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The BurmaNet News, October 9, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------          
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"          
The BurmaNet News: October 9, 1997             
Issue #840

Noted in Passing:

We are nobody's axe handles.  We are the axes, handle and all.



October 9, 1997

A National League for Democracy [NLD] source inside Rangoon confirmed today
that political prisoners Cho Aung Than, Aung Khin Sint, and U Win Tin are
currently in Rangoon General Hospital.  The health conditions of U Win Tin
and Aung Khin Sint are no longer considered critical.  Cho Aung Than's
condition is not yet confirmed.

Cho Aung Than, Aung Khin Sint, and U Win Tun are all over 60.  The
conditions they were hospitalised for are believed to be associated with
their age, the unhealthy conditions prevalent in Burmese prisons, and
insufficient and delayed medical treatment.  
Usually prisoners are only sent to hospitals when they are very close to
death, and most prisoners are restricted to the prison hospitals, with scant
supplies and substandard hygiene conditions leading to a high risk of HIV
infection.  The unusual nature of the transferral of Cho Aung Than, Aung
Khin Sint, and U Win Tin from a prison hospital to a regular hospital
suggests that approval must have been obtained from the Ministry of the
Interior and high-ranking intelligence officials.

Aung Khin Sint is a senior NLD member.  He was arrested in 1993 for
distributing anti-National Convention leaflets among delegates. He was
released in 1995.  As a prominent NLD politician and vocal critic of Burma's
military regime, the State Law and Order Restoration Council [SLORC], Aung
Khin Sint has been subject to frequent arrests.  He was last rearrested in
1996.  It is believed that he was given a 7 year sentence.

Sixty-seven year old U Win Tin is a journalist and a founder of the NLD.
Win Tin was imprisoned in October 1989, accused of being a member of the
banned Communist Party of Burma.  Win Tin has suffered from heart disease
and spondylitis while in prison.  Spondylitis is an inflammation of the
vertebrae which is often exacerbated by poor nutrition.  Win Tin is also in
need of dental treatment, a condition which makes eating prison food

Cho Aung Than, a cousin of the Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,
was arrested in June along with his sister and her husband as well as
photographer Ko Sunny and U Hon Myint.

In mid-August the Insein Special Court passed a ten-year sentence on Cho
Aung Than, under the provisions of the Unlawful Associations Act and the
Emergency Provisions Act. The junta accused Cho Aung Than of involvement in
an opposition plot unveiled in a June 6 press conference entitled
"Terrorism Committed by Certain Organizations Operating Under The Guise of
Democracy and Human Rights". Secretary-1 Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt accused the NLD
of participating in terrorist activities and accepting money from
international organizations, allegations denied by the NLD.


October 20, 1997
by Dennis Bernstein and Leslie Kean

Hanging Drug Couriers But Investing With Their Suppliers

    Fridays, just before dawn, are hanging days in Singapore. Navarat Maykha, a 
Thai mother of two small children, awaited her turn as she prayed in her jail 
cell with her attorney, Peter Fernando, just a few days before her
execution. An 
impoverished and uneducated woman, and also deeply religious, she swore 
until her death that she was unaware of the heroin that was hidden in the
of a suitcase given to her by a Nigerian friend. 

    Singapore - a tiny island nation of 3 million perched at the southern
tip of 
the Asian continent - prides itself on its strict drug laws, which include a 
mandatory death sentence for anyone caught with as little as half an ounce of 

    "It's heartbreaking sometimes," said Fernando during a recent interview 
from his office in Singapore. "If you are an addict, and you are simply
sitting at 
home with more than 15 grams of heroin and you cannot prove with scientific 
accuracy that a portion of the drugs are for personal use, you will hang." 

    The fiercely authoritarian government micro-manages all aspects of the 
secretive hangings, as it does everything else in this country. This efficiency 
allows for the possibility of multiple executions when drug offenders swell the 
prison. On September 27, 1996, six people were hanged in one morning. Four 
had been hanged the previous Friday, all for drug trafficking. According to 
Amnesty International, 1995 - the year Navarat was executed - was a busy year 
at the gallows in Singapore, when more than fifty people were hanged, the 
majority for drug offenses.

    In its March 1997 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, the U.S. 
State Department said that "the number of drug traffickers hanged in Singapore 
increased dramatically in the last two years." Amnesty International, also 
describing a "sharp increase in the number of executions" in a 1997 report, 
states that those executed are most often small-time addicts and couriers, 
usually poorly educated and economically vulnerable, "while those who 
organize and profit from the crimes frequently escape capture and prosecution." 

    But that does not describe the worst of it. The Nation has learned that the 
highest levels of the Singaporean government, using the New York-based 
Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, a subsidiary of J.P. Morgan, as a custodial 
operative, are engaging in joint business ventures with one of the world's most 
notorious drug lords and with the drug-backed military dictatorship of Burma 
(Myanmar). This has been confirmed by corporate, government and legal 
documents from four countries and was contended by high-ranking U.S. 
narcotics and government officials in private interviews.

Dual-Track Policy

    According to interviews with Singaporean lawyers and U.S. narcotics 
officials, the heroin found in Singapore comes mostly from Burma, one of the 
world's largest exporters of the highly profitable drug, with 1996 exports 
estimated at $1 billion. Since the State Law and Order Restoration Council 
(SLORC) takeover of Burma in 1988, illicit drug exports have more than 
doubled; French and U.S. satellite surveys have shown an explosion of poppy-
growing in areas under the SLORC's direct control. In 1995 the Australian 
Parliament heard testimony on SLORC protection of the narcotics trade as a 
matter of policy, "in order to raise government revenue." And a report last
by the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, based on the SLORC's economic data, 
concluded that exports of opiates "appear to be worth about as much as all
exports" and that investments in infrastructure and hotels are coming from 
major opiate-growing and opiate-exporting organizations [see Bernstein and 
Kean, "People of the Opiate," December 16, 1996].

    "Drug traffickers who once spent their days leading mule trains down jungle 
tracks are now leading lights in Burma's new market economy," said Secretary 
of State Madeleine Albright in a statement this past July. "We are increasingly 
concerned that Burma's drug traffickers, with official encouragement, are 
laundering their profits through Burmese banks and companies - some of which 
are joint ventures with foreign businesses," she said. It is with the SLORC,
allied organizations, that Singapore's hang-'em-high government is investing 
so heavily - in such ventures as hotels and infrastructure.

    This dual-track policy is condoned and encouraged at top levels of the 
Singaporean regime, including by Lee Kuan Yew, the country's undisputed 
strongman. Lee, whose antidrug policies are among the strictest in the
world, is 
participating in the country's deepening business relationships with renowned 
heroin trafficker Lo Hsing Han of Burma and his son and business partner, 
Steven Law. Their operations in Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the 
United States are now the focus of an ongoing U.S. government narcotics and 
money-laundering investigation, The Nation has learned.

    Lo Hsing Han, a Kokang Chinese from the opium-producing region of 
Burma's Golden Triangle, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1973 - not 
for drug trafficking, which had been carried out with the tacit agreement of
state, but for treason. After being released in a 1980 government amnesty, he 
returned to the Kokang region. As of 1994, Lo controlled the most heavily 
armed drug-trafficking organization in Southeast Asia. Today he rules with 
godfather status over a clan of traffickers, and his organization controls a 
substantial amount of the world's opium production, according to U.S. narcotics 
officials. A memo from the Thai government's Office of Narcotics Control 
Board states that Lo's trafficking activities are augmented through his link to 
Burma's military intelligence chief, Lieut. Gen. Khin Nyunt, described as Lo's 
"supporter." It says that in 1993 Lo was granted the "privilege from Lieut.
Khin Nyunt to smuggle heroin from the Kokang Group to Tachilek [on the 
Thai border] without interception."

    Lo is chairman of Burma's Asia World Company Limited, managed by his 
son Law, who has achieved unprecedented success under the current 
dictatorship. "Law's power and connections are unparalleled," comments one 
U.S. official. "No other domestic investor in Burma can get an audience with a 
Cabinet member with one phone call. When Law got married, eight Cabinet 
members showed up." Law's multimillion-dollar business ventures seem to win 
all bidding wars in Burma's development race. (Law was denied a visa to the 
United States last year. "We have information that leads us to believe he is a 
trafficker in illicit substances," a U.S. government official told The
Nation in 

Business Is Business

    Wall Street Journal editors, in the 1997 Index of Economic Freedom, rated 
Singapore as the most business-friendly country in the world. Unfortunately, 
that friendliness has been extended to Lo Hsing Han, Steven Law and the 
narco-dictatorship of Burma. 

    As Tay Thiam Peng, director of foreign operations at Singapore's Trade 
Development Board, bluntly put it in 1996, when it comes to business, morality 
takes a back seat to profits. "While the other countries are ignoring Myanmar 
(Burma), it's a good time for us to go in," Tay stated. "You get better
deals, and 
you're more appreciated... Singapore's position is not to judge them and take a 
judgmental moral high ground." As Burma's number-one business partner, 
Singapore now has fifty-three projects in Burma, which as of January totaled 
nearly $1.2 billion.

    "Since 1988...over half of [the investments from] Singapore have been
tied to 
the family of narco-trafficker Lo Hsing Han,'' says Robert Gelbard, former U.S. 
Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law 
Enforcement Affairs. Most of these investments are in joint projects with Lo's 
family-controlled Asia World Company. Asia World includes a host of 
subsidiaries and three overseas branches in Singapore. U.S. narcotics officials 
say that these "overseas branches" are part of the ongoing money-laundering 

    Asia World's 1996 company profile states that it began as a trader in 
agricultural and animal feed products but today "has emerged as one of 
Myanmar's (Burma's) fastest growing and most diversified conglomerates." 
Burma's largest private-sector enterprise, it has interests in trading, 
manufacturing, real estate, industrial investment, development, construction, 
transportation, imports and distribution. Asia World's operations now include 
the running of a deep-water port in Rangoon, the bus company Leo Express 
into northern Burma, and a $33 million toll highway from Burma's poppy-
growing region to the Chinese border.

    The combination of the Burmese military's ability to protect shipments and 
production in the country and Asia World's ability to move product over land 
and sea completes a perfect marriage of convenience. In addition to these 
operations, U.S. narcotics officials say that Lo Hsing Han also runs a
business, shipping cargo out of Rangoon from a nondescript container yard the 
size of a city block. They suspect it of being a drug-shipping operation. 
Although it is a subsidiary of Asia World, the containerized cargo processing 
facility has no name, no sign and is not mentioned in Asia World's business 
profile. According to one official, some of the several hundred containers that 
have left this yard have gone to Singapore and the United States.

    In a June telephone interview from his headquarters in Rangoon, Law denied 
all allegations of drug trafficking. He laughed and said that Asia World 
operates under government regulations, "so if we do anything against 
government policy, we cannot do our business," Law said. "That's why 
concerning your point of any drugs in our city, I can say we haven't [been] 

The Money Trail: The Myanmar Fund

    The Singapore government, in cooperation with Morgan Guaranty Trust 
Company, is directly connected to key business ventures of drug kingpin Lo 
through an investment group called the Myanmar Fund. The fund, which
provides investors "with long term capital appreciation from direct or indirect 
investments in Myanmar (Burma)," is registered as a tax-free fund in Jersey, 
Channel Islands, according to documents provided to the Irish Stock Exchange. 

    Singapore's largest government-controlled financial institution - the 
Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (G.I.C.) - is listed in the 
documents along with Morgan Guaranty Trust Bank (a J.P. Morgan subsidiary 
separate from the Trust Company) as a core shareholder in the Myanmar Fund. 
A September 1996 G.I.C. business profile from the Registry of Companies and 
Businesses in Singapore shows that high-level Singaporean politicians are 
officers and directors of the G.I.C., including Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew; 
his son, Deputy Prime Minister Brig. Gen. Lee Hsien Loong; and Finance 
Minister Dr. Richard Hu. As a core shareholder, the G.I.C. helps determine 
how the fund's money is invested in Burma. Jean Tan, a spokesperson for the 
Singaporean Embassy in Washington, confirmed in a June interview that the 
G.I.C. holds a 21.5 percent share of the Myanmar Fund. As of last November, 
this investment was worth $10 million, according to the Singaporean 

    The Myanmar Fund owns 25 percent of an Asia World subsidiary, Asia 
World Industries. In fact, the Myanmar Fund's 1997 first-quarter report 
features two pictures of Asia World factories on its cover. The Myanmar Fund 
has also heavily invested in a number of luxury hotels in Burma, including 
Rangoon's Traders and Shangri-La. The Asia World business profile describes 
the Traders and Shangri-La hotels as major investment projects for Lo Hsing 
Han's company. It says that the Shangri-La Hotel (and surrounding apartments 
and offices) will be "the biggest of all" Asia World's investments, with "$200 
million...in appropriation of the project."

    In an official press release last November, the Singapore government stated 
that its investments in the Myanmar Fund were "completely open and above 
board" and that its investments in both the two luxury hotels and Asia World 
were "straightforward investments in bona fide commercial projects." However, 
the fund's operations are hardly straightforward and open. The operations of
G.I.C. itself are effectively a state secret. The government company is not 
required to file annual reports or report to Parliament. It has no public 
accountability, even though it uses public moneys for its investments. 
Furthermore, according to fund documents, in late 1994 - only weeks after 
being listed on the Irish Stock Exchange - the G.I.C.'s shares disappeared from 
the stock exchange register and were re-registered under the name of Ince & 
Co. The Singaporean government acknowledged in November that Morgan 
Guaranty Trust Company is the custodian for the G.I.C. securities, and that 
Ince & Co. was set up by Morgan to hold the shares in its custody. 

    Morgan Guaranty Trust Bank, investing yet other funds on behalf of clients, 
is the largest core shareholder (followed by the G.I.C.) of the Myanmar Fund at 
42 percent, according to a fund report. This means that together, the 
Singaporean regime's G.I.C. and Morgan Guaranty Trust Bank have been in 
control of 63 percent of the Myanmar Fund and its co-investments with the 
corporation chaired by drug baron Lo Hsing Han. (The G.I.C. shares re-listed 
as Ince & Co. have shifted hands once again. In a February document obtained 
by The Nation, the fund reported transfer of the Ince & Co. shares to another 
company, Hare & Co. In telephone interviews, spokesmen for the Myanmar 
Fund, the G.I.C. and Morgan Guaranty refused to provide information about 
the identity or purpose of the new custodial company.)

Dining With the Devil

    Singapore's dealings with Lo Hsing Han and Steven Law continue to expand 
unabated. Singapore's G.I.C. investment in the Myanmar Fund increased by 4.3 
percent in 1996. In Rangoon, the Traders Hotel celebrated its official opening 
last November. At the opening ceremony, attended by Singapore's Ambassador 
and graced with an appearance by Lo himself, the presiding SLORC minister 
publicly thanked both Steven Law and the government of Singapore for paving 
the road for a smooth business partnership. "I would like to extend my sincere 
gratitude to the government of Singapore," he said, "without whose support and 
encouragement there would be very few Singaporean businessmen in our 

    Since then, ground has been broken on the construction of Sinmardev, a 
new, $207 million industrial park and port on the outskirts of Rangoon. A 
Singaporean consortium is the leader in a joint venture with the SLORC, the 
Myanmar Fund, Lo's family company and a slew of international shareholders. 
The Myanmar Fund holds a 10 percent interest in Sinmardev. Singaporean 
entrepreneur Albert Hong, head of Sinmardev, described the project as the 
largest foreign investment in Burma outside the energy field. 

    "Singapore is more involved with Lo than any other country, because that's 
basically where Steven Law is functioning out of when he's not in Burma," 
observes a U.S. narcotics official. 

    Singapore's rulers continue to deny any wrongdoing in connection with their 
relationship to Asia World. "It is fairly far-fetched, trying to link the 
Singaporean government and drug traffickers," said embassy spokesperson Jean 

    "Nonsense," says Singapore's former Solicitor General Francis Seow, now a 
research fellow at the East Asian Legal Studies Program of Harvard Law 
School. The former close associate of Lee Kuan Yew says he knows "through 
personal experience" that Lee micro-manages every aspect of Singaporean 
political, economic and social policy.

    Dr. Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party 
and a leader of Singapore's political opposition, was labeled a traitor for
the drug issue in Singapore. "Drug peddlers are routinely hanged in Singapore 
for carrying heroin," wrote Chee, in a rare and courageous act of public
in response to a documentary that aired on Australian television last year, 
Singapore Sling. "And where are all these drugs coming from? Drug lords like 
Lo Hsing Han are the big-time pushers aided by the SLORC generals." "Is this 
not hypocrisy at its worst?" he asked.

    "The Singapore government knows it's having dinner with the devil, and 
sharing a very short spoon," says Seow. "And it is a terrible double standard. 
Drug moneys are being laundered apparently by the same drug lords who 
supply the heroin for which small-time drug dealers are hanged. We are 
reaping profits as Burma's biggest investor, but we're being paid with blood 


September 1997

Irrawaddy Vol.5 NO.6
Inside Story

Hanthawaddy U Win Tin is still languishing in notorious Insein prison, but
his spirit remains upright and unwavering.

Most prominent Burmese  writers are no longer active members of Burmese
civil society. Intellectuals who spoke out against the regime have escaped
Slorc's severe censorship by going into exile. Many that remained were
incarcerated. One of them is U Win Tin, an Insein Jail inmate since 1989. 

Win Tin won renown for his articles on painting, world literature, politics
and journalism. 

Win Tin was actually hand-picked by General Ne Win as chief editor of the
Mandalay-based Hanthawaddy newspaper. In the mid-1970s the Burmese
Socialist Programme Party instituted new laws to stifle dissent in journalism. 

In 1978, a paper critical of the Burmese Way to Socialism was read at the
Saturday Reading Circle of which Win Tin was a leading member.

As a consequence he was  dismissed from his job and the newspaper was shut
down. Win Tin was forced to earn his living as a freelance writer and

In 1988, Win Tin joined the National League for Democracy and became one of
the secretaries of the executive committee. 

Considered a major architect of NLD policy along with Tin Shwe, Win Tin was
arrested before the elections in June 1989. Burma's military intelligence
accused him of having pro-Communist sympathies.

Officials raided his house, searched his personal possessions, and
confiscated all his books. His books were subsequently displayed in one of
Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt's special press conferences which are designed to instill
fear into those opposing the regime. 

Win Tin's colleagues maintain he was detained under trumped up charges of
harboring an offender for whom a warrant had been issued.

Initially, Win Tin received a three-year prison term but it was later
extended to 11 years. In 1995, he and 27 other political prisoners were
accused of breaking prison rules and it is believed that his prison term was
again extended.

In 1994 and 1995, US Congressman Bill Richardson and former UN special
rapporteur to Burma Dr. Yozo Yokota visited Win Tin in Insein prison.

Win Tin has been suffering from various ailments including heart disease, a
condition requiring constant medication. He is also in need of dental

But, according to a former political prisoner, Win Tin never received dental
treatment although he was unable to eat even boiled rice. The authorities
also refused him porridge.

Former fellow prison inmates and friends who visited Win Tin claim that his
mind is as clear and active as ever, but his health condition continues to

Win Tin has gained the respect of the political prisoners due to his
commitment to the democracy movement. Although he was branded a "Red" or
"Communist" by Slorc, Win Tun actually opposes all forms of authoritarian

When problems and conflicts arose among the political prisoners Win Tin
often intervened.

According to one former political prisoner, Win Tin no longer considers
himself  a member of the NLD.

"I'm just a democrat in the movement," Win Tin was quoted as saying,
although he openly admires Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Win Tin's individualism placed him above party politics. "All rightists and
leftists in the prison admire him as he is able to patch things up."

Win Tin was offered special privileges such as a bed, newspapers, and
walking exercise. He refused the offers, insisting on officials treating him
in the same manner as other political prisoners.

Unfortunately, Win Tin has not been offered the medical treatment which
should be the right of every prisoner.

Yet, despite his health condition,  Win Tin has preserved his dignity and
intellectual freedom by creating a democratic space in jail. 

He continues to act as an educator and mediator, appealing to younger
inmates with his uncommon humility and impartiality. 			

Contributed by staff writers.


October 8, 1997

Europe resists calls to beef up sanctions

AFP --The European Union (EU) has taken a pragmatic course in deciding not 
to beef up its sanctions to include a ban on new investment in military-run
Burma, a senior Rangoon official said yesterday.

The EU has looked to the interests of its members countries by not following
the example of the United States, which has tried to use economic measures
to pressure the military regime into reforms.

"We see the EU decision as a pragmatic step the EU has taken for the benefit
of their own countries," the official said in a statement received here from
the Burmese capital.

"If it does not serve EU interests by following [the] US investment
sanctions policy, why implement it?"

"The EU has its own interest to serve. We do not believe in the policy of a
nation having to sacrifice its national interest just to please another
nation," the official said.

Meanwhile, Britain said yesterday it was considering a national campaign to
discourage tourists from visiting Burma.

"We need to keep up pressure on the Slorc to improve their record,
particularly as many hundreds of prisoners are still being held in Burma's
jails," said European Affairs Minister Doug Henderson.


October 8, 1997
Uamdao Noikorn

Thailand will benefit economically from the El Nino phenomenon and the
Indonesian haze because it is least affected in the region, said an
agricultural expert.

The ocean current-warming El Nino, believed to be the worst in 150 years,
has flooded South American countries and delayed rainfall in Asia. Crop
yields in countries including Australia, Brazil, Burma, India, Indonesia and
Malaysia are predicted to be cut by less than half.

Deephrom Chaiwongkiat, of Ka-setsart University, said: "The good thing is
those countries are our export rivals and major trade partners. The loss
will boost crop prices for a few years and Thai products will sell like hot

Even Burma, a major rice producer, is suffering from the phenomenon, with
extensive flooding in the Irrawady basin, the country's biggest rice-farming

The loss will force Burma to import rice from Thailand for the first time,
he said, and Thai rice importers such as Vietnam might increase their order.


October 8, 1997

First direct talks held in 18 months 

The Petroleum Authority of Thailand has agreed to suspend all activities
of its gas pipeline at disputed sections for talks with opponents.

For the first time since opposition to the construction began 18 months ago,
the two sides met for direct talks, with an academic acting as mediator in
an attempt to resolve their differences.

The suspension will cover the first 5Okm of the 260-km route which goes
through forest areas as well as four residential areas.

It will be in effect from noon today until Friday, when both sides will hold
another round of talks to consider long-term solutions and settle other
contentious issues. 

Suwanunt Chatiudomphunth, PTT's senior vice-president for planning, said:
"The PTT has yet to lay the pipeline in the forest areas. As a result, we
have no problem in halting all activities."

Mr Suwanunt led PTT senior officials overseeing the construction sites in
the province to the unprecedented talks mediated by the Institute for
Dispute Resolution from Khon Kaen University.

The PTT is duty-bound to abide by environmental impact mitigation measures
which bar any construction in the forest until the end of the rainy season.
However, it has been transporting gas pipes, to sites near the forests.

Opposition groups have requested that construction be suspended in
residential areas of Wang Kra Chae, Pu Ong Ka and Phu Takien in Sai Yok
district and Jorakhe Pheuak in Dan Ma Kham Tia district. They said the works
diverted natural water flow and damaged houses.

However, the PTT could continue laying the gas pipes with residents' consent.

The PTT also pledged to reveal details of the contracts it made with the
Burmese government to clarify the issue of fine estimated- at 40 million
baht a day if delivery of gas from the Yadana and Yetagun fields does not
start by July 1 next year.

Phibhop Dhongchai, a democracy advocate and an opposition leader, said the
suspension was needed as a level playing field for negotiations because
re-routing is at issue. Continuation of the project would have put the PTT
in an advantageous position, he said.

Dr Wanchai Wattanasap, director of the institute, declared the first round
of talks a success as the-two sides expressed a desire to reach solutions
which were never made in previous forums.

The meeting has set, up ground rules for further talks and. both sides have
promised to abide by them.

However, persons with full authority still have to be drawn into the talks.
The opposing grassroots and conservation groups wanted representatives from
various concerned ministries and agencies, including Prime Minister Chavalit
Yongchaiyudh and Industry M Korn Dabbaransi, to join the talks.


[slightly abridged]
October 8, 1997

Budget cuts unlikely to affect loan schemes 

Deputy Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra today is expected to address
Thailand's continuing commitment to strengthening economic cooperation with
 countries, despite budget cuts in the wake of economic

The group is scheduled to discuss the Industry Ministry's proposal to
establish special industrial zones in Mae Sot-Myawaddy and
Mukdahan-Savannakhet and the University Bureau's plan to set up a network 
of universities in the Mekong subregion for human resource development,
according to sources at the National Economic and Social Development Board.

"The agenda concerns mostly proposals submitted since the mobile cabinet
meetings of a few months ago, including roads and bridges projects in Chiang
Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son," the sources said.

The government has trimmed its budget for technical cooperation, via the
Department of Technical Economic Cooperation, and for financing
infrastructure in four neighbour countries, through the Neighbouring
Economic Cooperation Fund.

Parliament endorsed the former budget cut for fiscal 1998, starting this
past October 1, from 539 million to 339 million baht, and allotted no money
for the latter.

Another 15 percent is to be trimmed from the budget in accordance with the
International Monetary Fund's requirement that surplus equals one percent of
gross domestic product.

"We just hope that there will be no further big cut, because this assistance
is a kind of infrastructure investment in software. Our neighbours have yet
to develop to the point where they become our great potential export markets," 
the sources said.

With or without budget cuts, the Department of Technical Economic
Cooperation has yet to ease support for new projects and focus on human
resources development.

"That 339 million baht will be spent mainly on supporting neighbouring
countries," the sources said. 'Cambodia will be the second country, after
Vietnam, to come under the three-year assistance plan, and at the same time
we will focus on projects along the border through the Skilled Labour
Development Institute and Rural Development Centre."

Nor does the Neighbouring Economic Cooperation Fund expect budget cuts to
affect proposed, yet to be earmarked expenditures of 200 million baht or a
planned 300 million baht grant for Burmese roads.


October 4, 1997

Keynote Address by U Kyaw Win, International President, Committee for
Restoration of Democracy in Burma International, to the Free Burma
Coalition Conference, University of California, Los Angeles, Saturday, 4
October 1997.

[Professor U Kyaw Win, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California, USA;
E-mail: win@xxxxxxxx; Phone: ++(714) 831-2000]
	We are quickly approaching another anniversary -- for three months 
from this very day, Burma will celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Independence. I 
wish I could say that the people of Burma felt the triumph of these golden
-- for this 50th anniversary should usher in a time of celebration and
restore to 
the nation the glory of its classical name, Thuwanna Bhumi, or the Golden 
Land -- a land of Light and Knowledge.
	But the truth today is that the Burmese people are reeling under a 
ruthless military regime, a junta which has arrogantly clung to the notion
that it 
alone can save Thuwanna Bhumi -- Burma -- from disintegration.
	Today's armed forces, the Tatmadaw, is a legacy bequeathed to the
Burmese people by thirty young revolutionaries who went to Japan for
military training and returned home at the vanguard of occupying Japanese
army units. They were led by General Aung San, father of Nobel Peace 
Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  Under General Aung San's leadership, the 
Tatmadaw was born and Burma won its Independence.
	But the Tatmadaw has evolved into a pocket army of the ruling elite, 
universally hated by the people.  Now, at 350,000 and counting, Burma has one 
of the largest standing armies in the world.  No other country spends more than 
one-half its national budget on its military.  And this army is oppressing and 
brutalizing the 45 million citizens of Burma.  It has developed into a state 
within a state, with special privileges  accruing to its members and a secret 
police which furthers its grip on the Burmese people.  There is no telling
this mitosis will end,  but the implications are frightening.
	On a number of my recent forays into the Burma beyond the reach of 
Rangoon's writ and range of its army's artillery, I had occasion to interview 
men who had deserted because they could no longer violate the pledge they 
took at induction: to protect the people.
	"We were ordered to burn the homes of villagers, destroy their live 
stock and granaries, rape the women," a boyish looking soldier told me, as he 
turned his teary gaze to the ground.  One said he and his comrades were 
regularly beaten at night by drunken officers.  Another related, "On one of our 
patrols, for no apparent reason, our platoon leader ordered an old man who was 
sitting harmlessly on the dike of a rice field, shot dead."  The amount of
the military exercises over the country is broad and deep reaching.
	The universities have been closed by the military at least a
dozen times since 1962.  The longest stretch of closure being four years,
from 1988 to 1992.  They remain closed now.
	Bartering precious resources like teak and gems and rice for arms
from the "Big Country" places an undue burden on future generations.  A 
joke making the rounds in Burma these days is that a Burmese citizen
needs a Chinese visa to visit Mandalay.  Chinese language fluency is a
definite plus.  
	"Axe handles of colonialists," the smear against Burmese patriots
goes.  Nay!  We are nobody's axe handles.  We are the axes, handle
and all.  We are determined to destroy the Sinonization of the land
sacred to our ancestors.   We are resolved to prevent our homeland from
sinking deeper into a narco pit.
	Multinational giants recognize the economic nuggets which lie in
furthering the development of Burma.  They argue that exploiting both the
human and natural resources accelerates political liberalization.  I ask
you: Isn't it interesting that such acts are also good for Unocal and
Atlantic Richfield?  And Total of France?  And Britain's Premier Oil,
which has just joined the club?
	I would like to challenge these companies today.
	I say to them: You have become deaf to the cries of the
dispossessed, battered victims forced to perform uncompensated labor for
the military to support the pipeline you are building through the
tranquil Burmese rain forest -- a pipeline which will carry natural gas
to fuel the Thai economy; a pipeline which will provide Burma's generals
$400 million annually for the next three decades with which they will buy
more weapons to use in holding down a hapless people at bay.
	It pains me to think of the expatriates who live comfortable
lives away from the homeland, enjoying freedom but who have turned their
heads and hearts away.  Getting and spending they have become
desensitized to the suffering that has visited our kith and kin at home.
	"We are not political...There is nothing we can do...We don't
want to jeopardize our relatives at home...," etc. etc. the excuses go,
when in reality they are drinking from the trough of freedom, including
the privilege of unhindered passage in and out of Burma or the
pursuit of profits, enjoying the best of both worlds.
	Working in coalition with our conscience, we have come to bear
witness today to the suffering of the Burmese people, and to redress the
injustices perpetrated upon them.  We cannot, and will not stand idly by.
 Ours is a non-violent movement aimed at legislative bodies,
multi-national corporations, businesses, investors, financial
institutions, universities, and citizens from fueling the Burmese economy
that only goes to enrich the military.   
	The key to a peaceful resolution remains with Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi. The State Law and Order Restoration Council must engage her in sincere
dialog. The dialog must also extend to other oppositionists, namely the
ethnic and student leaders, and exiles.  Our brightest and best who have
fled the homeland must be allowed to return to contribute their talents
to rebuild our land.
	We have come here to ask the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to hold
the newest member accountable for the repression of its citizens. 
	Let not your commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights take a
holiday by hiding behind the "Constructive Engagement" shield you tout as
Asian Values and pretend that what takes place within Burma's boundaries has
no consequences to you.
	We have come together to send a message to our brothers and
sisters adrift in these troubled times fleeing persecution, and the
thousands languishing within prison walls:  Do not lose hope.  We have
not abandoned you.  Not a single day passes when you are not in our
consciousness.  We share the pain of your bloodied but unbowed heads. 
And, most importantly, we have come together at this Free Burma Coalition
summit in camaraderie.  Our motto, from an Ethiopian proverb, simply is:
"When spiders unite they can tie down a lion."  And in the spirit of good
fellowship, we celebrate our accomplishments, for the spiders have
strengthened each other and sprung into actions that have scored
impressive victories.
	The score stands today at one state (Massachusetts); twelve
cities (including New York and San Francisco and, oh yes, Boulder,  that
jewel in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies); one county; and over a
dozen universities that have either passed laws or resolutions which
prohibit the use of their funds to do business with companies that do
business with the military regime. 
	I am also thankful for President Clinton's action to restrict new
American investments to Burma.  However, that is not enough.  Burma will
not be free until all investments which aid and abet the military are
stopped and the military sent back to the barracks.
	Finally, Free Burma Coalition's relentless efforts have also
contributed to the withdrawal of several companies that did business
there.  Congratulate yourselves on that as well.  And the list is
	However, we must, in all earnestness not allow ourselves to be
overcome by what has been accomplished, lest we forget how much there is
left to do.  Honor and dignity must be on our side at all times.  Ours is
a just cause, it is a right cause.


October 8, 1997

(1)             Myanmar Delegation Concludes Russian Federation Visit

                Myanmar goodwill delegation led by Minister for Agriculture
and Irrigation Lt-Gen Myint Aung arrived back Yangon on 7 October after
visiting Russian Federation from 28 September to 4 October at the invitation
of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Food Mr Khlistun.
The delegation discussed with Russian officials in detail programmes to sign
contracts on bilateral promotion of agriculture and food production, industrial
development, extension of marine products at the Ministry of Agriculture and
Food. They sought opportunities to form partnership in installation of hydro
power generators at dam projects in Myanmar during their visit to Hydro
Project Stock Joint Company.

                Accompanied by Ambassador U Khin Nyunt and delegation
members, Minister Lt-Gen Myint Aung called on First Deputy Prime Minister Mr
Bulgak, who received them on behalf of the Russian Federation Government, at
the Parliament. Talks were on extension of existing bilateral friendly
relations and cooperation, extended participation in international and
regional affairs, opposing of obstructions and exchange of high-level
delegations. Discussion on production of paddy, tea, fruits, vegetables,
sugarcane and sugarbased edible products, construction of irrigation
facilities and cooperation on mutual interest.

They also visited Krasnodarsky Tea Company at Sochi region and studied tea
production. They met experts and sought means to develop tea production in
Myanmar. In Moscow, they visited Institute of Agro-Engineering and farm
machinery and studied dam construction techniques. They signed MoUs with
Russian officials on cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture and
Irrigation of Myanmar and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Russia and
on construction of multipurpose dams in Myanmar jointly by the Ministry of
A&I and Hydro Project Stock Joint Company of Russia. The MoUs cover offering
of courses for Myanmar trainees till they finish the doctorate, exchange of
experts, use of Russian techniques in Myanmar's agriculture and water
utilization, formation of joint ventures between the enterprises of the two
nations and rendering of Russian techniques in Myanmar farm mechanization
efforts, fulfilling of Myanmar's fertilizer requirements on mutual terms and
cooperation in implementation of dams projects, hydel power projects and
pumped-water projects.