[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
BurmaNet News: May 5, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
May 5, 2001 Issue # 1799
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Japan Times: Myanmar's Shan State: a complex tragedy
*Burma Courier: U.S. Sanctions 'Toughen' Backbone of Industrialists
*Bangkok Post: Thaksin Pins Hope on Talks--Troops reinforced as MPs urge
*Burma Courier: Unwanted Attention Showered on Mayflower Bank
*The Nation: Thaksin Says He'll Visit Burma by next Month
*Bangkok Post: Monument Plan 'Must Not Lead Tension'
*Burma Courier: Sein Win: "It Is High Time to Let the People Know"
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Plots and conspiracies
*Shan-EU News: Prime Minister Thaksin's Attempt to Find a Balance in His
Policy towards Burma
*Images Asia: Writer / Researcher Volunteer with Environmentalist
*Info Birmanie: Correction to Burma Calendar of Events
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Japan Times: Myanmar's Shan State: a complex tragedy
By RICHARD HUMPHRIES
Special to The Japan Times
THAI-MYANMAR BORDER -- Mae Sai is the end of the road in northern
Thailand. This is not to suggest that the lackluster town is
undeveloped: It does a roaring trade in gemstones (both real and fake),
tourist trinkets, snacks and all kinds of contraband. It's literal. The
main street, Pahonyotin, runs north until it reaches the Sai River.
Across that waterway, which forms part of the border between Thailand
and Myanmar's Shan State, is a "Friendship" bridge leading to the
Myanmar town of Tachilek.Not everyone in the area has used the bridge to
cross the border. Some 300,000 Shans have found other ways to cross into
Thailand -- and have never gone back. While some were seeking better
economic opportunities, many were fleeing any number of human-rights
abuses in their homeland, as well as the fighting that has become
"In Thailand, we Shans are like a can of worms," said one undocumented
woman. "Open the can and we can spread everywhere without too much
trouble."She had a point. There is an ethnic affinity between Thais and
Myanmar's Shans, who are called Thai Yai in the Thai language. However,
the huge, continuing influx is putting a strain on that traditional
ability to blend in. Thailand wants most of the new arrivals to go back
home by August. And the most recent border crisis has only made the
overall situation worse. In early February, the Myanmar Army, or
Tatmadaw, seized a Thai military border post at Ban Pang Noon, some 50
km west of Mae Sai. Several Thais were taken prisoner. In strictly
military terms it made sense. The Tatmadaw wanted to surround and
capture nearby Doi Kaw Wan, a stronghold of its fierce enemy, the Shan
However, Association of Southeast Asian Nations members are not supposed
to be in the business of seizing each other's territories. An armed
force, identified as Thai by local media, quickly evicted the intruders,
much to the satisfaction of an enraged Thai public.
Tension mounted when the Tatmadaw shelled Mae Sai on Feb. 11, killing
three Thais and injuring others. Thai light tanks were positioned near
the bridge, now gated shut, with their turrets pointed north. The border
was closed, but accusations flew across. Thai Third Army commander, Gen.
Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, was quoted as suggesting that his Myanmar
military counterparts "deserve the firing squad" for their actions.
Friendship had its limits.
All this occurred during a changeover in the Thai government.
Interestingly, the incoming leaders, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
and especially his choice for defense minister, retired general and
ex-Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, were seen, with good reason, as
being more amenable than their predecessors to working with Myanmar's
military rulers.Some observers thought Myanmar was simply pushing the
envelope, testing the new government's mettle. Others noted that Thai
border policy is not so unified, with regional army commands,
intelligence bodies, local politicians and business interests all
possessing some degree of autonomy. Perhaps the Tatmadaw was trying to
get Bangkok to curb that autonomy to Myanmar's benefit. There are, for
instance, disputes over borders and over Yangon's claims that the Thais
support the Myanmar junta's armed enemies, something that Thailand
Whatever the reason, the strife that spilled across the border and
attracted international attention in February was nothing new. Myanmar's
political, economic and social problems are legion, and in Shan State,
the largest geographical subdivision, they are and have been truly
dazzling in their complexity.
Within the state, Shans make up just over half the population. Myanmars,
Chinese, Wa, Kachin, Palaung, Lahu, Akha, Pa-O and other groups also
live there. A kaleidoscope of armed militias, their political wings and
other political and social organizations jostle for space and
allegiance. Motives run the full gamut from idealistic ethnic activism
to naked opportunism. And a booming narcotics trade with substantial
cross-border tentacles fuels its own wars in the region and defies
attempts at description. For baffled outside observers, much depends on
the frame of reference chosen.The central question is, and has long
been, the power relationship prevailing between central Myanmar
governments and outlying ethnic areas.
As for the Shan region, it was once more united, but by the 16th century
it had split into several dozen statelets. These were ruled by
"saophas," hereditary princes who, while often bickering among
themselves, generally offered no more than nominal allegiance to
Myanmar's kings.Britain's colonial overlords had responsibility for both
the Shan principalities and Myanmar-majority areas but maintained an
administrative distinction. The saophas and their territories were
included in the "Frontier Areas" while central Myanmar was managed as
"Ministerial Burma."The end of British rule and the coming of
independence brought matters to a head. In negotiations conducted in
February 1947 at Panglong in Shan State, representatives from the
Frontier Areas -- including Shans, Chins and Kachins (but not Karens) --
reached an agreement with Aung San, the Myanmar independence leader.
In return for a unified state, ethnic minority areas covered by the
agreement would continue to enjoy internal autonomy. That same year, the
new constitution for the Union of Burma stipulated that two states, Shan
and Karenni, had the right of secession after 10 years.But instead of
achieving concord, independent Myanmar descended into civil war. What's
more, an invasion of Shan State by Chinese Kuomintang forces retreating
from Mao Zedong's armies added more fuel to the fire. The KMT needed
funds and supplies. Much came clandestinely from America and Taiwan,
more from the revived and expanding opium trade.To counter the KMT and
other opponents in Shan State, Yangon boosted its military presence
there and whittled away at local autonomy. It also refused to
countenance any plebiscite on secession, despite the constitution. In
1962, Sao Shwe Thaike, an ethnic Shan and former saopha who had been
Burma's first president, tried to initiate discussions about a more
equitable federal union. In response, the Myanmar military seized power
and scrapped the constitution. Sao Shwe Thaike died in prison under
circumstances not yet fully explained. Rising Shan discontent found a
voice in an emerging nationalism that, despite decades of factionalism
and other problems, survives today.
Aside from the Tatmadaw, there are three influential political groups
and three Shan armies in the state. Half are "above ground" in the sense
that they operate with Yangon's acquiescence. One, the Shan
Nationalities League for Democracy, is composed of MPs elected in the
1990 elections that were won by Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD. The SNLD won the
most seats in Shan State and is in the unique position of being able to
talk to different sides in Myanmar's political impasse. With Yangon
watching, though, it has had to be more circumspect in recent years.
Not legal in Myanmar, the Shan Democratic Union is a political
organization formed in 1996 by emigre Shans. It includes highly
respected figures from the nationalist struggles of the '60s and '70s.
Chao Tzang Yawnghwe, a son of Sao Shwe Thaike, is an important adviser.
The SDU's position is that Shan State already has theoretical
independence and that any acceptable future union depends upon a
referendum and on reviving "the spirit of Panglong."
Two of the three armed Shan groups are also in the "legal fold," to use
a term favored by Yangon. These are the northern and central wings of
the Shan State Army, which are effectively separate groups with
different histories, existing under the same umbrella. The southern wing
requested a similar ceasefire with Yangon but was ignored.
The Shan State Army (South) has a political component called the
Restoration Council for Shan State. Although a Shan group, it hopes
other minorities in the state will join it on a basis of equality. At an
interview, Aung Mart, the council's vice chairman, said that their goal
was "to establish Shan State as an independent nation and not as part of
a federal union." Stated objectives include "prosperity, peace,
establishing a democratic system and combating drugs."
The drug question is a pressing one. While opium is still grown in the
Shan hills, transported to border refineries and processed into heroin,
methamphetamine production has skyrocketed by comparison. Known in the
area as "yaa baa" (madness drug), this variant of speed is both cheap to
buy and simple to make. Easily transportable, it is causing a profound
social crisis in Thailand. Senior Thai officials have repeatedly
threatened drastic action against drug traffickers.
Myanmar's state-controlled media like to pin the label of "drug dealers"
on the SSA (South), citing its officers' previous allegiance to opium
warlord Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army. How much merit there is to the
allegation, like so much about the drug trade, is not clear. Yet, it
must be added, persistent questions have been raised about Tatmadaw
officers' involvement in, and certain benefit from, that trade. The SSA
(South) has attacked and destroyed several narcotics refineries in the
region and insists it is committed to eradicating the scourge. This has
earned it the quiet approval of some Thai military commanders. Speaking
at Doi Kaw Wan, Colonel Yawd Serk, RCSS chairman and SSA (South) leader,
asserted: "We are not being used by the Thais to do this. It is what we
should do and is our group's antidrug policy. Drugs are not just
Thailand's problem or one for the Thai Yai [Shan] but a global one."
With the KMT armies long gone and Khun Sa in supposed retirement in
Yangon, the largest, though hardly the only, narcotics power in Shan
State is now the United Wa State Army. Originally, ethnic Wa were used
as foot soldiers by Myanmar's communists. When that party imploded in
1989 mutinies, the USWA came into being and quickly agreed to a
ceasefire arrangement and de facto alliance with the Tatmadaw. The Wa
army is large and powerful, with over 20,000 well-equipped soldiers.
Described by the U.S. State Department as "the world's biggest armed
narcotics trafficking organization," it does not lack for funding.
The Tatmadaw's consistent point of view is that strong central
government and state unity are the prime objectives. Independence -- or
even significant autonomy -- for ethnic minority states is anathema. The
means justify the ends even if they include savagery and concordats with
In Shan State, human rights are very often replaced by human wrongs.
Between 1996 and 1998, some 1,500 villages were uprooted and over
300,000 villagers in central Shan State were forcibly relocated by the
Tatmadaw to what might be termed "strategic hamlets." Empty areas were
declared "free-fire zones." That meant if you stayed, you died. The
ostensible purpose was to deprive the Shan State Army of supporters,
recruits, supplies and a staging area, but the net effect was immense
privation and brutalization. Myanmar soldiers wreaked havoc with
numerous extrajudicial killings, rapes and systematic extortion.
Concentrated populations also provided a very convenient source of
forced labor. Thousands fled to Thailand.After their ceasefire deal with
the USWA, the Tatmadaw encouraged the Wa Army to attack Khun Sa's forces
in southern Shan State with the inducement of "you fight for the land,
and you'll get it." After Khun Sa's surrender, the Wa asked for and
received two township sections, Mong Hsat and Mong Ton, north of the
Thai border. Since October 1999, over 150,000 Wa have moved south from
their homeland in the northern Wa Hills. A similar number are expected
in further planned migration phases. At Mong Hsat, according to the Shan
Herald Agency for News, a border news agency, "some of the migrants
moved to open land, while others, maybe military people, took over
people's houses. Some people were paid, but others were chased out at
Refugees continue to cross the border. Since March 27, over 600 Shan and
Akha villagers have arrived in Thailand from just east of Mong Hsat. "We
hope we are not driven back in a hurry, because we won't be able to go
back to our old homes and farms," one refugee said. "They have been
taken over by the Wa."
Decades of discord in Shan State have not produced any enduring
solutions. Endless cycles of violence, factionalism and repression have
seen to that.
Richard Humphries teaches at Kanda University of International Studies
The Japan Times: Apr. 30, 2001
Burma Courier: U.S. Sanctions 'Toughen' Backbone of Industrialists
Based on an article by Kamarul Yunis in the New Straits Times: Updated
to May 3
MANDALAY - Business in Myanmar continues to prosper despite the US
imposing sanction two years ago, according to Mandalay Chamber of
Commerce and Industry vice chairman Aung Win Khaing.
He recently told a visiting delegation of Malaysian journalists that
business interests are not perturbed over U.S. economic sanctions. "They
were in no way affected by the sanctions as they have alternatives to
boost their economic activities, mainly using local resources,
especially wood and agriculture products, as well as cheap labour."
Aung Win Khaing, who is chairman of Hi-Tech Forest Industries Co Ltd and
MCI Mandalay Cement Industries, said the sanctions had to some extent
strengthened the spirit of local entrepreneurs to work hard. "Last year,
three American senators met me, wanting to know the impact of the
sanction on the Myanmar people. I told them that we are not feeling the
pinch. Our exports now go to the Third World countries instead of the
Americans. They are the ones who will suffer."
One thing Myanmar definitely does not need to export these days is any
home-made cement. $US 125 million worth of cement has to be brought
into the country annually to feed domestic demand and the industry has
yet to attract any large-scale foreign investors. Plans announced in
the heady days of 1997 to expand the industry through foreign investment
have come to nought.
This week Malaysia's Kedah Cement announced in a statement to the Kuala
Lumpur Stock Exchange that it's subsidiary, Kedah Cement (Myanmar) Ltd,
had ceased to exist, after being struck off the register of companies in
the British Virgin Islands. No explanation was offered except that the
company had lain dormant since incorporation in 1997.
Ambitious plans to develop a cement factory in Kyaikmaraw township in
Mon state that would produce a million tons of cement annually have
never gotten off the ground. The plant, a joint-venture between a
military investment company, the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, and
PT Seman Cibinong of Indonesia, had an impressive sod-turning ceremony
in Pyadaung in December 1997 but that was the end of it. According to
reports, a prominent member of the Suharto family was linked to the
controling company in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, the military junta has had to try to make up the huge cement
deficit in the country by building a new plant in the Kyaukse area and
adding a large expansion to its Myaing-galay plant in Karen state.
Both projects are still a year away from completion. UMEHL has also
announced plans to construct a plant in the Kyaukse area.
U.S. investment sanctions imposed in 1997 appear to have had a reverse
effect on the country's trade with Myanmar, which has quadrupled over a
four year period. Last year the U.S. become Myanmar's second largest
Bangkok Post: Thaksin Pins Hope on Talks--Troops reinforced as MPs urge
SATURDAY, MAY 5, 2001
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pins hopes of settling conflicts with
Burma on a planned visit to Rangoon.
Mr Thaksin said he was confident disputes would be solved amicably.
"There shouldn't be any problem. Wait until I pay a visit to Burma which
could be later this month or early next month," he said.
As Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai visited Rangoon this week,
Burma accused Thailand of supporting anti-Rangoon rebels.
Mr Thaksin said the talks between Mr Surakiart and Burmese leaders went
well and both sides were frank about their concerns. He said Thailand
and Burma would have to "talk things out" and take action over
Meanwhile, the army has told troops to reinforce the Thai-Burmese border
and given them the green light to retaliate to cross-border attacks.
Lt-Gen Phitsanu Urailert, the Supreme Command's civilian affairs chief,
said the Naresuan and Pha Muang task forces had been told to step up
Relations remain tense following an assault by pro-Rangoon troops this
week in which three Thai civilians were killed.
Lt-Gen Phitsanu said the situation was under control and officials were
trying their best to maintain good relations.
Spokesman Col Somkuan Saengphattaranet said the army commander has told
the Third Army to continue its drive
"The commander has given a clear message about trafficking. The
government will take care of diplomatic problems," he said.
Col Somkuan denied any conflict between the defence minister and the
Third Army commander, saying the army always followed government policy.
In the wake of the cross-border attack, commander Lt-Gen Wattanachai
Chaimuenwong called for a tough response while minister Chavalit
Yongchaiyudh pleaded for patience.
Interior Minister Purachai Piemsomboon yesterday issued a general
warning to proceed carefully with Burma.
"We are neighbours. It will cause trouble for both sides if we are
always fighting. It's useless to fight each other," he said.
Gen Chavalit denied any conflict and said disputes should be solved with
patience and understanding.
"Nobody wants to make foes of their neighbours. When something happens,
we talk straightforwardly," he said.
Kraisak Choonhavan, head of the Senate foreign affairs committee, also
downplayed conflict between the defence minister and the commander.
"It happens all the time in a situation like this. While the army has to
protect sovereignty, the government has to maintain good relations."
Burma Courier: Unwanted Attention Showered on Mayflower Bank
Based on news from NLM and the Financial Times: Updated to May 5, 2001
MYITKYINA - A small private bank in Burma that has been the object of
some unwanted attention in the southeast Asian financial press this week
got a 'boost' in the Kachin state capital on Friday.
According to a national media report on Saturday, Commander of Northern
Command Maj-Gen Kyaw Win, Deputy Commander Brig-Gen San Tun, Secretary
of Kachin State Peace and Development Council Lt-Col Myint Thein,
Commandant of Myitkyina Air Force Base Brig-Gen Bo Kyi, civil and
military officers, heads of department and officials, as well as
entrepreneurs of the Traders' Association, Forest Entrepreneurs
Association and guests, all showed up at a ceremony and dinner in the
Myitkyina city hall to hear Executive Director U Win Naing and Managing
Director U Khin Maung of the Mayflower Bank explain the modern banking
services of their institution.
Under the headline, "Burma tribe takes over bank", a news story in
Singapore 's Financial Times on Tuesday, reported that the 21-branch
Mayflower bank and its subsidiaries, including a large share in a major
GSM phone project and lucrative gem mining concessions, were "ailing"
and had been taken over by the United Wa State Army. Identifying the
UWSA as "the world's biggest gang of armed drug traffickers", byliner
William Barnes said that Wa chief Pao Yu Chang had recently taken over
control of the Burmese national carrier, Yangon Airways, also under the
Mayflower umbrella. Barnes didn't name his sources but did cite a "drug
analyst" who told him that "drug traffickers have taken over more and
more of the legitimate economy [in Burma].
Up until recently, the Mayflower group, which also includes a trading,
shipping, timber and antinomy mining interests, has been under the
control of U Kyaw Win, who made his money in the timber trade in the
Tachilek area and is reputed to be close to General Maung Aye of the
ruling military council.
Another subsidiary of the Mayflower group was also named as the money
behind the prospective coal-fired power plant in Tachilek that caught
national attention in Thailand recently when trucks carrying the
machinery needed to set up the generating station were prevented from
crossing the northern Thai border.
The Nation: Thaksin Says He'll Visit Burma by next Month
Saturday, May 5, 2001
Diplomatic overtures reach highest level as tensions simmer
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday said he plans to visit Burma
by early next month at the latest to patch up diplomatic bonds frayed by
stepped-up border clashes and vicious tit-for-tat allegations of
interference in internal affairs and drug trafficking.
Thaksin downplayed the worsening discord, assuring the public that
friction between the two neighbours will be smoothed over when he makes
the visit. The premier, who had already extended an olive branch to the
military government in Rangoon even before he took office, will be the
first to visit Burma in more than three years.
Bilateral relations are at their lowest ebb in years following
cross-border shelling over two months ago. Since then, frequent
flare-ups have increased tension along the border. Month-long fighting
between Shan rebels and Burmese troops has often spilled over into
Thailand, drawing Thai forces into the crossfire.
But after the lack of progress by Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai
on his visit this week, few believe Thaksin will have much success in
thawing the frosty relations.
On the first day of Surakiart's two-day visit, Burma publicly accused
Thailand of extending military support to the Shan
rebels and planting illegal drugs at a Burmese military outpost after it
was overrun by the Shan State Army (SSA) in order to discredit the
The Thai government lacks a cohesive approach to the border crisis. The
Third Army commander has demanded a strong stance against any form of
foreign intrusion. But Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a
self-proclaimed long-time friend of the junta, has called for a toning
down of rhetoric and military reactions, saying that any drastic move
would prolong reconciliation.
Third Army commander Lt General Wattanachai Chaimuanwong has vowed to
avenge the recent attack by the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist
Army (DKBA) on a Thai village that resulted in the death of three Thais.
He suggested that Rangoon had given the DKBA the green light to attack
the Thai village just as Surakiart was making his official visit. Others
see the episode as testimony that the junta has no intention of
containing the illicit activities of its allies, be they
drug-trafficking by the Wa army or cross-border forays by the DKBA.
"Rangoon is aware that we are split at the top and they're taking
advantage of the situation," one senior Thai Foreign Ministry officer
said. "They're sitting back and watching Thai politicians shoot
themselves in the foot as they rush to cut deals in order to appease the
general public," he said.
The Chuan administration infuriated Rangoon by breaking ranks with Asean
members in refusing to support Burma when the International Labour
Organisation condemned the country for practising forced labour.
Officials said Chuan had also riled the junta by not paying a reciprocal
visit following a high-profile trip by its members to
Meanwhile at the border, the Phop Phra district chief yesterday ordered
the closure of four temporary crossings in Tak
province out of fear that the DKBA would repeat their attack on local
residents two days before. Thai troops have been despatched to the area
to secure the border and prevent a reoccurrence.
Also yesterday a Burmese battalion attacked a Karen National Union
position across from Tak's Mae Lamat district, forcing scores of Burmese
villagers to seek refuge across the border into Thailand.
Bangkok Post: Monument Plan 'Must Not Lead Tension'
Saturday, May 5, 2001
A monument to a great king should be raised to honour his contribution
to the nation, and not for the purpose of confronting any country,
Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said yesterday.
Local people had the right to erect such monuments, but the army and
other authorities should take care not to take any action that could
cause tension between Thailand and any of its neighbours, he said.
His comments follow a recent disclosure by the Third Army chief that the
army and Chiang Rai people were planning to build a monument of King
Naresuan the Great at a border spot opposite Burma's Tachilek town.
The monument of the king who in 1590 regained independence for
Ayutthaya, the ancient Thai capital, would face that of Burma's King
Bayinnaung, the conqueror of Ayutthaya in 1569, in Tachilek.
The monument would be built at Wat Doi Wow, Mae Sai district, at an
estimated cost of 40 million baht, said Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong,
the Third Army chief.
Mr Surakiart said it was up to the locals to decide how and where to
raise such a monument, but the objective should be to pay homage to the
great king rather than to confront any other nation. He also said verbal
exchanges between the Thai and Burmese military, if allowed to continue,
would not help efforts to boost bilateral ties.
Thailand would not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty. However,
the ultimate goal was to preserve peace and every agency should strive
for that, he said.
Burma Courier: Sein Win: "It Is High Time to Let the People Know"
May 5, 2001
Edited excerpts from a media conference with journalists by the junta
foreign minister, U Win Aung, in Rangoon on Monday and comments on his
remarks by Prime Minister Sein Win of the National Coalition Government
(in exile), broadcast over DVB Radio in Oslo
On the dialogue with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
WIN AUNG: "It has not stalled. . The internal process is our business,
our own process. And we are not playing games ... it is not a public
relations stunt. This is for the sake of the people of Myanmar. . This
is not a process where you can start a countdown. It is a process that
is timeless. . But we hope that this process, which is very much complex
and delicate, should be left confidential. The freedom of the country
very much depends on this."
SEIN WIN: "We welcome [U Win Aung's] remarks because the talks are
very important for the country. We believe that they should and must
continue. . [However,] if they genuinely feel that the talks are for the
good of the country, they should issue an
internal report and inform the public. So far the SPDC's information
service -- newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV stations -- has not been
instrumental in announcing the talks to the public. I do not see that as
a good sign. If they are true and honest, it is high time to let the
On the release of political prisoners and other human rights concerns:
WIN AUNG: "We are reviewing (prisoners) every month and we will
consider it and do
whatever we can."
SEIN WIN: "There are about 300 political prisoners whose release dates
are overdue. Only 20 among them have been released. There are no
reasons whatsoever for them to keep the political prisoners in jail.
The remark that the SPDC will gradually release the
political prisoners is not genuine, because once the talks have started
why should the political prisoners remain in jail. It is time to
release the political prisoners.
"No matter how difficult the talks may be, I believe that forced labour,
human rights abuses and restriction of social freedom should not
continue to exist anymore because they are not related to the talks.
They need to get rid of all these which are not
relevant in a civilized society. ... If they continue with the abuses,
the talks will be just talks, while the people continue to suffer and
the country degenerates. It is time to stop such acts."
The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Plots and conspiracies
Thursday, 3 May, 2001
As a friend invited me to a Press meet which was held at the Tatmadaw
Guest House on Inya Road, I attended it on 25 April.
At the Press meet, General Staff Officer (Grade-1) of the Directorate of
Defence Services Intelligence Lt-Col San Pwint explained to us about
the engagement at Pachee outpost.
When I left the Press meet, I was overwhelmed with much discontentment,
dissatisfaction and displeasure. SURA opium smuggling insurgents and
Thai troops used force in attacking the Pachee military outpost of the
Myanmar Tatmadaw which was guarded by only about 20 soldiers for
territorial security and national defence. Our outpost and the Thai
military base was only 50 yards from each other. There were relations
and contacts between the two military camps in the past. Thus, it is
obvious that a few men under the name of SURA, and Thai troops in the
rear had attacked the outpost.
SURA opium smuggling insurgents and Thai troops arrived at the Thai
military base on three trucks. At about 1.15 am on 22 April, heavy
weapons and small arms were fired on Myanmar outpost from the Thai
military base. Later, about 200 attackers approached Pachee outpost
from the Thai base. During the attack, searchlights from the Thai
military base were projected on Myanmar outpost. The Thai military base
also gave supporting heavy weapons and small arms fire. Six Myanmar
soldiers fell in the battle and the remaining Myanmar troops had to
withdraw from the outpost due to inequality in manpower and firepower.
I was wondering " Why they did so?" Thailand and Myanmar were friends
and good neighbours. Besides, both are ASEAN member nations. They had
extended love and goodwill between them. They also helped each other in
times of emergency.
But now, it has become different. Thailand intruded into our territory
and interfered in our internal affairs. During the similar attacks on
Tachilek Township, O-7 hillock camp, Lwemasok camp and Lwetaw camp in
February, SURA insurgents were placed in the forefront and Thai troops
were giving supporting fire form the rear.
The Tatmadaw in view of maintaining the amity between the two armed
forces, only filed repeated complaints on the Thai troops' intrusion
through the proper channel.
Myanmar has never intruded into any country. Myanmar has always
maintained her amicable relations with her neighbours. The nation has
always adhered to and practised the independent and active foreign
policy. It always adheres to the five principles of the Peaceful
Coexistence with a view to maintaining amicable relations with other
nations especially her neighbours.
The nation always lives in accord with the five principles of the
Peaceful Co-existence, which are, mutual respect for territorial
integrity and sovereignty; non-aggression; non-interference in one
another's affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful
The intrusion and involvement of the Thai army in Pachee incident is
self-evident. There are many such incidents in the past also. In the E-7
hillock incident near Tachilek, innocent civilians died and were
wounded in the random heavy weapons and small arms fire launched from
The Thai intrusion on Myanmar territory occurred not only at present.
Thirty-four Thai military camps were stationed at Lwelan region at the
border - nine Thai military camps on the borderline and 25 inside
Myanmar territory. Thais were ignoring the repeated complaints made by
Myanmar at border committee meetings concerning the matter.
The worst is the frabications and plots of Thai media. The 23 April 2001
issue of The Bangkok Post daily reported that when about 200 men of
Ywet Sit group overran a Myanmar Tatmadaw outpost, they seized seven
bodies of Myanmar soldiers and 170,000 stimulant pills.
Similarly, The Nation daily also reported that seven Myanmar soldiers
were found dead and 150,000 stimulant pills were seized. The Thai ITV
also quoted Ywet Sit as saying that when his troops captured a Myanmar
military outpost, they seized seven bodies of Myanmar soldiers and
nearly 200,000 stimulant pills.
The Thai TV and media are floating fabrications in favour of Ywet Sit
group, which is launching armed opposition against the Myanmar
Tatmadaw, as there are connections between the Thai army and Ywet Sit
group. It is an undeniable fact that the Thai army gave powerful
supporting fire when Ywet Sit group attacked the Tatmadaw camps as
there are mutual agreements between the two to raise lackeys. "Who is
raising whom as a lackey? and who is supporting whom?"will be known
best by the country itself.
The country is doing so in order to gain self-benefits and thus, it also
doesn't know where its good-neighbourly codes of conduct are. Recently,
the ITV of Thailand showed the ammunition which it said were seized by
Ywet Sit's men during their attack on the Tatmadaw outpost.
Not long ago, it broadcast a news report saying that as if narcotic
drugs were being produced at Mongyun region in Myanmar territory. It is
so clear that the Thai army has an ulterior motive in launching attacks
on Myanmar territory and floating fabrications that narcotic drugs were
seized in Myanmar military outposts and that the drugs were being
produced in Myanmar territory. The real intruder is the Thai army.
It is an undeniable fact that the chemicals used in refining narcotic
drugs are being manufactured and trafficked in Thai territory. It can
be seen clearly that the acts of Thailand are against the
good-neighbourly practices and they are being conducted in accord with
its schemes. It is the national task of the entire Myanmars to join
hands with the Tatmadaw in warding off the danger.
Author : Pho Khwa
Shan-EU News: Prime Minister Thaksin's Attempt to Find a Balance in His
Policy towards Burma
5 May 2001
Thaksin's Forthcoming Visit & Policy Implementation towards Burma
By: Sarng Mai
Thaksin Shinawatra has braced himself with various problems in his
country's relationship with Burma since day-one of his premiership.
Elected on popular promises that include being tough on narcotics
problem, decisive on economic measures and a cabinet consisting of only
the clean and competent, he has been in conflict with himself in his
policy towards Burma. He has made it public even before he was sworn in
that he wanted to visit Burma, blaming his predecessor Chuan Leephai for
not vising Burma and for not doing enough to promote ties between the
Thaksin soon came under strong criticism for his executive-like approach
towards Thai-Burmese problems. No doubt, there must be a school of
thought in Thai Rak Thai Party who thinks differently from the Democrats
on the issues. They certainly find, the New Aspiration party leader Gen.
Chavalit as a formidable ally. However, the Thai politics has long been
changed unrecognizable since Gen. Chavalit was forced out of office in
1997. Visiting Burma now requires more than a premier's judgment; it is
almost a national decision. The fact that the Thai Rak Thai has no
experience and formidable foreign policy thinkers make things even
The public mood, the Royal Army's position on the Thai-Burma
relationship and also probably some camps within the Thai Rak Thai who
favour a cautious move towards Burma might have pressured the Prime
Minister Thaksin to show that he is indeed a tough guy on narcotics
The Burmese Junta must have been aware of the personnel in the Thai
political establishment they would have to deal with. It was not an
incident that they chose to launch an offensive against SSA near Maesai
knowing that Thaksin was about to be sworn in. The Burmese attack,
critics say, was to test the new Royal Thai government on its policy
towards Burma. This time, though, the same tactic by the Junta has not
produced the expected result. T
here are at least three factors involved. First of all, Burma has become
less attractive to Thai businessmen albeit a few still have their eyes
on the land of dictators. The second factor is the composition of the
Thai government itself. Unlike the past, the present administration is
led by a very strong party who can get a good deal done at anytime from
its partners . The Chat Thai and the New Aspiration parties have to
compete among themselves, and they know neither of them alone can bring
the government down. The opposition Democrats are concerned with their
homework more than attacking the powerful Thai Rak Thai. They are
modernizing their party with an eye on the next general election.
The last but equally important factor is the nation can no longer ignore
the social problems brought about by Ya-ba. The Army has taken a crucial
role in its war against Ya-ba which is now identified as a top national
security issue. Theoretically, one would venture to think that the
successor of Lt. Gen. Wattanachai cannot do less, given that the problem
of Ya-ba would go on at the existing level.
For Burma though, drug money is the only reliable income for both micro
and macro economy. The present economic set-up is dominated by the
former or the present drug barons who have enriched the powerful
regional commanders of the so-called Tatmadaw (Junta's armed forces) and
their subordinates. With the current status quo arrangement between the
Junta and the ceasefire groups, narcotics is now only a back-burner
issue for the Burmese military regime and no longer a military threat
as it used to be. For some, drug problem in Burma could never be solved
due to the lack of political will on the part of the Junta. In part, the
absence of democracy also contributes the narcotic issue to remain as it
A balance is required between the new forward thinking group within the
Thai political establishment, involving elements of both government and
opposition, and the old guard who prefer no less than personal diplomacy
and good business opportunities above all else.
Against this backdrop, the forthcoming trip of the Prime Minister to
Burma can be an extremely risky one. There is no guarantee that he
will not get a cold reception like his foreign minister. Lt. Gen.
Wattanachai has been discredited by the Junta when he could not get the
border open following the Kengtung talk. The Thai public then saw his
effort as a failure. The Prime Minister cannot afford to be seen that
way. More than that, the Junta will be able to claim political credit
for the Thai will be seen as begging for normalization when the Prime
Minister decides to make a visit to accomplish what his foreign minister
has just failed to achieve.
While the international interest is much focused on Burma for the
on-going talks between NLD and the Junta, no Thai Prime Minister should
be making any trip, if it is not going to influence the situation in any
positive way; much less, if the visit has nothing to do with the talk.
For such a trip will not merit political gains and international
recognition as an influential regional player. A balance is yet to be
found for the youthful and executive type prime minister.
Images Asia: Writer / Researcher Volunteer with Environmentalist
The Environment Desk of Images Asia, a Thai / multi-cultural NGO based
in the city of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, is seeking someone to
work with us to complete a dictionary of environmental terms in easily
understandable English, and to help address a variety of Burma-related
environmental issues. On completion, the dictionary will be distributed
freely to numerous NGOÆs, activists and schools. It is intended to meet
a clear need expressed by many people who are faced on one hand by
serious environmental problems, and on the other by struggling to
acquire enough of the difficult English that is often used by those
dealing with (and those creating) the problems. The ôEnvironment Wordsö
dictionary draft is currently 325 A4 pages of single spaced, 10 point
font with more than 25 additional pages of illustrations and appendices.
Half of the dictionary has been edited and one part has been finished to
the point of being ready for final proof-reading. However substantial
additional work is required to finish the processes of 1st and 2nd
editing and the revision of some awkward terms. Further work is also
needed to define additional terms (identified as having been omitted in
the cross-referencing process), to incorporate editorsÆ and proof
readersÆ recommendations, and to standardise the formatting. The work
will require careful familiarisation with the draft and the guidelines,
and checking of the accuracy and simplicity of the definitions in
consultation with others involved in the production of the dictionary.
We have colleagues who will take care of layout and proofreading, but
the editing and finalising of the text requires at least one other
(preferably two) skilful and dedicated worker(s). The project requires
The ability, focus and will to persevere until the final draft is
in the print shop (estimated at 6 to 8 months from mid-April) ╖
Good insights regarding communicating with those who do not speak
English as a first (or even 4th) language, and who have limited
systematic basic education. ╖ An excellent grasp of the
A good memory and a consistent and systematic way of working to
ensure balance and uniformity within the document. ╖ A
considerate, tolerant, honest and co-operative approach towards working
with diverse people in a somewhat chaotic environment.
Willingness and motivation to help out with other parts of our
large but diverse and interesting workload. The Environment Desk has a
limited budget to cover the basic living, local travel, visa and working
costs of one volunteer, although we are in need of two. We are
considering additional fundraising to cover costs associated with other
projects and for an editor. We regret that we cannot meet some peopleÆs
salary or 'benefit' expectations, but believe that the pleasant, lively
and inexpensive living and working environment, combined with the
interesting and meaningful nature of the work will be attractive to some
good people. Maybe it is youà. We have an informal affirmative action
policy towards qualified indigenous peoples and women. Sincere
applicants are invited to contact Steve at: Ph: (66) (53) 406 155
Postal address: P.O.Box 2, Prasingha Post Office, Chiang Mai 50200,
Thailand For some further information you might like to refer to:
Info Birmanie: Correction to Burma Calendar of Events
The next shareholder meeting of TOTAL will be held on Thursday, May 17th
10 A:M at the Palais des Congres, PARIS rather than on May 17 as stated
in the Burma Calendar of Events published in BurmaNet on May 3.
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 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
Burma News Update
Availability: By fax or the web.
Viewable online at http://www.soros.org/burma/burmanewsupdate/index.html
Published by: Open Society Institute, Burma Project
The Burma Courier
Availability: E-mail, fax or post. To subscribe or unsubscribe by email
Viewable on line at: http://www.egroups.com/group/BurmaCourier
Note: News sources are cited at the beginning of an article.
Interpretive comments and background
details are often added.
Viewable online at http://www.worldviewrights.org/pdburma/today.html
To subscribe, write to pdburma@xxxxxxxxx
Published by: PD Burma (The International Network of Political Leaders
Promoting Democracy in Burma)
EASY UNSUBSCRIBE click here: http://igc.topica.com/u/?b1dbSX.b1CGhI
Or send an email To: burmanet-unsubscribe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
This email was sent to: reg.burma@xxxxxxxxxx
T O P I C A -- Learn More. Surf Less.
Newsletters, Tips and Discussions on Topics You Choose.