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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: Weekend of April 29-30, 2000

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

Weekend of April 29-30, 2000

Issue # 1521

This edition of The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:


*Inside Burma

















__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

YANGON, April 30 (Reuters) - The vice chairman of Myanmar's main 
opposition party said on Sunday a two-day regional meeting of 
economic ministers in Yangon will give psychological support to the 
ruling military. 

Tin Oo, a close associate of Nobel Prize winning dissident Aung San 
Suu Kyi, told Reuters the meeting of the Association of Southeast 
Asian Nations (ASEAN), which starts on Monday, was likely to worsen 
the repression of dissidents in the country. 

He said ASEAN's policy of "constructive engagement" of Myanmar had 
failed to bring positive change and aid given by countries such as 
Japan had been misused by the authorities and prolonged their rule. 

"So long as the Japanese government gives aid, the (military) will 
toughen its harassment and threats against our democratic activists," 
he said in an interview at his Yangon home on Sunday.
"We are just simply urging the democratic countries -- like the 
Japanese and the South Koreans -- not to do such a thing. 

"Whenever you do such a thing, it will have a detrimental effect on 
democratic activists. You have to consider very, very thoroughly. 
Those people who are professing democracy should abstain from things 
tantamount to giving some kind of encouragement to the military 

Both Japan and South Korea, along with Communist China, are taking 
part in the meeting of economic ministers of ASEAN's 10 member 
states -- Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, 
Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines and Indonesia.
It is the first time Yangon, which joined ASEAN in 1997 against 
protests from the opposition, has hosted such a senior meeting of the 
regional bloc. 

"This has a psychological effect, it gives them encouragement," Tin 
Oo said. 

Last year Japan, which like other rich countries cut aid to Myanmar 
in 1988 after the military came to power by killing thousands to 
crush a pro-democracy uprising, indicated a softening of its line by 
offering help if Yangon took structural reform of its economy 

It said it would be easier to provide assistance if Myanmar was more 
democratic, but analysts said Tokyo's biggest concern appeared to be 
losing business and political influence to China. 


Tin Oo said the negative impact had already been shown with the 
detention earlier this month of more than 40 members of Suu Kyi's 
National League for Democracy (NLD), including members of its youth 
wing, and Aye Thar Aung, a senior official responsible for issues 
related to ethnic minorities. 

He estimated around 2,000 political prisoners were being held, mostly 
members of the NLD, which won the country's last election in 1990 by 
a landslide, but was never allowed govern. 

The military denies holding political prisoners. 

Tin Oo said he had no idea where the latest detainees were being 

"In Burma, when a person is arrested you are not likely to know where 
he is. You have no contact at all and they don't give any kind of 
information to their family. 

"You see, this is a police state, totally a police state, totally a 
totalitarian state, totally an authoritarian state. Even though they 
call themselves the State Peace and Development Council, everything 
is ruled by the military." 

Tin Oo praised the new U.N. special envoy, Malaysian diplomat Razali 
Ismail, who has been appointed to try to encourage democratic change 
and human rights in Myanmar. 

"We believe he is a true international servant. He has to serve 
internationally, not his own country -- even if he is an adviser to 
the prime minister of Malaysia. We believe he will carry out his duty 
as a very good and able trustworthy diplomat," he said. 

Despite the gloom of a pre-monsoon rainstorm darkening his 
dilapidated but tidy home in Yangon's Bahan township, Tin Oo remained 

"We are optimistic, still optimistic, and will be even if there's 
only one person left, because the trend in the 21st century is 
towards democracy."



Based on news from AFP, MIC release: April 26, 2000

RANGOON -- One of Burma's top opposition politicians has been 
arrested and is being held by the military government, Aung San Suu 
Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) said Wednesday. 

U Aye Thar Aung, of the ten-member Committee Representing the 
People's Parliament (CRPP), was arrested by police who arrived at his 
house late on Monday night, a party statement said. The NLD said it 
did not know why he was arrested or where he was being held. 

Aye Thar Aung, a leading member of the Arakan League for Democracy, 
serves as the chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Nationalities 
Affairs of the CRPP. Two other leaders of minority ethnic parties, 82-
year old Nai Tun Shein of the Mon National Democratic Front and Kyin 
Shin Htan of the Zomi National Congress were arrested last November 
after they spoke with Alvaro de Soto, then the UN's special envoy to 
Burma. The 83-year Saw Mra Aung, another ethnic minority leader who 
was elected Speaker of the CRPP, has been under arrest since the 
committee was formed in September 1998.

The arrest of U Aye Thar Aung comes just weeks before a visit to 
Rangoon by the newly appointed UN envoy, Malaysia's Razali Ismail, 
and appears as a deliberate snub of his request that his mission not 
be politicized. A notice posted in a government information bulletin 
admitted that the ethnic minority leader had been taken into custody. 
It accused him of being connected with "outlawed armed groups 
operating along the Thai-Myanmar border" and blamed him for "creating 
misunderstanding" between the military junta and cease-fire armies in 
eastern and northern Burma.

Meanwhile, state controlled media this week claimed that hundreds of 
thousands of people have turned out for mass rallies directed against 
the popularly supported National League for Democracy in recent weeks.

There were reports that demonstrations in Upper Burma had been staged 
in Kyaukpadaung and Nahtogyi townships in Mandalay division as well 
as in neighbouring Ngazun township in Sagaing division. Over 300,000 
people in the three townships were said to have attended dozens of 
meetings in village tracts throughout the area and they were calling 
for the dissolution of the NLD. 

Mass meetings in nine delta townships in Irrawaddy division seem to 
have taken a different tack. More than half a million voters there 
were reported to have called on their NLD MPs to resign. The MPs are 
among those who have been under arrest in government "guest houses" 
for over a year and half and resisting government 



30 April 2000

No: 4 - 18

Hair-raising seizure not reported On 23 April, 3 Chinese coming from 
Mongkoe, the infamous drug town near the  Chinese border, were 
searched by a team of narcotic agents led by Sgt.  Myint Oo.

Altogether 91 "towts" (small plastic capsules each containing one 
injection  or "smoke") of heroin were found on their person. On 
interrogation, one  admitted they also carried more in their 
digestive canals.

According to the source in Muse, they were administered with 
purgatives at  the town hospital. But failing to remove the alien 
masses in the suspects'  bowels, doctors were ordered to conduct 
surgical operations on them.

Also on 17 March, a  truck belonging to a Chinese from Namzang 
village in  Muse was stopped at the Mao (Shweli in Burmese) ferry 
crossing. It was  filled with barrels of aceticanhydride.

The agents also 'confiscated' some amount of hard cash from the 
owner.  These were however not reported on state media.

30 April 2000

No: 4 - 19

Drugs and Precursor Chemicals Escorted By Junta Troops
On 26 April, a Chinese from Nawng-ook, Chiangdao District, 
Chiangmai,  brought 500,000 pills of methamphetamine, escorted by 2 
truckloads of  soldiers from IB 65 and IB 330. The shipment was 
unloaded at Nawng Talang,  3 km east of BP1.

The source said he was only known by his Burmese name, Aye Thaung.

He had already paid for 300,000 pills and the rest is expected to be 
paid  tomorrow, 1 May.

Also on 27 April, 10 ten-wheelers covered in rainproof canvas sheets, 
from  Hongpang Company owned by the United Wa State Army, moved from 
Mongyawn in  Monghsat Township, to Namhukhun in Mongton Township, 
heavily guarded in  front, middle and rear by 9 truckloads of 
soldiers. The source told S.H.A.N., he saw two of the ten-wheelers 
unloading and  found them to be refining gear  for heroin as well as 
barrels of chemicals.  He was not sure what the rest were carrying.

The convoy was commanded by an officer from IB 49 of Monghsat, Bo 
Aung Myaing.

30 April 2000

No: 4 - 17

Opium Markets Flourish Under Junta
Northern Shan State's markets are now full of people selling and 
buying opium harvested recently, according to local people who told 

Markets in Monghawm, Nawngkham, Parngphuak, Parngya in Kutkhai 
Township,  from Mongzi to Mongkoe are filled with opium buyers and 
sellers who are  doing business openly without fear of persecution, 
they said.

The Mongkoe Defense Army, led by Mongsala and Kachin Democratic Army, 
led  by Mahtunaw, both of which enjoy ceasefire pacts with Rangoon, 
are reported  to be producing heroin.

For every viss (1.6 kg) that is sold, a K. 5,000 tax is imposed by 
the  local military authorities. The price of opium there ranges from 
K. 180,000  - 200,000 per viss. It was lower than the last season, 
when, because of  unfavorable weather, the output was low and the 
price had gone up to K.  230,000 per viss.

"As a result, even junior officers like Sgt.-Maj. Maung Mey in 
Nawngkham  and Sgt.-Maj. Kyaw Nyein in Monghawm, both from IB 123, 
are living like vprinces," said the source.



30 April 2000

No: 4 - 16

S.H.A.N. correspondent reports from northern Shan State that local 
military  and police officials are heavily involved in widespread 
gambling that  constitutes as illegal in Burma.

"Apart from gambling dens set up on any excusable pretext, a 
constant  feature is the Thai lottery that is a craze in every 
quarter of the  country," said a source.

The rear three-digit lottery that is known farcically as "share" in 
Burma  is opened twice on the 1st and 16th of each month.

Authorized dealers, with their satellite dishes, monitor the results  
directly from Bangkok on those days to settle their dues.

"However, the price of license is exorbitant," a local source from 
Namlan,  Hsipaw Township, told S.H.A.N.. In Namlan, a number is sold 
at K. 100 each,  and they usually sell about 10,000 numbers on the 
average each time.

However, the dealers' net goes no more than K. 200,000, because they 
have  to pay K. 200,000 to each of the four agencies in town: The 
veterans'  organization, local Union Solidarity and Development 
Association (USDA), 
police and military intelligence services and the local military 
unit. (IB  505, IB 506 and LIB 243 come in by rotation.)

The illustrated book of dream interpretation, drawn by Hart-hai five 
years  ago in two languages, Burmese and Shan, is currently the best 
seller. It  has already been printed several times since.



AVA Newsgroup

April 28, 2000

Additional security has been enforced in Northern Shan State due to 
the SPDC  Ministers' visit led by General Maung Aye and Lieutenant 
General Tin Oo.  Security has been placed in all major townships and 
the towns along the  Ministers' trip route conducting surprise checks 
and recent visitor check of  each household. The military 
intelligence has ordered the cease-fired groups  as well as anti-
insurgence groups and the militias that it is forbidden to  carry 
arms while travelling during the Ministers' trip.

General Maung Aye and his delegation of SPDC Ministers began their 
trip on  March 27th of this year. The delegation is planning to visit 
several cities  in Northern Shan State such as Lashio, Nampawng, 
Muse, Kutkai, Lauhkai,  Namkhan, Hsenwi, Namphakha, Kowngian and 
Tashwehtan. During this trip, the  delegation will also inspect newly 
set up battalions, hydropower projects,  road constructions and 
border trade. The main objective of this trip is to  monitor the 
newly set up Number 16 Operation Control Command base in Hsenwi 
and Regional Control Command base in Lauhkai. A source close to the 
military  informs Ava that General Maung Aye will replace Senior 
General Than Shwe  upon his upcoming retirement. This trip is aimed 
at gaining support from the  battalions in Northern Shan State for 
General Maung Aye.



New Light of Myanmar

YANGON, 29 April -The launching and demonstration of Multimedia CD-
ROM of Student s English -English/Myanmar Dictionary, arranged by the 
Ministry of Commerce and Myanmar Inforithm Ltd, took place at the 
International Business Center on Pyay Road this morning.

Chairman of Myanmar Education Committee Secretary-1 of the State 
Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt attended the ceremony.

Minister for Commerce Brig-Gen Pyi Sone said the dictionary was 
systematically compiled by accomplished translators with the 
assistance of two ministries, so it has grown in widespread 
popularity. It also breaks new ground in the history of dictionary 
making in Myanmar, and altogether 80,000 copies were sold out. In 
June 1999, another 20,000 copies went on sale.

English-Myanmar Dictionaries still in use in Myanmar, it is thc most 
up-to Date and modern one, so Myanmar Inforithm Ltd offered to 
distribute the dictionary CD-ROM with the use of multimedia 
technology. Therefore, the Ministry of Commerce formed a committee 
for launching the dictionary CD-ROM.

The CD-ROM contains pictures, cross references and pronunciation and 
Myanmar alphabet keys, so it is an easy-to-use dictionary CD-ROM. The 
CD-ROM will sell at a reasonable price. The dictionary always needs 
updating. The present one is Version 1, and arrangements are being 
made to continue to produce Version 11. In conclusion, the minister 
said that the Ministry of Commerce prides itself on being able to 
launch Student s English-English/Myanmar Dictionary and CD-ROM.

Managing Director of Myanmar Inforithm Ltd U Chit Tun Pe demonstrated 
how to use CD-ROM, and spoke of words of thanks. Managing Director U 
Chit Tun Pe presented 300 Dictionary Multimedia CD-ROMs for the 
Ministry of Commerce to Minister Brig-Gen Pyi Sone and 100 CD-ROMs 
for the Ministry of Education to Minister for Education U Than Aung.




Based on an article in the Sunday Telegraph: Updated to April 28, 2000

LONDON -- An Anglican priest of the Mandalay diocese has been warned 
by Archbishop Andrew of Burma not to return to the country.

The Rev David Yam, who has been on study leave in England for the 
last three and half years, said the message was delivered to him in 
person by the archbishop who visited Britain in March. He said that 
Archbishop Andrew had also written to British Home Secretary Jack 
Straw warning of the danger that Yam would be in if he were sent back 
to Burma and begging him to allow him to remain in Britain.

Yam, a supporter of the Burmese democracy movement, was arrested on 
numerous occasions by the Burmese police from 1991-5 and said he had 
seen colleagues murdered in front of him. In March, he had his 
application to stay in Britain as a minister of religion refused by 
the Home Office, despite having received permission to officiate by 
the Archbishop of Canterbury. Yam was told he must return to Burma 
and apply for residence in Britain from there. An order issued by the 
Home Office said he would have to leave by April 4, but he has since 
been granted time to appeal. 

The Rev Ian Johnston, rector of Southampton City Centre, is preparing 
to hide Yam to prevent his deportation to Burma. While the courts 
have decreed that the medieval right of church sanctuary has no force 
in law, Mr Johnston believes that the stand-off would embarrass the 
Home Office and would be supported across the Church. A room on 
church property was waiting and parishioners were standing by if Yam 
had to be moved from house to house, Johnston said. 

Yam said that in 1993, he was one of 15 church leaders taken to an 
army camp in Burma. "A soldier said to one of my friends, 'We will 
cut open your mouth so you will no longer speak'. They did. Then they 
beat him until all his bones were broken. Then they put a plastic bag 
over his head and suffocated him and then they shot him. It was by 
the grace of God that I escaped from death in this camp." 

On the advice of his bishop, Yam fled to India, where he married. He 
received an invitation to continue his studies in England where he 
has also been working as a security guard to support his family. A 
few weeks ago, he was interviewed and offered a job by Johnston to 
serve in an ethnic ministry in his parish. 

The warning issued by Archbishop Andrew about the dangers facing his 
fellow priest come at the same time, as the military regime's 
ambassador in London has been using the archbishop to whitewash its 
shameful persecution of the rural inhabitants of Karen state in 
Burma. For the second time this month, an official bulletin issued by 
military government's "information office" claimed that the "Anglican 
Church are denying that [atrocities] actually happened as described 
by the Karen National Union related witnesses". A previous request by 
the Burma Courier that the "information office" publish the report, 
which the ambassador claimed were the results of an "exhaustive" 
investigation by the church's Hpa'an diocese, have been ignored. 

__________________ INTERNATIONAL ___________________

Agence France Presse 
April 28, 2000, Friday 

TOKYO, April 28 

Trade Minister Takashi Fukaya will become the first Japanese cabinet 
member to visit Myanmar under its current military regime when he 
attends a regional conference next week, his ministry said Friday. 

International Trade and Industry Minister Fukaya will leave Tokyo on 
Sunday for the meeting before also heading to Singapore and India, 
the ministry said. 

He will spend a night in Bangkok before flying into Yangon on Monday, 
becoming the first Japanese minister to visit Myanmar since the junta 
took power in 1988. 

Fukaya will attend an economic ministers' meeting there on Tuesday 
between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its 
three key partners -- China, Japan and South Korea. 

The minister plans to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts 
from China, Malaysia and other countries although schedules are yet 
to be fixed. 

He will leave for Singapore on Wednesday to meet with Prime Minister 
Goh Chok Tong on Thursday. 

Fukaya will arrive in India late Thursday. Talks with Indian Prime 
Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and other government leaders are being 
arranged, the Japanese trade ministry said. 

The minister will return home on Saturday. 



Thursday, April 27, 2000 

LONDON LETTER/Rachel Donnelly 

Rangoon's colonial grandeur, once indelibly marked with the 
architectural and cultural dreams of Europe, has largely faded into a 
mass of multi-storey skyscraper hotels designed for millions of 
tourists - tourists, however, who never arrive, discouraged by the 
brutality and forced labour perpetrated by the military regime 
against ordinary Burmese.

Two years ago in this city James Mawdsley, a Bristol University 
graduate, was put on trial, charged with being a mercenary. 

His name may not be familiar to many, but if his family and a leading 
British QC have anything to do with it, James will forever be linked 
with the yearning for democracy in Burma.

Like many young people looking for a cause to identify with, James 
was moved by the story of a Burmese refugee fleeing oppression by the 
military regime. He decided to leave the security of his life in New 
Zealand and travelled to Burma to learn more about human rights abuses
and to call for the release of all political prisoners.

He lived in the Burmese jungle with the ethnic Karen community, whose 
people have suffered gross human rights abuses at the hands of the 
military. It is estimated that up to 30,000 have lost their lives 
either resisting the military or because they have simply disappeared.

James's problems began soon after he illegally entered the country 
and was guided by rebel soldiers to Rangoon, where he began his 
protest. "I switched on my cassette player and democratic songs 
blared out," he wrote later. Within a few minutes he was arrested and 
taken away for questioning. 

During an eight-day interrogation he was also tortured. His situation 
worsened considerably when after requesting a lawyer, the trial judge 
was brought his cell to explain that he would also be acting as his 
defence lawyer.

James was sentenced to five years for illegal entry. He served 99 
days in solitary confinement in the notorious Insein prison.

It might have been simpler and safer if he had decided to continue 
his protest from outside Burma. He might have drawn more attention to 
the extent of military repression, particularly since it ignored the 
results of the 1990 general election that gave 82 per cent of the 
vote to Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, if he had 
stayed in Britain. But when he was released from prison and flew out 
of Burma with his father, David, who turned to him and asked: "Is 
that it?" James replied: "Dad, I've only just begun."

A year passed but James felt that he wasn't doing enough for the 
Burmese people. "I thought he would just protest in London and write 
his journal, which he did, but it wasn't enough," says David 
Mawdsley, sitting in his west London home. So, last August James went 
back to Burma. It is at that moment that his account of his entry 
into the country and that of the military government diverge. James 
insists he travelled to the Tachilek border area with his passport, 
paid $5 to the local official and was given a one-day pass. Rangoon 
says he entered the country illegally and handed out anti-government 

His father says the documents he handed out "said nothing other than 
open the universities and do not obey illegal orders - which is not 
anti-government. That was enough for them to give him 17 years". He 
was sent to a prison in Kengtung, 400 miles north-east of Rangoon.

The Mawdsley family is resilient. "In many ways the sentence was so 
ludicrous it gave us hope," explains David Mawdsley. "If they'd said 
three years for this and four years for that, now that would have 
been much harder for the family to bear and for James to bear because 
it's far more reasonable. But this is such a ludicrous amount, 
pointless thinking about it."

Asked if his son was foolish, David Mawdsley is adamant. "Some people 
thought he was a bit crazy, a bit foolhardy. But no, he's not. He is 
determined - everyone is: his brother, his sister. Doesn't matter 
what colour or creed you are - he really genuinely believes in 
everyone's right, in human rights."

Eight months into James's 17year sentence the campaign for his 
release is gathering pace. He is a British and Australian citizen and 
officials from the British Foreign Office and both embassies in Burma 
are working on his behalf. The family has also engaged a leading QC 
to lead an appeal in Burma this year against his conviction.

Until then David Mawdsley and his family must wait and hope. "James 
knows he's not going to do 10 years, I know he's not going to do 10 
years. James is on a real one-to-one with God . . . He is prepared to 
sacrifice his life for this."

Rachel Donnelly may be contacted at rdonnelly@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx



Saturday, April 29, 2000 8:06 PM EST 

KUNMING (April 30) XINHUA - A big Myanmar jewelry company has opened 
business in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan province. 

The Good Health Fine Jewelry Co. Ltd, one of Myanmar's biggest gem 
companies, is the first Myanmar jewelry company to enter the Chinese 

The company invested initially over 5 million yuan (602,000 US 
dollars) to sell rubies, sapphires, jade and other jewelry and will 
increase its investment in light of market demands. 

The company is also considering setting up a subsidiary branch in 
Shanghai, according to the company sources. 

The Good Health Fine Jewelry owns nearly 100 gem mines and produces 
over 2,000 kilograms of raw rubies every year. 

Seventy percent of rubies on the international market are reportedly 
sold by this company and its annual sales in recent years stand at 
more than 5 million U.S. dollars.



A BURMESE student at the Ban Maneeloy refugee camp committed suicide 
yesterday because he did not want to be sent to the United States, 
police said. 

La Khen, 30, slit his throat with a knife early yesterday morning in 
the camp's compound in Ratchaburi province's Pak Tho district, said 
Lt Col Somphop Sangthong. 

He took his own life after complaining to friends that he did not 
want to be relocated to the US. 

La's friend, Mew Khen, saw him prepare to slit his throat and tried 
to snatch the knife from him, but La ran off and slit his throat next 
to the camp's pond, Somphop said. 

The Nation (May 1, 2000)



April 29, 2000, Saturday 

By GEORGE SIORIS Special to The Japan Times The answer to Myanmar's 
problems is obvious: The sooner the will of the majority of its 
people is respected, the better for all concerned in the country, the 
region and beyond. 

The question is how is this going to happen? There are three possible 

* By means of a popular uprising - unfortunately already aborted in 
Myanmar and in any case extremely difficult in any country, since the 
guns dictate developments from the wrong side of the fence. 

* By threatening sticks. 

* By offering carrots. A combination of the last two options may be a 
more sophisticated way, but its effectiveness depends on a very 
delicate mixing operation and its appropriate timing. 

In Myanmar's case, some influential outsiders have opted for sticks, 
others for carrots (or in a more elegant terminology, "sanctions" 
and "constructive engagement" respectively.) Both have failed. This 
dual approach has played beautifully into the hands of the 
military: "Burma's State Peace and Development Council ... has over 
the years shrewdly exploited the lack of a unified universal approach 
to force political change in Burma," writes one Thai observer. 

Assuming that "carrots" only increase the craving to stay in power, 
let us consider the weakness of "sticks": 

Professor J. Silverstein recently proposed the expulsion of the 
Yangon regime from the United Nations. The initial counter-arguments 
are easy: What are the precedents for such an action? What procedures 
will be followed? How can the U.N. proceed to "selective" 
expulsions ? 

A totality of democratic members in the U.N. is an appealing Utopia, 
but for the foreseeable future, at least, just that: a Utopia. 
Moreover, the timing of this idea is unfortunate, since it coincides 
with a laudable initiative by Secretary General Kofi Annan to 
reactivate the U.N.' s role in the matter through the appointment of 
a new representative, Ambassador Razali Ismail of Malaysia. Not only 
that, but a similar drive to purify the Non-Aligned Movement of 
undemocratic members was recently criticized as "partisan" by no less 
prestigious a newspaper than The Hindu, of NAM's chief pillar, India. 

Another weakness of the "sticks" approach is related to the European 

First, there is no evident unanimity on sanctions among the EU's 15 
member nations.  Second, the EU has derailed, for the sake of its 
justified dislike of Yangon, the whole process of institutionalized 
encounters between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the 
EU. (Only now are some hopes of such a meeting emerging, under the 
auspices of the Portuguese presidency.) If Europe wants to penalize 
Yangon, it can do so bilaterally, by downgrading diplomatic 
representation there, without hurting the whole body of ASEAN. 
Diplomacy works much better on the level of reciprocal representation 
in capitals than by excluding one undesirable minister from a region-
to-region encounter. 

Third, it is a sad fact that while this carousel is continuing to 
revolve about the issue of EU-ASEAN meetings, several EU enterprises 
quietly keep conducting private operations in Myanmar. It was only 
recently disclosed that the British government had pressured the 
British firm Premier Oil not to work with the junta. The company's 
response, according to Agence France-Presse, was: "We strongly 
believe that dialogue engagement as well as sustainable development 
are key to effecting changes both now and in the future." 

This brings us to the core of the problem, which has been repeatedly 
stressed by democratic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi: continuing 
foreign investment in Myanmar, not only from the West but also from 
Asia. "The prospect of economic benefits from doing business in Burma 
was too powerful," admits Silverstein in a paper for the National 
Endowment for Democracy. In early 1989, he writes, Beijing sold 
Myanmar "more than Dollars 1 billion worth of new weapons on terms 
believed to be highly favorable." Of course, everyone is aware of 
China' s wider geopolitical concerns in the area, which dictate a 
positive engagement with the Myanmar regime. 

As long as these two key factors - China and the influx of investment 
from private sources - remain, the Yangon regime is in a position to 
ignore all outside calls to restore freedom and human rights in 

"Sanctions" is a frequently heard slogan in the West. They might have 
been the ultimate answer in other, analogous situations, but in the 
words of Annan himself, they have more often proven to be "a blunt 
and even counterproductive instrument." There are always loopholes, 
compounded by a lack of universal enforcement, and, as Thailand's 
deputy foreign minister pointed out last year, they have failed to 
yield results in China in the 1950s and '60s, in Cuba since 1969 and 
in present-day Iraq. In addition, sanctions have had the apparent 
effect of leading Myanmar's military to seek other sources of 
revenue, like supporting illegal drug exports, with devastating 
results, especially for neighboring Thailand. 

The United States has created a legal framework to prohibit U.S. 
investment in Myanmar. But it seems that here again there are 
exemptions or areas not fully covered, for instance in the case of 
hotels, if one is to judge from protests by Myanmar's democratic 

So what is to be done? Answers remain elusive, but persistent, 
coordinated pressure on the regime, without penalizing either the 
Myanmar people or regional broader undertakings, may eventually lead 
to improvements that have to be acknowledged and applauded step by 
step. Academic gatherings on Myanmar, such as the one in Britain in 
1998 and more recently in South Korea, are useful, since they quietly 
carry on examining new ideas and options, giving due consideration to 
China's views as well, as an inevitable coplayer. 

Finally, some more ideas worth considering: Coordination of 
international efforts; support for U.N. initiatives; discouragement 
of other governments from supporting the military junta; expansion of 
Europe's legal framework for reducing or prohibiting private 
investment in Myanmar; and a general correction, in the West, of the 
contradiction of pontificating about liberty on the one hand and 
tolerating private or semi-private economic transactions with 
dictators on the other. May be, after all, the final solution will 
arise from dialogue between the generals and the opposition on how to 
achieve a smooth transition, as advised by some Myanmar monks, who 
best represent the soul of this deeply Buddhist nation. 

George Sioris, a former ambassador of Greece to Japan, is president 
emeritus of the Asiatic Society of Japan and president of the Center 
for Japanese and Asian Studies in Athens. He is a contributing 
adviser to The Japan Times. 



April 30, 2000.

Thongbai Thongpao
At a meeting held at Government House on April 10, the National 
Social Policy Committee discussed the effectiveness of amphetamine 
suppression. The fact that 80-90% of jail inmates in Thailand are 
drug offenders was raised. The meeting was of the opinion that 
arrests and severe punishments had failed to reduce the rate of drug 
crime. On the contrary, drugs are now more popular than ever and the 
numbers of producers and traders has risen because of the higher 
margins commanded since the drugs were 'promoted' to being class one 
under the law. As such, someone proposed that the drug be 
reclassified again as class 4 or 5. However, this is easier said than 
done. It is doubtful the government has the nerve to do it. Even less 
likely, someone else proposed that the state should make and 
distribute the products at cheap prices, like cigarettes and liquor.

According to officials, there are 16-17 amphetamine production bases. 
This raised the question that if they know where they are, why don't 
they destroy them. Apparently, attempts have been made but the 
producers always set up somewhere else, often out of reach across the 

Thai authorities cannot raid plants located on Burmese territory even 
though they are operating right under their noses. Eliminating the 
trafficking is equally problematic as it requires patrolling hundreds 
of kilometres of border. So why doesn't Thailand pressure the Burmese 
government to suppress the crime? Thailand and Malaysia already have 
an agreement to arrest the criminals whichever country they are in. 
Thailand may not be a superpower that can invade at will but we 
cannot afford to let this situation continue.

On April 25 Matichon published an interview on the topic with M.R. 
Sukhumbhand Paribatra, deputy foreign affairs minister. The minister 
said he was keeping a close watch on the potential effect on 
Thailand. He added that the Burmese government viewed the matter as 
its internal affair.

Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai also discussed the issue of taking 
action against Wa Dang with Sen Gen Than Shwe, president of the 
Burmese Peace and Development Council.

"When the government says it can't control the area, we don't know 
what to say. However, we promoted cooperation in every way possible," 
said the prime minister who noted that the Burmese claim they are 
willing but not able.

"This week, related agencies will again discuss the issue as the 
situation has reached the point where we can no longer stand it," he 

 Matichon also reported that Mr. Chuan has urged that remedial 
measures be speeded up and negotiated with the Wah Dang if the 
Burmese government continues to prove incapable of action. The Thai 
Foreign Affairs ministry has adopted a very flexible policy towards 
the Burmese junta despite its well-documented violations of human 
rights. We adhered to a constructive engagement policy despite 
Burma's ostracism by the West and even supported its bid to join 

Nevertheless, the Burmese government continues to turn a blind eye to 
the amphetamine plants which smuggle drugs into Thailand. Surely we 
deserve better treatment given all the assistance and support we give 
the Burmese.

Matichon also reported that some high-ranking Thai Foreign Affairs 
officials said that the junta isn't really serious about cracking 
down as its relations with Wa Dang are good.

Now that the facts are crystal clear, it is time the Thai government 
took decisive measures to tackle the drug problem. The constructive 
engagement policy is bankrupt. Please don't make us feel that you too 
are colluding with Wa Dang and the Burmese junta to undermine our 
national security.



[This poem is a representative sample of poems regularly posted by 
the regime on its Myanmar list email listserv.  It was posted on 
April 28, 2000.  The "racial destroyer" referred to appears to be 
Aung San Suu Kyi.]

   To all patriot Myanmars
   Take heed and greater care
   Those that harm our community
   Those that divide our society
   May be of the same creed
   But they have no integrity
   They have colonial maters [SIC]
   They are racial destroyers
   If they love them as kith and kin
   And it'd be good for their skin
   They would be lurking
   To destroy own race and religion.


Acronyms and abbreviations regularly used by BurmaNet.

AVA: Ava Newsgroup.  A small, independent newsgroup covering Kachin 
State and northern Burma.

KHRG: Karen Human Rights Group.  A non-governmental organization that 
conducts interviews and collects information primarily in Burma's 
Karen State but also covering other border areas.

NLM: New Light of Myanmar, Burma's state newspaper.  The New Light of 
Myanmar is also published in Burmese as Myanmar Alin.

SCMP: South China Morning Post.  A Hong Kong newspaper.

SHAN: Shan Herald Agency for News.  An independent news service 
covering Burma's Shan State.

SPDC: State Peace and Development Council.  The current name the 
military junta has given itself.  Previously, it called itself the 
State Law and Order Restoration Council


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