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BurmaNet News December 19, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------     
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"     
The BurmaNet News: December 19, 1997        
Issue #895

Noted in Passing:

As it has been one year since we left our classes, we can't help wondering
when we'll be able to resume our studies. - university student in Rangoon


December 18, 1997 

RANGOON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Burma's ruling military government
on Thursday told the opposition National League for Democracy
 (NLD) to stop holding mass gatherings or risk losing meaningful

The warning came at a meeting between officials of the State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC) led by Home Affairs Minister Colonel 
Tin Hlaing and five central executive committee members of the NLD, 
led by pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.

``At the meeting the SPDC reminded the NLD leaders to review the mass
gatherings they have been holding under various pretexts at various
places in recent months,'' a government statement said.

The SPDC also asked the NLD to refrain from making accusations and
statements protesting against the government's security measures.

``If they keep on doing this, the chances of dialogue and national
reconciliation, which the NLD has been talking about, would go further
and further away,'' the statement added.

There was no immediate reaction from the NLD to the meeting, the first
between the two sides since the government changed its name last
month from the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).

The military has in the past prevented Suu Kyi from attending mass party
gatherings, which are also sometimes cancelled by the government. It has
also detained and later released hundreds of NLD activists.

The last time NLD officials met military government leaders was in
July, when NLD chairman U Aung Shwe and two central committee
members met the powerful Secretary One Lieutenant General Khin 
Nyunt to discuss political issues.

A further meeting was set for September 16 but did not take place
because the military refused to allow Suu Kyi to attend the meeting as 
a representative of the NLD.

December 18, 1997 
By Aung Hla Tun 

RANGOON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Burma's students are frustrated and restless,
one year after the military government shut down the country's universities
to prevent unrest. 

``Our institute was closed a few days before our final exam was to be
held,'' said Aye Aye Tin, a final-year student at the Yangon (Rangoon)
Institute of Technology (YIT). 

``As it has been one year since we left our classes, we can't help wondering
when we'll be able to resume our studies,'' she told Reuters on Thursday. 

About 200,000 students were pushed off more than 30 universities and
colleges in early December, 1996 after a series of anti-government

The protests were the largest seen in Burma since nationwide pro-democracy
uprisings in 1988, which were brutally crushed by the military before it
seized control of the country. 

The then ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) closed
schools for two years as punishment, but reopened them until the 1996

``I do understand the security concern of the government,'' said Yaw Aye, a
mid-ranking government officer and the father of an out-of-school student. 

``At the same time, I feel very sorry for the loss of time, energy, human
resources and everything which results from closing the universities for
such a long time.'' 

The December protests were sparked by what students say was unfair police
handling of a quarrel in October between students of RIT[renamed YIT by the
SLORC], one of Rangoon's top universities, and workers from a restaurant. 

The government later blamed underground agents of the disbanded Burma
Communist Party of fanning the demonstrations which later spread to dozens
of universities and colleges across the country. 

The SLORC closed the institutions, saying they would reopen when the
situation normalised. 

Last month, the government reconstituted itself as the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC), in a surprise reshuffle reportedly aimed at
rooting out corrupt ministers. 

But there has been no indication whether the new name would result in any
change in policy on universities. 

So for now, some children of well-off families in big cities still occupy
themselves by attending private-run computer or foreign language classes
during their time off. 

But it is not easy with a sinking economy, sky-high inflation and a
tumbling currency. 

``I can't afford to send my son to such expensive classes nor can I find
him a temporary job,'' said Kyaw Aye. 

A Ministry of Education official told Reuters only two tertiary
institutions had reopened completely, affecting about 2,600 students. Some
post-graduate classes had also resumed. 

``But I still have no idea when undergraduate classes at about 30 remaining
institutions will reopen,'' he said. 

An official from the Ministry of Science and Technology, responsible for
YIT and other technological institutes which have a total of about 7,000
students, gave a similar response. 

``We don't know yet when the universities under our ministry will reopen,''
he said. 

Many students are hoping for news about the schools in the New Year.


FIT, WEAR IT   (also posted in the Nation)
November 24, 1997
"Raw Material"

Letter from Burma (No. 10) by Aung San Suu Kyi

	We were standing at the corner of Kaba-aye road and Gandama road in the
broiling sun.  Kaba-aye means "World Peace" and the road is named after the
pagoda built at the initiative of U Nu, the first prime minister of
independent Burma, a religious man who made no secret of his wish to become
a Buddha in a future existence.  Gandama is the Burmese name for
chrysanthemum.  The juxtaposition of the desire for peace with a beautiful
flower seemed appropriate and auspicious and somehow the riot police
surrounding us with their drab khaki, their jungle camouflage jackets and
helmets looking a little ridiculous in the middle of a city, and their
rather outmoded shields fitted into the picture as well, an eloquent contrast.
	There were some 50 uniformed police and perhaps double that number of other
security personnel in plain clothes scattered around.  We were 26, mostly
members of the youth wing of the National League for Democracy (NLD), a few
elected members of Parliament, our Chairman U Aung Shwe, our Deputy Chairman
U Tin U and myself.  We had arrived at the scene at 9 o'clock in the
morning, on our way to a meeting at the Mayangon NLD office.  This was part
of a program to recognize the NLD youth committees, a program which had
begun smoothly a week before at Thaketa, another part of Rangoon.  It was
probably the very smoothness of the reorganization process that made the
authorities decide they must try to obstruct our activities.  Of course, the
excuse they gave was that we were endangering the peace and tranquillity of
the nation.  But there we were, peacefully going about our legitimate party
work and there were the security troops with barbed wire barricades and
batons and war-like helmets and shields.  Confrontational is the word that
springs to mind.
	Just a block away from our destination, our car was stopped.  When we
attempted to proceed on foot the riot police pushed us back.  We remained at
the spot where my car was parked and had a series of exchanges with various
officials, from some minion of a township law and order restoration council
to a lieutenant-colonel, who all urged us to go back, declaring that they
could not permit us to have meetings at our offices and that we could carry
on our activities within my compound.  They seemed to have forgotten that
the road to my house had been shut off to the general public for nearly a
year; that all visitors were screened; and that some, particularly
journalists, were prevented from coming to see me.  The fact that we were
able to hold the party congress on Sept. 27 was seen by many as proof of
greater flexibility on the part of the military regime, but even on that
occasion a number of party members attempting to come to my house had been
forcibly taken away by car from the crossroads near my house to the
outskirts of Rangoon, and some guests had been turned away.
	We told the officials who tried to make us turn back that we had a right to
carry out legitimate party  activities at appropriate party  premises and
that we would not turn back until we had been to our Mayangon office, even
if all our people had already been driven away from there.  Impasse.  Just
before half past nine, an official announced that if we did not leave within
five minutes, the riot police would push us back.  We readied ourselves for
the fray.  When the five minutes were up, the riot police started to push,
shields to the fore.  We linked arms and U Aung Shwe and U Tin U took the
lead in steadying us, exhorting us to stand firm but not to retaliate if
violence were used by the authorities.  For several minutes the two opposing
groups swayed backwards and forwards, then the pushing stopped and we
remained at our original position.  It was a standoff.
	As so often happens in such situations, a spirit of camaraderie quickly
grew up within our little group.  Good humored remarks were made about the
beneficial effects of sunlight and perspiration and we prepared ourselves
for an indefinite wait.  U Aung Shwe and U Tin U moved protectively around
us, especially after a threat was made to remove the younger people by force.
	Our chairman and deputy chairman gave us practical advice on preserving
energy as well as providing us with strong psychological support by their
unwavering spirits and fatherly solicitude.  In the middle of a discussion
about the efforts of the authorities to stop us from pursuing our legitimate
party activities, U Aung Shwe turned to me and said with a laugh:  "You
won't have to think too hard about a subject for your next Mainichi article.
Lots of raw material here."
	How right he was.  A lot of raw, very raw, material indeed.  It was a
curious phenomenon, the riot police lined up in their full combat gear and
in front of them a row of policeman who had appeared after the pushing was
over.  It is the small, seemingly insignificant things that sometimes stick
in the mind.  When I think back on the three and a half hours we stood under
the hot sun on the tarmac between World Peace and Chrysanthemum roads, I
find that what troubles me most is the memory of the footgear of the
policewomen.  They were all wearing dark ankle socks and thick shoes.   One
poor unfortunate was actually sporting a pair of high heeled, narrow toed
pumps, incongruous with her socks.  My sandals were the traditional Burmese
kind with thongs and the sole was an even one inch thick, too thick for the
purpose of withstanding the shoving of riot police with metal shields.  So I
had my sandals put back in my car and wore instead a pair of flat leather
sandals gallantly offered to me by one of our group.  Consequently, my feet
were cool and at ease and I could not help following in my imagination the
swelling process of the feet of the policewomen as they remained in a
stationary position while the temperature rose inexorably.  When we told at
12:20 in the afternoon that after all we could go to our Mayangon office for
lunch we were pleased, of course, but I rather fancy the policewomen were
overjoyed.  It must have been paradise for them to be able to take the
weight off their feet.
	The next office where we were scheduled to recognize our youth committee
was Tamwe.  The chairman and other members of the Tamwe organizational
committee were called up thrice by the authorities and threatened with dire
consequences should they go ahead with arrangements for the meeting.  The
Tamwe committee replied that they would act in accordance with the decisions
of the Central Executive Committee of the NLD, whatever the consequences.
On the day of the meeting my road was barricaded on either side of my front
gate so that I could not go out to Tamwe.  Access to the Tamwe office was
also heavily guarded and those who had come for the meeting were taken off
in various commandeered vehicles and dropped off on the outskirts of Rangoon
from when they had to find their own way back into the city.  It has become
obvious that the authorities have decided on this new tactic of forcefully
taking away members of the NLD gathered for party activities to some remote
place from where it is not easy to find transport back into Rangoon.
However, the NLD members came back from their sojourns with undampened
spirits, proud of their travels in horse carts and other modes of
transportation that they had managed to contrive.
	The NLD fully intends to continue with its legitimate activities 
as a party founded with the clearly declared intention of fostering democracy.  
We can look forward to more raw materials for the Mainichi in the form of our
adventures along the way to our goal.


December 18, 1997  (abridged)

It seemed so easy when it looked like the going was good. Back when the
founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations extended
membership invitations to some of the region's most economically and
politically backward countries, Asean's then-booming capitals confidently
rebuffed questions about the wisdom of the expansion. So what if Vietnam and
Laos are run by communist parties with a minimal commitment to capitalism,
the Asean tigers said. We'll teach them how to be rich and prosperous like
us. So what if half the world is repulsed by Burma's human rights record,
they added. That's our affair to handle in our own neighbourhood, with
"constructive engagement."

That was then. Now, almost six months into a withering regional economic
crisis, the weak links in Asean's chain are starting to be a drag. No one
has been thrown overboard, and Asean officials meeting in Kuala Lumpur this
week said they expect to have even Cambodia on deck by next summer. But with
their own enormous problems to worry about, it seems, the organisation's big
brothers have grown more ruthless about determining just where their
interests lie.

The most recent indication came this week in Kuala Lumpur, when Malaysian
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that Asean does not expect "new"
members to attend next summer's Asia-Europe summit. The meeting will be held
in London, which has already indicated it will not extend visas for
representatives of Burma' ruling generals and a regime regularly reviled
across Europe. Though no on is likely to say so in public, it's almost
certain that Asean has made the very practical decision that at a time like
this it would be folly to irk and alienate Europeans, all for the sake of a
solidarity display with a trouble some member. Asean may have similar
troubles down the road as it gets read to admit Cambodia, where the UN-
verified body count of political victims of Prime Minister Hun Sen's July
coup continues to rise.


December 18, 1997  (abridged)
by Nussara Sawatsawang

A senior American official yesterday urged the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations to respect workers' rights while trying to solve the problems
of their battered economies.

John Shattuck, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and
Labour, admitted the economic downturn in the region may worsen the human
rights situation, but said there is no "excuse" for any country's failure to
conform with the universal norm.

Mr Shattuck said developed and developing nations need not use the same
rights standards, but stressed that they should apply the same regulations.
The human rights advocate also urged Asean to strive for an end to forced
labour in Burma.


December 15, 1997

Burma's democracy leader Ms Aung San Suu Kyi has reminded Asean leaders that
political change in Burma is in the interest of member states.

"Without political change I do not think then there will be stability in
Burma nor will there be sustainable economic development. Unless there is
stability, unless there is development, it means that Burma will be a weak
spot in the region."

In a recent interview in Rangoon, Ms Suu Kyi welcomed support by some Asean
members for dialogue between Burma's military regime and Ms Suu Kyi's party,
the National League for Democracy (NLD), which won 82% of the seats in the
country's last election.

Describing a recent meeting between Philippines' Foreign Minister Domingo
Siazon as "a sign of progress", Ms Suu Kyi said: "I  would think that people
of Asean countries are sympathetic and that they do want to see a government
in Burma that is accountable and that has support of our people. As for
governments of Asean, I think that some of them do understand that Burma is
in need of political change and that we cannot just go on like this."

The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) echoed the
Nobel Laureate's words by asserting  that a "solution to the economic and
political problems of Burma are inextricably tied to the revival of the
Asean economy as a whole".

The government-in-exile urged Asean leaders attending the Asean Summit in
Kuala Lumpur to conduct an in-depth study of the economic and political
situation in Burma.  The NCGUB called upon Asean to "embark upon a process
of constructive intervention for the early revival of  democracy in the
country.  It is not only in the direct interest of all members of Asean, but
it is also the will of the citizens of Burma."

1997 has seen the kyat (Burma's currency) drop in market value by 100%
against the US dollar and inflation rise to 40%.  Hundreds of thousands
people fleeing severe poverty and human rights violations, including
widespread forced relocation and forced labour continue to seek refuge in
Asean states, including Thailand, as refugees and migrant workers.

In central Burma, official harassment and intimidation of the NLD has
continued unchecked. Hundreds of party supporters have been arrested, many
sentenced to lengthy prison terms.  Universities in Burma have been closed
for more than a year. Schools were also closed for lengthy periods of time.

(BANGKOK) 66 2 255 5915-6.


December 19, 1997     AFP

Rangoon-Burma  declared yesterday it was firmly behind the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) vision of regional
peace and stability, hailing the recent informal summit in Kuala
Lumpur a major success.

Burmese state newspapers hailed the summit the first attended by
Rangoon since its controversial entry into the grouping in July
 .. as "one of the most significant events in Asean's 30-year history".

It had ended with a "resounding; crescendo on the note 'One Asean
One Vision'," an editorial in the New Light of Myanmar said,
referring to the Asean Vision 2020 document adopted by the summit.


ASEAN SUMMIT  (Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader)
Declaration in Kuala Lumpur (excerpts)
December 3, 1997

Speech - Budget '98 Committee Stage (Foreign Ministry) on 3rd December 1997
by Lim Kit Siang

Let the words go out from the Kuala Lumpur ASEAN Summit, loud and clear, to
be heard not only in South East Asia but in the whole world that concerns
about good governance, poverty, sustainable development, human rights,
corruption and information technology are now no more individual local or
national concerns but have become a regional agenda of the ASEAN community 
of nations.

It is precisely for these reasons that I have criticised the admission of
Myanmar into ASEAN, for the military junta, whether the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC) or the State Peace and Development Council
(SPDC) which it now calls itself, is not committed to anyone of these six
issues - whether good governance, eradication of poverty, sustainable
development, human rights, elimination of corruption and information technology.

In the past five months since its admission into ASEAN in July this year,
except for a change of name on Nov. 15 after nine years of the
terrible-sounding SLORC, the Burmese military junta has absolutely nothing
to show in genuine political, economic or social reforms - with Burmese
Opposition Leader and Nobel Peace-Prize laureate and her party, National
League for Democracy which won the 1990 Burmese general election by a
landslide, continuing to suffer persecution, while Burma is one of the few
countries left in the world where the possession of modems is a serious
criminal offence involving long periods of imprisonment.

The SPDC should be required to submit a report to the ASEAN Summit as to the
progress in political, economic and social reforms in Burma since its
admission into ASEAN, and ASEAN should not hesitate to suspend Burma's
membership if the military junta refuses to co-operate to make meaningful
progress of ASEAN's policy of "constructive engagement".

ASEAN leaders cannot close their eyes to the dismal fact that under the rule
of the Burmese generals, the health care delivery system in Burma had
collapsed, the education system had collapsed and the economy had 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

The Burmese military junta should be told in very clear terms that it risks
expulsion from ASEAN if it embarks on any crackdown of human rights and
democratic freedoms in the country. ASEAN should also bring pressure to bear
on SPDC to enter into a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and the National
League for Democracy to pave the way for the restoration of a
democratically-elected government.

Siazon was the highest-ranking government official from any ASEAN country to
meet the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and it is most unfortunate that the
Malaysian Foreign Minister, Datuk Abdullah Badawi had not insisted on the
right to personally establish contact and meet with Aung San Suu Kyi when he 
was the previous Chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee. 

The ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur should set up the mechanism for ASEAN to
arrange for such a dialogue between SPDC and Aung San Suu Kyi to show the
people of ASEAN and the world that ASEAN's "constructive engagement" is not
just an engagement with the government of Burma, but also an engagement with
the people of Burma and their genuine
leaders. In fact, ASEAN should encourage SPDC to hold general elections by
before the year 2,000, so that Burma's membership in ASEAN would not be
inconsistent with the aspirations of the people in South East Asia for
democracy where the people have the right to choose the government they want.

The SPDC must show that it is more open and democratic than the SLORC and
that the change is not just in name only. If it is to be a full member of
ASEAN, it should permit the people from the other ASEAN countries to have
free contacts with the people of Burma, including Aung San Suu Kyi and the 
democracy activists in the National League for Democracy and in other

Members of Parliament from other ASEAN countries, for instance, should be
permitted free travel to Burma and to visit Aung San Suu Kyi and to meet
with democracy activists. I would be contacting the Burmese Ambassador to
inform him of my wish to visit Burma and to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi together 
with other interested MPs and political leaders and the response of the SPDC 
would be a test as to whether the Burmese military junta is ready for political,
economic and social reforms to bring Burma into the modern era. 


December 14-16, 1997


We, the Heads of State/Government of the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations, gather today in Kuala Lumpur to reaffirm our
commitment to the aims and purposes of the Association as set
forth in the Bangkok Declaration of 8 August 1967, in particular
to promote regional cooperation in Southeast Asia in the spirit
of equality and partnership and thereby contribute towards peace,
progress and prosperity in the region.

We in ASEAN have created a community of Southeast Asian nations
at peace with one another and at peace with the world, rapidly
achieving prosperity for our peoples and steadily improving their
lives. Our rich diversity has provided the strength and
inspiration to us to help one another foster a strong sense of

We are now a market of around 500 million people with a combined
gross domestic product of US$600 billion. We have achieved
considerable results in the economic field, such as high economic
growth, stability and significant poverty alleviation over the
past few years. Members have enjoyed substantial trade and
investment flows from significant liberalisation measures.

We resolve to build upon these achievements.

Now, as we approach the 21st century, thirty years after the
birth of ASEAN, we gather to chart a vision for ASEAN on the
basis of today's realities and prospects in the decades leading
to the Year 2020.

That vision is of ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian Nations,
outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity,
bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a
community of caring societies.

We envision the ASEAN region to be in 2020. In full reality, a
Zone of Peace Freedom and Neutrality, as envisaged in the Kuala
Lumpur Declaration of 1971.

ASEAN shell have by the year 2020, established a peaceful and
stable Southeast Asia where each nation is at peace with itself
and where the causes for conflict have been eliminated, though
abiding respect for justice and the rule of law and through the
strengthening of national and regional resilience.

We envision a Southeast Asia where territorial and other disputes
are resolved by peaceful means.

We envision the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia
functioning fully as a binding code of conduct for our
governments and peoples, to which other states with interests in
the region adhere.

We envision a Southeast Asia free from nuclear weapons, with all
the Nuclear Weapon States committed to the purpose of the
Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty through their
adherence to its Protocol. We also envision our region free from
all other weapons of mass destruction.

We envision our rich human and natural resources contributing to
our development and shared prosperity.

We envision the ASEAN Regional Forum as an established means for
confidence-building and preventive diplomacy and for promoting

We envision a Southeast Asia where our mountains, rivers and seas
no longer divide us but link us together in friendship,
cooperation and commerce.

We see ASEAN as an effective force for peace, justice and
moderation in the Asia-Pacific and in the world.

We resolve to chart a new direction towards the year 2020 called,
ASEAN 2020: Partnership in Dynamic Development which will forge
closer economic integration within ASEAN.

We reiterate our resolve to enhance ASEAN economic cooperation
through economic development strategic, which are in line with
the aspiration of our respective peoples, which put emphasis on
sustainable and equitable growth, and enhance national as well as
regional resilience.

We pledge to sustain ASEAN's high economic performance by
building upon the foundation of our existing cooperation efforts,
consolidating our achievements, expanding our collective efforts
and enhancing mutual assistance.

We commit ourselves to moving towards closer cohesion and
economic integration, narrowing the gap in the level of
development among Member Countries, ensuring that the
multilateral trading system remains fair and open, and achieving
global competitiveness.

We will create a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN
Economic Region in which there is a free flow of goods, services
and investments, a freer  flow of capital, equitable economic
development and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities.

We resolve, inter-alia, to undertake the following:

** maintain regional macroeconomic and financial stability by
promoting closer consultations in macroeconomic and financial policies.

** advance economic integration and cooperation by undertaking
the following general strategies: fully implement the ASEAN Free
Trade Area  and accelerate liberalization of trade in services:
realise the ASEAN investment Area by 2010 and free flow of
investments by 2020: intensify and expand sub-regional
cooperation in existing and new sub-regional growth areas:
further consolidate and expand extra-ASEAN regional linkages for
mutual benefit: cooperate to strengthen the multilateral trading
system: and reinforce the role of the business sector as the
engine of growth.

** promote a modern and competitive small and medium enterprises
(SME) sector in ASEAN which will contribute to the industrial
development and efficiency of the region.

** accelerate the free flow of professional and other services in
the region.

** promote financial sector liberalisation and closer cooperation
in money and capital market, tax, insurance and customs matters
as well as closer consultations in macroeconomic and financial policies.

** accelerate the development of science and technology including
information technology by establishing a regional information
technology network and centres of excellence for dissemination of
and easy access to data and information.

** establish interconnecting arrangements in the field of energy
and utilities for electricity, natural gas and water within ASEAN
through the ASEAN Power Grid and a Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline and
Water Pipeline, and promote cooperation in energy efficiency and
conservation, as well as the development of new and renewable
energy resources.

** enhance food security and international competitiveness of
food, agricultural and forest products, to make ASEAN a leading
producer of these products, and promote the forestry sector as a
model in forest management, conservation and sustainable development.

** meet the ever increasing demand for improved infrastructure
and communications by developing and integrated and harmonized
trans-ASEAN transportation network and harnessing technology
advances in telecommunication and information technology,
especially in linking the planned information highways/multimedia
corridors in ASEAN, promoting open sky policy, developing multi-
model transport, facilitating goods in transit and integrating
telecommunications networks through greater interconnectivity,
coordination of frequencies and mutual recognition of equipment-
type approval procedures.

** enhance human resource development in all sectors of the
economy through quality education, upgrading of skills and
capabilities and training.

** work towards a world-class standards and conformance system
that will provide a harmonised system to facilitate the free flow
of ASEAN trade while meeting health, safety and environmental needs.

** use the ASEAN Foundation as one of the instruments to address
issues of unequal economic development, poverty and socio-
economic disparities.

** promote and ASEAN customs partnership for world class
standards and excellence in efficiency, professionalism and
service, and uniformity through harmonised procedures, to promote
trade and investment and to protect the health and well-being of
the ASEAN community.

** enhance intra-ASEAN trade and investment in the mineral sector
and to contribute towards a technologically competent ASEAN
through closer networking and sharing of information on mineral
and geosciences as well as to enhance cooperation and partnership
with dialogue partners to facilitate the development and transfer
of technology in the mineral sector, particularly in the
downstream research and the geosciences and to develop
appropriate mechanism for these.


We envision the entire Southeast Asia to be, by 2020, an ASEAN
community conscious of its ties of history, aware of its cultural
heritage and bound by a common regional identity.

We see vibrant and open ASEAN societies consistent with their
respective national identities, where all people enjoy equitable
access to opportunities for total human development regardless of
gender, race, religion, language, or social and cultural background.

We envision a cohesive and caring ASEAN where hunger,
malnutrition, deprivation and poverty are no longer basic
problems: where strong families as the basic units of society
tend to their members particularly the children, youth, women and
elderly and where the civil society is empowered and gives
special attention to the disadvantaged, disabled and marginalized
and where social justice and the rule of law reign.

We see well before 2020 a Southeast Asia free of illicit drugs,
free of their production processing, trafficking and use.

We envision a technologically competitive ASEAN competent in
strategic and enabling technologies with an adequate pool of
technologically qualified and trained manpower, and strong
networks of scientific and technological institutions and centers
of excellence.

We envision a clean and green ASEAN with fully established
mechanisms for sustainable development to ensure the protection
of the region's environment, the sustainability of its natural
resources, and the high quality of life of its peoples.

We envision the evolution in Southeast Asia of agreed rules of
behaviour and cooperative measures to deal with problems that can
be met only on a regional scale, including environmental
pollution and degradation, drug trafficking, trafficking in women
and children, and other transnational crimes.

We envision our nations being governed with the consent and
greater participation of the people with its focus on the welfare
and dignity of the human person and the good of the community.

We resolve to develop and strengthen ASEAN's institutions and
mechanisms to enable ASEAN to realize the vision and respond to
the challenges of the coming century. We also see the need for a
strengthened ASEAN Secretariat with an enhanced role to support
the realization of our vision.


We see and outward-looking ASEAN playing a pivotal role in the
international fora, and advancing ASEAN's common interests. We
envision ASEAN having an intensified relationship with its
Dialogue Partners and other regional organisations based on equal
partnership and mutual respect.


We pledge to our peoples our determination and commitment to
bringing this ASEAN Vision for the Year 2020 into reality.

Kuala Lumpur
December 15, 1997


December 17, 1997
Kuala Lumpur

The Asean Vision 2020 statement issued by Malaysian Prime Minister Dr 
Mahathir Mohamad can only be described as being more "hallucination" 
than "vision" to the majority of South-East Asia's citizens.

The aspiration for a peaceful and stable region where each nation has 
achieved "peace with itself" through "abiding respect for justice and 
the rule of law" has been undermined well in advance by Asean itself.

It is no secret that many Asean governments continue to suppress their 
citizens for striving for the very ideals of peace, human development, 
rule of law, social justice and equality named in the statement.

Many Asean governments also violate the rights of citizens from other 
Asean states seeking refuge from war and poverty as refugees or migrant 

Asean as a body has willfully ignored severe human rights violations and 
fundamental abuses of law taking place within the region. It has 
resisted taking clear and genuinely constructive steps to facilitate a 
speedy resolution to these pressing matters. Two instances which 
immediately come to mind are Burma and East Timor. Asean's failures in 
this context show it is both unwilling and unable to deal with the 
tragedies taking place on its doorstep.

In the case of Burma, Asean has recognized a military regime which was 
overwhelmingly voted out by the people of that country. The military 
regime continues to violate on a massive scale, the stated spirit and 
aspirations of the regional grouping.

Burma's junta has sabotaged the people's own capacity to feed themselves 
through its military offensives and massive forced labor and forced 
relocation programs, particularly in Arakan, Shan, Karenni and Karen 

Under the junta, Burma continues to be the world's largest producer of 
heroin and exports an estimated 8 million amphetamines a month to 
Thailand. At least 1,000 political prisoners are jailed in Burma's notorious 
prisons, including elected MPs. Universities have been closed for more than 
a year. Schools have been closed for extended periods of  time.

If Asean governments are sincere about the Asean 2020 vision statement 
and a range of other similar statements made at previous meetings and 
summits, they need to change their behaviour. Asean must act on the 
belief that people matter more than regimes. Until then, the entire region 
will continue to be mired in the consequences of authoritarian arrogance.

Debbie Stothard (Ms)
Coordinator, Altsean-Burma


December 19, 1997
By Luz Baguioro in Manila 

ASEAN governments have agreed in principle to close ranks in stamping out
transnational crimes which are becoming pervasive and prevalent because of
the increasingly interlinked nature of the global community, a senior
Philippine official said yesterday. 

The cooperation is to include joint police operations, shared intelligence
network, appointment of police attaches in member countries, and joint
training and seminars. "All countries within Asean are willing to support
this because it is necessary and beneficial," he said. 

Among the most pernicious crimes menacing the region are terrorism, arms
smuggling, drug trafficking and money laundering, experts said. 

Crime experts have identified Asean as one of the major transshipment points
for drug traffickers, counterfeiters and gunrunners. Pirates also reportedly
prowl on the regions' waters. 

Myanmar, which joined the grouping only last July, is reputedly the world's
largest producer of opium and heroin, and its military leaders have been
accused by the US for tolerating illicit drug production and trade. 

"Trade in illegal drugs has become so profitable that syndicates have
managed to widen their tentacles and influence the important players of the
country's criminal-justice system," Mr Barbers said.