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BurmaNet News: April 27, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         April 27, 2001   Issue # 1791
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

NOTED IN PASSING: "The Karennis there don't have a single light (bulb). 
They have to buy candles to burn...Whatever they do, the Karenni people 
will face forced labor and more land mines will be laid "

Doh Say, Director of Foreign Affairs for the Karenni National 
Progressive Party on Japanese aid to regime for refurbishing power plant 
in Karenni.  See AP: Ethnic Group Protests Japan Aid For Myanmar 
Hydropower Plant

*DVB: Shan Army refutes allegation of assistance by Thai troops 
*Freedom News (Shan State Army): Loi Par Khee Battle

*The Economist: A surfeit of pills in Thailand 
*South China Morning Post: Bush urged to maintain sanctions
* AP: Musharraf to be first Pakistan leader to visit Myanmar regime 
*Le Courrier (Geneva): Petition disposed at UNO against forced labour in 
*Bangkok Post: Senate panel backs shipment blocking
*The Nation (Thailand):  Drugs hold nation's attention
*AP: Ethnic Grp Protests Japan Aid For Myanmar Hydropower Plant
*BurmaNet: Mixed Results for Burma Democracy in Selection of Japan?s New 
Prime Minister 

*Bangkok Post: Increased Border Tensions Hamper Trade with Burma 
*The Nation: New speed labs come on stream

*Matichon (Thailand): [Burma editorial summary translation]
*Bangkok Post: Stop Fires Before They Take Hold 

*Free Burma Action Committee/Australian Capital Territory-Trades and 
Labor Council: Global Action against Burmese military

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

DVB: Shan Army refutes allegation of assistance by Thai troops 

DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the SPDC [State Peace 
and Development Council] authorities held a news conference in Rangoon 
today over the battles between the SPDC and SSA [Shan State Army] Shan 
troops which took place on 22 April. The SPDC admitted that they lost 
six defence services personnel and accused the Thai soldiers of aiding 
and abetting with the Shan forces. In order to learn more about the 
SPDC's allegation, DVB interviewed a responsible official from the Shan 
State Restoration Council where SSA is a member.

[Sai Khin Than] That news is incorrect. Apart from defending their 
territory the Thais did not help us in any way. Moreover, we cannot 
cross over into their territory. That is why the SPDC's allegation that 
the Thais helped us is totally groundless.

[Htet Aung Kyaw] During these battles the SSA seized amphetamine tablets 
and other drugs from the SPDC troops but the SPDC denied this. In fact 
they even accused the SSA of directly involved in the narcotics trade. 
What do you want to say about that?

[Sai Khin Than] We are very clear about that. In our [SSA] policy, one 
of our six objectives is to fight narcotic drugs and we are implementing 
it as much as we possibly can. We are destroying the drugs and taking 
actions where warranted. Regarding this allegation, the SPDC's Par Khee 
camp is located on Mae Sai and Mong Pan Road near the Thai border. They 
are collecting taxes and they may even be involved in drug trafficking 
themselves. That is why we attacked and seized the camp a few days ago. 
It is true that we also seized 150,000 stimulant tablets from the camp. 
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Can you provide more details about the battle, like how 
many SSA and SPDC battalions were involved, and the casualties? 
[Sai Khin Than] The camp is under SPDC LIB [Light Infantry Battalion] 
225. Two SSA columns were involved in the offensive to seize the camp. 
We were able to capture the camp within half an hour and before dawn. We 
captured some weapons and 150,000 stimulant tablets. We also found six 
enemy corpses. Two of our troops were slightly wounded.

[Htet Aung Kyaw] What is the situation of the border and the latest 
situation between the SSA and SPDC after the battle?

[Sai Khin Than] We captured the camp on 22 April. Battles also broke out 
at Nar Kong Mu and BP-1 on 23 April night. Since they were night battles 
we were unable to know about the enemy's casualties. We were unscathed. 
On 24 April, the SPDC tried vehemently to recapture the camp with five 
battalions - LIB 225, LIB 227, LIB 519, IB [Infantry Battalion] 43 and 
IB 49 supported by heavy artillery. It is believed that five enemy 
troops were killed and over 10 were wounded in the battles.

That was DVB interview with Sai Khin Than, secretary of the Shan State 
Restoration Council.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 25 Apr 01 


Freedom News (Shan State Army): Loi Par Khee Battle

27 April 2001

60 Burmese troopers killed and over 100 wounded in a bid to retake the 
lost base from Shan State Army 

After the pre-dawn attack of SSA at camp Par Khee on 22nd April 2001, 
the battle between SSA and Burmese junta troops persisted up to this day 
with no end in sight. 
On 23rd April, SSA troops attacked and captured Loi Honok, a strategic 
hill lock over looking camp Par Khee as well as its approach route. This 
point can be used as fire support position against camp Par Khee. With 
Loi Honok under SSA's control all the attack routes to Par Khee are 
severed. The enemy's counter attack came in order to regain Loi Honok. 
The battle last from 06:00 to 18:00 hr. 

On 24th April, the enemy launched their attack on Loi Honok, with troops 
from 225th, 277th, 519th, 43rd & 49th infantry battalions. The battle 
last from 06:00 to 18:30 hr. The enemy lost in at least 5 dead and many 
wounded before they retreat for the night. 
On 25th April, with additional troops from 329th, 333rd, 360th & 528th 
infantry battalions, the enemy's attack came at 06:00 hr. An enemy 
support group at Wan Nam Hoo Khun, shelled more than 80 rounds of 120mm 
mortars on the SSA's position. Among these rounds, 12 landed on Thai 
soil and many more landed among their own forward advancing troops 
resulted in several wounded. 

On 26th April, the brigade commander, Colonel Htun Htun, who had just 
arrived in Mong Ton from Mong Sart, ordered that camp Par Khee must be 
re-occupied immediately. The assault came on Loi Honok at 06:15 hr. At 
14:00 hr., about 50 men strong enemy troops managed to cross the Loi 
Honok range, intruded deep only to reach SSA's killing zone, in which 
more than 30 of them were killed, including Major Win Naing, commander 
of 519th infantry battalion. Even at 18:00 (their usual retreating time) 
the enemy could not retreat and the battle resumed from 21:00 to 24:00 
hr. In the  same day enemy mortar rounds fall on the Thai side 
destroying 2 Thai Army vehicles. 

On 27th April, reinforced with more troops and artillery support, the 
assault came at the usual 06:00 hr. And at 10:30 hr., the time of 
report, the battle was in progress.  
During these battles from 22nd to 27th April 2001, the enemy lost more 
than 60 killed and more than 100 of them were wounded. One SSA man 
sacrificed his life for his beloved motherland and 4 more were wounded. 
The Burmese troops fired more than 200 heavy mortar rounds, in which 
over 30 of them landed on Thai soil. The enemy had ordered to blackout 
the news of their casualties, in order not to hurt the morale of the on 
coming troops. 

With this final report at 20:00 hr., the enemy have retreated for the 
night without any gain, but in the morning they will come again to die 
or be crippled, not for their country, not for their nation, but only to 
please their superiors, who are enjoying the luxury of sending them to 

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

The Economist: A surfeit of pills in Thailand 

Cover dated April 28, 2001 U.S. Edition 

THAILAND's military men have good reason to congratulate themselves. 
This week an anti-narcotics force seized over 6m stimulant pills from an 
armed gang on the border with Myanmar. Last week Thai soldiers grabbed 
over 7m in the same area. In January the navy hooked nearly 8m 
amphetamine tablets from two fishing boats sailing from Myanmar. All 
good news. But the bumper hauls reflect two related problems: a booming 
trade in artificially made drugs, and poor relations between Thailand 
and its neighbour. 

Although the "golden triangle" is known for its opium production, alarm 
bells are now ringing over the spread of amphetamines from Myanmar. The 
Thai authorities say that the flow of yaa baa, or "crazy pills", into 
their country may nearly double this year, to 700m-800m pills. The 
United Wa State Army (UWSA), a heavily armed segment of Myanmar's Wa 
minority, makes most of them. Like many minority groups, the Wa have 
given up a long rebellion against Myanmar's army, choosing instead to 
make money selling drugs. Myanmar's ruling junta gives its blessing 
because the UWSA helps fight a bothersome ethnic group, the Shan, and 
because some of Myanmar's military leaders benefit from the drug trade. 

None of this pleases Thailand, whose prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, 
is still working out how to deal with Myanmar. The flow of migrants into 
Thailand is one sore point. Another is a border dispute, which caused 
the two armies to exchange fire in February. But the flow of drugs is 
causing particular ill-feeling. The commander of Thailand's northern 
army, Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, says Thailand should stop selling 
electricity to the part of Myanmar that plays host to drug factories. 
Earlier this month Thai troops in Mae Sai detained a convoy carrying 
power-generating equipment from China to Myanmar. 

Mr Thaksin says he wants to talk to his neighbour, not bully it. He is 
less willing than his predecessors to criticise Myanmar's prickly 
leaders, relying instead on quiet diplomacy. The deputy prime minister, 
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, suggests his military contacts may smooth things 
with the generals next door. Others in the team play up business 
contacts in Myanmar. 

But such schmoozing will be hard to keep up if the yaa baa flow 
continues to make headlines. Mr Thaksin has already intervened awkwardly 
in General Wattanachai's anti-drug campaign. Earlier this year, the 
general said he had a list of Thai officials who profit from the drug 
trade. Mr Thaksin said there was not enough evidence and got the general 
to drop it--without making the names public. But with a couple of 
million pills a day crossing the border, the prime minister is under 
pressure to do something. 


AP: Musharraf to be first Pakistan leader to visit Myanmar regime 

April 27, 2001

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Gen. Pervez Musharraf will make the first 
official visit next week by a Pakistani leader to military-run Myanmar 
in 16 years, Myanmar officials said Friday. 

 Myanmar state newspapers announced Musharraf will visit at the 
invitation of Gen. Than Shwe, the leader of the ruling State Peace and 
Development Council. Diplomats said his three-day visit would start 
 It will be the first visit by a Pakistan leader since the current 
Myanmar regime took power after crushing democracy protests in 1988. The 
last visit was by military ruler Zia-ul Haq in 1985. 

 Only leaders of Southeast Asian countries and the prime minister of 
China, which is Myanmar's closest ally, have visited in the past 13 
years. Myanmar remains diplomatically isolated by the West, which is 
critical of its human rights record. 
 Myanmar deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win said Musharraf's visit 
would ``greatly contribute to the strengthening of traditional ties of 
friendship and cooperation between the two countries,'' he said. 

 In a faxed response to questions from The Associated Press, the 
minister described bilateral relations as ``multifaceted,'' ranging from 
trade and commerce to cooperation in international fora and defense. 

 Myanmar's regime, which has recently been improving ties with 
neighboring India, retains closer military ties with Pakistan, which is 
India's archrival. 

 On Sunday, a flotilla of Pakistan naval vessels including a submarine, 
a destroyer and two support ships will make the first ever port of call 
by the Pakistan navy in Myanmar, at a wharf 15 kilometers (9 miles) 
south of Yangon, a Myanmar official said. 


South China Morning Post: Bush urged to maintain sanctions 

Friday, April 27, 2001


More than 30 United States senators have warned President George W. Bush 
not to ease sanctions against Rangoon lest he send the wrong signal to 
the military regime as it continues closed-door talks with opposition 
leader Aung San Suu Kyi.  The senators said in a letter to the President 
that any lifting of sanctions on investments could "remove the incentive 
for the regime to negotiate" with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.  
There was surprise this week when it appeared Japan had decided to 
reward the military regime merely for talking to the opposition leader 
by supplying aid to repair a Japanese-built hydro-power dam.  

The deafening silence from the meetings that started last October has 
convinced many observers that their primary purpose was to polish up the 
junta's image at a time of unprecedented international pressure. Ms Aung 
San Suu Kyi and most of her senior leadership remain either under house 
arrest or in jail and the regime has worried some Burma-watchers by not 
boasting about what are purported to be positive talks at any recent 
international gatherings, including the Geneva meeting of the United 
Nations Commission on Human Rights.  

Debbie Stothard, the co-ordinator of a pressure group, the Alternative 
Asean Network on Burma, said from Geneva that the Japanese had made a 
wrong move. "Their motives are highly questionable and it looks like 
rewarding them for talking to the NLD [National League for Democracy] 
when these talks haven't yielded any tangible results yet," she said. 
"What is it a reward for? Nothing so far."  

Sources have told the International Herald Tribune Japan consulted the 
US and United Nations about the aid.  

A Japanese source in Rangoon yesterday said Tokyo had offered to rebuild 
the Baluchaung dam in Kayah province - which supplies the country with 
one-third of its electricity - because "it was on the verge of falling 
apart". The aid is worth up to 3.5 billion yen (HK$223 million). It is 
the biggest Japanese aid donation since 1998, when Tokyo provided 2.5 
billion yen to repair the dilapidated airport in Rangoon.  
Even Japanese officials who describe both projects as "humanitarian" 
admit the dam project is more overtly economic, but point out that the 
station was originally built with Japanese money provided as part of war 
reparations in 1960 and that the country suffers frequent power 

A Western diplomat in Rangoon said that although Ms Aung San Suu Kyi 
might be aware of this aid, "no responsible person could claim that she 
has given her approval. How could she?"  

Increasingly observers think the International Labour Organisation's 
unprecedented call last November for sanctions against Burma, combined 
with fears the US might impose an import ban, persuaded the regime to 
talk to a woman they have frequently castigated in the state-controlled 
media as a dangerous and malevolent force.  

Burma was slammed for its "continuing pattern of gross and systematic 
violations of human rights" by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 
Geneva last week and labour rights groups complain that even now, forced 
labour remains widespread.  
Meanwhile, the toning down of attacks on Ms Aung San Suu Kyi in the 
state press and the release of some political prisoners has been widely 
reported in hopeful terms. Yet several new political arrests have been 
made in recent months.


Le Courrier (Geneva): Petition disposed at UNO against forced labour in 

Friday., 20th April, in French. The translation is not official.  
Association Suisse-Birmanie


Geneva: While dialogue has been initiated between Nobel Laureate Aung 
San Suu Kyi and junta, the opposition appeals to the international 
community to keep up pressure. Balexert.

Will Burma be on its way to democracy? The press has abundantly talked 
about an initiating of dialogue between Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi 
and the moderate branch of  the military. But the opposition calls for 
caution. For them the international community should maintain its 
pressure on the Burmese government. Daniele Mitterand did not hesitate 
to answer the call. She arrived yesterday together with Mairead Maguire, 
Nobel Laureate  from Ireland, on the occasion of  the Human rights 
commission taking  place this month at Geneva, in order to submit a 
petition to Mary Robinson asking to abolish forced labour in Burma . 
During the last ten years the military has constrained more than three 
million Burmese, women and children for weeks and even months to forced 
labour. Many of them died. 12.000 signatures emphasize the decision 
taken in June 2000 by the International Labour Conference asking 
governments, employers, unions, international organisations, travel 
agencies and tourists to reconsider their relations with Burma. Besides, 
the Commission has adopted last Tuesday a resolution without vote  by 
its 53 members, declaring  themselves to be "preoccupied" by the 
systematic politic of the Burmese government to consistently persecute 
the democratic opposition".

Surprising Exhibition

For their part, the Association Suisse-Birmanie has opened a surprising 
exhibition at the Mall of Balexert, entitled "Burma smiling under 
tears". The visitor, intrigued by the unusual and strange fix up of the 
place, is being led to the discovery of terror hidden behind "the quiet 
and serenity of Burma". A video report of 55 minutes non-stop, tells 
through a number of witnesses how the population - comprising women, 
children and old people - is forced to "contribute their part" to the 
construction of high ways and hotels for tourists. Together with Action 
Birmanie (Belgium) and Info Birmanie (France) the Association 
Suisse-Birmanie published an alternative guide for tourism in Burma. 
During a press conference, DaniÖle Mitterand, being president of France 
LibertÈ, reminded of the essential role of actions by the civil society. 
Regularly her association points out to the French government the 
procedures of Total in Burma. According to Thaug Htun, "ambassador" of 
the democrats of his country to  the UNO, an abolishment of forced 
labour cannot be obtained without a cease fire. "The military uses human 
force for trans-portation of their material and ammunition, he explains. 
Often women and children serve as canon fodder when clearing the ground 
of mines". When she received the petition, Mary Robinson  declared 
herself to be perceptive to the initiating of dialogue taking shape in 
Burma, but she added that it is just a spark and, therefore, above all 
pressure has to continue.



Bangkok Post: Senate panel backs shipment blocking

April 27, 2001.

National security comes first, it says
Wasant Techawongtham

Thailand is justified in blocking a shipment of power generator parts 
destined for Tachilek on national security grounds, the chairman of the 
Senate committee on the environment said yesterday. 
"If the shipment is allowed to go across the border it could lead to 
public chaos, which would affect national security," Panat Tasneeyanond, 
a former prosecutor, said. 
The Rak Mae Sai environmental group in Chiang Rai, comprising local 
villagers, has vowed to prevent the large convoy of trailer trucks from 
crossing into Burma. 
"This is beside the fact that the power plant could also facilitate the 
production of methamphetamines, and further complicate our suppression 
efforts," he said. 
Burma could complain officially, he said. Thailand was withholding the 
shipment even though all customs procedures had been complied with. 
However, national security was an overriding factor.

The environmental impact from the power plant was a major concern for 
Thai residents on the northern border because Rangoon did not have firm 
control over the area. 
However, environmental concerns could not be cited as a reason to block 
the shipment. 
While Burma had the right to build the power plant in its own territory, 
it was nevertheless bound by the principle of "state responsibility" 
under international law and was accountable for any damage to its 
The senator said legal sanctions in the international arena were often 
ineffective and difficult to enforce, but it was not just an issue of 
law. It was an issue of politics and economics. 
If sued and found guilty in the international court of law, a country 
was subject to scorn and pressure by the world community, Mr Panat said. 

He suggested Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai make Thailand's 
concern plain to Rangoon and ask for full information about the project. 

If bilateral discussions failed to resolve the issue, the government 
should explore possible mechanisms for redress within Asean. 
"We could lodge a protest with Asean citing environmental concerns about 
the project, making use of its existing environmental forum," he said.	


The Nation (Thailand):  Drugs hold nation's attention

April 27, 2001, Friday 

Drugs hold nation's attention 

NEWS reports on the current drug problems are the most interesting to 

according to a Suan Dusit poll conducted last week. 

The survey, conducted from March 22 to 24, asked respondents what they 

considered to be the most important news issues at the moment. 

The drugs issue came first with 26.4 per cent of 1,809 respondents in 
the survey 

responding that it was the topic they were most interested in following. 

The recent explosion of Thai Airways Boeing 737-400 jet that Prime 

Thaksin Shinawatra was about to board won second place with 24.79 per 

Disputes on the Thai-Burmese border captured their attention of 20.71 
per cent. 

Other respondents cited the alleged sexual abuse of underage girls by 

Chalerm, the mysterious disappearance of Dr Phassaporn Boonkasemsanti, 

dispute over the late General Sunthorn Kongsompong's inheritance, the 
murder of 

the Yasothon governor and the removal of senators for electoral 

The survey's findings also showed that more men than women were 
interested in 

the reports of alleged sexual abuse by Senator Chalerm, while more women 

men were interested in Phassaporn's case. On their reactions to the 
reports, the 

largest proportion of those polled, 35.65 per cent, said the 

problems must be eradicated while 27.14 per cent others said the 
problems were 

perennial and no serious crackdown would happen. Many respondents also 

high-level officials were involved in the drug trade. 

Almost half of those polled, 49.74 per cent, believed harsher 
punishments were 

necessary when they commented on the sex charges against the senator. 
More than 

half, 57.67 per cent, supported the removal of senators who had broken 


Of those surveyed, 43.4 per cent said the country should take drastic 
action in 

dealing with disputes on the border with Burma while 15.51 per cent 

that the diplomatic norms should be observed. 


AP: Ethnic Group Protests Japan Aid For Myanmar Hydropower Plant

Friday April 27, 7:41 PM

BANGKOK (AP)--Ethnic Karenni opponents of Myanmar's ruling military said 
Friday that Japan's plan to provide $24 million to the regime for 
renovating a hydropower plant will only hurt local people.  

They claimed the electricity from the 39-year old Baluchaung hydropower 
plant has never provided for indigenous Karenni villagers, but only fed 
the capital Yangon and Mandalay, the second largest city.  

"The Karennis there don't have a single light (bulb). They have to buy 
candles to burn," Doh Say, the director of foreign affairs for the 
Karenni National Progressive Party, or KNPP, told the Associated Press 
by telephone from northern Thailand.  
The KNPP has a small armed wing that fights a guerrilla war against the 
Earlier this month, Japan announced it was considering a plan to 
renovate the power station, which was originally built in 1960 with 
Japanese war reparations to Myanmar, also known as Burma. A final 
decision on the aid is expected by the year-end. With nearly 200 
megawatt production capacity, the plant is the biggest electricity 
generator in Myanmar.  

The Japanese aid would represent the most significant foreign grant to 
Myanmar since the regime took power in 1988 after a bloody crackdown 
against a democracy uprising. Since then, donors have only allowed a 
trickle of humanitarian assistance.  
The grant from Japan is designed as incentive for the regime to press on 
with talks with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party swept 
general elections in 1990 but has been barred from taking power.  

The talks, which began in secret in October, are seen as the most 
significant dialogue in a decade of political deadlock, although there 
has been no public announcement on how they are progressing.  

The KNPP said in a statement this week that providing aid would only 
"further entrench and empower a government that holds no regard for the 
people of Burma." It asked that plans to rebuild or repair the dam be 

Doh Say said that seven villages had been forcibly moved out of the 
Lawpita area around the power station in the early 1990s to secure the 
plant. Rebel guerrillas had attacked the plant and electricity pylons in 
the past.  

Doh Say claimed that thousands of anti-personnel land mines have also 
been laid in the area, which lies about 320 kilometers northeast of 
Yangon, often injuring villagers and livestock.  

In 1998, when water levels in Balu river became low, water was diverted 
from farmlands to supply the turbines, Doh Say said. He feared the 
problem would worsen if the power plant was expanded.  

"Whatever they do, the Karenni people will face forced labor and more 
land mines will be laid," he said.  

The rebels signed a cease-fire with the Myanmar regime in 1994, but took 
up arms again when they said government forces invaded their territory 
and cut timber. The regime has accused the KNPP rebels of involvement in 
the drugs trade.  
Nearly 20,000 Karenni refugees live in Thailand.


Burmanet: Mixed Results for Burma Democracy in Selection of Japan?s New 
Prime Minister 

April 27, 2001

The elevation of Junichiro Koizumi  to the leadership of the Liberal 
Democratic Party, and therefore to the Prime Minister?s office is a 
mixed blessing for Burma democracy activists.  Koizumi decisively beat 
the man favored by the party?s largest faction, Ryutaro Hashimoto.  
Hashimoto was turned out as Prime Minister in 1998 when his party was 
routed in lower house elections.  In November 1999, he led a delegation 
to Burma and met with regime leaders including Than Shwe.  Subsequent to 
that meeting, he has been an advocate of providing more aid to the 
regime and has sought to undercut the EU and American led hard line 

Hashimoto?s defeat had nothing to do with Burma and everything to do 
with his lingering unpopularity from his last term and because he was 
the standard bearer for the old guard.  The regime does have a friend 
among the LDP?s reformist wing in the person of Koichi Kato.  Kato, who 
was considered by some as a likely prospect to get the Finance Ministry 
job was however, passed over.

Koizumi?s win over the regime?s friends in the LDP is not without its 
downside.  Koizumi?s newly appointed cabinet has an 86% approval rating 
compared to the outgoing Prime Minister Mori?s dismal 7% rating.  Under 
Kuizumi, the LDP may well avert the electoral disaster most observers 
were predicting for it in upper house elections due in July.  Yukio 
Hatoyama, the leader of the main opposition Democrats, has been an 
outspoken supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese democracy 
movement.  Koizumi may not be the obstacle to democratization that 
Hashimoto would have been, but it is not yet clear whether he will be 
the friend to the movement that Hatoyama is.

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________

Bangkok Post: Increased Border Tensions Hamper Trade with Burma 

April 26, 2001 

Cross-border trade has shrunk by 70% in the wake of Thai-Burmese border 
tensions, the chairman of the provincial chamber of commerce said. 

Export volume plummeted to 100 million baht a month from 400 million 
baht, Panithi Tangphati told a Chamber of Commerce Zone 7 meeting in 
Uthai Thani on Tuesday. 

Rangoon has also launched a campaign against Thai goods and tightened up 
trade measures, he said. 

The campaign started after Thailand barred exports of rice, medicine, 
fuel and cars to Burma. 

Some Burmese shops display a "no Thai goods" sign while others continue 
to sell Thai goods quietly. 

"Those who broke the law were arrested and prosecuted. The goods were 
seized and burned," he said. 

A sharp decrease in trade volume is cause for concern for Thai traders, 
who fear Rangoon might demonetise the kyat like it did in 1987. 

A worried Thai trader said Burma's economy was contracting and its 
currency weakening. 

On the black market, the exchange rate is 500 kyat per US dollar while 
the government's rate is 6-7 kyat per dollar. 

Commercial banks run by foreign investors have stopped trading in the 
currency, the trader said. Only the Asia Wealth Bank of former drug 
warlord Khun Sa and the Universal Bank of the Wa reportedly continued to 
make currency dealings. 

Niyom Wairatpanich, chairman of the chamber of commerce's border trade 
committee, said the chamber would report the situation to Prime Minister 
Thaksin Shinawatra on May 12. 

Third Army commander Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong yesterday chaired a 
meeting held in Chiang Mai to discuss border trade problems. 

Supamart Kasem 



The Nation: New speed labs come on stream

 - April 27, 2001.

THE Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) is keeping a close 
watch on the Northern communities of Mae Hong Son and Tak as drug 
trafficking rings in Burma were believed to have opened up new 
methamphetamine factories opposite the two provinces.  

ONCB secretary-general Kitti Limchaikij yesterday said his agency 
suspected that methamphetamines were being turned into tablets at 
factories located on Burmese soil close to the country's border 

"Army intelligence sources have informed us that the insignia on the 
speed pills has just changed. It is likely that this change results from 
the fact that new factories are being used to finish production of the 
illegal drugs," he said.  

Kitti also revealed that machines capable of pumping out methamphetamine 
tablets were earlier confiscated in Tak just before they were due to be 
Asked how many speed pills are flooding into the country, Kitti 
projected a figure of between 600 million and 700 million tablets this 

He pointed out that nearly 14 million speed pills were confiscated over 
the past three weeks.  

Kitti said his office had a plan to suppress the spread of drugs but 
declined comment when asked how the drug problem could be solved while 
the Burmese government continues to deny any involvement.  

On reports that fugitive suspected amphetamines dealer Surachai 
Ngernthongfoo had undergone plastic surgery, changed his name and sought 
a new ID card in order to enter the country, Kitti said his office had 
no information and that police were directly responsible for arresting 
the elusive Surachai. 


Matichon (Thailand): [Burma editorial summary translation]

April 24, 2001

Original in Thai.  Summary translation.

The Government has done the right thing in banning recent shipment of 
electronic equipment to Burma for construction of a power plant in Yon 
City apparently prospering from narcotic trafficking at the expense of 
the Thai people.  Furthermore, the Thai Government and military must 
keep a close watch on impending transshipment of all other instruments 
and lethal arms, possibly made in smaller quantity, that could heighten 
Wa Daeng's threat to Thailand.  The Government needs not be mindful of 
the Burmese Government in dealing drastically with the Wa Daeng since 
they are perilous not only to Thailand but also to Burma itself.  The 
Government's decisive action in this case serves to deter narcotic 
trafficking by the Wa Daeng as well as involved insiders, including Thai 
officials at both high and low levels.  


Bangkok Post: Stop Fires Before They Take Hold 

April 27, 2001 

The controversy over the shipment of power plant parts to Burma started 
out as a military/political incident between two countries. But it 
should soon become clear that the undercurrent of environmental concerns 
is equally, if not more, significant and long lasting in the relations 
between countries of the region. 

In any military or political incident, there are a number of avenues and 
mechanisms, either bilateral or multilateral, available for conflict 
resolution. Other than bilateral discussions, there appears to be no 
avenue or mechanism to resolve environmental conflicts between two 

When Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai visits Burma next week, he 
will raise with his counterpart Thailand's concern about air pollution 
from the planned lignite-fired power plant only a short distance from 
the border. But few people expect Burma to fully address the Thai 
worries based on its past responses to concerns over the production of 
drugs on its territory. 

Short of military operations, there is nothing Thailand can do to stop 
the plant's construction or to ensure that sulphur dioxide emitted by 
the plant falls within acceptable environmental standards. 

Senator Panat Tasneeyanond, a former prosecutor, says Burma is bound by 
an international legal principle whereby a state is responsible for 
damage caused by its action to its neighbour(s). A damaged country could 
complain to the World Court. 

But litigation is hardly the Asian way. Conflict avoidance through 
diplomacy is still the preferred, though hardly a satisfactory, way. 

Mr Panat suggests that a channel yet to be explored is an environmental 
forum as part of Asean. However, the regional grouping is more effective 
at talking trade than solving any other transnational problem. Members 
are too reluctant to step into the internal affairs of other members, 
not to mention their complete lack of interest in environmental issues. 

The fact that pollution knows no boundaries has long been recognised, 
but not in this region where complacency prevailed until the haze crisis 
in Indonesia made headlines around the world. 

Vast forest tracts in Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan which had been 
transformed into palm plantations were consumed by fire, ironically just 
at the onset of the economic crisis that would consume the region. The 
soot-carrying smoke blew across the sea, blanketing Malaysia, Singapore 
and southern-most Thailand. 

In a clumsy response, Asean adopted an ad-hoc Regional Haze Action Plan 
to deal with the fire. The plan did little to fight the fire, which 
eventually was doused by rain, but at least it demonstrated that the 
haze had sparked a flicker of recognition among Asean members of the 
threat of trans-boundary pollution. Unfortunately, that spark died out 
together with the fire two years later. 

Perhaps the Mae Sai-Tachilek incident will re-ignite that recognition. 
It will not be the last instance where an action in one country causes 
an environmental problem that spills over into a neighbour. 

There have been such instances in the past, the impact of which was not 
immediately felt or recognised. The damming of the mighty Mekong by 
China must have affected the lower part of the river which passes 
through Burma, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. But no one has raised any 
objection, either out of political expediency or because no one has 
recognised the possible impact. 

A mechanism to resolve environmental conflicts will become more 
necessary as countries in the region intensify development to meet 
global competition. It will be an uphill task and it may come too late, 
but regional peace may depend on it. Wasant Techawongtham 

Wasant Techawongtham is Deputy News Editor for Environment and Urban 
Affairs, Bangkok Post. 


Free Burma Action Committee/Australian Capital Territory-Trades and 
Labor Council: Global Action against Burmese military


22 Arkana St , Yarralumla , Canberra
Friday May 4, 1 pm
A Global Action against widespread human rights violations, including 
forced labor in Burma The Global Action will be launched simultaneously 
in various parts of the world on May 4, 2001 (Friday). We are launching 
this worldwide campaign against the ruling military junta because:

More than 1,500 people, including at least 34 Members of Parliament, 
remain imprisoned for political reasons.

Despite the August 2000 call for economic sanctions by the world's labor 
body, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Burmese military 
continue to use forced labor systematically on a large scale. Over two 
million Burmese people have been subjected to forced labour. "Men and 
women of all ages are forced to work against their will, including 
children and elderly people. Women are particularly at risk. Incidents 
of gang rape by soldiers are frequent, and many victims have been 
murdered afterwards", says the International Confederation of Free Trade 
Unions (ICFTU) recently.

The ICFTU has urged national and multinational companies trading with 
and/or investing in Burma to withdraw as a matter of urgency because "it 
is impossible to maintain business relations with Burma without directly 
or indirectly supporting forced labor in Burma".

The ICFTU has called for an International Day of Union Action for Burma 
to be organized on 1st May 2001 against the ruling military junta in 
Burma. The Burmese democratic movement has responded with this Global 
Day of Action on May 4.
Authorised by:

Ko Maung Maung Than - Central Coordinator, Free Burma Action Committee 
Telephone: +61-2-96435646; mobile 0411337816
Email. freeburma9999@xxxxxxxxxxx,
Jeremy Pyner - Secretary Australian Capital Territory-Trades and Labor 


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