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The BurmaNet News, November 1, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------          
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"          
The BurmaNet News: November 1, 1997             
Issue #858


October 31, 1997


The following is a brief summary of information just received from reliable
confidential sources regarding immediate conditions for recent arrivals in
Umphang district, Tak province, Thailand, 30 October 1997.  

Approximately 2,000 new arrivals from Burma have crossed into Thailand in
the last month in Umphang, Tak province.  The new arrivals are mainly from
Kaw Ka Reik and Kyarin Seik Kyi township, and along the Thai-Burma border
adjacent to Umphang district (KNU 6th Brigade area).  Thai authorities have
denied these people entry into Noh Pho camp in Umphang district, but have
temporarily allowed these people to camp in the surrounding jungle area and
receive aid from the Burma Border Consortium (the BBC) as well as other
quasi-formal assistance.  However, it has been reported by the Noh Pho camp
leader that soldiers from the Thai Army visited these people yesterday, and
told them to return to Burma as Thailand is not willing to continue granting
sanctuary.  Thailand has not announced an official policy of repatriation,
but there have been instances on the ground of temporary shelter being
allowed to new arrivals followed by swift refoulement before attention can
be focused on them.  Their isolation/inaccessibility has been exacerbated by
lack of access due to the rainy season road conditions, and a policy of
denying access to independent third party monitors.

The latest arrivals fled oppression suffered under newly stationed Burma
Army units who arrived in these areas during June this year as part of the
latest anti-KNU offensive.  They tell a litany of human rights abuses
endured - forced labour, forced portering, extortion of porter fees,
extrajudicial executions, deliberate strategies to incite religious tension,
and forced relocations.

[Burma Issues note:  we have video interviews regarding these human rights
violations and are in the process of translating them into English.  After
translation, they will be released]

In the last week of September, many villagers began making their way to the
Thai-Burma border.  People hid during the day, moving at night in an attempt
to cross into Thailand.  The Burma Army has now closed access to the border,
and approximately 100 families are unable to cross.

On September 30, Burma Army officials crossed the border and met with the
Thai village head of Lay Taw Kho, two religious representatives of the new
arrivals, and the regional Thai Border Patrol police unit, and again during
the first week of October.  The Burma Army spokesman demanded the new
arrivals return to Burma.  The new arrivals refused as their request for the
army to promise not to use force once returned was rejected.  Apparently the
second in command of the battalion said words to the effect that "we are the
army and we do not listen to civilian demands."  The new arrivals have been
very concerned about their security as they are vulnerable to attack in
Thailand, since access to Noh Pho camp has been denied and they are located
close to the border.

On October 29, soldiers of one Thai Army division arrived at two villages
around Noh Pho camp where the new arrivals have been taking shelter - Kwe Le
Taw and Htee Saw Shee - and told them through a refugee interpreter that
they could no longer stay in Thailand, and must return to Burma.  They
apparently said the order comes from their superior officer.  

If this group of new arrivals is repatriated it will constitute an act of
refoulement, as these arrivals have sought sanctuary in Thailand on account
of a well-founded fear of persecution by the Burma Army sanctioned by the
government.  The Burma Army battalion in the area has refused to promise
that force will not be used upon the return of the arrivals to their
villages.  The Thai authorities policy of denying access to refugee camps
combined with other pressures on them to return, is alarming.  Equally
alarming is that these new arrivals may be refouled without the knowledge of
the international community.


October 31, 1997
Rangoon, Agencies

NLD arrests seen as setback for democrats 

Five members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD),
including elected MPs, have been arrested for trying to hold meetings and
will face legal action, official sources said yesterday.

They include Dr Than Nyein brother of the first secretary of the ruling
junta, Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt - and several MPs elected in the last
general elections held in Burma in 1990, the sources said.

The five were arrested late on Tuesday after security forces blocked Ms Suu
Kyi from holding a meeting at NLD office in the northern Rangoon township of

Among those arrested were the NLD chairmen for Taketha and Mayangone, the
two townships which Ms Suu Kyi has visited in the past two weeks, as part of
a campaign to organise an NLD youth wing.

Earlier yesterday, a senior government official said that four NLD members
in Mayangone township had been "called in for questioning" after trying to
conduct an illegal political meeting.

The latest arrests could scupper the NLD's efforts to hold the youth wing
meetings. They have attracted the wrath of the authorities since Ms Suu Kyi
draws enthusiastic crowds whenever she makes a public appearance, analysts said.


November 6,1997
By Bertil Lintner in Bangkok

China's economic push southward worries neighbours

The storms that arise in the Bay of Bengal can be sudden and ferocious. Now
another one is brewing. This time, though, it's worrying not weathermen but
defence planners.

After years of preparation, China has this year taken several steps towards
establishing a trade route through Burma to give its province of Yunnan an
outlet to the Indian Ocean. China says the route, composed of road, rail and
river links, will bring much-needed trade and development to its landlocked
southwestern provinces. But neighbouring states fear the Burmese connection
is part of plans not just for trade but also for Beijing to play a bigger
naval role in the Indian Ocean.

India has long warned that a permanent or semipermanent Chinese presence in
these waters would conflict with its security interests. Now even Singapore
is closely monitoring China's push south, concerned that tensions in the Bay
of Bengal could affect its shipping lifelines. The Singaporeans are also
trying to ensure that their influence in Burma isn't overwhelmed by China's

And Burma is by no means the only Southeast Asian country where China is
visibly trying to widen its influence. Earlier this year, it began military
aid to the Phnom Penh government. And in the wake of Thailand's financial
meltdown, with the United States watching from the side-lines, Beijing sent
a high-level delegation to Bangkok to scout for investment opportunities

New Delhi has been especially worried about a Beijing-Rangoon nexus because
Chinese technicians have helped the Burmese navy to set up four electronic
listening posts along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

Australian defence analyst Desmond Ball, an expert on signals intelligence,
says: "Those posts are ideally situated for monitoring Indian air and sea
movements in the eastern part of the Bay of Bengal as well as intercepting
telemetry associated with Indian missile tests over the bay."

Ball also says the Burmese navy's facilities may allow the Chinese to
monitor shipping between the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca, a
matter of direct concern to Singapore.

Commodore Uday Bhaskar of India's Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis
argues that China's bid to secure trade routes to the Bay of Bengal cannot
be separated from its interest in signals intelligence.

Similar concerns could weigh with the Singaporeans. According to
intelligence sources, the city-state has modified at least one of its C-130
Hercules transport planes to handle airborne signals-intelligence operations
in the Bay of Bengal. A source familiar with the operation says the aircraft
and some accompanying Fokker 50s fly twice weekly from Singapore along the
Malaysian and Thai coasts to Rangoon, where the crews stay overnight before
continuing to Dhaka in Bangladesh. "On their way back to Singapore, the
planes skirt India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands," the source says.

China's Burma plans first came out in the open on March 4, when the China
News Agency in Beijing reported that a Sino-Burmese expert group had
"conducted a study on the possibility of land and water transport, via
Yunnan and into the Irrawaddy river valley in Burma."

On May 5, the official Xinhua news agency reported that Beijing and Rangoon
had reached agreement on developing this route. Xinhua said the route would
be 5,800 kilometres shorter than that between the Yunnanese capital,
Kunming, and the nearest port on China's east coast, Shanghai.

Long before this agreement was reached, however, China had begun to
construct a railway from Kunming to Xiaguan, near Dali on its side of the
Yunnan frontier. The old Burma Road from Kunming to Ruili on the Burmese
border has also been upgraded. Earlier this year, Chinese engineers
completed work on the last 100-kilometre stretch of the road, from Ruili
across the border to Bhamo in Burma's Kachin state.

Bhamo is the northernmost port on the Irrawaddy River that is accessible
from the south. Intelligence sources in Burma say the plan is to use a fleet
of barges to transport goods from there to Minhla, some 1,000 kilometres
downriver and 280 kilometres north of Rangoon. From Minhla, a road is being
built across the Arakan Yoma mountain range, running via An to Kyaukpyu on
the coast. Kyaukpyu has been chosen as the site for a new deepwater port.
This route is said to be more convenient than continuing down the Irrawaddy
and via the Twante Canal to Rangoon.

Initially, Rangoon intended to let the Chinese build the Kyaukpyu port.
However, that idea seems to have been thwarted by Singapore business
interests. Reports from Burma indicate that at least two Singaporean
construction companies have succeeded in getting contracts to build the port
and adjacent facilities.

But as a Bangkok-based military analyst points out, it doesn't really matter
who builds which links: China is bound to be the beneficiary. Furthermore,
in March, Beijing signed a 30-year agreement with Rangoon that allows more
than 200 Chinese fishing boats to operate in Burmese waters. A Rangoon-based
diplomat says it was quite a coup for the Chinese to bag this kind of deal,
which used to go mainly to the Thais and Singaporeans.

The fishing pact is only one indication of China's increasing influence not
only with Burma but also with the entire region. Says Indian defence analyst
Bhaskar: "China today wields more influence in Southeast, South and Central
Asia than at any time since the height of the Qing power in the 18th century."

Indeed, not since the legendary Ming Dynasty admiral Zheng He's expeditions
in the 15th century has China been closer to becoming a major maritime
power. And that has raised ancient fears in the smaller countries of
Southeast Asia. 


November 6, 1997
By Bertil Lintner in Bangkok

Dirty money takes a tortuous path

When Alan Tam visited the same Sydney bank on consecutive days to send money
to Hong Kong, some of the staff smelled a rat. What aroused their suspicion
was the amount Tam sent each time: just less than A$10,000, the threshold at
which banks must report a transfer out of Australia.

The police were called in, and surveillance showed Tam was part of a gang
distributing heroin imported from Thailand. During the operation, the police
seized 56 kilograms of heroin worth around A$10 million (then about $7.5
million). In Australia's first success against a major organized heroin
ring, Tam and another gang member, both Canadians of Hong Kong origin,
pleaded guilty earlier this year to drug-supply and money laundering charges.

But how much heroin is still missing (up to 250 kilograms may have been
imported before the gang's arrest) and where are the proceeds?

"We're talking 40 to 50 million dollars," complains a Sydney police officer.
"The money could still be in a container in someone's garden or it could
have been hand-carried to some tax haven or financial centre in the Pacific."

If it's in the South Pacific, it's probably beyond reach. Australian law
enforcers say millions of dollars in drug money is sitting in island banks
in the names of trusts and shelf companies, protected by impenetrable
secrecy laws.

Australia has had only limited success in stopping the import of drugs,
particularly heroin. In addition, it can do little to prevent the proceeds
leaving the country_typically the first step in laundering cash to remove
traces of its illegitimate background. In a circuitous operation designed to
foil surveillance, dirty money will probably pass through a South Pacific
financial centre, and then return to Australia, perhaps to finance a
legitimate asset or business such as a Sydney harbourside villa or a restaurant.

Law enforcers face a mix of technology and tradition in their fight against
laundering. These days wire transfers move money around the world instantly.
But money-launderers also use tried-and-trusted channels such as underground
Asian banking networks controlled mainly by Overseas Chinese.

Take the example of Burmese heroin smuggled into Australia. The smugglers
might ship their cash out in suitcases or machinery crates (see step 2 in
the chart) or_less risky_send out a flood of small remittances, each well
below the A$10,000 reporting threshold. Hong Kong is a favourite destination.

Here or elsewhere, the money disappears into underground networks typically
fronted by legitimate, cash-intense businesses such as gold or jewellery
shops. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,
"heroin-traffickers can transfer $500,000 from Hong Kong or Bangkok within
hours simply by visiting a gold shop." From Bangkok, the money can be wired
to Chiang Mai and forwarded to the Burmese drug producers (step 3).

For money transiting Hong Kong, where banking surveillance has been
tightened in recent years, another ruse is to launder cash in nearby Macau
(step 4). A courier hops on the jetfoil, changes cash or small bank drafts
into gambling chips in one of the enclave's casinos, spends a few at the
gaming tables_and then exchanges the rest for a legally clean cheque.

A source close to the scene in Macau claims some casino managers sell a
different kind of chip to money launderers, who have to pay a commission.
"But such minor expenses are part of the business," says the source. The
cheque can be deposited legally in any Hong Kong bank, and, if questions are
raised, the casino manager will happily testify that his client had a lucky
day at the gaming table.

Once the cleaned-up cash has entered the official banking system, it can be
moved quickly into a variety of financial instruments and accounts.

That's where the Pacific banking havens come into the picture. From Hong
Kong, solicitors may place the funds in offshore trusts (step 5), adding to
the web of complex financial transactions that are a vital part of money
laundering. The South Pacific islands' strict bank secrecy_and the
unwillingness of their governments to investigate the sources of the
money_make detection almost impossible.

And that makes buying the Sydney harbourside villa a formality (step 6).


October 31, 1997

BURMA yesterday agreed to consider Thailand's request to free Thai prisoners
held in Burmese jails as a goodwill gesture to coincide with His Majesty the
King's birthday on Dec 5, Foreign Minister Prachuab Chaiyasan said.

Speaking from Rangoon, Prachuab said Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, secretary-general of
the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc), had told him
that Rangoon would consider the request.

Prachuab, who returned to Bangkok last night from a two-day official trip to
Burma, said there are over 700 Thai nationals in Burmese jails.

International human rights groups have strongly criticised Burma for its
treatment of prisoners and the appalling conditions of its prisons.

The fate of Thais jailed in Burma made headlines in the press here recently
when the Thai military said they would bring up the issue with Slorc during
a visit to Burma by Army chief Gen Chettha Thanajaro.

The foreign minister also said Khin Nyunt agreed in principle to set up a
mechanism to channel information between the two countries at various
government levels to better the international community's understanding of
political and democratic development in Burma.

Prachuab added that Slorc chairman Gen Than Shwe thanked Thailand's effort
in urging the European Union (EU) to allow Burma to participate in the
upcoming ministerial-level meeting between the EU and Asean. The meeting is
scheduled to be held in Bangkok from Nov 17 to 19.

The EU's decision was seen as a compromise between the two regional
groupings who differ on how Rangoon should be treated because of its human
rights record.

Burma and Laos will only be allowed to sit in on the upcoming Bangkok
meeting as "passive observers" as neither country is a signatory to the 1980
Asean-EU Cooperation Agreement.


October 31, 1997

[This statement was received by BurmaNet and has been slightly corrected for
easier reading.]

We firmly denounce the following Chinese policies and relations with SLORC,
the military tyranny of Burma:

	1. Building a military base in Burma without people's approval
	2. Selling weapons to SLORC
	3. Conducting business with the military leaders without regard for 
	    the real interests of the people and the restoration of democracy
	4. Granting loans to SLORC which will prolong SLORC's power
	5. Using Burma as a base and tool for the expansion of Chinese power
	    in the Asia-Pacific region
	6. Cooperating with the SLORC in drug trafficking

The above policies are unwise, as they promote the people adopting negative
attitudes, and tend to undermine the historical friendship between China and

If China truly aims to promote a long term commitment to friendly relations
between Burma and China, the Chinese government should take the following

	1. Withdraw the military base from Burmese soil
	2. Stop official and unofficial arms supplies from reaching SLORC 
	3. Withhold loans from Burma until there is democracy in Burma
	4. End all cooperation with the military tyrants in Burma



October 31, 1997
Supamart Kasem - Mae Sot, Tak

Fresh bid to cope with migrants rendered jobless

The Police Department has proposed the establishment of four holding centres
for Burmese migrants pending deportation, a senior police officer said

The proposal came as a large number of Burmese workers flocked to border
provinces after they lost their jobs, said Pornsak Durongkavibul, deputy
police director-general.

The centres are to be set up in Mae Sot, Chiang Rai's Mae Sai, Kanchanaburi
and Ranong provinces.

He said the proposal is under the consideration of the Interior Ministry.

Immigration police, border police, military officers and local
administration officials will be assigned to do the job.

Burmese aliens whose work permits have expired and those who illegally
entered the country will be sent to the centres before deportation, he said.

"Police will closely cooperate with the Third Army Region which is
responsible for security along the border." he added.

He said police are concerned about illegal entry and the stream of alien
workers leaving the country will help minimise national security problems.

Pol Gen Pornsak said he has ordered police to take legal action against
illegal migrants and those who smuggle in and provide shelter to illegal aliens.

Tak police yesterday reported that from January to October this year, a
total of 8,098 people have been arrested for illegal entry.

They said police are short of a budget to feed the inmates and that police
are forced to allocate some of their own allowances to buy food for them.

Immigration officials welcomed the proposed establishment of the centres,
saying the new shelters would help accommodate alien workers and solve the
problem of overcrowded prisons.


Inside Indonesia no. 42, October-December 1997
Andreas Harsono

ANDREAS HARSONO visits Burma and is intrigued by the respect its
military show for the Indonesian model.

The mouthpiece of the Burmese military regime, the New Light of Myanmar 
newspaper, in mid-1996 dubbed the relationship between Indonesia and Burma 
'two nations with common identity'. 

Official visits between the two governments have increased sharply since 1993. 
They marked not only the progress in Burma-Indonesia diplomatic ties but also 
the growing eagerness of the Burmese junta to copy the political system of its 
more established neighbour. 

'No other country is closer to the regime than Indonesia,' said a senior Asian 
diplomat in Rangoon, adding that Indonesia is like 'a big brother' in the
eyes of 
the Burmese generals. 

The newspaper repeatedly praised the positive economic and political 
development in Indonesia, where the Indonesian military has the dual function 
of protecting the security of the state while dominating party politics as

High profile visits

Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and Defence Minister Edi Sudrajat visited 
Rangoon in February 1994 and November 1995 respectively. In August 1994 
businessman Hutomo Mandala Putra of the Humpuss business group, the 
youngest son of President Suharto, also led a high-profile business
delegation to 

The Indonesian patriarch himself visited Burma in February 1997 in a high-
profile tour during which Suharto again reiterated the fundamental creed of the 
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean): 'We should not interfere in the 
affairs of our neighbours.'

His eldest daughter, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, who is also an influential 
political figure in Indonesia, accompanied her father to sign some business 
deals in Rangoon. Suharto even went to have a chat with Burmese behind-the-
scene strongman Gen Ne Win, whom he once visited in 1974. 

In return, earlier Slorc leader Senior Gen Than Shwe met Suharto in Jakarta in 
June 1995, while his aide, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, who heads the intelligence 
service, traveled more frequently to Jakarta. 

The Burmese embassy in Jakarta is the largest among Burmese embassies in 
Southeast Asia, demonstrating that Jakarta is a crucial relationship for the 
Slorc. The Burmese ambassador to Jakarta, U Nyi Nyi Tant, a close associate of 
Khin Nyunt, is portrayed as the spearhead of his nation's lobbying efforts in 
Jakarta, which also hosts the secretariat, or headquarters, of Asean. 


Why does Burma do it? Why does the Slorc want to copy the Indonesian New 

The easiest explanation is that both countries are ruled by military men. 
Southeast Asia, to which Burma belongs, has several authoritarian 
governments but only one military ruler to duplicate: Indonesia. 

Despite homework still to solve a serious socio-economic gap, and despite the 
potential for a major religious conflict and political unrest, Indonesia is
seen as one of Asia's success stories. 

Burma, on the contrary, is a pariah, one of the most brutal regimes in the 
world. It is currently under stiff international criticism and sanctions
after its 
refusal to transfer power to opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi of the National 
League for Democracy, who won the general election in 1990. 

The Slorc is trying to show the international community that it is also a 
responsible government which is going to bring order and prosperity in Burma. 
But, the junta argues, first they need to silence the opposition to create
stability in Burma - just as the Indonesians did in the 1970s. 

Indonesian ambassador to Burma, A Poerwanto Lenggono, said in November 
1996 that the Burmese government would like to imitate the New Order of 
President Suharto's government in three key areas: the Indonesian state 
ideology, Pancasila, the 1945 constitution and the dual function of the

Dual function

'We didn't ask them. They imported the whole lesson, saying that they would 
like to learn from us. They are welcome, but we told them that each country has 
its own characteristics. Our experience could be adopted here [only] in 
accordance with the local values,' said Lenggono. 

Burmese veteran journalist M C Tun confirmed that the Slorc had published 
the Indonesian constitution in Burmese. 'They asked people to learn from it 
while drafting the Burmese constitution,' he said. 

Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt once indicated that as soon as the new constitution was 
drawn up, the Burmese armed forces, tatmadaw, which is currently ruling by 
decree, would hand over power to a civilian government. 

One of his close associates, Brig-Gen David O Abel, said that the Slorc learns 
not only from Indonesia but also the 'miracle' of South Korea and other Newly 
Industrialised Countries. 'We can learn many good things on these studies 
especially Indonesia. We fought against the colonialists also to establish 
Myanmar. With that objective and inspiration we look at Indonesia as a model.
How Indonesia gets the people united over 200 million.'

Despite skepticism over whether the Slorc intends to hand over power to the 
National League for Democracy of Suu Kyi, it is believed in Burma that the 
Indonesian constitution provides room for the military to be involved in 

Suu Kyi and Megawati

Of course Suu Kyi has a 'counterpart' in Indonesia. Both Suu Kyi and 
Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri are leading pro-
democracy activists in the region. And both are the daughters of charismatic 
fathers - President Sukarno and General Aung San - who helped free Indonesia 
and Burma respectively from their colonial masters after World War II. 

Both daughters have emerged from the shadows of their fathers to lead 
opposition to two of the strongest military rulers in Southeast Asia: Megawati 
against President Suharto's 'New Order' in Indonesia, and Suu Kyi against the 
State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) in Burma. 

'Perhaps the similarity is that we are trying to contribute something for the 
future of our nations,' said Megawati, admitting that most people recognise a 
woman like her because of their fathers and their womanhood. 

She said that both she and Suu Kyi have not only their fathers' name but also 
their own political struggles, stamina and determination. 'Who is Megawati 
without the name of Sukarno? I cannot deny that, but it is not only a matter of 
the surname. It depends on our personal abilities and opportunities as well,'
said Megawati. 

Their opponents, however, often fail to realise that these women have their own 
political strength. In a bid to downgrade their political influence, their
opponents pressured their media to use the names of Mrs Megawati Taufik-
kiemas and Mrs Michael Aris, after their respective husbands Indonesian
businessman, Taufik Kiemas and British scholar Dr Michael Aris, rather than 
their maiden names, which connect them to their fathers in the public's mind. 


Suu Kyi herself said that one of the most visible differences between the Slorc 
and the New Order is the employment of western-educated technocrats such as 
economists and social engineer . 'The Slorc does not trust intellectuals,' the 
winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace prize said. 'Intellectuals who are trying to say
something rational could be easily accused of planning a plot against them. 
They could end up in jail.' 

President Suharto has worked closely with Indonesian technocrats since he rose 
to power in 1965. He led the military's work on political issues while the 
economists drafted all monetary and economic policy. 

Most of those, like Prof Widjojo Nitisastro, who headed the economic team, 
were alumni of University of Berkeley of the United States. Critics later
them 'Berkeley Mafia' because of their shrouded but effective influence over
national development policy. 

The Slorc, however, has nobody like Prof Nitisastro on their team. Asian 
diplomats to Rangoon call most of the Slorc generals 'ignorant,' although Khin 
Nyunt and Minister for National Planning and Economic Development Brig-
Gen David Abel have both won kudos because of their workaholic personalities. 

'Abel is the smartest guy within the Slorc. Khin Nyunt is not really smart, but 
he is a workaholic. He knows a lot because he heads the intelligence service,' 
said a diplomat. 

An observer in Jakarta said it is impossible for the Slorc to follow the 
Indonesian path if they do not use technocrats. 'As long as we are talking
free markets and capitalism, which I believe is being implemented by the Slorc 
now, we have to use the technocrats.' 

Bandung 1955

Megawati cautiously said that the Slorc brought Burma far from the spirit of 
the Asia-Africa Declaration signed in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955 by world 
leaders from Asia and Africa. 'Democracy is partly the idea of independence. It 
is true now that Burma has no democracy and that we should help Burmese
people to fight for democracy.' 

'It doesn't mean that I want to interfere in Burma's internal affairs, but the 
common platform is the Asia-Africa Declaration. We have to remind the Slorc 
about the spirit of the declaration.'

'If we compare Burma and South Africa in 1955, we realise that now Burma is 
left far behind, while South Africa under President Nelson Mandela has already 
solved its most crucial problem and prepared to face globalisation.' 


Others said that the Slorc's attempt was merely a tactic to seek help from 
Indonesia to sponsor Burmese membership in Asean, which was opposed by 
several member nations. 

The Slorc was believed to be 'more than eager' to join Asean in a bid to get a 
measure of regional support while it faced international condemnation from 
Western countries like the United States, and European countries that have 
sometimes imposed official bans to discourage investment in Burma. 

Asean members - which include Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, 
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - were divided on the timing of the Burmese 
membership. Indonesia and Malaysia agreed on letting Burma join Asean in 
1998, while the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore had reservations. But they
finally agreed in an informal meeting in November 1996 in Jakarta to welcome 
Burma as well as Cambodia and Laos in 1998. 

When Asean countries officially accepted Burma to join their ranks in an 
Asean summit in Kuala Lumpur in July 1997, many felt it would send a 
dangerous signal to Rangoon that it could continue to ignore demands for the 
transfer of power to civilians and to abuse human rights. Indonesia, at that 
point, would share the responsibility and blame.

Andreas Harsono is a freelance journalist in Jakarta.



October 30, 1997
Nussara Sawatsawang

Europe clearly had monetary interests in mind when it joined Asem, but
things are no longer as rosy as they were in many Asian dialogue partner

Senior officials from 25 Asian and European countries meet in Luxembourg
today to pave  the way for a- second summit of their leaders as the
financial troubles being experienced by four Southeast Asian member states
threaten to mar the partnership.

At the Oct 30-31 talks, which serve as the preliminary to the Asia-Europe
Meeting (Asem) set for London on April 3-4, 1998, officials will try to
chart the forum's course into the next millennium and tackle the question of
enlarging their membership.

Thailand, which hosted the inaugural summit in March 1996, will be
represented by Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Saroj ChavanaviraJ.

Thailand joins six other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations Brunei, Indonesia Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam
as well as China, Japan and South Korea in making up the forum's 10 Asian
member states. Europe is represented by the 15 member states of the  European
Union: Austria, Belgium, Denmark Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland,
Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

The EU, according to its own statement, was persuaded to join Asem and
thereby secure a bigger role in the region by "the rapid and sustained
growth of the Asian economies, and their increasing weight in world trade
and investment flows..

But the future may not be so bright as Indonesia Malaysia, the Philippines
and Thailand find themselves in financial straits, with currencies unsteady
since the floating of the baht on July 2.

Thailand alone finds it difficult to maintain growth at 1.5 percent of gross
domestic product, instead of the 7-8 percent of previous years, after the
country came under a $17.2 billion austerity assistance package arranged by
the International Monetary Fund.

"Clearly it's very discouraging [for foreign investors]," said an EU
official in a recent interview in Brussels.

But other analysts and officials in Europe argue that the Southeast Asian
crisis will not last long and Asem is still young and just started
getting-to-know you dialogues. It's unclear which direction the new linkage
will go, they say.

Since Asem's launch, ministers for economic, finance and foreign affairs
have exchanged views at separate talks, while private businessmen have come
together at the Asia-Europe Business Forum, and think tanks and cultural
groups under the Asia-Europe Foundation.

An Investment Promotion Action Plan was endorsed recently by economic
ministers but no rules and timeframe were laid down for binding country members.

Asem is a "comprehensive, longterm and organic" process  which requires time
to build understanding among each other said Rolf Mafael, a European
Commission external relations and commercial policy official.

He expressed hope that the future of Asem would be clearer next April after
the setting up of a Vision Group comprising leading scholars and businessmen
to outline a strategy for the next century.

Gwyn Morgan, the head of the European Commission's Southeast Asia unit, said
the London summit needed to find ways to coordinate and highlight the work
of those organisations now in place in order to set the momentum for the
third summit in Seoul in 2000.

That includes new membership, with the senior officials in Luxembourg to
hear a list of who is knocking at their door.

Australia, New Zealand, India and Pakistan are candidates for Asia, while
Norway, Switzerland, Russia and some Eastern Europe states, including
Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Tajikistan, want to join Asem from
the Europe side.

There is no criteria for new members, but a decision will have to be made by
consensus from both sides and so an invitation will not be extended

Another issue which needs to be resolved involves Burma, which, together
with Laos, was admitted to Asean in July.

The EU has made it clear it will not associate with the military regime
known as the State Law and Order Restoration Council unless it shows some
progress on democracy and human rights protection.

Thai officials, however, are under the impression that Asean will make Burma
and Laos priority membership candidates in a bid to show solidarity and that
they are non-discriminatory.

"But the important thing," according to Mr Mafael, "is how Asia creates the
regional structure," referring to coordination between Asean and China,
Japan and South Korea.

Rita Beuter, an analyst with the European Institute for Public
Administration in Maastricht, Holland, was confident Asean's push for Burma
to join Asem would not endanger Asia Europe relations.

Sour relations would jeopardise European plans to compete with the United
States in Asia. The prime target is China, a country with a market made up
of 1.2 billion people. It is thought to surpass Japan and the US as the
biggest economy in the coming century.

Asem gives the EU the chance to engage Beijing closely and to balance the
influence of the US, which plays a key role in the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation forum (Apec).

Apec, an exclusive club for Asian and the Pacific countries, is evolving
gradually with the aim of achieving trade liberalisation by 2020. It brings
together 18 Pacific-rim nations including the United States, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Asean.

EU officials say there is room for European countries to boost trade and
investment with China, which remains low.

According to Eurostat, the statistical office for the EC, EU-China trade has
been increasing gradually but it still remains low. Europe's trade with
China was worth only  40.9 billion ecu (1,206 billion baht) in 1995 and 44.7
billion ecu (1,319 billion baht) in 1996, less than that with Asean which
was worth 69.7 billion ecu (2,056 billion baht) in 1995 and 76.4 billion ecu
(2,254 billion baht) last year.

Direct EU investment in China amounted to 799 million ecu (23.6 billion
baht) between 1992 and 1994, lower than that in Malaysia, the Philippines'
and Thailand, which together totalled 2.76 billion ecu (81.4 billion baht)
during the same year. .

"China's prospective is very good," said Mr Morgan.


October 31, 1997
Shan Herald Agency For News - Chiang Mai

Having learned that Prachuab Chaiyasarn, Thailand's foreign minister, is in
Burma to strengthen relationships with Slorc, we are sending him the
following excerpt from the minutes of a meeting between retired President U
Ne Win, Lt Gen Khin Nyunt and Foreign Minister U Ohn Gyaw, dated July 31,
1994. Although over three years old, it is still relevant today to remind
him what he is up against in Rangoon.

"As I have told you, Thailand cannot be trusted. It has a fire-brand in one
hand and a water scoop in the other. It seemed as if they wanted to invite
Burma to the Asean meeting, but in fact they just wanted to humiliate us.
The other neighbouring countries also cannot be trusted."