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BurmaNet News: October 16, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: October 16, 1996
Issue #543

Noted in Passing: 
		We will  not  turn a blind eye, again, to this visit, which is an
insult to the pro-democracy movement around  the world.
		- Khmer National Party Chief Sam Rainsey (see: VOA:


October 15, 1996

Inauguration ceremony of the Yangon Airways Limited which will fly
Rangoon and Mandalay flights is attended by S1 and S2.
This is a joint venture by Myanmar airways and Thai airways. Aircraft were
made in France.Thai Ambassy officials also attended.

Seminar on Railways Transport System is attended by S2. Myanmar
Railways and Japan Railways jointly ran this seminar. The Japanese Councillor
also attended.    

A Japanese business delegation meet Maung Maung, secretary of National
Investment Commission today.

The Indonesian Energy and Mining Minister and delegation met with Myanmar
counterparts. Then a MOU was signed between Patanimar Company of
Indonesia and MOGE.

A new one-kyat banknote was issued today.

Indonesia Energy minister meet Maung Aye, SLORC Vice Chancellor of 

A Business Consultant from Brazil meet Maung Maung, secretary of the
Investment Commission.

Sein Win Aung, mayor of Mandalay left for Vietnam 

Vice Chancellor of the Asia Olympic Committee met mayor of Rangoon. 

Australia ambassador met Saw Tun, minister of health and discussed
health matters.

Soldiers from 33rd Division who had been donating labour for construction of
Pagan-KyaukPaDaung railway donated their services for building a middle school.


October 15, 1996

In Cambodia, the government has banned a planned protest 
march against the visit of the Senior General of Burma's military
government.  The march, organized by an opposition political 
party, is in solidarity with pro-democracy activists in Burma.  

Cambodian government officials say they will  not  allow 
Wednesday's protest march of the Khmer National Party, or KNP, 
to take place.  The officials say it has been banned for 
"security reasons."

However, the KNP says it has  no  intention of calling off the 
march.  KNP chief Sam Rainsey says the protestors will gather 
in front of party headquarters in downtown Phnom Penh and try to 
march to the national assembly -- even if police try to stop 

         "But we will do something.  We will  not  remain quiet.  
         We will  not  turn a blind eye, again, to this visit, 
         which is an insult to the pro-democracy movement around 
         the world."

General Than Shwe, the Senior General in Burma's supreme Law and 
Order Restoration Council, or SLORC, is to arrive Wednesday 
morning.  He is scheduled to meet with senior Cambodian 
officials, and is also reported to be bring some 500 tons of rice
for victims of the floods that have innudated much of Cambodia.

Mr. Rainsey says, however, that Cambodia has little to gain from 
dealing with Burma's military leaders -- and much to lose in the 
way of its international reputation.  He says that by inviting 
Than Shwe, Cambodia is giving Burma what it craves most -- 
international legitimacy.

         "What do we expect from the SLORC, from Burma?  They are 
         in trouble.  They are a poor country.  They are  not  
         going to invest anything in Cambodia.  They need 
         reconnection, international reconnection, and Cambodia 
         is providing them with that they are looking for by 
         inviting Than Shwe to Cambodia.  It is very unfair to 
         the democrats, it is very unfair to the international 
         community, again, who support the pro-democracy 
         movement, to invite Than Shwe."

Mr. Rainsey says he has much in common with Burmese pro-democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy.  
Mr. Rainsey is a former Finance Minister who was kicked out of 
the government and expelled from the "funcinpec" party for his 
criticisms of the ruling coalition.  He subequently founded the 
KNP which is officially an illegal political party.  


October 14, 1996

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 (Reuter) - Top diplomats from ASEAN will meet this week
to discuss Burma's membership in the group, among other issues, a
Malaysian foreign ministry official said on Monday. 

    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations' senior officials meeting will
be held in Kuala Lumpur October 18 and 19, the Malaysian official, who
declined to be identified, told Reuters. 

Western trading partners of ASEAN oppose Burma's entry into ASEAN due to
Rangoon's suppression of a pro-democracy movement led by Nobel Peace Prize
winner Aung San Suu Kyi. 

    ``This is the first senior officials' meeting under Malaysia's current
chairmanship of ASEAN and we have lots of things to discuss,'' said the
official. ``Burma is not necessarily the main thing.'' 

    China's Xinhua news agency, quoting Thai foreign ministry sources, said
the meeting will evaluate Burma's readiness for full membership in ASEAN,
which comprises Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand and Vietnam. 

    It was unlikely a timetable for Burma's membership would be set,
according to the report. 

    The two-day meeting would also evaluate progress made by Cambodia and
Laos for full membership in ASEAN next year, Xinhua said. 

    It said the progress of policies proposed in the Asia-Europe meeting,
development projects in the Mekong Basin and ASEAN's request for a nuclear
weapons-free zone treaty would also be discussed. 

    Thai foreign ministry officials were unavailable to comment on the

    Burma's military government recently arrested 573 activists, who were
later released, and blocked roads to prevent a meeting of Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy. 

    Following the crackdown, Philippine President Fidel Ramos said ASEAN
might review its constructive engagement policy with Burma -- a policy aimed
at keeping Rangoon's military government from becoming isolated and reforming
it from within. 

    After Ramos' remarks, Malaysian Foreign Minister Abdullah Badawi
clarified that Burma's chances to join ASEAN still existed although a
consensus was needed by ASEAN members. 

    Abdullah said an informal meeting should be held to reach the consensus,
probably before the ASEAN summit in Jakarta in November. 


October 11, 1996

    	The Government remains very seriously concerned at the continuing
	deterioration of the situation in Burma. We deplore in particular the
	practice of torture, summary and arbitrary executions, forced labour,
abuse of women, political arrests, forced displacements of the 	population
and restrictions on the fundamental rights of freedom, of 	speech, movement
and assembly, which have been reported in the 	recent past.

    	When I attended the ASEAN Regional Forum in Jakarta on 22/23 July
1996, I sought a meeting with Mr Ohn Gyaw, the Foreign Minister of 	the
Union of Myanmar. This was the first such meeting between the 	European
Union and Myanmar since 1994.  In the course of our 	encounter, I indicated
to Mr Ohn Gyaw in forthright terms the concerns 	of the European Union in
relation to the deterioration of the political 	and human rights' situation
in Myanmar and the unwarranted 	restrictions placed on the fundamental
rights of freedom of speech, 	movement and association.

    	I urged the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) to
	implement, without delay, the immediate and unconditional release of 	all
political prisoners in Burma and to enter into meaningful dialogue 	with Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi and to bring about national reconciliation 	and democratic
reform respecting the aspirations of the Burmese people 	as expressed in the
elections of May 1990.

    	I also sought a full and satisfactory explanation of the circumstances
	leading up to and surrounding the death of the late Mr James Leander
Nichols who had acted in a consular capacity for Demnark and Finland 	in
Rangoon.  I should also add that discussion of Burma dominated the 	informal
dinner for Ministers attending the ASEAN Regional Forum in 	Jakarta and was
addressed at the ASEAN Regional Forum proper and 	at the ASEAN Post
Ministerial Conferences and in bilateral contacts 	which I had with
Ministerial colleagues from ASEAN and their Full 	Dialogue Partners.

    	On 26 September 1996, I led the EU Ministerial troika in a further
	meeting in New York with Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw.  I reiterated 	the
concerns of the European Union and indicated that the explanations 	which
have been offered by the Burmese authorities to date are neither 	full nor

    	I informed him that, given the apparent unwillingness of the Burmese
	Government to enter into any significant discussions on the EU's
legitimate preoccupations, the EU had taken a series of steps which it 	had
already announced in Jakarta.  It had requested that:

    + 	The UN Special Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and 	Imprisonment
visit Burma;

    + 	The UN Special Rapporteur on Burma investigate the circumstances of
	the death of Mr Nichols;

    + 	The UN High commissioner for Human Rights take action on Burma;

    	Since then the situation in Burma has deteriorated further, with the
	recent widescale detentions of supporters of the National League for	
	Democracy (NLD), and the blockading of access to the residence of 	NLD
leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  On 1 October 1996, at a meeting 	of the
General Affairs Council in Luxembourg, which I chaired, the 	European Union
issued a Declaration expressing its concern at these 	events. The European
Union called for the immediate and 	unconditional release of all of those
who have been detained and to 	allow for the resumption of normal activities
by the National League for 	Democracy. Finally, the European Union
emphasised the need for a 	genuine dialogue to commence without delay
between SLORC and
	the National League for Democracy as being the only possible credible 	way
forward for national reconciliation in Burma.

    	The Council also noted that the EU Commission was completing its
enquiry into possible future suspension of the Generalised Systems of
Preferences trade benefits for Burma.

    	The Irish EU Presidency has also pursued the question at the highest
	level in diplomatic contacts most recently during the EU/Japan Summit 	on
30 September 1996 when the Taoiseach raised the question of 	Burma with
Prime Minister Hashimoto in Tokyo. There are also 	regular contacts with the
American State Department in Washington 	DC concerning developments in Burma.

    	The European Union is giving active consideration to further possible
	restrictions in relation to Burma.  The situation is at present being
	discussed by the Common Foreign and Security Policy's Asia/Oceania 	Working
Group at their meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow.


October 15, 1996

HOSPITAL orderlies demand bribes from patients for smooth rides in
wheelchairs and teachers accept money from students in exchange for good
grades, pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said yesterday in an attack on
the education and public health systems in  Burma.

Although both health care and education are officially free in the
military-run nation, Suu Kyi said the public must in fact give "donations"
outright bribes to poorly paid civil servants for most services.

She blamed poor administration and lack of resources for the "unsavory
conditions and our hospitals" and "the disgraceful state of our education

In a weekly column for  the Japanese Newspaper Minichi News, Suu Kyi said
corruption in the civil service, especially in the health and education
sectors, is a recurrent theme in letters she receives from her supporters.

Aung San Suu Kyi is highly critical of the generals who have run Burma since
1988, when she led a pro-democracy uprising ruthlessly crushed by the military.

Suu Kyi was freed from six years arrest in 1995 but has recently come under
renewed pressure from authorities. Police erected barricades on streets
leading to her home over the weekend to prevent customary rallies by her

The barricades  remained in place yesterday and there was no indication when
they would be lifted.

The military has opened up the once isolated nation to foreign businesses
and tourists and has achieved some economic improvements.

But about half the state  budget is spent on the military according to the
US Embassy in Burma. The World Bank has said that expenditures for health
and education has declined under the current regime.

Suu Kyi said patients at government hospital have to invariably provide
their own medicines, bandages and even surgical equipment.

"It is not only doctors and nurses who have to be sweetened with gifts:
Hospital orderlies also have to be paid if one's time as an invalid is to be
passably comfortable," she wrote. Unless a sum of money has changed hands,
patients being wheeled by orderlies may be in for rough ride.

"High motivation cannot be expected of grossly under paid staff working with
poorly maintained equipment in dilapidated, unhygienic surroundings," Suu
Kyi said. (BP)


October 15, 1996
Yindee Lertcharoenchoke, The Nation

THE Burmese junta has sent 1,000 more heavily-armed soldiers to strengthen
its military presence close to Karen HQs, a move that it seen as putting
more pressure on the embattled ethnic guerrillas group to surrender.

Thai intelligence officials in Bangkok and the northern Mae Sot district of
Tak said that four more battalions from the Burmese Army's 55th and 88th
Divisions were deployed last month to areas close to the Karen HQs of Thi Ka
Por Karen and it surrounding Baan Mai and Azin camps, which are opposite
Umphang district.

With the fresh  deployment, which includes heavy artillery, the number of
Burmese troops in the areas where the KNU Sixth Brigrade is based to around

The Burmese army is also using a number of KNU defectors who are familiar
with the terrain and the guerrillas' tactics, they added.

Although the KNU has roughly 2,000 active troops in the area, its strength
and ability to withstand the offensive depends on whether the group will be
able to access new supplies of arms and ammunition, the official said.

In the past few years, Thai authorities have tightened the border and the
control of arms smuggling, making it more difficult for the KNU to replenish
its dwindling resources.

Thai official, senior KNU members and relief workers predict that the
Burmese army will launch it attack after the rainy season.

Aid workers said they are extremely concerned that the offensive will drive
a new influx of refugees into Thailand, thus increasing the burden on the
Burmese relief operation, which is already assisting close to 100,000
refugees who are living is dozen of camps along the Thai border.

"I'm afraid that the figure (of Burmese refugees) will reach the landmark
100,000 before the end of the year," veteran social worker said.

Thai and KNU official said that the  Burmese junta, known as Slorc, has
toughed its stance against the Karen lately by demanding that the armed
group, during the third round of peace talks, lay down its arms and surrender.

Thai and KNU officials believe that Slorc has no intention of continuing its
cease-fire dialogue with the Karen and instead wants to use a more powerful
force to wipe our the ethnic group, which has been fighting Rangoon for
nearly 50 years for greater autonomy.

In an interview over the weekend, one senior Karen official said his group
was surprised by Slorc's new demands, which were raised during the last
round of bilateral talks in early July.

"The (Slorc) condition is unacceptable to the KNU. They (the Burmese) are
really showing that they want to fight and not talk,: said the official, who
is familiar with the peace process.

The KNU suffered a big loss after the Burmese army, with the help of
defectors, captured it well protected Manerplaw HQs, which is located
opposite Tak's northern Tha Song Yang district, in December 1994.

Karen official said their group is still preparing itself for the fourth
round of negotiations with Slorc and is trying to find a means to break the
stalemate surrounding the remaining five  out of the 12 demands submitted by
the KNU.

Highly-informed sources said that the Karen are ready to soften some of
their demands, especially on issues concerning its administration and
control over their active areas. The group is ready to cede authority of
some of its border territories that have already been capture by Slorc, they

Thai officials said that local Army officers in Mae Sot have been closely
monitoring Burmese troop movements and the eminent assault on the Karen.

As the Karen camps in Umphang are very close to Thailand, the officers are
concerned that the Burmese offensive could spill on to Thai territory and
affect the border population. (TN)


September 1996  
By-Saw Thu Wah

Peace talks sound good to many people...Peace must come together with Justice.

The Karen Nation Union(KNU), Burma's largest ethnic rebel group, held their
third set of cease fire negations with the Burmese military regime (SLORC)
on July 28, 1996. Despite these animated talks, the four-decades-old
conflict over the right of ethnic self-determination remains in a political
stalemate. During the last dialogue, the issues of unequal status, a
positional approach rather than pursuing common interests, and a lack of
commitment  to the process were the key inhibiting factors to finding a
solution to the political conflict.

Following cease fires between Slorc and fifteen of the allied armed ethnic
groups, most of whom were members of National Democratic Front (NDF), the
KNU has been facing strong military pressure from the SLORC. Subsequently
the SLORC launched massive military campaigns against the KNU in order to
take military and political advantage of the situation. The split between
Buddhist Karen faction, the Democratic Karen Buddhist Organisation (DKBO)
and the Christian dominated KNU at the end of 1994, gave the SLORC and
additional advantage. The DKBO affiliation with the SLORC gave the military
the political pressure needed to take the KNU's Jungle headquarter of
Marnerplaw, along with some other strategic areas.

The rapid growth of this internal military pressure pushed the KNU to
reluctantly enter cease fire dialogue with the SLORC despite being at a
distinct disadvantage in the negotiations. This reluctance was further
acerbated by previous experience in negations with the Burmese government in
1949, 1960, and 1963. All of these negotiations end in failure because of
the Burmese government's uncompromising demand for the unconditional
surrender of the KNU. A preliminary delegation composed of twelve members
left for Rangoon on December 12, 1995 to initiate the first in latest round
of ceasefire talks.  In this meeting, SLORC insisted that the KNU follow the
same procedures that were used with ceasefire agreements with other ethnic
groups: first agree to a "ceasefire" and second to co-operate in a "local
development program" . SLORC did not express any interest in discussing the
ethnic issues, which the KNU asserts are at the heart of the conflict.

On February 15,1996, the KNU and SLORC held a second round of talks in
Rangoon. Both sides agreed to keep all information about the talks
confidential until a final agreement was reached. However, the international
media reported that the KNU presented an agenda of twelve items for
discussion.  Several key items submitted by the KNU were 1: a call for SLORC
to officially announce a nation-wide ceasefire, 2: a halt to all military
activities including road construction in the KNU' operative area, 3: the
immediate end to all human rights abuse by the Burmese army, and 4: allowing
the United Nations to monitor any ceasefire. SLORC accepted none of these
key items and continued to insist  on a total surrender instead.

The third round of ceasefire talks  was held on July 28, 1996. This time the
KNU proposed to SLORC that a tripartite dialogue between KNU, SLORC, and the
National League for Democracy (NLD) be held thirty days after cease-fire
agreement to discuss important political issues. SLORC again turned down the
proposal and requested that the KNU propose agenda items relevant for
discussion by the two sides only. SLORC reminded the KNU that it would only
dialogue with KNU alone and maintained its position to talk on the issues of
cease-fire and local development programs, while refusing any further
dialogue on political issues. As a justification for this, the SLORC stated
that since they are a non-elected military government, they have no rights
to discuss political issues. Yet the SLORC made a political demand that the
KNU promise to abandon their armed struggle and return to the legal fold.

Tactically, SLORC's continuing massive military reinforcements on the ground
was a clear signal to the KNU that they had no options except a ceasefire
and co-operation in local development. The KNU views SLORC's development
program with much suspicion, feeling that it is designed to neutralise the
masses through offering them benefits from the development program. These
suspicions could be well founded. Lt. Gen. Khin Nyut, chief of the military
intelligence of the SLORC, is in charge of the local development program.
His plan to construct roads in the development program is a tremendous
threat to the KNU, as these roads  could be used for military purposes in
case a ceasefire broke down. The SLORC further insisted that after a
ceasefire the KNU's troop must stay within limited-designated areas and stop
new recruitment and taxation in its operative areas. The KNU sees this as
SLORC's strategic attempt to cut them off from the political and material
support of their people. However, as an alternative way for the KNU to
support its troops, the SLORC offered to allow them to run businesses such
as mining, logging and trade.

Peace talks sound good to many people, including the international
community. However, peace does not only imply an end to armed fighting.
Peace must come together with justice. But the balance of power for equal
dialogue is a key point for this to be possible. The collective voice of the
ethnic groups is essential in balancing power with SLORC for truly open
dialogue. Despite the fact that fifteen armed ethnic groups have already
accepted ceasefires, the  group still have time to create a common voice in
dealing with SLORC.

Reunification of all the ethnic groups, in fact, will be necessary to
counter SLORC's new strategy of "Cut and Clear" At the same time, the
acceleration of international pressure while also help build the ethnic
status in dialogue with the SLORC. The ethnic groups should no longer agree
to SLORC's gag order during negotiations and release all information about
peace talks to the mass media as a way of drawing in support for their
strategy to bring peace to Burma. The ethnic groups also need to prepare a
clear strategy and process to deal with, not only current issues, but also a
system level.  And last of all, presenting interests rather than positions
will be a pro-active plan in dealing with SLORC and placing them more at a
disadvantageous position.


October 15, 1996

The low Patkai range covers the eastern flank of India. It has 
never been a major obstacle. Through it have passed 
numerous people in both directions. Many communities of 
eastern India trace their origin to migration from Southeast 
Asia. Even before the Christian era the Southern Silk route 
from Chengdu, the capital of Sichun province in China, came 
to eastern India through Myanmar. As New Delhi develops a 
deliberate "Look East" foreign policy and attempts to 
integrate with the dynamic economies of Southeast Asia, it is 
time to take a fresh look at the country immediately across 
these hills.
Myanmar was a part of the British Indian empire till 1937. On 
its independence India was the first to accord it recognition. 
An immediate assistance of tanks, artillery and motors helped 
save Yangon from the rebels who had almost reached its 
suburbs. More than any others country in East Asia, it was 
Myanmar which was the candidate for an economic miracle. 
Its enormous natural resources, educated people and an 
efficient judicial system were its major assets. But a turbulent 
decade of democracy was followed by General Ne Win's rule 
from 1962. His Burmese road to Socialism' and deliberate 
isolation from the world utterly impoverished the country. A 
new group of general took over after the students movement 
in September 1988, and called themselves the Standing Law 
and Order Restoration Committee (SLORC).
The SLORC has provided a stable government, not a 
democratic one. Its one attempt at democracy in 1990 proved 
a disaster. Aung San Suu Kyi's movements today remain 
restricted though she is no longer under house arrest. She is 
probably immensely popular, but I did not notice in Myanmar 
even a trace of disturbance in Yangon during the late 
September incident. The SLORC is by no means a repressive 
government like many martial law regimes of West Asia and 
Africa. Its general build Pagodas and take part religious 
processions than crack heads. Buddhism is deeply ingrained in 
its people and tolerance and compassion characterise the 
country. A convention of selected representatives to form a 
constitution has been meeting on and off since 1993. A senior 
official claims that the process is a about two-thirds complete. 
He feels that it should evolve slowly through consensus. 
Many positive developments have taken place in the last few 
years and the country is slowly but surely on the road 
Almost all insurgencies have ended. This happened not so 
much through state violence as by persuasion, adjustment and 
accommodation. Even the Communist Party of Burma 
dissolved suddenly in 1989 through mutiny. Khun Sa, the 
fearsome drug lord, was probably bought over. Only a faction 
of the Karens are entire nation in under central control, 
though admittedly somewhat tenuous.
Myanmar is looking outwards and integrating steadily with 
the world. It was accepted as an 'observer' in the ASEAN in 
1996. Full membership will follow sooner than later. The 
Malaysian Premier Mahathir Mohamad has said it might 
happen as early as the 30th anniversary of the organisation in 
1997. Meanwhile it has opened up its economy. The results 
were slow in coming, but the last three years have been a near 
ten per cent growth in its GDP. Bu August 31, 1996 
investments worth US $4.3 billion were approved. The bulk 
of it is in oil and gas, hotel and tourism, real estate and 
mining. Much more needs to be done in infrastructure. The 
potential is clearly there.
The SLORC is building bridges, developing inland water 
transport along the Erawaddy and expanding ports. Four 
Light Infantry Divisions of the Tatmadaw are undertaking a 
major railway construction project south of Mandalay. 
Yangon is slowly attempting to regain its lost glory. The year 
1996 has been declared a "Visit Myanmar Year". Clearly 
Myanmar today is not what some time ago and definitely not 
what is often portrayed by the media in the west.
Before examining the possibilities of Indo-Myanmar relations, 
it may be pertinent to briefly assess the state and significance 
of Beijing's interactions with Yangon. The incidents of 1988 
(Myanmar) and 1989 (Tiananmen in China) brought both 
countries close. A military assistance package of US $1.4 
billion from Beijing boosted the Tatmadaw's capability. A 
steady stream of high level visit in both directions has 
strengthened political relations. Trade, both official and non-
official, is booming and extends up to Mandalay.
But this relationship has also to be seen in perspective. The 
arms sales is more an instrument of influence designed to  
enhance dependency rather than a strategic threat to 
Myanmar's neighbours. It has strengthened  the Tatmadaw's 
capability to  tackle its insurgencies but not attempt a major 
war. There is great disenchantment in the Army with the 
vintage and quality of Chinese equipment. The assistance too 
is petering out. The SLORC would like to get out of a 
dependency syndrome as quickly as possible. In a market 
economy as in China today, state subsidy for political gains is 
not easy to develop or sustain. AS a result China has 
withdrawn from many construction and other infrastructure 
projects in the last two years. There is hardly any Chinese 
assistance east of Erawaddy. China's economic presence at 
Mandalay though significant is much exaggerated. My visit 
there in end-September clearly showed no outwards signs of 
such a presence.
How should India approach Myanmar? there are two ways in 
which to took at a border. One as a barrier, to block hostile 
forces, influences and ideas. In recent years India has often 
followed this approach. The other is as a gateway- an 
opening, for interaction in all its forms, especially for 
commerce. Increasingly around the world and especially in 
east Asia the latter perception dominates. Trade triangles and 
quadrilaterals are opening up linking up natural economic 
territories (NETs) astride artificial borders. China and 
southeast Asia are actively involved in creating such an 
economic space. There are enormous possibilities of opening 
up once again the southern silk route.
More important, it is with Myanmar that we need to redefine 
our relations. A  return to the principles of Panchasheela, 
where strict noninterference in internal affairs is the credo,  
should be our objective. Just as we would brook no foreign 
interference in our domestic conditions, let us not impose our 
ideas on others. Our cause and national interests would be 
served better by a more pragmatic approach. A relation of 
partnership with our neighbour east surely a better policy and 
provide a constructive way of influencing developments.
It is not anybody's case that mutual cooperation is essential to 
deal with insurgencies in India or Myanmar. These are 
essentially domestic  problems and can be resolved only 
within. India is much too strong a nation to need anyone's 
assistance in this, only if it would get its action in order. But 
the larger question of stability and development, which are the 
fundamental issues today, needs joint effort. Interactions 
across the border will take place. Geo-economic condition s 
point irrevocably in that direction. It is best to do this in a 
planned and coordinated manner through effective border 
management and state encouragement. Much work needs to 
be done. Roads and railways have to be opened, bridges 
constructed and infrastructure put in place. It will take time, 
but a beginning needs to be made now.
Even more than a 'gateway', it is a bridge that we need to 
develop. A bridge that links people based on partnership for 
mutual benefit.


October 14, 1996 (abridged)
(by Nai Monchai Sirihong)


Political Background of Mon State

After the SLORC released Burmese pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
in July 1995, the Japanese government agreed to continue their Official
Development Assistance to SLORC.   The opinion of the Japanese Government
was that the Burmese military regime had softened its stand and was open to
the process of national reconciliation. 

It seems that the Japanese government thought that SLORC would actually have
dialogue with democratic and ethnic opposition groups.  On the eve of the
release of the pro-democracy leader, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and
SLORC reached a cease-fire agreement and, as a follow up, agreed to
implement some border area development projects. 

The New Mon State Party is an armed opposition group which has represented
the Mon people's aspiration  for the right of autonomy and their struggles
against Rangoon's successive government for over forty years.  Since its
headquarters in Three Pagodas Pass area was overrun by the Burmese Army in
1990, the NMSP has been weak.   Many thousands of Mon people who took refuge
in its liberated areas fled into Thai territory and sought asylum in refugee
camps along the border area, receiving assistance, rice, fishpaste and
medicine from international donors. 

Even though the New Mon State Party is not very strong, it has developed its
own administration which functions smoothly and is supported by its own
people.  As part of its administration, the NMSP has also implemented an
education system with one of its primary objectives the preservation of Mon
historic literature and its teaching to younger generations.  This is in
complete contrast to successive Rangoon governments which have never allowed
the teaching of Mon language as a subject even in the early grades in
government schools in Mon State.  In government schools, Mon children are
discriminated against and forced to learn Burmese language even though their
first language is Mon and Mon is spoken in their homes. 

Existing Problems with ODA

At every United Nations General Assembly during this decade, SLORC has been
called upon to arrange political dialogue with representatives of democratic
opposition and armed ethnic forces. The UN also annually urges SLORC to
transfer power to the democratically elected representatives of the people.
Since the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the international community has
more or less accepted SLORC's sincerity for working for national
reconciliation in Burma.
Because of the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Japanese government
supported SLORC and decided to resume its Official Development Assistance to
Burma, apparently with hopes SLORC will actually carry out dialogue of
national reconciliation. 

Nevertheless, the SLORC cares little about the opinion of the world
community and has refused to enter into any political talks with the
opposition. In the NMSP-SLORC cease-fire agreement, the NMSP asked for
assistance to build a high school in its the territory under its control.
According to the plan of the NMSP's Education Department, they would build a
Mon National High School in Kanni village of Ye Township.  In the
establishment of that high school, SLORC agreed to provide 100 million Kyat
as NMSP's share.  This amount, it was promised, would come from the first
grant of newly resumed ODA of the Japanese government.  The NMSP welcomed
the agreement about the donation, since building that high school would
extend its education program. 

In October, 1995, the NMSP leaders held a discussion with SLORC military
commanders in Moulmein of South-East Command.  The commanders agreed to name
the school the Mon National High School.  After the high school was
officially recognized as the Mon National School, it would function under
and be administered by the NMSP's Education Department. 

After that meeting, the NMSP started to build a road to the school site in
order to transport construction materials and supplies.  Some parts of the
school site were also cleared.

According to the Mon education system, all Mon National Schools must teach
Mon language as a major subject, with the aim of  maintaining the
national literature. Like other government schools, the school would also
teach Burmese, English, Mathematics, Geography, and other courses, including
Mon History.   Because the Mon people were the earliest settlers of lower
Burma, they have their own language and a very long history to be studied,
but the Rangoon government has forbidden such subjects in their schools of
Mon State. 

In December, 1995, the SLORC changed their position concerning this high
school. They said that they would not recognize that high school as a Mon
National High School but that it must be recognized as a High School of the
Border Area Development (BAD) Program. Under BAD program, the high school
must function and be administrated under the Ministry of Border Area

The SLORC has carried out BAD programs in the Wa and Kokang areas after
those groups reached cease-fire agreements.  The SLORC has built some
schools and hospitals in those areas, in order to show the international
community, especially various UN agencies, that they have harmonious
relations with those ethic communities and that they could implement
development projects in those areas.   Unfortunately most of the schools
constructed in those border areas remain empty, without teachers, equipment,
or facilities.  Clearly the SLORC built those schools to make propaganda for
both domestic and international consumption.  Even though some international
NGOs have requested permission to work in those areas, the SLORC refuses to
allow them access. 

Initially, the Mons were optimistic that with Japanese government's ODA
assistance, they could build a high school that would enable most middle
level Mon students to continue their education.  After the SLORC reneged on
its promise, changing the name and the function of the high school, many lay
Mon leaders and Mon monks realized that the SLORC cannot be trusted.  Now
they see that the SLORC remains an intolerant military regime which has no
intention of allowing the slightest self-determination to ethnic

After SLORC drastically changed the agreement and altered the plan, the NMSP
withdrew approval of the high school under the administration of Ministry of
BAD in its territory.  At the beginning of 1996, after many discussion and
complaints, the NMSP formally notified SLORC that it did not want the high
school to be built in its territory and demanded that the project be
stopped.  The SLORC never officially responded to the NMSP arguments.  The
school construction has created a lot of tension between NMSP and SLORC. 

Actually. this refusal of the SLORC to allow a proper Mon National High
School highlights their insincerity toward all the cease-fire groups. The
SLORC does not want to allow any of the cease-fire groups to exercise their
rights independently.  

The NMSP's arguments got stronger and stronger in April and the tension
appeared likely to result in a breakdown of the cease-fire agreement.  

Although the promise of a Mon National High School was part of the larger
cease-fire agreement, the SLORC, by breaking its promise, is withholding all
the Japanese ODA funds that were intended for the Mon.  So far, the Mon have
received none of this Border Development Assistance.  The Mons desperately
need to build more schools and hospitals in the areas along the Thai-Burma
where the NMSP can offer enough protection to reconstruct its community of
combined returned Mon refugees and internally displaced persons. 


On behalf of the Mon people, we request the Japanese Government 

1.	to assist the ethnic nationalities directly.  Japanese aid intended for
development projects in ethnic areas should go directly to the ethnic groups
themselves, without being diverted through the SLORC BAD administration.
The Mon have had ample experience working with international aid donors and
development agencies through Thai-Burma Border Consortium and other NGOs.
2.	To contact Thailand-based international NGOs to learn about the real
situation of the Mon refugees along the Thai-Burma border and to find ways
and means of assisting that needy community. The Mon refugees, displaced
persons, and local Mon communities urgently need improved health facilities,
education, and development assistance. 

3.	To contact the Mon community inside Mon State directly,  especially
through respected and trusted monks, to offer assistance in respective areas