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BurmaNet News: December 14, 2000

______________ 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: 
Size matters

*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 
digital divide
*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 
with Burma
*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 
a Palm." 

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 
political interference.'' 

 ``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

Reporter: Maihoong

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 
per  household."

"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 
technology industries. 

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 
technology projects. 

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 
to divulge.

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 
said no.


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 
resistance movement. 

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 
through religion." 

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 
might take. 

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 
language book. 

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. 

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

Agence France Presse: International community pushing for change in 

December 14, 2000, Thursday 

Philippe Agret 

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 
Than Shwe. 

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 
three days. 

 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

Gautam Datt

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 
against women.  

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 
Nixon administration. 

 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 
the hospital. 
 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 
and Thailand. 


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    

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 
Asian authoritarianism. 

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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