[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

BurmaNet News: January 15, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         January 15, 2001   Issue # 1711
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*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 
pro-democracy opposition. 

 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. 


 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 
January 22. 

 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 
the government. 

 That raises the bizarre prospect of the junta co-owning a property 
where it has held the opposition leader under house arrest since 
September 22. 


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 
said. Enditem


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. 



___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

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 
forced labour. 

 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. 


 ``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,'' 
he said. 

 ``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 
East Asia. 

 ``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 
the nation. 

 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, 
Chambers said. 

 ``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 
study programme. 

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, 
she said.  
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 
neighbouring countries. 

"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." 

_______________ 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 
own management. 

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 company. 

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 
rights organisations. 

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



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 
and Program

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



The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive 
coverage of news and opinion on Burma  (Myanmar) from around the world.  
If you see something on Burma, you can bring it to our attention by 
emailing it to strider@xxxxxxx

To automatically subscribe to Burma's only free daily newspaper in 
English, send an email to:

To subscribe to The BurmaNet News in Burmese, send an email to:


You can also contact BurmaNet by phone or fax:

Voice mail or fax (US) +1(202) 318-1261
You will be prompted to press 1 for a voice message or 2 to send a fax.  
If you do neither, a fax tone will begin automatically.

Fax (Japan) +81 (3) 4512-8143


Burma News Summaries available by email or the web

There are three Burma news digest services available via either email or 
the web.

Burma News Update
Frequency: Biweekly
Availability: By fax or the web.
Viewable online at http://www.soros.org/burma/burmanewsupdate/index.html
Cost: Free
Published by: Open Society Institute, Burma Project

The Burma Courier 
Frequency: Weekly 
Availability: E-mail, fax or post.  To subscribe or unsubscribe by email 
Viewable on line at: http://www.egroups.com/group/BurmaCourier
Cost: Free
Note: News sources are cited at the beginning of an article. 
Interpretive comments and background
details are often added.

Burma Today
Frequency: Weekly
Availability: E-mail
Viewable online at http://www.worldviewrights.org/pdburma/today.html
To subscribe, write to pdburma@xxxxxxxxx
Cost: Free
Published by: PD Burma (The International Network of Political Leaders 
Promoting Democracy in Burma)


T O P I C A  -- Learn More. Surf Less. 
Newsletters, Tips and Discussions on Topics You Choose.