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BurmaNet News: December 14, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: December 14, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 06:16:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
________December 14, 2000 Issue #1684_________
NOTED IN PASSING: "It's illegal to be a journalist in Burma. If you're
caught carrying a laptop through customs they deport you or imprison
you. But it's quite easy to smuggle a Palm through in the pockets of
your cargo trousers.?
Ben Hammersley, technology reporter for the Times of London. See Wired:
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Wired: Size matters
*AP: Myanmar indicates Karen refugees not welcome to return
*Shan Herald Agency for News: New Year's Tax list for Shan New Year
*The Myanmar Times: Burma sets up national e-task force to bridge
*Myanmar Times: Homesick Myanmar surfers ride the e-wave to success
*The Nation: Steep climb to a bleak future
*Agence France Presse: International community pushing for change in
*Puchatkan (Thailand): Former army chief confident of restoring ties
*AFP: Guam worried at sudden influx of Myanmar refugees
*The Asian Age (New Delhi): Affairs, Foreign
*Mizzima: "Junta should be investigated before international criminal
court", Burma women activists
*AFP: Cheney brings experience, strong conservative views
*Xinhua: Foreign Investment in Myanmar Sharply Up in Eight Months
*Xinhua: Malaysian Company to Set Up Garment Factory in Myanmar
*Xinhua: South Korean Company to Set Up Shoe Factory in Myanmar
*The Age (Australia): A history of betrayals
*BurmaNet: Burma News Summaries available by email or the web
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Wired: Size matters
Dec. 13, 2000
Jet-setting journalist Ben Hammersley, a technology reporter with the
venerable Times of London, said he has almost completely dispensed with
his laptop in favor of a Handspring Visor and a foldout keyboard.
"I leave the UK every three weeks and a laptop is a pain in the arse
because it's so big," Hammersley said. "Even the charger is bigger than
Hammersley has used his Visor, which has a slot for a 56K modem, to file
stories from destinations as far flung as Morocco, Thailand and Burma.
He had to smuggle the setup into Burma for an interview with activist
and Nobel Peace Prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi.
"It's illegal to be a journalist in Burma," Hammersley explained. "If
you're caught carrying a laptop through customs they deport you or
imprison you. But it's quite easy to smuggle a Palm through in the
pockets of your cargo trousers."
Hammersley said his colleagues are so impressed with his lightweight
setup, the Times -- a conservative organ that frowns on fads -- is
talking about similarly equipping all its journalists.
"Compare a $300 Palm to a $3,000 laptop," Hammersley said. "Not only is
it lighter, it's much easier and less expensive to replace a lost Palm
or a keyboard."
But the miniature setup has its downside.
"It's impossible to get any work done for the first five minutes because
someone always says, 'What's that
BurmaNet adds: Looking for a Visor and keyboard? FOr a basic
Handspring Visor, go to
For the keyboard, go to:
AP: Myanmar indicates Karen refugees not welcome to return
Dec. 14, 2000
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ A top Myanmar general Thursday accused Karen
refugees sheltering in Thailand of being fugitives and insurgents, and
indicated they should not be allowed to return.
``If these insurgents (were) to be repatriated and reintegrated as
refugees, it would be harmful to the peace and stability of the
nation,'' Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt, Secretary One of the ruling State Peace
and Development Council, said.
Khin Nyunt's statement raised questions about the future of some
126,000 Karens living in border camps in Thailand. The United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees has been holding talks with Myanmar's
military government about their eventual repatriation to eastern
But recognizing the Karens as refugees would be ``rather unfair to the
country of origin,'' Khin Nyunt said in a speech at a function to mark
the UNHCR's 50th anniversary.
U.N. officials attended the function but their reaction to the speech
was not immediately known. Reporters were not invited to the event, but
a copy of Khin Nyunt's speech was obtained by The Associated Press.
Khin Nyunt said: ''We are aware that our neighboring country is hosting
Myanmar's so-called refugees in temporary shelters on the eastern
borders. The so-called refugees are fugitives, illegal migrants,
insurgents and their families, and members of unlawful associations
opposing the government.''
The Karen refugees fled their homes to escape fighting between
government forces and Karen guerrillas, who are fighting for autonomy.
They have refused to sign peace deals unlike other ethnic rebel groups.
The Karens are predominantly Christians and a minority in their
overwhelmingly Buddhist country.
The UNHCR admits that the refugees won't be repatriated until the
fighting ends. The refugees also refuse to return without guarantees of
safety from the government.
Khin Nyunt made it clear that the problem should be resolved through
``bilateral means'' and said international voluntary groups' help should
be ``limited solely to humanitarian purposes, and not directed towards
``I would like to urge UNHCR that refugees and illegal migrants be
treated separately,'' he said.
Shan Herald Agency for News: New Year's Tax list for Shan New Year
13 December 2000
The Shan New Year that falls on the First Waxing Moon of the First Lunar
Month (27 October) might be a day for celebrations elsewhere in the
Shan State, but in Panglong, the town where the Shans signed a union
pact with Aung San in 1947, it marked the year of more tax burdens for
its citizens, said sources arriving at the Thai border, opposite
On that day, a circular, signed by Lt-Col. Tin Maung, commander, LIB
513, reaching each of the village headmen in Panglong read: "Since it
is being marked as New Year for Shans, I would like to impose a new
list of taxes from you."
According to the list, people of Panglong would have to pay: 1. K. 300
for each household every 6 months;
2. K. 5,000 for each motocycle per month;
3. K. 8,000 for each Tolaji (farm tractor) per month;
4. K. 500 for each head of cattle per month;
5. K. 200 - K 4,500 for peanut or sesame fields depending on sizes.
"Even patches of mustard or hpakki (coriander plant) grown for family
consumption are not spared," one said. "We have to pay K. 50 - K. 100
"The worst is, of course, is their rice requisition."
According to the sources, each farmer is required to sell 5 baskets of
unhusked rice per acre at K. 20 per basket when the market price is K.
"It looks like they are not happy with the Shans who are celebrating
their own New Year, "concluded the source, who said he was in Thailand
to see if he could find some work.
The Myanmar Times: Burma sets up national e-task force to bridge digital
13 Dec 00 p 3
The Myanmar Burma government last month took an important step to stay
abreast of rapidly developing information technologies which have caused
a digital divide between developed and developing nations.
The 18-member e-National Task Force, with Deputy Minister for Science
and Technology U Hlaing Win as its chairman, has been formed to help put
Myanmar on a comparable footing with its developed ASEAN cousins, and to
accelerate development of the domestic information and communication
Task force members include officials from relevant ministries, computer
professionals and representatives of business associations.
The body will be funded through the Ministry of Science and Technology
and will have three working committees on education, legal affairs, and
development of infrastructure and programme applications.
The task force's responsibilities will include making suggestions for
the emergence of information and communication infrastructure; drafting
national policies, laws and by-laws on e-commerce based on the existing
laws in the country and international norms; coordinating, with
government agencies, Myanmar's implementation of provisions in the
e-ASEAN framework agreement; evaluating current resources for execution
of appropriate programmes for Myanmar's e-readiness; and forwarding
recommendations for the implementation of information and communications
The task force will have ready access to relevant information collected
by public and private bodies.
Myanmar Times: Homesick Myanmar surfers ride the e-wave to success
Dec. 11-17, 2000
THE rapid development of information technologies has meant
unprecedented opportunities for business wealth creation and spawned a
new generation of young innovators who have made astonishing fortunes
on-line.Myanmar, too, has produced a few such ambitious, young
entrepreneurs who have joined the band wagon to stake their claim on a
share of the multi-billion dollar internet gamble. Two of them, Zaw Zaw
and Denzil Khine, have linked up with their Chinese colleague Shaoxing
Huang to create a web directory of the golden land,
www.Myanmarpyi.com.All three men spent their highschool days at the
International School of Yangon and are now second and third-year college
students in the US.
In December last year they flew to New York to meet for preliminary
discussions about joining the IT revolution.The result was a
comprehensive web site that portrays Myanmar?s arts and culture,
business news, and other information that the internet community might
want to know. Their innovation grew from homesickness, as the three
Myanmar abroad - Shaoxing Huang also grew up here ? whiled away the
hours surfing for Myanmar-related web sites on the net. Shocked to
discover that there was no comprehensive, truly representative site, the
three amigos decided to create their own ? before someone else beat them
to it. Their goals were simple: to provide information to anyone curious
about this country; to provide solace to those, like themselves, who
missed it; and to make Myanmar better known to the world.
After deciding to set up the web site, the three men split into teams.
Zaw Zaw (he declined to use his real name) and five associates started
compiling the site while Denzil Khine and Huang engaged in promotional
activities outside Myanmar. All the web designers, programmers, and
computer professionals who run Myanmarpyi.com are young Myanmar people,
aged around 20-years. Denzil Khine is the web master, who maintains and
monitors the site - replying to emails, checking broken links, and
keeping track of the number of hits, or visitors, to the site.It all
sounds very positive. But where are the legendary mega-bucks?Revenue for
the creators of Myanmarpyi.com comes via ?visual estate?. They buy and
sell top level domain names, which are internet addresses or the
universal reference links. ?The domain names registered at ?.com? and
?.net? are easier to liquidate and have higher value than any other
domain extensions,? said Zaw Zaw.
The value of the domain names they register depends largely on the rate
of hits to their Myanmarpyi.com site.According to the monitoring Global
Acquisitions Group (www.globalacq.com), Myanmarpyi.com has received more
than 300,000 hits since the middle of August. That means it will be
easier ? and ultimately more profitable ? for the Myanmarpyi.com team to
register new domain names in the future.When a viewer logs on to
Myanmarpyi.com, a window opens showing links to the web sites of the
relevant domain names. Thus, every person who visits Myanmarpyi.com will
also, potentially, visit those new sites. Myanmarpyi.com also has
several online shops where net users can buy products online using a
credit card.The site?s third form of revenue is banner advertising, at
prices ranging from $50 to $1000 depending on prominence. Those prices
increase as the number of visitors to the site grows.
During an interview with Ko Zaw Zaw, conducted via email, Myanmar Times
learned that Myanmar- pyi.com will not host any of the conversation
forums that are part of the net?s appeal - chat rooms and e-circles. Ko
Zaw Zaw said that he did not want to waste his time providing what was
already readily available elsewhere.?Go to Yahoo! Or go to Ecircle!? he
said.He wants, he said, to focus on demand. Consequently, the
Myanmarpyi.com team is currently developing a new web site for the US
market which it may patent, but the details of which it is not yet ready
Myanmarpyi.com offers free email, e-cards, sound cards, and homepages to
its patrons and a group based in New Zealand is writing a program that
will allow people to create their own homepages, without too much
difficulty, on Myanmarpyi.com.Already, the site boasts about 3000 pages
on Myanmar businesses, arts and crafts, entertainment, history and
shopping opportunities.And it must be good.In what is surely the
ultimate recognition that a web site is getting it right, the US-based
www.fmeuse.com has offered Zaw Zaw, Denzil Khine and Shaoxing Huang and
co US$90,000 to hand over their baby.But these boys are not silly. They
The Nation: Steep climb to a bleak future
December 14, 2000
On the Thai-Burmese border, the Karen people are battleing for
independence. But as Daniel Pedersen reports, life for these rebels is
tough: they face forced labour, stolen harvests and the constant threat
of being maimed by landmines.
The remnants of a people cling to a mountainside near Mae Sot in
Thailand's northern Tak province.
At Umphien Mai refugee camp, just six kilometres from Burma, the Karen
people subsist in a camp carved from the clay, an endless series of
steps which they ply daily in a hopeless search for normality.
The Karen are the only Burmese ethnic minority not to have signed a
peace deal with the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Burma's
ruling military junta. And they are paying dearly for their quest for an
independent state, which began in 1949.
The camp's most senior monk, Na Ware, shakes his head - he disapproves
of the peace deals struck with other states. "Look at the Mon, they have
made an agreement with the SPDC and what good has it done them? All they
have done is surrender their right to negotiate, they have totally
surrendered their rights. And it is not the people's will for such
agreements, the people have no say in such agreements."
The peace deals have also freed many of the junta's troops and they have
turned their full attention to the systematic destruction of the Karen
Na Ware supports the four guiding principles of the Karen state.
"I have news from Burma that there will be demonstrations bigger than
1988 this year." The junta, they are in the process of preparing their
soldiers for just such an event. They are trying to destroy the Karen
people with cheap drugs, they are trying to divide the Karen people
He believes Aung San Suu Kyi has no hope of negotiating peace alone.
"There must be intense pressure from the international community,
otherwise all attempts at a negotiated settlement will fail."
"While some ethnic groups have entered negotiations with the junta, it
will do them no good - refugees still keep spilling over the border," he
said. "The junta it is always at the ready, always on the alert."
The state of the Karen people is one of utter disaster. In Umphien Mai
refugee camp, home to more than 15,000 people, conditions are harsh. The
camp itself is set on an unforgiving clay hillside. When the daily
torrential rains of the wet season pound the mountain range dividing
Burma and Thailand, the pathways linking the various sections of this
massive shantytown become water courses. Movement becomes extremely
difficult, each step a slippery obstacle to be negotiated with great
And there are hundreds of thousands of steps in this remote camp.
When it is dry, movement for those who are healthy is easier, but the
cold winds from the mountains drive waves of choking dust through the
air. For the Karen however, there is one aspect to the camp that means
people will walk for more than a month through heavily mined jungles to
reach it. And that is that life may go on - in whatever degraded form it
For in this camp, separated by just one peak from the Karen homeland,
there is less chance of being murdered by the military, or becoming part
of a forced labour gang - or risking death as a human mine sweeper.
The Karen people are the victims of an ongoing campaign of ethnic
cleansing the likes of which caused horror in former Yugoslavia and Pol
Pot's Democratic Kampuchea. In camps spread along the border anaemia and
malnutrition are widespread, malaria a constant. Inside Burma the Karen
people are forced to construct roads for no wages, used as porters to
carry munitions and armaments for months at a time, and sometimes just
simply murdered. There is no attempt to hide murders from the general
populace, it is simply another tactic to force submission, or to create
such fear that people take flight to Thailand. It works. At Umphien camp
as many as 20 new families arrive monthly, but at times of intense
military activity, such as in January when SPDC troops attacked two
villages in the Myeik and Dawei areas, 1.100 people fled across the
border in just a couple of days. Those who remain in Karen state, on the
"inside", must battle an epidemic plaguing their community -
The Thai government knows there are between 40 and 50 amphetamine
factories along the Burmese border. The military estimates 600 million
amphetamine pills were last year brought into the country from Burma.
Once the drugs were predominantly produced in Shan state, along the
Burmese-Chinese border. But now the Thai border is where most factories
are based, and drug production has increased. Many of the pills are
destined for Thailand, but around the factories extremely cheap drugs
are made available to the local populace. It is a problem in the camps
also, but the self-regulatory nature of the Karen refugees ensures it
remains on the fringes. The future for the refugees is at best bleak,
many say they are quite content to simply stay in the camp. They cannot
imagine a time of peace in the Karen state, they have never known it.
Ley Thaw, 34, was a student at the time of the 1988 uprising. He fled
the provincial capital of Pa-an and travelled to the border to play a
coordinating role for students taking refuge in Thailand. He helped many
young people flee and then chose to stay - he began teaching at Huay
Kalok, an insecure border camp torched repeatedly by the junta and
eventually closed. Teaching with a gun at his side, he instructed his
students to stick together: should fighting break out, he would guide
them to a safe place where they could again establish a makeshift
Ley Thaw then began fighting with the Karen National Union's Army,
headed by General Bo Mya. In 1993, however, he was wounded by troops
from the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC, renamed the
State Peace and Development Council in 1997 with cosmetic hierarchical
rearrangements). Shot from behind with an M-79 grenade launcher, he was
hospitalised in Mae La refugee camp, the largest camp near Mae Sot, now
home to more than 30,000 people.
Would he again take up the fight against the junta? "I don't want to
kill anybody," he said. "But if the UNHCR asks the refugees to return
without adequate security arrangements I will not go, I will again take
up a gun."
For people such as Ley Thaw, life is tough, but Karen farmers are facing
increased difficulty just existing as they have for hundreds of years.
In the past six months the junta's troops, once content with simply
stealing farmers' rice at harvest, have begun removing young rice
seedlings. The field is then sown with landmines.
Gera and his family began walking out of Karen state on July 12 and
arrived at Umphien Mai on September 8. The rice farmer had had enough,
he didn't want to end up like his father Kin Ma, who had been killed 10
years ago while working as a porter for Burmese troops. He'd seen what a
landmine had done to his father, both his legs were torn off by the
blast and he died a slow agonising death.
For three years Gera had lived under the constant stare of Burmese
military intelligence officers. In 1997 each brigade handpicked five of
its most militant number to shed uniforms and become the eyes and ears
of the military in the regional villages. These groups, said Gera, have
more power than the military. If they dislike a particular villager, or
they know people have relatives in the camps, they are at liberty to
kill them. They are all-powerful and instil terror in the villagers,
they may go to people's homes day or night and execute them. There is
nothing clandestine about their activities.
"If you are seen gathered in groups of more than five you are considered
to be plotting against the government, that means a seven year jail
term. "The military comes into the villages and takes people at random
to act as porters, we are forced to carry munitions and communications
gear, but then there is no-one to look after our farms.
"Sometimes we are forced to work for the soldiers for three months at a
time, and if you become too exhausted to keep moving they just kill you
and walk on."
Ma Cho is a 31-year-old refugee who arrived at Umphien Mai on September
13. She stayed in her beloved Pa-an as long as she could. She had been
paying the military 200 Kyat (Bt1,310) often, so she was not forced to
act as a porter. But her family could earn a daily income of only 150
Kyat, selling fried fish from a small cart. And with the increased
military presence in Karen state, the soldiers visited more often.
"They always took at least five people from each village per brigade,
but then some brigades demand more money than others, some ask for 200
Kyat, others for 300. My family had no choice, we could feed ourselves
with the fish we caught, but we had no money to pay the military
anymore," she said.
"Festive occasions are the worst, that's when they simply walk in and
demand 500 Kyat. "If you have no money, they arrest you." Ma Cho lost
her brother to a landmine while he was working as a porter. She has two
children, one who is nine she has brought to the camp.
Another, just seven, she has left in Pa-an. She is staying with people
she knows until she can somehow begin to build her own life in the camp.
A moment's silence follows her story and she begins to weep. One of the
camp's senior men, in his 60s, offers her some comfort and a Karen
It is titled We Cannot Forget
. To possess the volume inside Burma is punishable by death.
Bribes of Bt200 to Bt400 create access to areas the poor cannot afford,
such as the nearby town of Mae Sot, where a little labouring work can
sometimes be found. Demand from Thai businesses certainly exists, and
many lament the ongoing deportation of their workers.
The Karen are a cheap source of labour and the economies of scale of
factories in Tak province demand cheap labour. A Burmese labourer will
work for Bt70 daily, as opposed to the minimum wage for Thais of Bt162.
But recent crackdowns by the Thai military and police are once again
forcing hundreds of people back into Burma daily.
People are loaded into trucks and shunted back along "special" routes
inside Burma. They are prodded like cattle with long poles into the
trucks because they lack appropriate identification. Such identification
takes the form of a Polaroid snapshot with a number held before their
chest. For them the future is uncertain, but SPDC authorities will be
waiting to greet them when they arrive home.
Late at night, sipping weak black tea in a shelter-cum-cafe a refugee in
his mid-twenties succumbs to his frustration at life as a refugee since
he was just eight years old. There is a cold wind blowing through the
makeshift walls and he is braced against it. "They chose this place,
because one thing the refugee knows, they want us to go home, that's why
they chose this site." He hates the camp, he hates the Thais, he hates
the junta. He is Karen and his people are dying.
Agence France Presse: International community pushing for change in
December 14, 2000, Thursday
BANGKOK, Dec 14
The international community has intensified efforts to break the
decade-long political stalemate in Myanmar but hopes for change remain
squarely in the hands of the ruling generals and their formidable
opponent Aung San Suu Kyi.
At a meeting in Laos this week, foreign ministers from the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed for the first time to discuss
the Myanmar issue with their counterparts from the European Union.
The frank discussion represented a major breakthrough for the two blocs
who had not met at that level since ASEAN ignored European protests and
admitted Myanmar as a member in 1997.
The European ministers walked away happy from the meeting in the Laotian
capital Vientiane, having extracted some concessionary gestures from
Myanmar's ruling junta.
However, the promises made by the regime should not prove too onerous.
The military government agreed to allow a European Union mission into
the country next January. But the same mission was scheduled to visit
last October only to be postponed because the timing was deemed
The junta also agreed to lift the house arrest restrictions imposed on
three leading opposition members, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu
Kyi, at an "appropriate time", expected to be before the Europeans
The military did not undertake, however, to halt its campaign of
intimidation and repression that has served to nearly destroy the
National League for Democracy, which has never been allowed to assume
power despite winning a landslide election victory 10 years ago.
But behind the headlines and the routine condemnation of Myanmar over
its human rights record, the international community is working
discreetly to initiate a landmark dialogue between the junta and the
These efforts are focused on the new United Nations special envoy to
Myanmar, Razali Ismail, who this year took on the difficult task of
trying to mediate the country out of its political deadlock.
Nominated in April by UN secretary general Kofi Annan, the Malaysian
diplomat has made two visits to Myanmar, in July and October, during
which he met Aung San Suu Kyi as well as the regime's number-one leader
Razali was the first UN envoy to have access to Than Shwe, the chairman
of the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), as the junta
has been known since 1997.
By all accounts Razali has been warmly received in Myanmar, seemingly
winning the trust of both sides of the political divide.
He is helped by the fact he is from Malaysia, a country admired by the
Yangon regime for its fiery approach to doing business with the West,
and which helped it win membership to ASEAN.
Diplomats in Yangon are split over the best way to ease the generals out
and bring democracy to Myanmar -- the British and Americans are viewed
as hard-line critics while Japan and Australia lead the "pragmatic"
However, all agree that the "Razali initiative" is Myanmar's best hope
for an historic dialogue between the SPDC and the opposition.
But even if the military and the opposition were convinced to sit down
together, their mutual resentment would be intense and the number of
subjects they could agree on would be few.
It is thought that relatively safe topics that could be broached would
include the country's economic malaise and the HIV-AIDS problem.
The big unknown, however, is the view of Aung San Suu Kyi herself, who
has been confined to her residence and out of the reach of the concerned
diplomatic community since September 22.
What she will say when the generals finally set her free remains to be
The Yangon rumour mill last month was seething with stories of contacts
between the government and the NLD, but with no indication of the detail
of the talks or the participants involved.
"Since then there have been no new rumours, so going by recent history
in Yangon that is a certain sign that something really may be going on,"
quipped one diplomat.
Puchatkan (Thailand): Former army chief confident of restoring ties with
In Thai 11 Dec 00 p 14
Text of report by Thai newspaper 'Puchatkan'
Former Army Commander General Chettha Thanacharo has said he is
confident that his personal ties with three Burmese military leaders can
help restore good relations between Thailand and Burma, adding that
after talks aimed at obtaining fishing concession from Burma he will
discuss anti-narcotics cooperation with that country. He said strained
Thai-Burmese relations have hindered efforts to resolve several problems
between the two countries and that he can use his good personal
relations with the three senior Burmese leaders to restore good
relations between the countries.
Gen Chettha said the Burmese refusal to grant fishing concession to
Thailand puzzles him, as Thailand is the only neighbouring country of
Burma which do not have a concession. He asked: "Why have Singapore,
Malaysia, Indonesia, and China got concessions from the Burmese
government, but Thailand has not despite sharing some 2,400 km in common
border with Burma?" He said he is very confident of successful
negotiations with the three Burmese military leaders - Gen Than Shwe,
Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, and Army Commander Gen Maung Aye - on acquisition of
a fishing concession.
Gen Chettha said although a negotiation with the Burmese government on a
fishing concession has not materialized in the term of the current
government, restoration of good bilateral relations can be achieved in
the term of the new Thai government. "I have regular meetings with the
three Burmese military leaders. The dilemma can be resolved as long as
discussions with them are straightforward."
He said once a fishing concession is restored Thailand has to strictly
comply with the agreement. If the concession allows 50 boats to fish,
there must not be illicit fishing by 100-150 boats. There must be
detailed consultations prior to conclusion of any concession agreement
to ensure mutual satisfaction of both sides.
Regarding pressure from the international community against close
relations between Thailand and Burma, Gen Chettha said it is unusual for
pressure to be exerted against good relations between neighbouring
countries. "In principle, engagement between the neighbouring countries
contributes to bilateral cooperation in trade and resolution of
problems, particularly the narcotics problem."
Gen Chettha said other than negotiations with Burma to seek a fishing
concession, he is confident that he can discuss with Burmese military
leaders on anti-narcotics cooperation. "I do not think the Burmese
military leaders will object because narcotics is a world problem."
Gen Chettha and Thai Rak Thai Party officials reportedly plan to go to
Ranong Province during 17th-18th December to speak to the people there
about the fishing occupation and the frequent Burmese seizure of Thai
boats which were fishing in Burmese waters disguised as boats under
concessions granted to other countries. The situation has led to Thai
boats facing extortion for their protection by unscrupulous influential
groups. Although this situation is well known, there have been no
efforts to solve it.
Ranong is a small province bordering Victoria Point of Burma. Problems
which have occurred in the province include being a site where terrorist
groups coordinate their activities in Thailand; narcotics, arms, and war
material smuggling; illegal workers; child prostitution; illegal
gambling dens; and goods and oil smuggling.
AFP: Guam worried at sudden influx of Myanmar refugees
AUCKLAND, Dec 14 (AFP) - A sudden influx of Myanmar refugees is causing
concern in the US central Pacific territory of Guam, the Pacific Daily
News reported Thursday.
US Congressman Robert Underwood was quoted in the newspaper saying
Myanmar citizens who may be fleeing political and religious persecution
were arriving under a special visa waiver program.
"It should be a source of great concern to us," he said in a speech to
the Micronesia Society of Professional Journalists.
The situation in Myanmar may lead other countries to look at the visa
waiver program as a political tool rather than a tourism program, he
The arrival of about 700 people from Myanmar in the last few months may
be a public health concern as well, because about half of them may have
latent tuberculosis infections, Underwood said.
Leland Bettis, of the Commission on Decolonization, said the problem
seemed to be worsening, with about 50 refugees arriving in the past
Underwood said he expected federal authorities to temporarily cease the
Myanmar visa waiver program soon.
The Asian Age (New Delhi): Affairs, Foreign
December 12, 2000
The military regime in Pakistan is condemned and rejected by mandarins
at South Block. But the officials have failed to explain New Delhi?s
growing ties with Burma?s military junta. The argument put forward is
that it is a different case and we do not interfere in the internal
matters of other countries. After the high profile visit of General
Maung Aye to New Delhi, the number two man in Burma?s military order, Mr
Jaswant Singh is preparing to go to Rangoon next month. He will take
part in the inauguration of the 160 km road linking the border township
of Tamu in Burma with the railhead at Kalemyo in Manipur. New Delhi is
prepared to leave aside pro-democracy activist Aung Sang Suu Kyi for a
while and go ahead with legitimizing the military junta. Cooperation
with the regime in Burma has proved beneficial for India, say officials.
The military leadership has promised to bust militants active in the
northeast and operating from their land.
Mizzima: "Junta should be investigated before international criminal
court", Burma women activists
December 11, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
Calling for an international mechanism to stop crimes against humanity
and in particular those perpetrated by the state, the women activists of
Burma have demanded that the military junta in Burma should be
investigated before the international criminal court for its war crimes
being committed in Burma. A day after the International Human Rights
Day, a testimony on atrocities committed by the military junta in Burma
was heard today at a public hearing on current war crimes in Tokyo.
The hearing is held in conjunction with the Women?s International War
Crimes Tribunal on Japan?s military sexual slavery from 8 to 12
Ms. Khin Ohmar, a representative from the Women?s League of Burma, read
the testimony of Naw Dah Mu, an ethnic refugee from Burma who fled the
military brutality in her village. ôFive times in my life, my house and
belongings have been looted and I have had to run away from the junta?s
soldiers. Each time they took all they could, including my domestic
animals,ö said Naw Dah Mu, a 41-year-old woman, in her testimony.
Naw Dah Mu, who escaped to the Thai border, together with her two
children after her husband was tortured to death by the junta?s
soldiers, could not attend the hearing in person, as she has no travel
According to the Burma Border Consortium (BBC), the relief organization
assisting refugees from Burma, there are 120, 000 refugees living in
camps along the Thai-Burma border.
In a press release issued today, the Women?s League of Burma which is an
umbrella of total twelve women?s organizations from Burma said that
women in Burma are being forced to leave their home, due to state
violence and forced labor, extortion, forced reallocation, rape and
abuse by the ruling military regime?s soldiers is common in that
The Women?s League of Burma (WLB) strongly urges the international
community to call for an international tribunal on war crimes in Burma,
with the aim of deterring such crimes against humanity,ö said the press
The public hearing is jointly organized by the United States, Women?s
Caucus for Gender Justice and Violence Against Women, Net from Japan and
several other women organizations to draw attention to war crimes
AFP: Cheney brings experience, strong conservative views
WASHINGTON, Dec 13 (AFP) - Dick Cheney, the "eminence grise" of George
W. Bush's campaign, is expected to be a major force at the White House,
likely to bring an even higher profile to the office of the vice
president than the man he is replacing, Al Gore.
Although Gore has brought the vice presidency out of the shadows over
the past eight years, political observers say Cheney's tough posture and
vast experience are likely to be key features of the Bush White House.
Some even believe Cheney, who is heading up the Bush transition effort,
may end up wielding as much power if not more than the president
If Bush is touted as a Washington outsider, Cheney, 59, is the
archetypal Washington "insider," although he has been in the private
sector for the last eight years.
He served as Gerald Ford's White House chief of staff and was defense
secretary for president George Bush, the president-elect's father. In
addition to that, he has been a member of Congress and is familiar with
the operations of both the legislative and executive branch.
Cheney has participated in five presidential transitions, knows his way
around the White House and brings to the Bush team an air of
respectability and experience.
During the dispute over the Florida vote count, Cheney worked closely
in developing strategy with James Baker, another veteran of the elder
Bush's presidency. He seems omnipresent in the campaign's
decision-making processes, and the younger Bush does not hide his
admiration for him.
But Cheney's reputation for efficiency is not matched by his charisma.
Observers note the dry, sometimes monotone manner of the veteran
"When he has to face an immediate, concrete problem, he responds in a
pragmatic and clear manner," the Los Angeles Times recently wrote.
The younger Bush originally had named him in the spring to find a vice
presidential running mate, but decided he instead would be the best
At the time, Cheney, who had gained notoriety for his guidance of the
Pentagon during the Gulf War, was chairman and chief executive officer
of the Halliburton Company, an oil industry supplier.
The selection of Cheney made his conservative voting record in Congress
a target for Democrats during the campaign, along with the fortune he
amassed while at Halliburton.
Detractors fault his deeply held conservative opinions, including
staunch anti-abortion views.
Cheney voted against a congressional resolution calling for the release
of then jailed Nelson Mandela in South Africa. He supported Ronald
Reagan's anti-missile Strategic Defense Initiative.
In his former role as defense secretary, he also supported policies
banning homosexuals from serving in the military and excluding women
from combat positions.
Even in his business dealings he has not avoided controversy.
He defended his former company's business dealings in Myanmar despite
widespread human rights abuses in the Southeast Asian country.
"It was fully in compliance with US policy and our conduct around the
world," he said during a television interview.
Richard Bruce Cheney was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. His father was an
Agriculture Department employee who moved the family to Casper, Wyoming.
After earning degrees from the University of Wyoming, he moved to
Washington as a congressional fellow in 1968. A year later, he joined
the federal service and served in a variety of posts in the Richard
After Nixon resigned, Cheney became chief of staff for Ford. And after
Ford's loss in the 1976 election, he returned to his home state of
Wyoming, where he won election to the House of Representatives.
Concerns about his health also have surfaced. Cheney was hospitalized
last month after suffering a mild heart attack, his fourth. He denied
that the stress of the campaign had caused the heart attack, but
admitted that it had produced "very difficult moments."
"Everything was given a clean bill of health," he said after leaving
In 1964, Cheney married his high school sweetheart Lynne, a writer and
educator, with whom he has two daughters, including one who is gay.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Xinhua: Foreign Investment in Myanmar Sharply Up in Eight Months
YANGON, December 14
Foreign investment in Myanmar totaled 76.125 million U.S. dollars in the
first eight months of this year, up 279.6 percent from the same period
of 1999 when it registered at 20.05 million dollars, according to the
latest figures issued by the country's Central Statistical Organization.
The sharp jump of the investment attributed to South Korea's major
investment in a single project alone in last June with 26.1 million
dollars. Total investment made by South Korea during the eight-month
period stood the leading position with 31.71 million dollars in four
These were followed by five other countries and regions with Canada
injecting in 21.45 million dollars, Malaysia 9.832 million dollars,
China's Hong Kong 5.271 million dollars, Cyprus 5.25 million dollars,
China's Macao 2 million dollars and the United Kingdom 612,000 dollars.
The investment covered three sectors with 52.8 million dollars in oil
and gas, the largest investment by sector, followed by 22. 713 million
dollars in manufacturing and 612,000 dollars in mining.
The sharp increase in foreign investment in Myanmar came at a time when
the investment was picking up since last year following the previous two
consecutive years' fall in the sector.
According to official statistics, in 1999, Myanmar absorbed a total of
50.118 million dollars' foreign investment.
Since opening to such investment in late 1988, Myanmar had drawn from 25
countries and regions a total of 7.236 billion dollars as of the end of
August this year.
Xinhua: Malaysian Company to Set Up Garment Factory in Myanmar
YANGON, December 14
A Malaysian company has reached a contract with the Myanmar construction
authorities to build a garment factory in Myanmar's capital of Yangon.
Under the land lease contract signed here on Wednesday between the Weng
Hong Hung Garment Manufacturing (Yangon) Co Ltd of Malaysia and the
Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development of the Myanmar
Ministry of Construction, the Malaysian company is to set up the factory
with an initial investment amount of 2.8 million U.S. dollars, official
newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Thursday.
The factory will annually produce 6 million units of clothing such as
slacks, jeans and shirts.
This is another Malaysian engagement in Myanmar during this year after
it poured in 9.832 million dollars in two projects in the country,
ranking the third position after South Korea and Canada in Myanmar's
foreign investors line-up during the year.
According to official statistics, since opening to foreign investment in
late 1988, Myanmar had drawn from 25 countries and regions a total of
7.236 billion dollars as of the end of August this year, of which
Malaysia represented 587 million dollars in 25 projects, standing as the
fourth largest foreign investor in the country after Singapore, Britain
Xinhua: South Korean Company to Set Up Shoe Factory in Myanmar
YANGON, December 13
A South Korean company has reached a contract with the Myanmar
construction authorities to build a dress and casual shoe factory in
Myanmar's capital of Yangon.
Under the land lease contract signed here on Tuesday between the Esquire
International Co. Ltd based in South Korea and the Department of Human
Settlement and Housing Development of the Myanmar Ministry of
Construction, the South Korean company is to set up the factory on a
plot of 0.81 hectare in the capital's Hlinetharya Industrial Zone,
official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday.
The company will invest 2 million U.S. dollars for the establishment to
produce 450,000 to 900,000 dress and casual shoes annually.
It targets to export 95 percent of the products and the rest remain for
local market, the report said.
This is another South Korean engagement in Myanmar during this year
after it poured in 31.71 million dollars in four projects, ranking the
leading position in Myanmar's foreign investors line- up during the
According to official statistics, since opening to foreign investment in
late 1988, Myanmar had drawn from 25 countries and regions a total of
7.236 billion dollars as of the end of August this year.
The Age (Australia): A history of betrayals
By ROBERT HORVATH
Wednesday 13 December 2000
Alexander Downer is right to point out that Australia has a distinctive
approach to human rights ("Advancing human rights, the Australian way",
on this page on November 29). During the past decade, we pioneered a
policy of collaboration with oppressive regimes.
Instead of speaking out in defence of prisoners of conscience, we
organised seminars for their persecutors. Instead of supporting the
human rights advocacy of other Western democracies in international
forums, we undermined their efforts and helped to protect the
reputations of authoritarian regimes.
What is novel about Downer's latest statement is the attempt to justify
this policy in terms of the Australian character, in our belief in a
fair go and doing something useful. Circumscribing human rights within
nationalist rhetoric is depressingly familiar to any student of Asian
values, but Downer's patriotic posturing contains an element of truth.
He is heir to a venerable tradition in Australian diplomacy.
In 1919, the first tentative efforts to create an international human
rights order were subverted by Australia, which prevented a ban on
racial discrimination being included in the League of Nations covenant.
To defend the White Australia policy, we helped to create an
international legal order that benefited Adolf Hitler.
Appeasement of dictatorships is also part of Australian history. In
1933, Prime Minister J.A.Lyons refused to criticise anti-Semitic riots
in Germany, because it was a well-established principle that one country
should not interfere in the affairs of another.
When H.G.Wells, one of the earliest campaigners for an international
bill of rights, described Hitler's race theories as those of a
certifiable lunatic, Lyons was quick to reassure the German
consul-general that the Australian Government did not share Wells'
But if Downer's timidity has an Australian pedigree, his preferred
methods are imported. His central contention, that human rights should
be about dialogue rather than confrontation, was formulated by Asian
dictatorships in response to the clamor for human rights after the
velvet revolutions of 1989.
In April 1993, these dictatorships set the tone of the Bangkok
Declaration, which stipulated that the promotion of human rights should
be encouraged by cooperation and consensus, and not through
confrontation and the imposition of incompatible values. The declaration
was a landmark in the emergence of so-called Asian values, which held
that authoritarianism was innate to Asian cultures and Western human
rights advocacy was a new form of imperialism.
For the architects of Australia's regional integration, the Asian values
campaign posed a serious obstacle. Prime Minister Paul Keating's
solution was to align Australia with the opponents of human rights. In
September 1993, he travelled to Washington and pleaded with President
Bill Clinton and congressional leaders to stop their criticism of Asian
abuses of human rights.
It was an astonishing intervention, which symbolised how far Australia
had diverged from other Western democracies. It was at once a betrayal
of the most humane voices in Asian societies and a vote of confidence in
It set the scene for Keating's bizarre courtship of President Suharto,
which was consummated with their secretly negotiated security treaty.
Even after Indonesia's democratic revolution revealed the magnitude of
Keating's miscalculation, this courtship continued: no Asian prisoner of
conscience was ever treated to the public concern that Keating lavished
upon the deposed Suharto.
If Keating earned the admiration of Indonesia's security apparatus, he
alienated Australian public opinion. By adopting the rhetoric of human
rights, Downer has proved a more successful politician, but much of his
policy is a PR exercise designed to prevent human rights issues from
interfering with business as usual for Australian diplomats in Asia.
What is particularly disturbing about Downer's policy is his failure to
distinguish between the reformist, democratically elected government in
Indonesia and the totalitarian apparatchiks who rule China and Burma.
Clearly the Indonesian Government deserves our support and sensitivity
as it deals with the poisonous legacy of the Suharto decades. Neither
the Burmese junta nor the Chinese Communist Party has a claim to such
indulgence. Both are guilty of massive and systematic human rights
abuses. Both have crushed pro-democracy movements with appalling
brutality. Neither has conceded political space to the dissident voices
and the institutional reformers who brought fragile democracy to
No one but ourselves will benefit from Downer's human rights dialogue
with China, a dialogue that was bought at the exorbitant price of
Australia abandoning its support for the annual resolution on China in
the United Nations Human Rights Commission.
Downer is adamant he will persist until he has evidence that
confrontation (read: public diplomacy) is more effective than dialogue
and education. Unfortunately he shows little interest in the evidence of
those struggling for human rights in Asia. Wei Jing-sheng, the most
prominent Chinese dissident, dismisses our dialogue with Beijing as
counter-productive. Less tactful is Harry Wu, the legendary rights
activist, who likens our law-reform activities in China to trying to
teach a tiger to be a vegetarian.
As for our workshops for the loyal apparatchiks of the Burmese junta,
Aung San Suu Kyi laments that they could be seen as endorsement of their
policies and as tacit approval of what they are doing to the democratic
forces in Burma.
The most compelling evidence for the necessity of public human rights
diplomacy is the contribution of the Helsinki process to the democratic
revolutions in Eastern Europe. It was 15 years of public diplomacy by
Western democracies that encouraged dissidents and punished their
persecutors with international humiliation. Not just behind closed
doors, but in public forums, Western statesmen confronted Soviet leaders
with their broken promises and with the names of their political
We now know from declassified Politburo transcripts that the West's
obsession with human rights was a catalyst of perestroika. Only when
President Gorbachev began to fulfil what one US negotiator called a
how-to-do-it kit for better relations - the release of prisoners of
conscience - did Western statesmen reward reform by shifting from
confrontation to cooperation.
The lesson of the Helsinki process is the lesson of patience. Like
Downer today, many commentators dismissed public diplomacy in the 1980s
because it had not worked yet. The Burmese and Chinese regimes are no
more immortal than the people's democracies of Eastern Europe. Whether
they disappear in velvet revolutions or violent conflagrations will
depend on the existence of the kind of dissident milieu that negotiated
the transitions in Eastern Europe, a milieu that was defended by the
public diplomacy that Downer dismisses as counterproductive.
One dissident who owes his life to the international spotlight is Vaclav
Havel, the playwright who became President of Czechoslovakia. It was
Havel who nominated Aung San Suu Kyi for the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize,
because "I am convinced that human freedom is indivisible, and for that
reason it is necessary to struggle for liberty wherever it is threatened
in the world."
As a former prisoner of conscience, Havel understood the importance of
public gestures for sustaining the morale of persecuted dissidents.
It is a pity Downer, who recently declared contemptuously that Suu Kyi
does not have a veto over Australian diplomacy, seems more concerned
about the sensitivities of her captors.
Dr Robert Horvath is a research associate at Melbourne University's
Contemporary Europe Research Centre.
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