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News About Burma on Today's Publica

Subject: News About Burma on Today's Publications

June 15th, 1997
The Nation
Thai-Burmese national health council to tackle cross-border health 

posted 21:00 hrs (Bangkok time) 

BANGKOK, June 14 -- Attempting to suppress an eminent explosion of 
several deadly infectious diseases, Thailand has proposed a meeting of 
Thai-Burmese national health committee to work out a common policy and 
measures to curb and combat the spread of some illnesses previously 
extinct from the Kingdom. 

The meeting scheduled here in late July will bring together, for the 
first time, senior Thai and Burmese health authorities to cooperate on 
crossborder health problems that are seriously affecting both countries, 
said an informed source. 

Apart from an agreement to cooperate in combatting common infectious 
diseases, the meeting hopes to discuss and come up with a concrete plan 
on prevention and elimination of the illnesses including an 
establishment of provincial health Thai-Burmese networks or committees 
that would work together on the ground, added the source. 

According to the source, Thailand will soon call an internal meeting of 
provincial health authorities to discuss the problems in each border 
provinces and measures needed to deal with them. 

The source expressed hope that the joint national health committee would 
be able to work out various approaches and contingency plans to deal 
with different communicable deadly diseases rampant in different 

Alarm sounds over infectious diseases 


The Nation 

FACED with a threatening explosion of infectious diseases, Thai 
authorities have proposed the formation of a joint health committee with 
Burma to formulate common policies to curb the re-emergence and spread 
of illnesses that had previously been eradicated from the Kingdom. 

The meeting, scheduled in late July, will for the first time bring 
together senior Thai and Burmese health officials to consider 
cross-border health problems that are seriously affecting both 
countries, an informed source said. 

The organisers hope the meeting will come up with a concrete joint plan 
for the prevention and elimination of these illnesses. 

This is likely to include the establishment of joint networks, or 
committees, at the provincial level to do the ground work, the source 
said. Thai health authorities will soon be called to preparatory 
meetings to discuss the problems in each of the border provinces and the 
measures needed to deal with them, the source said. 

The source expressed the hope that the proposed joint health committee 
will be able to draw up effective contingency plans to deal with the 
various communicable, often deadly, diseases rampant in different 

The Thai proposal for the joint meeting is in response to strong public 
concern over the gradual re-emergence of several infectious diseases 
previously eradicated in Thailand which are being spread by an estimated 
one million illegal immigrants in the country, the majority of them from 
Burma. In recent years, provincial and central health officials have 
reported the gradual spread of several diseases such as malaria, 
tuberculosis, meningococcus meningitis, filariasis and HIV (Aids) from 
the Burmese border area to other parts of the country. Some of these 
illnesses had been considered eradicated in Thailand. Meningococcus 
meningitis, which is deadly and can lead to cerebrospinal meningitis, is 
of particular concern. It is spreading in the border province of Tak, 
while malaria is becoming more prevalent in Kanchanaburi and Tak. 

Tuberculosis, which was once under control, is once again common, and so 
is filariasis, or ''elephant feet". 

The source said officials are also concerned about a possible explosion 
in the incidence of HIV-Aids in Burma as a result of deportations and 
regular crossings of immigrants. 

He hopes that the July joint meeting will agree on a common approach to 
prevent, control and combat the spread of diseases.

Business Time (Singapore)
US diplomats campaign against applying sanctions in Asean
By Leon Hadar 

AMERICAN ambassadors to seven Asean countries have campaigned to counter 
efforts by local governments around the US to apply trade sanctions 
against countries in the region, including Indonesia. 

The initiative came during their fifth annual ambassadors tour which saw 
them visit California, Michigan, and Massachusetts. 

Growing American criticism of human rights policies and labour and 
environmental standards in some of the Asean countries has produced 
strains in the relations between the two sides. 

Indeed, Indonesia announced last week that it was dropping efforts to 
purchase nine US-made F-16s after concluding that criticism on Capitol 
Hill of the government's human rights conduct and its policies in East 
Timor would make it impossible to approve the sale in the US Congress. 

Local governments in California, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have 
this year adopted trade sanctions against Indonesia. 

The diplomats told journalists during a press conference in Washington 
on Thursday that they also provided support for the efforts of small, 
medium, and large companies in the three regions to expand into the 
Asean marketplace. 

The American diplomats who took part in the tour included Timothy Chorba 
(ambassador to Singapore); J Stapleton Roy (Indonesia); John R Malott 
(Malaysia); William H Itoh (Thailand); Thomas C Hubbard (Philippines); 
Glen Rase (Brunei); and Desaix Anderson (deputy chief of mission, 

The tour comes at a time of growing tensions between the US and Asean 
over the admission of Myanmar into the Asean grouping. 

The ambassadors downplayed the differences between the two sides and 
instead stressed the growing trade and strategic ties between the US and 
the countries in the region. 

"We have agreed to disagree with Asean over the issues," said Mr Itoh. 

Currently Asean is the US' third largest overseas market after the 
European Union and Japan, with two-way US-Asean trade topping US$109 
billion (S$155 billion) last year, more than double since the beginning 
of the decade. 

The US Ambassador Tours are held annually to educate American companies 
about the trade and investment opportunities in the markets of the Asean 
region. The diplomats met with representatives more than 800 US 
companies during their tour.

The Straits Times (Singapore)

Asean ministers put forward their vision for 2020 
JAKARTA -- Economic ministers from Asean yesterday put the final touches 
to recommendations for regional economic co-operation in the 21st 
century. The grouping's Vision 2020 document, completed at the special 
one-day meeting of economic ministers from the seven member countries, 
will be presented at a summit in Kuala Lumpur in December, Malaysian 
Trade Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said. 

"We have finalised our recommendations for the economic inputs. We now 
are able to perceive whatever we need to do," she said after the 

No details were given of the plans, which deal with co-operation after 
the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) is set up by 2003, followed by the 
Asean Investment Area by 2010. 

But diplomatic sources have said they focus on creating an integrated 
Asean Economic Region by 2020 with zero tariffs and free transfers of 
capital and services. 

Officials also said the ministers had agreed to assist the group's 
upcoming new members -- Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos -- who will join 
Asean next month, to implement the association's economic programmes. 

"This meeting is part of preparations for the Asean summit of leaders at 
the ends of this year," Indonesian Co-ordinating Minister of Production 
and Distribution Hartarto Sastrosunarto said at the end of the four-hour 

Indonesia's Director-General for the national secretariat of Asean, Mr 
Raharjo Jamtomo, said that the meeting did not go into details. 

"We talked about vision, what we imagine will happen in 2020 in fields 
such as trade, services, investment and others," he said, adding the 
input would be recommended at the leader's informal summit in Kuala 
Lumpur in December. 

The summit, he said, was expected to come out with a declaration on 
"Asean's vision for 2020". 

The meeting was attended by trade ministers of the group's seven members 
-- Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and 
Vietnam -- and Asean Secretary-General Ajit Singh. Mr Hartarto and Datuk 
Rafidah said the results of the meeting would be further discussed by 
the economic ministers at another meeting in Kuala Lumpur in October. 

A joint meeting between foreign ministers and economy ministers will 
also be held to finalise the vision with the inclusion of other aspects 
such as political and development co-operation. 

On Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, Mr Jamtomo said the meeting received a 
report that "basically they are ready to join as members, ready to join 
the CEPT, Afta and other programmes". 

Asean is aiming for an Asean Free Trade Area by the year 2003. Its main 
instrument for achieving it is the Common Effective Preferential Tariff 
(Cept) scheme, that seeks to reduce tariffs to between zero and 5 per 
cent by 2003. -- Reuter, AFP.

Myanmar hopes to end isolation by joining grouping 
YANGON -- Myanmar hoped to end nearly 30 years of isolation with its 
imminent membership in Asean, official media reported yesterday. 
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, First Secretary of the ruling military 
State Law and Order Restoration Council, was quoted as saying that 
Myanmar hoped to exploit its vast natural resources with help from 
members of the regional bloc. 

"Although Myanmar is not economically strong, it is the richest in 
natural resources in the region and it is poised for economic 
development. Although it lacks know-how it has technicians," Lt-Gen Khin 
Nyunt said on Friday in his first public comment on the matter. 

"With support and assistance from other Asean members, Myanmar will 
achieve development within a short time and contribute to the progress 
and stability of the region," he said in an address to a committee he 
chairs which is preparing for Asean entry. 

The regional grouping agreed last month to allow Myanmar, Laos and 
Cambodia to become new members at the end of next month, despite pleas 
from the United States and other opponents of the Yangon military 
government not to let it in. 

Myanmar has been criticised for human-rights abuses and for suppressing 
the democratic opposition led by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. 

"Myanmar has stood in complete isolation for nearly 30 years. Today's 
world situation suggests that powerful nations are bullying small 
nations increasingly," Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt said. 

"Therefore, it is impossible for a nation to stand alone with the doors 
closed and it is necessary to join hands with the nations which have 
mutual understanding and respect." -- Reuter.


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