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BurmaNet News: November 21, 1996

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies" 

The BurmaNet News: November 21, 1996
Issue #574

Noted in Passing:

		Travel, it is said, broadens the mind. But there are times
		when breadth of vision dictates that travel be curbed in the 			interests
of justice and humanity - Aung San Suu Kyi


November 14, 1996 (The New York Times)
by William Safire 

(BurmaNet Editor's Note: William Saffire is a well-known and influential
columnist.  It is gratifying to see that the policies of the SLORC and its
trading partners are finally being critically assessed in the mainstream press.)

WASHINGTON: The Nixon Center for Peace and Pragmatism (formerly Freedom)
demeaned itself this week by using Lee Kuan Yew, the dictator of Singapore,
as the draw to raise $400,000 for its staff's salaries.

Two of the young men thus subsidized took umbrage at my criticism of this
"Architect of the New Century" award that Henry Kissinger arranged be given
to his tinpot-tyrnant friend.  They complained hotly in a letter to the New
York Times that "there is something bigoted" in my objection to such

"Bigoted"? For a long generation, I have been defending Richard Nixon from
appearances of bigotry on his tapes.  I do not appreciate having that ugly
motive attributed to me by foundationiks who were in knee pants during
Nixon's wilderness years.

Ironically, that same racial innuendo is being used by President Clinton,
who last week sought to discredit reporting of the corruption scandal
brewing around his fund-raiser John Huang with "there has been a lot of
rather disparaging comments made about Asian-Americans."

Sorry, it won't wash: corruption and repression of dissent, which go hand
in hand, afflict every race.

Dictator Lee is the man who said of elections, "The government will not be
blackmailed by the people," and for years derided Western values of free
speech and individual liberty as "decadent."

But under Henry's tutelage this week, Lee was a changed man.  "Asians have
quietly adopted useful Western values, social practices and management
methods to varying degrees," Singapore's strongman soothed the
$1,000-a-platers in Washington," and now have a blend of East and West in
their value systems."

In praising the Clinton decision to de-link China's human rights actions
from trade advantages, Singapore's boss-for-life even departed from text to
assert, "I am not against human rights or democracy."

That ringing declaration was worthy of an Architect of the New Century,
even though it was prelude to his warning against using "external pressure
or sanctions" on Chinese leaders now jailing more dissenters. Lee also
urged Clinton to bring China into the World Trade Organization, a strategy
of pre-emptive concession.  (Privately, Lee is pushing for his Tommy Koh as
U.N. Secretary General, which would be a disaster.)

"What's your hang-up about Harry Lee?" an old Nixon hand asks me, using the
name the Architect used to go by.  "Isn't he tough on drugs? And isn't he
good for global business?"

About drugs:  Lee has won plaudits for hanging anyone caught even
possessing 500 grams of marijuana.  But the death-to-potheads set does not
know that Singapore is the biggest trading partner of, and a heavy
investor, the military dictatorship of Burma--a world center for heroin
distribution.  Backers of the Burmese dissident Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, who
want to stop the drug traffic, have no friend in Lee Kuan Yew.

When the Australian broadcaster Michael Carey questioned potential ties
between Singapore investments and the drug lords protected by Burma's
junta, Lee harassed a leader of one of the tiny opposition parties for
daring to appear on the program.

About business, and the Singapore planes running on time: In the
information age, the electronics-packed island seeks to become the
"intelligent island," center of Asian communications.  But here is where
technology's progress runs into the stone wall of political repression.

Lee's ultimate enemy is the Internet.  Lee's son and designated successor
boasts he can control Internet access and thereby block computer window to
the world--with all its subversive political ideas--under cover of
protecting Asian eyes from Western pornography.  For example, Singaporeans
cannot get to the "hot" Web site run by freedom-minded Chinese students at
Stanford U.

Let's run a test.  "Information Technology and Political Control in
Singapore" is a paper just issued by Prof. Gary Rodan of Murdoch University
in Perth, Australia, distributed by Chalmers Johnson of the Japan Policy
Research Institute in Cardiff, Calif. It's on this Web site:

If Lee blocks access, Singaporeans, try E-mail: cjohnson@xxxxxxxxx

But be careful, global business executives: the Architect of the New
Century may be monitoring everything you download.


November 21,1996

As they come under increasing international pressure to go easy on dissent,
governments across the region are resorting to more indirect means to stifle
opposition groups and social activists.

By Suresh Unny in Hong Kong with contributions from Gordon Fairclough in
Bangkok, S. Jayasankaran in Kuala Lumpur and John McBeth in Jakarta.

Megawati Sukarnoputri, ousted leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party, is
a matronly figure. But on November 11, when she testified in a Jakarta court
on behalf of supporters charged with rioting in July, the matron dropped a

A senior government official had warned her, Megawati said, that a rebel
faction of the PDI planned to take over the party headquarters, then under
her control. Her implication was clear: The government knew what was going
to happen but did nothing about it; instead, it used the riots that followed
the takeover as an excuse to crack down on her supporters.

Switch to Malaysia. Two days before Megawati's court appearance, some 200
members of the so-called Malaysian Public Action Front, comprised largely of
members of the youth wing of the ruling National Front coalition, broke up
the Asia-Pacific Conference on Timor in Kuala Lumpur. "They were shouting
and screaming," recalls Sumit Mandal, a participant at the conference. "I
felt real fear."

Malaysian police ended the chaos by rounding up mostly the victims of the
outrage, deporting foreign participants. And the government got what it
wanted: an end to the conference.

Deputy Premier Anwar Ibrahim initially sought to distance the administration
from those who disrupted the meeting. But he said later that even if the
Timor issue needed to be discussed, "we follow the ASEAN way, which gives
priority to discussion by the leaders."

The question is: Are justifications of the "ASEAN way" merely a cover for
effectively silencing dissent? Some observers of the recent events in
Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur as well as elsewhere in the region think so.

Not too long ago, most regional governments weren't very subtle about the
methods they used to stifle dissent. But with the opening up of regional
societies in tandem with their economic gain, and increasing pressure on
human-rights issues from the West, the wielders of the big stick feel more
constrained not to bring it down too hard on trouble-makers.

As a consequence, governments are turning more indirect methods to stifle
opposing views. Today, with the possible exception of the Philippines and
Thailand, those in power are turning to "extra-legal" methods-often by using
paid proxies to fight the region's fledgling opposition groups and social
activists and reformers. This allows regimes to at least distance themselves
from the actions of their political shock troops, if not deny all
connections with them.

The use of grassroots political movements, students and hired goons to
stifle dissent is nothing new. As far back as 1976, government-inspired
Village Scouts went  on the rampage against leftist students in Thailand,
killing hundreds.  But now, as regimes try to pay lip service to
international norms of political behavior as well as get their way against
opposing voices, the pressure to resort to subterfuge to silence
"troublemaker" has grown.

For instance, government-backed youths took the lead in attacks on
Megawati's headquarters in Jakarta. In Cambodia, Co-Prime Minister Hun Sen
has trucked in villagers from his home district and used them to rough
opposition members, calling it "spontaneous popular resistance to bad people."

As international pressure to protect human rights in their countries builds
up, even the region's most authoritarian regimes are resorting to
anti-opposition measures that allow them to deny accountability.

Indeed, at about the same time that government-linked protesters were
toppling desks and scattering files at the Timor conference in Kuala Lumpur,
a 200-strong mob was attacking a motorcade carrying Aung San Suu Kyi and
other leaders of the opposition National League for Democracy in Rangoon,
smashing windows and denting cars.

Suu Kyi accused the ruling military junta of instigating the attack.
"Hooligans have been brought in by the authorities to intimidate us," she
claimed. She added that security forces watched the whole affair but did
nothing. She accused the government-sponsored United Solidarity Development
Association of responsibility for the incident and called it a "fascist

As expected, the government denied any connection with the incident. But a
Western diplomat in Rangoon says people told her they were "paid a lot of
money" and trucked in from outlying districts of the city. The diplomat
believes that the attacks went further than the government had expected.

And given the international  outcry over the issue, she says, "I don't know
if they'll pursue it as a new tactic." The attack on Suu Kyi came just as a
delegation of ASEAN officials was leaving Burma after a week spent assessing
the country's readiness to become a member of the regional grouping.

Some observers believe the incident won't be taken too seriously in other
ASEAN capitals. Says Somchai Homlaor, an attorney who works for Forum Asia,
a Thai non-government organization: "Most of the governments in this region
are very conservative. They have the same ideology and the same interests.
This is why Malaysia supports the Indonesian government and suppresses the

On matters that impinge on their relations, such as the Timor meeting, says
Somchai, ASEAN countries "cooperate with each other very carefully," sharing
intelligence and working together to avoid having any country used as a base
of protest against others.

Somchai believes that in the face of government opposition, NGOs "will have
to work harder to promote democracy and human rights in our own country and
support the people in neighboring countries."

Something similar to what happened at the Timor conference in Kuala Lumpur
occurred at the Dutch embassy in Jakarta last December. Thugs twice stormed
over the fence into the embassy to disrupt a sit-in by a mixed group of
Timorese and non-Timorese activists protesting Indonesia's occupation of
East Timor. Dutch Ambassador Paul Brouwer was struck on the head with a pipe
and two other diplomats were also hurt in the melee, which was watched by
two platoons of policemen.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas later apologized to Brouwer for the
December 7 incident, the culmination of what one embassy spokesman called
"an increasingly dangerous situation." Some of the counter-protesters
admitted that they were paid 15,000 rupiahs ($6) a day. Witnesses claimed
the thugs had also been given packed lunches at a nearby military compound.

In East Timor itself, Indonesian military intelligence has employed
vigilante gangs to intimidate pro-independence activists and create what the
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights calls " a nearly constant climate of fear."

Amnesty International claims that such attacks, and retaliations against
them, were used not only to intimidate the Timorese but also as a pretext
for subsequent arrests of those opposed to the Indonesian occupation.

The 7-million-strong Permuda Pancasila, a pro-government youth organization
formed in 1959, has often been accused of acting as an extra-legal force to
break up political protests where the police and military don't want to be
seen cracking heads. It has also been accused of being involved in the
takeover of the PDI headquarters. But the organization's chairman, Japto
Soerjososmarno, has consistently denied taking part in the July incident.

But no matter which country, extralegal methods of something dissent have
the potential to backfire on their perpetrators, as the Malaysians are
finding out to their chagrin. Indeed, the damage done to the country's
reputation will take some time to live down.

What would have otherwise been a minor blip on the human-rights front if the
meeting had been banned was turned into a full-fledged international
incident and a public-relations fiasco for Kuala Lumpur.

Some analysts speculate that Kuala Lumpur may have made an ill-judged move
to try and demonstrate good faith with Jakarta. Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohamad is scheduled to visit Indonesia in late November and Malaysia may
have been anxious not to embarrass its ASEAN counterpart ahead of the visit.

In the interests of ASEAN solidarity, it seems, member-governments are
willing to go to great lengths. But as the fallout from Kuala Lumpur
indicates, the price can be stiff. (FEER)


November 19, 1996 (Asian Wall Street Journal)

(BurmaNet Editor's Note: Chavalit's party the New Aspiration Party, is
widely reputed to have bought both politicians and votes in order to win
Thailand's most recent election. When the  last government dissolved, the
NAP paid large sums of money to popular Mps to leave their parties and join
the NAP.  The NAP leadership knew that these  Mps would be re-elected
regardless of which party they represented.   

Although all parties were said to have engaged in vote-buying, the NAP was
reputed to have spent by far the most in its campaign to win the election.
In some areas, voters were paid up to $40, and many villagers felt that they
had to support the party from whom they had taken the money or they would be
committing a sin.  Chavalit and his party were soundly rejected in Bangkok
but won over the Northeast and many of the rural districts in central and
northern Thailand, reflecting the growing gap in income and interests
between the rural and urban areas.

Chavalit made much of the money used to finance the election campaign from
his business deals with the SLORC.  Soon after the SLORC took power, he
signed lucrative logging deals with the regime, and he is also reputed to
have been involved in arms deals.  More than any other senior Thai
politician, Chavalit has curried favor with the SLORC.  It remains to be
seen to what extent he will actually urge the SLORC to move toward
democracy, as he says he will below.  And is Thai-style "democracy" the
model he will advocate?

SAKHON NAKHON PROVINCE, Thailand (AP-Dow Jones)--If he becomes prime
minister after Sunday's elections, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said, he will
travel to Burma to urge its military junta to move toward democracy, reports
Monday's Asian Wall Street Journal.

Burma is 'about 50 years behind what is going on in the world, in the
region,' Chavalit said in an interview Saturday aboard his campaign bus. 'So if
I come (to be prime minister), I have to go again' to Burma.

The message he will deliver to his counterpart in Burma, which is now called
Myanmar: ''Brother, you have to join us now; you are left behind. For what?' I
have to convince him, to make him understand. Myanmar should change.' 

Chavalit has a long-standing relationship with Burma's State Law and Order
Restoration Council, or Slorc, as the junta calls itself, which took power
in 1988 after clashes in Rangoon between the military and pro-democracy
demonstrators left thousands dead.
In December of that year, Chavalit, then Thailand's army commander-in-chief
and acting supreme commander, was the first senior foreign official to visit
Burma after Slorc took power.
Chavalit said that during his 1988 trip he urged Burma's leaders to hold
elections, which they did in 1990. Although Aung San Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy won, the regime ignored the results and has since harshly
suppressed the opposition.
Chavalit has also had a long involvement with Thailand's other deeply
troubled neighbor, Cambodia. As army chief in the 1980s, Chavalit was involved
in conveying aid from the U.S. and other nations to Cambodian forces fighting
the Vietnam-installed government in Phnom Penh.
Several months ago, he helped arrange the reconciliation between the
Cambodian government and a faction of the Khmer Rouge led by Ieng Sary. 
In an interview in Hong Kong last week, Cambodia's Second Prime Minister,
Hun Sen, said: 'We have a good relationship with Chavalit, and Chavalit
contributed a lot to the peace in Cambodia.'
Without Chavalit's help, Hun Sen said, he could never have signed the peace
agreement with Ieng Sary. 'Only those involved know the importance of
Chavalit's role in this process,' he said.

Portraying himself as a democrat, a peacemaker, and a responsible economic
leader, Chavalit, 64, has been pursuing political power through elections ever
since giving up his post as military chief in 1990, two years before reaching
mandatory retirement age.
'I had already finished my job as army commanding general and supreme
commanding general,' he said. 'I had brought peace to the country already. I
had made good friends of all my neighboring countries. Everything was settled.
No more problem with security.
'I had an audience with His Majesty the King asking for permission to
retire,' Chavalit said. 'He asked me, `Do you have any problems?' I said: `No
sir, I just want to continue my job, to finish it, to bring prosperity to
the country.'
'The only way to bring prosperity to the country is to bring democracy...once
there is no more poverty, or very few poor people, that finishes my job.'


November 20,1996  (abridged)

Early Rangoon entry will speed democracy

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday prodded ASEAN to 'think
very carefully" and accept Burma as a member, saying "arm-twisting" will not
succeed in democratizing Rangoon.

In an interview with Singapore-based Asia Business News television, Mahathir
said he believed in the "constructive engagement" policy adopted by the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Burma.

"We think that if you cut them (Burma) from the rest of the world, they will
not understand at all how a free market works, how democracy works,"
Mahathir said in the interview aired late yesterday.

"The best way to democratize any country is to expose them to democratic
processes so that they will not fear democratic processes," he added.

Arm-twisting tactics to pressure Burma to be democratic would not help, said
Mahathir, who has been pushing for Burma to be accepted as a member by next
year, along with Laos and Cambodia.

Singapore Prime Minster Goh Chok Tong has said earlier this month: "I don't
think Myanmar is quiet ready in the near future to adopt all the obligations
of being a member of ASEAN."

Following the recent crackdown, Philippines President Fidel Ramos called on
ASEAN to review its policy on Rangoon at ASEAN's informal summit in Jakarta,
to be held later this month. (BP)


November 19, 1996 (UK Publication)
By John Lichfield Chief Foreign Writer.

To enforced jollity at home and a chorus of protests abroad, the Burmese
military government yesterday launched a campaign to attract tourists to the
once-reclusive nation.

In Britain, the Burmese Action Group, will hold a rally tonight to call for
a boycott on holiday travel to Burma as a protest against the suppression of
political and human rights - including the enslavement of children and
adults to build tourist facilities.

Hopes that the meeting, at the Royal Institution in London, would receive a
recorded statement of support from the pro-democracy campaigner, Aung San
Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, appear to have been dashed.
New restrictions imposed by the government have made it impossible for Ms
Suu Kyi to transmit a message, say organizers of the conference, which is
partly sponsored by The Independent.

Instead, Mairead Maguire, a Nobel laureate for services to peace in Northern
Ireland, will read out a compilation of extracts from speeches and writings
by Ms Suu Kyi in the last year. The meeting will also see an interview with
Ms Suu Kyi recorded earlier this month by Glenys Kinnock MEP, in which she
urges a boycott of tourism, investment and trade.

"It all adds up. Drops of water make up the ocean," the Burmese opposition
leader says, in the video smuggled out by Mrs Kinnock. "Sanctions are
effective ... They are of symbolic as well as practical importance."

The government - the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) -
marked the beginning of "Visit Myanmar Year" yesterday with an
Olympics-style ceremony.  Campaigners around the world hope to hijack the
event, however and publicize the excesses of the regime. In Brussels
yesterday, Mrs. Kinnock led a picket outside the offices of Club Med, which
has recently
begun tours to Burma. The protest was joined by the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions, which cited extensive evidence of the
use of slave labor in Burma. A spokesman for the ICFTU said women, children
and elderly people had been forced to work on new motorways, railways,
bridges and tourist sites, including the Golden Palace at Mandalay.

In Britain, the Burma Action Group UK reports that four tour operators have
dropped Burma from their schedules, but another 30 still offer travel
packages to Burma. "Overall, we are confident that there will be no increase
in UK tourism to Burma," said Yvette Mahon, a spokeswoman for the group.
Ms Suu Kyi has been especially vocal in calling for a tourism boycott. She
said recently: "Travel, it is said, broadens the mind. But there are times
when breadth of vision dictates that travel be curbed in the interests of
justice and humanity." 


November 18, 1996

Radio Australia external service, Melbourne, in English 0700 gmt 18 Nov 96

Australia's ambassador to Burma, Stuart Hume, has boycotted the launch of a
major Burmese government tourist promotion in Rangoon. A foreign ministry
[Foreign Affairs Department] spokesman in Canberra said Mr. Hume had been
instructed not to attend today's [18th November] launch of the Visit Myanmar
promotion as a symbolic protest. The spokesman said the tourism effort was
an attempt by Burma's regime to gain international credibility. He said the
Australian government was not actively opposing Australians visiting Burma,
but this was one policy option that was being kept under review.


November 17, 1996

Some students were arrested while preparations were underway for the Seventh
Students Sports Festival to be held in the middle of December [in Tavoy]. At
about 1100 on 29 September a group of students arrived in front of the local
LORC office and took pictures of the damaged Union Solidarity and
Development Association [USDA] signboard.  

Witnesses said soldiers from the 19th Light Infantry Regiment [LIR]
immediately arrived and took the students to the nearest police station. Six
students were arrested and two have yet to be released. They were both to be
charged with illegal possession of a camera, suspicion of stealing firearms,
and attempted agitation for unrest. 

Aung Tun Oo and Soe Moe -- former soldiers from the 25th LIR -- have been
selling stolen ammunition and it is learnt that M-79 grenades and TNT
explosives are now available in Tavoy. The two former soldiers have already
been arrested. Democratic Voice of Burma [DVB] correspondent Htet Aung
Kyaw reports that at a time when there are threats to sabotage the sporting
events, the availability of grenades and TNT explosives have caused grave
concern to parents about the safety of their children and the sports festival. 


November 20, 1996

THE Petroleum Authority of Thailand recently signed an emergency oil supply
deal with Burma to help the country through a serve oil shortage, informed
sources said last week.

Although the Burmese government denied rumors of an oil shortage that
circulated around Rangoon in September, residents of the Burmese capital
told The Nation recently that the crisis was real, with the price of diesel
oil doubling from about 210 kyats (Bt875 at the official rate, or Bt30.87 on
the black market) to 400 kyats a gallon over a two-week period.

"The rumors continued until the government announced that oil tankers had
come," he said.

Reuters reported on Sept. 22 that rumors were circulating in Rangoon that a
foreign oil company had stopped supplying crude oil to Burma.

It also quoted an unnamed spokesman from Tokyo-based Mitsui & Co, a key
supplier of crude, who said that Burma was behind in some of its payments
for crude and diesel oil under annual term contracts.

Informed sources told The Nation that PTT was asked by the Burmese
government to help save it from oil crisis, and the emergency deal was
concluded quickly under a friendship contract.

Despite some operational difficulties, PTT rushed to supply diesel oil to
Rangoon only a few days later and continues to supply the country, he said.

He said the  agreement is a one-year renewable contract under which PTT will
supply Burma with about 10,000 to 20,000 tones a month.

Because of the anti-Burmese government sentiment around the world, PTT
signed the deal in secret.

State-owned PTT also signed a contract in early 1995 to purchase natural gas
from Burma's Yadana gas field for 30 years, worth about US$400 million (Bt10
billion) a year.

The deal is tripped to become Burma's largest source of foreign income when
operations start in mid-1998.

Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi told her supporters in September that the
Burmese military government owed US$31 million to a foreign company
supplying essential chemicals, which is why supplies stopped.

PTT executives refused to comment on whether the Burmese government will pay
for its oil purchase from PTT.

Meanwhile, a source said the five-star Baiyoke Kandawgyi Hotel in Rangoon
recently changed its name to Kandawgyi Palace Hotel after it was asked by
the Burmese military to drop the word "Baiyoke".

The military said 'Baiyoke" sounded similar to 'general' in Burmese," the
source said.

The move was unexpected and caused difficulties for the hotel, which has had
to change its name on items ranging from banners to cards, documents and
match boxes.

Bangkok billionaire Panlert Baiyoke, whose father was born in Burma, owns
the teak hotel.

"Visit Burma Year", which the country ambitiously hopes will draw tourists
from all over the world, was launched on Monday. (TN)


November 20,1996   
Boonsong Kositchotethana, Kanbauk, Southeast Burma

Burmese authorities secure 63-km route for onshore section

The laying of the controversial Yadana gas pipeline across Burma's Mon State
to the western border province of Kanchanaburi has started in earnest
without any security threat from anti-Slorc elements in sight.

Hundreds of large trucks, construction vehicles and heavy equipment have
already started work at the site, once a battle zone between Rangoon regime
forces and ethnic Karen and Mon guerrillas.

Some 600 workers, including dozens of western expatriates employed by the
Yadana consortium, are working hand in hand on the onshore section of the
pipeline that stretches 63 kilometers from the Daminseik coast to the Thai
western border village of Ban-E-Tong via Tavoy.

The consortium, led by the French oil firm Total, also includes US-based
UNOCAL and PTT Exploration & Production Plc (PTTEP).

Once finished, the pipeline will transport natural gas from Burma's offshore
Yadana field to Thailand. More than half of the 5,000-pipe section, with
each weighing an average of five tons, has already been shipped to the work

The major civil works required to support air strip, wharf, access road,
base camp, and bridges over the Heinze and Tavoy rivers, have already been

Work is now moving ahead rapidly and fears of attacks from anti-Rangoon
forces have diminished. With the workers, mainly Burmese, focused on their
task, only a couple of armed Burmese soldiers were seen at strategic
checkpoints along the route.

Slorc armed forces have obviously managed to firmly secure the area along
the pipeline corridor. Some 13 villages with a total population of 34,820
are located on the route. The area has not always been so secure.

In March 1995, five members of the Yadana pipeline route survey team were
killed and 11 others wounded by heavily-armed attackers in Kanbauk, near the
western end of the pipeline. All of the victims were Burmese.

The attackers were believed to belong to anti-Rangoon resistance forces. But
there have been no reports of similar incidents since that attack, with
Rangoon forces exerting an all out effort to secure the area and protect the
pipeline team.

That said, expatriates working for the pipeline project are not allowed to
stray out of the "protected areas". They are also required to routinely
radio their working position to the Total base camp in Kanbauk.

Herve Madeo, general manager of Total Myanmar Exploration and Production,
the supervisor of the Yadana gas pipe project, said the provision of
security for the pipeline workers came under the direct responsibility  of
the Rangoon army as part of Burma's commitment to the Yadana gas contract.

He insisted Total and its partners had not paid protection money to Slorc to
ensure the safety its workers, adding that he had no idea how many Rangoon
soldiers had been employed to  provide protection to the pipeline  team.

Now, the laying of the onshore portion of the pipeline on Burmese soil _
perhaps the most troublesome phase of the one-billion-dollar Yadana gas
development scheme looks poised to continue in high  gear. The laying of
the section should be completed by the end of the current dry season ending
in May.

Construction of the 346-km offshore pipeline is due to start in mid-1997,
running from the Yadana field, about 240 km south of Rangoon in the Gulf
Martaban, to the Daminseik coast where it connects with the onshore line.

The offshore section is scheduled to be completed in early 1998, with
installation of the offshore platforms set for about the same time. (BP)


November 18, 1996 (Bangkok Business Day)

The Indochina Fund, the government fund for providing loans for infrastructure
projects in neighboring countries, is now operative and the first loan of
300 million baht will soon be granted to Myanmar [Burma]. 

A source at the Finance Ministry, after lending conditions were approved by
the Cabinet, said the ministry is proceeding with plans to give loans to

"The first will be granted to Myanmar which has proposed a loan of 300
million baht for the construction of a main road," the source said. 

The loan contract is now with the Juridical Council for term interpretation
and no difficulties are expected because there have been negotiations on
this already. 
Finance Ministry officials will travel to Myanmar on December 2 for
negotiations on the terms of the loan, the source added. 

"300 million baht is a rather high figure when compared to the current fund
total of 350 million baht. But it will not cause a great impact as the loan
will be issued in phases and additional capital will be allocated for the fund
from the fiscal budget every year, with 150 million baht being expected next
year, the source said. With regard to interest rates, the source said the
interest will depend on the value of purchases by Myanmar from Thailand. 
If the purchase value is more than 50 percent of the loan, the interest rate
will be relaxed to as low as 4.5 percent. 

"If Myanmar hires a Thai company to build the road, the rate will be even
lower, the source said.  The source said Finance Ministry officials will
travel to Laos next week. 


November 18, 1996 (Taiwan Business News)  

Exports of textile products to the U.S. from Asian countries with
newly-developing textile industries, such as Vietnam and Burma, have
increased sharply in terms of both volume and value in recent years. Textile
exports from Vietnam to the U.S. are still not subject to quota limits, and
the country has therefore become a new favorite as the site for production
facilities for many Taiwan textile companies. 

According to the Taiwan Textile Federation, the value of textile exports to
the U.S. in the last year from Burma last year was reported at about US$56
million, which showed 65% growth from 1994. The volume of imports was also
up by 54%. Garments constituted the main body of textile exports to the
U.S., accounting for 97% of the total. The main items exported included: no.
352 cotton underwear, accounting for 23% of the total; no. 340 men's cotton
shirts, accounting for 15%; no. 348 women's cotton pants, 8%; no. 634
women's cotton knitted shirts, 4%; no. 337 men's cotton trousers, 4%; and
no. 336 cotton dresses, 4%.


November 18, 1996 (South East Asia Business Times - Malaysia)
By Kamarul Yunus.

MALAYSIA has been described as a fast-rising star in terms of investment in
Myanmar. It recorded an investment of $446.27m ($1 = RM2.52) as at October
31 against $157.7m last year.

Myanmar Minister in the Deputy Prime Minister's Office Brig-Gen Maung Maung
said based on the current investment rate, Myanmar foresees the possibility
of Malaysia becoming the largest foreign investor overtaking Singapore soon.
"Singapore is currently the largest trading partner with investment
amounting to $1.1bn while Malaysia is fifth. "But at the rate Malaysians are
investing, I am not surprised if it can emerge as the number one investor in
Myanmar soon," he told Malaysian journalists in Yangon last week.

With the launching of the flight, Maung, who is also Myanmar Investment
Commission Secretary, said more Malaysian investors are expected to invest
in Myanmar. This year alone, he said the Myanmar Government has approved
four Malaysian companies' plans to invest in oil and gas, garment and hotel
services industries.

The four companies are a joint venture company called Jaberoo Ltd and Round
Hay Ltd (in the oil and gas industry), Million Quest (garment industry) and
Micasa Hotel Ltd (airport and hotel services sector). In the latest
development, Million Quest, a subsidiary of Austral Amalgamated Bhd
(formerly known as Austral Amalgamated Tin Bhd) signed a $5m deal with
Myanmar Investment Commission last Friday to set up a garment factory in the
Pyn Ma Bin industrial Area near Yangon.

With the inclusion of the four companies, there are currently 16 Malaysian
companies operating in Myanmar with Idris Hydraulic being the single largest
Malaysian company to invest there. Others include Okura Shop (M) Sdn Bhd,
Scancia Myanmar Ltd (Malaysia), Hline Tet Canning Factory Co, Elcon GmaH
Telecommunications Malaysia, Atlantic Outline Capital, Austral Amalgamated,
Maybank, Public Bank, South Vest Corp, Besin Island Resort and Micasa Hotel.
Despite the negative reports particularly from the Western countries on the
situation in Myanmar, Maung said Myanmar still receives more foreign
tourists and investments.

"A total $5.04bn in foreign investment was recorded between April and
October this year. This was an increase of about $2bn from the $3bn recorded
in the previous six months," he said, adding that Myanmar's fiscal year
starts from April 1 to March 31.

In October alone, Myanmar received a total foreign investment of $600m.
"What is interesting to note is that foreigners, particularly from Western
countries and the US, continue to invest despite the reports on the
situation in Myanmar," he added.

For example, he said the UK is currently the second largest investor in
Myanmar. France is fourth, the US, sixth and Netherlands seventh.
Thailand, in third position, is the other country in the South-East Asian
region considered as one of Myanmar's largest trading partner.
The increase in foreign investment was mainly attributed to Myanmar's
flexible open market policy, political stability and security, various
incentives, abundant raw materials, cheap labor and the most important is
the short period to process applications to set up projects.
"For example, it normally takes three months to approve the application
after the proposal is put forward to the Myanmar Investment Commission," he
said, adding that Myanmar encourages foreigners to invest in all sectors,
including the infrastructure projects, manufacturing of materials for the
construction industry, minerals, airport and hotel services industries, as
well as agriculture sector. For the Visit Myanmar Year 1996, Maung said some
$731m had been spent on building hotels and other infrastructures since 1994.
"There are currently 375 hotels with 8,300 rooms compared with 39 with 1,240
rooms during the period 1988/1989," he said, adding Myanmar hoped to attract
some 500,000 visitors during the Visit Myanmar Year from the present 50,000

As to whether Myanmar will allow Malaysia Airlines to fly to Mandalay, one
of Myanmar's tourist destinations, Maung said the Government is willing to
negotiate with the airline.

"We welcome and open our door to negotiation on any proposals from Malaysia
Airline as well as from other international airlines," he said.
Malaysia Airlines currently flies to Yangon twice a week on Tuesdays and
Fridays, using the Boeing 737-400 that can accommodate about 146 passengers. 


November 13, 1996 (abridged)

YANGON, [Rangoon] 12 NOV -- A ceremony to mark the opening of Yangon
representative office of Korea First Bank of the Republic of Korea was held
at the Strand Hotel this evening. Minister for Finance and Revenue Brig-Gen
Win Tin delivered an address.       (first section cut)

In striving to catch up with other successful economies in Asia, we have
placed much importance to attracting foreign investments and Korea is one of
the countries investing in Myanmar and we hope the presence of the
representative office of a Korean bank in Myanmar could serve to increase
foreign investments from Korea. There must be some real sound reason behind
the interest taken in our country. The main reason would be prevalence of
law and order, peace and tranquillity in our country, and our economic
performance, potentials and prospects. We, undoubtedly, have some good
performance records that need to
be mentioned. We achieved a growth rate of 9.8 per cent in 1995/96, the last
year of the Short Term Plan, bringing the average growth rate of the plan
period to 8.2 per cent as against the target of 5.1 percent. This good
performance may
be traced to the remarkable progress in the productive, services and trade
sectors, substantial rise in investments and promotion of exports. 

On the monetary front, the Central Bank rate was raised from 11.00 per cent
to 12.5 per cent with effect from April 1, 1995 and as a result money supply
growth rate has fallen from 41.1 per cent in 1994/95 to 22.1 per cent in 1995/96
and inflation has been brought down from 22.45 per cent to 21.84 per cent in
the corresponding period. The Central Bank rate has been further raised to
15 per cent with effect from April 1, 1996 and it is noted that inflation
has been
brought down to 14.5 per cent in October 1996. 

The foreign investment climate in Myanmar has proved attractive enough due
in large part to the stable political condition, and the various incentive
features incorporated [as published] in the Foreign Investment Law. It has now
reached US $5 billion. We have designated 1996 as the Visit Myanmar Year,
and it is anticipated that the receipts from tourism industry will increase
in 1996, and thereby improve the balance of payment position. While the
State Law and Order Restoration Council government is endeavoring to
building a new modern developed nation, there is a very tiny group of
elements trying to disrupt our progress. It includes no other than Mrs. Aris
and a handful of persons who are attempting to let Myanmar be viewed from a
negative outlook by the international community. They are making all kinds of
fabrications to mislead potential investors who are interested in the
progress and prospects of our economy. 

As we move further down the road of a market economy, the banking industry
will be called upon to play a much larger role in the services sector of
Myanmar. I would therefore wish to call on all bankers both domestic and
foreign to work in close cooperation with us towards developing a sound
financial system to support stable economic growth.