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Breaking News 12/19/97

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' 
    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 

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 
sources said. 

   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. 

                            Intelligence Newsletter 
                               December  18, 1997 

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