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BurmaNet News: April 22, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: April 22, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 04:49:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
April 22, 2001 Issue # 1786
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
NOTED IN PASSING: ?[Currency] Dealers blamed lack of proper handling of
the economy and growing inflation as the underlying causes of the free
Reuters. See Reuters: Myanmar's currency sinks to new record low
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Reuters: Seven Myanmar troops said killed in attack
*Freedom News (Shan State Army): SSA's Predawn Raid on Burmese
Military's Drug Camp
*The Nation: Like Fathers, Like Sons: Youth Gangs Rule Burma Nightlife
*The Nation: Burma Goes Public with Drug Haul
*AFP: Thai Army blocks Chinese shipment to Myanmar
*AP Stray mortar hits Thailand as rival Karen armies clash near border
*Shan Herald Agency for News : Shans take part in the anti-power plant
*Xinhua: Myanmar's Tax Revenue Up in 2000
*BurmaNet: Burma?s real tax revenues plunge
*Reuters: Myanmar's currency sinks to new record low
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Reuters: Seven Myanmar troops said killed in attack
BANGKOK, April 22 (Reuters) - Seven Myanmar soldiers were killed in an
early Sunday attack on their camp by separatist Shan guerrillas in
northeastern Myanmar's Shan State, Thai military sources said.
Shan State Army guerrillas captured the Myanmar army outpost at Tuan,
opposite the Thai town of Fang, some 700 km (420 miles) north of
Bangkok, and seized about 170,000 methamphetamine tablets, the Thai
Nearly 500 Thai villagers were evacuated from their homes in Fang after
the clash due to fears of an upsurge in fighting between the Shan rebels
and Myanmar forces, Thai authorities said.
In another incident, two members of a Myanmar ethnic minority militia
allied with the military government were killed on Sunday in an attack
by unidentified rivals in the east Myanmar border town of Myawady , Thai
military sources said.
``At around 4:00 am (2100 GMT) an unidentified rebel group, armed with
rifles and mortars, opened fire on the DKBA troops for about half an
hour,'' said a Thai military source based on the Myanmar-Thai border.
Two fighters from the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) were killed
and two wounded in the attack. Two villagers were also wounded, the Thai
The DKBA and Myanmar government forces fight the autonomy-seeking Karen
National Union (KNU) guerrilla army in that part of eastern Myanmar but
the KNU had not claimed responsibility for the attack, the Thai sources
Thai military authorities closed the border crossing between the Thai
town of Mae Sot, about 500 km (300 miles) northwest of Bangkok, and
Myawady after the attack.
The area of the attack is believed to be one of Myanmar's main areas
for producing illegal methamphetamines, which have been flooding into
Thailand in recent years.
Thai military sources say the DKBA, formed by a KNU splinter faction in
1994 after a split in the Christian-led, anti-Yangon group, is involved
in the drugs trade.
In a related development, Thai authorities ordered a convoy of trucks
trying to take power-generation equipment to the northeast Myanmar town
of Tachilek to return to Bangkok, Thai media reported on Sunday.
Thai authorities stopped the convoy crossing from the northern Thai
town of Mae Sai into Tachilek last week because they believed the power
equipment was bound for another Myanmar minority militia group blamed
for large-scale drug production.
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Saturday he had ordered
the convoy of trucks carrying the equipment to return to Bangkok as Thai
security forces believed most of the supplies were bound for the United
Wa State Army (UWSA) militia group.
Relations between Myanmar and Thailand soured earlier this year when
their troops clashed at the border near Mae Sai and their governments
traded accusations of support for the drugs trade.
The UWSA, which is allied with the Myanmar army, has been branded a
major producer of heroin and methamphetamines by U.S. and Thai
2001-04-22 Sun 04:42
Freedom News (Shan State Army): SSA's Predawn Raid on Burmese Military's
22 April 2001
SSA's Predawn Raid on Burmese Military's Drug Camp 6 Burmese soldiers
killed in action and 150,000 amphetamine tablets confisticated together
with a large cache of assorted weapons
This morning, 22nd April 2001, at 02:00 hr., troops from Shan State Army
raided one of the Burmese military camps, which is part of the 225th
infantry battalion. This camp is located at a village of Par Khee, Mong
Ton township, opposite of Fang District, Province of Chiang Mai.
The function of this said camp has been to control and tax drug traffic
flowing into Thailand. In February 2001, innocent displaced Shan
villagers who strayed and wandered near to this camp were murdered
mercilessly by these troops, in order to keep their silence.
In this predawn raid, SSA troops captured amphetamine tablets as well as
a large cache of assort weapons.
Together with these arms, 150,000 tablets of amphetamine have been
captured. The Burmese casualties were 6 killed in action, while the SSA
suffered no loss.
The Nation: Like Fathers, Like Sons: Youth Gangs Rule Burma Nightlife
Sunday, April 22, 2001
*Burma's culture of impunity has spread to the next generation, as the
children of generals and drug lords terrorise the powerless, reports Min
Zin. On the smoky, dark dance floor of a disco on Orchard Road in
Singapore, Khin Maung Win took a breather as the music wound down and
tried to guess which techno-rap dance track from London or New York
would be played next. After the customary pre-song banter, the DJ hit
the button and pumped up the volume. The crowd jumped, but Khin Maung
Win was stopped in his tracks. This was Burmese rep music that was
driving the crowd wild.
Given the explosion in night entertainment in Burma since the early
1990sit is perhaps not surprising that some of the region's top
nightspots are playing Burmese popular music. Throughout the country's
major cities there is now an endless array of nightspots: clubs, discos
and karaoke bars. Such is the growth of pop culture that, according to
the Rangoon-based Living Color business magazine, there has been an "
increase in demand for DJs along with a number of DJ training schools."
It all suggests that Burma is perhaps the most sophisticated,
least-developed country in the lifestyles of Burma's youth has been
matched by a decline in their appreciation of the importance of
education as schools have been repeatedly closed in Burma since 1988.
"In the dozen years of military rule, civilian universities and colleges
have been open for only 40 months, " calculates Win Naing, a former
university student activist who fled to Thailand a year ago.
" The enthusiasm among the youth to make money is fine. But to make it
by hook or crook is not the habit we should encourage, " says Ludu Daw
Ahmar, a leading Burmese social critic.
The problem is that the "wealthy" role models in Burma predominantly
range from those who made their money from get rich-quick schemes to
those with shady backgrounds and those with government connections. The
result of this downplaying of the importance of education is that most
of Burma's young are no linger interested in competing in the classroom.
Rather, they try to outdo each other with ostentatious shows of
" When you look at those in the privileged circles, such as the children
of the generals, the drug lords and their cronies, their initial
juvenile delinquency develops into organised crime activities. It is an
uncontrollable situation," says Htein Lin, a tour guide from Rangoon.
Since 1005, youth gangs have sprouted in increasing number in Burma's
major cities. The most notorious in Rangoon is called the "Scorpion "
gang. "The leading gangster id a Japan returnee. He has a Japanese wife.
He is said to have good connections with Japan's Yakuza Mafia," said a
former friend of his in Japan.
Actually, the gang has strong connections to not only the Japanese
underworld but also Taiwanese gangsters, since the children of drug
lords such as Lo Hsing -Han and Peng Kyaw-Shin have studied and been
involved in drug trafficking in Taiwan. Based at the eight-mile junction
of Mayanggone Township in Rangoon, the froup is also closely associated
with the children of the top generals. The grandsons of Ne Win, Burma's
long-time former dictator, who is still believed to be influential
behind the scenes in Rangoon, are also involved in this gang's criminal
During the 1999 New Year, the gang killed a student named Thar Lainmar
for unknown reasons. "It was clearly masterminded by the grandsons of
the old man, " says Ye Lwin, who was a mutual fri3end of both Thar
Lainmar and the grandsons, and who now lives in London. But the
offenders got away with what they did. Aye Ne Win and Kyaw Ne Win even
made a phone call to the parents of the victim after dropping his body
off at their doorstep, saying they had "sent the corpse of your son as a
New Year's gift to you".
Also in early 1999, Aye and Kyaw forcibly took three students to the
Nawarat hotel, which is owned by their mother, Sandar Win, the beloved
daughter of Ne Win. The students were tied up and tortured. Their hair
and eyebrows were shaved and they were beaten. Later, the victims lodged
complaints with Secretary One Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, but no action was taken
against the perpetrators.
Another gang, which dubs itself the "Nazi Gang", has, according to
hearsay, been allowed to emerge to counter the Scorpions. Some policemen
from Pazundaung Township are reported to be involved in this gang's
activities. Nazi gangsters also work as security guards for stage and
fashion shows, for which they receive large amounts of money.
In Upper Burma, the violent activities of delinquent youths directly
reflect the economic and social domination of some cease-fire groups,
drug lords and local military warlords. Widespread bullying of innocent
people takes place in the streets of Mandalay and Maymyo (Pyin Oo Lwin).
These injustices are committed by children to the generals, young
intelligence officers, tycoons, Chinese migrants with Burmese
identification cards and the member of the Kokang and Wa ethnic cease
fire groups, who hold documents authorised by Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt.
Clashes between rival gangs are frequent and wild.
" What commonly happens on Mandalay is that groups charge at each other
on motorcycles using swords, iron rods and chains, " explains Aye Naing,
a trader who travels between Ruili in China's Yunnan Province and
Mandalay. During a religious festival in the middle of 1999, five
secondary school students were killed in such motorcycle clashes and
attacks between delinquent gangs. However, since those who were involved
in this incident were sons of military cronies and narco-tycoons, the
regime quickly silenced the affair.
" When you are bullied, the best policy is to stay quiet. Don't think of
any compensation," said a lawyer from Mandalay who asked not to
identified. " If they still feel annoyed with you, they could bribe the
judges to issue a warrant to arrest you and have you sentenced to a long
prison term. They could even arrange to have you killed when you are in
jail. That has happened. Here, money makes everything."
As result, those in the heartland are growing increasingly hostile
toward Kokang, Wa, and Chinese ethnic groups. Only last year in
Mandalay, there were three serious recial clashes between Burma and
In Rangoon, the most popular nightclubs do not have Burmese names but
Shan and Chinese. They are owned not by Burmans but by Kokang, the Wa
cease-fire groups and their crones-particularly Chinese migrants.
Despite it all, the nightclubs are crowded as usual, even though many of
them appear to be the bases for the operation of gangsters. And the
gangsters keep getting their way.
" It is quite scary to hang out around in Rangoon at night. But it is
worth it sometimes when you really want to enjoy the stimulating music
of the Burmese DJs, who I think are of international standards, " said
Khin Maung Win, who went back to Rangoon late last year.
*Min Zin is the cultural editor of The Irrawaddy magazine.
The Nation: Burma Goes Public with Drug Haul
Sunday, April 22, 2001
RANGOON - Burma, under severe criticism from Thailand, which alleges it
is the source of huge quantities of the illegal stimulant
methamphetamine, publicised two crackdowns on the drug in its
state-controlled press yesterday.
Police in Mandalay, Burma's second largest city, 560 kilometres north of
Rangoon, arrested four people and seized nearly 300,000 methamphetamine
tablets on April 2, the Kyemon daily reported yesterday.
Acting on a tip-off, local police together with intelligence officers
put a house in Mandalay under surveillance and arrested a man named Li
Su Kyin, who turned up with 298,400 methamphetamine pills, the newspaper
said. His arrest led to the capture of three other suspects.
The newspapers also reported that a court in the northeastern city of
Lashio had last month sentenced five men to prison terms of 20 years
each in connection with a huge seizure of methamphetamine in June last
Local police and anti-narcotic forces seized the 4,486,000 tablets from
a truck carrying drums of tar on the Naungcho-Maymyo highway, about 600
kilometres north of Rangoon. The contraband was hidden inside the drums.
The official Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control admitted earlier
this year that although production of opium had fallen sharply - Burma
is, with Afghanistan, one of the world's two biggest producers of opium
and its derivative heroin - amphetamine-type stimulants had been posing
a new threat since 1996. More than 26 million tablets were seized in
2,000 and four million tablets have been seized in the first three
months of this year, according to figures from the government committee.
Thailand accuses Burma's ruling military junta of turning a blind eye to
the production of
methamphetamine at laboratories near the border. It says the drug is
produced by ethnic-minority groups who are given some autonomy in return
for agreeing to end armed rebellions against the central government.
Thailand has called the influx of methamphetamine a threat to national
security and recently began expediting the execution of criminals
convicted of drug trafficking. On Friday Thai police seized 1.2 million
methamphetamine tablets in the northrn province of Phetchabun and
arrested five Thais, who are facing trafficking charges.
AFP: Thai Army blocks Chinese shipment to Myanmar
April 22, 2001
BANGKOK: Thailand is blocking a shipment of Chinese generators to
Myanmar that are destined for a power plant partly owned by a
junta-allied ethnic armed force accused of narcotics trafficking, the
Thai army said on Saturday.
Thailand's Third Army stopped the shipment of some 44 containers of
heavy machinery at the northern border checkpoint of Mae Sai, defence
ministry spokesman Colonel Jongsak Panichkul told the media.
Jongsak said the ethnic minority United Wa State Army (UWSA), which has
signed a ceasefire agreement with the Yangon junta, ordered the
Chinese-made machinery for a lignite power plant.
"It's cheaper and easier to transport such heavy equipment by sea via
our country than direct overland from China to Myanmar," he said.
The shipment was halted at the crossing by regional commander Lieutenant
General Wattanachai Chaimuenwong on orders from Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra whose administration launched a "war on drugs" last month.
A war of words between Bangkok and Yangon over who is responsible for
Thailand being flooded with amphetamines has seen tensions rise between
Following border clashes and disputes over demarcation, the checkpoint
was closed earlier this year. Thailand has since opened its side of the
border, but Myanmar has refused to reciprocate.
"The Thai military consider it unfair that they (Myanmar) open the
border checkpoint only when they get the benefit," Jongsak said.
The Prime Minister has also waded into the fray.
"As long as the UWSA remains directly involved in the production of ya
ba (methamphetamines), it is unlikely we will give our cooperation or
assistance in any matter," Thaksin was quoted saying in the local press
An estimated six percent of Thailand's population of 62 million are drug
addicts, with cheap methamphetamines replacing heroin and opium as the
drugs of choice.
The pills are churned out in refineries in the jungle along the northern
border with Myanmar, run by ethnic armies who have signed peace treaties
Meanwhile, military officers in Mae Sai said Saturday that more than one
thousand residents in the border town were threatening to destroy the
generator shipment fearing the polluting affect of the lignite plant
only five km away. (AFP)
Shan Herald Agency for News : Shans take part in the anti-power plant
22 April 2001
Shans in Thailand were among the protesters against the electricity
power plant under construction across the border, reported Moengzay
More than two hundred Shans residing in Maesai District, Chiangrai
Province, 250 km northeast of Chiangmai, participated in the
demonstrations against the convoy form Bangkok transporting generators
and other materials that arrived in Maesai on 19 April for the lignite
power plant 4 km across the border.
"It is not only the Thais who fear the sulfa dioxide emissions that will
pollute the environment," one told S.H.A.N. "Our relatives in Tachilek
are not in a position to express their opinions against the project,
but we can, and we are doing this on their behalf."
The convoy returned to Bangkok yesterday.
AP: Stray mortar hits Thailand as rival Karen armies clash near border
April 22, 2001
MAE SOT, Thailand (AP) _ A stray mortar shell landed in Thailand when
rival ethnic Karen armies clashed for about one hour near the
Thai-Myanmar border early Sunday, a Karen rebel spokesman and Thai
The mortar hit a jetty on the Moei river, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles)
south of the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, which is located at Mae
Sot, 370 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of Bangkok. No Thais were
injured, Thai villagers said.
David Tarkabaw, spokesman for the Karen National Union, said a KNU
battalion attacked and briefly seized a small hilltop camp of the rival
Democratic Buddhist Karen Army on the Myanmar side of the river border.
He claimed the camp was used as a transit point for trafficking
methamphetamine drugs to Thailand.
The KNU battalion overran the camp but soon withdrew. One DKBA soldier
was killed and four injured in a one hour exchange of fire with assault
rifles and M-79 grenade launchers. Two KNU soldiers were wounded in the
fighting, Tarkabaw said.
Officials at Mae Sot hospital said two DKBA women civilians were sent
from Myanmar for treatment. Other Thai officials declined to comment
about the clash. Myanmar officials were not immediately available for
The DKBA is a pro-Myanmar army that was set up by disgruntled KNU
fighters. The KNU has been fighting for autonomy in Myanmar, also known
as Burma, for five decades. It still wages a resistance war against the
Myanmar military regime along the Thai-Myanmar border.
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Xinhua: Myanmar's Tax Revenue Up in 2000
YANGON, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's State Internal Revenue Department
received a total of 53.25 billion Kyats (118 million U. S. dollars) in
revenue from various taxes in 2000, up 2.8 percent from 1999, according
to the latest official economic indicators. Of the revenue obtained
during the year, 52 percent were from commodities and services taxes and
commercial tax, 25 percent from income tax, 11.6 percent from state
lottery, 8.8 percent from profit tax and 2.6 percent from stamp duties.
Of these taxes, commercial tax on commodities sold in foreign exchange
was introduced in January 1999. Myanmar has increased collection of
taxes year by year to meet its domestic expenditure. Meanwhile, Myanmar
received 891.2 million dollars from import customs duties in 2000, 11
percent more than 1999.
BurmaNet: Burma?s real tax revenues plunge
April 22, 2002
The regime?s Internal Revenue Department reports that tax collections
have increased to 53.25 billion Kyat, a 2.8% rise over the previous
year. The statistic is grossly misleading because it implies that the
economy is either healthier or that the regime is more effective at
collecting taxes owed, neither of this is accurate. Inflation is
hollowing out the value of the currency and the regime?s always poor
ability to collect taxes seems to be slipping.
At the beginning of the year 2000, the black-market, i.e. the real
exchange rate of the dollar to the kyat was 320/1. The kyat currently
trades at 600 to the dollar. Tax collection should increase at
approximately the rate of inflation (well over 50%) unless either tax
rates are changed or the amount of taxable activity changes. As there
has been no real change in tax rates, the fact that tax collections
remained flat while inflation soared implies that the economy is
The following table of the kyat?s value to the dollar tracks the
collapse of the kyat?s value:
Date Kyat/1$ Source
April 2001 600 Reuters
Feb 25, 2001 580 Associate Press
Feb 17, 2001 500 Associated Press
Dec 15 2000 443 Associated Press
August 2000 395 Reuters
April 2000 385 Bank of Thailand
Jan 2000 320 Associated Press
August 1998 375 Associated Press
Dec 1997 300 US Embassy Rangoon
Nov 1997 275 US Embassy Rangoon
July 31 1997 280 Irrawaddy
July 1 1997 185 Irrawaddy
April 1997 167 US Embassy Rangoon
Dec 1996 160 Irrawaddy
May 1996 135 Far Eastern Economic Review
April 1995 120 Far Eastern Economic Review
Reuters: Myanmar's currency sinks to new record low
YANGON, April 21 (Reuters) - Myanmar's kyat currency has fallen to a new
record low since Friday because of a lack of confidence in struggling
economy, dealers said on Saturday.
The official exchange rate of the Myanmar currency is pegged at six
kyat a dollar -- unchanged for more than three decades -- but black
market traders in the capital told Reuters the currency had sunk to 600
per dollar on Friday from 530 on April 1.
It was 585 kyat a dollar a week ago, they said.
The previous record low was 590 kyat a dollar on February 20, but it
rebounded to 490 kyat a dollar two weeks later.
Dealers blamed lack of proper handling of the economy and growing
inflation as the underlying causes of the free fall.
Myanmar has a serious foreign reserves shortage, according to the Asia
The bank said on Tuesday that the country's gross foreign exchange
reserves at end-March 2000 were only about $240 million -- less than two
months of exports -- and reflected the fragile state of the external
ADB said in its Asian Development Outlook for 2001 that ending the
policy of multiple exchange rates would remove both an existing
distortion in resource allocation and a strong disincentive to
Foreign donors remain reluctant to help Myanmar because of the
country's human rights record.
The pro-democracy opposition, led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu
Kyi, has campaigned to discourage foreign investment in the country
until the military allows political reform.
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