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BurmaNet News January 4, 1997

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

The BurmaNet News: January 4, 1997
Issue #604

Noted in Passing:

=09As long as there is no attempt to solve Burma's problems by=20
=09political means, the country will continue to experience a vicious=20
=09circle of protests, crackdowns and renewed protests.=20
=09- Western diplomat (see FEER: SURFACE CALM)

January 3, 1997

Troops Leave Literature And Uniforms Of The Breakaway KNDP Faction

A Commando Unit under the command of Light Infantry Battalion 302
shelled two Karenni refugee camps early this morning, killing 2
refugees and wounding 11 others, according to ABSDF sources.

The shelling occurred at 2:33am at the two refugee camps inside
Thailand about 6 kilometers from the Thai-Burma border, opposite
Mae Hong Song. SLORC's Light Infantry Battalion 302 is situated
close by on the Burmese side of the border near Border Point 9.=20

The shelling lasted about 20 minutes, in which the SLORC troops
used 60mm, 40mm and RPG anti-tank launchers.=20

According to ABSDF sources on the border, it was the first attack
launched inside Thailand by Burmese troops from Karenni areas.
The two refugees who were killed by the shelling were Ai Phyin
(female), aged 23, and Aik Phone (male), aged 35.=20

The SLORC Commando Unit left uniforms and literature published by
the breakaway KNPP faction, known as the Karenni National Democratic Party
(KNDP), in an attempt to blame the faction for the attack.

According to sources from the Karenni National Progressive Party
(KNPP), the breakaway faction is based at Daw Nyi Khu along with
Infantry Regiment 430, in Dee Mawso township.=20

Citing the long distance between Daw Nyi Khu and the Thai-Burma
border, sources on the border near Mae Hong Song believe that the
attack was not carried out by the renegade group, but rather by
Light Infantry Battalion 302, which is based near the border.

In an similar incident in 1994, the SLORC troops launched an
offensive against a large Mon refugee camp known as Halokkhani near

All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF)  =20
For more information, please contact Tel: 300 0631.


January 9, 1997=20
By Bertil Lintner in Bangkok

        Order has returned to Rangoon after the most widespread=20
anti-government demonstrations in Burma since the upheavals of 1988 and=20
1989. The universities and colleges are closed and the students have gone=
home. Gone also are the tanks parked outside Rangoon's City Hall during=20
the last days of the protests.

              But Burmese sources stress that the calm is superficial.=20
"As was the case in 1988, when the students were also sent home, they are=
spending their new free time regrouping and reorganizing," says a Western=
source just returned from Burma.

              Foreign diplomats in Rangoon also assert that the degree of=
organization was evident in the unrest that erupted in early December.=20
First, they say, the timing of the protests was hardly a coincidence.=20
Since September, the government has held monthly press conferences, that=20
made it  easier for foreign journalists to enter the country. So when the=
students launched their protests, foreign TV crews were present.

              Equally important, students from several campuses in=20
Rangoon took part in the demonstrations, indicating a high degree of=20
clandestine organization in a country tightly controlled by the=20
ubiquitous secret police, the Directorate of the Defence Services =20
Intelligence, or DDSI. Sources close to the students in Rangoon claim=20
that several underground groups have indeed been formed over the past few=

              The ba kha tha, the Burmese abbreviation for the All Burma=20
Students Union-the most active student organization in 1988-was secretly=20
revived in November, according to sources in Rangoon. Its leaders may not=
be the same, but Rangoon residents remember that the most daring and=20
active participants in the movement of 1988 were high-school pupils.=20
"Those who were 15 or 16  eight years ago are university students now,=20
and they have experience," a Burmese exile says.

              Other students have joined a human-rights-oriented=20
non-governmental organization, which appears to be modelled after similar=
groups in Indonesia: young activists who use human rights to push a wider=
political agenda. A third group consists of workers in Rangoon, Burmese=20
sources say, and in the northern city of Mandalay, attempts have been=20
made to revive the Young Monks Association, which also was active in 1988.

              None of these groups overtly support Burma's main=20
opposition party, the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu=20
Kyi-or vice versa-but the distance the open and the underground movements=
keep from each other appears to be tactical: "They've got the same goals,=
but if the students showed any open sympathy for the NLD, the party and=20
Suu Kyi would be in trouble. And if she declared support for the=20
demonstrations, her party could be banned," says a foreign businessman=20
who frequently visits Burma.

              So far, the NLD's only official reaction to the=20
demonstrations has been a statement issued on December 9, saying that=20
"the NLD deplores the use of violence to put down the demonstrations. We=20
believe that long-term solutions to social and political problems can be=20
found only through a process of negotiations and reconciliation."

              Frustration over the lack of such negotiations between the=20
junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council, and the NLD has been=20
exacerbated in recent months by dissatisfaction with galloping inflation=20
that has raised food prices in many urban areas. The government says =20
that inflation hovers around 14%, but independent sources assert that the=
actual figure is at least three times higher.

              So is Burma ripe for another violent upheaval similar to=20
that of 1988-89? On December 12, the official newspaper, the New Light of=
Myanmar, quoted the Slorc's Lt.-Gen. Tin Oo as saying that the government=
"will never allow the recurrence of the 1988 disturbances and would=20
annihilate any internal elements who are trying to disrupt the country."=20
These are not empty threats.

              Since 1988, the strength of the Burmese army has increased=20
from 186,000 to more than 300,000 men, according to Western intelligence=20
estimates. The powerful DDSI has also seen a dramatic expansion over the=20
past eight years. In 1988, DDSI chief Lt.-Gen. Khin Nyunt had 17=20
intelligence battalions-14 regional branches, plus one each for the army,=
navy and air force-at his disposal. Today, Western intelligence estimates=
at least 23 battalions nationwide, each with 200-250 men, supported by a=20
network of thousands of neighbourhood informants.

              Much of that support comes from the Slorc's own mass=20
organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association. Both the=20
NLD and diplomats in Rangoon assert that the group was behind a violent=20
attack on Suu Kyi's car on November 9. According to recent reports from=20
Rangoon, local vigilantes known as Pjie Swan Ahr, or "the Strength of the=
Nation," are the newest stormtroopers of the ruling junta. They may be=20
used to carry out attacks similar to the one on November 9, and to=20
apprehend student activists.

              Despite the enormous odds, Rangoon residents seem to=20
believe that they have not seen the end of the protests. Says one: "The=20
students may lie low for a while, and then more protests will follow." A=20
Western diplomat who follows the situation in Burma believes this as=20
well: "As long as there is no attempt to solve Burma's problems by=20
political means, the country will continue to experience a vicious circle=
of protests, crackdowns and renewed protests."


January 3, 1997

Action to affect 50,000 students in run-up to exam period

RANGOON - Burma's military govenrment will keep some universities closed to
prevent a recurrence of student unrest as it continues investigations into
last month's demonstrations and bombings, senior officials said yesterday.

The officials told a monthly news conference the ruling Slorc was still
trying to determine who was responsible for two bombings on Dec. 25 at a
Buddhist shrine. The blast killed five and wounded 17.

They said the bombings could be linked with demonstrations in early Decembe=
when thousands of students took to the streets in the biggest
anti-govenrment demonstrations in Rangoon since 1988.

The Slorc seized power in 1988 after a crackdown that left thousands dead o=
in jail.

Students were at the heart of the 1988 uprisings against the previous
military rulers. Schools were closed for nearly two years after the 1988
protests, and students have feared the recent demonstrations would end in
the same result.

Deputy Education Minister Than Nyunt said some of then universities that
were shut in early December, several weeks before regular December holidays=
would reopen on Jan 6.

But the schools at the centre of the recent unrest would remain closed for
the time being, he said.

About 50,000 students across the country would be affected by the closures.
He did know if they would be opened in time for exams scheduled for next mo=

Intelligence officials said restrictions placed on democracy leader Aung Sa=
Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition NLD party, would remain in place for her
safety until the situation normalised. They said it was to ensure the Nobel
Peace laureate's safety.

Suu Kyi, who was released from six years of house arrest in July 1995,
dismissed the reason as "very silly" and said the requirements to advise th=
Slorc of her movements were not helping her in any way.

The govenrment has accused the NLD of being involved in and politicising th=
recent unrest and said 13 NLD members and 34 members of the outlawed
communist party had been arrested for their involvement in the demonstratio=

NLD officials and the students have denied any collaboration between the gr=

Col. Kyaw Thein, senior intelligence official, told the news conference
authorities were still investigating the bombing, which was suspected of
being orchestrated by an ethnic guerrilla group and exiled dissidents.

But the told reporters after the briefing he could not rule out the possibl=
the NLD could be involved to some extent in the bombing. "I don't deny (the
possibility). There are a lot of possibilities," he said. "I don't know
exactly who are the responsible persons who placed the bomb and who directe=
them. We don't have the evidence yet."

Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw said the recent unrest has accused a few problems=
such as delaying the constitution-writing process that has been on the
drawing boards since 1993.

But he said it should not have any effect on Burma's entry into the Asean.
"The cardinal principle of Asean is that there should not be any
interference in the affairs of other countries. There are abnormal
situations in any country all over the world," he said.

Meanwhile, Burma's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD)
party plans to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the country's
independence from Britain, NLD officials said yesterday.

The celebration plans come after a tightening of security on NLD
leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party in the wake of student
protests and bomb attacks in Rangoon over the past month.

Deputy NLD chairman Kyi Maung said the party hoped to hold the
celebration at Suu Kyi's University Avenue residence despite
blockades currently barring vehicles or pedestrians from driving
on the street within about 100 metres of her house.

"If they block it that will be saying something, won't it?=BB Kyi
Maung said. "Everybody should be allowed to hold writing process
that has been on the independence day celebrations.


January 3, 1997

There are strong indications that the Clinton administration might move
against the military regime in Burma, writes Inter Press Service's Jim Lobe
in Washington.

Pressure for a ban on new US investments in Burma is rising sharply amid
speculation that President Bill Clinton's pick for secretary of state may
have it in for the military regime in Rangoon.

Despite efforts by Unocal, the California-based oil company and largest US
investor in Burma, to rally support for its interests there, supporters of
an investment ban say the tide both within the administration and on Capita=
Hill id flowing in their direction.

"A combination of Congressional pressure and events in Rangoon is pushing
the administration to impose the ban," says Mike Jendzejczyk, Washington
director for Human Rights Watch/Asia.

Some analysts believe a ban may be announced early this month, possibly
during the Senate confirmation hearings to be held for Secretary of
State-officials have been holding inter-agency meetings to discuss the issu=
in recent days.

Sanction supporters were heartened by the recent call by the European
Commission to suspend Burma's trade privileges on the grounds that its Slor=
uses forced labour.

The recommendation, which must be ratified by a majority of the European
Union's (EU's) finance ministers, could apply to Burma's textile industry, =
key source of foreign exchange in a country whose hard-currency reserves
cover less than three week's worth essential imports.

Adding to the sense that Washington may also move more forcefully against
Slorc in the coming weeks is a new wave of bad publicity for Burma, as well
as  Albright's appointment.

Albright visited Burma just last year as part of an effort to persuade Slor=
to engage in a dialogue with opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aun=
San Suu Kyi, whose NLD party swept elections in 1990. Suu Kyi has called fo=
a ban on foreign investment in Burma until the regime moves to restore
democratic govenrment.

"I have never been as impressed with another human being," Albright
commented after meeting Suu Kyi who, after living under house arrest from
1990 to 1995, has since been subject to periodic restrictions n her
movements and communications. Early last month, Slorc once again confined
her to her home after student demonstrations broke out in Rangoon.

At the same time, Albright has been openly contemptuous of Slorc, which she
once described as "an ugly acronym for an ugly government."

Reported plans by Albright to assume a much higher public profile than her
cautious predecessor, Warren Christopher, in part by placing greater
emphasis on human rights, suggest to some that Slorc may be in early target=
"Beating up on Burma is likely to be popular on both sides of the aisle,"
says one Congressional aide.

At stake a law approved by Congress last July which requires a ban on new U=
investment in Burma if Clinton determines that Slorc has harmed Suu Kyi or
engaged in "large-scale repression" of its democratic opposition.

The same law also gave Clinton the power to deny visas to Slorc members,
their families and key supporters - a provision which the president invoked
in early October after dozens of NLD supporters were rounded up in Burma.
Many have still not been released.

The law's sponsors have called for Clinton to take the next step and impose
the investment ban. Earlier last month, an unusual coalition of senators -
including Democrats Patrick Leahy and Daniel Patrick Moynihan and right-win=
Republicans Al d'Amato, Jesse Helms, and Mitch McConnell - made a direct
appeal to the administration.

They have been joined since by Republican Congressman Douglas Beruter, an
influential member of the House of Representatives' International Relations
Committee who has generally opposed the use of sanctions against US foes.

"We're starting t see the political fall out from the student demonstration=
on Burma," says Simon Billenness, an analyst at the investment group Frankl=
Research and Development Corporation of Boston. Billenness has played a key
role in leading the sanctions campaign against Burma.

Through consumer boycotts, stock-holder actions ,and other measures, the
anti-Slorc campaign has already forced a number of US businesses, including
Pepsi and clothing retailers Liz Claiborne, Levi Strauss, and Eddie Bauer t=
cut their ties with Burma.

"There really isn't any new US investment going into Burma apart from oil
and mining companies," according to Billenness.

That has permitted activists to train their fire on Unocal which holds a 28
per cent interest in a US$ 1.2 billion (Bt 30 billion) pipeline project tha=
will pump natural gas from an off-shore field through Burma to Thailand.
Unocal's partners include the French oil company, Total, and the state-owne=
Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

In September, Unocal was slapped with lawsuits in California, charging it
with "vicarious liability" for human rights abuses, including forced labour
and assault, committed by Slorc during the construction of a railroad used
to transport materials for the pipeline.

That's not all the bad news Unocal has gained from it continued involvement=
Earlier this month, an investigation carried out by Geopolitical Drug watch
in Paris and published in the US weekly, The Nation, concluded that MOGE,
Unocal's Burmese partner, was "the main channel for laundering the revenues
of heroin produced and reported under the control of the Burmese army."
Washington estimates that Burma is the world's biggest producer of illegal

Last Thursday, the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, the oil industry's
largest labour union, called for Unocal's outside directors to investigate
the charges.

Unocal shows no signs of giving up, however. Last month, the company
reportedly provided $7 million worth of fertiliser on credit to the
cash-strapped govenrment in what the New York Times denounced as a "bailout=
for Slorc.

In a letter published in the New York Times, Unocal chairman and chief
executive Roger Beach insisted that the company's investment in Burma was
providing new opportunities to the people living in the pipeline area. "The
best way for America to advance Myanmar's transition to democracy," he
wrote, "is to remain involved on the nation's economic development." (TN)


December 27, 1996  (New Light of Myanmar)

BurmaNet Editor=92s Note: This editorial indicates that the SLORC may well =
planning to use the recent bomb blast as a pretext for a new crackdown.

It is shocking and outrageous that destructive elements were so brazen and
evil as to cause death and injury at such a sacred place as the Mahapathana
Cave, the venue of the Buddha's Sacred Tooth Relic from the People's
Republic of China.=20

Their intention for committing such foolish and ruthless acts is quite
obvious.  It could be concluded that it is designed to harm the friendly
relations between China and Myanmar, disrupt the stability in the country
and cause terror and anxiety among the people.=20

So, we should be mindful to ensure that it does not turn out to be as hoped
for by the destructive elements and internal axe-handles with negative
views. We will have to be vigilant to pre-empt recurrence of anything like
the loss we have just suffered.  It is necessary to act with rational
appraisal and control.  We must keep our eyes and ears alert and keep vigil
with security awareness against the danger of destructive elements' brazen
perpetrations and endeavour to expose them before they could strike again.=

Before this incident, some did not realize that they were being cautioned,
as was necessary, by means of the four points in the People's Desire
regularly stated in the newspapers and on the radio and TV. Now, taking
lesson from this incident involving sacrifice of life and blood, we will
have to be in full alert as warned in the four points of the People's Desir=

Oppose those relying on external elements, acting as stooges, holding
negative views;=20
Oppose those trying to jeopardize stability of the State and progress of th=
Oppose foreign nations interfering in internal affairs of the State;=20
Crush all internal and external destructive elements as the common enemy
without letting our guard down even a little, and strive to catch red-hande=
all destructive elements who are wickedly plotting their evil schemes in ou=
country, townships, wards and villages.=20

Never underestimating the need for security and discipline in the country,
we must do our best to help safeguard security in keeping with the wise
saying that we can never be too careful.=20


December 23, 1996

The rehearsal for the 30th convocation [graduation] of the Institute of
Economics scheduled for 3 January 1997 and the convocation scheduled
for 5 January have been indefinitely postponed due to various reasons.  The
institute of Economics announced today that the new date of convocation wil=
be announced later.


January 3, 1997 Reuter

RANGOON - Burma's ruling military govenrment wants to hold a new round of
peace talks with the Karen ethnic guerrilla group despite accusing the
rebels of involvement in a recent bomb attack, a senior official said yeste=

Colonel Kyaw Win, Deputy chief of intelligence, told reporters the Burmese
govenrment was ready to resume talks with the KNU - the last major ethnic
rebel group yet to sign a cease-fire agreement with Burma's ruling Slorc.

"We are ready to resume negotiations. We do not have any intention of
suspending the peace talks because of their involvement in the bombing," Mr=
Kyaw Win told a monthly news briefing. He said talks were originally due to
resume in December.

The Slorc has accused the KNU of being involved in a December 25 bombing at
a Buddhist shrine in the outskirts of Rangoon. (BP)


January 3, 1997
Subin Khenkaew, Chiang Mai

SECURITY has been beefed up on the Burmese border in Chiang Mai and Chiang
Rai provinces as a precaution against possible still over of fighting
between government troops and the United Wa State Army forces, a source sai=

Naresuan Task Force troops were sent t reinforce security forces in an area
near Doi Lang in Mae Ai District, Chiang Mai and in Mae Fa Luang district,
Chaing Rai as tension along the border escalates.

According to a Naresuan Task Force source, the government's 417th Division
surrounded the UWSA-held area at Doi Lang after the rebels rejected
Rangoon's order to withdraw from the area by December 26 and return to thei=
former stronghold north of Kengtung. (BP)


January 2, 1996

Less than a decade ago, Burma was a cloistered nation, closed to foreign
investors and trade, tripping perilously along its disastrous 'Burmese way
to socialism' Deutsche Presse- Agentur's Aung Shwe Oo and Peter Janssen
report from Rangoon.

Today, Burma advocates open-market policies, welcomes foreign investors and
tourists, and is now tripping perilously along the Burmese way to capitalis=

Since the end of the Cold War, places and countries like Burma -officially
Myanmar have demonstrated that open-market policies, foreign investment
codes and even denunciation of old socialist ideologies are not enough to
win acceptance in the global economy.

Countries which seek to boost their credibility on the international scene
must promote democracy, protect human rights, uphold labor standards,
protect their own environments and crack down on drug trafficking within
their borders.

Capitalism just isn't as easy as it used to be.

A bullying military regime can no longer expect support from western powers
simply because it has opened its economy slightly.
The World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank have steered clear of Burma
since 1988, in the wake of a brutal military crackdown on a  pro-democracy
Most western democracies severed their aid assistance the same year.=20
The threat of US economic sanctions hangs over Burma, and the European
Commission recently decided to cancel the General System of Preference (GSP=
status for Burmese exports to penalize the regime for using forced labor.

Ironically, such demonstrations of western disapproval are likely to have
minimal impact on Burma's commodity-based economy.

"Most of Myanmar's  (Burma's) trade is with Asia so any trade embargo that
would be effective would have to include Asian countries," says Sheldon
Jacobs, an economist who authored the United Nations latest study on Burma'=
trade and investment potential.

Most Asian countries are following a policy of 'constructive engagement'
with Burma, which hopes to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) in 1997.

"I think ending GSP would have no impact on us because we can divert our
exports to other markets such as Southeast Asia," said Burma's Minister of
National Planning Brigadier-General David Abel in a recent interview with
the German Press  Agency (DPA).=20
The West's disapproval Burma, however, is likely to adversely impact the
government's efforts to attract foreign investment and foreign tourism.
Threats of consumer boycotts in the Netherlands and Denmark forced Heineken
and Carlsberg to cancel brewery projects in Burma in 1996, and public
relations remains a major headache for any western multinational with
investments in the country.

But where western multinationals fear to tread, Asian multinationals are
going anyway.

By the end of 1996, Burma had attracted 218 foreign projects involving
investments worth US ,040 million. The leading investor nations included
Singapore (US ,159 million), UK (US 1,012 million), Thailand (U $946
million), Prance (US 466 million), Malaysia (U $446 million), and the US (U=
244 million).

Western businessmen already operating in Burma argue that the regime has
unfairly become the West's favorite Asian whipping boy.
"It's below the belt," says  Luzo Matzig, general manager of Diehelm Travel
by far the largest tour operator in Burma. "I mean what are people saying
about China, Vietnam or Laos? They have no democracy and they  don't even
allow the slightest opposition." =20
Unlike those countries Burma has Aung San Suu Kyi, a clarion voice for
democracy whose National League for Democracy (NLD) party won the general
election of 1990 with a landslide victory.

The State Law and Order Restoration Council' s efforts to dump 26 years of
disastrous socialism, introduced by General Ne Win in 1962, have been
overshadowed by its failure to acknowledge the NLD's  electoral victory.

Burma's consequent pariah status in the West is slowly undermining the
economic gains Slorc has made since coming to power in 1988.

SLORC has renounced socialism, legalized the booming border trade,
promulgate foreign investment code, allowed limited a private sector to
participate in certain exports, encouraged tourism and loosened former
controls on agriculture.

Results, in terms of growth, have been encouraging. According to a recent
economic report compiled by the US Embassy in Rangoon Burma's gross domesti=
product averaged six percent growth per annum between fiscal years 1989/90
and 1994/95. The fiscal years end on March 31.

The Burmese government claims GDP grew 9.8 percent in fiscal 1995/96 and ha=
set a target for 6.1 percent growth in 1996/97.

But economists argue that the fruits of SLORC's initial economic reforms
have been exhausted and now the regime needs to further liberalize
agriculture and privatize its loss-making state enterprises to make further

These risky reforms will be nearly impossible unless SLORC and Suu Kyi reac=
some sort of a political compromise, argues Sheldon and other  economists.


January 2, 1997  (abridged)
Stop-go policy in approach to Burma

Regional News Reporters

IN a year of fierce debate over human rights and democracy, Thailand's
dispatch of an observer to the national congress of the opposition NLD part=
in Rangoon in May was a bold foreign policy initiative.

But there was more withdrawal than follow-through after this courageous ste=
towards including Aung San Suu Kyi's movement in Thailand's "constructive
engagement" with Burma.

By the end of 1996, Thailand seemed to have returned to its traditional
position of caution. The narrower definition of "constructive engagement"
meant dialogue with the ruling Slorc in Rangoon.

National interests, which included security and economic concerns, proved t=
be decisive factors. So too was the perception, vividly underlined by
Foreign Minister Prachuab Chaiyasarn in early December, that backing from
colleagues in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was vital for any
major policy decision.

"We cannot fight alone. We need to flight with as team," he said shortly
after becoming the third foreign minister of the year. The remark came a
week after Thailand and Asean colleagues - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam 0 decided to admit Burma into the
grouping at the same time as Cambodia and Laos.

Mr. Prachuab said Thailand would go along with the November 30 decision in
Jakarta to admit the three countries into Asean but would not say when they
would be admitted.

Thailand's wavering on Burma through the year was a prime example of the
disruptive impact of government instability on foreign policy.

The bold decision to send a Thai diplomat to observe the NLD congress in Ma=
was made by Kasem S.Kasemsri, who was foreign minister from July 1995 to Ma=

The decision was consistent with one he made 10 months earlier to have the
Thai Ambassador to Burma, Poksak Nilubol, visit NLD leader Suu Kyi soon
after her release from six years of house arrest on July 10.

Both times, the signal was: Thailand's constructive engagement with Burma
means dialogue with both Slorc and its opposition.

M.R Kasem continued to push for a harder line against Slorc after he
resigned as foreign minister when he called in October for Asean to take
time to consider this country's technical readiness for entry.

His immediate successor, Amnuay Viravan, shortly afterwards agreed by
calling for Burma to complete its draft constitution first. But Mr. Amnuay
did not sustain this position when, as deputy premier for economic affairs,
he represented Thailand at the Asean summit and went along with the
grouping's decision.

In defence of the policy for dialogue with Slorc, senior foreign ministry
and National Security Council officials have repeatedly cited security
concerns, pointing to the 2,400-km border Thailand shares with Burma, and
the strength of that country's armed forces.

Thailand's agreement to start from next month the demarcation of the entire
1,700-km border with Laos shows security concern continue to loom large in
relations with all neighbouring countries. This initiative comes from Laos
large in relations with all neighbouring countries. This initiative comes
from Laos, whose foreign minister Somsavat Lengsavad in November 1995
proposed in a meeting with the then Foreign Minister Kasem, that the two
countries upgrade their joint boundary committee from deputy ministerial to
full ministerial level.

With the committee's agreement in September 1996 to start the demarcation
work, Laos relinquished its previous precondition for settling the border
problem of Baan Rom Klao first. Thailand consider this to be in Phisanuloke
province and Laos says it is in its province of Xayaboury.

Though security remained a concern in 1996, and was largely responsible for
the retreat on the tougher in towards Burma, it did not stop other new
departures during the year. There was more culture diplomacy and some steps
towards a borderless free trade area in the region.

In a new drive for cultural diplomacy and people-to-people contact, Thailan=
signed a cultural agreement with Vietnam in August, as the two countries
celebrated 20 years of diplomatic relations.

Two months earlier a Thai delegation went to Rangoon, to pave the way for a
similar agreement.

A trip to China in the same month was also part of the drive for building u=
broader based relations centring on shared values.

The initiative towards a borderless free trade area emerged in July, when
the then Foreign Minister Amnuay put forward the idea of Asean setting up a
goods-in-transit system. His Asean colleagues agreed and the grouping's
economic ministers produced a concept paper on the subject the following
September.  In November the heads of govenrment endorsed a draft agreement
proposed by the UN Development Programme.

Under this draft, the seven Asean member state would allow goods in transit
to cross their borders without levying import duties, inspecting the goods
or vehicles in which they are carried, or demanding any change of the mode
of transport. Asean transport officials are due to work out details and sen=
recommendations to transport minister this year.

January 1, 1996

THAILAND, with its own history of crises and upheavals, should
look after itself rather than intervene in other countries'
internal affairs, Foreign Minister Prachuab Chaiyasan said yesterday.

Solutions to internal problems rely mainly on factors from within
a country, not from outside pressure, Prachuab said. The
minister, also secreta -general of he Chat Pat ana Party, was
responding to the unrest in Burma, including the recent bombing
of a pagoda in Rangoon which killed five people and injured many others.

"Thailand had experienced many upheavals, including those in 1973
and 1976, as well as the May crisis in 1992," he said. "Thailand
has to face facts and be humble [when dealing with other
countries' affairs] because it also has had to go through similar events.

"Thailand should take care of itself and its people rather than
try to get involved  other countries' affairs. Every country
have to be solved inter ally," he said.

Many Western countries have called for the isolation of Burma,
where the ruing junta still refuses to hand over power following
a general election that it lost in 1988. It has increased its suppression=
of opposition members and their leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The seven-member grouping of the Association of Southeast Ia
Nations (Asean) has said that it will consider membership of the
three observer countries as a package, implying that one country
could delay the other two countries' membership.
Burma, Cambodia and Laos are Asean observers expected to become
members this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the
founding of Asean.
Asked whether the situation in Burma will affect Thailand's
position on the country's Asean membership, Prachuab said that
the Thai position does not differ from that of the grouping as a whole.
The situation in Burma is regarded as its own internal affair, he said.
"There has been a consensus from Asean (about the member ship of
the three observers], and from the observers themselves. The door
is open for all three to walk in together. Now that Asean is
ready to accept them, it is up to them to decide when they are
ready to join," the minister said.

The minister declined to comment when asked whether a negotiator
should be sent to hold talks with the Burmese government.


January 3, 1997

The CP Group says it plans to expand its investment in the livestock
business in Burma this year. A new wholly -owned subsidiary, Myanmar CP
Livestock Co, will be set up to run animal feed manufacturing, breeding
farms and chicken-raising farms.=20

The investment has been promoted by the Burmese government and
the output will be sold domestically. Prasert Poonkumarn, the CP Group's
executive president for agriculture business, will sign an agreement with
Burmese officials for the new investment next Tuesday in Rangoon.


January 3, 1997

marks Independence Day and launch of campaign for sanctions

Burma's illegal regime, the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (SLORC), maintains an embassy in Ottawa. This "embassy"
is staging an event from 12:00 to 2:00 at the National Arts
Centre (NAC) on Saturday, January 4th to mark the 49th
anniversary of Burma's independence from Britain.

Burma democracy and human rights activists are organizing two protests:

10:00-11:00am Saturday, outside the SLORC embassy at 85 Range Road

12:00-2:00pm Saturday, outside the NAC on Elgin Street

Canadian Friends of Burma will be there, along with Burmese exile groups
from across the province. Colourful placards and banners will make these

* SLORC must respond to the call for dialogue by Nobel Peace Laureate Aung
San Suu Kyi, and make way for the government elected by a landslide in 1990
under Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy.

* Until then, Canada must impose unilateral sanctions on trade and
investment in Burma. Most Canadians do not welcome the growing flood of
clothes in our stores made under sweat-shop conditions in partnership with
SLORC. We do not want resource  companies such as Nova Corp or Robert
Friedland's Ivanhoe
enriching SLORC by plundering Burma's gold, copper and natural gas reserves=

* All Canadians should boycott PepsiCo until it withdraws completely from
Burma. Until then, PepsiCo will continue to lose major university beverage
contracts, including Harvard, Colgate and Stanford, despite its staged,
false withdrawal from Burma. Also boycott Seagram, garments from Burma, and
tourism in Burma.

This protest marks the launch of CFOB's CAMPAIGN FOR UNILATERAL
SANCTIONS to be imposed by Canada against Burma until democracy is restored=
as requested by Burma's democratic government. Aung San Suu Kyi says
"Companies such as Pepsi... only serve to prolong the agony of my country b=
encouraging the present military regime to persevere in its intransigence."
To stay in power, SLORC relies on criminal enterprise, including
skyrocketing heroin exports to Canada. SLORC's use of forced labour is so
widespread that it now makes up three per cent of Burma's Gross Domestic
Product (U.S. State Dept).

CONTACTS:=09 Juliette Reynolds, Acting Coordinator
=09=09Canadian Friends of Burma, 237-8056
          =09=09Penny Sanger, 233-7133