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BurmaNet News: December 25, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: December 25, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 05:54:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
________December 25, 2000 Issue # 1694_________
NOTED IN PASSING: "Bangladeshi condoms are a hot favourite with men in
Myanmar and the market is expanding rapidly,"
Abdur Rahman, Bangladesh customs officer. See Bangkok Post: Condoms Top
Export to Burma
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Bangkok Post: China Key to Solving Drug Problem?Interview with Wei
*DVB: Burma orders Christians in Chin State not to celebrate Christmas
*TV Myanmar: Burmese leader: External groups fabricate racial, religious
*TV Myanmar (broadcast on CNN): Myanmar Dedicates Statue of the Buddha
*KNU Mergui-Tavoy District Information Department: 2 killed, 5 raped
while forced to be BA's porters
*Myanmar Information Committee (SPDC): Min Zaw Oo and Saw Thiri Naing,
Mr and Miss Myanmar for 2000
*Mizzima: Naga Rights Body appeals for help Nagas in Burma Naga Rights
Body appeals for help Nagas in Burma
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta forces beefing up -Against Shans or
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta's infamous unit comes to rock the
boat along Thai border
*Bangkok Post: Burmese Border Tensions Fit to Burst
*Bangkok Post: Widow seeks son's release from Burma
*Bangkok Post: Crackdown on Foreign Dissidents Based Here
*Bangkok Post: Condoms Top Export to Burma
*Dow Jones: Thai Pete Agency Completes Gas Pipeline Construction
*Xinhua: Myanmar Needs to Extend Cultivated Areas: Leader
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Bangkok Post: China Key to Solving Drug Problem?Interview with Wei
December 24, 2000
In an exclusive interview, the alleged bagman of Wa drug baron Wei
Hseuh-kang suggests some ways to subdue the drug threat against
'The only way to solve the drug problem is to talk with China," says
Laota Saenlee, the former headman of Ban Huay Sarn in Chiang Mai's Mae
"Children take amphetamines not because of family or economic problems
but because adults are not serious. Everyone knows how influential the
amphetamine traders are now. "We are like a seriously ill patient but
the doctor is no good. The drug problem is a matter between China and
the United States. But Thailand has to suffer the consequences."
The comments might seem odd coming from a person widely regarded as the
bagman of Wa drug baron Wei Hseuh-kang. But Laota, 60, insists he has
nothing to do with the current influx of speed pills into Thailand.
"I used to trade opium when I was a Koumintang officer but that was a
long time ago. I don't mess with it now," he told Perspective in an
exclusive interview at his home in Ban Huay Sarn recently.
When the Thai government enlisted the help of the Chinese Koumintang
(KMT) army to fight the Communists in northern Thailand in 1970s, Laota,
then known as Maj Gen Lee Wang-pao, took part in the operation. He and
other KMT members were granted Thai nationality afterwards.
Laota spent his early years on Doi Mae Salong in Chiang Rai's Mae Fah
Luang district and later became the right-hand man of drug kingpin Khun
Sa. After Khun Sa was forced to flee to Burma in 1981, Laota came to
live in Chiang Mai. He married a Lisu girl in Ban Huay Sarn in Mae Ai
district and has since donned the Lisu attire.
However, Laota was still closely monitored by officials who believed he
controlled the money from drug trafficking. However, the officials could
not use the law to deal with him.
When Khun Sa surrendered to the Burmese government in 1995, his Mong Tai
Army (MTA) was split up into small groups. Wei Hseuh-kang's troops from
the United Wa State Army (UWSA) took over parts of the area controlled
by the MTA and built Mong Yon opposite Ban San Ton Doo in Mae Ai
district to be its permanent base.
Again, Laota was under close watch by officials who believed he was the
bagman of Wei Hseuh-kang. Laota, who twice won an award as an
outstanding headman during his 10-year service, was dismissed by the
Chiang Mai governor in May last year following allegations of drug
And to further reduce his influence, the Pha Muang Task Force of the
Third Army arrested him on July 28 last year. The arrest sparked a mass
protest by villagers and Laota had to be sent to Phuping police station
in downtown Chiang Mai for fear of a rescue attempt. He was later
charged with illegal possession of firearms, hiring others to commit
murder, and physical assault.
After spending seven months in Fang district jail pending a court
verdict, Laota was released on bail in June this year. However, Laota is
now back in jail after the Chiang Mai provincial court found him guilty
of the firearms charge and sentenced him to 16 months in prison last
Recalling his days as a prisoner, Laota said he spent 11 million baht
buying food for 400 other inmates. "I also bought them medicines and
blankets. It was so cold in there," he said.
"Sometimes I asked prison officials to bring me two prisoners to massage
me. I ached all over most of the time because the chains that bound my
legs weighed 12 kilos."
Apart from this, he gave money to prison officials "to show them my
Laota said the Mae Ai district chief came to visit him and told him that
he would have to be moved to the Northeast. "I told him I wouldn't go
anywhere. This is my home," he said. "Just because Khun Sa was here, I
was accused of being his aide. Then the Wa of Wei Hseuh-kang settled in
Mong Yon and I was charged with siding with them. I was totally baffled.
In Ban Huay Sarn, you can ask anyone whether there is a single soul who
trades or takes amphetamines. I would expel him right away if I should
Commenting on the coming general election, Laota said so far no
candidate had campaigned in his village. "I am concerned the villagers
would be confused as to what to do. I heard we need to mark two tickets.
As far as I'm concerned, the villagers are fed up. I developed this
village using my own money. We got nothing from MPs," he said.
"Politicians come only before an election and just disappear afterwards.
If they were to elect, the villagers would definitely elect me. "The
former headman said the Thai government must be serious about drug
"First of all, the law to confiscate the money and assets of drug
traders must be amended. At present, everyone with a lot of money
deposits it abroad; that's why the economy will decline further," he
"From what I heard, the Wa do not intend to dump speed pills into
Thailand. The problem is those among us who seek to buy them from the
The problem is even worse in the US, which is "the trader, the consumer
and the suppressor all in one."
In his opinion, the Thai government can never succeed in solving the
drug problem by holding talks with the Burmese or the Wa.
"We must hold talks with the Chinese. This is the only solution to
alleviate the problem," he said.
"When M.R. Kukrit (Pramoj) was the Premier, we negotiated with Beijing.
The result? We managed to solve the problem of communist insurgency."
DVB: Burma orders Christians in Chin State not to celebrate Christmas
Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 23 Dec 00
The SPDC State Peace and Development Council army has ordered major
cities in Chin State, where over 90 per cent of the people are
Christians, not to hold any grand Christmas celebrations and some
villages are not even allowed to hold any celebration at all. New Delhi
based DVB Democratic Voice of Burma correspondent Thet Naing filed this
Begin Thet Naing recording The SPDC frontline troops summoned people
from Haka and Thangtlang Townships in Chin State and told them they were
not allowed to hold any Christmas ceremony and prayer meeting. They went
from village to village and told them if they wanted to hold any
ceremony they are to hold it in a simple and discrete manner at their
homes. Although the chairmen of the village Peace and Development
Councils and pastors argued that Christmas is a very auspicious feast
for Christians and requested them to allow Christmas celebrations the
column commander of the SPDC forces refused and said that if they hold
any such ceremonies rebels from the Chin National Front, CNF, could
infiltrate and that is the reason such ceremonies are not allowed.
He continued to say if the chairmen and pastors deliberately hold any
such Christmas feast in defiance of the order, the village chairmen and
pastors will all be arrested and recruited as porters. They also
threatened them that the people from southern China State will work as
porters carrying things up north and people from northern Chin State
will work as porters carrying stuff down south. A villager from Longlei
Village in Thangtlang Township, who arrived recently in India, said that
the Chin Christians are angry at the junta's threat and they are now
undecided whether to hold the Christmas celebrations and also worry
about what will happen to them if they are forcibly taken as porters for
celebrating the feast. The SPDC has ordered only low key celebrations
ward-wise in Haka, Falam, and Tiddim in Chin State. End of recording
TV Myanmar: Burmese leader: External groups fabricate racial, religious
Excerpt from report by Burmese TV on 23 December
A Christmas entertainment programme and dinner organized by the Catholic
Youth Apostolate of Rangoon Yangon was held at the Mingalar Hall of the
Kandawgyi Palace Hotel in Rangoon at 1830 local time today 23 December .
Lt-Gen Tin Oo, secretary-2 of the State Peace and Development Council
SPDC , attended the ceremony and delivered a Christmas and New Year
message. First, Religious Affairs Minister U Aung Khin, Deputy Forestry
Minister Col Thaik Tun, and Religious Affairs Department
Director-General Dr Myo Myint delivered their greetings.
Next, SPDC Secretary-2 delivered his message. He first wished Youth
Chaplain Rev. Fr. Edwin David and the Apostolate members on this
auspicious day and said we should all thank God during this
Christmas-tide and do his holy will by help each one and each nation
helping each other.
SPDC Secretary-2 explained although all peoples of the world have
different religions, customs, and ceremonies, the essence of every
religion is compassion. He said it is the same as the lawkapada four
cardinal virtues - loving kindness, compassion, rejoicing at somebody's
success, and detachment from worldly treasures...
He added that every religion teaches loving kindness, compassion,
sympathy, and arouses spirit to help each other in unity. He noted the
government has been making all-out efforts for the people to enjoy full
religious freedom in the Union of Burma Myanmar today. He explained
people of all faiths who believe in the purity of religion must
safeguard freedom of religion and prevent destructive acts created out
of greed, anger and ignorance from spreading in the country.
Tin Oo prayed that various bloody conflicts happening in some parts of
the world due to race, religion, and apartheid to end in the new year
and that the peoples enjoy equal respect and be able to help each other.
He added the actions of some big nations in today's world which put
their norms in the forefront and interfere in the affairs of smaller
nations, lack consideration and show disrespect which is against the
teachings of Christ.
He noted there are some external organizations that ignore the true
conditions of the Union of Burma and are spreading deceitful
fabrications of racial discrimination and religious persecution. This is
a deliberate attempt to break up the consolidated Union.
Tin Oo said the peoples of Burma have lived in unity and harmony since
time immemorial. He added as unity and peace improves as years go by the
goal to build a new, peaceful, modern, and developed nation will be
He said the concerted efforts of the people, government, and Defence
Services in Burma today is in line with loving kindness and compassion
which every religion cherishes. That is why Christ, the son of God and
redeemer, has showered his blessings on Burma. He urged all brethren to
actively participate in nation-building endeavours for the interest of
the people and in remembrance of Christ's Blessings. He also said all
Christians should try and stop the unreligious acts of destructive
elements attempting to undermine Burma and disrupt the peace. Finally,
Tin Oo extended his greetings for Christmas and New Year filled with all
the love, peace, and joy which Christ Jesus brought into this world.
Afterwards, the Christmas entertainment programmes were presented. Then,
the Secretary-2 and party and guests were served with Christmas dinner.
The ceremony ended after the gathering was blessed by Archbishop Gabriel
Mahn Gaby and Youth Chaplain Rev. Fr. Edwin David.
TV Myanmar (broadcast on CNN): Myanmar Dedicates Statue of the Buddha
CNN WORLD REPORT
December 24, 2000; Sunday
[BurmaNet adds?CNN?s World Report is a program broadcasting ?news?
pieces from countries around the world. Most of the pieces are produced
by state TV in the various countries and reflect the views of the
government. CNN does not exercise control over the content.]
Ralph Wenge, Thida Wun
RALPH WENGE, CNN ANCHOR: In Southeast Asia, Buddhism is the dominant
religion. People sometimes dedicate their most beautiful and valuable
objects to the local temple. They believe this earns them religious
merit that will help them go to a better place after they die.
In Myanmar, blocks of flawless white marble are often sculpted into
statues of Buddha and given to prominent temples.
Myanmar Radio and Television reports on a new statue made from a stone
discovered near the town of Mandalay.
THIDA WUN, MYANMAR RADIO & TV (voice-over): It has been a sacred and
holy event every time a flawless white marble stone from
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) township in Mandalay (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was sculptured
into a sacred Buddha image to be revered , you know, by the people.
In the reign of King Tuningani (ph) of Inua (ph) in the year of 1724, a
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) came in flawless white marble was discovered, carried
to Segui (ph) and sculptured to be revered at (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
In his dream, another flawless stone was discovered and a 25-feet Buddha
image was sculptured in 1731 in Inua City and given the name Loca Delapu
Then, during the reign of Favideo (ph) in 1830, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
flawless white marble was discovered again and sculptured into a Buddha
image and then placed in Arapaho (ph) City in the Mahatawara Veni (ph).
In 1864, during the Menome Snomond (ph) period, a 27-feet flawless
marble Buddha image was sculptured and placed at the foot of the
Mandalay Hill (ph) and was given the name Mohapa Demenein Begosia (ph).
Over a hundred years later, a huge and perfect solid stone weighing over
500 tons was discovered and sculptured into a statue that is 7 feet
high. It was named Loca Ten Avilalamino Puneilids (ph), which means
image that brings peace and prosperity to the world free from danger.
The holy sacred image started the noble trip from Zejin (ph) on July
24th, year 2000. After a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ship down the Riati (ph) River
on August the 5th, holy Buddha image arrived at Shangon (ph)
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) the site, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a grand welcoming ovation
ceremony. Over a hundred thousand people paid their deep respects,
chanting (UNINTELLIGIBLE) riding as the sunshine.
With the sincere indention of bringing this stability and prosperity to
the world as a whole, the government and the people hand and hand are
offering their utmost efforts for all this historic and noble task.
This is Thida Wun, Myanmar Radio and Television, for CNN WORLD REPORT.
KNU Mergui-Tavoy District Information Department: 2 killed, 5 raped
while forced to be BA's porters
23 December, 2000
A column of Burma Army has forced villagers including women in Theindaw
and Kawk Ma Pyin villages in the East of Mergui Town, Tenasserim
division to serve as porters win a particular military activity against
resistance group, and have killed 2 porters and raped 5 female porters.
On November 2, 2000 a column of 100 men from Burma Army's Infantry
Battalion 17 led by Major Aung Kyaw Than arrived to Theindaw village in
the east of Mergui town. Major Aung Kyaw Than ordered Theindaw village
headman U Kyi Shein to arrange 30 porters for his troop. When U Kyi
Shein could not find 30 porters as ordered, Aung Kyaw Than ordered his
troop to go around the village and capture anyone as porter. That troop
has captured 75 men and 15 women in Theindaw village and forced them to
carry military supplies for their military activities against Myeik
Dawai United Front (MDUF).
That column departed Theindaw village and marched to Kawk Ma Pyin
village. When arrived to Kawk Ma Pyin village they again captured 20
villagers more and forced them to be porters. Then that troop marched to
the east for their military activity. During their operation there were
two clashes with the MDUF. It was learnt that two porters from Kawk Ma
Pyin village were died because of illness, and beaten by the troops and
five female porters from Theindaw village were raped during this
Mizzima: Naga Rights Body appeals for help Nagas in Burma Naga Rights
Body appeals for help Nagas in Burma
Imphal (Manipur), December 25, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
A Naga human rights organization has accused that the military junta of
Burma is violating the rights of the Nagas living in that country. In a
press release last Friday, the Naga People's Movement for Human Rights
(NPMHR) said that Naga villagers living in Burma have been subjected to
hardships meted out by the Burmese army recently.
The Burmese army has recently launched military attacks on bases of
National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) situated inside Burma.
Indian Home Minister L.K Advani said in November that Burmese army is
helping India fight against Naga insurgency and it destroyed five NSCN
(Khaplang faction) camps this year.
The release further said that there is an increase of Internally
Displaced People in the Naga Hill areas in Burma and the displaced
people are living without food and clothing.
The NPMHR, which is based in Kohima of Nagaland, said that the Naga
villagers are subjected to desecration of churches, forced conversion
into Buddhism, forced conscription into the Burmese army, forced labour
without pay, burning of paddy fields and villages.
Contrary to the claim of Burmese regime, forced labour continues to
exist in Burma. For example, local populace said that the Burmese army
is using forced labour in the construction of Khanti-Lahai-Leshi motor
road in Naga Hill area.
Myanmar Information Committee (SPDC): Min Zaw Oo and Saw Thiri Naing, Mr
and Miss Myanmar for 2000
N0. B-1657(I) 25th December, 2000
The Year 2000 Mr and Miss Myanmar contest, organized by Myanmar Body
building and Physical Culture Federation, was held at the National
Theatre in Yangon on 24 December.Miss Myanmar (Junior) contest, Miss
Myanmar (Senior) contest, Mr Myanmar (Junior) contest and Mr Myanmar
(Senior) contest were held in the evening.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta forces beefing up -Against Shans or
Reporter: Saengkhao Haeng in Chiangrai
Dec. 25, 2000
The Burmese army has been noticeably building up along the border
opposite Chiangrai province since the clash between the two sides late
last month, said sources.
Three battalions were being placed from Homaekham to Mahingtoon, a 25-km
stretch, opposite Mae Faluang District, Chiangrai Province, namely: LIB
359 (Tachilek) Lt.-Col. Myo Chit;
LIB 526 (Tachilek) Lt.-Col. Toe Aung;
LIB 329 (Monghpyak) Lt.-Col. Toe Myat, against the Phamuang Force with
its headquarters in Chiangmai, according to the sources.
In addition, the Burmese have 2 auxiliary units, namely: 1st Special
Mobile Unit (Nampoong Militia), 218 strong, of Yishay (55) and Paytalu
(50) and Battalion 6 (Mongkarn), 150-strongs of the United Wa State
Army's 171st Division, they said.
The Burmese units are armed with 5-81 mm launchers making local watchers
question whether these long-range missile throwers would be effective
against the Kengtung Front of the Shan State Army led by Yawdserk. "With
Shans, only short-range weapons would be more sensible", said a Thai
The Thais and the Burmese had a brief clash on 22 November after the
latter, in hot pursuit of the retreating SSA, stumbled into a Thai
border patrol. The Thais retired afterwards. "They were later ordered
not to give up an inch to any intruder, whether Shan or Burmese", said
More serious were reports of Burma Navy to be establishing gunboat units
along the Mekhong and also the Air force sending a number of airplanes
to Tachilek from Namzang, Kengtung and Loimwe air bases.
Another watcher however remarked that the build up might be for the
security of 2 methamphetamine "workshops" and 1 heroin refineries near
Nampoong, Yishay's headquarters, that is only a few kilometers away from
the boundary line.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Junta's infamous unit comes to rock the
boat along Thai border
Dec. 24, 2000
Reporter: Saeng Khao Haeng
One of Rangoon's most feared units arrived in cities bordering Thailand
earlier this month, said several sources.
Na Sa Ka (Border Control Unit), long active along borders with
Bangladesh and India in the west was reported in Tachilek on 2
December. Feared even among junta sphere, its presence was seen by many
state functionaries, both military and civilian alike, as bad omen.
According to the latest count on 17 December, the strength of the unit
with its headquarters in LIB 331 is already 120. The total strength
would be 702.
The unit operates directly under "S-1", Lt.-Gen. Khin Nyunt and is
empowered to "butt in" the affairs of various local governmental
departments i.e. customs, immigration, cross-border trade, census and
even township administrations. Its area of operation shall be Tachilek,
Monghsat and Mongton, said sources.
Already, its presence is felt along the border. The Myawaddy-Maesod
checkpoints were closed without notice. Thai counterparts in the
Tachilek-Chiangrai joint border committee were told they could either
change the present border regulations soon or close the border and
Rangoon couldn't care less during a meeting two weeks ago.
"One good thing is that border passes, previously obtained at B.120, has
gone down to just B.20," said a source. "Also in the past there were
some difficulties for non-Tachilek citizens to get a pass, but now,
everyone who has an ID card can get it without going through a lot of
Lt.-Gen. Khin Nyunt arrived on 21 December to inaugurate a nuns' school
in Tachilek. The carpet, 100 meters long, for him to walk on during the
ceremony was bought for B.100,000 by the townspeople, said sources.
Bangkok Post: Burmese Border Tensions Fit to Burst
Sunday, December 24, 2000
WA MENACE: As drug camps under the United Wa State Army proliferate
across the Thai-Burmese border in Chiang Mai, speculation mounts as to
just how far Thai and US drug enforcers are prepared to go to stamp them
Subin Khuenkaew In Chiang Mai
'Good. I am close to his headquarters now," said Adm Dennis Blair, chief
of the US Pacific Command, as he peered through his binoculars from the
top of Doi Kiew Hoong in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district. From that
position, the admiral could clearly see the home of Wei Hsueh-kang, the
notorious drug baron and commander of the United Wa State Army's 171st
Division inside Burma.
A few weeks after Adm Blair's September 27 visit, Chinese State
Councillor Luo Gan, who supervises the drug problem, also came to Chiang
Mai and stood on the same spot. Through his binoculars, he could see the
UWSA's headquarters in Mong Yon and the opium fields that provide the Wa
with the financial means to expand their influence.
Millions of amphetamine pills produced by the UWSA have been flooding
across the border into Thailand during the past few years. While Adm
Blair pledged to provide Thailand with military equipment to suppress
narcotics from across the border, the Chinese official was not that
"The drug problem is shared by all affected countries and can be solved
primarily through negotiation," Luo Gan told Perspective during his
Chiang Mai visit. "I appreciate the Thai government's efforts to address
the problem, which are in the right direction."
Nonetheless, Luo declined to comment on the resettlement of the Wa
community from northern Burma bordering the Chinese town of Sibsong
Panna. The south-bound migration of some 200,000 Wa people from Pang
Sang was supported and endorsed by China, according to Thai authorities.
Thailand has good reason to worry about the resettlement, and the
positioning of 1,500 well-armed UWSA soldiers closer to the Thai border
from Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai down to Mae Hong Son late last month.
The tense border situation is worrying Thai authorities in charge of
holding the coming general election. They are also concerned about
reports that "drug money" is being sent across the border to fund the
campaigns of certain candidates.
Beyond these concerns, analysts are wondering where the "drug game", now
pitting Thai soldiers against the Wa army, will lead us to. Can the US
and China put an end to this dangerous situation, and if so, how?
OPIUM THE PRIZE
"The Wa may want to expand its territory for political and drug
trafficking reasons, especially into the land where the Shan now rules.
At present, opium is grown everywhere in Mong Pan, Mong Tha and Mong
Ton, just opposite Wiang Haeng district of Chiang Mai," said a source in
the Pha Muang Task Force of the Thai Third Army. "Whoever seizes the
area first can control all the output. The opium fields here are the
most fertile in the area."
According to the Office of Narcotics Control Board's forecast, the
current opium crop will yield more than 500 tons of raw opium, 50% more
than last year.
Backed by Rangoon, drug warlord Wei Hseuh-kang sent five UWSA battalions
from Mong Yon to the South on November 29, with the aim of seizing the
area under the influence of the Shan State Army (SSA) led by Col
Yodsuek. The 1,500 Wa soldiers are now positioned in the areas opposite
Chiang Rai's Mae Fah Luang district; Chiang Mai's Wiang Haeng district;
and Pai and Pang Ma Pa districts in Mae Hong Son.
The Wa were reportedly very upset by the SSA's disruption of their
narcotics production. Almost all of the five UWSA battalions have
reached the target areas.
These Wa soldiers have replaced all the Burmese soldiers which
previously controlled these areas. "The Wa are now in Pang Sua Tao
village, about two kilometres from the Thai border in Wiang Haeng
district, Chiang Mai," a source in the Pha Muang Task Force said. "They
have replaced the Burmese at Doi Daeng opposite Pang Ma Pa district of
Mae Hong Son, and are now less than a kilometre from the SSA force. A
clash is expected before year-end."
SSA AT DEAD-END
SSA soldiers under Col Yodsuek have strongly disrupted drug trafficking
in the area over the past two years.
"At present, we only have two options. If the world's only superpower
(the USA) or other foreign countries think it is important that the SSA
oppose drug trafficking, the results of which have been seen for some
time, they should support us so we can continue with the fight. If we
don't get aid and support, the only other option for us is to accept
reality and surrender to the Burmese," said Col Yodsuek, whose base is
opposite Pang Ma Pa district, Mae Hong Son.
On November 20, SSA troops destroyed an amphetamine warehouse, arrested
six Muser volunteers and Burmese soldiers, and seized arms and 200,000
speed pills. Burma's 359th Rapid Deployment Battalion, commanded by
Lt-Col Myo Chit, believed it was the work of Thai soldiers. A clash
between his troops and Thai soldiers of the Third Cavalry Battalion
followed, resulting in two Thai rangers being wounded and a Burmese
soldier killed. The tension eased when Lt-Col Myo Chit came to apologise
to Thai officers after he learned the truth about what happened.
Nonetheless, it seems the Burmese remain convinced someone is backing
the SSA's operations. But apparently this time the Burmese lost face.
Maj-Gen Somboonkiat Sitthideja, commander of the Pha Muang Task Force,
said: "Burma does not cooperate with us in solving the drug problem.
With almost 50 drug-producing factories located on the Burmese side, we
cannot guarantee such an incident will not happen again."
An SSA foreign affairs coordinator said: "We are under heavy pressure.
It depends entirely on how Col Yodsuek decides. If he agrees to hold
talks with the Wa, there may be no more fighting, but the Wa may seize
our land sooner or later... The SSA has nowhere else to go."
Over the past year, the SSA have tried to show the free world,
especially Thailand, that it has nothing to do with the drug trade. It
has sent troops to attack the production bases of the Muser and the Wa
and hundreds of thousands of speed pills were handed over to Thai
officials. This is one of the reasons the UWSA is not comfortable with
the actions of the SSA, which earlier agreed not to be its direct enemy.
In the latest armed clash on Dec 7, a Thai soldier was killed and two
wounded when they tried to intercept Wa soldiers near Ban Huay Sarn in
Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district. Maj-Gen Chamlong Phothong, deputy Third
Army commander, said the clash site was frequented by drug traffickers.
The Wa soldiers left behind UWSA uniforms, backpacks, bullets, M16 and
AK47 rifles, and hand grenades produced in China.
Ban Huay Sarn is under the control of Laota Saenlee, the alleged bagman
of Wei Hsueh-kang.
(See details in sidebar story).
A PROXY WAR?
Why did Burmese soldiers allow the UWSA, especially the 171st Division
under the command of Wei Hseuh-kang, to move into strategic locations
closer to the Thai border?
One theory is that Burma wants to avoid direct confrontation with
The Wa were sent to the border presumably to defend the country. But
actually, it is the bumper opium crop and enormous benefits involved in
drug trafficking that they seek to protect.
China itself also faces a serious drug problem, especially in Sibsong
Panna, and the drugs primarily come from the Wa community in the area.
Asked to comment on the drug threat to Thailand, Chinese State
Councillor Luo Gan told Perspective: "Each country has its own problem.
Before cooperating with others, one should have a chance to address its
own problem first. Only then can cooperation be discussed."
Given China's attitude, Burma is convinced Thailand may need to use
force to destroy the drug production bases. It is also possible the US
government may lend a hand as it did in the deployment of both land and
air forces to attack the border stronghold of former drug warlord Khun
Sa, forcing him to flee to Burma in 1981
Bangkok Post: Widow seeks son's release from Burma
Dec. 25, 2000
In Mae Sot, Tak
A mute widow has sought help from Mae Sot police to negotiate with local
Burmese authorities to free her son, who was captured by soldiers last
Bunphan Wongsa, of Huay Muang village, made her application yesterday.
She was accompanied by neighbours who interpreted her sign language for
police. Mrs Bunphan said her son Somchai Moonta, 18, was arrested by
Burmese soldiers in Myawaddy while he was fishing in the Moei river on
Before the arrest, the soldiers had given chase to a Burmese criminal
suspect who fled to Mae Sot. The suspect had gunshot wounds and was
rushed to Mae Sot hospital by local villagers. The soldiers saw Mr
Somchai fishing in the river, caught him and charged him with conspiring
with the Burmese suspect, Mrs Bunphan said.
Burma has asked local Thai authorities to hand over the Burmese suspect
in exchange for Mr Somchai.
Bangkok Post: Crackdown on Foreign Dissidents Based Here
MONDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2000
Phnom PenD raid prompts action
Measures have been stepped up to prevent foreign groups from using
Thailand to stage unfriendly acts against neighbouring countries, the
National Security Council chief said yesterday.
The move followed reports that Chhun Yasith, leader of the Cambodian
Freedom Fighters involved in the Nov 24 attack on Phnom Penh, was hiding
in Thailand and preparing for another "coup attempt".
Secretary-general Kachadpai Burusapatana said the NSC had called a
meeting to prepare a crackdown on foreign political movements and their
members operating or hiding in Thailand.
Checks were being made to confirm whether Chhun Yasith, who claimed to
have led the Nov 24 attack, was in Thailand as reported and how he
entered the country.
Mr Kachadpai said no Thais were involved in the attack, which cost eight
Members of any movements operating against foreign governments and using
Thailand as a base would face serious action, he said.
There must be no misunderstanding of Thailand's policy of
non-interference in the affairs o f other countries, Mr Kachadpai said.
The Immigration Bureau has been ordered to carefully screen the entry of
Indochinese refugees into Thailand and blacklist those involved in
Mr Kachadpai said aVietnamese man who hijacked a plane from Thailand and
dropped anti-Hanoi leaflets in Vietnam during US President Bill
Clinton's recent visit to that country was being being held in Rayong,
and a trial was pending.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Bangkok Post: Condoms Top Export to Burma
Sunday, December 24, 2000
Bangladeshi contraceptives have found a profitable market in Burma,
topping the list of commodities sold in cross-border trade between the
two countries, local customs officials said yesterday.
"Bangladeshi condoms are a hot favourite with men in Myanmar and the
market is expanding rapidly," said Abdur Rahman, a customs officer in
the frontier trading post of Teknaf in southeastern Bangladesh.
Traders in Teknaf on the Bangladesh Burma border said birth control
pills from Bangladesh were also being sold across the border, tipping
the balance of trade in favour of Bangladesh.
Police said family planning kits supplied free by the government to
Bangladeshi couples were smuggled to Burma, designated a high risk Aids
country by the World Health Organisation.
The authorities were aware of the illegal contraceptive trade after
Bangladeshi paramilitary border guards recently seized a huge cache of
birth control pills from alleged smugglers in Teknaf about 390km
southeast of the capital Dhaka.
Last week the border guards busted an organised smuggling ring trying to
take 1,800 packets of the Bangladeshi birth pill "Shukh" (Pleasure) to
Burma worth about $2,500.
Residents in Teknaf said the Burmese men prefer Bangladeshi condoms for
Bangladesh gets most of its contraceptive supplies from the West in the
form of aid from donor countries under population control projects.
Dow Jones: Thai Pete Agency Completes Gas Pipeline Construction
Friday, December 22 5:17 PM SGT
BANGKOK (Dow Jones)--State-owned Petroleum Authority of Thailand, or
PTT, said Friday that it has completed the construction of a
154-kilometer natural gas pipeline, which links the state-owned Wang Noi
power plant in the central region to a delivery site in Ratchaburi, some
100 kilometers west of Bangkok.
The gas supply will come from Myanmar's Yandana and Yetagun offshore gas
fields, which belong to Petronas Carigali, a unit of Petronas Dagangan
BHD (PETR.KL), the U.K.'s Premier Oil PCL (PMOIY) and France's TotalFina
Elf S.A. (TOT).
The pipeline has a current delivery capacity of 300 million cubic feet a
day, and can be expanded to 500 mmcfd in the future, PTT said.
>From 2001 onwards, PTT expects to take 900 mmcfd from the fields in
Xinhua: Myanmar Needs to Extend Cultivated Areas: Leader
YANGON, December 23
If efforts are not being made to extend cultivated areas in Myanmar in
accord with the growing number of population, the country may face
difficulties in the future, said Myanmar leader Lieutenant General Tin
Tin Oo, second secretary of the State Peace and Development Council,
made the remarks when he inspected Twantay township in Yangon Division,
official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar reported Saturday.
Tin Oo cited that the government is implementing water supply and land
reclamation tasks for the nation's long-term interest, saying that
permission was granted to national entrepreneurs to reclaim thousands of
hectares of vacant, virgin, fallow lands and wetlands to significantly
extend cultivated areas in Myanmar.
He said that the country's total sown area has risen to 9.72 million
hectares at present from 8.10 million hectares in 1988.
>From 1988 to date, the state has built 116 dams irrigating over 1.62
million hectares of land, he added.
According to official statistics, in the fisc 1999-2000 which ended in
March, Myanmar cultivated about 6 million hectares of paddy, one of the
four pillar crops of the country, and produced 19.9 million tons of the
crop, registering the largest output in the country's history of paddy
The country claims that 15.67 million tons of paddy is enough to feed
its present 50-million population, which annually growth rate is 2
Meanwhile, Myanmar exported 53,700 tons of rice in the fiscal 1999-2000.
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