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News fr India News Paper (Asian Age
News from India News paper
(Asian Age - 10 December 1997)
1. Junta Chief to lead 50-member team to Asean
2. Burmese Students still waiting for classes to start
3. Burma vows to help Thailand
I.Junta Chief to lead 50-member team to Asean
Rangoon, Dec. 9: General Than Shwe, chairman of Burma's ruling junta,
will lead d 50-niember delegation to the informal Association of
Southeast Asian Nation summit in Kuala Lumpur next week, diplomats said
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, first secretary of the State Peace and
Development Council, formerly known as the State Law and Order
restoration Council, as the junta is now officially known, will
accompany him at the gathering marking Asean's 30th anniversary.
It will be the first time Burma has attended the annual informal summit
of Asean leaders as a full member after its much-criticized entry in
July. Gen. than Shwe attended last year's informal summit in Jakarta,
when Burma had observer status.
Diplomats said he would also be accompanied by Brigadier-general David
Abel, the economic and national development minister, Brig. Gen.Win
Tin, the finance minister, and Mr. Ohn Gyaw, the foreign minister. The
rest of the delegation are a senior official of various ministries some
of whom will leave here on December 12.
The main delegation is due to depart a day later. The state media has
yet to announce the visit. Burma was admitted to Asean along with Laos
this year despite objections from Western nations critical of the ruling
junta's human rights record and suppression of democracy.
In Bangkok, where Burmese foreign minister ohn Gyaw is holding talks
with his Thai counterpart Surin Pitsuwan, the latter said the two
countries would hold talks on border issues at the Asean summit.
"We have a border which is more than 2,400 km long and of course we will
discuss boundaries, displaced persons and illegal immigrants," he told
Surin said Asean was still in discussions with the European Union on the
continuous issue of Burma.
An Asean-EU meeting scheduled in Bangkok earlier this month was
cancelled after a disagreement over whether Burma, as a new member of
Asean, should take part. Thailand in Particular had insisted that
Rangoon be allowed to take part while the European Union said Burma had
not signed up to take part in the forum and would not be invited to do
so because of its human rights record.
The other Asean members are Brunei, Indonesia, Malaise, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (AFP)
II.Burmese students still waiting for class to start
Rangoon, Dec. 9: Over 350,000 Burmese students remain idle or are
marking time doing casual 'Work a year after the military closed
universities following defiant anti-government protests here, students
here said on Tuesday.
Classes have been suspended at campuses which rumbled with activism
during rare street demonstrations in December 1996, leaving legions of
disillusioned undergraduates unable to complete their education.
Burma's generals remain wary of a repeat of the 1988 student-led
protests, which sparked a nationwide strike and democracy movement that
was crushed by the military, prompting the ruling junta to seize power.
A senior government official said classes were suspended because unnamed
"instigators" were exploiting the students for their own political
means. He would not say when they would reopen. Meanwhile, many students
have opted for private tuition or have picked up casual work as shop
assistants, hotel receptionists and bar girls to keep busy. Some help
run the family business.
Muang Myint, 20, a second year science student here, is working for his
father. He was eager to go back to university. "I still want to get my
degree, so I'm waiting for classes to start again," he said. Others
were frustrated they could not get proper training in their current
jobs, because they were only temporary hires. "Knowing that we are just
passing time with them, most of our employers do not take the trouble to
train us properly so we have to be satisfied with hold the simple or odd
jobs," one student said.
Burma's universities have been closed for about half of the past 1 0
years under the rule of the junta - now known as the State Peace and
Development Council - to keep any emergent student movement in check.
The December 1996 protests, provoked by an incident of police brutality,
saw several thousands stage some of the biggest street demonstrations
since 1988. calling for the formation of a students' union.
Students twice brought central Rangoon to a standstill, holding peaceful
marches and sit-down rallies which were viewed as a direct challenge to
the iron rule of the military regime. "We organized the demonstrations
on behalf of our parents and the people, who suffer daily from
hardships, with rising commodity prices," said Thet Hmu, one of a
handful of protesters who escaped to Thailand. If we have good incomes,
political freedom and proper social-welfare, I don't think we would
have to waste our time in antigovernment protests," he added.
The authorities clamped down on the movement by closing schools and
universities on December 9, 1996. Schools have since re-opened.
Despite the shutdowns, the government has been constructing new
campuses, located outside Rangoon, in an apparent move to spread out the
student population and prevent future protests. When they re-open. High
brick walls and strong security gates have been built around campuses,
to make access without close. Scrutiny practically impossible, observers
Meanwhile, the 6,000 teaching staff at Burma's 51 universities have been
kept busy with repeated political training and workshops, and coaching
on how to discipline students. Only a few post-graduate classes have
been allowed to go ahead at the universities. Parents of younger
students anxiously, wait for them to re-open, amid fears of growing
student disillusionment and declining educational standards. According
to official statistics, there are now some 350,000 undergraduate
students in Burma, compared with 134,000 in 1988. Some 200,000 have
been able to graduate in the past nine years. Some students, especially
females, now find work tutoring high-school pupils for their university
entrance exams. (AFP)
III. Burma vows to help Thailand
Bangkok, Dec. 9: Burma's military government on Tuesday pledged to help
Thailand repatriate more than one million illegal Burmese workers,
government officials said. Thailand, wracked by an economic crisis,
wants to repatriate Burmese who are working illegally as cheap labor.
Once they leave, they can he replaced with Thai workers, the officials
said. The issue was brought up in talks between Burmese foreign
minister Ohn Gyaw and Thai Prime Minister Chuan leekpai. (Reuter)