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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 _______________
*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
The border town of Mae Sai is flooded with smuggled Chinese and Burmese
goods and is again attracting tourists, but the Tachilek checkpoint
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
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
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.
The Shan State Army held a 'mission accomplished' party on Friday (4
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Fri 22 NY ... Continental
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