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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: June 1, 2000

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

June 1, 2000

Issue # 1543


"Yet Myanmar is not a hopeless case, hardly worth bothering about. 
Since so  many people are so oppressed by so few, they will 
presumably one day do  something about it.  And, as one side has 
nearly all the guns, the result  may be bloody."


*Inside Burma












__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
1 June, 2000

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 30 May 
Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 30th May

Although monks' unrest did not occur in accord with the threat from 
the Mandalay Sangha Thammagi Association, security forces are still 
stationed near monasteries and teaching monasteries. It has been 
learned that responsible commanders and district and township Peace 
and Development Councils are organizing monks not only from renowned 
monasteries in Yangon [Rangoon], Mandalay, Pakokku, Pegu and Myingyan 
but from all over the country.

It is learnt that beginning yesterday morning, authorities started to 
present supplications to abbots of monasteries and teaching 
monasteries in Mergui and Kawthaung District in Tenasserim Division 
to control and prevent the monks from their respective monasteries 
creating any form of unrest.

Col Soe Thet, commander of No 1 Tactical Command, and authorities 
from the District Peace and Development Council were said to have 
supplicated the abbots of teaching monasteries in Tavoy to prevent 
unrest. Col Soe Thet requested the abbots to advise the novice monks, 
in accord with Buddhist teachings, not to cause disturbances so that 
the country will not lose face.



Wednesday, May 31, 2000
ILO forces labour into Burma's mind. 

A brief mission to Burma by a team from the International Labour 
Organisation (ILO) last week thrust a dagger to the heart of the 
methods the military has used to run the economy in a decade of 
rule.  The ruling generals have leaned heavily on the nation of 43 
million people in a desperate effort to show that the economy has 
taken off under its leadership since it ignored the election victory 
of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi 10 years ago.
But by accepting a "technical mission" from the ILO, the military 
junta recognised - in word if not spirit - the core findings of a 
1998 report from the organisation - and its target of an absolute ban 
on forced labour.  

"The sole purpose of the visit of the team is to establish with the 
government a credible plan of action to ensure the full 
implementation of the commission's recommendations," ILO secretary-
general Juan Somavia said last week.  

The country was suspended from the ILO last year because of "flagrant 
and persistent failure to comply" with key international bans on 
forced labour.  

The 1998 report that led to the suspension consists of 6,000 pages of 
documentation of evidence of forced labour - including the coercion 
of women, children and the elderly.  
It was a deep embarrassment for a regime desperately trying to work 
up some political legitimacy and undermined the credibility of claims 
by Burma's fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian 
Nations that the generals could lift the economy. 
Many observers have focused on forced labour to point out how the 
military mind appears intent on creating "development" off the backs 
of the people.  

"This is not only a terrible abuse of people it is also very bad 
economics. It just shows that the generals completely miss the 
point," said a senior economist at an international lending 
institution. "The old-fashioned authoritarian regimes that succeeded 
in Asia all understood that you cannot simply whip development out of 

The regime has responded in recent years to allegations that it uses 
forced labour by saying:  

  a.. that is does not exist and that the allegations come from 
biased sources;  
  b.. that voluntary labour for merit-making is commonly practised in 
Buddhist countries like Burma;  
  c.. that working on community projects is a tradition in Burmese 
  d.. that legislation permitting village heads to requisition 
compulsory labour dates from the British period.  

There is little doubt that after the 1990 election, when the regime 
decided to go for growth to try to stave off political discontent, 
the practise of forced labour increased sharply - particularly in the 
four years to 1996.  The authorities have been eager to upgrade and 
extend the nation's desperately inadequate infrastructure - 
particularly roads and dams.  

Forced labour also appeared designed to prepare Burma for a hoped-for 
tourist boom, say critics. The Mandalay Moat, for example, was 
notoriously cleaned up for the benefit of tourists.  

The use of unpaid labour appeared to ease following a government 
announcement in 1996 that soldiers would be used on infrastructure 
projects. But most outside observers believe it remains a problem on 
a massive scale - with the regime's attempts to cut back on forced 
labour hurt by the declining economy.  			

The armed forces, which are principally tasked with keeping a 
discontented people in check and fighting ethnic rebels, have tripled 
in size (with a stated goal of half a million men and woman in 
uniform) over the past decade.  

A military establishment that swallows up the lion's share of the 
national budget already - at the expense of health and education - is 
so strapped for cash that it must demand more of its hard-pressed 

The economic downturn has increased the use of forced labour, 
according to the latest Human Rights Watch annual report. This 
followed Rangoon's orders to powerful regional army commanders in 
1997 - the year of the regional crash - that they should attempt to 
meet labour needs from local sources.  

"As a result regional commanders have increased the use of forced 
contributions of food, labour and building materials throughout the 
country," it said.  

The latest US State Department Human Rights report came up with 
several recent examples.   It described how a man was jailed for 17 
days after protesting that he had been forced to build an embankment 
on the Irrawady River even as the authorities said unpaid labour did 
not exist.   It documented how others were forced to work - or pay a 
fine - on the road to Mandalay's new airport and how people at an 
historic site in Arakan state were forced to clean it up for VIPs and 

Burma remains one of the world's poorest countries, with a per capita 
gross domestic product of about US$300 according to World Bank 
figures, and government data is hard to come by.   The government has 
ceased to publish figures on money supply and foreign reserves, but 
analysts suspect that hard currency reserves have fallen below the 
US$350 million reported to the International Monetary Fund last June. 
Inflation is high. Petrol and diesel are rationed. Power cuts remain 
common.   Colleges and universities have been open for only three 
years out of the past 12 since the junta emerged from a military 
establishment that has ruled since a 1962 coup.  
Some technical schools which opened late last year have been closed 
after student protests over teaching standards.  

"Government expenditures for all civilian education for 1997-98 were 
equivalent to only 0.9 per cent of recorded GDP during the year and 
have declined by more than 70 per cent in real terms since 1990," 
notes the latest US government report to Congress on conditions in 
The government screens all communications and makes ownership of an 
unlicensed fax or modem a crime. Computer schools have been closed 
down and their instructors interrogated.  
A bloated state sector swallows up government funds and lines the 
pockets of the establishment with the help of a bizarre over-valued 
exchange rate that is not used in any private transaction.  
In the words of the latest Asian Development Bank Outlook: "The 
economy remains highly controlled and has yet to adopt sound economic 

No surprise then that economic growth that appeared to jump in the 
first half of the 1990s on partial liberalisation has slowed quite 
sharply. The ADB believes real growth might have been 4.5 per cent 
last year.  			

A frisson of excitement went through the ranks of international 
observers when Burma accepted the ILO's mission. If the country can 
wash itself of forced labour it might start to loosen other economic 

"I'd love to think it will happen. Sadly I don't think it will - this 
is just a ruse to try to head off more criticism in this week's ILO 
meeting in Geneva," said one observer.  

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________


Issue cover-dated June 8, 2000 

Burma's military junta has made an unprecedented attack on the Thai 
royal family in its mouthpiece newspaper, New Light of Myanmar. A 
first-person editorial on May 20 accused Thai authorities of a long 
history of involvement in the cross-border narcotics trade, including 
the production, sale and distribution of drugs. The unidentified 
author called on the Thai government to deny the accusation "if it 
dares to do so. Then I shall reveal all those involved, including 
members of the royal family." The monarchy is a much-revered 
institution in Thailand. A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman, while 
decrying Rangoon's "washing dirty linen in public like this," says 
the ministry will only take action if the editorial is followed by 
further attacks. Foreign diplomats in Bangkok who have seen the 
article suggest the Burmese junta is hitting back at claims by Thai 
security authorities that Rangoon is conniving in the trafficking of 
huge supplies of methamphetamines into Thailand. All the same, they 
express surprise at Bangkok's passive response to such a serious 



 June 1, 2000

By William Ashton

Evidence of close ties between the armed forces and defence 
industries of Myanmar and Pakistan has led to concerns over the 
region's future  stability.

OVER THE past 12 years Myanmar has been branded a pariah state by the 
West and made to endure a range of political, economic and military 
sanctions. The Myanmar armed forces (or Tatmadaw) have lost their 
access to the arms, training and military technology of most of their 
traditional suppliers.

However, some countries have ignored international opinion and 
developed close defence ties with the Yangon regime. While a few of 
them, notably China, have barely troubled to conceal such ties, some 
smaller and diplomatically more vulnerable countries still attempt to 
hide the links that exist between their armed forces and arms 
industries, and those of Myanmar. One of these countries is Pakistan.

Breaking the arms embargo

After Myanmar's armed forces created the State Law and Order 
Restoration Council (SLORC) in September 1988 and took back direct 
control of the country, they soon assessed that the Tatmadaw faced 
four main threats:

- renewed outbreak of civil unrest in the main cities caused by pro- 
democracy demonstrators;

- an upsurge of fighting in the countryside by ethnic, ideological 
and narcotics-based insurgent groups trying to take advantage of the 
military regime's serious political and economic problems; 

- the possible creation of a partnership between the urban dissidents 
and ethnic insurgents in an effort to bring down the Yangon regime;

- an invasion by a US-led coalition of countries determined to 
replace Myanmar's military dictatorship with a civilian democratic 

Given the country's history and the Tatmadaw's customary way of 
tackling such issues, the SLORC's answer was perhaps predictable. It 
was to crush the urban dissidents as quickly and as ruthlessly as 
possible. The regime increased the tempo of military operations 
against those insurgent groups that seemed most likely to collaborate 
with the pro-democracy movement, such as the Karens. It also began 
taking military precautions against a possible invasion by the USA 
and its allies.

These measures placed a premium on a plentiful supply of arms and 
ammunition, but the Tatmadaw's armouries were almost empty. A series 
of bitter campaigns against insurgent groups around the country's 
borders had seriously depleted stocks. Also, Myanmar's chronic 
foreign exchange problems in the years leading up to the pro- 
democracy demonstrations in 1988 had made it hard for the regime to 
purchase fresh military supplies. Nor could the country's arms 
factories meet demand. They lacked the capacity to produce the 
required materiel in time and faced shortages of critical raw 
materials, much of which had to be imported. Major new items, like 
anti-aircraft guns, could not be manufactured locally and had to be 
purchased from abroad. Consequently, the SLORC was forced to seek 
foreign suppliers who were prepared to turn a blind eye to the 
regime's record of human rights abuses, and who did not support the 
arms embargo placed on Myanmar by the West.

Three countries were quick to come to the SLORC's assistance. The 
first was Singapore. Two shiploads of arms and ammunition were sent 
to Yangon in October 1988 to fill an urgent order for mortars, small 
arms ammunition, recoilless rifle rounds and raw materials for 
Myanmar's arms factories. Israel too seemed prepared (through a 
Singaporean intermediary) to provide weapons to its old friend and 
ally (See JIR March 2000, pp35-38). A shipment of captured 
Palestinian weapons and ammunition (mainly grenade launchers and 
recoilless guns) arrived in Myanmar in August 1989. Before the 
Israeli arms arrived, however, the SLORC received at least one 
shipment of arms and ammunition from Pakistan.

Arms sales

In January 1989 a senior official from Pakistan's government arms 
industry reportedly visited Yangon to offer the SLORC war supplies. 
Two months later a group of senior Tatmadaw officers, led by Myanmar 
Air Force (MAF) Commander-in-Chief Major General Tin Tun, made an 
unpublicised visit to Islamabad. The delegation also included 
Myanmar's Director of Ordnance and Director of Defence Industries. 
According to Bertil Lintner, an agreement was quickly reached for 
Pakistan to sell 150 machine guns, 50,000 rounds of ammunition and 
5,000 120mm mortar bombs to the SLORC. Soon after the first 
deliveries were made, unexploded mortar bombs bearing the marks of 
the government-owned Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) were recovered 
by Karen insurgents along Myanmar's eastern border. The Tatmadaw 
delegation also inspected Pakistan's aviation industry complex. This 
led to accusations by Karen insurgents the following May that 
Pakistan was training MAF pilots, possibly as part of a
comprehensive deal to sell Pakistan-built combat aircraft to the 

Other sales followed. It was probably Pakistan that provided Myanmar 
with its new 106mm M40A1 recoilless rifles, some of which the 
Tatmadaw mounted on its 4x4 vehicles. Pakistan also sent the SLORC a 
diverse collection of mortars, rocket launchers, assault rifles and 
ammunition valued at about US$20 million. Some of these weapons were 
made in China and Eastern Europe.

Until the practice was stopped by the USA, many of these weapons were 
reportedly siphoned off shipments sent to Pakistan for use by the 
anti-Soviet mujahideen in Afghanistan. Arms sales to the Yangon 
regime were halted for a period by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir 
Bhutto, but were resumed after the 1990 elections by her successor, 
Nawaz Sharif. Indeed, the arms shipments that took place in those 
critical months of 1989 marked the beginning of a secret military 
partnership with Myanmar that continues to this day.

Over the past decade additional reports have surfaced that the armed 
forces and defence industries of Pakistan and Myanmar have developed 
a close working relationship. Only last year the SLORC's successor, 
the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), purchased two 
shiploads of ammunition from the POF. These shipments, reportedly 
valued at $3.2 million, included a wide range of military materiel. 
There was: .38 revolver ammunition; 7.62mm machine gun ammunition 
(and spare barrels for the Tatmadaw's MG3 machine guns); 77mm rifle- 
launched grenades; 76mm, 82mm and 106mm recoilless rifle rounds; 
120mm mortar bombs; 37mm anti-aircraft gun ammunition; 105mm 
artillery shells; and ammunition for Myanmar's new 155mm long-range 
guns. The latter included both high explosive and white phosphorous 
rounds. One shipment even included ammunition for the Myanmar Army's 
vintage 25-pounder field guns. In addition, Pakistan has provided 
Myanmar's arms factories with components for ammunition, such as 
primers, fuzes and metallic links for machine-gun belts.

Pakistan has also been associated with Myanmar's purchase of jet 
trainers from China. In June 1998 it was revealed that China would 
finance a $20 million sale of seven NAMC/PAC Karakorum-8 trainers to 
the MAF. An order for additional aircraft soon followed. About 14 of 
the two-seater jet trainers have already been delivered to Myanmar's 
Shante air training base. Myanmar is the first customer of this 
aircraft. Its acquisition considerably increases the MAF's ability to 
train pilots for its expanding fleet of Chinese F-7 interceptors and 
A-5 ground attack aircraft. Like Myanmar's G-4 Super Galeb jet 
trainers (grounded due to a lack of spare parts), the K-8 can also be 
configured for ground attack. The K-8 is manufactured in China, but 
Pakistan's Aeronautical Complex has a 25% interest in the project. 
Albeit indirectly, the sale of these aircraft significantly boosts 
the level of Pakistan's support for the Tatmadaw's expansion and 
modernisation programme.

Training and intelligence

Pakistan seems also to have provided Myanmar with a wide range of 
military training. In the early 1990s there were reports that 
Pakistan had helped members of the Tatmadaw learn to operate and 
maintain those Chinese weapon systems and items of equipment also 
held in Pakistan's inventory. For example, it was rumoured that the 
Pakistan Air Force (which also operates F-7s and A-5s) was helping 
its Myanmar counterpart get to grips with its new Chinese fighter 
aircraft. The Pakistan Army reportedly passed on advice to the 
Myanmar Army about its Type-69, Type-63 and Type-59 tanks, and its 
Chinese-sourced artillery. There were also reports that Pakistan Army 
instructors were based in Myanmar for a period to help train Myanmar 
special forces and airborne personnel.

While these reports remain unconfirmed, they are given greater 
credence as a number of Myanmar Army officers are currently in 
Pakistan undergoing artillery and armour training, and attending 
Pakistan's Staff Colleges. The MAF and Myanmar Navy also have 
officers undergoing training in Pakistan. It is possible that 
Pakistani military personnel have also been sent to Myanmar to help 
the Tatmadaw learn to operate and maintain its new K-8 jet trainers, 
and possibly even the 155mm artillery pieces that the SPDC acquired 
from Israel last year.

Observers have recently suggested that the intelligence agencies of 
Myanmar and Pakistan have developed a good working relationship. 
There is some evidence that Pakistan's initial arms shipments to the 
SLORC in 1989 were facilitated by Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services 
Intelligence Directorate, representing senior members of the Pakistan 
armed forces. It is also possible that these arms were sent to 
Myanmar without the knowledge of Prime Minister Bhutto, who had some 
sympathy for Myanmar's democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. 
Pakistan's price for such assistance would be greater access to 
information about developments along India's eastern border. Even if 
bilateral intelligence ties now amount to little more than periodic 
exchanges of broad assessments and discussions about the activities 
of major regional powers, such contacts are still important symbols 
of shared strategic interests.

Strategic imperatives

Pakistan's efforts to increase its military ties with Myanmar and 
Yangon's interest in encouraging such ties is not unexpected.  For a 
long time after Myanmar (then Burma) regained its independence in 
1948 its relations with Pakistan were quite strained. Frictions along 
Myanmar's border with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), territorial 
disputes, smuggling, illegal immigration and suspected Pakistani aid 
to Muslim insurgents (known as Mujahids) in Myanmar aggravated 

In the 1960s the Ne Win regime's efforts to expel people of sub- 
continental extraction from Myanmar, and to nationalise most of the 
country's commerce and industry, added to pressures on bilateral 
relations. In 1972 Yangon's recognition of the new state of 
Bangladesh was in the face of strong criticism from Islamabad, which 
at one stage threatened to break off diplomatic relations. Also, 
while Myanmar tried to remain neutral in the India-Pakistan dispute, 
the Ne Win regime's fear of its massive neighbour in the west meant 
that it usually gave good relations with India a high priority. This 
was sometimes seen by Pakistan to be at its expense.

Under such circumstances the likelihood of close military ties 
developing between Myanmar and Pakistan was remote. Before 1962 
Tatmadaw officers would occasionally attend the Pakistan Staff 
College at Quetta, but even those contacts were broken after Ne Win 
seized power and imposed his isolationist and xenophobic policies on 
the country.

Pakistan's offer of assistance to the SLORC in early 1989 was clearly 
an opportunistic move by the Islamabad government to take advantage 
of Myanmar's straitened circumstances and to outflank India, which 
under Rajiv Gandhi strongly supported Aung San Suu Kyi and the 
Myanmar pro-democracy movement. Although New Delhi later reversed its 
policy and sought to improve relations with Yangon, Myanmar and 
Pakistan have come to recognise a number of common interests. In 
particular, they both have close political and military ties with 
China, and share strategic concerns about India. 

Myanmar can also provide intelligence about developments in 
Bangladesh. In return, Pakistan can help deflect criticism of Myanmar 
in multilateral forums like the UN. For example, during the late 
1980s Pakistan joined China in opposing resolutions against Myanmar 
in the UN Human Rights Commission. To a lesser extent, Pakistan can 
also help protect Myanmar's interests with the Islamic countries, who 
have expressed concern about the treatment of Muslims in Myanmar, 
including the plight of the Rohingyas in Arakan State. 

However, to the SLORC, and now the SPDC, perhaps the greatest 
practical benefit arising from Myanmar's ties with Pakistan is that 
of having a willing (albeit secret) supplier of ammunition and spare 
parts for the Tatmadaw's varied inventory of Chinese and Western 
arms. Both countries are heavily reliant on Chinese military 
technology, arms and equipment. Many of the weapon systems used by 
Myanmar and Pakistan are the same. The arms inventories of Myanmar 
and Pakistan are also similar in that they both contain German 
automatic rifles, light machine guns and ammunition - all 
manufactured locally.

Both countries still use (and in some cases manufacture) older US and 
UK arms and ammunition, a legacy of their shared colonial heritage 
and former links to the West. Because of these
similarities, and because of its more advanced technical development, 
Pakistan is also in a position to provide Myanmar's armed forces with 
the kind of specialist technical training no longer on offer from the 
Western democracies.

Myanmar's military ties with Pakistan, while reasonably modest, are 
not without cost. Politicians and strategic analysts in India, have 
been quick to point out that the common thread that links Yangon and 
Islamabad is a close relationship with China, still seen as India's 
greatest long-term threat. It has been suggested that China is using 
its ties with Pakistan and Myanmar to surround India with compliant 
states. Some observers have gone as far as to suggest that, in the 
event of a major confrontation between China and India, Pakistan and 
Myanmar could be called upon to provide China with support, including 

Such claims have been dismissed by the SLORC and the SPDC as 
fanciful, flying as they do in the face of Myanmar's deep commitment 
to independence and neutrality in world affairs. The Yangon regime 
has invited Indian observers to visit certain military bases to 
verify that China has not established strategic facilities there 
(India has not accepted).

Even so, evidence of continuing military links between Myanmar and 
Pakistan, as represented by the most recent arms sales, will add to 
the fears of Indian strategic analysts and others with an interest in 
the region's future stability.

GRAPHIC: Photograph 1, A Pakistani Type-69 MBT. The Pakistan Army 
reportedly passed on advice to the Myanmar Army about this, the Type-
63 and the Type-59 tanks. (Source: Jane's);
Photograph 2, The Pakistan Air Force is rumoured to be assisting its 
counterparts in Myanmar get to grips with its expanding fleet of 
Chinese F-7 aircraft (pictured). (Source: Jane's); Photograph 3, POF 
manufactures a range of 120mm mortar bombs, including high explosive, 
smoke, incendiary and rocket assisted. Some of these have been 
supplied to Myanmar. (Source: POF); Photograph 4, A 7.62mm
MG3 machine gun. Two shiploads of Pakistan ammunition
and materiel was purchased last year by
Myanmar. The shipment included spare barrels for MG3s.
(Source: POF); Photograph 5, A 106mm
M40A1 recoiless rifle, probably provided to Myanmar by Pakistan. 
(Source: Jane's)



Shan Herald Agency for News
1 June 2000

No: 6 - 1

A 5-day seminar on education in Burma was stopped by a police raid on 
its third day, said our correspondent in Chiangmai yesterday. 

The seminar on education titled Future Hope, organized jointly by the 
National Health and Education Committee and the Open School Campaign 
committee, both set up by dissident groups from Burma, was 
prematurely ended by a sudden appearance of joint police and 
immigration raiding team at noon yesterday. 10 out of more than 40 
participants were found without ID cards or relevant documents and 
were deported to the border towns where they came from. 

A Thai reporter who came immediately told S.H.A.N. afterwards he was 
rung by a police officer, who said 'they had just taken into custody 
some 10 students believed to be connected to the notorious God's 

A participant told the officials seminar had nothing to do with 
violent tactics. "It was attended by persons who were involved in 
peaceful activities such as health and education," he said. "Even 
professors from Thailand and South Africa also came to present each 
country's experience in education." 

The Open School Campaign Committee was recently formed by 
representatives from Assistance Association for Political Prisoners 
(AAPP), All Burma Students' Democratic Front (ABSDF), Burma Women's 
Union (BWU), Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS), National League 
for Democracy-Youth (Liberated Area) NLD (LA) and Students and Youth 
Congress of Burma (SYCB), according to a handout. 



Source: France 2 TV, Paris, in French 1300 gmt 30 May 00
BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
1 June, 2000

Excerpts from live relay from Questions to the Government session at 
the French National Assembly; broadcast by France 2 TV on 30th May 

[Speaker] We now have a question from the Socialist group. Mr Pierre 

[Brana] Mr Speaker, colleagues: my question is for the foreign 
minister [Hubert Vedrine]... Will France - which is soon to take over 
the presidency of the European Union - propose an initiative to its 
partners which will make the Burmese generals understand the urgent 
need for democratisation?

[Speaker] ... I call on the minister to speak:

[Vedrine] Mr Speaker, my honourable friend... The situation [in 
Burma] fills with indignation all Europeans, all those in the west, 
and to different degrees - and we need to work on this - the Asian 
countries, and in particular Burma's neighbours... We [France] are 
going use the [EU] presidency both to persevere along this path, 
perhaps take some initiatives - we are talking about this right now 
with our partners, in particular the two or three countries which are 
the most concerned, the most active as regards the situation in 
Burma. And we shall use the dialogue between the EU and the ASEAN 
countries - which we have just restarted after it was frozen because 
of disagreement over how to deal with the Burmese crisis - to 
convince all the other countries whose situations are totally 
different from that of Burma to join us in applying pressure. We 
shall also speak about this during the ASEM [Asia-Europe Meeting], 
which involves the whole of Asia. And we hope that this combined 
pressure will finally give the Burmese democrats - and especially Mrs 
Aung San Suu Kyi - the legitimacy which they deserve, in other words, 
being in power to lead that country. 



 May 31, 2000 

Uamdao Noikorn

Environmentalists have demanded the Petroleum Authority of Thaland 
take responsibility for the demise of dozens of large trees along the 
Thai-Burmese gas pipeline route. 
"Once again, the PTT has disappointed us with its broken promises and 
lies regarding the project's ecological impact. This time it cannot 
lie because the problem is severe," said Boonsong Chansongrasami of 
Kanchanaburi Conservation Club. 

The discovery was made during a routine inspection trip by the club, 
which found dead and dying trees along the pipeline route for a 
distance of 5km in an area classified as A-1 watershed. These trees 
were so large as to need three men to encircle the trunks. 

The site is in Huay Kayeng forest reserve which is part of the 
Western Forest Complex, the country's biggest and last pristine 
forest cover where rare species can still be seen. 
But a forestry expert said the phenomenon was neither unusual nor 
Apichart Kaosa-ard, head of the Department of Forest Resources, 
Chiang Mai University, said: "This type of death is called die-back. 
It's the inevitable result of clearing a path in an evergreen 
The clearing allows sunlight to penetrate into the forest whose main 
characteristic is high moisture. "Once the heat sets in, the trees 
will start drying. In evergreen montane forests, the die-back is 
hastened by wind blowing right into it," he explained. 
So far, the only other known case was in Doi Inthanon National Park, 
where Mr Apichart studied the phenomenon years ago. 
Pine trees along the park road to the country's tallest peak have 
been slowly suffering from the ailment over five years. The drying 
would start with trees located nearest to the road and spread into 
the inner forest as heat and wind creep in, he said.  The speed at 
which damage occurs depends on the type of vegetation. A forest which 
has trees in the rubber family are in transition to becoming an 
evergreen forest and thus withstand the dryness better. 

This explained why other types of forests through which the pipeline 
passed were spared, he said, adding that if left untreated, the die-
back would keep spreading until the forest loses its evergreen 

The Yadana gas pipeline project is a Thai-Burmese joint venture. It 
faced stiff opposition from environmentalists on the Thai side, 
particularly the 6km section of its 260km course through an 
A-1 watershed forest. 

Another environmentalist believed the latest complaint about the dead 
trees would fall on deaf ears just like other complaints in the past. 

Surapol Duangkae, acting secretary-general of Wildlife Fund Thailand, 
said: "The company has no obligation to take responsibility for the 
trees, only the route. And its environmental impact assessment study 
states that the job of maintaining trees belongs to the Forestry 
Department, which has been allocated a restoration budget." 

He cited other cases where the PTT failed to fulfil its promises, 
such as the change in the width of the path's clearance to 20m from 
12m as stated in the EIA, which also included the planting of 
vegetation it said would be domestic to the forest, but had turned 
out otherwise. The authority also did not cover up the clearing of 
sensitive areas which were wildlife paths. 

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

Xinhua, Rangoon, 1 June 2000.   A total of only 59,742 foreign 
tourists visited Myanmar in the first two months of 2000, a 9.9 
percent drop compared with the same period of 1999 when 66,349 came, 
the country's Central Statistical Organization said in its latest 
In the whole year of 1999, a total of 255,879 foreign tourists 
visited Myanmar and the country's foreign exchange income earned 
through tourism in the year was only over 30 million U.S. dollars. 

With 13,984 hotel rooms and 521 licensed tour companies, Myanmar 
targets 500,000 tourist arrivals annually.

Since the country opened up to foreign investment in late 1988, it 
has absorbed 1.1 billion dollars of contracted investment in the 
sector of hotels and tourism in 30 projects.




May 27, 2000 


The generals are starting to fear trouble from a people with little 
to lose 

    SIT down on a stool at a tea stall in Yangon, the capital of 
Myanmar, and young men will come to tell you of their dreams of 
escape to Europe or America. Ask them about politics, and in urgent 
whispers most explain they cannot answer for fear of arrest. But when 
the rain falls noisily a few brave ones dare to speak up: "It is very 
bad here, very bad. Yes, we have rice every day, but we have no jobs. 
The government is very bad."

Such talk, however muted, is particularly risky at the moment: like 
the country's innumerable pagoda bells, the junta's nerves are 
jangling. On May 27th ten years ago, the voters unambiguously backed 
the National League for Democracy (NLD) in a general election, the 
result of which has never been honoured. Almost nothing has changed 
in the country since then, except its name, which used to be Burma. A 
military dictatorship remains in charge. It likes to believe the 
election is only a distant memory, but fears that the anniversary 
could be the trigger for trouble. 
Across the border in Thailand, some 90,000 refugees, together with 
opposition leaders from Myanmar, will mark the anniversary with 
demands for change and international attention. The visit of 
Britain's foreign secretary, Robin Cook, to the border region a few 
weeks ago encouraged the refugees and annoyed the junta. But the Thai 
government is wary of more violence after anti-regime fighters from 
the border region, though not necessarily from the refugee camps, 
attacked Myanmar's embassy in Bangkok last October, and then held a 
group of hostages in a bloody siege of a Thai hospital in January.

Inside Myanmar, any demands for change are likely to be rather less 
dramatic. Some of the country's 500,000 monks, notably the younger 
ones, propose to "strike", but that will merely mean they reject 
offerings from army officers and their families. Meanwhile, the 
military government has been hunting down more troublesome 
dissenters. Anyone spotted carrying NLD pamphlets or stickers has 
been arrested. The central areas of Yangon are strewn with barbed-
wire barricades. The junta says that any street demonstration will 
have been organised by foreign agents, and anyone taking part will be 
dealt with severely.

The NLD's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is described in the official 
newspapers as a "democracy actress" and foreign lackey. The regime 
claims that increasing numbers of her party have resigned "willingly 
and of their own accord". On May 19th, it says, 470 people left the 
party in one district of Yangon, while in March over 120,000 rallied 
against the "pessimist" NLD. Anyone who may have other ideas is 
warned that the regime aims to "crush all internal and external 
destructive elements as the common enemy". 

Miss Suu Kyi is, of course, one such enemy. Though no longer under 
formal house arrest, she remains under close watch by military 
intelligence. She is no longer allowed to make public speeches, 
though videotaped remarks by her were smuggled out this week to be 
broadcast by friendly television and radio stations. She has called 
again for a peaceful dialogue with the junta and for more 
international pressure for change, especially from Japan. The road to 
her house is barricaded. Taxi drivers who take curious foreigners to 
drive nearby for a snapshot have been arrested. 

Since she won the Nobel peace prize in 1991, Miss Suu Kyi has gone a 
bit out of fashion. Because she speaks like the Oxford academic's 
wife she once was, because foreign journalists are usually smitten by 
her and because the generals' grip on power seems stronger than ever, 
it can be easy to see her as some sort of western-imposed saviour, 
irrelevant to Myanmar's harsh realities. That is what the junta would 

Yet she is not. Her western background and fame are relevant to 
Myanmar because they make it hard to lock her up again, or to treat 
her with the casual cruelty most ordinary opposition politicians 
endure. But Miss Suu Kyi's real importance is as the sole repository 
of the hopes for peaceful change harboured by huge numbers of 
Myanmar's people.

Although anniversaries are seen as important, the real impetus for 
change in Myanmar, peaceful or not, could be economic collapse. The 
regime may be fearful that people are beginning to feel they have 
less and less to lose. Non-governmental organisations tell of 
malnutrition in remote rural areas. The thousands of people who have 
fled to Thailand have been driven by desperation for a job as much as 
by their dislike of the junta.

The military men claim 10% GDP growth a year. But that figure looks 
like fantasy and is certainly not reflected in the value of the 
currency, the kyat, which is in danger of collapsing. Shopkeepers who 
try to stay in business by raising prices are threatened with arrest. 
To keep soldiers and government workers sweet, they were given 
increases of five or six times their pay this month, a recipe for 
more inflation. 

The junta is losing its few remaining foreign friends. A Japanese car 
company, Toyota, the HSBC bank and a foreign manufacturer of 
monosodium glutamate have all announced in the past few months that 
they will pull out of the country. Approved foreign investment fell 
by 90% last year and the only companies set to stay are those 
exploiting natural resources such as oil and timber.

Even they may be embarrassed by a recent report by the International 
Labour Organisation condemning the use of forced labour in army 
projects, some of which have benefited foreign investors. In June, 
the organisation aims to push other United Nations agencies to 
distance themselves from the junta until it can prove that forced 
labour is no longer used. Yet Myanmar is not a hopeless case, hardly 
worth bothering about. Since so many people are so oppressed  by so 
few, they will presumably one day do something about it. And, as one  
side has nearly all the guns, the result may be bloody.


The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive 
coverage of news and opinion on Burma  (Myanmar).  

For a subscription to Burma's only free daily newspaper, 
write to: strider@xxxxxxx

You can also contact BurmaNet by phone or fax:

Voice mail +1 (435) 304-9274 

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Failed tests, classes skipped, forgotten locker combinations. 
Remember the good 'ol days

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