addressed the four-monthly [as published] meeting of the
State Law and Order Restoration Council and the Councils at
State/Division levels coordinating work yesterday.=20
As Chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration
Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services, the
Senior General has been known to coordinate matters related
to many a situation that comes before the Council, always
adopting a realistic and positive approach in the national

The Government is sensitive to the issues at hand,
specially concerning the Tatmadaw's [Defense Services]
relations with the people, and has always assured the
Tatmadaw's perpetual service in the interest of the people.=20
Handling political situations is a special issue in
itself, because just as the nation is still suffering the
trauma of the 1988 crisis, a repeat of the scenario is being
orchestrated by the NLD in concert with the colonialist
whose imprint we still suffer and the neo-colonialist trying
to impose its sinister designs on our nation.=20
Bad as it is, colonialism by proxy appears to be in the
offing. This sensitive issue needs careful handling for the
people risk suffering the backlash of any rash action.=20
The Senior General spoke of the relevance of Our Three
Main National Causes, the 12 National Objectives and the
People's Desire to any time, present or future, for these
form the guidelines for proper conduct in moving toward a
new era of democracy.=20
The Tatmadaw Government is paving the way for a smooth
transit to democracy, the brand that suits the needs and
aspirations of all of us, not one transplanted from

In so doing, sensibility shall always take priority
over sensitivity.=20