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BurmaNet News: October 16, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: October 16, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 11:36:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
_________October 16, 2000 Issue # 1641__________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AFP: Torture widespread and systematic in Myanmar: UN
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Drills Across Thai border
*AFP: Myanmar junta tells UNHCR chief exiles in Thailand rebels not
*AP: Myanmar says events at home `trivial,' not fit for U.N. agenda
*AFP: Myanmar denies closing several universities
*AFP: Myanmar opposition faces legal action if it fails to vacate HQ
*DVB : Test of Chinese-built radar station in South
*Reuters: Vietnam minister in Myanmar amid mediation debate
*AP: Myanmar rebels cremated nine months after police killed them
*Bangkok Post: New Aspiration, Thai Rak Thai foster Rangoon ties
*Burma Courier: Exile Government to Champion Federalist Cause
*Burma Courier: Drivers Laughing All the Way to the Petrol Pumps
*Bangkok Post: Editorial - Friends don't let friends do harm
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AFP: Torture widespread and systematic in Myanmar: UN
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 16 (AFP) - Torture of political detainees and ethnic
minorities is widespread and systematic in Myanmar, according to a UN
human rights report released on Monday.
The special rapporteur, Rajsoomer Lallah, said murder, rape, torture
and forcible relocation of ethnic tribsespeople were part of the
government's counter-insurgency strategy in areas bordering on Thailand.
Lallah said he had still not been allowed into Myanmar, but he noted
the visit last week by the UN's special envoy, Razali Ismail, and said
he hoped the government would cooperate with him.
Razali had his first meeting with the head of the military junta, Than
Shwe, during a four-day stay in Myanmar. He also met twice with Aung San
Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).
The visit was welcomed as "positive and a move in the right direction"
by Khun Tun Oo, chairman of the ethnic Shan National League for
Lallah said he had "received a number of convergent credible reports of
a series of massacres in Kunhing township (Shan state) in which over 100
Shah and hill tribespeople were killed in the months of January,
February and May of 2000."
The killings were carried out by government infantry battalions
identified by the numbers 66 and 246, he said.
Lallah also said he had "received detailed information concerning the
case of Ko Thein Lwin," a member of the NLD youth wing, who was tortured
for 15 days after his arrest on September 6, 1999.
Lallah documented several cases of arbitrary detention, some of whom
had been subjected to torture.
They included U Kaythara, jailed for seven years in August 1996 for
displaying a poster calling for political talks between the junta and
the NLD, and U Than Chaun, jailed for two years in January 2000, for
"allegedly tuning his radio a Voice of America programme," Lallah said.
Other detainees included journalist Daw San San Nwe, sentenced to 10
years in jail for passing information to foreign reporters.
"Torture or other forms of inhuman treatment of political detainees are
believed to be routine, especially during initial interrogation," Lallah
AFP: Myanmar junta tells UNHCR chief exiles in Thailand rebels not
YANGON, Oct 16 (AFP) - The Yangon junta Monday told the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees chief that it considers citizens who have
fled to Thailand rebels and not refugees, official sources said.
In a meeting today with UNHCR head Sadako Ogata, intelligence chief
Khin Nyunt said that more than 100,000 people who have crossed the
border into Thailand are rebels or relatives of rebels, and not
displaced citizens, the sources said.
The camps in Thailand for the Myanmar exiles, most of whom have fled
fighting between the junta and ethnic minority militias, are housing
rebels' families, they said.
Khin Nyunt's line suggested that the junta might not be receptive to
Thailand's desire to repatriate the exiles, many of whom have been in
the camps for over a decade.
While Thailand has provided shelter for the migrants, it has appealed
for the UNHCR to help it convince Myanmar to take back the refugees.
"The refugee situation is a problem which must be urgently solved,"
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai said earlier this year on a visit to one of
the largest camps.
Thailand has on several occasions accused Myanmar of slowing progress
The UNHCR head Monday also met junta head Than Shwe and Minister for
Immigration Saw Tun, with whom she discussed Myanmar illegal immigrants
working in Thailand, the sources said.
The junta also reportedly briefly discussed the issue of Myanmar
refugees in Bangladesh with Ogata, but the sources refused to provide
details on this conversation.
Roughly 20,000 Muslim refugees from Myanmar's northwestern state of
Arakan are living in two frontier camps in Bangladesh's southeastern
Cox's Bazar district, waiting to return to Myanmar.
The repatriation procession has been suspended since the last group of
36 refugees were sent back on May 31, under a Dhaka-Yangon agreement
backed by the UN.
Some of the refugees in Bangladesh reportedly do not want to return to
Myanmar because they fear they will be persecuted for trying to leave.
Ogata will visit Thailand between October 17 and 18, where she will
meet the prime minister and foreign diplomats before travelling to a
refugee camp near the Thai-Myanmar border.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Drills Across Thai border
16 October 2000
Joint military drills between Rangoon and Wa forces has been going on
for more than a week now, said a Thai Burma-watcher.
The exercises, second in a series of maneuvers that began in August in
the Teneserim coastal region, were participated by Infantry Battalions
330 and 227, among others, and the United Wa State Army's Independent
Regiment commanded by Wei Hsaitang at Loi Sarmsoom (NC. 2769) in
Monghsat Township, opposite Chaiprakarn District of Chiangmai Province.
The drills began on 5 October and due to last until 18 October. The
official opening of the drills on 12 October was presided over by Lt-Gen
Khin Nyunt himself, said the source.
The Chinese were also reported to be seen as observers and as weapons
Another Thai source commented: "This may be Burma's answer to reports of
Thai-American maneuvers in the north during the coming dry season."
AP: Myanmar says events at home `trivial,' not fit for U.N. agenda
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ A government newspaper Monday criticized U.S.
moves to get the United Nations to discuss the restrictions on Aung San
Suu Kyi, saying it is a ``trivial'' matter that's being blown out of
The United Nations could instead be discussing other weightier matters
``that could affect peace and stability of the region and the world,''
said a commentary in the Myanma Alin, a mouthpiece of the military
``Events in Mynamar are trivial internal affairs,'' it said.
The article was referring to news reports that the U.S. government is
trying to raise Myanmar's political problems in the Security Council,
especially the forcible eviction of democracy leader Suu Kyi from the
Yangon railway station on Sept. 22 and her virtual house arrest since
All other top leaders of her National League for Democracy party have
also been confined indoors.
``It is a shame that arrangements are being made to put up such a
trivial matter to the U.N. General Assembly and the Security Council,''
the article said.
The United States has also expressed concern at the lack of information
about the whereabouts of some 100 Suu Kyi supporters who were evicted
along with her from the station. It was the second time in a month that
Suu Kyi was barred from traveling to the countryside for party work.
Suu Kyi and the NLD have been at loggerheads with the junta since 1988,
the year the military crushed a pro-democracy uprising. The junta
refuses to honor the results of the 1990 elections, which the NLD won
The government describes Suu Kyi as a Western stooge and had kept her
under formal house arrest from 1989 to 1995. It refuses to hold talks
with her and accuses the NLD of working against national interests.
Justifying its description of the restriction as trivial, the Myanma
Alin article said no ``severe action'' has been taken by the government
against the NLD, which could have easily been ``eliminated from the
Myanmar soil'' under existing laws.
``Myanmar is a sovereign nation and has the right to tackle its own
internal affairs,'' it said.
Last week, a special U.N. envoy to Myanmar, Razali Ismail of Malaysia,
met with Suu Kyi and Myanmar's top officials in a bid to bring the two
sides together. The outcome of the meetings have not been disclosed.
Previous attempts by Razali and other U.N. envoys have not been
2000-10-16 Mon 01:05
AFP: Myanmar denies closing several universities
YANGON, Oct 16 (AFP) - Myanmar on Monday denied closing several
universities in the capital Yangon, official sources said.
The government denied shutting Dagon university and teacher training
colleges, saying "certain universities and institutes are having
semester examinations," a government spokesman said.
"During the course of these examinations certain universities and
institutes where the examinations are taking place are given private
study period," essentially a temporary suspension for the exams, he
Opposition radio previously reported that the government had
temporarily shut the Dagon schools after finding anti-regime wall
Myanmar's universities reopened last July, after being sporadically
closed since a popular uprising in the summer of 1988 threatened to
topple the military regime.
The junta imposed strict restrictions on universities in the wake of a
student revolt in December 1996, formally suspending classes for all
second and third-year students.
AFP: Myanmar opposition faces legal action if it fails to vacate HQ
YANGON, Oct 16 (AFP) - Myanmar's opposition party, led by Nobel Peace
Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has been asked to vacate its
headquarters here by October 25 or face legal action, a party source
The National League for Democracy (NLD) party received the eviction
order from the building's owner, Daw Nu, on September 25, a junior party
member told AFP.
But the party member said he had not been able to pass the letter onto
NLD chairman Aung Shwe or Aung San Suu Kyi because they and other senior
party members remain under de facto house arrest.
"With no specific instructions from our leaders we can do nothing and
when October 25 comes around we'll just have to stay put," the junior
party member said.
"We are humble caretakers looking after the premises in the absence of
our leaders and have no authority to make any decision," he said.
The restrictions on the NLD senior members were imposed on September 22
after Aung San Suu Kyi attempted to travel by train to the northern town
of Mandalay in defiance of the junta's ban on travelling outside the
The letter, shown to AFP, requires the NLD to remove all party property
and its party sign by the eviction date or face legal action.
Landlady Daw Nu said it was a family decision made "without any outside
threat or coercion" because of failing health and other personal and
But she added in the letter that the NLD's presence had caused a lot of
inconvenience to the general public who have had to face roadblocks and
other disturbances as a result of party activities.
The NLD had been given use of the property until the end of 2000 under
a "gentleman's agreement" by Daw Nu's now deceased husband Tun Kyaing,
the letter said.
Last May Daw Nu and her younger sister Daw Chaw were detained for
several days for failing to stop the NLD from using loudspeakers during
a party meeting.
The NLD won a landslide victory in 1990 elections which were
subsequently annulled by the junta.
DVB : test of Chinese-built radar station in South
Burma: Opposition radio reports test of Chinese-built radar station in
Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 15th October
It has been learned that the new SPDC [State Peace and Development
Council] naval station built near Zadetgyi Kyun in the south of Burma
near Kawthaung has been completed. DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma]
correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this report.
[Myint Maung Maung] Practical test on radar surveillance of southern
Burmese territorial waters was jointly carried out by Burmese and
Chinese experts on 8th-13th October at the newly-built radar station at
58th naval station in Zadetgyi Kyun. Tests were carried out in the area
south of Mergui to the sea off Kawthaung. They tested 24 hours
communication between naval vessels and the formation of a surface radar
network involving naval vessels in the Burmese waters and the radar
station. The advanced radar equipment utilized at the 58th naval radar
station are the GPS and GIS satellite positioning systems. Furthermore,
another three large naval vessels arrived at the radar station on 7th
October to boost its strength while two army companies landed on 9th
October and one armoured company came on 10th October. All coastal
passenger vessels were only allowed to use the shallow coastal waters
during the radar testing and reinforcing of troops. No maritime vessel
was allowed to use the offshore deep sea routes during that period.
Ocean-going freighters going to Rangoon through the Tenasserim offshore
were made to wait at Singapore port.
Reuters: Vietnam minister in Myanmar amid mediation debate
HANOI, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Vietnam's foreign minister began an official
visit to Myanmar on Monday as Southeast Asian nations wrestled over
divisions on how to deal with the political deadlock in Yangon.
Hanoi's Foreign Ministry said Nguyen Dy Nien's visit would last two
days but gave no details of his agenda.
Vietnam is the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian
The trip was clearly hastily planned as Nien had been scheduled to
speak at a Vietnam-European Union seminar on trade on Monday in Hanoi
but cancelled at the last minute.
Members of ASEAN are split over whether to mediate in Myanmar, where
the military government has held Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi
and other leaders of her opposition National League for Democracy under
house arrest for weeks.
ASEAN agreed in July in Bangkok to form a ``troika'' of three members
to try to help resolve political and security disputes, but its
Secretary-General Rodolfo Severino told Reuters in Hanoi last week there
was ``no question of mediation'' in this case.
This was despite a report in a Bangkok newspaper last month quoting
diplomats as saying U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan had suggested the
troika help in Myanmar.
Communist Vietnam said earlier this month ``relevant'' ASEAN members
had rejected the idea on the grounds it would be interference in
Yangon's internal affairs, a long-held ASEAN taboo.
But ministers responsible for information from all 10 ASEAN countries
remained silent at a news briefing after a conference in Hanoi last week
when asked whether they were united in a policy not to mediate.
Supatra Masdit, a minister in the Thai prime minister's office, told
Reuters seperately she supported mediation and this should be discussed
at Foreign Ministry level.
Concerns have been raised that the Myanmar issue could derail a
long-delayed meeting of ASEAN-EU foreign ministers Laos is due to host
in December. Laos has said the meeting would not be affected.
ASEAN groups Myanmar with Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia,
Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei.
AP: Myanmar rebels cremated nine months after police killed them
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Thai authorities are conducting funerals for 10
Myanmar rebels who were killed by security forces in January during a
raid to free a hospital they had taken over, an official said Monday.
About 40 people, mostly Thai police, provincial officers and charity
workers attended a Buddhist funeral ceremony Sunday for one of the
militants at a temple in Ratchaburi town, not far from the hospital
where they had held 800 patients, visitors and staff hostage for 22
Police Col. Sakchai Tanboon-ek said the bodies would be cremated one
body per day. A tenth rebel, believed to have been Muslim, has been
Authorities had kept the bodies in storage in a temple in Ratchaburi
until now to give relatives time to claim them. But no one showed up and
monks and a charity group urged police to conduct the funerals, said
In Buddhist funerals, bodies are often stored for 100 days or longer
``We held the ceremony to show our respect to the dead,'' Sakchai said.
``But we will need to keep the ashes in case their relatives show up,''
said Sakchai, the superintendent of Ratchaburi town police station. The
town is 95 kilometers (59 miles) west of Bangkok.
The 10 rebels belonged to two dissident Myanmar groups operating along
the Thai-Myanmar border: the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors and the
God's Army, a fringe rebel group of ethnic Karen minority, led by twin
12-year-old boys believed by their followers to have magical powers.
They had stormed the Ratchaburi provincial hospital on Jan. 23,
demanding Thailand grant refuge to Karen civilians living in rebel
They said the civilians were not only under attack from Myanmar
government forces but were also being shelled by Thai military to stop
them from trying to escape to Thailand.
After a 22-hour standoff, Thai commandos stormed the hospital and
killed the hostage-takers in circumstances never properly explained by
Thai authorities. Some reports said some of the rebels had been shot
The twin leaders of God's Army did not take part in the siege and are
still thought to be alive, living along the Thai-Myanmar border.
The God's Army is made up of Christians from the Karen community, but
Thai police claimed that the hostage-takers were Buddhists.
The tough Thai response to the hospital siege followed criticism of
Thailand's handling of another hostage crisis a few months before, when
five rebels from the Student Warriors group laid siege to the Myanmar
Embassy in Bangkok.
On that occasion, the rebels were granted safe access to the
Thai-Myanmar border in return for releasing all their hostages unharmed,
prompting a furious reaction from the Myanmar military regime which
closed its border with Thailand for two months in retaliation.
Bangkok Post: New Aspiration, Thai Rak Thai foster Rangoon ties
October 16, 2000
Two political parties will send their representatives to Burma in what
is seen as a political campaign to strengthen ties with Rangoon if their
parties win the next general election.
Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh's New Aspiration Party and Thaksin
Shinawatra's Thai Rak Thai Party have started their foreign relations
campaign with Burma, said sources.
Gen Sanan Khachornklam, a NAP co-ordinator, said the foreign affairs
committee of the New Aspiration Party led by deputy leader Likhit
Dhiravegin will lead a delegation of 45 academics and leading party
members to Burma during October 23-25.
During the three-day visit, the panel will meet Burmese Prime Minister
Gen Than Shwe, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, secretary 1 of the State Peace and
Development Council and other top military figures, said Gen Sanan, a
former Defence Ministry spokesman.
Gen Sanan said it is a good sign for the country that some major
political parties have given more special emphasis on the relationship
with neighbouring countries.
Sources said Gen Sanan has been approached by the New Aspiration Party
to be its co-ordinator for Thai-Burmese affairs.
Meanwhile, Thai Rak Thai plans to send former army chief Gen Chettha
Thanajaro to Burma.
Gen Chettha is known to have close ties with many leading Burmese
figures, particularly Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, said sources. However, the date
for the visit has yet to be scheduled.
Gen Chettha played a leading role in negotiating with Burmese
authorities for construction of a road from Kanchanaburi to Tavoy in
Burma, said sources.
The planned visits by the two leading political parties come amid a
soured relationship between Thailand and Burma.
The army has invited Burma's army chief to attend the Asean army chiefs
summit in Hua Hin in November.
The submit is aimed at forging closer ties between Asean country armies.
Burma did not attend previous summits. This year, Vietnam has accepted
but Burma has not yet replied.
Burma Courier: Exile Government to Champion Federalist Cause
No. 240 Oct 8 - 14, 2000
Based on news from MIZZIMA and MIS and NCGUB releases: Oct 12, 2000
DUBLIN -- Meeting in full session for the first time in more than two
years, exiled members of Burma's never convened Parliament last week
re-affirmed their confidence in steps being taken inside the country by
the National League for Democracy (NLD) and other political parties "to
establish a multi-party parliamentary democracy" and a "genuine federal
union" in their homeland.
The MPs also re-elected Prime Minister Sein Win to another term in
office as head of the National Coalition Government of the Union of
Burma (NCGUB) and took steps to incorporate themelves as a Parliamentary
Union. Although more than thirty of Burma's elected MPs are currently
in exile, only twenty one managed to make it to the meeting.
The parliamentarians strongly affirmed their support for the efforts
being taken by their colleagues inside Burma to "draft a federal
constitution". The move by the Committee Representing the People's
Parliament (CRPP), a group spearheaded by the NLD, has recently stirred
the wrath of the military government whose "do-nothing" National
Convention Convening Commission has been meeting for years with little
to show for its efforts.
The MPs also voiced their appreciation to the Government and Congress of
the United States "for championing Burma's cause for democracy". This
week, in an extraordinary measure, the U.S. House of Representatives
joined the Senate in passing a resolution calling on the U.S. government
to formulate policies that will "strongly support the restoration of
democracy in Burma, including implementation of the results of the free
and fair elections of 1990".
Support for Burma's elected MPs and the Committee Representing the
People's Parliament among parliamentarians is gaining momentum around
the world. Up till now almost 1900 signatures have been affixed to the
solidarity statement that began to circulate during the meeting of the
Interparliamentary Union in Amman, Jordan this past May. So far, Italy
is leading the way with 211 MPs signed on. But Norway (136), Ireland
(155) and Germany (130) are showing strong support as well. Tiny San
Marino has 34 parliamentarians who stand with their hard-pressed
colleagues in Burma.
In a gesture aimed at broadening its own base of support among Burma
exiles, the NCGUB announced that it would invite representatives from
ethnic and democracy organizations as well as women's and youth groups
to join the standing committees of its ministries.
Among those named to the revamped NCGUB Cabinet were Khun Manko Ban, MP
for Pekhon, to the post of Federal Affairs Minister, and U Thein Oo to
the Human Rights Ministry. Both are based in Thailand where Dr Sann
Aung has been named to head the PM's office in Bangkok. The recently
exiled MP for Ingapu, U Mya Win, will be in charge of the PM's New Delhi
office, which is also the operating base for Dr Tint Swe who will double
as Education and Health Minister. U Maung Maung Aye, the globe-trotting
liaison with the international labour movement, will take on
responsibilities for Information and Public Relations. Long-time
cabinet members U Bo Hla-Tint and U Tha Noe were also re-appointed to
serve as Ministers without Portfolio.
Apparently not present at the Dublin meetings was Nai Thaung Shein, MP
for Kawkareik, of the Mon National Democratic Front. Thaung Shein, who
narrowly escaped imprisonment in 1998, spoke last Saturday to a
convention of Mon youth in Bangkok where he regretted the fact that he
heard so little Mon being spoken. He told the young people that one of
the principal reasons his party was linked with other democratic parties
in Burma was to build a federal union in which the Mon people could
freely and fully enjoy their rights to practice their culture and
literature and pursue their political rights. Three of Nai Thaung
Shein's MNDF colleagues Nai Ngwe Thein, Dr. Min Kyi Win and Dr. Min Soe
Lin are serving long terms in Moulamyaing prison for indicating their
support for the Committee Representing the People's Parliament.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Burma Courier: Drivers Laughing All the Way to the Petrol Pumps
Based on articles in the Myanmar Times BKK Post & Courier files:
updated to Oct 14,
RANGOON -- Judging from prices last week at filling stations operated by
state-owned Myanma Petroleum Products Enterprise (MPPE), the current
crisis in international oil prices has left one of the world's poorest
countries virtually unscathed.
An informal survey conducted in Rangoon by the Myanmar Times showed that
prices at the pumps at MPPE stations were just 180 kyats per gallon for
gasoline and 160 kyats per gallon for diesel. At current exchange
rates, that works out to the equivalent of approximately US$ 0.10 cents
a litre for gasoline and less than US$ 0.09 cents a litre for diesel.
Compared with charges in Thailand where folks have been paying 41 cents
per litre and in Singapore where drivers are dishing out 82 cents per
litre and in Hong Kong where the bowser price is US$ 1.38 per litre for
gasoline, Rangoon pump prices are eyepoppingly cheap. Even at 41 cents
Thailand's PTT says it loses money at current world oil prices and on
Friday prices were raised by 30 satang a litre (a little less than a
cent). Thai news stories said that even this tiny hike in prices had
sparked inflation fears, as the baht dropped even further relative to
the U.S. dollar. The thought cannot be far from the minds of the
generals on Signal Pagoda Road.
Private resellers, not quite as generous as the MPPE station operators,
have already raised their prices about 30 per cent to 300-400 kyats ($US
0.75 - 1.00) per gallon for gasoline and to about 500 kyats ($US 1.25)
per gallon for diesel. Highway bus services, consulted by the Rangoon
weekly were adopting a wait-and-see approach. "But if the prices of
gasoline and diesel continue to rise, we will have to raise our fares as
well," the manager of one transport agency told MTBR.
A private oil industry executive consulted by MTBR attributed the
military government's generosity at the pumps to the bonanza created
when Thailand paid up its outstanding debt of $US 283 million last July
for gas piped across the border from the offshore Yadana field in
Burmese waters. ."In a macro economic sense the energy export paid for
the energy import," said Focus Energy's Maurie Drew. Burma must import
up to 25,000 barrels of oil a day to meet its energy needs.
There is also the promise of goodies yet to come, as the offshore
Yetagun field, operated by Britain's Premier Oil, begins to send 200
million cubic ft of natural gas across the Thai-Burma border on a daily
basis. The same field has the potential to produce between 5-6,000
barrels a day of natural gas condensate. In July, Japan's Mitsubishi
Corp announced plans to invest US $70 million to build a floating
storage offloading facility for the condensate. Mitsubishi will also
market the condensate which is used as feedstock in petrochemical
plants. At the time of the announcement, Mitsubishi said it was already
in talks with producers to buy about 40 percent of Yetagun's condensate
output. Gas condensate commands even better prices than crude. The FSO
should be ready by year's end.
Bangkok Post: Editorial - Friends don't let friends do harm
Oct 15, 2000.
There is always a slight, transient advantage to holding a
well-organised conference against drugs. The issue deserves to be kept
at the forefront, deserves constant discussion and consideration. The
media, including this newspaper, publicise the battle against the drug
traffickers. They describe the successes and, more often lately, the
In the past couple of years, Thailand and neighbours have been badly
hurt by a conspiracy of criminals, the like of which we never have seen
before. The rapid and crippling rise of the pill pushers has threatened
our country like few previous invasions. Last week's conference
methodically outlined the causes and effects of this insidious
intrusion. In the sense that people became more aware of the problem and
dangers, last week's conference was modestly successful.
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai opened the discussion among 34 nations and
the United Nations International Drug Control Programme. His keynote set
the tone. Thailand in particular, and the region in general face a
serious problem from massive smuggling and sales of stimulants.
Methamphetamines and similar pills have drugged far too many of our
people and children. They have corrupted large segments of the country.
There are two steps that can be taken to help to defeat this threat to
our very national security. The first is to identify the major players
who make, smuggle, sell and protect the drug dealers. The second is to
pursue them across the national borders they use to protect themselves.
Neither Thailand nor our friends have taken firm enough steps on either
of these necessary issues. Last week, however, there was modest progress
Burma sent a senior intelligence officer to the conference. Col Kyaw
Thein heads the Office of Strategic Studies for the military
dictatorship. He repeated the old refrains. Burma is not responsible for
drug smuggling. Burma does not make the chemicals or machines necessary
to manufacture methamphetamines, so it can't be Burma that is culpable.
Burma can't patrol all the vast regions of the nation. And finally,
Burma has a master plan to eliminate drugs by 2014. Rangoon can't
disclose the secret plan, and won't address the contradictions in Col
Kyaw Thein's claims.
China, on the other hand, has been taking drugs seriously for some time
now. Beijing is concerned at the effects drugs have had. They include an
Aids epidemic in the south, near the Burmese border. Just last month, as
concerned as Thailand, China began a nationwide campaign against
The Chinese delegate, Liu Jieyi of the foreign minstry, announced that
Beijing will be taking trans-national crime and corruption to this
week's Asia-Europe Meeting, known as Asem. In Seoul, 25 heads of
government from Europe and Asia will discuss further co-operation-and
funding-on fighting international criminals.
There remains, however, a missing link in these welcome Chinese
proposal. China correctly wants to fight international crime. But it
proposes no way to identify or to punish those responsible. China is the
closest thing to a friend that Burma has. China has helped Rangoon in
various ways, both diplomatic and economic. It is time for Beijing to
show that friendship works both ways.
Friends don't let friends deal drugs. The Burmese regime is badly
tainted and closely identified with heroin and methamphetamine dealers,
smugglers and traffickers. The head of the ruling military dictatorship,
Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, has publicly embraced the region's drug kingpin and
head of the United Wa State Army, Wei Hsueh-kang. China considers its
battle against drugs a critical issue. It should intervene with Burma,
forcefully, and convince Rangoon to move away from the drug dealers.
China will do itself much good, and greatly help the cause of battling
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