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BurmaNet News: January 23, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         January 23, 2001   Issue # 1717
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________


*AP: Every dog has its day in Myanmar
*AFP: Myanmar junta laughs off rumours of top-level split
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Poppies being harvested across the border
*Myanmar Times: Interview with the Secretary-1 of the State  Peace and 
Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt 

*AFP: Outlawed Myanmar separatists arrested in Bangladesh
*AFP: Seafarers' work conditions, wages under spotlight at ILO 
*AP: Banned U.S. activist hopes for reprieve from Thai government 
*AP: UN Happy With Burma Junta Efforts To Fight Drugs

*Bangkok Post: Traders to Seek re-opening of 2 Northern Checkpoint

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

AP: Every dog has its day in Myanmar 

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Myanmar's capital may look down at the heels but 
it really went to the dogs Tuesday -- at the country's first pet show 
and competition in almost four decades. 

 More than 120 proud owners turned out with their dogs, cats and birds 
to vie for prizes, including a grand prize of 50,000 kyats, equivalent 
to a little over dlrs 100. 

 Organized by the Yangon City Development Council, the competition 
required more than two months of planning and preparation, council 
official Htay Aung said. 

 The show was dominated by canine species: smaller-sized dogs cradled in 
arms, the bigger breeds _ Dobermans, St. Bernards _ passing the time in 
the luxurious confines of their well-to-do owners' cars, sometimes with 
air conditioning left on to ensure their comfort. 

 Htay Aung said the last such competition was held in 1963 during the 
then government of Ne Win, a general who took power in a 1962 coup and 
stepped down in 1988. 
 He had promoted a kind of socialism that stifled economic development 
and made the country, then known as Burma, one of the poorest in the 

 The current military junta has kept Ne Win's repressive political 
restrictions but tried to liberalize the economy with minor success. 

 Nonetheless, the past decade has seen the growth of a small monied 
class which enjoys the trappings and rituals of Western-style 
middle-class life. 

 Htay Aung said the council hopes to hold similar dog shows and dog 
competitions every year. ``Our objective is to educate dog owners to 
systematically breed their pets.'' 

 Tin Aung, an excited dog breeder and owner, said hopefully the 
competition would give Myanmar dog breeders and dog lovers the 
opportunity to form an association and ``one day join kennel clubs 

 The owner of one St. Bernard had less lofty hopes, saying he was just 
happy to show off his huge dog, usually stuck inside his housing 
compound, and didn't even particularly care if he won a prize. 

 As an announcer called out the name, breed, age and weight of each 
canine contestants, some participants trotted out in style while others 
_ shy and inexperienced _ had to be dragged along by their owners onto 
the makeshift stage in front of a panel of judges comprising retired 

 The animals were judged for their grooming and obedience.


AFP: Myanmar junta laughs off rumours of top-level split
YANGON, Jan 23 (AFP) - Myanmar's junta Tuesday dismissed rumours of a 
top-level split in the military regime, saying they were an invention of 
the foreign press and the diplomatic community in Yangon. 

 "It's all just wishful thinking on their part," junta number-three 
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt said in an interview with the Myanmar 
Times weekly. 

 "We in the military have a tradition of respect from one rank to the 
next ... we have a regard for each other. We have no problems," he said, 
laughing off the suggestions. 

 For several years rumours have persisted of an impending power struggle 
between Khin Nyunt, powerful chief of military intelligence, and the 
regime's number-two Maung Aye, who is in charge of the army. 

 Maung Aye, considered the more hawkish of the pair, is tipped to take 
over when Senior General Than Shwe steps down as head of the regime. 

 Khin Nyunt's recent move to make direct contacts with opposition leader 
Aung San Suu Kyi was interpreted by some analysts as a strategy to 
cement his place within the military government. 

 The UN announced earlier this month that the talks between the two 
could pave the way for an historic dialogue between the junta and the 
opposition that would break a decade-long impasse between the warring 


Shan Herald Agency for News: Poppies being harvested across the border

Jan. 23, 2001

The Season's harvest of opium across the border is expected to be 
complete  soon, said sources in Chiangmai Province.

Many hilltribes people in Thailand, where law enforcement is relatively  
rigorous, have gone to the other side of the border to grow poppies in 
the  Shan State where war, corruption and economic hardships have made a 
joke on  the rule of law, they said.

"We pay K. 500 per field to the Wa," said a Lahu from Mornpin Tract, 
Fang  District, Chiangmai Province. "And we are not forced to sell our 
produce.  Instead, we can sell it to the buyers right in our fields or 
in Nakawngmu  (Mongton Township, Monghsat District, Eastern Shan State) 
at prevailing  market price."

The area under Wa control just across Fang alone is expected to yield at 
 least 5 tons of opium, "since there are at least 600 acres of poppy 
fields  and each produce an average of 5 viss (1.6 kg per viss)." The 
current  prince of opium is B. 20,000 (US$ 500) per viss.

Related News

Drug entrepreneurs in uniform

Chung, a Chinese from Nawng-Ook (Arunothai), Chiangdao District, 
Chiangmai  Province, went a cross the border on 10 January to buy yaba  
(methamphetamines) and he was driven to Mongton, 90 miles away by Ah  
Chiang, a middleman from Nakawngmu, to meet Maj. Khin Maung Htwe, Deputy 
 Commander, IB 65, said a reliable source.

An agreement was made to buy 650,000 pills, at B. 10 each, for which he  
paid a B. 800,000 advance, and to pay the rest within 9 days, he said. 

The next day, the ordered shipment was transported to Nawng Htalang, 2 
km  east of BP (Border Pass) 1, where Chung was waiting to make 
arrangements  for a cross-border haul, which he successfully did 

Another report tells of Sgt. Maung Kyaw from IB 65 post, commanded by  
Lt-Col. Myint Sway, summoning villagers of Monghang, a village between  
Mongton and BP-1, to build barracks for 2 squads of soldiers on a hill  
south of the village on 7 January.

He told his intimate friends in the village that 3 yaba presses were to 
be  set up there. He was reported to have said, "Rangoon has ordered 
each  battalion to establish its own common welfare fund and to raise 
funds each  in its own way."

Although drug trade is banned locally by both Burmese and Wa, buying and 
 selling outside the township, especially to Thailand, has not been 
barred  in any way, said a source. "On the contrary, it is being 
vigorously  encouraged."

A Chinese drug trader in Mongton also told S.H.A.N. source that moving  
drugs to Taunggyi, Shan State's capital from where drugs are distributed 
 "to any place in Burma," had been easily done by himself and others 
just by  procuring a safe-conduct from the local military intelligence 


Myanmar Times: Interview with the Secretary-1 of the State  Peace and 
Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt 

January 15-21, 2001

Looking to the Future 

In an exclusive interview with MT contributing editor MA THANEGI, the 
third  most senior member of the State Peace and Development Council, 
Secretary-1  Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt talks about HIV prevention,peace deals, 
education, late  nights at the office, and the future of his country. 

WHAT do you think is the most important thing to be done for the 
"Economic prosperity, of course. But peace and political stability in 
the  country are also closely linked to it. 

"To prosper economically, we also need political stability. But in any 
case,  economic prosperity is essential to develop the country, to raise 
the  standard of living of the people. 

"Look at the highly developed nations: basically, they are like that 
because  of economic power. A poor country has little chance to develop. 

"Here, in Myanmar, we are not an industrial nation, and compared to 
other  countries in the region, we have a long way to go to catch up.  

"As we are an agrarian economy by tradition, we must improve upon that. 
This  is what we are trying to do. Once we had only one harvest a year, 
but now we  have two, and in some places three. To be able to plant 
during the dry  seasons, we had to build dams to store the rainwater. We 
have built well over  a hundred dams by now. I think Central and Upper 
Myanmar has benefited most  from this. From that we have to go on to 
mechanized farming."  
What changes have been made to the teaching methods, curriculums etc. in 

"We started planning for changes in 1997. We have drawn up a four-year 
plan  for education. 

"Our first aim is to offer all-round education, the second is to raise 
the  level of studies to be equal to international standards, and the 
third is to  abolish as much as possible the disparity between education 
available in the  urban and rural areas. 

"With these three main goals in mind we started working in 1997 for  
educational reforms. Over the course of a week we held seminars in the  
Central Institute of Public Services, Phaunggyi, with township level  
educational officers, school principals, and even retired personnel of 
the  Education Ministry taking part in the discussions. 

"There, we decided on the æstudent as the focusÆ plan rather than the  
traditional teaching method of the teacher doing the talking and the 
students  listening in silence. Now, we are trying to change it so that 
the main  objective is for the student to learn, not merely to listen to 
the teacher  talking. Things must be explained to the student until he 
understands  completely. 

"We changed the examination system as well. Instead of just one final  
examination to be passed in order to go on to a higher grade, the 
students  sit for end-of semester exams. "These count in the final 
marks, so that the  test is about what the student learns all through 
the school year and not  just what is crammed for the finals. 

"As for the curriculum, we have included such diverse subjects as 
national  spirit, love of culture, civic duty etc. So itÆs not just 
learning, by heart,  lessons out of a book. Senior General Than Shwe has 
specifically instructed  that Basic Education and Higher Education must 
be closely linked, and that in  four years our standard of education 
must be on par with that of our SE Asian  neighbours - by the year 2003. 

"Not only did we change the curriculum, we are changing teaching methods 
as  well. In the past in Yangon, we had schools of such high calibre as 
MEHS, now  Dagon SHS 1, then Latha SHS 2, and St PaulÆs which is now 
Botataung SHS 6,  also Sanchaung SHS 1. 

"In these schools they had great teachers. So for each subject, we taped 
on  video how these teachers taught their classes. These tapes we sent 
out to  schools for other teachers to learn from. 

"IÆll give you one example. I was in a town called Lwemway, near 
Kyaington,  and found there a high school in which no one had passed 
matriculation for  nine years running. 

"When I went there, the school year had been underway for three months. 
When  I got back to Yangon I sent them a TV, a VCR and the teaching 
tapes. By the  next matriculation, there was a passing average of 27 
percent, and two  students got three distinctions each! 

"Whenever I travel to rural areas I take along TVs and VCR and teaching 
tapes  to give to the schools. Of course, we give batteries, too, since 
most places  have no electricity. 

"That is the change in teaching methods; as for the curriculum we are  
changing it to be on par with O Levels and A Levels." 

Can you say something on preventive measures being taken against HIV?  
"HIV, AIDS...itÆs a national cause. If we ignore it, it will be the 
scourge  that will destroy entire races. 

"For some years, we have been working closely with the Ministry of 
Health on  this. 

"But, as you know, we are a very conservative, religious society, and it 
was  rather against our culture to put condoms on show as a means of 
prevention.  In other countries, they even distribute condoms at 
schools. But here we had  to try other means so that the message will 
get through, for the people to  accept it. 

"For prevention, we had to make sure that young girls do not cross over 
the  border to work in the sex trade and also we needed to control drug 
"Since seven years ago, we have set up workshops in the border towns so 
that  young girls can learn a trade to earn their living. Combined with 
HIV  awareness lessons, these are part of the plan of lessening HIV 
"In the early days, Health Ministry officials said that to put up 
posters  saying that AIDS is fatal gives too harsh a message, that it 
will cause  psychological trauma to those suffering from it. 

"But I personally felt that many more needed to understand the warning  
clearly, so I insisted that they put this on all posters: that AIDS 
kills, no  cure, no hope. 

"Now personnel of the Ministry of Health and NGOs such as the Maternal 
and  Child Welfare Association are teaching HIV awareness. 

"To be frank, monitoring infected cases is difficult. We have no means 
of  getting the exact data on how many cases there are. To test each 
person would  cost around US $2, and really we cannot afford it. 

"We have asked WHO (the World Health Organization) for assistance, but 
we  have not received anything sufficient.So, we rely on ourselves. We 
must start  the monitoring system, and we will do it with our own 
limited resources. "We  need to get test kits. Also, another plan is to 
set up care centres for AIDS  patients. Their days must end in some 
comfort and ease and it will also help  contain the disease. " First we 
need to start with centres in the cities, and  then on to towns on the 

(To be continued) 

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

AFP: Outlawed Myanmar separatists arrested in Bangladesh 

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh, Jan 23 (AFP) - Bangladeshi police said Tuesday 
they have unearthed a suspected den of Myanmar separatist militants 
arresting two people, including an alleged top leader. 

 Two houses in the southern port's Chandgaon area was raided Monday by 
police who said one was used as a hideout by the Arakan Rohingya 
National Organisation (ARNO). 

 They said ARNO was an extremist fundamentalist group, set up last year 
and fighting for the independence of Myanmar's Arakan province bordering 

 Selim Ullah, 40, was accused of being the group's "chief of military 
staff" while the second man under arrest was named as Faiz Ahmed, an 
officer in the investigation team told AFP. 

 The Jugantor daily, quoting police, said the group had links to 
Bangladeshi fundamentalist groups, including the Harkatul Jihad, as well 
as two unidentified opposition political parties. 

 ARNO has its headquarters in Libya, the officer said, adding they had 
found a picture of Ullah with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi taken when he 
was undergoing training in Libya. 

 The police source said they first arrested Abu Yassir, the commander of 
a hill-top camp in Cox's Bazaar at a jungle hideout in Ukhia, and raided 
the Chittagong base after questioning him. 

 "They smuggle in weapons from Malaysian extremist groups and Libya and 
sell them here to mainly Muslim fundamentalist groups as well as 
terrorist organisations," the police said, on condition of anonymity. 

 "They are also involved in supplying weapons to Assamese separatists," 
he added. 

 The officer said the main objectives appeared to be making money by 
smuggling weapons and creating lawlessness ahead of general elections in 
Bangladesh due this year. 

 "They are supporting these fundamentalist groups as they believe they 
will be properly rehabilitated here if they win the polls," he said. 

 According to the newspaper, the group has 5,000 armed cadres using AK47 
rifles, light machine guns, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns, 
with bases in Chittagong and nearby beach resort district of Cox's 
Bazar, bordering Arakan. 

 Police seized pictures, documents and personal computers during the 
raid on the two houses. 

 The police officer said ARNO was a new alliance of several groups, 
including the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation and National United Party 
of Arakan headed G. Maung. 

 The two under arrest were taken to Cox's Bazar where sedition charges 
have been filed against them and a magistrate court Tuesday granted a 
police request to question them for 10 days, police said. 

 More than 380,000 Arakanese fled to Bangladesh in 1992 alleging 
persecution by Myanmar troops -- a charge Yangon denies. 

 Most were repatriated after a 1991 agreement between Dhaka and Yangon, 
followed by a second one in 1993 between the United Nations High 
Commissioner for Refugees and the Myanmar authorities.
 Some 21,000 remain in two camps in the Cox's Bazar area awaiting 
 Several rebel groups are known to be fighting for the independence of 
Arakan, but ARNO remains a little known group and no further details 
were available. 


AFP: Seafarers' work conditions, wages under spotlight at ILO 

GENEVA, Jan 23 (AFP) - The International Labour Organisation (ILO) hosts 
talks here this week on increasing the currently recommended 
435-dollar-a-month (462 euros) minimum wage of able seafarers. 	

 The five-day meeting also will work towards working out a new "bill of 
rights", laying down a single minimum international standard for sailors 
in areas such as safety, working conditions and living conditions on 
board, the ILO said. 

 About 30 different conventions currently exist on seafarers' 
conditions, the ILO said. 

 "In absolute terms, average wage rates for able seafarers have declined 
between 1992 and 1999," a report prepared for the ILO talks said. 
 Sailors from developed countries have been especially hard-hit. 
 In Australia, the average monthly earnings of an able seafarer dropped 
by 65 percent over the seven-year period, while in Japan and Germany it 
dropped by 53 percent, by 49 percent for the Dutch and 14 percent for 
the French, the report said. 
 Two reasons are that salaries calculated in dollars may have been hit 
by changing exchange rates for the dollar, and owners hiring seamen from 
countries with generally lower salaries to meet demand.
 But wage rates for Brazilian, Bulgarian, Philippino, Indonesian, 
Latvian and Russian seafarers showed no significant change in absolute 

 While in Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Hong Kong, India and Poland, they 
increased between 25 and 91 percent in absolute terms. 

 Applying the minimum wage recommendation is not mandatory unless a 
government chooses to make it so through its legislation. 

 "I strongly encourage the social partners in the shipping industry to 
intensify their social dialogue in order to ensure decent work for 
seafarers," ILO director-general Juan Somavia said at the meeting began 

 The ILO said about 1.25 million seafarers are employed on ships, of 
which one third are officers, while about 50,000 ships are plying their 
trade in international waters. 

 The ILO said the number of ships in the world fleet had increased by 10 
percent in the past 10 years and its tonnage had risen by 35 percent. 


AP: Banned U.S. activist hopes for reprieve from Thai government 

Jan. 23, 2001

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ An American social worker barred from Thailand 
after helping the needy for more than two decades hopes the country's 
new government will withdraw the ban, his lawyer said Tuesday. 

 Max Ediger, 53, was stopped from entering Thailand after he returned on 
Dec. 31 from a trip to the United States, apparently because of his 
involvement with illegal Myanmar refugees. 

 He was told by immigration officials that he was on an Interior 
Ministry list of foreigners declared persona non grata, said the lawyer, 
Somchai Homla-or of the Law Society of Thailand. 

 Somchai said Ediger and his supporters were hoping Thailand's new 
government, which is expected to take office next month following its 
Jan. 6 election victory, would lift the ban on Ediger's entry. 

 He said they would lobby ``to try to let the new government know he is 
a good man.'' 

 Somchai said it appeared that Ediger's sole right to formal appeal 
expired 24 hours after he was denied entry at Bangkok's international 

 Ediger, who went to Hong Kong after being turned away from Thailand, 
cold not be reached for comment. 

 He came to Thailand in 1978 after doing social work in Burundi and 
Vietnam. He has worked with prostitutes, slum dwellers, drug addicts and 
refugees. A native of Turpin, Oklahoma, Ediger has spent most of his 
adult life abroad. 

 In the early 1990s, Ediger began helping refugees from military-run 
Myanmar and seeking to promote nonviolent solutions to that country's 
political deadlock. He helped found Burma Issues, a research and 
publication group. 

 Ediger's work with Myanmar refugees is sponsored by the Mennonite 
Central Committee _ a pacifist U.S.-based Christian group. 

 Thai police raided the Burma Issues office _ which also served as 
Ediger's home _ in February last year and found Myanmar people living 

 Ediger was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and a fine 
equivalent to dlrs 250 after he pleaded guilty to a charge of harboring 
illegal aliens. 

 The court suspended the prison sentence after determining Ediger to be 
of good character and his work ``beneficial to Thai society and the 

 The raid came after a Burma Issues publication was found on the body of 
one of 10 young Myanmar rebels who raided a hospital in the western Thai 
province of Ratchaburi, holding patients and staff hostage for 22 hours 
before being killed by Thai commandos. 

 The same group had in October 1999 seized the Myanmar Embassy in 
Bangkok, letting all their hostages free after being granted safe 
passage to the Myanmar border.
 The two incidents caused the Thai government to tighten its controls 
over the hundreds of thousands of Myanmar refugees here, especially the 
former students who are politically active in opposing their country's 
military regime.


AP: UN Happy With Burma Junta Efforts To Fight Drugs

Tuesday, January 23 3:39 PM SGT 

BANGKOK (AP)--Burma's ruling junta is serious about fighting drugs, and 
its commitment is showing good results in controlling opium and 
amphetamine production, U.N. officials said Tuesday.  The "problem has 
not been solved. The problem will not be solved tomorrow," Sandro 
Calvani of the U.N. International Drug Control Program told a news 
conference to discuss the UNDCP's second World Drug Report.  

The report, released Monday in Vienna, says Burma remains the 
second-largest producer of illicit opium in the world after Afghanistan. 
The two countries accounted for 95% of opium production in 1999 with 
Afghanistan's share at 75%.  

While Afghanistan remains a challenge to the global community, there is 
reason for hope in Burma, said Yngve Danling, a law enforcement adviser 
to the UNDCP, who also addressed the news conference.  

"We are seeing that  junta authorities(SPDC)...are serious (and) 
committed. They are doing what they promised to do and they are 
performing. And they are getting results," said Calvani, the UNDCP's 
east Asia and Pacific representative.  

According to the World Drug Report, the production of opium poppy fell 
from 1,303 tons in 1998 to 895 tons in 1999. The seizure of 
amphetamine-type stimulants increased from 50 kilograms in 1997 to 160 
kilograms in 1998.  

Amphetamines are the new scourge on the drug scene, with their 
trafficking growing more strongly than that of any other drug over the 
last decade, the World Drug Report said.  
Burma has emerged as a leading center for amphetamines, bringing it 
international opprobrium second only to the criticism it faces for 
suppressing democratic rights.  

Amphetamines are made by Burmese rebel groups such as the Shan and Wa in 
makeshift laboratories strung along the border with Thailand and China, 
where the junta has little control.  
The two rebel groups have signed peace accords with the junta, which 
gives them virtual autonomy in large enclaves dominated by their 
minority communities.  

But by choosing to make peace with the rebels, the junta may have 
compromised its fight against drugs to some extent, Danling, the UNDCP 
adviser, said.  

Danling and Calvani also praised Burma for cooperating with neighbors 
Thailand and China in fighting drug lords by sharing information about 
their trafficking activities.  
Burma has also cooperated with the U.N. in running successful programs 
on making villagers give up the cultivation of poppy, Calvani said.  

He said the U.N. estimates it will need a $10 million investment by the 
international community to fight the drug problem in Burma, including 
providing alternative sources of income to villagers. But so far only $1 
million has been provided, mostly by the U.S. and Japan.  

The international community has in the last three years invested 300 
times more in Thailand in fighting drugs compared to Burma, he said.  

This is largely because of the pariah status that Burma has in the West 
over its refusal to hand over power to the National League for Democracy 
party of Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, which won the 1990 
general elections 

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

Bangkok Post: Traders to Seek Er-opening of 2 Northern Checkpoint

 JANUARY 23, 2001

Military keeps them closed to fight drugs
Subin Khuenkaew

Traders will ask the incoming government to reopen two northern border 
checkpoints, closed by the military to stop the flow of drugs. 

A source said the traders want the reopening of Kiew Pha Wok checkpoint 
in Chiang Mai and Ban Huay Phung in Mae Hong Son to facilitate 
cross-border trading. 
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and the military rejected earlier calls for 
their reopening. They also ordered the closure of Son Ton Du checkpoint 
to damage the drug trade. The traders have been lobbying both local and 
national-level politicians, the source said. 

"Exporters will renew their calls for the reopening of the checkpoints. 
They believe the next government will support their calls since Thaksin 
Shinawatra has promised to promote cross-border trading," the source 

Meanwhile, Burma's recent ban on Thai products has caused cross-border 
trade in the North to plummet. 

Sakhon Apiniwet, secretary to the Chiang Rai chamber of commerce, said 
Burmese authorities banned 15 Thai products in November without giving a 

Mr Sakhon said the ban had caused the export volume to Burma to drop by 




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