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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: July 17, 2000

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

July 17, 2000

Issue # 1577

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

*Inside Burma


















__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


July 16, 2000

BANGKOK- A deadly malaria epidemic and heavy rain have forced a 
brewing turf war between the armies of two Myanmar ethnic groups to 
be postponed, Thai military sources said Sunday.
 The United Wa State Army (UWSA) has for the last two months been 
advancing on Shan State Army (SSA) territory just inside the Thai 
border, north of Chiang Mai, the military officials said.
 The Wa, the most powerful and feared of Myanmar's ethnic groups, 
were reportedly given the go-ahead to move in on their rivals by the 
military junta, with whom they have established a fragile ceasefire.
 "The Wa are good fighters and the Myanmar authorities are using them 
to move down to the SSA's territory and help the government clean out 
the Shan," the source on the border told AFP. 

 Both groups are widely accused of producing heroin and amphetamines, 
and the Wa reportedly plan to move some of their drug refineries 
south into Shan territory.
 Foreign critics charge that Myanmar agreed to turn a blind eye to 
the Wa's drug trafficking business in return for the peace agreement.
 However, the brewing battle, which threatened to send thousands of 
refugees over the border into Thailand, has not materialised because 
both sides are battling bad weather and disease. 

 "According to initial reports, 500 ethnic Wa have died of malaria in 
the past two months," in their stronghold of Maung Yawn province, the 
source said. 

 The Shan were also known to be affected but it was not known how 
many had died.
 The epidemic has also hampered the groups' ability to produce and 
smuggle drugs across the border into Thailand, he said. 

 Unusually heavy wet-season rains had made the roads inside Myanmar 
impassable to trucks, and drugs had to be moved out of the jungle on 
 "Their first priority is to survive and that's why production has 
fallen off now," the military source said. "The amount of drugs 
flowing into Thailand has lessened."
 However, he noted that the two sides would inevitably square off 
against each other once the crisis passed. 
 And once they were back on their feet, drug production would be 
redoubled to pay for the weapons needed for the imminent battle, he 

 "We believe there will be fighting and it won't go on for long 
because the Wa are good fighters," he said. 

 Reports last week said Thai troops had secured the northern border 
region where the armies were poised to take each other on. 

 Thai task force sources told the Bangkok Post that rebel troops had 
intruded into Thai territory as they moved reinforcements along a 
track that cuts back and forth across the border.
 The report said the SSA, with about 2,000 soldiers, was outnumbered 
by the UWSA which was sending more troops into Shan territory. 

 The Shan are one of the only major armed factions left in Myanmar 
that has yet to agree to a ceasefire with the government in Yangon. 

 The Wa army, cobbled together from the remnants of the Communist 
Party of Burma, has become the most powerful of several ethnic rebel 
groups, allegedly thanks to profits from the drugs trade. 

 Myanmar is the world's second-largest producer of opium as well as a 
major source of amphetamines.



July 17, 2000

BANGKOK- Myanmar is persecuting its Shan ethnic minority with 
killings, torture and forced labour and should be taken to task over 
the issue at this month's ASEAN meeting, Amnesty International said 

 The rights group said Shan civilians were bearing the brunt of four 
years of armed conflict since Myanmar began forcible relocations as 
part of its campaign against the Shan State Army. 

 The Shan army is one of the few armed factions left in Myanmar that 
has yet to agree to a ceasefire with the military government in 

 "Civilians are most often the victims of the army's brutal counter-
insurgency tactics as fighting between the army and the SSA-South 
continues," Amnesty said in a statement received here.
 "At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations annual ministerial 
meeting in Bangkok beginning next week all ASEAN members should raise 
the ongoing human rights crisis with the Myanmar government, also an 
ASEAN member." 

 Amnesty said forced labour, relocations and extra-judicial killings 
were driving Shan civilians from their homelands.
 The Shan refugees the group interviewed in Thai refugee camps had, 
without exception, all been forced to work for the army without pay, 
it said in a report.
 Children as young as 10 were forced to work alongside grown men, 
breaking rocks on road-building projects.
 The International Labour Organisation has also condemned the use of 
forced labour in Myanmar and resolved to call for diplomatic 
sanctions against the junta if conditions have not improved by the 
end of November. 

 Myanmar's government reacted angrily to the resolution last month, 
saying it was "politically motivated action by Western nations." 

 The European Union has also been a vocal critic of alleged human 
rights abuses in Myanmar. 
 Ministerial meetings between the EU and ASEAN have been suspended 
since 1997, when the Southeast Asian group accepted Myanmar as a 
member against the EU's strong objections.
 As a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the EU will attend 
the ASEAN ministerial meeting that opens here on June 21. 

 ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, 
the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

 The ARF members are Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, 
India, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, 
Russia, and the United States.



July 16, 2000

BANGKOK- Myanmar authorities have seized a massive haul of 4.486 
million amphetamines tablets, the official press said Sunday. 

 The drugs were found in six tar drums loaded onto a truck travelling 
from Shan State in the north to the ancient capital of Mandalay, The 
New Light of Myanmar said. 

 Five people were arrested in connection with the haul, it said, but 
did not say when the incident took place. 
 Last year, Thai police confiscated 44 million amphetamine pills, the 
majority of which were produced in Myanmar.
 Single seizures of several million tablets have become fairly common 
in Thailand since the craze for "ya baa" exploded.
 The Thai army estimates that 600 million ya baa pills were smuggled 
into the country last year, after being manufactured in jungle 
refineries inside the Myanmar border. 



July 15, 2000

RANGOON has approved the takeover of a former base of the rival Shan 
State Army (SSA) opposite the northwest Thai border by an allied 
ethnic group, allowing it to be used as a new drug production base, a 
senior Thai army officer said yesterday.
Commander of the army's Third Region, Wattanachai Chaimuenwong, said 
the United Wa State Army (UWSA) was moving some of its drug 
refineries there from its present base in Mong Yon. 

The base was being moved to Doi Tuay, a mountainous region straddling 
the Thai border across from the Chiang Mai districts of Chiang Dao 
and Vieng Haeng up to the Mae Hong Song districts of Pai and Pang Ma 
Wattanachai warned the relocation of Wa forces and their refineries 
would heighten the armed confrontation between Wa forces and the Shan 
It could also trigger border poaching, an exodus of Burmese villagers 
into Thai border areas, and an escalation of drug flow into Thailand, 
he said. 
He added, however, his command was well-prepared to cope with the 

"The fact the Wa has moved down to take over the former base of the 
Shan army close to the Thai border, with the consent of Burma, shows 
that both have a common interest in protecting the seized territory 
and the sale of drugs to Thailand," the officer said.
Rangoon has not benefited from the drug sales of SSA, which is still 
fighting for the Shan people's autonomy from Rangoon after the 
surrender of SSA warlord and drug kingpin Khun Sa. 

The reported Wa relocation close to the Thai border followed the 
army's warning last month that drug production and trafficking from 
Burma was increasing rapidly and posed a serious threat to Thailand 
and other neighbouring countries because of the mass relocation of 
ethnic minorities within Burma in the past year. 

However, a state-run Burmese newspaper said on Tuesday Thailand was 
worsening its own drug problems by harbouring insurgents and should 
work together with Burma to combat the problem rather than trading 

Burma is the world's second largest producer of opium and its 
derivative heroin, as well as a major source of amphetamines.
Wattanachai attended a government meeting yesterday to develop an 
anti-drug policy for targeted areas in the North, which is both an 
exit point for precursor chemicals and an entry point for drugs from 
PM Office Minister Jurin Laksanavisit, who chaired the meeting, said 
he had circulated a list of the North's 489 top drug traders to 60 
special task forces assigned to the region's anti-drug campaign 
between July and September.
Jurin said he has also instructed the anti-drug units to report the 
progress of their campaigns every month. Anti-drug campaigns in other 
regions have had some success, he said.
In the Northeast region, 50 of the 202 recorded drug traders have 
been arrested while more than 40 of the 305 recorded in the Southern 
region have been arrested. 
In the Central region which includes Bangkok, some 20 of the 100 
recorded drug dealers have been arrested. 

Government authorities are also on a list of some 1,400 drug 
traffickers nationwide. 

The minister said 234 government officials had been dismissed since 
last year for their involvement in drug trafficking. Another 141 are 
still under investigation and further information is being sought 
about another 658 officials.
In a related development, Reuters reported yesterday that Rangoon has 
allowed the Wa group to repair a strategic 150km road along the 
Burmese-Thai border. The UWSA has also received clearance to run bus 
operations along the border.
This move by Rangoon is being interpreted by Thai security officials 
as another attempt to suppress the rival SSA.
Thai border officials said repair of the bus route would fuel 
sporadic conflicts along the Thai border. At the same time, income 
from the bus operations would help expand the drug distribution 
network of the UWSA into Thailand.
Khuensai Jaiyean, secretary-general of the Shan Democratic Union, 
told Reuters the bus route from Mongkyawt to Ban Ho Mong, a former 
stronghold of Khun Sa, ran parallel to the Thai border.
Khuensai said about 800 UWSA soldiers, led by commander Wei Xeu Kang, 
were posted along the road in mid-June to guard it during rebuilding.
The United States has offered a US$2-million (Bt79.84 million) reward 
for the capture of Wei Xeu Kang on drug trafficking charges.
The UWSA, which says it has 20,000 armed troops, fought the Burmese 
military rulers in the past for greater autonomy for the Wa region of 
the northern Shan state while engaging actively in the opium trade.
But in 1989 it unexpectedly agreed to a ceasefire with Burma's 
military junta. 



 July 14, 2000
BANGKOK,-- A Myanmar ethnic minority rebel group said Friday it has 
raided narcotics refineries near the Thai border area controlled by 
Yangon's ruling military junta. 
About 30 guerrillas of the Shan State Army (SSA) attacked the heroin 
and amphetamine refineries July 7 and arrested three workers at Ban 
Namkad Takdad, about three kilometers from the border with Thailand, 
SSA's spokesman said. 
Ten liters of precursor chemical and an unspecified quantity of 
amphetamines were confiscated by the guerrillas, the spokesman said. 
Refineries at Ban Namkad Takdad are affiliates of a major narcotics 
production base at Ban Khailuang, about 20 km from the Thai border. 
The Ban Khailuang area has been under the control of Myanmar since 
drug lord Khun Sa surrendered to Yangon in 1996, but drug production 
continues under Khun Sa's former colleagues and the Wa ethnic 
Thai military outposts in the border province of Mae Hong Son 
confirmed the raids but questioned the motives of the SSA because the 
group is also believed to be involved in the drug trade. 



July 14, 2000

Burmese generals make no apologies for the country's deepening 

In downtown Rangoon, Internet entrepreneur Aye Min Oo is busy selling 
space on a Web site that he cannot access. To woo advertisers who are 
also forbidden to access the World Wide Web in military-ruled Burma, 
he transports his tourist-oriented Web site's pages the old-fashioned 

"I travel around Rangoon and demonstrate the pages on the hard drive 
of my laptop," he said. "We e-mail new pages to the webmaster in 
Belgrade. Hopefully, some day we will see it online here ourselves." 

Aye Min Oo's roundabout access to the Internet may not be ideal, but 
it is a rare privilege in isolated Burma, a Southeast Asian country 
of 48 million people where some of the world's toughest Internet 
restrictions are vigorously enforced. 

The measures, aimed at fending off the online campaigns of exiled 
Burmese opposition groups, restrict e-mail access to fewer than a 
thousand people who are close to the ruling party, the State Peace 
and Development Council (SPDC). Access to the World Wide Web is 
strictly banned, and unauthorized use of a modem is punishable by 7 
to 15 years in jail. 

Just one other Web site operates consistently from the country, which 
has been widely condemned for human rights violations and the 
suppression of democracy. It is the government's own site, which is 
only available outside the country. It features tourist and army news 
in four languages, along with regular fiery criticism of opposition 
leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party 
won a 1990 election that the military refused to recognize. In the 
decade since then, thousands of democracy activists have been jailed 
or have fled the country once known as the "rice-bowl of Asia," now 
one of the world's poorest. 

Among Yangon's tiny, struggling expatriate and business communities, 
where the daily struggles are with boredom and marginalization, the 
lure of the Internet has been hard to resist. Dialing into foreign 
servers is an obvious if illegal route for frustrated staff members 
at embassies and other organizations. 
    In May, communications minister Brigadier-General Win Tin ordered 
that "outsiders" be stopped from making illegal use of international 
telephone and e-mail services. The order was apparently in response 
to a bungled attempt by foreigners to set up satellite equipment in a 
Yangon hotel. But it was also the latest in a series of warnings from 
a government determined to leave no communications loophole 
unplugged. Until last December, foreign organizations could use a 
handful of private e-mail services, which were permitted to operate 
on a self-censoring basis. 

One such service was Eagle IT, which was set up in 1996 by Pat James, 
a Texan businessman, along with the London-based service provider 
Digiserve. In advertisements placed on a venture capital site in the 
United States last year, Eagle claimed that "with no domestic 
competition" and arrangements for intranet deals with the government, 
its potential growth was "limitless." 

But in late December, the government abruptly closed down the private 
firm's service, and staff members were taken in for questioning by 
military intelligence officials. "It was a bit of a disaster," said 
Mike Blanche, Digiserve's managing director. "The government just 
took it over. It just stopped working." 

The SPDC then told stranded users that it would be Burma's sole e-
mail provider. Recently it announced a plan to expand the number of e-
mail accounts it provides, to 1,000 from around 800, with prices 
reduced to $290 a year from around $1,100. Time online costs $3 an 
hour -- and, predictably, the user's privacy. One 70-year-old Burmese 
expatriate said she was spooked to discover the fate of a message she 
had sent from a private office in Yangon during a vacation to Burma. 

'I'd given all the gory details of my time there: bad roads, bridges 
broken down, well-nigh starvation and misery in the villages," said 
the woman, who did not want to be identified because she has 
relatives inside the country. "When I got home to Australia, I found 
out my son had received a mere three lines. Someone had censored my 

Critical information that does make it out of Burma travels via 
circuitous routes before arriving at Burmese pro-democracy sites like 
Burmanet, which is financed by George Soros' Open Society Institute. 
Opposition groups based in remote outposts along Myanmar's porous, 
forested borders with Thailand and India use laptop computers to post 
news from refugees and underground activists. The SPDC denies the 
reports of forced labor, forced relocations and extrajudicial 
killings that flow out of regions where the foreign press is denied 

The government has been unable to halt the damaging effects of cyber-
campaigns by groups like the Free Burma Coalition. The reports helped 
push companies like Pepsi to withdraw from Burma and led the United 
States and the European Union to impose economic sanctions on the 
country. "There's no greater economic sanction on Burma than the one 
the regime imposes on itself: keeping out the Internet," said Pat 
Raleigh of the Burma Action Group's branch in Dublin. 

As the rest of Asia rushes toward cyberspace, Burmese generals make 
no apologies for the country's deepening isolation. "As soon as we 
find a way to keep out the undesirable elements, we will make the 
Internet available," a spokesman says on the lonely government Web 



16 July 2000

U Kyaw Win, biggest shareholder both in Air Yangon and Mayflower 
Bank, was reported to have sold most of his shares to Wei Xuegang, 
well-known druglord from the United Wa State Army and boss of the 
Hopang Company.

He was said to have already sent his family to Singapore where he has 
a home. "The economy is in a shambles," he was said to have 
commented. "With generals scrambling over each other for power, I 
don't know how soon it is going to get tidied up."

General Maung Aye is reported to be one of the Mayflower Bank's 

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


July 17, 2000

YANGON- China's Vice-President Hu Jintao said bilateral relations 
with Myanmar were gaining "good momentum", after arriving in Yangon 
for a goodwill visit, an official report said Monday. 

 During the trip Hu signed several agreements with the military 
government including one on economic and technical cooperation, an 
accord on science and technology, and a tourism cooperation agreement.
 "Bilateral relations between China and Myanmar are gaining a good 
momentum of development at the turn of the century," he said on his 
arrival Sunday, according to the New Light of Myanmar. 

 His speech focused on the ancient ties between the two countries, 
and this year's 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
 Yangon has been spruced up over the past few days in honour of Hu's 
 He was welcomed at the airport Sunday by the junta's vice-chairman 
General Maung Aye who last month made an official visit to Beijing. 
Maung Aye held a dinner for the Chinese party on Sunday.
 The vice-president was expected to meet with Myanmar's supreme 
leader Senior General Than Shwe Monday. Officials said only that the 
talks would take in matters of mutual interest with the military 
 Hu and his delegation, including Deputy Foreign Minister Wang 
Guangya and other senior officials, are to leave for Thailand Monday 
and then travel on to Indonesia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. 

 Hu is seen in China as being groomed to take over the party 
leadership and state presidency from current party boss and President 
Jiang Zemin. 



July 17, 2000

THAILAND will raise the issue of increased drug flow from Burma at 
the upcoming meeting of Asean foreign ministers, which Burma will 
attend, Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan says.
The subject will be brought up in the context of cooperation to fight 
trans-national crime, which is high on the agenda for the 33rd annual 
meeting, scheduled for Sunday to Friday, Surin said.
The minister was responding to reports that Rangoon had given the nod 
to allied ethnic group the United Wa State Army to move their forces 
and drug refineries closer to the Thai border.
Surin has raised the issue with Rangoon many times, and the latter's 
standard response has been that the Burmese junta does not have the 
capability to control or stem Wa activities, the minister said.
"It takes two to tango. We cannot fight the problem alone. I 
understand the Burmese have inspected the border and consulted their 
Thai counterparts. We have always urged them to take the matter 
seriously," Surin said. 

There will be further discussion of the issue at the Association of 
Southeast Asian Nations' meeting, he said.
The 20,000-strong Wa, believed to have profited greatly from drug 
sales, are by far the most feared and heavily armed ethnic group in 
Burma. They entered into a loose cease-fire agreement with Rangoon, 
which then turned a blind eye to their drug activities and used them 
to fight the rival Shan State Army (SSA), which has yet to reach a 
truce with the Burmese junta.
Surin believes Rangoon can overcome the problem with serious 
determination and by following the example of Thailand's anti-drug 
experience, he said.
The relocation of Wa forces and their drug refineries to a former SSA 
base over the border from Thailand's Northern provinces of Chiang 
Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, has heightened fear of more drugs 
flowing into the North. 

Official statistics show Thailand has in the past six years seized 
more than 50 million amphetamine tablets, which account for only 10 
per cent of total production.
The Wa group has reportedly started trafficking farther south, 
through major cities near the Thai-Burmese border, as well as along 
the Lao border. Just weeks ago authorities seized about 200,000 pills 
in a fishing village in Ranong province. 



July 17, 2000

TAK -- Thirty-six Burmese illegal immigrant workers were arrested 
yesterday after being found under a vegetable pile on a six-wheel 
They were discovered by a police team led by Colonel Chainarong 
Tanarun when the truck was stopped and searched at a checkpoint on 
the road between Mae Sot and Tak set up to curb the illegal flow of 
drugs and other goods. When an officer probed the pile of vegetables 
with an iron rod, a cry was heard. 

After clearing the vegetables, police found the 36 illegal 
immigrants, including 16 women.
Somporn Srisawas, 30, the truck driver, said a broker offered him 
Bt20,000 to take the 36 people to Taladtai market Bangkok. 

A local administration official said that Burmese laborers who enter 
Thailand illegally usually begin by applying for a temporary border 
pass. Then they contact brokers, including policemen and immigration 
officers, who will find them labour jobs in Bangkok or other 
The official said illegal immigrant laborers in Tak are feeling the 
heat of a campaign by officials who are currently beefing up efforts 
to tackle the illegal workers problem. The crackdown is pushing 
illegal immigrants to find job elsewhere in Thailand. "They are 
unfazed. After we arrested them and pushed them back across the 
border, they will return shortly, and many Thais are making money by 
acting as their agents," the official said. 



July 16, 2000
Jeeraporn Chaisri, Don Pathan

WHEN the Thai government first decided it was time to get tough with 
the world's largest armed narcotic trafficking group a few years ago, 
everyone knew it would not be easy.

During a recent visit by The Nation to the northern Thai-Burma 
border, where soldiers and drug officers keep a close watch over 
developments across the border, authorities revealed a dilemma. Anti-
narcotic successes in this region have come a the expense of other 
areas, they said.

The 20,000-strong United Wa State Army (UWSA), they said, has started 
trafficking further south, through major cities near the Thai-Burma 
border, as well as along he border with Laos.

Moreover, Burma's domestic airline is, they said, being used to help 
transport methamphetamines, destined for Bangkok's streets and 
elsewhere in the kingdom, and heroin, heading to major Western cities.

What bothers many relevant agencies is the Burmese authorities 
turning a blind eye to the Wa's use of the state airline to carry 
illicit drugs from the nothern city of keng Tung to the capital, 

"It's more expensive to use this route, but there are hardly any 
risks involved," said one senior narcotics officer who asked not to 
be named.

The UWSA came into being in 1989, shortly after the fall of the 
Communist Party of Burma, which incorporated a large number of ethnic 
Wa as foot soldiers.

Rangoon immediately signed a sign a cease-fire with them for fear 
their weapons, supplied by China, would get into the hands of other 
rebel groups.

In due time, the Wa expanded its drug network to areas adjacent to 
Ching Mai and Chiang Rai from their main stronghold in Panghsang, on 
the Burma-China border.

In recent months, more and more methamphetamines originally from Wa-
controlled areas have been surfacing in Thailand's southern cities, 
Thai officials say.

Just weeks ago, Thai authorities seized about 200,000 pills in a 
fishing village in Ranong province. But local officials said lab 
tests, along with the packaging, easily revealed the origin of the 

In fact, enough of the "ya ba", or mad pills, from Burma's northern 
border have been seized for authorities to identify them easily .

One way of working out the origin of the "speed" pills is the 
packaging, one officer said. Mulberry paper is mainly produced in 
northern Thailand and is commonly used by the Wa drug traffickers to 
wrap their pills in. But those origination form the Northeast or Laos 
are usually wrapped in plastic.

Officials also said a road link from the Wa stronghold in Mong Yawn 
to the border town of Myawadddy, adjacent to Tak's Mae Sot district, 
was well on the way to completion.

Like many infrastructure projects in Burma's Shan State, this one is 
also being financed by UWSA drug money. Money laundering through Thai 
authorities is also rampant in the Burmese border town.

Another development worrying Thai officials is the relocation of a 
number the Wa's clandestine drug labs to the Lao side of the border, 
near the Golden Triangle.

"It's good location, being near the MekongRiver," said one officer.

"The drugs can be easily transported down the river and smuggled into 
the country along the way," he explained, pointing to Phetchabun 
province as one of the main entry points.

Official statistics show Thai authorities have seized more than 50 
million methaphetamine pills over the past six years. But it is 
estimated this is no more than 10 per cent of the total produced.

Today, counter-narcotics operations have become a national security 
issue, taken up by the military and other related government agencies.

Officials say they are playing a cat-and-mouse game, as successful 
suppression in one area leads to production and trafficking in 

Thus, the only way counter-narcotic moves will have a lasting effect, 
they reason, is when there is serious cooperation from neighbouring 
countries, which has so far proved difficult.

Moreover, critics claim the government's war on drugs has backfired 
because random crackdowns in slums and "drug-infested" areas push 
prices up and make it even more attractive for people to become 
pushers and dealers. 

Thus, with such loose drug enforcement policies and a police force 
that does not seem to have the people's complete trust or respect, it 
seems very likely the "drug war" will continue for a very long time.



July 16, 2000

The current confrontation between two ethnic minority groups in Burma 
may result in an influx of drugs into Thailand, the Third Army 
commander said in Chiang Mai.

Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuanwong was referring to the deployment of 
the 171st Battalion of the Rangoon-backed United Wa State Army along 
a 100-km border stretch between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son.

The Wa soldiers are opposed to the Shan State Army, and fighting 
between the groups is thought to be imminent.

The current confrontation between two ethnic minority groups in Burma 
may result in an influx of drugs into Thailand, the Third Army 
commander said in Chiang Mai.

Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuanwong was referring to the deployment of 
the 171st Battalion of the Rangoon-backed United Wa State Army along 
a 100-km border stretch between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son.

The Wa soldiers are opposed to the Shan State Army, and fighting 
between the groups is thought to be imminent.

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________



July 15, 2000


GERMANY'S Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer yesterday said a 
more "flexible and constructive" method of dealing with Burma's 
military government should e adopted, because economic sanctions are 
not producing positive results.

Fischer arrived in Thailand yesterday.

He said Germany had some ideas about how to initiate more positive 
change in Rangoon, but he would not elaborate.

"On the one side there are a lot of severe problems," he said.

"But, on the other side, you see the isolation of the country is not 
producing positive results," said Fischer, he cited the ongoing 
influx of Burmese refugees into Thailand as an example.

Fischer said European countries could not tolerate human rights 
violations in Burma, but added "We cannot have this situation where 
Myanmar [Burma] is blocking relations between the two regions".

"It's just too important."

The European Union will dispatch a troika team to Burma later this 
year, to assess the political and social situation there.

Burma became a full member of the Association of Southeast Asian 
Nations in 1997.

Since then, cooperation between Asean and the EU has reached one of 
its lowest points, because of Burma's participation.

On the issue of Europe-Asia relation, Fischer said a sense of "new 
realism" had developed among European nations since 1994, when the EU 
announced a comprehensive plan towards East Asia. "But this doesn't 
mean there is a restriction of our expectaions.

"Asean learned a lot from the European experience [about] the 
importance of regional integration," he said.

"I think Asian countries have realised that [a] modern economy must 
not only be based [around the] information age, but on democracy, 
transparency, accountability ... the rule of law," Fischer said. On 
European contribution to East Asian security, Fischer said it was too 
early to fully define the role of the EU's crisis management unit, a 
standing army capable of rapid deployment.

The EU decided last December at its Helsinki summit that by 2003, it 
must be able to deploy 60,000 troops within 60 days and sustain that 
force for at least one year.

Managing conflict in today's world, said Fischer - citing East Timor 
as a prime example - must incorporate military command with civilian 
authorities. The EU would draw from the Kosovo experience, but its 
unit would not in any way replace the security arrangement of he 
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).

Fischer said a number of security issues in the region were high on 
the EU's agenda.

Of particular priority was tension in the Taiwan Straits, the India-
Pakistan conflict and the fledgling ilnter-Korean reconciliation 

He said Central Asia, where energy disputes, political and religious 
radicalism, drug smuggling and arms trafficking were threatening the 
already shaky region that linked Asia and Europe, was another 

And bringing about peaceful solutions to problems in the area would 
not be easy, Fischer said.

But such solutions were essential, the region was important to both 
Europe and Asia, he said.

Fischer arrived in Thailand yesterday on a two-day visit.

He came from the Philippines, where he was briefed in Manila 
regarding the hostage crisis in Jolo; Muslim rebels, the Abu Sayyaf 
group, are holding five German national hostage.

Earlier Fischer had been in Japan, where he attended a preparation 
meeting from the G-8 summit.



July 17, 2000


When senior officials from Asean arrive in Bangkok this week to 
prepare for a weeklong series of meetings involving foreign ministers 
from Asean and the Asia-Pacific they will all realize that the 
political landscape of the region, and for that matter of all of 
Asia, has changed.
As host, Thailand has a responsibility to ensure that the meetings 
(the Asean Ministerial Meeting, the Asean Regional Forum and the Post 
Ministerial Conference) end with success. This is important because 
after three years of financial crisis, economic recovery is around 
the corner. Therefore Asean members have been able to pick up the 
pieces and look beyond their own immediate domestic affairs.
Within the region, since the Asean foreign ministers met last July in 
Singapore, East Timor has separated from Indonesia and become an 
independent state. Laos, that quiet, landlocked country, has been 
rocked by an unprecedented series of bombs. United Nations Special 
Envoy to Burma Tan Sri Ismail Razali made a visit to Burma that ended 
with good prospects. A few days ago the US and Vietnam concluded a 
historic trade agreement after years of painstaking negotiations.
In the broader region, the successful inter-Korean summit between 
South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-
il has reduced the tension on the Korean peninsula. But China's 
insistence on using force if Taiwan seeks independence continues to 
rattle the region. Japan, without prime minister Keizo Obuchi, is 
striving harder to represent developing countries in the G-8 summit 
in Okinawa later this week.
These developments are the backdrop in which Asean has to operate in 
the years and decades to come. It is imperative that the grouping 
address these issues and adjust itself to face up to whatever 
challenges may be constituted by the new strategic outlook.
Asean officials may say that the grouping has responded well to the 
financial and political crises in the past years. Asean has agreed to 
set up new mechanisms such as surveillance and peer-group monitoring 
systems to help Asean cope with its economic problems and to prevent 
a future financial calamity. 
Within the political realm, Asean has agreed to enhance its 
interaction through franker dialogues among the top leaders on 
broader issues that affect member countries. This "enhanced 
interaction" has now been institutionalized in the form of 
a "retreat" among the foreign ministers, which will be scheduled one 
day ahead of their official meeting. Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan, 
who has been pushing for broader exchanges of views on sensitive 
issues, said that it was in the retreat that all issues affecting 
Asean peace and stability could be raised and discussed. The first 
retreat took place last July in Singapore.
That much was clear. However, despite these changes and responses, 
Asean remains stymied by the enlargement in the past five years that 
has doubled the membership of the 33-year-old organization. The 
widening gap of political incompatibility is rather obvious and 
increasingly poses a serious problem among the core and new members. 
Since Asean does not require any political reform as a prerequisite 
to join, no member is ready to address this issue, knowing full well 
that the political divide has already hampered current and future 
Asean activities. For instance, efforts to improve people-to-people 
contacts and create civil networking have been blocked. 

Now that Asean encompasses the whole Southeast Asian region, it is 
harder still to focus on the issue of political incompatibility for 
fear that it may split the organization. Burma is a good case study. 
Asean admitted Burma as a member because the grouping believed that 
it could contain China's influence. For Asean, China's growing 
presence in bordering Asean countries is a major concern. 

However, Burma's admission has had far-reaching implications as it 
has damaged Asean's ties with its dialogue partners. After three 
years of no progress between Asean-EU relations, both sides have 
finally agreed to forge ahead despite their disagreement on issues 
related to Burma. 

Nobody knows how far Asean-EU relations can proceed under these 
circumstances. At the moment both Asean and dialogue partners are 
hoping that Razali's trip will produce some positive outcome that 
will further involve the UN and the possibility of political dialogue 
among all parties concerned within the next 12 months. 
Interestingly, in the past three years Asean countries have defended 
in vain their decision on Burma. In private, Asean officials have 
expressed disappointment at the lack of progress against political 
oppression inside Burma. In this case it has been Burma that has 
taken the initiative to have Asean members support its regime, as at 
the International Labour Organization.
It is possible that if Burma and new members continue to take the 
lead, Asean will lose its political legitimacy in the eyes of world 
community. Eventually this would drag down the organization.
For instance, the idea of a troika, which is likely to be approved by 
the Asean foreign ministers next Monday, is an interesting proposal, 
because all decisions must be based on consensus. When the Asean 
troika idea was broached by Thailand, it was aimed at improving the 
way Asean responded to regional crisis, both economic and political. 
In the earlier proposal, the troika could initiate action plans 
quickly and follow through on issues that had ramifications upon 
member countries. But as it turns out, the revised proposal would, 
through pressure from the new members, put everything on hold unless 
there was a consensus on the kind of issue to be taken up, not to 
mention the troika's mandate and mobility.
Strange as it may seem, for the time being the new members of Asean 
have become the core members of Asean because they are more assertive 
and united in their common objectives and ideologies. That is unless 
the original members act.



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