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BurmaNet News January 19, 1997

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

The BurmaNet News: January 19, 1997
Issue #614


January 16, 1997
By Philip Bowring

Bangkok -- Drugs as much as human rights and trade could become the pivot
in US relations with Southeast Asian countries.  The reason is Burma.
Minor frictions will continue as Western nongovernmental efforts
to link trade and human rights mesh with local efforts.  These frictions
are containable within traditional close ties between the West and
non-Communist Southeast Asia.  The regime in Rangoon is a different matter.

Western opposition to Burma being invited to join the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations while the present regime remains in power has
engendered plenty of official resentment in a region sufficiently
confident to react strongly against outside interference.  Established
regimes in the ASEAN countries are also upset because local opposition
parties, as in Malaysia, have latched on to the anti-Burma theme.

Geographically, Burma is part of the region, and its government is
arguably only marginally more oppressive than that of Vietnam.  It has
received Western attention mainly because of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the
persecuted opposition leader.

But one factor distinguishes Burma from Vietnam and lays 
ASEAN open to charges of hypocrisy:  heroin.

The opium/heroin business has blossomed under Rangoon's junta.
The realm of the drug lord Khun Sa has not been abolished, it has been
absorbed.  The junta is deeply involved with the drug barons.  Drugs are
the country's main income earner.

One result is that foreign investors, particularly in hotel and
property development, have difficulty finding partners whose capital does
not derive from this source.

ASEAN (and other) countries insist that investment will open up
Burma politically and economically.  It is none of their business how
local partners get their funds.

But the heroin trade is increasingly a regional problem. Singapore's
draconian anti-drug laws have been successful in keeping local usage rates
low, but Singapore is an exception.  Addiction is surging in Malaysia,
despite laws almost as tough as in Singapore.  The number of addicts in
Burma itself is now catching up with Thailand's estimated 500,000.  China
has major addiction problems in Yunnan.

Despite frequent executions of small dealers, and some high-profile
punishment of foreigners, the region in general has made scant effort to
tackle the kingpins.  They are too rich, or are politically useful --
especially to China.

Money laundering is often viewed as legitimate business for financial
centers, and investors are not encouraged to look too closely at the color
of their Burmese partners' money.  Heroin is spreading in the region -- and
bringing needle-driven AIDS with it.

There is nothing now to be gained by backing away from a tough
policy toward a regime for which heroin is not just an unfortunate fact of
life, or even a useful bonus.  Drugs and Chinese weapons are the Burmese
junta's lifelines.

It is argued that the US attitude toward the junta is driving it further
into China's arms, depriving America of commercial opportunities and
encouraging Rangoon's reliance on drug money.  The reality is that Burma
offers few legitimate, long-term business opportunities.  And the reliance
on China could scarcely be greater than it is now.

This is an issue on which the United States can take a stand and
expect that ASEAN countries will swallow a little pride and recognize
where their self-interest lies.


January 17, 1997

Offices of Burma's Democratic Opposition have been repeatedly
raided by Thai police.

On January the 9th Thai police in plain clothes raided the ABSDF
Supply Office arresting two supply officers and Win Naing Oo, the
author of 'Cries from Insein'. 

Six officers and a Burmese speaker with Indian features came to
the Supply Office in the morning of January 9th and searched the
office. They took away a number of sheets of paper containing
telephone/fax numbers of the offices of other democratic forces
in Thailand, of the media, embassies, and individuals, etc.   

The three ABSDF students were taken to the notorious IDC
(Immigration Detention Center) in Bangkok. After endless
negotiations and the kind intervention of a Thai group working
with Burmese refugees, the three were sent to Maesot where they
were released after further negotiations and a payment. Many
people from Burma who enter Thailand illegally, when caught, are
regularly deported through Burma check points along Thai-Burma
border. People with political backgrounds are persecuted by the
Burmese military.

There have been many incidents in which ABSDF members with active
duties are sent back to Burma against their will, where they face
harsh penalties from the SLORC.

The ABSDF has confirmed information that a Burmese Indian is
working with Thai officers. There is a strong possibility that
the Indian-looking man who came with the police is the same person.

Today January 17, two plainclothes police officers and a woman
came into the ABSDF Foreign Affairs office in the late morning.
The ABSDF students there at the time had to pay 20,000
Baht(US$800) to avoid arrest. The officers forced all of the
office staff to remain downstairs and did not allow anyone to use
phones. Finally, they cut the telephone wires and left. It took
ABSDF members sometime to realize what was wrong with the phone.
About an hour after the ABSDF Foreign Affairs office was raided, the
police also went to the NCGUB office which is situated in another part
of the town. Two plainclothes officers and a woman came. After a
while they left saying they'd come back with other police
reinforcemnet. They have however not yet returned. 

In the afternoon on the same day, two plainclothes officers and a woman
came to the Supply office and demanded that the occupants pay them 10,000
baht (US $400). No one except three patients who are receiving medical
treatment from a Bangkok hospital were present at the time so they
couldn't give them anything. The police therefore took away the Mackintosh
computer that the supply office was using. 

The ABSDF has not been able to determine whether two plainclothes
officers and the woman who came to NCGUB office were the same
officers as those who raided the foreign affairs office. Nor have
we ben able to clearly determine the motive behind the repeated
raids. However extortion appears to be a likely explanation, in
which case further raids of these offices are a likely scenario. 

We suspect that the raids which took place today have resulted
from the phone list that was removed from the supply office on
the 9th. If this is the case there is a strong likelihood that
raids of other opposition offices will take place in the near future.


January 17, 1997

(1)	Myanmar authorities concerned denies any incident of plane
 crash in Myanmar and regard this rumour as an attempt to undermine 
the Visit Myanmar Year. It is learnt that the rumours were created by 
anti-government organizations residing in Thailand.

(2)	It is with shock and regret to read the 17th January Nation and 
Bangkok Post which has reproduced a news item from AFP. In those 
papers AFP has quoted Human Rights Watch / Asia's allegations on 
Myanmar Government of child rape, forced child labour, torture, 
child prostitution, child pornography, forced recruitment into the military 
and other ridiculous abuses. It is quite regretful to learn that such 
reputable organization like the HRW / Asia unwittingly becomes a 
press office or a propaganda machine for the Anti-Myanmar Government
Source: Myanmar Authority Concerned


January 17, 1997

Investment is declining foreign debt is climbing and few  industries are
showing sign of growth, Simrin Singh writes from the Burmese capital.

FIVE years after Burma's military regime opened up Rangoon's long isolated
economy to foreign investment, the roads in the capital are clogged with
Japanese cars while numerous new five star hotels dot the city skyline.

But behind the apparent signs of prosperity, observers say a grave economic
crisis confronts the country, which, with an annual per capita Gross
Domestic product (GDP) of between US$200 (Bt 5000) and $300, is still one of
the poorest in the developing world.

Also after the initial rush, enthusiasm among foreign investors is tapering
off due to deep structural problems, lack of infrastructure, low level of
skills and the push by pro-democracy campaigners for a global boycott of
trading with the harsh dictatorial regime.

The clearest indicator of growing disenchantment among foreign investors
came in October when Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong surprised
observer by questioning Burma's preparedness to become a member of the Asean.

While Goh was referring to the ability of the Burmese economy to integrate
into the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta), which is due to become a reality by
2003, observers say that he is also articulating unhappiness among Singapore
investors about the slow pace of change and growth in Burma.

Singapore is today Asean's biggest investor in Burma, and the second largest
in the world, after Britain, the former colonial power. According to Burmese
govenrment estimates, by the end of May 1996, approved Singaporean
investments totalled $606.38 million.

Of the seven members currently comprising Asean - Brunei, Indonesia,
Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, only the latter
four have invested in Burma, with total investments by May 1996 amounting to
$1.3 billion.

"Asean investors who expected quick returns in the Burmese economy are
showing signs of alarm and Western companies are under pressure from human
rights groups back home to boycott operations here," says an Asian diplomat
based in Rangoon.

The reasons for panic among a majority of investors who put in more than
$655.63 million up to May 1996 in Burma's nascent tourism and hotel are
quite obvious.

Despite the military regime's attempts to open up the country to tourism,
continuing repression by the military and strong international boycott
campaigns, have kept hotels empty and promises to continue to do so.

The launch in November of "Visit Myanmar Year" is proving to be a
non-starter and desperate attempts to convince international tourists and
tour operators to visit the country are not likely to make much of a
difference, say observers.

Dissident Nobel Peace Prize winner and leader of the NLD, Aung San Suu Kyi,
whose party won the 1990 elections with an overwhelming majority but
continues to be denied power by the regime, has repeatedly asked tourists
not to visit Burma because of continuing repression.

The arrest in late October of U Kyi Maung, senior member of the NLD, and of
hundreds of students protesting police brutality, has further worried
Westerners, and this will undoubtedly have an impact on tourist arrivals.

"Only money," says Kyi Maung, deputy chairman of the NLD, speaking about the
change of position in Asean, "could convince these people about whether it
is wise to place their bets on an unpopular regime with a record of
brutality and economic mismanagement," he said.

Other than the hotel and tourism sector, investors from 19 other countries
have put most of their money into the oil and gas, real estate development,
mining, fisheries and manufacturing sectors. Smaller amounts have gone into
transport, industrial estates and agriculture.

On the consumer items front, public pressure in the United State and Europe
has already forced Carlsberg. Heineken and Apple computers to pull out of
the country.

Pepsi has also portly pulled out, but is still producing through a Burmese
company with a franchise, while oil giants Total from France and Unocal from
the United State, face heavy criticism form shareholders because of reports
of the use of forced labour and other human rights abuses at their operations.

Other than the oil and gas and hotel and tourism sectors, huge amounts of
money have poured into real estate development.

Desperate for foreign exchange to pay for its defence spending, estimated to
make up more than 50 per cent of the government's budget, military rulers
are seen to be selling off prime areas of land in Rangoon at give away prices.

Old building are being demolished all over the city and swanky new
high-rises are taking their place.

The majestic British colonial parliament house building where Aung San Suu
Kyi's father, Gen Aung San and his colleagues were assassinated in 1947 was
also up for sale, but the Singaporeans are reported to have convinced the
regime that it should be maintained as a national heritage site.

Of further concern to foreign investors is a damning report on the Burmese
economy brought out by the US Embassy in Rangoon earlier this year.

In part, it says that "the (Burmese) economy is characterised by declining
foreign investments, rising and potentially unserviceable debt, soaring
deficits, rampant military spending and increased reliance on income from
drug trafficking".

According to the report, although official figure claimed a GDP growth rate
of 8.2 per cent, real GDP growth in 1994 was at best four per cent. The
report also says that though pledged foreign investment is rising, the
actual inflows fell from 9.3 per cent to five per cent of GDP between 1991
and 1994.

Not surprisingly, many investors have been extremely astute about the
situation, and few have been willing to put their money down in fixed assets.

Large business houses, such as the President Park group from Bangkok, for
example have preferred to maintain a minimal  presence in Rangoon, do small
time trading and wait and see.

"We need greater security before deciding in investing," says Alavbir
Sachdev, managing director of Modern Trading Ltd, President Park group.
"Especially with regard to land ownership procedures and export licences.
And in order to give us that the regime must first reintroduce the

Since the military regime took over power in 1988, it has been holding a
national convention to draw up the constitution.

The NLD withdrew from the convention last year after accusing the generals
of not following democratic procedures and trying to hijack the constitution
for their own purposes.

Without the approval of the NLD, the constitution will neither be acceptable
to most Burmese nor to the international community.

Things are not much better on the domestic economic front with the foreign
exchange crisis fueling inflation, which according to unofficial estimates,
is as high as 40 per cent.

Trading of dollars is rampant on the black market, where the kyats is 170 to
the dollar, while the official rate is a ridiculously low six kyat. Unable
to stop the illegal trade in foreign currency in December last year, the
regime established an "official unofficial" exchange centre where dollars
can be freely traded at the unofficial rate also.

While govenrment propaganda publication say that Burma is today the cheapest
country in the region to live in, local people will hear none of it. Average
monthly govenrment salaries are around 1,000 kyat ($6), while rice costs 100
kyat (60cents) a pyi (1.5kg).

The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) has estimated that a family of
five need to spend about 2,000 kyat ($12) a month on rice alone . For most,
vegetables and fruits are unaffordable while meat is an absolute luxury.

Accommodation costs are also exorbitant, with a one-room apartment in
Rangoon costing a minimum of 10,000 kyat ($58) a month.

Most of these prices prices have taken place over the past four years, since
the economy has been liberalised and various food, social security and
medical subsidies withdrawn.

As a consequence, corruption has become a means of survival for people, and
is endemic in the country. Rations of food and other consumer goods
purchased by govenrment employees at subsidised rates are sold on the

Various goods purchased from across the porous Thai, Chinese and Indian
borders including much-needed pharmaceutical products, are also sold on the
black market, at exorbitant prices.

Low purchasing power has however also hit demand for goods in the market.

Shop owners complain that they are unable to sell their wares, even though
prices are less than in neighbouring countries, and cannot import new items
because over the past few months the regime has clamped down on import
licences in order to prevent valuable dollars from flowing out of the country. 
- International Press Service.


January 17, 1997

BJ Lee reports on plans for five new factory parks on the outskirts of
Burma's capital.

"WE are going to be surrounded by smoke stacks," say a Rangoon resident. On
a map of the greater Rangoon area, the source draws circles around five
industrial zones being set up in a ring around the outskirts of Rangoon.

"I've seen foreign news about a place called Death Valley, where people are
choked by the factories surrounding their city. Maybe this is what Rangoon
will become in the future.

Govenrment official often herald the five industrial parks as being the
foundation of Burma's drive to become the next economic tiger of Asia. But
critics, such as the Rangoon resident who is involved in joint ventures and
has visited all five sites, warn of impending problems of population and
over Asian boomtowns. And sources say that villagers are already being
forcibly relocated off prize farmland to make way for bulldozers and engineers.

The largest of the five zones is the Sinmardez industrial zone, 18
kilometers outside of Rangoon. Sinmardev is short for
Singapore-Myanmar-development. In an agreement last year, the Burmese
govenrment leased the 12-sq-kilometers land site wholesale to Sinmardev for
a period of 50 years. Sources say construction managers are currently
registering local inhabitants in order to move them off  the site.

The other zone reserved exclusively for foreign investors has been leased to
Mitsui corporation of Japan. The govenrment reportedly agreed to lease the
land to Mitsui without demanding any percentage of income from the site.

The govenrment says the zones will bring hundreds of thousands of jobs to
Burma. But critics say the companies sweet-talked the govenrment into
selling them land around Rangoon for industrial parks. "They tell the
govenrment that they will bring jobs and money into Myanmar," says one
critic who has visited the sites. "Of course, what the companies really want
is cheap labour and relaxed environmental controls. But the government
believes them, and money helps do the talking."

Three other zones are set aside for locally-owned factories. Factories at
the 1,700-hectare Hlaing Thar Yar industrial zone, 11 kilometers North west
of Rangoon, are already producing plastic sacks, paper, paint, foam rubbers,
as well as cleaning beans for export.

The Shwepyitha industrial zone, 18 kilometers north of Rangoon, is expected
to have 200 factories upon completion making such products as wood, drinking
water and liquor.

One factory, which kicked into gear last year, takes raw materials imported
from firms in Europe, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia, and then produces
garments for export to The Netherlands.

"Factories like this aren't using local raw materials or even selling to the
local market. The only reason they set up here to use cheap local labour,"
says the critic.

Factories at a third zone, in South Dagon, a kilometers northeast of
downtown, use raw materials from Japan and Malaysia to make plastic sacks
for export.

Sources say the industrial zones are creating another headache: forced
relocations of villagers. The source says that farmers have been forced to
give up their prized land in Mingaladon north of Rangoon to make way for
Mitsui's industrial park.

"There is no negotiation between the farmers and the government. The
govenrment simply puts up a sign saying, 'Everybody must move by this date.'
Everybody must obey it or else. Villages are silently angry but they don't
dare protest."

Adds another local resident, explaining the public mentality about
reallocations, "We have to obey the king. When the king says move, we have
to move."

"They are losing a paradise," says the source who says the had spoken with
many relocated villagers. "Having farmland close to the markets of Rangoon,
they were among the luckiest people in the country. Now their luck has
changed." But the source says that in some cases, farmers don't move. "I've
seen cases where farmers will stand in front of their homes while bulldozers
start moving in on them. When they see the bulldozers, they quickly pack up
their things and go, stunned that they actually have to move."

Villagers don't really understand what an industrial park is," explains the

"Many of them only know farming, so they are losing mot only their land but
their way of life. Others take money from the govenrment and smaller plots
of land to build new homes in other parts of the city. They have to find new
jobs. Where? At the industrial park."

Other Rangoon residents say that the industrial parks are increasing the
influx of villagers coming into Rangoon. The relocations are also creating
public resentment against the foreign  investors.

"Employees of foreign investors such as Mitsui don't even realise this.
Because news can't be reported in the local press, the official seem unaware
of the relocations and the public distrust it's causing toward them," said
the source.

Foreign investors, afraid of losing their deals and their status inside the
country, are reluctant to discuss politically sensitive matters on the
record. Privately, many investors say they hold firm to the belief that
industrial zones are good for the economic future of the country.

They also argue that building industrial parks outside the capital is a
better alternative to allowing factories to set up downtown and in
residential areas. (TN)


January 17, 1997
by Ma Hning Hlaing Oo

On November 14th 1996, the SLORC posted a notice at the gate of Kyandaw
Cemetery giving relatives one month's notice to move the remains to a new
site at Shwe Nyaungbin, two hours drive from Rangoon.  Kyandaw cemetery is
located on 50-70 Acres of what has become prime real estate in downtown
Rangoon, near Hanthawaddy intersection.  Both Burmese and foreigners are
buried there of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths.  Rumours
abound in Rangoon as to what the military government want the land for: a
casino to be built by Khun Sa, a hotel to be built with foreign investment;
or, a Japanese shopping center.  

Whatever is planned for this land remains unknown as the SLORC refuse to
specify at this stage.  A SLORC spokesman, Major Hla Min stated on a recent
Asian Business News television interview: "Yangon has changed, and the
location of the cemetery, once it was probably on the outskirts of Yangon,
but today its almost in the center of the city, so naturally it has to be
relocated."  The deadline for the removal of the remains from the cemetery
was extended by two weeks to December 31st.  What remains on the land after
this date is to be razed.

Cemeteries and graves are moved in cities all over the world as urban areas
expand.  What makes this Burmese move different is the way it is being
carried out.  The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) have given
little notice, moving costs are expensive, and there is little respect given
by the SLORC-employed workers to the dead.  Religious ceremonies required to
move the dead in some faiths are being hurried along and performed under
restricted conditions.  Members of one Christian denomination requested the
SLORC to allow the construction of a temporary chapel at the new burial
site, so that appropriate blessings could be administered there.  The SLORC
would not allow a chapel to be built, but conceded that they could have a
"shed to organise" the re-burial at, and not a chapel to pray or conduct
consecrations in. 

In faiths where the dead cannot be moved, such as Islam, little or no
discussion has been entered into with local religious leaders to what should
be done in this situation.  Local Muslims state that it is against their
religion to move the dead once they are buried and state that the SLORC will
just bulldoze the graves of the Muslims after the deadline to move has
passed.  In 1993, in Mandalay, General Tun Gyi gave the order to flatten a
Muslim cemetery after the local Islamic community explained that according
to their religion it was impossible for them to move the graves.  The
Muslims then stood by and watched the Burmese army desecrate the graves of
their relatives.

In Judaic law, graves can be moved provided the proper rites are conducted
by a Rabbi at the time.  There are 700 graves at the Jewish cemetery in
downtown Rangoon that are currently being moved.  There are eight Jewish
families in Rangoon and without a Rabbi of their own there seems little hope
of a re-burial according to religious law and custom.  The Jewish community
in Rangoon have appealed to the international Jewish community to help raise
money for the costs of relocation and for assistance with the religious rites.

 The SLORC employed young workers who have little respect for the dead to
assist with the digging up of the graves.  Although there is often little of
value in the graves, looting has been taking place.  We saw young boys
employed to work at the cemetery to dig up graves, taking the clothes off
one skeleton and trying them on.  The whole graveyard had been dug up and
although most of the graves were empty, there were rotting remains sticking
out of some graves and the stench was awful.  There were bones scattered on
the ground in some places, and scavengers were also collecting both bones
and bricks to sell.  One local religious leader made light of the tragic
situation stating that when the re-burial of the remains took place that the
new blessing given would be "May he rest in pieces!". 
Hundreds of relatives came to Kyandaw Cemetery only to find that they had to
pay 250 Kyat (US $1.60) for the workers to dig up the coffin, and a further
10 Kyat (US $0.16) to place the bones in a garbage bag.  To move the bag of
bones to the new site at Shwe Nyaungbin costs a further 300 Kyat (US $1.80)
for the taxi.  To re-bury the bones costs 2, 000 Kyat (US $1.80), and for a
new tombstone a further 500 Kyat (US $3.12).  If the body has rotting flesh
left on it, for example if the person died recently, it costs 1,200 Kyat (US
$7.50) to dig up the corpse, up to 14, 000 Kyat (US $87.50) for a new
coffin, 1, 500 Kyat (US $3.12) for a taxi to carry the coffin to the new
site, and a further 2, 000 Kyat (US $12.50) to re-bury the body.  The
average wage per annum in Burma is 24,000 Kyats (US $150), and for most
Burmese these costs are prohibitive.  Many poor people are re-burying their
dead in the mud without tombstones as they cannot afford to pay.

Some Christian denominations, such as the Catholics, do not cremate corpses,
however local Catholic bishops are giving special dispensations for their
parishioners to burn their dead, as many cannot afford to move the remains.
Just before the relocation notice was posted at the cemeteries, a committee
of  various religious leaders was ordered to form to assist the SLORC and
the local people with the move.  As the populations who practice
Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are often ethnic minority groups, the move
is stirring up ethnic tension.  However as one ethnic national stated of the
move at the cemetery, "What can we do about it?  If we complain we only get

For many families coming to pick up remains of loved ones, this is not the
first time they have had to move their dead.  In early 1991, an order was
served by SLORC that relatives would have to move their dead from Cantonment
Cemetery in Dagon Township.  The army then built a military office there.
In 1994, Tamwe Cemetery was also ordered to move in order for the army to
build a supermarket.  Remains in both of these cemeteries were relocated to
Kyandaw Cemetery, which is currently being moved.  One Australian Burmese
displayed a garbage bag and said: "This is my Dad!  ... This is the second
time in two years that I've come from Australia to re-bury him ... Although
I'm Catholic, this time I will have to burn him as I can't afford to keep
coming back to move the bones."

Diplomats based in Rangoon have quietly expressed their disgust at the way
the relocations are being conducted.  Individuals from ethnic and religious
groups have also expressed dismay at what many of them see as a flagrant
show of the military's disrespect for these communities.  Others have simply
been unable to pay for the move and have had to bury their relatives at home
or in unmarked graves at the new site.  As one Burmese at Kyandaw cemetery
stated: "Even when you die in this country, they [the military] don't leave
you alone."


January 18, 1997
by John Nash
Mae Tha Raw Hta, Burma

Delegates from 14 ethnic groups condemned the Rangoon junta and
voiced support for Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National
League for Democracy.
The meeting of 111 delegates, the broadest of its kind among Burma's
minorities, was held in Karen-held territory opposite Tak on Wednesday. 

A 10 point agreement was signed by the groups, representing up to
40 percent of Burma's population. The points include a call for a
free and democratic society, a dismantling of the military
dictatorship and condemnation of the State Law and Order
Restoration Council's national convention.

A prime concern at the seminar was the issue of human rights.
Colonel Maha San, of the Wa National .Organisation, said: "Slorc
troops operate with a blank cheque. They rape and murder the
ethnics and the outside world  does nothing."
They also requested the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
delay Burma's  entry into the regional grouping.

A two-page statement released by the Ethnic Nationalities Seminar
calls for the "dissolution of Slorc's national convention and the
holding of a tripartite dialogue  with representatives of pro-
democracy forces."

The other members invited include Slorc and the newly strengthened 
National Democratic Front to represent the ethnic groups. 

Debate among the delegates was spirited and positive. The meeting
postponed many times for security and other concerns, was
originally scheduled to last 10 days.

The ethnic groups, many of which have been distrustful of each
other in the past, passed all points by unanimous consent. Saw
Ner Dah, son of Gen Saw Bo Mya, leader of the Karen National
Union, said; "If you wish to involve the outside world and expose
the human rights abuses and other atrocities committed by Slorc,
we have to prove we are willing to work together peacefully."


January 18, 1997

CANADIAN Prime Minister Jean Chretien last night urged the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to pressure the
ruling junta in Burma into holding talks with the opposition.

He said that Canada shares the mounting international concern
about the deteriorating political situation in Burma.
"We hope that Asean will use its influence with the State Law and
Order Restoration  Council [Slorc] to encourage the military
regime to enter into negotiations with [Burmese opposition
leader] Aung San Suu Kyi and the democracy movement, leading to
national reconciliation and political reform," Chretien said in
an address during a dinner banquet hosted by Prime Minister 
Chavalit Yonchaiyudh.

Canada is an active proponent of dialogue between the Slorc and
the opposition. Last year, Canada proposed the establishment of a
United Nations contact group to advise the  secretary general on
how to bring  about the relevant UN resolution on  Burma.

As an has rejected the idea, but Canada continues to pursue the 
proposal at the United Nations. 
"We want to bring Burma into  the community of nations as an open 
and democratic country," he said.


January 19, 1997
by Rutchanee Uerpairojkit Thailand Times

BANGKOK: Foreign Minister Prachuab Chaiyasarn yesterday suggested
at Burma's ruling junta learn a lesson from the failure of
Thailand' s dictatorship in the early nineties, saying_ that the
nation's economy had still not recovered,

Although the National Peace Keeping Council (NPKC) had used its
diplomatic muscle to try to win over the international community,
Thailand had nonetheless come under a barrage of criticisms,
driving its economy to the edge of destruction, the foreign minister said.

Burma is under no obligation to take Thailand's advice, but
ignore it at their peril, he said.

Prachuab was speaking after meeting with his Burmese counterpart,
U Ohn Gyaw, who was transit in Bangkok after visiting Vietnam.
The halfhour meeting was a first for both sides.  
The foreign minister also informed U Ong Gyaw that Prime Minister
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh will pay a visit to Burma in March and
April following a tour of all members of the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Chavalit is likely to devote the greater part of the talks to economic affairs.

Prachuab told his counterpart that Burma should begin
preparations to enter ASEAN. U Ong Gyaw reassured him that Burma
will make sure the country is ready to join.

Burma gained  observer status to ASEAN last July and wants to
enter the regional grouping this year. 

The ASEAN members in November agreed to accept Burma together
with Laos and Cambodia, but so far the timetable for their
admission has not been finalized. 

January 16, 1997

Burma's top military leaders have met in Rangoon with John B. Cheatham, the
president of the U.S.-based Arco International Oil and Gas Company, official
media said Thursday.

    The government-run New Light of Myanmar said Cheatham and other Arco
executives met Wednesday in the Zeya Thiri Beikman Tatmadaw Hall in the
Ministry of Defence with Defence Services Commander-in-Chief General Maung
Aye, military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt, General Tin Oo, Energy Minister
U Khin Maung Thein and other senior members of the ruling State Law and
Order Restoration Council (SLORC).  

    The report gave no details about the talks, but it was noted in Rangoon that
several other multi-national oil companies are involved in controversial
projects in joint ventures with the SLORC.


January 18, 1997

Burmese and Vietnamese foreign ministers yesterday agreed to
boost economic cooperation in 12 areas.

The two countries had low-profile economic relations although
they were traditional neighbours, said a Vietnamese expert on
Burma who declined to be named. "That's why we need to know more
of each other."

Ohn Gyaw and Nguyen Manh Cam agreed on cooperation in trade,
agriculture, forestry, aviation, transport and communications,
tin, education and training, culture and information, tourism,
energy, and narcotics control.

"These form the framework of cooperation that we want to enlarge
For example, the aviation agreement we signed in 1995 has not
seen any direct air link.

"In the energy sector, there is a long absence of cooperation
since the Burmese energy minister's visit to Hanoi several years
ago, the official said.

Details would be further discussed by authorities, he said,
adding that during his current visit the Burmese energy minister
had expressed interest in importing crude oil from Vietnam and
exchange experience in this field.

The committee's third meeting will be held in Rangoon next year.


January 16, 1997

The Myanmar government is soon to ban video game businesses in Yangon,
capital of Myanmar.  A coordination meeting of the Yangon City Development
Committee here on Wednesday concluded that these games harm the morality of
the people and violate Myanmar's gambling suppression law, the official
Myanmar language paper the Mirror reported today.  The meeting also
concluded that these kinds of businesses would no longer be permitted and
action be taken soon.  In recent years, more and more video game centers
have been opened in the capital, drawing large crowds of people especially
young ones.