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Breaking News 12/19/97
- Subject: Breaking News 12/19/97
- From: RANGOONP@xxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 20 Dec 1997 16:21:00
1) Assets of some former SLORC ministers seized
2) Army 'forcing deported refugees to build roads'
3) US multinational to bring gas supplies from Burma to West Bengal
4) Japan challenges U.S. state law on Myanmar trade
5) : Double Game for Chinese
Japan Economic Newswire
DECEMBER 16, 1997, TUESDAY
HEADLINE: Assets of some former SLORC ministers seized
DATELINE: YANGON, Dec. 16 Kyodo
Authorities have seized the landed assets of some deposed ministers of the
former State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) while a probe is
conducted into charges of graft, a senior Myanmar government official said
Fourteen ministers in the 20-member former SLORC cabinet were removed from
office in a major shake-up by the military government Nov. 15.
The deposed SLORC cabinet members were in charge of such ministries as
commerce, agriculture, tourism, forestry, home affairs, immigration, industry,
border areas development, and social welfare.
'Some of them were removed for involvement in corruption, some for
inefficiency in work, and some due to old age or poor health,' the officer
Directors general, directors and personal assistants of ministers at the
ministries, including commerce, tourism, transport, agriculture, and forestry
are under investigation for alleged corruption.
Private businesses and individuals who have had relations with these
ministries are also being questioned, the official said.
'Landed assets such as houses, land and business establishments of those
involved are being sealed for further investigation or transferred outright
under relevant government departments,' he said.
South China Morning Post
December 17, 1997
HEADLINE: Army 'forcing deported refugees to build roads'
BYLINE: WILLIAM BARNES in Bangkok
Many of the refugees being sent back into Burma by Thailand are being
forced to build roads by the Burmese Army, according to exiled opposition
The Thai authorities have recently been arresting and deporting reputedly
large numbers of Burmese every day - some are handed directly over to the
Many have become captive labour on a big highway being built between the
Thai border town of Mae Sot, northwest of Bangkok, and Pa-an, halfway to
Rangoon, the sources claim.
There are reports the Army is building a huge reception centre capable of
holding 20,000 returnees not far from Mae Sot to provide a ready source of
A Thai construction company has the key contract to build the road which
Bangkok authorities hope will help open up Burma for cross-border
There have been similar reports filtering out of Tenassarim, Burma's
southern panhandle, where returned Burmese are said to be offered a choice of
paying a fine or working on a road which starts opposite the Thai seaside town
of Bang Saphan.
The main contractor building this road is also Thai.
The reports, which appear credible to diplomatic observers, are likely to
undermine Thai contentions that nearly all the Burmese living in Thailand are
economic migrants simply seeking better pay.
"The Government in Rangoon does not hide the fact that forced labour is an
important ingredient in its development plan. I am not all surprised by these
reports," one Bangkok-based envoy said.
Most Burmese in Thailand are members of ethnic minorities - the Karen,
and Mon - who have borne the brunt of the human rights abuses incurred by a
brutal regime with an inveterate suspicion of potential rebels.
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
December 17, 1997, Wednesday
SECTION: Part 3 Asia-Pacific; SOUTH ASIA; INDIA; CIVIL AVIATION; FE/W0517/WA
HEADLINE: US multinational to bring gas supplies from Burma to West Bengal
SOURCE: Source: All India Radio external service, New Delhi, in English 0000
A US oil multinational has announced plans for an estimated 2bn-dollar gas
pipeline project for India, All India Radio reported on 10th December. The
project will be a component in its trans-Asia natural gas network and will
gas supplies to West Bengal from Burma, where the company is developing
another pipeline project. The company's trans-Asia natural gas network will
include existing pipelines in Thailand and Myanmar, as well as proposed
pipelines in central and south Asia.
Japan Economic Newswire
DECEMBER 18, 1997, THURSDAY
HEADLINE: Japan challenges U.S. state law on Myanmar trade
DATELINE: GENEVA, Dec. 17 Kyodo
Japan urged the United States on Wednesday to press the state of
Massachusetts to repeal its law penalizing companies doing business in
Myanmar, sources at the World Trade Organization (WTO) said.
Tokyo made the request jointly with the European Union (EU) during the
round of trilateral consultations under the WTO sponsorship on the
statute, which has been enforced by the state since January this year, the
The law stipulates that foreign companies investing in or trading with
Myanmar, such as trading houses, travel agencies and construction firms,
pay surcharges on procurement contracts with the Massachusetts state
The statute was introduced to penalize companies doing business with
Myanmar's ruling junta, which Massachusetts says is clamping down on the
pro-democracy movement led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The EU took the U.S. before the Geneva-based international trade watchdog
June, charging that the law violates the WTO's rules on government purchases.
Japan followed suit and referred the U.S. to the WTO in July.
Japan and the 15-member EU made a similar appeal during the first and
rounds of trilateral formal consultations on the Massachusetts law, held in
and October, respectively.
During Wednesday's talks, Japanese negotiators told the U.S. delegation
Tokyo will bring the matter to a WTO arbitration panel under its dispute
settlement system if the Massachusetts legislature fails to take specific
actions, including repealing the law, during the next session starting Jan. 6,
the sources said.
The WTO's government procurement agreement, which went into effect last
provides penalties for countries that violate the rules. With some
the accord bars governments from making business decisions based on political
rather than economic considerations.
If the statute is found to breach WTO rules, the WTO could assess damages
allow Japan and the EU to level trade sanctions against the U.S.
Following the filing of the complaint with the WTO, the U.S. federal
government has issued a directive to governors of all states that the
Massachusetts law might violate the WTO government procurement rules.
December 18, 1997
SECTION: COMMUNITY WATCH; BURMA;
HEADLINE: Double Game for Chinese?
Security officials in the Chinese border province of Yunnan have been
showing special concern for opponents of Burma's regime in recent months. At
the behest of their chief, Liu Xuanle, the Gonganting's "Blue Dogs", as they
known, have sounded out dissidents and established close relations with some
them. According to sources in Rangoon, this has infuriated one of the regime's
four strong-men, lieut.-gen. Khin Nyunt, head of military intelligence, who
fears that the Chinese leadership around Jiang Zemin will start seriously
thinking the junta could be toppled and decide to play both sides of the
The Chinese and Burmese security services have worked together in Yunnan since
1992 to fight against drug trafficking. And that cooperation goes hand in hand
Intelligence Newsletter, December 18, 1997
with the new interest in dissidents. Elsewhere, a "cyber war" center set up
autumn in Burma by Khin Nyunt is working to intercept telephone calls, fax
messages, mobile telephone communications and e -mail of foreign businessmen
whom the government believes could be used by dissidents loyal to Aung San Sus
Kyi to pass along messages for them. Along with Japanese businessmen,
from Japan are also being closely watched because of their sympathies for the
Nobel prize winner.
These news are searched and posted by Washington, DC based news journal, The
Rangoon Post, to inform BurmaNet subscribers the situations of Burma. Further
information contact at RANGOONP@xxxxxxxx