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The BurmaNet news, December 1, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------     
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"     
The BurmaNet News: December 1, 1997        
Issue # 881


November 29, 1997 


The Thai-Burmese gas pipeline has been mishandled from the beginning, senior
officials of the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) confess. But this
awakening does nothing to resolve the conflict over the controversial
project. Kamol Sukin reports.

Controversy has surrounded the Yadana gas pipeline since it first
began, and with construction of the first half complete -140  kilometres of
the 260-km route is now in place - the conflict is nowhere near a resolution.

If anything, the second half is proving more contentious than ever as it
enters protected forest land - and its progress is being closely monitored
by opposition groups.

"It is true that we are worried about opposition to the building of the rest
of the ! pipeline because it will pass through about 50 km of the forest
conservation area," admitted Songkiat Thansamrit, PTT director of public

Songkiat last year expressed the opinion that all opposition to the pipeline
was political or insincere, but he now admits that there is something wrong
with  the way the project has been run - mistakes he explains that are
outside the PTT's authority to correct.
There was no public participation in the project, from its inception to its
construction, Songkiat said. And there are many people who believe it is the
wrong direction to go for energy sector development.

"If there was a second similar pipeline project I'm sure that we would not
run it this way, but would allow more public participation from the very
beginning," he f said.

PTT's PR team, headed by Songkiat, is now trying to convince the media that
things have changed for the better. Their well-prepared presentation
contains a lot of promises about minimising the environmental impact of
pushing the pipeline through the forest.

New and more expensive technology is being employed. The company is also
promising to answer the many questions raised by the opposition groups. It
intends to send a team of eight conservationists to advise those building
the pipeline about the best ways to avoid disrupting the ecology. PTT is
also suggesting that villagers be prohibited from hunting.

"We have been asked frequently how  many of these promises we can really
deliver," Songkiat said, but he did not explain much except to make a
further promise ; that PTT would try to do its best.

But all promises are dismissed as "cosmetic" by the pipeline's opponents who
argue that the project has been on the wrong track from the beginning.

The most interesting development, however, is that the attitude of the
pipeline management towards the opposition t groups, which include
Kanchanaburi villagers, environmental activists and academics, seems to have
changed during the -past year.

We accept that we have learned many things from the pipeline's opponents.
Some we had never thought about before, like the pipeline will divide the
forest into two parts," Songkiat said.

"Many points raised by the groups are reasonable and should be listened to."

But a simple change of attitude does not mean that things will automatically
be better. 

Songkiat said the demands that construction of the pipeline cease while the
project is reviewed and answers are sought to problems raised puts the PTT
in an awkward position.

The PTT's role in the project did not begin until all agreements- had been
put in place and the contracts concluded. 
"We were caught between the gas producer [the Burmese government] and the
consumer [the Electricity Authority of Thailand (Egat). Both sides have
contracts with the PTT for construction of the pipeline, including a
deadline," he said.

"If there have been mistakes made, then the review needs to go back to the
very start of the project, when we committed to buy the natural gas from
Burma, and this is not within the full authority of PTT."

Songkiat said the way the project was handled from the start caused problems.

The public was not informed until after the pipeline had been approved by
the Cabinet, a decision which was hardly likely to be reviewed, and no funds
were made available for impact studies until after it had been given the
green light.

The decision-making process on whether the project was  viable was known
only to the authorities and whenever problems occurred there was no
mechanism to make changes, he explained.

In light of the economic crisis, the project's viability was no longer a
matter even for debate because with the collapse of the baht the cost had
risen way beyond the original estimate of Bt16.5 billion.

PTT needs to raise about 70 per cent of the money through foreign loans and
the issuing of domestic bonds. Songkiat declined to even attempt an estimate
of the final cost of the project.

So neither the economic viability nor the social and environmental impact of
the gas pipeline are likely to be reconsidered by either PTT or the government.

No one wants to take a fresh look into these issues because they still
believe that the project is necessary, according to officials.

The new government has shown no interest in taking up the matter,  even
though Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai vas at the head of the former cabinet
which started negotiations for the project two years ago.

Opponents of the pipeline plan a public gathering very soon to demand the
government make its position clear. Previous attempts to begin talks failed.
Last month the Chavalit government declined to send a minister with full
authority to negotiate.

The same questions about the project are still being raised by the same
groups of people. And despite the talk of good intentions and lessons
learned there is no clear sign of a change in the making.


November 29, 1997

The National Security Council has admitted that the policy of registering
alien workers and clamping down on illegal entries has failed. 

The NSC's admission came a day after the House Committee on Labour and
Social Welfare called on the government to repatriate all immigrant workers
because they were forcing a rising number of Thais out of work.

Deputy secretary-general Khachadpai Burusapatana said the number of alien
workers registered had fallen short of target only 290,000-300,000 workers
had registered by November last year out of an estimated 700,000.

The cabinet last year allowed immigrant workers to work in 43 of the
country's 72 provinces. The Interior Ministry also ordered in June last year
that employers register them with the authorities between September and
November last year. They would then be allowed to work for two years before
being repatriated.

The Interior Ministry recently proposed that the registration period be
extended to allow more to sign up.

However, the proposal was criticised by Thai labour unions and the House
Committee on Labour and Social Welfare which argued that alien workers would
dominate the labour market and lead to Thais losing their jobs to low-wage
workers, mostly from Burma, Laos, and Cambodia.

The House committee yesterday said there were now one million illegal
immigrants in the country.

The NSC deputy secretary-general urged the government to review its policy
on alien worker registration, saying it failed to control illegal entries.

The policy had encouraged immigrants, particularly from Burma, to enter the
country illegally in the hope of a better future, said Mr Khachadpai, adding
that Burmese workers sneaked into the country via 75 border passes.

"As long as our neighbouring countries are stricken with poverty, drought,
and internal problems, there will continue to be an influx of rural poor
into our country. We have to spend a huge sum of money to crack down on
these illegal workers every year.

Now it's time to jointly draw up concrete measures to solve the illegal
entry problems," said the NSC chief.

Commenting on the Labour and Social Welfare Ministry's estimate. that the
number of alien workers is as high as one million people, the NSC
secretary-general said official surveys had been unable to establish the
exact number.

The House Committee on Labour and Social Welfare has also urged agencies
concerned to repatriate nonregistered alien workers for the sake of the
rising number of jobless Thais.



November 30, 1997



It was Tazaungdei Pwe, the festival of lights, but most Burmese were too
preoccupied with political events to enjoy the celebration fully.

An official radio bulletin had announced the nine-year-old State Law and
Order Restoration Council had been dissolved and replaced by the State Peace
and  Development Council (SPDC). The announcement surprised many Burmese.

They had mixed feelings about the unexpected change, but for most Burmese,
the SPDC isn't any more welcome than its predecessor.

"The country has suffered enough under 35 years of military rule. We don't
need more military dictatorship by a new name," said a politically active
student in Rangoon.

U Nyan Linn, about 45, was not surprised. "Changing the name doesn't mean
anything," he said.

"The old guys are paving the way for a younger generation to enjoy the state
treasures because they're full," he joked.

The old Slorc was officially replaced by the SPDC on Nov 15.

Of its 19 members, 15 are high-ranking army, navy, air force or regional
commanders. The government also formed a new 40-member cabinet.
Lt Gen Khin Nyunt, who retained his position as secretary one, announced
that the government had set up two new ministries - electric power and
military affairs.

Several senior Slorc members were shifted to a newly created advisory board,
presumably to inactive posts.

Though fresh faces were brought into the cabinet and the new ruling body,
four of 'the most powerful generals - Sen Gen Than Shwe, Gen Maung Aye, Lt
Gen Khin Nyunt and Lt Gen Tin Oo - kept their top jobs. Two other top army
men were also brought into senior positions.

Lt Gen Win Myint was given the newly created Secretary Three position.

Win Myint headed the 11th Battalion in 1989, later becoming adjutant
general. He is believed to be close to Khin Nyunt.

The swiftness of his rise surprised even some generals, Rangoon-based
analysts said.

To appease the other generals, the SPDC  established a new ministry military
affairs. The ministry is headed by Lt Gen Tin Hla.

Tin Hla's background is blood-tainted. During the 1988 uprising, he led the
22nd Battalion which earned notoriety as the most active unit in killing
anti-government demonstrators. But for the intelligence chief the two
generals are priceless allies.

Analysts speculated that Ne Win had asked Khin Nyunt and the three other
generals to "purge" some of the corrupt ministers and bring in more new faces.

The intelligence faction was the big winner.

"The army and intelligence factions have been at loggerheads for decades,
but in the past, the army faction always defeated the intelligence. Now it
is the opposite," said an analyst. Because of this, some opponents in exile
see the new body as a ploy aimed at simply resolving rifts within the military.

The SPDC was formed not to resolve the country's current political problems
but just to resolve the military's own internal conflicts," said Moe Thee
Zun, vice chairman of the All Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF).

While it appears Khin Nyunt's faction has gained the upper hand, some Burma
watchers predicted that division commanders loyal to Maung Aye will not let
the intelligence faction take control of the nation.

Bangkok-based journalist Bertil Lintner commented, 'Although Khin Nyunt's
rivals Tin Oo and Maung Aye remained in their previous positions, if you
look at the new list further down you would see more of Khin Nyunt's men
than Maung Aye's."

Maung Aye is vice-chairman and Tin Oo is Secretary Two of the SPDC.

Khin Nyunt's former rivals Kyaw Ba and Tun Kyi were noticeably  shifted to
the advisory board. It is believed that trade minister Tun Kyi, who has a
reputation among Burmese as the most corrupt minister in the government, was
placed under investigation. - 

Sources in Rangoon reported that at least four former cabinet ministers
including Tun Kyi were briefly detained.

"But we are not sure what and how tough the action will be against them,"
said one in Rangoon. The new trade and commerce minister, Lt Gen Kyaw Than,
fired several senior officials in the department. "We hope it is good for
business," said a businessman, adding that local businessmen are quite happy
with the 'punishment".

Some regional analysts believe that Burma's two important trade partners in
the region - Singapore and Indonesia nudged the generals for the new appearance.

Lt Gen Khin Nyunt recently paid a visit to Singapore, where he was told that
his regime needed to make a few changes if -it wanted to attract more
foreign investment. Singapore businessmen also complained about the red tape
and corruption among Slorc cabinet ministers, mainly Tun Kyi and Kyaw Ba.

Burmese at home and abroad suggested that the new ruling body represents
nothing more than  a cosmetic change. "They have no intention to restore
democracy to Burma but only to strengthen their grip on power," charged Moe
Thee Zun.

"For most ordinary Burmese, there is no dramatic change  as long as the SPDC
continues to practice previous repressive rule." He added that the SPDC did
not announce its new policies thus will stick to the previous regime's line.
"It's purely cosmetic," he said.

However, political analysts in Rangoon and Bangkok watched the developments
carefully. Indeed, many factors are involved in the recent emergence of the
SPDC. Slorc watchers said the changes are related to worsening economic
problems  and  the presence of  unskilled and corrupt  ministers in
important ministries.

Furthermore, there is a strong likelihood of a food shortage next year
because of heavy floods in the Irrawaddy delta as well as in pegu and Mon
Thus the junta could face another possible uprising as people grow
increasingly frustrated with their daily hardships.

"They realised that in order to remain in power they needed a major shake-up
and to polish their image," a political analyst in Rangoon said of the generals.

"The outside pressure is also  working, he said.

The generals want to repair their pariah image to attract foreign investment
and aid.

"It is understandable that after Burma became a member of Asean it would
need  to heed the grouping's advice," a Bangkok based diplomat said.

Burma joined Asean in July but continues to face stumbling blocks in the
international arena as it has yet to undertake any genuine political or
economic reform.

Last week, the state-run media reported that the changes were designed to
foster "the emergence of disciplined democracy in the country- and to build
up a peaceful developed nation." Many Burmese are not convinced that a
democracy is about to be restored by the hands of the generals.

The former regime, said an independent analyst in Rangoon, had no time to
concentrate on its own  politics. "Particularly, since the National League
for Democracy pulled out of the national convention [in 1996], the Slorc was
in defensive position."

He said over the past two years the Slorc has not been able to make any
political and economic achievements as the regime was preoccupied chasing
its opponents. Internally, the regime has at least. five opponents the
traditionally active students, monks, opposition groups, ethnic rebels and
the general public who are displeased with high inflation and  other
hardships. "The new junta wants to play a dominant role in politics rather
than  reacting and wasting time with the opponents," the analyst said.

He predicted that the SPDC would continue to seek to marginalise
the opposition  groups including the NLD. "They will continue to
play cat and mouse games so that Aung San Suu Kyi and the party
will  be exhausted and look powerless."

The new junta might not apply force but it will use more cunning
ways of dividing and weakening the movement, he said.

The SPDC might even invite Suu Kyi to the negotiating table but only  after
weakening the party. In this case, one of SPDC's preconditions will be
"guided  democracy", he predicted. Be that as it may, ordinary Burmese
people have little faith ;; in the new ruling body.

"It's like the Burmese saying, "no matter how many times a snake sloughs off
its skin, it is still poisonous," said the ABSDF's Moe Thee Zun.
"Although, I do believe that the SPDC will be the last military-led body,"
he added.



November 30, 1997


Former drug warlord Khun Sa has urged anti-Rangoon Shan people to surrender
to the Burmese government following a battle between thousands of Shan
troops and Burmese soldiers in central Shan State earlier this month.

According to a Thai border official from Mae Hong Son, Khun Sa said in a
radio broadcast monitored in Thai-Burmese border areas on November 10 that
he wanted Shan ethnic groups to disarm and cooperate with Rangoon to create
peace in Burma.

The broadcast was made after over 2,000 Shan State Army (SSA), Shan State
National Army (SSNA) and Shan United. Revolutionary Army (SURA) forces
attacked  strongholds of Burmese troops in Muang Kung and Muang  Laika in
central Shan State during November 8-9 and managed to take over two towns
from Rangoon troops.

Shan rebels joined forces to fight the Burmese troops after Burmese soldiers
robbed agricultural products and valuables from people in central Shan State
who had long backed Shan nationalist movements, the source said.

The source added that Shan people were dissatisfied with the former drug
kingpin's statement, saying Khun Sa was a betrayer, for he and his Mong Tai
Army had yielded to Rangoon and also supported Burmese troops.

Khun Sa planned to seek approval from the Burmese government for him and his
family to stay outside a military camp in Rangoon soon, the source added.

Earlier, many Shan people who had long fought for the independence of Shan
State had agreed to surrender to Rangoon but no ceasefire agreement has been
reached yet.



November 30, 1997

Letter to the Editor

In 1962, the generals in Rangoon, in a swift coup d'etat, threw out the
elected civilian government and presented themselves as the Revolutionary
Council. With most of the elected democratic leaders thrown into prison and
denied medical treatment, the generals proceeded to plunder the nation.
Seeking a modicum of some international legitimacy, they  wrote themselves a
constitution and continued their reign of terror in mufti as the Burmese
Socialist Programme Party.

Under the banner of "The Burmese Way to Socialism", the generals continued
to oppress the people, destroy every vestige of democracy and take the
nation into economic ruin. As with most authoritarian regimes, the
leadership punished those who brought bad news resulting from its
decision-making. Soon, the statistics upon which policy decisions were being
made were inaccurate which only magnified the miserable performance of the

In 1988 the brutal military regime realised that the Burmese people were fed
up with the stupidity, incompetence and corruption of the "Burmese Socialist
Programme Party". With millions of people demonstrating against the regime
in every town and village throughout Burma, it didn't take a rocket
scientist to conclude the BSPP was finished.

After only a few months, the generals in Rangoon finally caught on to the
winds of change. After a brief period of consultation with the discredited U
Ne Win (Shu Maung), it was decided to change costumes once again. This time
they discarded their mufti and returned to Army green and slipped into their
shiny boots and proclaimed themselves the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc).

To people capable of rational thinking, the absurdity of thugs adopting the
title of "State Law and Order Restoration Council" was obvious. Here was a
group that destroyed the rule of law in Burma. It actively promoted
lawlessness. It even asserted that it was subject to new laws.

Constantly ranting and raving about supposed "neo-colonialists" among
political opposition groups, it cited colonial period security laws to
justify the arrest and imprisonment of supporters for democratic reform.
>From all appearances, then, what Slorc wants to accomplish is to restore
colonialism to Burma, with the generals being the "masters".

It began its new era in 1988 with the protest by thousands of unarmed
peaceful protesters, followed by looting of natural resources on a scale
unparalleled in a region where corruption has been raised to a fine art.

Under the guidance of these generals in Rangoon, the health care delivery
system collapsed, the education system collapsed and the economy collapsed.
The only areas seeing growth were the number of prisoners held under
inhumane conditions, the infant mortality rates HIV/Aids, the number of tons
of opium harvested, hectares of mature hardwood forests subjected to clear
cutting, and incidents of gang-rape, torture, forced relocations, and
extrajudicial executions.

Now after nine years of further incompetence, corruption and bestiality,
they have once again changed their attire and have returned dressed as the
State Peace and Development Council (SDPC). As the spokesman for the
National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB) recently stated, "Over this
thirty-five years of rule, the military has changed the name of the country
three times, changed the flag once, and has adopted four different names for
its ruling body."

It is unlikely there will be any confusion between the State Peace and
Development Council as military dictatorship now wishes to call itself and
the  Political Defiance  Committee (PDC) which is the coordinating committee
of the people of Burma who oppose the tyrants in Rangoon through nonviolent

For our foreign readers, the easiest way to tell the difference is that the
PDC never  tortures the people. It never kills young men on sight in the
rural areas. It never uses forced labour or uses people as human mine
sweepers. It never engages in gangrape. 

It never has and never will fear the people of Burma. It is not corrupt.

Changing names again did not remove the blood from the hands of the thugs in
Rangoon. They remain murderers, crooks, and thugs. Peace and development can
only be achieved when they leave.
Bon Voyage!

Hla Htut, a Democrat



December 1, 1997

Agence France-Presse

KUALA LUMPLTR - Southeast Asian finance officials discussed possible curbs
on foreign exchange trading in talks here yesterday ahead of a meeting of
Asia-Pacific finance ministers, a senior Asean official said.

The official, who asked not to be named, said the meeting discussed the
"imposition of restrictions on currency trading" following the recent
collapse of several currencies across the region.

During the meeting, the officials from the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations also discussed a proposal for a regional surveillance mechanism and
the possibility of setting up an Asean fund to help members in distress. The
official said the talks were "general" and did not go into specifics.

Regional surveillance is one of the four areas covered by the "Manila
Framework" adopted during a recent meeting of Asia-Pacific deputy finance
ministers in the Philippine capital, including the United States and Japan.

The framework also calls for enhanced economic and technical cooperation,
measures to strengthen the IMF's capacity to respond to financial crises and
a cooperative financing arrangement to supplement IMF resources.

While the Manila meeting dropped plans for an exclusively Asian fund mooted
by Japan and several Southeast Asian countries, officials say they are now
considering a small Asean fund as a confidence-building measure.

Clifford Herbert, secretary-general of the Malaysian finance ministry, said
earlier the Asean fund "won't be very large" and would be separate from the
cooperative financing arrangement to supplement IMF resources.

Asean groups Brunei, Burma, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Two of its biggest members, Thailand and
Indonesia, have already sought tens of billions of dollars in international
bailout facilities led by the International Monetary Fund.



December 1, 1997

Threaten to 'close off the forest'

Supawadee Susanpoolthong

Conservation groups and their allies are threatening to "close of the
forest" to prevent the controversial Thai-Burma gas pipeline being built
through it.

They made the threat in a bid to abet the Petroleum Authority of  Thailand
(PTT) to suspend construction and start a new round of talks with them.

The groups will petition Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai on Tuesday and are
calling on the cabinet to review a resolution, passed during the previous
government, allowing construction to begin in the forest section.

They want the government to suspend work and restart talks between the
groups and the PTT. The groups claim the work has infringed the rights of
locals and damaged natural resources.

The Kanchanaburi Conservation Group and 11 conservation and human rights
groups drew up the resolution yesterday following a meeting to map out their
response to the ongoing work.

In October the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh cabinet approved the Industry
Ministry's request to revoke national park status for that section in Sai
Yok National Park through which the 260-km pipeline will pass.

Two weeks ago, the PTT started laying the pipeline in the area. The first
50-km section of the pipeline route is national park forest land, six
kilometres of which is lush forest.

Phinan Chotirosseranee, leader of the local group, accused the PTT of
violating the terms of an agreement they had reached. She said the excessive
felling of trees has occurred and that the PTT had cut a swathe of forest to
make a new l5-km road.,

Phibhop Dhongehai, secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Democracy,
said: "We'll wait five days after submitting the letter (to Premier Chuan).
If there's no response, we'll move according to the plan. We will march from
Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and close the forest to prevent the PTT from laying
the pipeline until talks are called to consider changing the route."

He said the project lacked a popular mandate because the terms of the
contract between the state company and the Burmese government had never been

"The PTT has no grounds for saying that it is liable to pay a heavy fine if
it suspends the project or cannot finish it in time because it never asked
to amend the terms of the contract even though it has the right to do so,"
he said.

The PTT has consistently claimed that it will be fined some 40 million baht
a day if it cannot take delivery of natural gas from the Yadana and Yetagun
fields by next July.

The two sides agreed to mediated talks in early November but the talks broke
down when the opposition groups demanded the presence of the industry
minister to ensure that the outcome of talks would be respected. However,
former industry minister Korn Dabbarangsi could not be persuaded to join.



December 1, 1997


Hopes that Thailand's new Democrat Party-led Government will be soft on
thousands of Burmese refugees may be dashed by the largely independent Thai
military's border-control plans.

Thailand is clearly getting nervous about the number of foreigners seeking
refuge within its borders or working illegally during the biggest economic
downturn since World War II.

Last week, a parliamentary committee recommended kicking out all illegal
immigrants - perhaps as many as a million, most of them Burmese.

Yet there are doubts over whether such an ostentatiously human-rights-minded
administration would be so brutal with "guests" who provided cheap labour
during the economic boom and may have justified fears for their safety in Burma.

Every Burmese exile remembers how new Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai allowed a
group of Nobel Peace Prize winners - including the Dalai Lama - to visit the
Thai-Burma border and protest about the lack of democracy in Burma, during
his last term of office in 1993.

Mr Chuan clearly thought that a democratic country should allow the trip,
even at the cost of annoying a neighbour and deeply irritating China by
providing a platform for the exiled Tibetan leader.

International human rights groups were relatively unconcerned that the last
Democrat-led coalition, from 1992 to 1995, would make any moves against some
120,000 "legal" Burmese refugees and the many thousands more living off the
underground economy.

A very different atmosphere prevailed when less-principled governments were
in charge. Recently ousted premier General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh had a
history of seeking business deals with Burma's junta for Thai firms.

Yet no matter how well-meaning the current Thai Government might be, it
remains in only dubious control of its borders - long the preserve of the
military for "security reasons".

The Burmese regime has been canny enough to try to exploit this crack
between policy and practice by pandering to Thai military chiefs.

Soon after Thailand hosted the Nobel Prize winners, the junta feted the then
Thai army chief in Rangoon, while giving the then foreign minister a
decidedly cool reception and revoking a number of business contracts.

"The Thai military have given up a lot but they are not ready to give up
their special rights over the border areas - and the junta knows it," said
one diplomat.

The junta has repeatedly called on Thailand to send its citizens home - the
better to control its enemies, claim opponents.



December 1, 1997


BANGKOK - Thailand hopes a new law on human trafficking will help halt the
flow of women and children into the sex trade, The Nation newspaper reported

The Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Women and Children Act,
signed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Nov 16, gives the authorities the power
to detain suspected victims to verify their travel documents. 

They can detain suspects for up to 10 days with the permission of the
provincial governor in outlying provinces and the director-general of police
in Bangkok. 

However, the law does not allow them to detain suspected traffickers. 

The Nation was reporting on a conference on child trafficking organised by
international and local development agencies as well as legal bodies here
last week. 

Thailand is a major destination for human traffickers, who procure women and
children from China, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. 

Also on the rise is trafficking in women from Russia, eastern Europe and the
Mekong region. 

There are approximately 200,000 prostitutes in Thailand. 

This figure is obtained from independent research reports compiled in 1994
by the Thai Red Cross Society and Mahidol University's Institute for
Population and Social Research. 

According to the report, prostitution generates 450 billion to 540 billion
baht (S$18.8 billion to S$22.6 billion) in yearly revenue. 

The figure was equivalent to between 50 and 60 per cent of Thailand's
national budget in 1995, it said. 

The authorities and activists are hoping the law will help curb traffickers,
who have come up with new methods of circumventing existing laws.