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The BurmaNet News: May 19-20, 1998

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: May 19-20, 1998
Issue #1008


20 May, 1998

[BurmaNet Editor's Note: Radio Myanmar is the government-run radio station
out of Rangoon. The original broadcast was in Burmese]

The Yangon [Rangoon] City Development Committee [YCDC] has been
transforming Yangon into a garden city and shadowy trees have been planted
along Pyay Road. At about 1000 on 31 March, inspection of the planted trees
along Pyay Road revealed that 19 15-foot Mahogany plants in front of
Sinphyushin housing estate had been destroyed. U Pwa, deputy assistant
supervisor of the YCDC Parks Division, reported the matter to Hlaing Police

Hlaing Police Station opened a case with case no. Pasauk 193/98 under
Section 6-1 of the Public Property Protection Law. Investigations led to
the arrest of Thein Tun, alias Babu, 19, son of U Sein Win residing at No.
492 Dammayone Road, No. 11 Ward, Hlaing Township, and Khin Maung Tin, 22,
son of U Maung Tin residing at cigarette factory workers' quarters, No. 10
Ward, Hlaing Township, on 6 April.

The two suspects were sent for trail at Hlaing Township Court on 29 April.
It has been learned that the court heard the case under case no. Yagyi
262/98 and the two defendants--Thein Tun, alias Babu, and Khin Maung
Tin--were sentenced to seven years imprisonment with hard labor on 14 May.


15 May, 1998

[BurmaNet Editor's Note: Xinhua is China's official news service for
English-language audiences]

Rangoon -- Myanmar [Burma] Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the
Foreign Investment Commission Vice-Admiral Maung Maung Khin Friday met
visiting Vice-Governor of Yunnan Province of China Niu Shaoyao. During the
meeting, the two men expressed the hope to strengthen the bilateral trade
and economic cooperation between the two countries. Niu, at the head of an
eleven-member provincial economic delegation, arrived here Wednesday at the
invitation of Myanmar Deputy Commerce Minister Myo Tint.

The Yunnan delegation also held discussions Thursday with Myanmar officials
on the promotion of the province's trade ties and economic cooperation with


18 May, 1998


Cross-border deals up 138% in 4 months

Malaysia biggest money-spinner

[Thai] Border trade in the first four months of 1998 increased by 138% on
that for the same period of last year, Deputy Prime Minister Supachai
Panitchpakdi said on Friday.

Dr Supachai said the value of border-trade from January to April was 62.88
billion baht. Thai exports generated 50.23 billion baht, up by 146.6%,
leaving a trade surplus of 37.57 billion baht, a 161.5% increase.

Trade with Malaysia - the biggest money-spinner - increase by 217%, while
Laos and Cambodia jumped by 29% and 0.4% respectively.

However, border trade with Burma was down by 23% because of the border
skirmishes involving the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army. Dr Supachai said
Thailand would meet Burmese officials in September to resolve the problem.

Releasing the trade figures after a meeting of the committee in charge of
border trade, Dr Supachai said one of the impediments to greater border
trade is the bureaucratic process which involves checkpoints and checks by
eight government departments.

He said the committee had agreed that the complicated process needed to be

The committee recommended that the Customs Department should take charge of
all border trade and provide a one-stop service centre for importers and

"Some border trade checkpoints have a few officials to run the work but
there are lots of exports and imports documents for examination. Some needs
special officials to supervise import-export live animals. Some open and
close at the fixed time. Some especially at Pairin checkpoint in
Chantraburi have complex procedure because they are in the areas of the
martial law," said Dr Supachai.

The committee asked the Department of Foreign Trade to establish a centre
for border-trade information by September.


 18 May, 1998

Geneva -- The United States will maintain economic sanctions against
Myanmar as long as the Asian nation is guilty of large-scale political
repression, President Clinton said Monday. 

Clinton issued a notice keeping in place an order he issued a year ago
banning new investments by Americans in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
He declared a national emergency then to impose the sanctions. 

The president said the declaration will remain in force ``as long as the
government of Burma continues its policies of committing large-scale
repression of the democratic opposition in Burma.'' 

Clinton issued the order during a brief speechmaking visit here at the end
of a six-day European trip. 


18 May, 1998

It was the riots in 1966 which severely undermined former president Sukarno
and helped catapult Suharto to power, and it was last week's riots that
sealed Suharto's fate. On Sunday influential Muslim leader Amien Rais
predicted that Suharto would last no more than ''several weeks'', but that
was not to be. Monday, in a surprising move, Parliamentary Speaker Harmoko,
the number-three man in the Indonesian leadership, urged Suharto to resign.

No doubt, whether Suharto decides to slog it out or give in, his days are
as good as over. It is not a matter of if, but when and how. If he were to
dig in, more bloodshed might be expected, but eventually he will have
little choice but to accede to the wishes of the people and bow out.

So it appears that his three-decade-old New Order regime is at last coming
to an end. Yet is it?

With number-two man in the embattled leadership Jusuf Habibie expected to
take over the trappings of power from his mentor, nothing much has truly
changed. The power structures which propped up the repressive Suharto
regime are left untouched. The cronies who have enriched themselves at the
expense of the people remain, and so does the powerful military, the
arbiter of Indonesian politics. Pro-democracy figures such as Rais and
Megawati Sukarnoputri are still very much out in the cold, just as before.

Over the past few weeks, the movement to oust Suharto has often been
compared to the 1986 ''People's Power'' that overthrew Philippines
Ferdinand Marcos, but Indonesia may not follow the path of its neighbour,
in which Marcos' end was swiftly followed by a new constitution and fully
blown democracy. Instead Indonesia could head the way of Burma, with
Suharto asked to step aside, much like former Burmese strongman Ne Win,
replaced by his own men and continuing to wield power from his modest
bungalow in Jalan Cendana.

Apparently Suharto has stipulated a number of conditions for his
resignation: they are said to include keeping the unity of the armed
forces, a continuation of his development policies, maintenance of law and
order and the adherence to the constitutional process. Yet read between the
lines: they mean an assurance that his family's interests will be
protected, that he will not be persecuted the way South Korean former
presidents were and that no major changes be made to his brand of crony
capitalism, which is why this switch at the top is more a palace coup than
a manifestation of people's power.

The resignation of Suharto might well appease some Indonesians -- that is
what his cronies and the military are counting on -- but the students,
having tasted power in determining the course of the country these past
weeks, may not settle for the continuation of a Suharto-type regime, and
how they respond to this week's development will determine whether
Indonesia is to emerge from this crisis as a fully democratic nation.

The reaction from the international community will be just as important.
The world should treat this changing of the guard in Indonesia as it did
the self-coup of the Burmese military junta in 1988. We should demand, and
the Indonesians deserve, no less than genuine democracy.

The latest crisis in Indonesia has lessons for everyone. Suharto now knows
that ''the people no longer trust'' him to deliver economic prosperity, and
the International Monetary Fund officials who fled with thousands others
from last week's mayhem might well take time out to ponder on their
prescriptions for Indonesia.

If they think that their austerity measures would help stabilise Indonesia,
they are dead wrong. They do not need feisty Malaysian Prime Minister
Mahathir Mohamad to tell them that: anyone could have told them that
forcing price hikes would be suicidal. But no: there must be no deviation
from the IMF's free-market dogmatism. After all, fuel and electricity costs
in Indonesia must reflect world prices. Never mind that millions of people
cannot afford the 70-per-cent increase.

The result of this folly was an orgy of plunder, pillage and arson,
claiming the lives of up to 500 people. The economy, the stock market and
the rupiah have all but collapsed. That the IMF has escaped criticism is
simply because there is a greater evil in Indonesia: Suharto, his family
and his friends.

Yet for those who clamour for an end to the Suharto regime, the IMF
austerity measures, weird that it might seem, came as a blessing in
disguise. Indeed the IMF's once-size-fits-all economic orthodoxy, far from
always bringing stability, sometimes spurs revolution. Then again, perhaps
that is the only piece of good news for the Indonesians this year.


4 May, 1998
Transcription and commentary by E. Mirante, Project Maje/No Petro$

Statement of ARCO President Bill Wade about Burma ("Myanmar") at ARCO
annual shareholders' meeting
Los Angeles CA, May 4, 1998

ARCO CEO Mike Bowlin: Before we hear the first questions, I would like for
Bill Wade to tell you a little more about our activities in Myanmar, and
how we are addressing the issues that were raised by many of the
shareholders here today.

Bill Wade: I'll begin my remarks with a description of ARCO's current
involvement in Myanmar. We have no producing assets in the country. We have
no active wells, we have no refineries, no pipelines, and no retail
outlets. We do have an exploration program on two offshore blocks, where we
began drilling in the summer of T95. So far, we have drilled two wells. One
found gas, one came up dry. The gas discovery needs additional work because
we do not know yet if it is of sufficient size to be a commercial success.
We've invested about 60 million dollars in our program there And [our plan
is] to stay in Myanmar, complete the exploration program, and see what we
have. We're hopeful about our prospects there. Commercial discoveries have
been made by other companies to the north of our block and to the east of
our block.

Now I'd like to turn to Myanmar's problems. The hard truth about Myanmar's
problem, I think, is that there is no "quick fix" for the situation.
Isolating Myanmar will not instantly solve its problems, and neither will
engagement. However, we are convinced that bringing our business [inaud],
environmental responsibility and labor practices into the country can make
a difference over time. 

At the heart of Myanmar's difficulties is the depth of its poverty. It is
one of the world's poorest nations. And while there are no guarantees,
experience has shown us that, particularly among the countries of the Far
East, economic growth over time does promote intellectual freedom and
constrain human rights abuses. 

Now I'd like to describe how ARCO has worked this high-profile issue. We've
had numerous discussions within the Board of Directors' public policy
committee, as well as within the full Board of Directors itself. Mike
[Bowlin] has asked me personally to work this issue in detail. And to
consider all options as open. You should understand I'm not the only one
working it, there are others working these issues as well. But I'd like to
describe to you what I personally have been involved in. I led a delegation
to Myanmar. I've read a lot about the history, the culture, the traditions
and the problems of the country. I've talked to many, many people with
knowledge of and experience in Myanmar. These are people in the State
Department, the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the
Drug Enforcement Agency [sic], the World Bank, ambassadors, academics, and
members of numerous think tanks. I would estimate that, in total -- I mean,
I've talked to 35 to 40 people! 

Beyond that, I have also talked to people from those companies who are
operating in Myanmar. These are companies in the oil business, and
companies who are in other businesses. I've talked to the headquarters
officers, and I've talked to people on the ground, in the country. I've
talked to the members of the Myanmar government. I've not spoken to the
number one person, but I have spoken to the second and third most powerful
people in the government, and to numerous ministers. In addition, on that
trip to Myanmar, our delegation spoke with representatives from
humanitarian groups that are on the ground in the country. This is World
Vision, Save the Children, and other non- government organizations. While
there I met with the most prominent leader of the opposition, Aung San Suu
Kyi. And I think it's significant that that meeting happened, that the
government did not prevent that from happening. They knew full well that
they would be criticized very strongly by her in those discussions. 

>From this work, I've drawn several conclusions. The first is that this
country is a very complex, difficult-to-run country, whose principal
problem is grinding poverty. It has a very high infant mortality rate.
Myanmar leads the world in snakebite deaths! [inaud.] talked about because
conditions are so primitive there, a small amount of money can do an awful
lot of good. The salt in Myanmar is not iodized [inaud.] and so there is a
high incidence of iodine deficiency problems. These data are pretty hard to
come by, but there's [inaud.] estimate that Myanmar is the fifth poorest
country in the world. The only countries that are poorer are in Sub-Saharan
Africa. [inaud.] per capita income, Rwanda is close to Myanmar. And [inaud]
when we think of Rwanda, we don't expect a whole lot from that government. 

I'd like to move on to drugs. Drugs are a problem in the country. But this
is a century old problem. And it's a problem that won't be solved quickly,
and it won't be solved without help. The drug activities are often tied to
the ethnic insurgents, insurgency groups that operate out near the Golden
Triangle, as was referred to earlier. This is the border between Laos,
Thailand and Myanmar. We have been encouraged by a recent report from the
State Department -- the same report that was in fact quoted earlier in this
session -- that says, and we've heard this also from the Drug Enforcement
Agency -- that we can find no evidence -- that they find -- no evidence of
institutional involvement by the Myanmar government in the drug trade. We
have been encouraged that in recent times the government has jailed some
military officials who worked in remote areas and did get caught up in the
drug trade.

The next concluding point, we found that we can and have engaged as a
company in this country in a manner that we require world-wide. And by that
I mean, we can hire who we want to, we can pay them what we want to, we can
fire them if necessary, we can hire the contractors that we want, our
people can live where they want to live, and we can bring our health,
safety and environmental standards to the country. So, we can conduct
business by our standards, and that's an essential ARCO requirement. 

My final conclusion is pretty simple, and that's that our presence in the
country is and will be a continued force for positive change. To sum up,
ARCO has worked this problem hard. We have devoted this level of time and
attention because we recognize serious issues are involved. Based on the
work we've done, I'm convinced that by staying in the country, ARCO is
doing the right thing. We're doing the right thing for our shareholders,
and we're doing the right thing for the people of Myanmar.

[end of statement].

Comment: Mr. Wade's statement, largely taken up with how he became an
instant expert on Burma in a matter of months, still fails to explain how
ARCO's joint venture with the regime has the humanitarian value he seems so
concerned about. When the junta pours all its income into military
expansion at the complete neglect of health and welfare, how does being in
a business venture with the energy ministry of that military regime provide
benefit to the people? Note that Mr. Wade does not mention what Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi said to him, only how nice the regime was to let him meet her;
he also quotes very selectively from the State Department report which
details the direct involvement of the regime in profiting from drug money
laundering and openly condoning the drug trade. His comment about Rwanda is
absurd -- it is a democracy, of which much is expected, as shown in
President Clinton's recent visit there. Perhaps Mr. Wade is trying to imply
that a decent democratic government is too much to expect of poor,
snake-infested Burma. He conveniently ignores the concept that Burma's
government and economy would be better off in the hands of the people --
who are rich in intellect if not in currency -- rather than in the iron
fists of the men with guns. Further his grasp of the relationship between
economic growth and liberalization in Asia is lacking -- note China,
Indonesia, Singapore, etc. (wealthy & oppressed) vs. the Philippines,
Bangladesh, India etc. ("underdeveloped" democracies).

Mr. Wade, with his Kipling-esque "white man's burden" defense of ARCO's
corporate dealings in Burma, obviously needs to learn more about his topic.
If you would like to share your knowledge and opinions with him, write a
letter to: Mr. Bill Wade
515 S. Flower St.
Los Angeles CA 90071


19 May, 1998
Karen National League (KNL)
email: KNLcomm@xxxxxxx

The Karen Website, which basically serves as a communication and cultural
exchange center, can be viewed at: 


The Karen Website, although created and maintained by the Internet
Communication Support Division of the Karen National League (KNL), is
dedicated to all Karens and the oppressed people of Burma. The site
includes news section which will be updated on daily basis by KNL staffs in
order to inform both the Karen and non-Karen communities exclusively about
current situation of Karen people, and a Bulletin Board Station on which
everybody can voice their personal opinion. 

The Karen Website is also composed of the following sections such as Karen
History, Books & Literatures, Karen Dress, Karen Holidays and Kawthoolei.
These sections are designed to be useful for those who are interested in
learning more about various aspects of Karen history and culture. We also
have a "Chat Session" going on every Friday evening.

We will try our best to update this homepage. Currently, the transcript of
KNU's Clarification Document Concerning Negotiation between KNU and SLORC
is available in English under the History Section.


19 May, 1998

London Office

Human Rights Watch, the largest US-based international human rights
monitoring and advocacy organization, seeks a Researcher for its Asia

Description: The research associate would be responsible for research,
documentation and advocacy on the rights of refugees, migrant workers and
the internally displaced in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on
Burma. S/he would work with local NGOs in Thailand and elsewhere in the
region to document human rights abuses against Burmese by the governments
of Burma, Thailand, and Bangladesh, among others; to examine allegations of
forced displacements, refoulement, forced labor, arbitrary detention and
trafficking; and to publish that information in the form of reports,
background briefings, press statements and articles.

The research associate would also be responsible for formulating an
advocacy strategy on Burmese refugee and migrant issues in consultation
with the Jesuit Refugee Service and the Washington director of the Asia
division of Human Rights Watch. That strategy would have both an American
and international component and would involve formulating policy
recommendations for the US government, EU institutions, the Japanese
government, the World Bank and other multilateral organizations, and the
United Nations. S/he would be expected to stay closely in touch with JRS
offices in Washington, Bangkok and Tokyo; to attend the annual JRS/USA
retreat; and to participate in periodic JRS staff meetings as necessary.

S/he would also help facilitate communication among groups and individuals
working on Burma internationally. The position begins ideally in September
1998 but no later than December. 

Qualifications: The research associate, who would report directly to the
executive director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, must have
field experience working on Burma or with Burmese refugees; a working
knowledge of Burmese or Thai would be an asset. S/he must have a
demonstrated commitment to human rights, an ability to write concisely
under pressure, and good political judgment. S/he should also have a
post-graduate degree in law, political science, Southeast Asian studies, or
a related field with a special focus on Burma. The research associate would
be based in London with an initial three month orientation in New York.
Travel to Asia would also be required. 

Salary: Negotiable, depending on experience. Human Rights Watch offers an
excellent package of benefits, including generous employer-paid medical,
dental and pension plans, and twenty days of vacation per year.

APPLY BY JULY 17, 1998 (no calls, please) by sending a cover letter,
resume, references, and writing sample (preferably unedited) to:

Human Rights Watch, Asia Division
Att: Burma Researcher Search (Tom Kellogg)
 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10118-3299 USA
Fax: 212-736-1300
E-mail: kellogt@xxxxxxx (attachments must be WordPerfect or text files)

Human Rights Watch assures equal employment opportunities for all qualified
persons without discrimination based on race, color, religion, national
origin, sex, age, disability or sexual orientation.



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please direct email to the following volunteer coordinators, who will
either answer your question or try to put you in contact with someone who can:
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 Boycott campaigns: 	Dan Orzech: orzech@xxxxxxxx
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 Rohingya culture		volunteer needed 
 Selective Purchasing	Dan Orzech: orzech@xxxxxxxx
 			Simon Billenness: sbillenness@xxxxxxxx
 Shan history/culture: 	Sao Hpa Han: burma@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
 Shareholder activism: 	Simon Billenness: sbillenness@xxxxxxxx
 Teak Boycott		Tim Keating: relief@xxxxxxx
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