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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: June 26, 2000

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

June 26, 2000

Issue # 1563

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:


"There was no little irony in the lawless junta congratulating  
America's justices for taking `the right decision.'"


*Inside Burma



















__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


Saturday, June 24, 2000

GRETCHEN PETERS in Mae Sot, Thailand 

Burmese Buddhist and Muslim leaders in exile have accused the 
country's military leaders of staging attacks on Islamic mosques, 
while voicing fears the violence could spark sectarian unrest between 
the two communities.  "We are working with the Buddhist leaders to 
avoid any unrest and to assure peace," U Kyaw Hla, chairman of the 
Muslim Liberation Organisation of Burma, said yesterday from his 
office in Chiang Mai, Thailand. "We are appealing to the people of 
Burma to stay calm."  

The head of the All Burma Young Monks Association said there was 
evidence the attacks were carried out by soldiers from the ruling 
State Peace and Development Council in a bid to divert attention from 
planned anti-government protests.  

"To us monks this comes as a sort of propaganda against us," said 
Ashin Khaymassarra at his hideout in the Thai border town of Mae 

The attacks began in mid-May, about a week before the anniversary of 
the 1990 elections, which were won by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu 
Kyi, whose party was then barred from taking power. Thousands of 
monks had planned to march on Rangoon on May 27 to protest against 
the ruling junta's decade-long refusal to recognise the poll 

Late the night before, three military trucks carrying men in civilian 
dress rumbled up to the Bangali Mosque in downtown Rangoon, according 
to reports from eyewitnesses cited by the Muslim Information Centre 
of Burma. About 40 men descended from the trucks, hurled stones 
through the windows, kicked down the door and smashed the walls with 
clubs. Then they vandalised the mosque's interior, destroying a 
Koran, the Islamic holy book, and stealing funds.  

Witnesses said the trucks that carried the attackers parked outside a 
nearby Buddhist monastery, in what appeared to be an effort to make 
it look like monks had launched the assault.  

Four days earlier, about two dozen men, also in civilian dress, 
attacked another mosque in Rangoon, throwing stones through windows 
and knocking down the walls with metal pipes. Two Muslim men later 
died in detention after they went to a local police station to report 
the attack.  

Other acts of violence reported by the centre included beatings, 
torture, the rape of Muslim women and the destruction of Muslim 
places of worship, community centres or dwellings to make way for 
Buddhist pagodas.  

The reports did not emerge for several weeks because of restrictions 
that made it difficult for Burmese Muslims to travel around the 
country or to make contact with the outside world.  

Muslims, who make up about 10 to 15 per cent of Burma's estimated 45 
million people, are one of the most persecuted minority groups in a 
country notorious for rights abuses. Many Muslim families moved to 
Burma from India in the 19th century - when British colonialists 
ruled both nations - but they are not recognised as Burmese 

Without national identification cards, Muslims are barred access to 
education, employment and health care, and suffer routinely at the 
hands of soldiers. As "foreigners", they cannot be represented by the 
country's judicial system.  

Religious leaders say the ruling junta has repeatedly tried to stir 
simmering tensions between the two communities, and briefly succeeded 
in 1997 when anti-Muslim riots erupted in Rangoon and the northern 
city of Mandalay, resulting in dozens of deaths.  

"This was not the first time," said Mr Khaymassarra, referring to 
last month's attacks. "Whenever there is a political crisis, the 
Government tries to create problems between Muslims and Buddhists."  

Analysts say such a policy could backfire on Rangoon's military 
leaders, warning that the attacks could spark the same type of mob 
violence plaguing Indonesia, where hundreds have died in clashes 
between Christian and Muslim communities. 


June 26, 2000

YANGON, Myanmar (AP)  Myanmar can't be complacent about its 
successful transition to a free market economy, a top general from 
the isolated military state said. 

 ``The world is changing rapidly and the process of globalization is 
gaining momentum. It is essential that Myanmar undertake necessary 
measures to meet the challenges of the time or we will face the 
danger of being marginalized,'' said Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt. He did not 

 The general, who is secretary-one of the ruling State Peace and 
Development Council, was speaking at the opening Sunday of a closed-
door meeting of a joint Myanmar-Japan task force in Yangon. 

 The task force was expected to provide recommendations on reform of 
the moribund Myanmar economy. The text of the general's comments was 
obtained Monday by the Associated Press. 

 The government in Myanmar, also known as Burma, initiated free 
market reforms in 1989 after 26 years of ruinous socialism. The heavy-
handed regime refused to hand over power when it lost a democratic 
election in 1990. 

 After a mini-boom in the mid-1990s, the economy floundered, partly 
due to Asia's economic crisis. Foreign investment plummeted and 
inflation soared. 
 A report last year by the World Bank, however, said the main problem 
was not regional malaise but a lack of government transparency and 
economic mismanagement. 
 An April report by the Asian Development Bank said Myanmar's central 
bank printed cash to cover 70 percent of last year's budget deficit.
 About 30 delegates from Japan, including academics, businessmen and 
a senior official of the Japanese Foreign Ministry were attending the 
Myanmar workshop to discuss financial, industrial, investment and 
trade matters. 
 The task force was initiated by the late Japanese prime minister 
Keizo Obuchi ``to assist in Myanmar's economic reforms'' said Khin 
Nyunt, who is also the chief of military intelligence. 



June 25, 2000

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP)  A deadly virus that killed about 100 
people and ruined pig farms across Malaysia last year has been 
discovered in a fruit bat found in most parts of Southeast Asia, news 
reports said Saturday. 

 A team of scientists from Malaysia's top research institution, the 
University of Malaya, has isolated a strain of the Nipah virus from 
the Island Flying Fox, a fruit bat that roosts in palm trees in 
Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia, said 
The Sun newspaper. 

 Lam Sai Kit, a microbiology professor, said his research team has so 
far discovered the virus in two of 1,000 urine specimens collected 
from the flying foxes. 
 Lam could not be reached for comment. 

 The virus, which swept through a large part of Malaysia early last 
year, first surfaced in a pig-farming district in Negri Sembilan 
state, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Kuala Lumpur. 
 It killed 84 people in that area alone and infected hundreds. The 
virus also sickened and killed thousands of hogs. 
 Lam warned that since the flying foxes are migratory creatures, it 
is likely that the virus will spread to other nearby countries. It is 
also possible that other species of bats or wildlife harbor the 
virus, he said. 
 Nevertheless, Lam added that his team had not found any cases of the 
virus being transmitted directly from fruit bats to human beings. 

 ``There seems to be an inadequate amount and strength of the virus 
present in the flying foxes to enable them to infect humans 
directly,'' he was quoted as saying in the New Straits Times daily. 

 ``Perhaps the virus needs to multiply in the pig before it becomes 
infectious to humans,'' he said, noting that the virus died quickly 
without a host. 

 In cases where transmission to humans does occur, however, the 
damage is severe. The Nipah virus is lethal to about 40 percent of 
human patients, causing severe encephalitis. 

 The virus is transmitted from fruit bats to pigs, horses and goats 
when such livestock come into contact with urine from the flying 
foxes, or consume fruits from which the bats recently ate, Lam said. 

 Humans, in turn, are infected through direct physical contact with 
semen and urine from the infected animals. 

 To prevent its spread last year, the government ordered the 
destruction of about 1 million pigs in Malaysia, the region's biggest 
pork producer. 

 The viral epidemic was declared over in October but in recent weeks, 
health authorities have once again begun culling more than 1,700 pigs 
in the central Perak state to prevent a recurrence. 

 Any hog farm found with even one infected pig must destroy its 
entire stock. 

 Because the virus was now found in fruit bats, Lam said it was 
important not to grow fruit trees near farms that kept pigs, horses 
and goats. 



By Sutin Wannabovorn 

 GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Thailand, June 24 (Reuters) - Drugs production and 
trafficking from Myanmar is increasing rapidly, posing a serious 
threat to Thailand and other countries in the region, the Thai army 

 Speaking on a tour of Thailand's Golden Triangle region, on the 
borders of Myanmar and Laos, Thai military officials said the mass 
relocation of ethnic minorities within Myanmar over the last year had 
fuelled a massive increase in drugs production. 

 A report by the Thai security agency says that as of May this year, 
about 50 methamphetamine factories were newly established inside 
Myanmar close to Thai border and 10 others had been set up in Laos 
also close to the Thai border. 	

 Each of the factories could produce at least 100,000 tablets of the 
drug per day, it said.
 ``This means that by next year they can produce more than two 
billion tablets of Yaba (methamphetamine) which is three times bigger 
than last year,'' a Thai regional army spokesman told reporters at 
his hillside camp in Thailand's Chiang Dao district. 

 ``We estimate 1999 output at 600 million tablets,'' he said. 

 The Thai army organised a tour of three separate areas in Thailand's 
northern Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Tak provinces this week to 
highlight what they say is the growing threat from Myanmar drugs 
production and trafficking. 

 In March, the United Wa State Army (UWSA), with help from Yangon, 
began relocating 50,000 people south from the Chinese border to towns 
in Myanmar's eastern Shan state. 

 At the time, Myanmar's military government announced that the mass 
relocation plan was to help stamp out opium production by moving 
people away from areas where they used to grow poppies. 

 The UWSA consists of former communist rebels who fought against 
Yangon's military government until 1989 but then agreed a ceasefire 
with Myanmar's ruling generals. 

 Yangon says it is fighting hard against the drugs trade and burnt 
millions of dollars worth of narcotics in a ceremonial drugs burning 
on Friday. 

 But Thai narcotics and security agencies say the relocation was for 
quite a different purpose. They say the aim was to shift drugs 
production closer to the Thai border to make use of the country's 
better infrastructure for trafficking. 

 They say the development represents a major threat to the security 
of the whole region. 

 ``Myanmar maintains its policy of supporting the various ethnic 
minorities living in the areas attached to Thailand which result in a 
huge influx of drugs, especially methamphetamine to Thailand,'' the 
army said in its report. 

 Army officers say Myanmar ethnic minority groups, mainly Wa, Ko Kang 
and Muhser hill tribes, have already resettled about 100,000 people 
in Mong Yawn and nearby towns in Shan State opposite Thailand's 
Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Tak provinces. 

 Many of these groups are actively involved in narcotics trafficking, 
they say. 

 ``Myanmar ethnic groups, especially Wa, are rapidly increasing drugs 
production and supply to Thailand in order to get quick money to 
build jungle towns to support their mass relocation plan,'' a Thai 
army spokesman told a news conference on Friday. 

 The UWSA has been accused by Thai and international narcotics 
agencies of dominating drugs trafficking in the Golden Triangle. 

 It has deployed nearly 6,000 armed guerrillas in the area mainly to 
protect its drugs business, the Thai army has said. 

 To fight against the drugs industry, the Thai army has been 
reorganising villages on the border, recruiting hilltribes and 
organising them into village defence volunteer units. 

 Myanmar is the world's second-largest producer of opium and its 
derivative heroin, as well as being a major source of amphetamines. 

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


June 26, 2000

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP)  Seventeen Thais have contracted anthrax from 
infected goat meat imported from neighboring Myanmar, hospital 
officials said Sunday. 

 A farm in Phichit province, 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of 
Bangkok, gave away the meat after about 100 of its goats suddenly 
died two weeks ago, said an official at the provincial hospital. 
Other goat carcasses were dumped in a canal.
 More than 200 people who may have eaten or come into contact with 
the infected meat have been examined at the hospital and 17 diagnosed 
as having anthrax, a bacterial infection. 

 Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, fatigue and skin 
infections and swelling. It is potentially fatal. 

 None of those infected were in a serious condition, but they are 
hospitalized, said the official, speaking on customary condition of 

 Authorities have broadcast warnings on local radio warning people 
not to eat goat meat or go near the farm, which is being sanitized by 
public health workers, the official said. 

 There are periodic outbreaks of anthrax and other cattle diseases in 
Thailand, usually attributed to illegal imports of cattle from its 
poorer neighbors Myanmar, also known as Burma, and Cambodia. 



June 25, 2000.

Ralph Bachoe

Veteran Burmese journalist U Saw Chit has died of colon cancer after 
a six-year illness. He was 72. 

The well-respected journalist was a former production manager of the 
Bangkok World during the days of its founder Darrel Berrigan, before 
it was taken over by the Bangkok Post in 1970. 

He has worked in the production departments of the Post, The Nation 
and Business Times.  He was also the production manager of The Nation 
in Burma and worked with the late U Law Yone, editor, publisher and 
founder of the paper. 

Witty and jovial, he was well-loved and respected by his colleagues 
and was the life and soul of the party. 

Born in Burma, Saw Chit, or Somkid, was a Thai national and a son of 
Luang Pichit, a Thai forestry official. He was also known as Danny 
Saw Chit. 

He is survived by his wife Suree, children Marla, Zarli and Nam 
Phoon, and three grandchildren.  His cremation will take place on 
Tuesday at Wat Cholaprathan Rangsarit, Pak Kret, at 4.30pm.  

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________


June 24, 2000


BOSTON -- So sanguine is Simon Billenness that he seems not the least 
bit  downcast by this week's United States Supreme Court decision 
overturning  the Massachusetts "Burma Law," which he co-wrote.

There are, after all, so many other economic tools to use against 
companies  that support the totalitarian regime of Myanmar, formerly 
Burma. And as a  super-specialist in just this kind of battle, using 
financial pressure to  fight foreign oppression, he knows all of 
them: divestment campaigns,  consumer boycotts, shareholder 
resolutions, the whole gamut.  Mr. Billenness enumerated them as he 
sat surrounded by two-foot-high stacks  of paper ("Here I am working 
to topple a military dictatorship, and I have  trouble finding things 
on my desk!" he lamented in the cheery clip of his  native Britain) 
and books with titles like "The Anguish of Tibet" and  "Corporate 
Crime and Violence."

The desk belongs to Trillium Asset Management, a Boston concern that, 
with  $675 million in client money, labels itself the nation's 
largest and oldest  independent investment firm dedicated totally 
to "socially responsible"  investment.

Most of Trillium's employees actually work investing money, but Mr.  
Billenness, 35, a senior research analyst, has the particular luxury 
of  spending virtually all his time on social advocacy, like figuring 
out how  best to support the democracy movement in Myanmar, whose 
leaders are  accused of torture, forced labor and brutal repression.

To wit: With nary a pause after the Supreme Court decision, Mr. 
Billenness  and other members of the Free Burma Coalition, a national 
umbrella group,  plan to begin a push this summer to get cities and 
states to pass new laws  penalizing companies that do business with 
Myanmar, he said. 
The Supreme Court's ruling against the Massachusetts law, which 
largely  barred the state government from doing business with 
companies that trade  with Myanmar, was narrow enough that it left 
room for states and cities to  pass such home-grown foreign policy 
measures, Mr. Billenness said.  Provided, that is, they are not pre-
empted by federal law, as the  Massachusetts measure was.

So there is room for a continued local-global campaign that is, not  
coincidentally, highly reminiscent of the movement to fight South 
African  apartheid using economic means like divestment.

Here is the Massachusetts link: In 1993, Mr. Billenness, a freshly 
minted  M.B.A. from Boston College, went to watch a news conference 
about the end  of economic sanctions against South Africa. There he 
met Byron Rushing, a  prominent legislator who had written the 
state's law on anti-apartheid  sanctions. And he suggested that Mr. 
Rushing do something similar for Myanmar. 
Mr. Rushing said he would need more information on the country. Mr.  
Billenness provided it, including a statement by Nobel Peace Prize  
laureates calling for sanctions.

Mr. Rushing eventually gave Mr. Billenness a copy of the bill he 
wrote on  South Africa sanctions and asked him to adapt it for 
Myanmar. So Mr.  Billenness went home, he said, "and typed it out 
word for word, except that  whenever I came to 'South Africa,' I put 
in 'Burma.' Then I gave it back to  him on a disk, and that's how 
I 'co-authored' the law on Burma." 
Mr. Rushing introduced the bill in 1994, and it passed in 1996. 
Citing the  Massachusetts law, a number of companies pulled out of 
Myanmar, among them  Apple Computers and Hewlett-Packard, Mr. 
Billenness said.

But by 1997, a backlash began as well. There was, he said, "quite a 
The European Commission formally protested, and in 1998, the 
National  Foreign Trade Council, a Washington-based association, 
brought suit. The  law's opponents said it violated international 
trade agreements and  interfered with the federal government's 
function of making foreign policy.  They won in federal court. And 
now again in the Supreme Court. 

Why was the Myanmar law challenged, while the South Africa laws never 
were?  The economy has become so globalized, Mr. Billenness said, 
that more than  ever, "if you pass a selective purchasing law in any 
city in the world, it  will have import far beyond its borders."

That brought trouble for the Massachusetts law, but "it shows how we 
as  consumers, as investors, can use our freedom in the marketplace 
to effect  political and social change."

Mr. Billenness said he believed "the battle has been more important 
than  the result" in that the Massachusetts law helped bring talk 
about Myanmar  to the forefront. Seventy-eight members of Congress 
expressed support for  the law, as did 22 state attorneys general.

The movement is growing, as reflected in the thousands of names on 
his  e-mail lists, all collected over the last few years.

Mr. Billenness himself came to the "Free Burma" cause in a rather  
researched, though by no means cold-hearted, way. A native Londoner, 
he is  the second son of parents who met at a Young Liberals 
conference and who  both remain very active in Britain's Liberal 
Party. He became actively  Liberal himself by the age of 14, even 
resuscitating a local Young Liberals  chapter.

When he finished Loughborough University in 1985, he married an 
American --  he has since divorced -- came to the United States and 
began working in  finance from the ground up, as a bank teller. He 
quickly overcame his  initial confusion between the American dime and 
the nickel, he said. 

He gravitated toward "socially responsible" investing (to this day, 
he has  a Working Assets Visa card -- "plastic with purpose" that 
contributes a  percentage of purchases to causes) and ultimately 
worked his way up to his  job as one of two employees at Trillium who 
devote all their time to social  advocacy. In 1992, when he was still 
an intern at the firm, he wrote a  report on which human rights 
issues most needed attention from concerned  investors, and Myanmar 
was one of them, along with sweatshops and China. So  it began.

And so it continues. Last year, Mr. Billenness noted, Hootie & the  
Blowfish, a rock band and client of Trillium Asset Management, was 
playing  at a San Diego concert sponsored by Suzuki, which is the 
target of a  consumer boycott for investing in Myanmar. Guess who 
provided the T-shirts  that some of the band members wore 
reading "Suzuki Out of Burma"? 



   by Matthew Lee

   WARSAW, June 26 (AFP) - The first-ever international conference on 
promoting democratic rule began here Monday with a call to action 
from embattled Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

   "We would like to see action, rather than words," the leader of 
the Myanmar's National League for Democracy (NLD) told foreign 
ministers and senior officials from more than 100 countries attending 
the unprecedented two-day event dubbed "Towards a Community of 

"There have been many words supporting democracy and we are duly 
grateful for them ... but words need to be backed up by action -- by 
action that is united and that is focused on essentials," Aung San 
Suu Kyi said in videotaped remarks made at her home in Yangon where 
she lives under virtual house arrest.

   "Only by such action will we be able to realize our democratic 
aspirations," she added, vowing not to give up the fight the NLD has 
been enagaged in with Myanmar authorities since it won elections a 
decade ago that were nullified by the military.

   Her comments followed the official opening of the conference by 
Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek who urged more forceful 
policies in expanding democratic rule around the globe and noted also 
the appropriateness of his country as the venue for the gathering.

   "Twenty years ago, my country gave the world a new definition of 
the word 'solidarity' and 11 years ago, thanks to such solidarity, 
she recovered freedom and democracy," Geremek said, referring to the 
labor union that led Eastern Europe's first successful fight against 
communism.    "We must actively promote respect for democracy in 
international relations. We should have a vested interest in 
expansion of democracy as a foundation for sustainable development 
and peace," he said.

   Geremek's position was tempered by that French Foreign Minister 
Hubert Vedrine who warned of the dangers of interfering heedlessly in 
the internal affairs of sovereign countries, likening the result to 
opening a "Pandora's Box."

   "This would not be an advancement in the organization of the 
world," he said, stressing that any action perceived as interference 
must come under the aegis of Chapter Seven of the United Nations 
charter which provides for peacekeeping operations and the like.

   In keeping with its location, the Warsaw conference has adopted as 
its logo the wavy, red block lettering of Poland's Solidarity 
movement which US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright paid tribute 
to in her introduction of Aung San Suu Kyi.

   "It is up to us ... to remember that 'solidarity' is a beautiful 
word not only in Polish but in any language," Albright said.

   Czech President Vaclav Havel, who was forced to cancel his planned 
attendence at the conference for health reasons, said in remarks 
delivered for him that the gathering should mark a resurgence in the 
protection of democracy.

   "I see (this) as a promising signal, as a sign of hope for 
humankind soon entering the third millennium, literally finding 
itself today -- after the collapse of communism in 1989 ended 'the 
age of extremes' -- in the gap between past and future," Havel said.

   The conference, also to be addressed by Albright and UN chief Kofi 
Annan among others, is to close on Tuesday with the adoption of 
the "Warsaw Declaration" a document reaffirming the participants' 
commitment to democratic values and practices.

   Hosted by Poland and co-sponsored by the United States, Chile, 
India, Mali, South Korea and the Czech Republic, the gathering has 
attracted some controversy for the exclusion of certain countries 
judged not worthy of attendence but where democracy advocates say the 
most work is needed.    China, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Libya were 
among those not invited to attend.

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________



Monday, June 26, 2000

RANGOON - A two-day workshop gathering industry, university and 
government delegates to discuss Japanese support for Burma's economic-
reform efforts began yesterday in Rangoon organisers said. 

The workshop's purpose is to convince the Japanese government to 
directly support economic reforms in Burma instead of merely urging 
Rangoon to proceed with democratisation through dialogue. 

Tokyo is poised to eventually end suspensions on loans to Rangoon 
once Burma s military junta makes "visible changes" in the country. 

But Japan's Burma policy may draw criticism from the United States 
and West European countries that have imposed economic sanctions on 
Burma on the grounds it has delayed democratisation and suppressed 
human rights. 

About 30 delegates from Japan attended the workshop. Among them was 
Seiji Kojima, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry's 
Economic Cooperation Bureau. 

Burma sent 20 people, headed by Brig-General David Abel, minister in 
the Office of the Chairman of the State Peace and Development 
Council .  

Participants will discuss financial and monetary policy, industrial 
policy and trade and investment promotion policy, the organisers 

The workshop is expected to produce a report in about a year 
proposing concrete plans for structural reforms. 

The Japanese Foreign Ministry earlier said the workshop 
would "exchange views on Burma's economic problems under the agenda 
of trade and investment promotion, industrial and macroeconomic 

Japan is holding the workshop in line with its commitments expressed 
last November to assist economic reforms in Burma. Then Japanese 
prime minister Keizo Obuchi told Burma's junta leader General Than 
Shwe during their meeting in Manila that Japan was ready to help the 
country proceed with economic reforms. 

Japan and certain countries neighbouring Burma had actively invested 
in the country until 1997. But a number of leading Japanese firms 
withdrew. as import restrictions and such structural economic 
problems as inflation grew because of Burma's budget deficits. 



July 19-25  ,2000                             


COMPUTER software is the list of instructions, written in electrons 
and stored magnetically on hard and floppy discs, that computers 
require to carry out their jobs. An up and coming, young firm that 
writes these computer instructions for the banking industry in 
Myanmar is a company by the name of Myanmar Information Technology 
Pty Ltd (MIT), located at the eight-mile junction on Pyay Road in 
Yangon. MIT is one of three major banking software suppliers in the 

U Tun Thura Thet, 29, Managing Director, and U Kyaw Myat Soe, 26, 
Director, are the two bright, enthusiastic computer professionals who 
co-founded MIT back in 1996. They were very excited sitting for this 
interview, their words tumbling over each other as they illuminated 
the role of computers in the emerging banking industry in Myanmar 
today. As highly-skilled software engineers, they decoded both the 
general overview and technical aspects of their work.

"Computers are not used extensively in Myanmar yet. Most banks still 
do their accounting manually using paper and pencil, running in 
parallel with modern, electronic methods," explained U Tun Thura 
Thet. He went on to add that many bank managers gained their early 
training in government-run banks, in the old ways, and find the past 
hard to leave behind. 

Therefore, many managers rely on the redundancy of this dual system 
for administering their customers' financial needs, not ready to 
fully accept the inevitable part computers play in their industry. 

"Computers began to be used in banking around 1992," explained U Kyaw 
Myat Soe, "using DOS, which was the universal operating system for 
PC's at the time." DOS, or Disc Operating System, is the oldest and 
most widely used set of computer instructions for the fundamental 
management of software and data in a computer. DOS works much the 
same way a librarian does with books and shelves and the central card 
file, or directory. 

Both U Kyaw Myat Soe and U Tun Thura Thet strongly advise against the 
continued use of such an obsolete operating system. They pointed out 
the many deficiencies of it. First among them is the concern over 
security and maintaining the confidentiality of records. DOS is also 
limited in its capabilities to handle the exploding numbers of 

In the future, in order to attract new customers, banks need to gain 
speed and flexibility in their procedures. 

On-line banking begins within the bank's operations by linking all 
the separate computer terminals at each branch office together, and 
then outside by linking all the branches to a central "server". In 
this way data can be used and stored centrally. 

As it is today, each bank maintains its own individual databank. If a 
customer from Yangon wants to withdraw cash from the Mandalay branch 
of his bank it requires fax machines, telephones and a minimum 30 
minute delay for a simple transaction to be completed. 

On-line banking would reduce the time a withdrawal would take to 
approximately five minutes. The bank teller in Mandalay would see the 
exact same information on her computer screen that the teller in 
Yangon does at the same time. Thus, a customer's satisfaction would 
be greatly boosted. DOS, originally designed in the late seventies 
for the first generation of IBM PC's, does not have the power to 
handle this level of communications or transactions.

It was reported that many foreign banks are switching to PC's and 
mini-computers (minis) from their giant mainframe computers. At 
present there is only one mainframe computer in operation in the 
country, located on the top floor of the Myanma Foreign Exchange Bank 
on Maha Bandoola Garden Street. 

Owned by the government, among the departments it serves besides 
MFTB, are the Customs Office and the Central Statistical Organization 
(CSO), who is its principal user. It is estimated that the cost of 
maintaining this machine is between US$50,000 to US$60,000 per year, 
which is the cost of a new, state-of-the-art mini-computer. These 
smaller, more capable and faster computers offer increased 
flexibility, much reduced operating costs and are not "proprietary" 
like mainframes, therefore banks and other users have a global market 
place of software and hardware venders to shop from. 

PC's are exponentially more powerful than they were two decades ago. 
The larger minis far out-pace the mighty mainframes of just a few 
short years ago. 

Most of the private banks in Myanmar could be well served by a system 
of PC's networked together using a Microsoft Windows NT operating 
system, which is a complete departure from the familiar Windows '95 
and '98 systems, both based on DOS, recommends U Tun Thura Thet.  
Mini computers running UNIX as their operating system will be able to 
handle not only the demands of on-line banking, but also an expanding 
network of automated teller machines (ATMs), already in use in 
Yangon, which are designed to make access to a customers' cash 
accounts virtually hassle free.

Demand for banking services and computer requirements will expand, 
says MIT. 

MIT believes it is already ahead of the curve of this trend with a 
sales representative in Mandalay and plans to open a fully 
operational branch office of their own up there to serve the northern 
regions.  As awareness and acceptance grow, computers will be seen 
less as typing tools and more as partners in the management of 



Sunday , June 25, 2000

THE SUPREME Court's decision last week invalidating Massachusetts's 
Burma  law represents a blow to state efforts to encourage 
democratization in repressive  countries--albeit a lesser blow than 
many people feared. The 1996 Massachusetts law effectively 
prohibited  state agencies from dealing with companies that do 
business in Burma. But the unanimous court  held that the state's 
restrictions were preempted when Congress passed its own sanctions 
regime  later that year. The Massachusetts law, the court held, 
conflicted with the federal statute, and  the Constitution gives the 
federal government supremacy within its designated areas of  
responsibility--of which foreign affairs is one.

The court's decision is mercifully narrow. It doesn't generally 
prevent  states or localities from using their procurement policies 
to send messages in the future--as long as  Congress has not itself 
passed legislation that could be seen to conflict with those 
policies. Nor  does it prevent states or municipalities from making 
symbolic political statements about  international affairs. States 
should still be able to enact laws, as Massachusetts did, that may 
then push  Congress itself to act.

Narrow as it is, though, the decision is troubling. No one doubts 
that  Congress had the power to preempt the Massachusetts law in 
enacting its sanctions, but it didn't do  so expressly--nor is there 
any evidence that it meant to do so implicitly or that members of 
Congress  believed they were doing so. To the contrary, the federal 
law was a leap onto a bandwagon that  Massachusetts was driving. 
Particularly on a matter as central to state sovereignty as  
procurement by state agencies, the political branches ought to be 
accountable for voiding state policy,  and the court should not 
relieve them of that burden.

Recent events in Burma only bolster the wisdom of Massachusetts's 
position.  Last month, the military junta that runs the country 
arrested two elderly women for the  crime of renting office space to 
the National League for Democracy--the party that won elections 10 
years  ago that the junta has systematically dishonored. Human rights 
monitors report that they were  released last week. But the junta's 
campaign against Burma's brave democrats intensifies month  by month, 
and the Supreme Court's action sends a dispiriting message to those 
who live under  this most brutal of regimes. There was no little 
irony in the lawless junta congratulating  America's justices for 
taking "the right decision."



 MONDAY, JUNE 2 6, 2 000

The International Labour Organisation has reported serious violations 
in Burma, including massive use of forced labour by Rangoon. Burma's 
response is that everything is untrue, and part of an international 
conspiracy. Once again, Thailand is on the spot over what to do. 
Some three years into the great Burma experiment, the government's 
policy is looking weaker and weaker. The theory was that bringing the 
Rangoon dictatorship into Asean would make the Burmese leaders more 
aware of their obligations to treat their people well. 

The idea was that taking pains to have correct diplomatic relations 
would encourage Burma to negotiate seriously and compromise 
graciously, as most countries do. 

What a letdown. Since 1997, Burma has not taken a single step towards 
ending its brutality of its people. The dictatorship continues ! to 
pick off members of the opposition one by one, by jailing, 
brutalising or openly intimidating them. Aung San Suu Kyi, whose 
party won l the only free election in the history of Burma, remains 
under what can | only be called house arrest. 
If Burma has retained its violent tyranny at home, it has increased 
its pugnacious defiance in the international arena. Far from adopting 
recognised international diplomacy, Burma has openly hidden behind 
the legitimacy of Asean to increase its international outrages.
Instead of adapting to the reasonable Asean form of neighbourly 
disagreements, Burma has stepped up its quarrelsome and 
confrontational method of approaching international disputes. 
Diplomacy Burma-style is that if Burmese drug traffickers are making 
a problem for Thailand, it's too bad-but Burma has to help the 
traffickers to keep its own internal peace. 

But if Burma has a problem with a terrorist attack on its embassy, 
that is also Thailand's problem, so cut off Thai fishing rights. And 
keep them cut off So it is that Thailand faces yet another problem 
even as Bangkok officials organise the Year 2000 Asean ministers' 
conferences which mark Burma's third anniversary in the group. 

The International Labour Organisation has finally had the fortitude 
to recognise the egregious use of forced labour by the Burmese 
government. The ILO membership, which is to say every country in the 
world, has voted overwhelmingly to condemn Burma. 

It has left Rangoon a way out. The ILO has given Burma until November 
to stop forcing its citizens to work as slaves for the state- and to 
show it has stopped. But of course, Burma will do no such thing. 
Rangoon again hid behind the Asean skirts, with Malaysia speaking 
against the ILO action. 				

The dictatorship's undiplomatic response to the ILO is that it is all 
a foreign plot meant to hurt innocent Burma. There is no forced 
labour in Burma at all-only patriotic people who volunteer to work on 
state projects for free. 

If you believe this defence, we have a bridge we would like to sell 
to you. Our Foreign Ministry, to their credit, did not join the tiny, 
Malaysia-led chorus speaking up for Burma. Everyone in Thailand knows 
that Burmese are forced, often at gunpoint, to work for the Rangoon 
regime. Many have been killed performing porter work for the army. 
Many Thais know of such cases personally, and it is fruitless even 
for the notoriously friendly Thai government to try to argue 
otherwise in Burma's defence.  

It appears clear, however, that Burma has no intention of ending the 
state violence. So come November, Thailand will have to decide what 
to do at the ILO meeting. In the name of Asean solidarity, it can 
vote ; in favour of the nation which supplies our illicit drugs and 
slams our success at removing terrorists from their embassy without a 
casualty. In the name of justice and, even, common sense, it can vote 
to condemn and further sanction Burma-which will happen with or 
without the Thai vote.  

Or, more likely, the Thai delegation can be very busy at the time the 
vote is taken. An abstention might show Burma we cannot support their 
most appalling abuses. But it would show we still wish to have 
civilised talks with Rangoon. That is the way most nations do 

_____________________ OTHER  ______________________


Oriental and India Office Collections

A vacancy exists for a Burmese Curator in the South-East Asia Section 
of the British Library's Oriental and India Office Collections. The 
Library's collection of Burmese manuscripts and printed books is one 
of the largest and most important outside Burma itself.

The 1,000 manuscripts in Burmese, Pali and Shan include the Mandalay 
Collection, and the 10,000 printed books collection is especially 
strong in 19th-century material due to the operation of colonial 
legal deposit legislation, but also contains rare contemporary 

You will be part of the Library's close-knit team of South-East Asian 
language specialists. The aim of the South-East Asia Section is to 
develop, document and make available the national collection of works 
in South-East Asian languages.  Your principal duties will therefore 
include: managing and documenting the manuscript collections; 
establishing and monitoring an acquisitions programme; selecting 
current research-level publications; MARC-cataloguing of new 
acquisitions; identifying materials for conservation and reprography; 
and providing information to users, both on-site and remote, about 
the collections and about the history, religion and culture of Burma 
more generally.  You will be expected to undertake occasional enquiry 
desk duties in the Oriental and India Office Collections Reading 
Room.  You will also be expected to represent the Library at external 
conferences and library groups.

You must have a degree or equivalent qualification/experience in 
Burmese and knowledge of Burmese literature, history, religion and 
culture to degree level.  In addition, knowledge of Pali, familiarity 
with MARC-cataloguing, a qualification in librarianship, and/or 
experience of working in a research library, will all be advantages.

Salary Pounds 19,434-24,293.

For further details and an application form please telephone 020 7412 
7331 between the hours of 09.00 and 17.00 or e-mail bl-

The closing date for the receipt of applications is 21 July 2000. 
The British Library is an Equal Opportunity Employer



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