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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: June 9, 2000

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

June 9, 2000

Issue # 1550

The BurmaNet News, including back issues, is readable online at: 


 A ``soft version of previous denials."

Andew Samet, US representative to the ILO on government of Burma's 
assertion that it is taking the "necessary measures" to ensure that 
it stops using forced labor.


*Inside Burma














__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


Burmese navy seized a speedboat and killed a LTTE fighter

June 9, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

Burmese navy seized a speedboat suspected to be of LTTE and killed a 
Tamil tiger in a sea encounter in southern Burma last Sunday, Burmese 
opposition radio Democratic Voice of Burma reported on Friday night. 

In an apparently first-ever report of clash between Burmese navy and 
Sri Lankar's Tamil rebels, a Burmese navy ship (No. 551) attacked a 
LTTE speedboat in the southern Burma's sea in 4th June afternoon. The 
place is about 5 km far from Long Lon Island which situated in the 
south of Tavoy (Dawei), Burma's southern port.

During the encounter, one Mr. Tibanbe from LTTE and Mr. Khaing Thaung 
Zam from Arakan Army were killed, reported DVB which aired from 
Norway.  Moreover, the Burmese navy arrested Mr. Kijarsin from LTTE, 
two Arakans from Arakan Army and one Mon.

Burmese navy also recovered thirty-three pistols (point 45), forty-
two M 16 assault rifles, nine machine guns (China made) and a large 
number of ammunition from the ship.

The arrested rebels were taken to Tenessariam (Tanin-Tharyi) Navy 
Headquarters in Katan Island, near Mergue (Myeik), another southern 
port of Burma.

The LTTE ship was reportedly on its way from southern Thailand to 
Jaffna Island in Sri Lanka.

It was not known till now that there is a close relationship between 
LTTE and Arakan Army, armed wing of National United Party of Arakan 
(NUPA) which is fighting against the Burmese military junta for self-
determination and freedom.


___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


INCREASED TRADING RELATIONS, below, for a related article]

K. Natwar Singh

The Asian Age

June 9, 2000

 ...On May 27, 1990, the people of Burma/ Myanmar gave Aung San Suu 
Kyi and her National League for Democracy a resounding electoral 
victory. The results have not been accepted by the ruling military 
junta. In India, the tenth anniversary of that electoral victory of 
the National League for Democracy went almost unnoticed. This is a 
crying shame. Even the United States which puts so much store by 
democracy and human rights has really not put the heat on the 
military junta. India too has been disinterested in what goes on 
inside one of its closest neighbours. Aung San Suu Kyi has not 
received the support she deserves, from successive Indian governments.

For almost 40 years Burma, rich in natural resources, has turned its 
back on the world, U Thant was Burma's Permanent Representative to 
the United Nations in New York. He succeeded Dag Hammarksjold as 
Secretary General of the UN following Hammarksjold's death in a plane 
crash in Ndola in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in September 1961. 
During most of his tenure the Burmese government did not take much 
notice of U Thant. When he retired in 1971, he settled down in New 
York, because he was not welcome in his home land. He died in New 
York 10 1974. 

I accompanied Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his state visit to 
Rangoon towards the end of 1987. General Ne Win was the boss. This 
became evident when Rajiv Gandhi accompanied by me, Foreign Secretary 
K.P.S. Menon and Ambassador I.P. Singh went for official Talks. With 
General Ne Win were two Burmese gentlemen. The foreign minister I 
recognised but not the third person. We did not have to wait long to 
be enlightened by General Ne Win: "Rajiv, that is the foreign 
minister and this is the President of Burma. The President normally 
talks little, but in my presence he does not talk at all." The Rajiv 
Gandhi-NE Win talks lasted over two hours. The President did not 
utter a word. That day I became aware of a wholly novel virtue of 

Rajiv Gandhi attached great importance to this foreign visit and 
prepared himself thoroughly. He had carefully read all the briefs. 
Even after 13 years, I remember vividly what transpired at the talks. 
The Indian Prime Minister made several concrete proposals to 
intensity and further strengthen Indo-Burmese relations.

Tourism: Gen. Ne Win said he disliked tourists and was in no need of 

Joint Ventures: The general informed late Rajiv Gandhi that he had 
allowed one joint venture withà and was regretting it.

And so it went on.

Rajiv Gandhi was, among other qualities, endowed with requisite 
manners. He kept his cool even when Ne Win became avuncular in a 
patronising way, treating the Indian PM more as the grandson of 
Jawaharlal Nehru and the son of Indira Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi had to 
bear many crosses, but the Ne Win cross was unexpected.

The next day we met the Prime Minister of Burma and his senior 
Cabinet ministers. Everything Gen. Ne Win had turned down the Prime 
Minister and his colleagues accepted with grateful thanks. Rajiv 
Gandhi asked me what I thought of this bizarre Burmese performance. 
My reply was, "the Cabinet proposes. The General disposes."

General Ne Win's not so benign shadow falls right across Myanmar, 
darkening the lives of the people, with no sign of the down, despite 
Aung San Suu Kyi's valiant struggle against tyranny...

(K. Natwar Singh carried forward a brilliant career in the foreign 
services to a distinguished spell in politics. He has been an elected 
member of Parliament, Union minister in various portfolios and it now 
a member of the Congress Working Committee)

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________


June 9, 2000

A major step towards imposing punitive sanctions on Burma
(Myanmar)was taken by the International Labour Conference
(ILC) this evening. At the end of a heated 5-hour debate
starting at 6pm on Friday 9 June, with breaks for
consultation, the ILC Selection Committee voted
overwhelmingly*  in favour of a  resolution proposing a
number of sanctions against Burma (Myanmar) for non-
compliance with her obligations  under ILO Convention
No. 29 on forced labour.

The sanctions would take effect from 30 November 2000
unless, before that date, the ILO Governing Body is satisfied that 
the recommendations of the ILO Commission of Inquiry
into forced labour in Burma have been fulfilled.

The draft resolution (see full text below) will now be
submitted to the Conference plenary for discussion and
action (towards the end of next week)

* For the resolution: 33; Against: 4; Abstentions: 3



88th Session, Geneva, June 2000




The International Labour Conference,

Meeting at its 88th Session in Geneva from 30 May to
15 June 2000,

Considering the proposals by the Governing Body which
are before it, under the eighth item of its agenda
(Provisional Record No. 4), with a view to the adoption,
under article 33 of the ILO Constitution, of action to
secure compliance with the recommendations of the Commission of 
Inquiry established to examine the observance by Myanmar of its 
obligations in respect of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29),

         Having taken note of the additional information contained in 
the report of the ILO technical cooperation mission sent to Yangon 
from 23 to 27 May 2000 (Provisional Record No. 8) and, in particular, 
of the letter dated 27 May 2000 from the Minister of Labour to the 
Director-General, which resulted from the mission, 

         Considering that, while this letter contains aspects which 
seem to reflect a welcome intention on the part of the Myanmar 
authorities to take measures to give effect to the recommendations of 
the Commission of Inquiry, the factual situation on which the 
recommendations of the Governing Body were based has nevertheless 
remained unchanged to date,

         Believing that the Conference cannot, without failing in its 
responsibilities to the workers subjected to various forms of forced 
or compulsory labour, abstain from the immediate application of the 
measures recommended by the Governing Body unless the Myanmar 
authorities promptly take concrete action to adopt the necessary 
framework for implementing the Commission of  Inquiry's 
recommendations, thereby ensuring that the situation of the said 
workers will be remedied more expeditiously and under more 
satisfactory conditions for all concerned;

1. Approves in principle, subject to the conditions stated in 
paragraph 2 below, the actions recommended by the Governing Body, 

         (a)     to decide that the question of the implementation of 
the Commission of Inquiry's recommendations and of the application of 
Convention No. 29 by Myanmar should be discussed at future sessions 
of the International Labour Conference, at a sitting of the Committee 
on the Application of Standards specially set aside for the purpose, 
so long as this Member has not been shown to have fulfilled its 

(b)     to recommend to the Organization's constituents as a whole - 
governments, employers and workers - that they: (i) review, in the 
light of the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry, the relations 
that they may have with the member State concerned and take 
appropriate measures to ensure that the said Member cannot take 
advantage of such relations to perpetuate or extend the system of 
forced or compulsory labour referred to by the Commission of Inquiry, 
and to contribute as far as possible to the implementation of its 
recommendations; and (ii) report back in due course and at 
appropriate intervals to the Governing Body; 

         (c)     as regards international organizations, to invite 
the Director-General: (i) to inform the international organizations 
referred to in article 12, paragraph 1, of the Constitution of the 
Member's failure to comply; (ii) to call on the relevant bodies of 
these organizations to reconsider, within their terms of reference 
and in the light of the conclusions of the Commission of Inquiry, any 
cooperation they may be engaged in with the Member concerned and, if 
appropriate, to cease as soon as possible any activity that could 
have the effect of directly or indirectly abetting the practice of 
forced or compulsory labour;

         (d)     regarding the United Nations specifically, to invite 
the Director-General to request the Economic and Social Council 
(ECOSOC) to place an item on the agenda of its July 2001 session 
concerning the failure of Myanmar to implement the recommendations 
contained in the report of the Commission of Inquiry and seeking the 
adoption of recommendations directed by ECOSOC or by the General 
Assembly, or by both, to governments and to other specialized 
agencies and including requests similar to those proposed in 
paragraphs (b) and (c) above;

         (e)     to invite the Director-General to submit to the 
Governing Body, in the appropriate manner and at suitable intervals, 
a periodic report on the outcome of the measures set out in 
paragraphs (c) and (d) above, and to inform the international 
organizations concerned of any developments in the implementation by 
Myanmar of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry.

2.      Decides that those measures will take effect on 30 November 
2000 unless, before that date, the Governing Body is satisfied that 
the intentions expressed by the Minister of Labour of Myanmar in his 
letter dated 27 May have been translated into a framework of 
legislative, executive and administrative measures that are 
sufficiently concrete and detailed to demonstrate that the 
recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry have been fulfilled and 
render the implementation of one or more of these measures 

3.      Authorizes the Director-General to respond positively to all 
requests by Myanmar that are made with the sole purpose of 
establishing, before the above deadline, the framework
mentioned in the conclusions of the ILO technical cooperation mission 
(points (i), (ii) and (iii), page 8/11 of Provisional Record No. 8), 
supported by a sustained ILO presence on the spot, if the Governing 
Body confirms that the conditions are met for such presence to be 
truly useful and effective.



By Stephanie Nebehay 

 GENEVA, June 9 (Reuters) - Myanmar, accused of forced labour akin to 
slavery, looks set to escape sanction at the annual U.N. labour 
meeting despite a U.S.-European Union drive to punish the ruling 
junta, diplomats said on Friday. 

 The United States, Britain and Portugal backed trade unions in 
demanding that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) talks call 
for Yangon to be isolated until it ends the practice. 
 But Asian powers including Japan, China and Malaysia closed ranks 
with their neighbour and are likely to force a compromise which would 
delay action until November, according to diplomats. 

 ``It looks like Myanmar is slipping the noose and we are moving 
toward some compromise,'' said one envoy. 

 U.S. Undersecretary of Labour Andrew Samet took the floor at a 
heated session on Thursday night against the background of a wider 
debate on linking global trade and labour standards. 
 He urged the ILO forum to call on states and international 
organisations to review their ties with Myanmar to ensure they were 
not abetting forced labour, according to diplomats. 

 Such an unprecedented call by the ILO, which itself has no power to 
impose sanctions, could be a green light for financial organisations 
like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to apply economic 
sanctions, diplomats say. 


 The ILO committee, made up of 28 government delegations as well as 
workers' and employers' groups, resumes debate on Myanmar on Friday 
night. It will issue recommendations on Monday which the full 
conference is expected to endorse on June 15. 

 ``The committee is working on a compromise text,'' a diplomat told 
Reuters. ``It appears that the workers are on board for the 
compromise, but they want a very tight definition of how to measure 
Myanmar's progress on legislation to end the practice and its efforts 
to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators.'' 

 Under the proposal, the ILO conference would call on the ILO's 
Governing Body, composed of 28 key governments, to review Myanmar's 
compliance next November, according to diplomats. 

 A year ago, ILO member states barred Myanmar from the Geneva-based 
agency after a 1998 ILO commission of inquiry found the country 
violated a global treaty banning forced labour. 

 Trade unions have estimated that more than 800,000 Burmese are 
conscripted with little or no pay as army porters or workers in 
construction and agriculture in slave-like conditions. 

 Myanmar hastily invited an ILO mission last month in what trade 
unions saw as a bid to stave off further condemnation. 

 Labour Minister Major-General Tin Ngwe told the ILO experts that the 
need for porters for military operations had been greatest before a 
1990 insurgency, according to their report. A May 1999 order had 
amended legislation to halt forced labour and no complaints had been 
received since, the minister said. 

 Tin later wrote in a letter to ILO Director-General Juan Somavia 
that Myanmar was ``taking the necessary measures'' to ensure that 
forced labour was halted. 

 But Samet dismissed the minister's letter as a ``soft version of 
previous denials,'' according to diplomats. 

 Portugal, current president of the European Union, said in the 
debate that Myanmar did not appear to have taken any signficant 
measures to combat the abuses. 

 Britain's delegation said that the military government was in 
``continued contempt'' of the ILO. If the talks took unprecedented 
action, it would set a good precedent, it added. 



June 8, 2000 


 A funeral service for Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, scheduled for 
Thursday in Tokyo, may prove an opportunity for some important Asian 

 A meeting between U.S. President Bill Clinton and South Korea's 
President Kim Dae Jung, for example, comes just ahead of the first 
summit between the top leaders of North and South Korea next week in 
Pyongyang. But a less-publicized appearance is also noteworthy: One 
of Myanmar's top leaders, Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, will be at the 
funeral, marking the highest-ranking official to visit Japan in an 
official capacity since the military junta took control of Myanmar in 

 The general's visit shows how Japan's attitude toward Myanmar is
 beginning to change as it explores ways to provide assistance to the 
natural resource-rich country. Japan, for years the world's largest 
provider of foreign aid, has been enthusiastic about giving economic 
assistance to developing countries, especially to its neighbors in 
Asia. But because of human-rights issues associated with Myanmar's 
military government -- and strong opposition to the regime from the 
U.S. and other Western countries -- Japan's economic assistance to 
the country has been virtually frozen since the late 1980s.

 For its part, Myanmar wants help mechanizing its agricultural sector 
and improving its natural-resource infrastructure as it struggles to 
get back on its feet after the regionwide economic crisis that hit in 

 An official at Japan's Foreign Ministry declined to disclose the 
general's itinerary during his visit, but added that the general 
would likely meet with members of the government.

 The change toward Myanmar appears to have started in November, 
during the meeting in Manila of the Association of Southeast Asian 
Nations along with China, Japan and South Korea. Then Prime Minister 
Obuchi met Than Shwe, the top leader of Myanmar's ruling military 
junta, marking the first meeting between leaders of the two countries 
in 15 years. Soon after that,

 Japan's former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto also met Myanmar's 
most powerful leader in Yangon, when he was on a private visit to the 
country together with officials from a private Japanese foundation.

 At the Asean meeting in Manila, Japanese media reported Mr. Obuchi 
told his counterpart that Japan is ready to provide more economic 
assistance to the country and was seeking more "visible" 
democratization in Myanmar.

 Japan's business community seems pleased with developments. "There 
is a move emerging that leads us to have hope for a breakthrough" in 
relations, Iwao Toriumi, chairman of Marubeni Corp., wrote in a 
recent monthly publication of Keidanren, the leading big-business 
lobby. Mr. Toriumi, who is also the chairman of a Keidanren committee 
that has been working to promote business between Japan and Myanmar, 
went to Myanmar in December as the head of a delegation of Japanese 
businessmen to discuss trade and investment issues.

 Mr. Toriumi said officials from Myanmar unveiled their plan to 
mechanize the country's agricultural sector and to improve 
infrastructure related to developing natural resources, such as oil 
and natural gas. The Myanmar officials said they sought direct 
investment, more technical expertise and human-resource training from 
Japan, he said.

 In addition to grant-aid and free technological assistance since 
1987, Japan made 2.5 billion yen ($23.6 million) in credits available 
to Myanmar to modernize Yangon International Airport in 1998. The 
grant was given on humanitarian grounds, government officials said, 
in order to improve the airport's facilities and make it safer. It 
also was an exception to general policy, the officials said.

 Aside from the airport-related funds, no yen credits have been 
extended to Myanmar since Japan's fiscal year 1987. Meanwhile, in the 
17 years before the freezing of funds, Japan had promised more than 
400 billion yen in low interest-bearing credits to Myanmar to help 
finance the country's various economic development programs. Even 
now, Japan provides grants to Myanmar, but most of those are to 
finance the repayment of yen credits that Japan had extended in the 
years before 1987.

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________



June 7, 2000 


Spilling trouble
Yin Shao Loong

June 7: An associate company of national oil corporation Petronas has 
conceded that human rights abuses have been taking place inside an 
area of Burma it controls. Premier Oil, a British company in which 
Petronas holds a 25 percent stake, made the statement at its annual 
meeting on May 15 in London (Guardian, May 16).

Chief executive officer Charles Jamieson, despite previously denying 
knowledge of "abuses in our pipeline area or of cases of forced 
labour being used", according to the Guardian report, claimed to have 
now raised the issue of continuing abuses in Premier-controlled areas 
with the Burma government. Furthermore, he stated that "It is not 
just human rights but environmental [abuses], too."

Debbie Stothard of Alternative Asean for Burma notes that the "forced 
labour", "forced relocation", and "military terrorism" as well as 
rape, execution and confiscation of property that campaign groups 
have alleged are a typical practice for "clearing an area to lay down 
a pipeline".  
Campaigners allege that approximately 25,000 people have been 
forcibly relocated and the region "secured" by over 5,000 troops of 
the Burmese military in the interest of potentially lucrative 
infrastructure development projects in Burma, which holds United 
Nations' "least developed country" status.

Petronas is partnered with Premier Oil in the Yetagun gas field and 
pipeline project off the coast of southern Burma and west of Bangkok. 
They form part of a consortium led and operated by Premier in which 
Petronas holds a 37 percent stake. In October last year a global 
strategic alliance between the two companies was announced when 
Petronas bought a 25 percent stake in Premier Oil for US$167 

Premier's admission comes belatedly after 12 years of rule by the 
State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) military junta. In 1999 
the International Labour Organisation (ILO) expelled Burma from its 
meetings as a result of the "widespread and systematic use of forced 
labour in Myanmar (Burma)". 

The 30-year Yetagun gas supply contract signed with Thailand promises 
a steady stream of income for the country. Thus far, oil and gas 
companies as well as other multinationals in Burma have come under 
pressure for effectively financing a government which has acquired an 
international reputation for its human rights abuses, condemned as 
recently as April this year by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Big Oil in trouble

Premier Oil's revelation is the latest in a series of controversial 
disclosures involving the international oil and gas industry over the 
last decade. With reserves being located in often troubled and remote 
parts of the world, human rights and environmental issues have turned 
up time and again.

Mobil Indonesia was placed in the uncomfortable position of having to 
house soldiers within its compound and furthermore, to permit the 
prayer enclosure to be used as a detention area for Acehnese 
dissidents. It subsequently became their grave.

In 1995 international condemnation was directed at Shell over the 
death of Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria. Well-known literary figure, Saro-
Wiwa, had attracted the enmity of both Shell and Sani Abacha's 
military regime for bringing both their oppressive activities to 
international attention. Shell's reputation has still to recover from 
their failure to prevent his execution.

Unocal, an American oil company, is already facing litigation in US 
federal courts for its involvement with abuses in Burma. EarthRights 
International, an environmental and human rights pressure group based 
in Bangkok and Washington, DC, who are one of the plaintiffs, have 
also indicated that similar legal action against Premier is 
a "possibility".  
Social responsibilities

As the largest British investor in Burma, the UK is keen for Premier 
to uphold the reputation of its parent country abroad. According to 
the Financial Times (May 16), Premier has already commissioned an 
independent audit to assess whether it is fulfilling its "social 
responsibilities" in Burma.

"Constructive engagement", a term similar to that used by Shell in 
Nigeria, will be Premier Oil's policy in Burma according to chief 
executive Jamieson, "the development of an emerging country's energy 
resources is one of the prime requisites for longer term economic 
growth." (With the logic being that greater standards of human rights 
follows economic growth). 

For Shell, it was only the sudden death of dictator Abacha and 
subsequent democratic elections that improved perceptions of their 
situation in Nigeria. 

Premier Oil is unlikely to enjoy such "fortune" in the near term. An 
EarthRights report, "Total Denial", published May 22 contains copies 
of leaked documents which reveal that oil companies had prior 
knowledge of forced labour taking place before they joined the 
pipeline projects. 
The question now turns to whether Malaysian companies engaged in 
socially and environmentally destructive activities will face similar 
scrutiny. So far, notes Stothard, Petronas' activities in Burma have 
escaped the notice of Western consumer campaigns. 

Whether the company is complicit in human rights abuses, if any, by 
virtue of its association with Premier Oil (or without for that 
matter) is subjective. Petronas, according to Stothard, has been less 
transparent about its activities than its Western counterparts and 
campaigners have not been able to find out much about its engagements 
in Burma.

"Petronas believes that its long-term business activities and 
community relations initiatives will uplift the economic and social 
lives of the people wherever it operates, not the least in Myanmar 
(Burma)," said their official spokesperson.

"It has been amply demonstrated that respect for human rights will 
inevitably increase, and unacceptable and entrenched habits get 
neutralised, whenever a country achieves good economic and social 

"Destructive Engagement" another report by EarthRights notes: "Since 
1988, the oil and gas sector has provided by far the largest amount 
of foreign direct investment for the military regime." This has been 
followed by "militarisation with corresponding human rights and 
environmental abuses without corresponding benefits for the local 
population", notes the report. 

Premier was contacted by malaysiakini but declined to comment. 
Governmental pressure

In April Premier Oil was urged by the UK government to withdraw from 
its stake in the Yetagun project because of concerns over SPDC's 
human rights record. The UK's Labour government is attempting to 
fulfil its earlier commitment to an "ethical foreign policy" which 
has so far been dogged by scandal as revelations have emerged of arms 
export subsidies and the underwriting of a controversial dam project 
in Turkey. Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also called 
for Premier's withdrawal until democracy is restored.

When Burma joined Asean in 1997 and concerns were voiced over its 
human rights record and the technical illegality of the SPDC 
government, Asean leaders expressed the hope that Burma would "learn 
by example". However, Malaysia has always been a staunch promoter of 
"non-interference" policy, and urging Petronas to withdraw from 
investments in Burma in protest of the junta would appear to breach 
this promise.

This does not detract from the fact that Petronas is a state-owned 
multinational corporation whose activities should be subjected to 
public accountability. Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi 
himself has stated, with respect to the perils of globalisation, 
that "The danger is that sovereign governments that derive their 
legitimacy from their citizens are superceded by people and 
corporations that are not accountable to anyone".

The recently formed Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has 
tentatively accepted complaints submitted from overseas concerning 
local human rights issues (malaysiakini, May 29), but it remains to 
be seen whether they will investigate concerns of human rights abuses 
taking place within the interests of state-owned companies or their 
subsidiaries abroad. Both Malaysia's and Petronas' international 
reputations hang in the balance.



June 8, 2000 

Ranong - Fishery operators are to ask Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai 
for help as Burma has withdrawn their concessions for eight months. 

Banchong Wipakkij-anan, president of the Ranong Fishery Association, 
said the operators agreed in talks with Governor Tawat Hantra to urge 
Mr Chuan to visit Burma to negotiate for the renewal of the 




June 5-11, 2000

""It is preposterous."" ""We have seen a totally different political, 
economic and social life here in Myanmar from what we were informed 
by the western media,"" said Mr G.L Goenka, President of Indo-Myanmar 
Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Yangon.

Mr Goenka, from Mumbai (Bombay), headed a 19-member Indian Business 
delegation to Yangon last week ""As most of SE Asian countries are 
enjoying a good business relationship with Myanmar, and as a very 
close neighbor, why should we (India) be left out?"" Mr Goenka said...

The Indian Chamber delegation included entrepreneurs from a wide 
spectrum of Indian business including the steel industry, industrial 
goods manufacturers, pharmaceutical and leading trading companies 
from Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai...

""It has been very hard to convince Indian entrepreneurs on the 
tremendous trade and investment potential in Myanmar. Unfortunately, 
they have received the wrong impression from some western media,"" he 
said. Mr Goenka said he remained optimistic about future business 
prospects. His family had successfully operated the Bandoola groups 
of companies in Myanmar, for all but 25 years (from 1963 to 1988) 
since the late 19th Century in Myanmar
But he said it was important for Myanmar to adopt ""an 
internationally accepted system"" in developing its economic and 
trade infrastructure. Mr Goenka praised Myanmar authorities, for 
their stance in business cooperation between two countries. According 
to him Myanmar authorities have signaled an abolishment of a 10 per 
cent export-tax.

To promote Indian investment, Myanmar and Indian officials, 
according, Mr Goenka, are negotiating on a copper mining project in 
Myanmar to be undertaken by an Indian company near the two countries 
border. His delegation also had fruitful discussions with the Myanma 
Investment Commission, in which they agreed on the establishment of a 
steel plant by a Calcutta based company in Yangon. 

This will be established in 2002. He is equally optimistic over the 
project on construction of a gas pipeline for exporting Myanmar''s 
natural gas to India. ""The Myanmar government and Gas Authority of 
India Ltd, have discussed building a natural gas pipeline,"" said Mr 
Goenka. As for improving trade between the two countries, he said 
more efforts were needed to conduct smooth border trade. 

""At the Myanmar side of border, things are more promising for the 
trade than the Indian side,"" he said. But he added the bureaucratic 
delay and unsecured line of communication perpetrated by the 
insurgency in that area by an ethnic group at the Indian side of 
border was hampering the trade.

Mr Goneka also expressed dismay on the news he heard recently on a 
row between Myanmar and Indian trade authorities because of an 
irresponsible remark made by an Indian authority on Myanmar, in his 
interview with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). ""The Indian 
side has lost hugely, "" said Mr. Goenka.

 ...""Myanmar''s export to India can be raised if Myanmar can directly 
export its pulses and beans to India,"" he said. According to Mr 
Goenka India is buying more than 60pc of Myanmar''s pulses and beans 
but he said only a portion of it can be sent directly from Myanmar to 
India. The Bandoola Company, run by his family in Yangon, is the sole 
agent for Indian Airlines, and the company, according to Mr Goenka, 
is currently facilitating the visit of a group of 1000 Indian 
tourists, expected to be in Myanmar by the beginning of next year.

_____________________ OTHER  ______________________


Sinead Cusack, Clive James, Miriam Karlin OBE, Baroness Helena 
Kennedy QC, Glenys Kinnock MEP,  Sue Lloyd-Roberts, Sir John 
Mortimer, Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, Rt Hon Sir David Steel  

Birthday Party for Aung San Suu Kyi

Artists including Alan Rickman, Glenda Jackson and Richard Wilson 
will perform at a special birthday celebration to be held at the 
Royal Court Theatre at 7pm on Sunday, 18 June. The occasion marks the 
55th birthday of Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel prize winner 
Aung San Suu Kyi. She will not be there as she remains under virtual 
house arrest in Burma. However, she plans to send a video message to 
the guests at her birthday party. 

The party, organised by The Burma Campaign UK and its Patron, Glenys 
Kinnock MEP, is to be an occasion at which Aung San Suu Kyi would 
enjoy herself with a ninety-minute theatre show performed to her 
friends and supporters. However, by virtue of her absence the event 
will also serve to increase public awareness of the terrible 
situation in Burma. 

Glenys Kinnock will speak about Aung San Suu Kyi and her situation. 
World leaders Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Tony 
Blair are sending birthday greetings on video and in writing. The 
onstage entertainment is being organised and directed by Philip 
Hedley, Artistic Director of the Theatre Royal, Stratford East. 

Other artists who have so far promised to appear onstage include: 
Maureen Lipman, John Hegley, Jon Snow, David Hare, Prunella Scales, 
Meera Syal, Timothy West, Kathy Lette, Miriam Karlin, Kate Williams, 
Fascinating Aida and the Jiving Lindy Hoppers. Many other performers 
who cannot appear on the night, are sending personal statements 
assuring Aung San Suu Kyi of their support. 

The onstage entertainment begins at 7.45 and ends in good time for 
food, wine, conversation and live music in all areas of the newly re-
opened Royal Court. Tickets are ú75 with all proceeds to go towards 
the work of The Burma Campaign UK, who campaign for a free and 
democratic Burma. An information sheet on the work of The Burma 
Campaign UK is attached. 

For further information about the event on 18 June and press 
interviews, please contact:  
Anne Mayer 0207 254 7391 Kim Morgan 0208 534 2178 

Please note that there are an extremely limited number of subsidised 
tickets available for ú40 for active members of the Burmese community 
and for campaigners. For those who wish to apply for these please 
send an e-mail to Yvette Mahon at bagp@xxxxxxxxxxx Please accept our 
apologies ahead of time for any of you who will be disappointed - 
we'd love to have everyone there but there are only a restricted 
number of seats available. 


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: 

You can also contact BurmaNet by phone or fax:

Voice mail or fax (US) +1(202) 318-1261
You will be prompted to press 1 for a voice message or 2 to send a 
fax.  If you do neither, a fax tone will begin automatically.

Fax (Japan) +81 (3) 4512-8143


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