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BurmaNet News: May 7, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         May 7, 2001   Issue # 1801
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

MONEY _______
*Bangkok Post: Town Flooded with Smuggled Goods

*The Nation: Army to flush out dug-in Burmese intruders
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Buddhist Thailand and Buddhist Burma swap 
fire on Buddha's Day
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Another Shan base attacked

*The Nation: 30 Drug Factories Spotted
*Bangkok Post: Burma talks set to centre on drugs

*AP: Asean Urged To Check Progress Of Myanmar's Labor Reforms
*Times of India: Musharraf fails to raise J&K issue in Myanmar

*Boston Globe: Burma Sanctions' Value
*The Nation: a General with Guts Stands Tall
*Bernama: Question Of Razali Denied Permission To Visit Myanmar Does Not 
*The New Light of Myanmar (SPDC):  Some Thoughts on  Recent Border 

*BurmaNet: U2 Highlights Burma on US tour
*Asia Times: Whispers of Change in Myanmar?[series coming Thur-Sat]



Bangkok Post: Town Flooded with Smuggled Goods

 Monday, May 7, 2001

Tourists flock to Mae Sai again

Thirawat Khamthita

Chiang Rai

The border town of Mae Sai is flooded with smuggled Chinese and Burmese 
goods and is again attracting tourists, but the Tachilek checkpoint 
remains closed.

Vendors at the Mae Sai border marker said contraband goods on offer 
include electrical appliances, fruit and wild products brought in from 
Burma to Mae Sai every night.

Most arrive between 8pm and midnight, smuggled across the narrowest 
parts of the Sai river, which is only 5m wide in places like Pa Daeng, 
Koh Sai, Muang Daeng and Tha Kalam in tambon Mae Said.

Smugglers are said to be paying both Thai and Burmese officials to turn 
a blind eye, with the going rate 500 to 5,000 baht a  trip, depending on 
the amount of goods.

Fuel and other "strategic items" including cars and construction 
materials are in turn smuggled into Burma-despite specific bans on their 
export by the Thai government. They are being stored in more than 100 
warehouses along the Sai river, vendors say.

The visible consequence is that tourist numbers are up again in Mae 
Sai-with people drawn by the cheap contraband from China and Burma. 

The Mae Sai-Tachilek crossing was closed following border skirmishes 
between Thai and Burmese troops in March that soured relations. 

Thailand reopened the Mae Sai checkpoint just before the Songkran 
festival, but the ban on passage of cargoes remained.

On the Burmese side, the Tachilek checkpoint has remained closed. 

Maj Domsak Khamsaengsai, chief of the Thai-Burmese co-ordination team, 
said nothing has changed between the sides despite agreement at the 
Regional Border Committee meeting last month that the two sides would 
hold a township border committee-level meeting once a month.

Burmese authorities claim they fear for their safety because Thai people 
in Mae Sai are dissatisfied over the construction of a lignite-fired 
power plant in Tachilek, he said.


The Nation: Army to flush out dug-in Burmese intruders 

Filed at 05 : 48 pm (THLD time) 

CHIANG MAI, May 7 (The Nation) -- The Third Army said it would flush out 
scores of Burmese/United Wah Army forces that had taken positions in 
Thai territory in Fang district of this northern province, according to 
the regional army's spokesman.  
Spokesman Col Chucheep Meesomboon said at Pha Muang Task Force 
headquarter that about 50 intruders, who had dug in about 200-400 metres 
inside Thailand since May 3, ignored warning shots by Thai army troops 
in the area.  
"We have fired warning shots, and lodged a protest with the Burmese 
Township Border Committee, but there was no response from the Burmese 
side," Chucheep said. "The army is left with no other choice but to 
flush them out."  

However, the spokesman did not say when the regional army would take 
military actions against the intruders.  

It is believed that the Burmese/Wah troops were using positions in Thai 
territory to stage attack on ethnic Shan rebels who had been active in 
the areas straddling Thai-Burmese border.


Shan Herald Agency for News: Buddhist Thailand and Buddhist Burma swap 
fire on Buddha's Day 

7 May 2001

No: 05-05

Buddhist Thailand and Buddhist Burma swap fire on Buddha's Day 
Reports coming from the border say there has been an exchange of fire 
between Burmese and Thai troops throughout the day across the border 
between Mongton of Shan State and Chiangmai. 

Beginning 06:00, the IB 225 (Mongton) unit posted at Pakhee, recently 
retaken from the Shans, began to shell the Thai base of Nawlae in Fang 
District, they said. It was joined later by Wa contingents. 

"It's not the Burmese shooting at the Shans anymore," said a Thai 
village headman. "Now it's the Burmese against the Thais."
The Thai army spokesman however said the combined Burmese-Wa force had 
violated the boundary by 400 meters and that it had filed a complaint 
through Maesai, Chiangrai Province. He did not mention any resumption of 
hostilities between the two armies. 
The event coincides with Buddha's Day, observed by all Buddhists around 
the world. 
Meanwhile, Burma Army units have also attacked Ponghpa-Pongtawng base 
taken by the Shans during the height of the battle at Pakhee. The base 
is west of Sanzu, where fighting that began yesterday still continues. 

Sanzu is opposite Pong Namrawn Tract, Fang District, while 
Ponghpa-Pongtawng is opposite Mawnpin Tract in the same district. 


Shan Herald Agency for News: Another Shan base attacked

May 7 2001

A Shan base north of the recent battlefield of Pakhee was attacked by 
Burma  Army troops supported by Wa fighters yesterday, said sources from 
the Shan  State Army.

Sanzu, a Shan base deep inside Wa territory, 30 kilometers north of 
Pakhee,  opposite Fang District, Chiangmai, was attacked by a combined 
force of LIB  519 (Mongton) and the United Wa State Army since early 
morning until  evening. It was defended by Khunsang Tonhoong Column 
commanded by Maj.  Khaiofah.

Details however are still lacking.

Sanzu is located 20 kilometers west of Loilang, where a 14 year battle  
between warlord Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army and the Wa took place until the  
former surrendered to the Burma Army at the beginning of 1996. 
The Shans had been in Sanzu since the battle of Loi Kawwan, opposite  
Chaingrai Province, in the northeast, began in February, said a source. 

Shans were engaged in an 11-day long battle with Burma Army forces in  
Pakhee further south that ended on 2 May with the Shans' retreat. 

Related News
The Shan State Army held a 'mission accomplished' party on Friday (4 
May)  evening.

One of the specially invited guests on the occasion was reported to be a 
 Thai singer who is known for his support for the struggle for democracy 
and  ethnic rights in Burma.


The Nation: 30 Drug Factories Spotted

Monday, May 7, 2001

Narco laboratories sit just across the border in Burma, Laos  
As PM's office minister Thamarak Isa-rangura prepares for a high-profile 
drug meeting in Rangoon, an Army intelligence officer yesterday released 
a detailed list of heroin and methamphetamine labs just across 
Thailand's borders with Burma and Laos. 

Thamarak is expected to raise the sticky issue with Burma at the 
upcoming meeting of drug tsars from China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.  
Thai-Burmese relations are at one their lowest ebbs following 
cross-border shelling over two months ago after fighting between Shan 
rebels and Burmese troops spilled over onto the Thai side. The incident 
was followed by an exchange of stinging accusations from the military 
leaders of both sides, who accused one another of being involved in drug 

According to the report obtained by The Nation yesterday, 26 of the 32 
drug labs along the border are in Burma and the rest in Laos. At least 
two of the labs in Burma are partly owned by Thai nationals, while four 
of the labs in Laos have dealings with suspected Thai drug traffickers.  

The vast majority of the 32 labs, including those in Laos, are run by 
Chinese drug lords and members of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), a 
20,000-strong outfit headquartered in Panghsang in northern Shan State 
on Burma's border with China. The UWSA entered Burma's "legal fold" in 
1989 after signing a cease-fire agreement with Rangoon's ruling junta.  

A number of the UWSA's top leaders, including Pao Yuchang and Wei 
Xuekang, have been indicted by a US federal court and have US$2 million 
(Bt90 million) price tags on their heads. The report says one heroin lab 
in the Mae Kun area adjacent to Mae Hong Son's Pai district receives 
protection from a unit of the Shan State Army (SSA). It is uncertain if 
the SSA, once a faction of opium warlord Khun Sa's Mon g Tai Army (MTA), 
is directly invol-ved in the business, but since breaking away from Khun 
Sa, SSA leader Colonel Yawd Serk has tried to put the group's past 
behind it by attacking clandestine border drug labs and handing over 
confiscated drugs to Thai authorities. 

One major lab known to produce some of the world's purest heroin is over 
from Ban Therd Thai in Chiang Rai's Mae Fah Luang district, according to 
the report. The operation is managed by a Tai-wanese, Saw Win, while 
about 380 armed troops from the UWSA under the command of Yao Kweh Kuy 
and Ailishi provide security. 

About four drug labs, all over from Mae Hong Son, belong to Mahaja, a 
former MTA commander who joined Khun Sa in surrendering to Rangoon in 
return for an amnesty. Mahaja stayed in Hua Muang, the MTA's old 
headquarters, where he runs a militia and has set up logging and 
gem-mining operations. 

Narcotics officials say Burma and Laos are likely to surpass Afghanistan 
as the world's leading producers of opiumfollowing an approximately 50 
per cent reduction in the latter country's production after the ruling 
Taliban banned cultivation of the crop. 

In its latest report, the US State Department said the UWSA and other 
groups including the Myan-mar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA, 
known as the "Kokang Chinese"), "remain armed and heavily involved in 
the heroin trade and in the manufacturing and distribution of synthetic 
drugs.  "They are also largely immune from government action. To cite 
only one example, under the terms of the cease-fire, Burmese troops 
cannot even enter Wa territory without permission from the UWSA", the 
report said. Under pressure from the government, however, the UWSA, the 
MNDAA and other groups that have signed cease-fires with Rangoon have 
declared their intention to establish opium-free zones in their 
territory by 2005.  


Bangkok Post: Burma talks set to centre on drugs

May 7, 2001

Borderless business to be addressed
Post Reporters

Thailand will discuss drugs with Burma tomorrow at the start of three 
days of United Nations-backed talks in Rangoon, to curb what its drug 
agency stresses is a borderless business. 
The bilateral and regional talks, continuing till May 11, will also 
feature Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China and the United Nations 
International Drug Control Programme. 
Issues such as cross-border law enforcement co-operation, drug control 
advocacy and capacity strengthening, precursor chemicals control, the 
massive increase in trafficking and abuse of synthetic drugs-in 
particular methamphetamines-legal co-operation, the spread of HIV/Aids 
through drug use, as well as rural drug demand and poverty reduction, 
will be discussed. 
"The timing couldn't be better," the UNDCP said in a statement. 
"While countries are still divided by boundaries, political differences, 
legal systems and differing national capacities, drug traffickers and 
their criminal masterminds work a well-oiled machinery on a global 
scale, causing serious harm beyond national borders. 
"Drugs can no longer be conceived as a mere national problem and 
solutions can no longer be found by single countries alone. 
"The responses must be national and regional."

The six countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region signed a memorandum 
of understanding on drug control in 1993, and came up with a 
sub-regional action plan in May 1995, at their first ministerial meeting 
in Beijing. 
Funding for the plan, which calls for 13 projects costing more than 
US$30 million (1.4 billion baht) has been provided primarily by the 
governments of Japan, Britain, the European Union, the US and 
Scandinavian countries. 
The meeting will review progress of the action plan in the fields of 
drug abuse, reduction of illegal drug production and trafficking, and 
law enforcement co-operation. It will also look into efforts at 
cross-border, bilateral, regional and international levels.

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________


AP: Asean Urged To Check Progress Of Myanmar's Labor Reforms

May 7, 2001

KUALA LUMPUR (AP)--The Association of Southeast Asian Nations should 
send a mission to Myanmar to check on progress the country's military 
junta is making toward ending forced labor, a Malaysian opposition 
leader said Monday.  

Ahead of a meeting of labor ministers from the 10-nation grouping in 
Kuala Lumpur May 10-11, Lim Kit Siang, chairman of Malaysia's Democratic 
Action Party, urged Asean member countries to "pressure the Myanmese 
military junta to end forced labor and repression of trade unionists" in 
Myanmar, also known as Burma.  

"The Asean labor ministers meeting should ask for a progress report by 
the Myanmese Labor Minister on the decree issued by the (Myanmar junta) 
to abolish forced labor, and should consider sending a fact-finding 
mission to Myanmar on the forced labor question," Lim said in a 

Myanmar has long been assailed by the United Nations and Western 
countries for suppression of democracy and its human rights record - 
including use of unpaid civilian labor on infrastructure projects.  

Myanmar has said civilians contribute their labor voluntarily to promote 
development of the nation. Last year, the government issued a decree 
making forced labor illegal.  
Human rights groups claim the decree was issued to avoid international 
criticism and that forced labor continues to be used.  

Malaysia is developing as a broker between the reclusive Myanmar 
government and the international community. Malaysian Prime Minister 
Mahathir Mohamad met with senior generals when he visited Myanmar in 
January, and the U.N.'s special envoy is a Malaysian diplomat.  

Lim said Malaysia should rally support among Asean for an International 
Labor Organization plan to apply economic sanctions against Myanmar 
because of alleged forced labor practices.  

Asean, which groups together Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, 
Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, has a 
policy of noninterference in the domestic issues of its members.


Times of India: Musharraf fails to raise J&K issue in Myanmar

 May 07, 2001.

NEW DELHI: Myanmar's tepid response to Pakistani Chief Executive General 
Pervez Musharraf's efforts to garner support over the Kashmir dispute 
during his visit last week has pleased India, which has been seeking to 
improve ties with Yangon.  
The Kashmir issue figured in a joint communiqui issued Thursday by 
Musharraf and Senior General General Than Shwe, chairman of Myanmar's 
ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), at the end of the 
Pakistani military ruler's three-day visit. Yangon, however, limited 
itself to calling for a "just resolution" of the 12-year-old separatist 
movement in Jammu and Kashmir.  

"The Chief Executive (Musharraf) briefed the Senior General on the 
initiatives taken by Pakistan for a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir 
dispute in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people and for the 
commencement of a meaningful dialogue with India for this purpose," said 
the joint communique.  

"Senior General Than Shwe expressed the hope for a just resolution of 
this longstanding problem," it said.  

G. Parthasarathy, former Indian envoy to Myanmar, said Yangon's reaction 
to Musharraf's overtures was in keeping with its policy. "It's a typical 
Myanmarese reaction. It is in keeping with their policy of not getting 
involved in other's bilateral disputes. They will not get involved in 
our dispute with China or Pakistan," he told IANS.  

Senior Indian intelligence officials said the inclusion of the Kashmir 
issue in the communiqui could have been the handiwork of a section of 
Myanmarese military officials, led by Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, 
Secretary-I of the SPDC, who favor closer ties with Islamabad.  

"When former Indian Army chief, General V.P. Malik, visited Myanmar in 
January last year, Khin Nyunt left the country for a visit to Pakistan," 
one official here pointed out. "This was viewed as a snub to General 
Malik. Nyunt has always favored better relations with Pakistan."  

Musharraf's trip to Myanmar and Vietnam was aimed at reaffirming 
Pakistan's close ties with them. This was the first visit by a Pakistani 
head of government to Myanmar since General Zia-ul Haq visited the 
country way back in 1985.  

In fact, New Delhi's worries about China's increasing influence in 
Myanmar has led to recent efforts to upgrade ties with the military 
regime. India rolled out the red carpet for General Maung Aye, Myanmar's 
second most powerful official, when he visited New Delhi in November 
last year. Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh had visited 
Myanmar earlier this year.  

Closer ties with Myanmar are part of India's "Look East" policy focusing 
on Southeast Asian countries. New Delhi is also seeking Yangon's help in 
combating insurgent groups operating in northeastern states bordering 
Myanmar and has in recent years received good cooperation from the 
Myanmarese military. (IANS


Boston Globe: Burma Sanctions' Value 


      WHEN IT comes to the military dictatorship ruling Burma, President 
Bush has an opportunity he should welcome to demonstrate the realism his 
advisers commendand, simultaneously, a firm commitment to America's 
democratic ideals.

      The Burmese junta stands condemned by much of the world for its 
horrendous abuse of human rights, its complicity in the trafficking of 
heroin and methamphetamines, and itsthwarting of the democratic 
government that was elected with 80 percent of the seats in
Parliament in Burma's last free election, in 1990.

      Currently, there are varying sanctions on the junta. The 
International Labor Organization, for the first time in its 81-year 
history, asked its members to sanction the regime for the continuing, 
brutal imposition of forced labor on Burmese and minority ethnic groups. 

      There are also European Union sanctions and restrictions imposed 
by the Clinton administration that prohibit new US investment in Burma 
and ban senior officials in the regime from obtaining visas to enter the 
United States. 

      Although it is far from clear that the junta intends to permit a 
revival of democracy, there is little doubt that it has engaged in talks 
with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi - who is held under 
virtual house arrest in Rangoon - in large part because of the 
unremitting pressure of sanctions.

      As a result of sanctions, the officers in power cannot disguise 
their bankrupting of what had been one of Asia's most literate and 
resource-rich countries. Even the junta's principal sponsor for 
membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Prime Minister 
Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia, has counseled Burma's ruling officers to 
ease the embarrassment of their fellow ASEAN members by opening a 
dialogue with Suu Kyi. 

      In a letter last month to Bush, 35 senators including Edward 
Kennedy and John Kerry made a strong case for maintaining sanctions, 
noting that ''the sanctions have been partially responsible for 
prompting the regime to engage in political dialogue with Aung San Suu 
Kyi and her members of the regime to'' the trafficking of ''the heroin 
which plagues our communities.''

      Bush should insist that the junta take measurable steps toward the 
retrieval of democracy in Burma, and not merely for altruistic reasons. 
Next to the regime in North Korea, the Burmese junta has been Beijing's 
chummiest ally, permitting China to project its burgeoning power into 
the Bay of Bengal, to the dismay of India.

      Were a democratic government to replace the junta, neighboring 
Thailand, which is now suffering from an influx of drugs from Burma, 
would join India and the rest of the region in breathing a sigh of 


Bernama: Question Of Razali Denied Permission To Visit Myanmar Does Not 

[Bernama is the Malaysian State Press Agency and reflects the views of 
the Mahathir regime.]

   Malaysian National News Agency, May 07 , 2001 19:13PM  KUALA LUMPUR, 
May 7 (Bernama) -- The question of the Myanmar government denying 
permission to United Nations envoy Tan Sri Razali Ismail to visit 
Myanmar never arise, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said 
on Monday.  

      He said this was because the Myanmar government, now in talks with 
democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, had wanted the talks to be held under 
conditions of strict secrecy.  

      "Since it (Myanmar government) has said that it is in the midst of 
talks and does not want the presence of other parties, let us wait and 
allow them to proceed with the process. So it is not a denial," he told 
reporters at Wisma Belia here.


The Nation: a General with Guts Stands Tall

Monday, May 7, 2001

The Nation 

While politicians scramble for deals with Burma's junta, General 
Wattanapong earns their respect. 

The Burmese leaders have succeeded once again in dividing the Thai 
leadership. Illustrating this point is the fact that Defence Minister 
General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh asked Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to 
stop Third Army Commander Wattanapong Chaimuenwong from doing his job - 
protecting national sovereignty. The episode proved one thing: that the 
Burma policy is a big mess. Chavalit has already pushed his "personal 
ties" with Burma to a boiling point. 

The Foreign Ministry has been dumbfounded by the development. The 
ministry used to be in charge of Burmese policy. 

Now everything is in tatters. Nobody seems to be in control. The Foreign 
Ministry has tried to do one thing as the Defence Ministry has tried 
others. There is no coordination. 

With everybody in the Thaksin government wanting to improve relations 
with Burma, apparently nobody bothers to ask if Burma really wants to 
improve relations with Thailand. The Burmese leaders have a simple plan. 
Tell the Thais that there are great opportunities inside Burma, if 
bilateral relations improve. As a result, literally everybody jumps at 
the occasion.  
In past weeks, aides to Thaksin and Chavalit have visited Burma to 
strike deals, each of them with their own objectives. It is a case of 
"you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours". 

This must be the most volatile time in Thai-Burmese relations because 
Thai leaders are eager to claim victory in their dealings with Burma. 
But the Burmese leaders are not in a hurry; they have plenty the time, 
something the Thai leaders do not have. Given the current domestic 
conditions, it is imperative for the Thaksin government to achieve some 
tangible progress on relations with Burma. 

It will take a long time before the prime minister can claim any success 
with his economic packages. The Rangoon leaders have fully understood 
this all along. That explains why they have been engaging the Thai 
leaders to show that they are ready to have a dialogue. But behind the 
smiling faces, the Burmese leaders remain stoic and tough. 

Wattanapong has done a good job in counteracting external aggression. He 
could have done a better job if he had been left alone and not subjected 
to the domestic politics involved in this issue. His courage and 
steadfastness have been the subject of discussion in Rangoon. Burma's 
top man over the past several months, General Than Shwe, even asked to 
see Wattanapong during the latter's stopover in Rangoon. He did. This 
was something rare. The Thai general apparently has made a big impact on 
the Burmese leaders. In recent memory, there has been no Thai general 
with the guts to stand up to them so firmly and in such a sustained 
manner as Wattanapong.  
In the foreseeable future, Burma will continue to get tough with Thai 
leaders. The junta generals might even want to engage in a brief war 
with Thailand to drum up nationalism at home. They have spoken about war 
with Thailand with visiting Thai dignitaries. Economic conditions inside 
Burma have deteriorated greatly, and talks with opposition have 
proceeded at a snail's pace. Therefore, fighting and squabbling with 
Thailand can provide a much-needed excuse at this point for failures 
inside Burma. Now, the question is, should the Thaksin government play 


The New Light of Myanmar (SPDC):  Some Thoughts on  Recent Border 

Monday, 30 April, 2001 

Myanmar and Thais share [the] South East Asia landmass, having a common 
border  stretching from Tachilek in the east to kawthoung the south a 
distance of  about sixteen hundred kilometers, In size Myanrnar is 
bigger but Thais have  more flat lands.  Population wise, Thais ate a 
bit more populous. Myanmar  shares common borders with Bangladesh, 
India, China, Laos and Thailand while  Thais have Myanmar, Laos, 
Cambodia and Malaysia as neighbours.  

Myanmar and Thais are also members of the regional groupings of the 
ASEAN and  BIMST-EC. Neighbours and members as they are, it would be 
extremely  interesting to analyze the issues that exist between the 
neighbours, deduce  the core issue or issues relating to the recent 
border incident and postulate  the likely scenario of future of the two 

1. Basic Issues 
Living as neighbours, Myanmar and Thais have ups and downs in their 
relations  and the basic issues that exist between these two countries 
can be summarized  as follows: 
a. Recurrence Relations 
b. Expansionist Dream 
c. Economic Dominance 

1. 1 Recurrence Relations :Along the long border between these two 
countries,  there exist natural barriers such as mountain ranges or 
rivers but still  there are accessible places across which the people of 
both sides traded  their produce for centuries and the e were the very 
routes, over a thousand  year history of the two nations, in times of 
the powerful kings, the armies  of sides marched across to flex their 

On our side, in times of out power kings, when the country was strong by 
 successfully integrating the national races and was well stocked with 
food  through the good works building dams and canals, these incursions 
to the  other side took place. In those recurrence relations, the 
coefficient or the  catalyst was successful unification of the national 
races and economic  success. 

However, this pattern was absent when the country was in the hands of 
the  weak kings or the national races were fighting each other. This 
historical  fact would have induced thinking to the other side that it 
would be in their  interest to make Myanmar weak. This, they would do by 
instigating, by  harboring or worse, by secretly arming the secessionist 
oriented national  races or the dissatisfied groups, so that our 
resources which could well be  spent for national development, would 
need to be used to contain these groups.  

1.2 Expansionist Dream: The Thais and their kins or near kins, according 
to  recent media news, inhibit parts of Laos, southern tip of Yunnan 
Province and  parts of Myanmar and this racial spread in the region had 
generated, in  certain' quarters of the Thais, the distant dream of 
creating 'Pan-Thai  Empire' encompassing all these areas, given rightful 
circumstances. The  Thai's occupation of Kengtung and outlying areas 
during the Second World War,  with Myanmar in no position to counter 
their adventure, could well be  construed as evidence of their 
intentions The implication of this historical  fact that, deep down in 
their hearts, certain 

Thais habour such- dreams and under favorable conditions, Thais could 
well  again across their national boundary and grab the territory of 
neighbours in  pursuit of their long held dream. 

1.3 Economic Dominance: After the second World War, Thais, spared from 
'the  raves to severe internal insurrection, were to their economy and  
industrialize the country to the extent that Thais were, at one time in 
the  group of the NICs (Newly industrialized Countries). However, as the 
industry  was in the early phase of industrialization, Thai products 
were not in  competitive position with those from highly industrialized 
countries and in  this respect Myanmar, lacking small and medium sized 
industries, became the  'dumping ground' for these substandard products. 
Thais exploited the  situation by building plants near the border 
producing goods which were not  only sub-standard but, in some 
instances, were even harmful to the end-user,  and worse, were not even 
allowed to market in the country of the origin.  
2. Recent Border Incident 

Myanmar Thai relations, being built on such soft soils, could founder, 
from  time to time, on one or a combination of these issues and the 
recent border  incident, the apparent intervention of the Thai forces on 
the side of the  SURA insurgents, could be one of such events. In fact, 
the recent border  incident could be traced to all of these issues. 
Myanmar, after more than  forty years of internal strife, is having 
success in national reconsolidation  by bringing to the legal fold 
almost all the destabilizing forces. On  economic front too, success was 
achieved on raising food production troughs  the good works building 
dams, canals, sluice gates and of using electric and  diesel pumps to 
irrigate and zones. Industrialization was carried out by an  all out 
encouragement and by the active participation of local as well as  
foreign entrepreneurs. Trade outlets were established with neighboring  
countries as well as with sympathetic countries of the region.  

Such successes inadvertently could have sent chills flowing through the  
spines of the paranoid on the other side that recurrent forces could be 
on  the loose again soon. Likewise, business people may feel that their 
economic  grip on this country is already loosening. Worse, by all 
indications, Myanmar  due to its strategic position as a land bridge in 
the region appears  to be  emerging as the likely center of business 
activist of the ASEAN, BIMST.-EC  and Yunnan Province. This is not all, 
their worst fear is to come in the  region south of Kengtung. ,The Wa 
national race, alien to the Thais, who  inhibit areas bordering Yunnan 
appears to be on the move towards the Thai  border and should this 
process be allowed to proceed unchecked, they may  feel, these alien 
races would eventually block their access and influence on  their 
kinsmen in Myanmar, apparently killing their long held dream of  
creating 'Pan-Thai Empire'. 

Against this background comes the shift in the Deployment of Strategic  
Defence Forces on the other side. For nearly half a century, Thais were  
pre-occupied with the spread of an alien ideology and consequently their 
 defence forces were stationed along their eastern border facing these  
countries. However, this threat had disappeared due to the decay of the 
alien  ideology worldwide. In the change of polarity in strategic 
thinking,  according to recent media news, starting from the dry season 
of last year,  Thais started moving Deployment of Strategic Defence 
Forces to their western  border, from Chiang Rai in the north to 
Kanchanaburi in the west almost the  entire border with Myanmars an 
apparent indication of their perceived source  of future threat. 

Previously, our forces had crushed the KNUR insurgents but Thais kept 
quiet.  This time again, our forces were on similar mission to dislodge 
the SURA  insurgents from a hillock overlooking Tachilek. This time, 
however, Thai  forces intervened on the side of their kinsmen SURA with 
the display of the  hardware in their possession. During this incident, 
the two elements in the  Thai stratosphere appeared to be spinning 
towards their pre-perceived  position with accelerated momentum. 
However, in the process one of the  elements decayed, the spinning did 
not reach the critical mass and  decelerated. Otherwise, the fallout 
could be devastating to both sides.  

3. Future Relation 

This incident obviously highlights precarious nature in Myanmar-Thai 
relation  and the future relations between these two neighbours would 
hardly be the  same again. 0f the two neighbours, Thais need Myanmar 
more than the other way  round. To sustain its prosperity in decades to 
come, Thais need from Myanmar:  

-the Thanlwin River water to irrigate its northern arid zones  -access 
to Myanmar deepwater port to cut transportation time to the west  -land 
access through Myanmar to India and to China to send its products.  

The aftermath of this incident could be that whatever maneuverings  the 
other  side may devise, either through the Greater Mekong Development 
Project or  BIMST-EC, the long term interest of this country will be in 
the forefront of  whatever decisions it may take. 

In our future relations with the other side, balance of deterrence or 
some  form of the mutually assured deterrence may be the key to maintain 
peace in  the border regions, in addition to adhering to the time 
honoured principles  of peaceful co-existence. Like- wise, good access 
to the border areas, in the  form of roads and bridges capable of taking 
across the hardware matching the  adversary, would be essential, In this 
respect, bridges have already been  built across the River Thanlwin but 
there may be a need for one more in Kayah  State as well as to 
eventually upgrade at least the existing one to the level  capable of 
taking across the heavy hardware. 

Such enhanced measures would assure greater respect by the other side 
and  ensure peace and stability in the border regions of the two 

 Author :Thukhamein 


Asia Times: Whispers of Change in Myanmar?[series coming Thur-Sat]

May 7, 2001  Atimes.com   

Ahead in Asia Times Online 

WHISPERS OF CHANGE IN MYANMAR: A three-part series coming Thursday, 
Friday  and Saturday, May 10-12. Lucy Murray has just visited Yangon and 
writes in  Part 1 of rumors and the prospects for change in the 
political set-up. Part 2  examines the deepening economic crisis in the 
country that is now largely  without electricity, and completely without 
key economic data since the junta  stopped publishing them. In Part 3, 
Murray writes of life on the borderline  for the country's minority 
ethnic groups, and their feeling that change in  the capital will change 
little for them. 


BurmaNet: U2 Highlights Burma on US tour

The rock group U2 is highlighting Burma in a concert tour for the album 
All That You Can?t Leave Behind.  The title comes from an anthem 
dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi and the group makes a point of talking 
about Burma during concerts and makes Burma related material available 
to concertgoers.  The band has a long history of taking on social 
causes, most famously during the anti-apartheid campaigns of the 1980s.

Dates and venues for the USA 'Elevation' Tour Dates 2001
 Sat  24   Miami ... National Car
 Mon  26   Miami ... National Car
 Thurs     29   Charlotte ... Coliseum
 Fri  30   Atlanta ... Philips Arena
 Mon  2    Houston ... Compaq Center
 Tues      3    Dallas ... Reunion Arena
 Fri  6    Denver ... Pepsi Arena
 Mon  9    Calgary ... Saddledome
 Tues 10   Calgary ... Saddledome
 Thurs     12   Tacoma ... Dome
 Fri  13   Vancouver ... GM Place
 Sun  15   Portland ... Rose Garden
 Tues 17   San Diego ... Sports Arena
 Thurs     19   San Jose ... Arena
 Fri  20   San Jose ... Arena
 Mon  23   Anaheim ... Pond
 Tues 24   Anaheim ... Pond
 Thurs     26   Anaheim ... Pond
 Sat  28   Phoenix ... America West
 Tues 1    Minneapolis ... Target
 Thurs     3    Cleveland ... Gund Arena
 Fri  4    Lexington ... Rupp Arena
 Sun  6    Pittsburgh ... Civic Arena
 Mon  7    Columbus ... Nationwide
 Wed  9    Milwaukee ... Bradley
 Thurs     10   Indianapolis ... Conseco
 Sat  12   Chicago ... United Center
 Sun  13   Chicago ... United Center
 Tues      15   Chicago ... United Center
 Wed  16   Chicago ... United Center
 Thurs     24   Toronto ... ACC
 Fri  25   Toronto ... ACC
 Sun  27   Montreal ... Molson Center
 Mon  28   Montreal ... Molson Center
 Wed  30   Detroit ... Palace/Joe Louis
 Thurs     31   Buffalo ... HSBC Arena
 Sat  2    Albany ... Knickerbocker
 Sun  3    Hartford ... Civic Center
 Tues      5    Boston ... Fleet Center
 Wed  6    Boston ... Fleet Center
 Fri  8    Boston ... Fleet Center
 Sat  9    Boston ... Fleet Center
 Mon  11   Philadelphia ... First Union
 Tues      12   Philadelphia ... First Union
 Thurs     14   Washington DC ... MCI
 Fri  15   Washington DC ... MCI
 Sun  17   New York ... MSG
 Tues 19   New York ... MSG
 Thurs     21   NY ... Continental (East
           Rutherford, NJ)
 Fri  22   NY ... Continental


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