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BurmaNet News: January 15, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: January 15, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 10:43:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
January 15, 2001 Issue # 1711
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*DVB: Burma asks God's Army members to exchange their weapons for peace
*Reuters: Myanmar leader denies split over opposition talks
*AFP: More signs emerge of political thaw in Myanmar
*AFP: Myanmar court postpones decision on Suu Kyi property case
*Xinhua: Myanmar Launches National Immunization Day Activities
*Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Myanmar clamps curfew along border with
Bangladesh as tension rises
*Reuters: Interview-ILO tells Myanmar to eradicate forced labour
*AP: ILO: Myanmar sanctions helped promote reconciliation
*Xinhua: Myanmar Donates Buddha Image to China
*The Nation: Knowledge Key to Good Relations
*The Nation: Burmese Generals Steal Fizz from Mandalay Beer
*Bangkok Post: Decisions Needed on Foreign Policy
*Free Burma Coalition: Burma Freedom Dinner 2001
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
DVB: Burma asks God's Army members to exchange their weapons for peace
Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 12 Jan 01
The regional battalion has offered God's Army, which is involved in the
siege of Ratburi Hospital in Thailand last year and the recent killing
of six Thai villagers, to join hands with the SPDC State Peace and
Development Council . Pamphlets and flyers urging them to exchange their
weapons for peace were distributed and scattered along the area of God's
Army bases. The pamphlets explained if they choose to join hands with
the SPDC their former base of Kamerplaw will be returned to them like
the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, DKBA, and they will be allowed to
freely engage in any economic activities.
Furthermore, assistance will be given on medicines and food while some
military regions will be handed back over. If they join hands with the
SPDC they will be relieved of the pursuit and persecution by the armed
forces of the other country. The Thai Army is currently engaging in the
offensive against God's Army for killing six Thai villagers at the end
of December. Yesterday, a battle broke out at the Burma-Thai border
between the Thai Army and God's Army where one God's Army member was
killed. At the same time, DVB Democratic Voice of Burma has learned that
the Thai Army has bribed the Burmese Army to annihilate the God's Army.
Reuters: Myanmar leader denies split over opposition talks
By Aung Hla Tun
YANGON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - A leader of Myanmar's military government
has denied rumours of a split between members of the ruling State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC) in the wake of secret talks with the
Khin Nyunt, Secretary One of the SPDC and the country's powerful
intelligence chief, told the Myanmar Times in an interview that rumours
of a split within the ranks in the military had been spread by foreign
media and some diplomats.
``These are rumours brought in by foreign news media,'' Khin Nyunt told
Myanmar Times, a private English language weekly paper.
``Also some diplomats here like to voice the same thing and one can see
a lot about this written in foreign newspapers. It's all just wishful
thinking on their part,'' he added.
Rumours circulated last week among diplomats in Yangon that the SPDC,
the powerful body governing the country since the late 1980s, had
divided into two factions over the recent talks with the opposition
Myanmar's National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Nobel Peace Prize
winner Aung San Suu Kyi confirmed last week it had been holding secret
talks with the military.
The NLD won the last general election in 1990 by a landslide but has
never been allowed to govern.
Few details of the discussions have emerged but the United Nations has
said two sides have held initial but direct talks and involved face to
face meetings between Suu Kyi and Khin Nyunt.
RUMOURS OF SPLIT IN MILITARY
The NLD said the dialogue already appeared to have made some progress
but did not elaborate.
Rumours have circulated that part of the Myanmar military was unhappy
about the talks. One hawkish faction, led by SPDC Vice Chairman General
Maung Aye, was said to be opposed to any weakening of the military's
grip on power.
But Khin Nyunt denied the rumours.
``We in the military have a tradition of respect from one rank to the
next,'' he said. ``We have a regard for each other. We have no
In a possible sign of easing tensions between the Myanmar military and
the opposition, a court case over the ownership of Suu Kyi's house was
postponed on Monday.
Judge U Soe Thein told lawyers representing Suu Kyi and her elder
brother Aung San Oo that a court ruling on whether to partition the
opposition leader's lakeside Yangon home would be made on January 22. He
gave no reason for the delay.
Aung San Oo, a U.S. citizen, sued his sister last November for half of
the home in an elite residential area where she has mostly been under
house arrest since 1989.
Suu Kyi has been confined to her residence for the last three months
with all diplomatic access barred and her telephone cut.
Some diplomats have suggested the court case might be a ruse to put
pressure on Suu Kyi to force her to come to terms with the government or
even to leave the country, something the ruling generals have wanted to
see for more than a decade.
AFP: More signs emerge of political thaw in Myanmar
YANGON, Jan 15 (AFP) - New signs emerged Monday of an improvement in the
political atmosphere in military-run Myanmar as the junta and opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi edged towards an historic dialogue.
Junta officials visited the headquarters of the opposition National
League for Democracy (NLD) to inform its members that 86 of its
supporters jailed since September would be allowed to receive food
parcel and letters.
NLD sources said they were told the International Red Cross had visited
the group, taken delivery of letters for their families, and were
monitoring the situation. However, there was no indication as to when
they would be released.
The apparent goodwill gesture comes as the opposition leader and the
military government hold a series of talks, brokered by UN envoy Razali
Ismail, aimed at establishing their first official dialogue since 1994.
In another sign of the thaw, the regime has ordered the state-run media
to halt its routine attacks on Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under
house arrest since September 22.
The Nobel peace laureate was detained after attempting to travel by
train to northern Mandalay in defiance of the junta's ban on leaving the
The 86 party supporters were rounded up when they went to see her off
at Yangon central station and have been held without charge since then.
In another surprise move Monday, a Yangon court postponed a decision on
a property case against Aung San Suu Kyi who faces eviction after her
brother US-based Aung San Oo filed suit over half her Yangon home.
Judge U Soe Thein gave no explanation for holding the trial over to
January 22 instead of handing down a decision Monday as planned.
A legal source said Aung San Oo, a US citizen, planned to hire a new
legal team who would be charged with trying to broker an out-of-court
settlement, a solution long advocated by his sister's supporters.
The reason for Aung San Oo's change in strategy was not known, but the
legal source said he had been come under fire over the lawsuit, with a
stream of critical letters and phone calls directed to his home.
There was no official indication as to whether the unexpected
postponement was linked to the political developments in Myanmar.
But a legal decision against Aung San Suu Kyi, which may have left her
homeless, would have been seen as a slap in the face for efforts to
embark on national reconciliation.
The International Labour Office (ILO) Monday also noted the new mood in
Myanmar as it forecast the military-run country would make progress in
eliminating forced labour this year.
In an unprecendented move in November, the ILO's governing body called
on its members to review their ties with Myanmar over the issue.
However, newly appointed regional chief Yasuyuki Nodera said in a
statement from Bangkok that he was now "confident that the achievements
already on paper can be converted into realities on the ground."
"Expect progress in Myanmar," he said, adding that he was making his
forecast "amid reports of democratic breakthroughs."
AFP: Myanmar court postpones decision on Suu Kyi property case
YANGON, Jan 15 (AFP) - A Myanmar court Monday postponed a decision on a
property case against opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose brother
Aung San Oo has filed a law suit seeking half her Yangon home.
Judge U Soe Thein, who earlier this month said he would hand down a
decision Monday, gave no explanation for holding the trial over to
A legal source said Aung San Oo, a US citizen, planned to hire a new
legal team who would be charged with trying to broker an out-of-court
Well-known lawyer Mya Mya Aye approached Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyer U
Kyi Win several days ago to inform him she would be taking over the case
and that she was looking for a settlement, the source said.
Friends of the opposition leader have criticised Aung San Oo's decision
to file suit over the house, once owned by their late mother Khin Kyi,
and urged him to make an out-of-court settlement.
The reason for Aung San Oo's change in strategy was not known, but the
legal source said he had been come under fire over the lawsuit, with
critical letters and phone calls directed to his home in the United
Neither was there any indication as to whether the surprise
postponement in the case was linked to the political developments in
Myanmar, where the opposition and the junta appear to be edging towards
a landmark dialogue.
UN envoy Razali Ismail last week announced Aung San Suu Kyi had met
several times with a senior official of the military government, in
contacts aimed at breaking a decade-long political impasse.
In a sign of the thaw between the warring sides, the official press was
ordered to halt its usual stream of insulting cartoons and commentaries
aimed at Aung San Suu Kyi from last weekend.
A legal decision against the Nobel peace laureate at this delicate
stage could have been seen as a slap in the face for efforts to embark
on national reconciliation.
Aung San Oo, while not overtly political, is far less critical of the
junta than his sister and the two are not close.
Critics have said the lawsuit is a veiled attempt by the ruling State
Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to evict Aung San Suu Kyi and
hamper her National League for Democracy (NLD).
As a US citizen, Aung San Oo is not entitled to own property in Myanmar
and if he wins the case he is expected to turn his half-share over to
That raises the bizarre prospect of the junta co-owning a property
where it has held the opposition leader under house arrest since
Xinhua: Myanmar Launches National Immunization Day Activities
YANGON, January 15 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar launched the second round of its
Sixth National Immunization Days (NIDs) activities on Sunday after the
first round was done in last December. A total of 29,857
under-five-year-old children were given oral polio vaccine (OPV) in
various townships in Yangon division, according to official newspaper
The New Light of Myanmar Monday. In the activities, Myanmar targets at 6
million under-five children covering 324 townships in the country with
the mobilization of 180,000 members of 37,000 immunization teams. In the
last five years, over 6 million children were annually given OPV.
Meanwhile, common communicable diseases are also said to have been
gradually controlled and approaching eradication in the country due to
the fruitful result of its healthcare delivery system, involving
contributions by the private sector and social organizations, the report
Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Myanmar clamps curfew along border with
Bangladesh as tension rises
January 14, 2001, Sunday, BC Cycle
Myanmar border troops clamped indefinite curfew along a 20-kilometre
stretch of the frontier with Bangladesh on Sunday ahead of peace talks
between senior commanders on both sides.
Tension mounted on the frontier between Bangladesh and Myanmar (formerly
Burma) at the weekend after the two countries massed troops following a
border skirmish over the construction of a dam by the Yangon authorities
on the Naaf river.
The official Bangladesh News Agency said Myanmar was deploying fresh
troops and military hardware in the region. The agency said both sides
were to meet at a border flag meeting on Sunday in a bid to ease
Bangladeshi commanders of the border security force BDR said military
contingents in the region had been on high alert since Friday.
Local officials said hundreds of villagers on both sides of the border
had left their homes amidst a build up of tension.
About 25,000 troops from Myanmar's Nasaka border force and regular army
units were deployed along the frontier, government officials in the
Bangladeshi border town Teknaf said.
Earlier, Bangladesh and Myanmar began deploying heavy weapons after
Bangladesh opposed the construction of the river dam.
Nasaka forces dug trenches and moved in military equipment along the
border near Teknaf, about 400 kilometres southeast of the capital Dhaka.
Myanmar suspended construction of the dam after a flag meeting between
rival local commanders following a border clash on January 8.
But both countries reinforced their positions, bringing in heavy weapons
to the border.
Reuters: Interview-ILO tells Myanmar to eradicate forced labour
By Nopporn Wong-Anan
BANGKOK, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The head of the International Labour
Organisation (ILO) in East Asia urged Myanmar's military rulers on
Monday to prove their willingness to eradicate forced labour.
Ian Chambers said the issuing of a Myanmar decree in October
prohibiting forced labour was not enough to prove the commitment of
Yangon's generals to address the problem, which he said was still
widespread in the impoverished country.
``We take it at face value,'' Chambers told Reuters. ``The question, of
course, is really whether or not it will be put into effect.''
In late October, the Myanmar military issued a government order stating
the requisition of forced labour was illegal.
But the ILO governing body ignored the decree and voted overwhelmingly
in November that Yangon had not complied with a global treaty banning
It urged governments and international bodies to impose sanctions to
compel it to address the problem. The 80-year-old organisation has no
powers of its own to impose sanctions.
Chambers said although the ILO governing body was informed of the
issuing of the decree, it believed many promises made by the Myanmar
authorities were broken.
``The decision of the governing body was that the credibility of the
Myanmar government was very low, and consequently just issuing
legislation wasn't enough. We had to have evidence that something was
really being done about it,'' he said.
Chambers said Yangon had bowed to international pressure by passing the
law fearing a negative impact on trade.
SENSITIVE TO INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE
``The best way I could express our interpretation of it is to say that
it would seem to show that the Myanmar authorities are more sensitive to
international pressure than perhaps they want to admit,'' he said.
``And perhaps, particularly, when what is at stake is the economic and
commercial position of the country.''
The ILO, Chambers said, would be happy to provide assistance to the
military-ruled nation when the climate was ``appropriate.''
``The condition set out in the ILO itself is that the Myanmar
authorities must be seen to be making some credible efforts in order to
improve the situation of forced labour. So the ball is in their court,''
``Once they do that, then if they ask for our help in vocational
training or labour relations, whatever else it might be, then of course
we're entirely at their disposal.''
The ILO on Monday welcomed recent talks between Myanmar's military
rulers and the country's pro-democracy opposition, led by Nobel Peace
Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
ILO Asia Pacific chief Yasuyuki Nodera said the ILO sanctions against
Yangon last December had prompted a ``re-think of policy'' by the
``Expect progress in Myanmar,'' Nodera said in a statement.
Nodera said one of his priorities would be to send ILO experts to
Myanmar to assist in efforts to stamp out forced labour by modifying
laws and bringing perpetrators to justice.
AP: ILO: Myanmar sanctions helped promote reconciliation
Jan. 15, 2001
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ The International Labor Organization said
Monday that recent sanctions against Myanmar to protest its use of
forced civilian labor have helped pressure the military regime into
talking to prodemocracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
``It's presumptuous to say we brought this about but I think there's a
connection,'' said Ian Chambers, the ILO's director of operations for
``It shows the international community is prepared to take action,'' he
Last week, the United Nations announced after a visit by a special
envoy to Myanmar that Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi and Lt. Gen. Khin
Nyunt, a top leader of the ruling junta, had since October held their
first talks in six years.
The two sides were expected to start more substantive discussions on
national reconciliation soon. The government and Suu Kyi, who remains
under virtual house arrest, have yet to comment.
The apparent breakthrough follows mounting international pressure on
the Myanmar regime, which has earned opprobrium particularly from
Western nations for its human rights record and ignoring the sweeping
election victory by Suu Kyi's party in 1990 general elections.
In November, the ILO governing body voted for unprecedented sanctions
against Myanmar to protest the widespread use of forced labor.
It recommended that the ILO's 175 member states, employers, workers and
international organizations review their dealings with Myanmar to make
sure they are not abetting forced labor.
Actions by member states, although voluntary, could hurt trade and
further restrict the already meager flow of foreign aid to the military
The United States military has stopped all orders of clothing made in
factories in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
``For the first time, at least recently, it's been brought home to the
Myanmar authorities that they can't get away with the argument that,
'What goes on inside our borders is our own business,''' said Chambers.
The ILO said that the sanctions had also prompted a rethink in
government policy on the use of forced labor, which for years it has
described as voluntary work by civilians to promote the development of
Chambers said that the most concrete sign of a policy change by the
Myanmar government was the adoption of legislation six weeks ago to
outlaw the use of forced labor.
Although there would be great skepticism that it was being put into
practice until there was clear proof, the initial indications were that
there had been a ``significant reduction'' in the use of forced labor,
``The question is, how long it will last,'' he said.
Yasuyuki Nodera, the ILO's new chief for the Asia-Pacific region, said
in a statement issued in Bangkok Monday that one of his top priorities
would be to send ILO experts to Myanmar to assist in efforts ``to stamp
out the practice through modifying laws and bringing perpetrators to
``Expect progress in Myanmar,'' Nodera said.
He hoped that in June, the annual conference of the ILO's membership
would be in a position to review the forced labor situation _ which
could lead to a review of the sanctions.
Xinhua: Myanmar Donates Buddha Image to China
YANGON, January 14 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar has donated to China a marble
Buddha image and it is being delivered to China by car through the land
route. The Myanmar Buddha image, named Bhumi Phassa Mudra, was donated
by the Myanmar Ministry of Religious Affairs to the Buddhist Association
of China on Saturday, the official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar
reported Sunday. A consecration ceremony of the Buddha image was held in
Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city, and attended by Third Secretary
of the Myanmar State Peace and Development Council Lieutenant General
Win Myint and five other ministers including Minister of Religious
Affairs U Aung Khin. The image, 1.35 meters high with a 225-centimeter
pedestal, weighs one and half tons. It will reach the Sino-Myanmar
border next Wednesday and picked up by the Chinese side. During the past
five decades, a Chinese Buddha's tooth relic was brought to Myanmar for
three times for public worship under a cooperation program in religion
between the two countries. Myanmar is a Buddhist country, where more
than 80 percent of the people are Buddhists.
The Nation: Knowledge Key to Good Relations
Sunday, January 14, 2001
WANT to learn more about your neighbouring countries in Asia? But don't
want to take the long-haul route to institutions in the United States or
the United Kingdom?
Well, thanks to a mushrooming of Asian study programmes at universities
here, there's now no need for the long trek to foreign schools. Students
can now choose from a range of courses offered by the universities of
Thammasat, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, and
Naresuan in Pitsanulok.
In all the courses, students are required to study the language,
culture, politics and economy of the country of their choice.
This change in policy by some of the country's leading universities has
its roots in the University Affairs Ministry, which three years ago
initiated the idea of raising interest in this area of study.
"It was funny that, just a few years ago, few Thais knew any thing about
Cambodia and Laos, despite the fact these countries are right next
door," said Charnvit Kasetsiri of Thammasat University's South East Asia
Charnvit said that as many of the world's acknowledged experts on Laos
and Cambodia are in London and the US, people needed to travel long
distances in order to get tuition, but not anymore.
The one-year old South East Asia study programme at Thammasat, he said,
is an international programme and is part of the Arts faculty.
Like similar programmes in England, students must study the language of
a country as well as its culture, politics and economy, he said.
The programme aims not only to educate students about Southeast Asia,
but also to help promote unity and togetherness among Asians.
"The students will learn the importance of Asians getting together as a
group," he said.
Associate Professor Wirat Niyomtim, head of the Myanmar (Burma) Study
Centre Program (MSCP) at Naresuan University, said that while the MSCP
has been open for four years providing language training to government
officials, as well as publishing articles on Burma, this year will see
the first intake of students on a study programme .
"Thailand is an Indochina intersection, thus, it is vital that we know
more about our neighbouring countries," said Wirat, stating that the
university has a language exchange programme with Rangoon. Communication
through language is crucial in order to enable further understanding
between countries in the region, he said.
"The university has a Burmese tutor," he said, "Also, we send our
teachers to teach Thai to Burmese students in Burma, and while they are
there they also learn the Burmese language."
He said the major benefit in knowing our neighbours better is being able
to get to the root causes of border disputes and conflicts in order to
resolve them. "Furthermore, we would like the society to be more aware
of Thailand's relationship with its neighbours," he said.
About 30 students will enrol in the programme this June, most of them
living along the Thai-Burma border.
At Chiang Mai University, Ubonrat Pantumin, who heads the Mynmar
Division of the Project for the Establishment of the Eastern Language
Department, said that the university has provided programmes teaching
Chinese, Japanese, and Burmese. In addition to the language, students of
the country will also learn about its history, economy and literature,
Echoing Naresuan University's Wirat, Udom Buasri, head of the Centre of
Arts and Culture at Khon Kaen University, said that "Miscommunication
can greatly affect bilateral relations."
The Humanities Faculty at Khon Kaen focuses on the Lao, Chinese and
Vietnamese languages . It has also set up the Lao Information Centre for
interested members of the public. Support for the centre also comes from
the Thai-Laos Friendship Association.
"Despite some similarities between Thai and Lao, there are words with
different meanings which could cause misunderstanding," said Udom.
He said that his programme is now gathering similar words with different
meanings in order to inform the public and prevent such problems.
In expressing his support for the Asian study programmes, Deputy
Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Affairs Ministry Vigrom Kumpairochana
said that they would benefit Thailand in terms of foreign affairs and
education. Vigrom said that Thailand always gives priority to its
"We don't have experts in the languages of our neighbours," said Vigrom.
"To know the language and their history would help Thailand assess and
evaluate problems," he said.
Vigrom said the ministry also encouraged those officials to be posted to
neighbouring countries to know other Asian languages, like those foreign
diplomats who learn Thai and Thai history before they get posted here.
Studying at the University of Hawaii has enabled chef Nussara Thaitawat,
author of "Cuisine of Cambodia", to understand Cambodian history and its
people. "Learning more about our neighbours would help us to get over
the stereotypes about these countries and help prevent any
misunderstanding and conflict," she said.
"Historically, Thais have always considered Burma as the enemy. When it
comes to Laos or Cambodia, the stereotype is that these countries are
underdeveloped, poor and always engaged in fighting," she said, "This
needs to be changed."
BY JEERAPORN CHAISRI
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
The Nation: Burmese Generals Steal Fizz from Mandalay Beer
Monday, January 15, 2001
Some said she should have known better. But businesswoman Win Win Nu
thought her connection with the Burmese leaders would be solid enough to
protect her investment. But when her business began making money, the
generals showed her the door.
For the past two years, Win Win Nu has worked tirelessly to take back
what she feels was rightfully hers - a joint-venture enterprise in what
was once a near bankrupt Mandalay Brewery.
Her investment, with initial capital of US$6.3 million [Bt270.9
million], came to an abrupt halt in November 1998. Scores of armed
soldiers were dispatched to her home, and machine guns were positioned
all around the compound. Soon afterwards her local bank accounts were
"At the order of General Than Shwe, the soldiers with machine guns told
us to get off the property," Win Win Nu told The Nation during a recent
interview in Bangkok. Than Shwe is the chairman of the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC), the highest decision-making body of Burma's
ruling military regime.
Win Win Nu's case is an important one. According to the agreement forged
between her Singapore-based company, Yaung Chi Oo Trading, and the
Ministry of Industry No 1 in 1993, the government would have full
control of the brewery's books, while she would be in charge of
marketing and operations.
Win Win Nu and her husband had taken a 45-per-cent stake in the joint
The couple turned the brewery around within six months.
Production increased tenfold. Mandalay Beer became a brand to be
reckoned with. Business was good. The company became the country's
largest single taxpayer.
"They had no idea what marketing was all about," Win Win Nu said about
the government officials who were unable to turn a profit under their
But soon afterward, the Burmese-born businesswoman became a victim of
her own success.
"They accused us of misappropriating funds. How could we? We didn't have
control of the books," she said.
With nothing to lose, she took her case to the local courts.
After fighting for 18 months, she was forced to liquidate her share in
The first team of liquidators was led by a local tycoon, Steven Law, the
son of Lo Hsing-han, a former Burmese opium warlord who had surrendered
to the government in return for amnesty.
Win Win Nu said she had sought help from the people she knew - including
powerful security chief Lt Gen Khin Nyunt and Foreign Minister Win Aung.
But no one helped her.
With nowhere to turn, Win Win Nu began to flip through the pages of an
Asean agreement on the protection of investments, and came across an
untested mechanism for settling such disputes.
At the moment, the Asean secretariat is looking into the matter, Rudolfo
Severino, the regional group's secretary-general, told The Nation.
In a letter sent to Win Win Nu's lawyer, the office said she followed
proper procedures and channels by serving notice to the Burmese
government and providing a copy to the secretariat.
And although the Burmese government was not a signatory to the original
agreement, the letter said, the fact that Rangoon signed the protocol
when it became a full Asean member in 1997 meant that the regime is
therefore required to abide by the agreement.
Since joining Asean, Burma's military government has consistently been
placed under an unwanted spotlight by international media and human
United Nations agencies and a number of Western governments have
consistently condemned the regime, which initially saw Asean as a ticket
to economic growth and further integration with the world community. But
when the economic crisis struck, the investments Rangoon was hoping to
see drifted outside the region.
To help restore confidence, Asean members agreed upon an investment
promotion mission at their annual meeting in Singapore in 1999. But
until now, the outcome has not been satisfactory. And given the
political crises in the Philippines and Indonesia, Burma's appalling
economic situation is likely to remain for some time to come.
For the time being, all eyes are on Asean.
How it handles this unprecedented case will say a great deal about its
seriousness in restoring business confidence.
If it fumbles, it could derail the ongoing investment-promotion drive at
a time when the region is desperately trying to show the world's
investors that it, too, has something good to offer.
Bangkok Post: Decisions Needed on Foreign Policy
SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2001
There was always something missing from the long and ultimately
successful election campaign by Thai Rak Thai. It was understandable
that domestic, economic policy took centre stage during the formation of
the party. The official election campaign late last year focussed,
properly, on how each party proposed to end the economic malaise.
Dealing with the economy has been the correct centre of the political
Now, Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai have to become the
complete government. They will move to put their economic promises into
action. But they also will have to deal with a host of other matters.
Apart from the economy, Thailand's most urgent questions deal with
foreign policy. It is time for Mr Thaksin to lay out the basics of how
he intends to deal with the world.
The world is changing quickly. Even in the approximately three years
since the Chuan administration took power, major events have impacted
upon Thailand. The major security threat to Thailand is no longer the
possible invasion by hostile neighbours, but the unparalleled and
frightening invasion of addictive drugs. North and South Korea now are
talking to each other. India and Pakistan have developed nuclear weapons
that have major impact on Thailand and the region. Terrorism and
extremism have increased inside the borders of several of our
neighbours, and have been exported as well.
Mr Thaksin has been extremely vague on his ideas about Thai foreign
policy during a Thai Rak Thai government. That means he starts well
behind the curve. Whatever your political favourites, it cannot be
denied that the Democrat team of minister Surin Pitsuwan and deputy M.R.
Sukhumbhand Paribatra have performed brilliantly. Mr Surin, a young
politician, has already even been mentioned as a possible secretary
general of the United Nations. They are a tough act to follow.
Mr Surin has spent a lot of time considering the Mideast. The new
government must do the same. Our resolve to support friends must
continue. Extremism and violence cannot settle any of the
problems-whether it is Iraq trying to stretch its borders, or local
terrorists attempting to wreck Palestinian-Israeli talks.
The new government must approach India and Pakistan with assurances of
friendship. But that must be tempered with concern over nuclear
proliferation. It is in Thailand's interest that both New Delhi and
Islamabad join us in signing the test-ban agreement.
Then, we should take the next step towards nuclear disarmament.
The new foreign minister will have to deal with a divided, but
negotiating, Korea. Pyongyang still has several debts to Thailand. It is
all very well to support the idea of peace on the Korean peninsula. That
assumes North Korea will stop missile and nuclear weapons development.
But North Korea owes Thailand an apology for violence and un-diplomatic
conduct inside our country.
Mr Thaksin's unclear policy on drug trafficking must be cleared up
quickly. This serious security threat is known to be centred in Burma.
It is widely believed that Rangoon acquiesces in the huge smuggling
operations into, and through, Thailand.
The vague Thai Rak Thai notion of friendship with Burma does not address
the problem. It is vital to formulate clear, competent steps to take to
convince Rangoon it is in everyone's interest to halt its drug dealers.
These steps must be government policy, and not based upon personal
contacts. No Thai policy which depends on transient politicians or
officers can be taken seriously by our neighbours.
Mr Thaksin is in a position to direct a clear, practical foreign policy.
He should direct his core advisers to get busy on that policy now. Then
the country and our foreign friends will be in no doubt of Thai
Free Burma Coalition: Burma Freedom Dinner 2001
Thursday, February 8, 2000
Martin Luther King Center
310 W. 43rd St.
New York, NY 10025
6:30 pm: Reception 7- 9:00Pm: Dinner
Dinner: Traditional Burmese Cuisine, Vegetarian available
Entertainment: Traditional Burmese Candlelight Dance
Multimedia Show: Burma?s Struggle
Congressman Nadler, U.S. Congress
Dr. Zar Ni, Founder Free Burma Coalition
We would like to invite you to the first annual NYC Burma Freedom Dinner
2001. The purpose of the dinner is to rally support for Aung San Suu
Kyi and Burma. We will serve Burmese food and feature Congressman
Jerome Nadler and Dr. Zar Ni, founder of the Free Burma Coalition. For
entertainment, we will have Burmese traditional dance and a large screen
slide show about the ongoing crisis in Burma.
Tickets are $25/$40, sliding scale, or $15 for students. Reserve early
space is limited! Please see the attachment for more information. To
learn more about the Free Burma Coalition, see
Free Burma Coalition New York
Zaw Win (718) 533-0709
Moe Chan (732) 995-4233
Kathleen DiDomenico (212) 665-8736
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