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BurmaNet News: May 13, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
May 13, 2001 Issue # 1806
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*DVB: Exiled Burmese minister says cabinet reshuffle not to affect
*AFP: Riches of the sea whet adventurers' appetites in Myanmar
*The Nation: Fighting 'Not Serious Enough' for Missiles - Chavalit
*Bangkok Post: Clashes 'Caused by Unclear Messages'
*Freedom News (SSA): Parng Kwai Battle
*AP: Myanmar drug burn is more than a dog-and-pony show
*Reuters: Myanmar ethnic group denies making, selling drugs
*Reuters: Myanmar to help Thailand fight drugs-Thai minister
*The Nation: Burmese in Drugs Bonfire
*AP: Malaysia mulls expanding military ties with junta
*Mizzima: Burmese called off hunger strike
*The Nation: Border Confusion Targeted
*The Nation: The Foreign Ministry on Surakiart's Burma Trip
*The Nation: Sidelines: Kid Gloves Don't Work with Burmese Junta
*The New light of Myanmar: Those who daren't show their face - 15
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
DVB: Exiled Burmese minister says cabinet reshuffle not to affect
Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 11 May
DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the SPDC [State Peace
and Development Council] has appointed two new ministers and one deputy
minister. The announcement, signed and issued by SPDC Secretary-1 Lt-Gen
Khin Nyunt, has appointed Brig-Gen Thein Zaw, chairman of Magwe Division
Peace and Development Council, as minister of communications, post and
telegraphs; U Tin Win, SPDC ambassador to the USA, as minister of prime
minister's office; and U Chan Nyein as deputy minister of science and
technology. Former Communications, Post, and Telegraphs Minister
Brig-Gen Win Tin was dismissed without cause while former Deputy Science
and Technology Minister U Win Hlaing's portfolio was changed to Social
Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. The SPDC announcement did not give any
reason for the cabinet shake-up.
According to news received by DVB, Communications, Post and Telegraphs
Minister Brig-Gen Win Tin after holding talks with Skylink Company owned
by Daw Sandar Win, daughter of U Ne Win [former general and chairman of
now defunct Burma Socialist Programme Party], delayed a proposal by U
Aye Zaw Win [husband of Daw Sandar Win] to permit the import of 100,000
GSM mobile phones. Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt became angry with the decision and
dismissed him from his post. U Tin Win, SPDC ambassador to the USA, was
appointed as Minister of Prime Minister's Office to replace Prime
Minister's Office Minister Brig-Gen Lun Maung who died in the February
A total of 16 persons including SPDC Secretary-2 Lt Gen Tin Oo,
ministers, commanders and senior military officers died in the
helicopter crash in February. Just as the SPDC authorities have been
unable to give any official report about the crash till now, they have
also been unable to appoint substitutions to replace important positions
including that of SPDC Secretary-2 Lt Gen Tin Oo and Southeast Military
Commander Maj-Gen Sit Maung. News has emerged that the helicopter
crashed due to shootings inside the helicopter and the rift between
Military Intelligence Chief Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and Army Commander in
Chief Gen Maung Aye has been the underlying cause for not being able to
fill the vacant SPDC secretary-2 and the commander positions.
DVB has contacted National Council of the Union of Burma Secretary U
Maung Maung Aye and asked him how the SPDC's cabinet reshuffle could
affect the development of Burma's political situation.
[U Maung Maung Aye] We do not think any new ministerial appointments and
changes in ministerial portfolios will have an effect on the political
situation in Burma. It is under a totalitarian regime and the situation
in Burma is unlike any other democratic country. The cabinet does not
have much role to play. In reality, the country has been monopolized and
manipulated by the so-called SLORC [State Law and Order Restoration
Council]-SPDC clique. That is why we believe that the appointment of any
new minister or the dismissal of a current minister will not be a cause
for any significant change. The important thing is the fact that whether
the SPDC will be able to replace those who perished in the helicopter
crash especially Secretary-2 Lt Gen Tin Oo's position and the position
of Thura Sit Maung [Southeast Military commander]. That will definitely
be of interest to Burma and the Burmese people. We can only see that as
the cause for unusual events.
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 11 May 01
AFP: Riches of the sea whet adventurers' appetites in Myanmar
Sunday May 13, 9:43 AM
MERGUI, Myanmar, May 13 (AFP) - For many years Myanmar has dreamed of
reclaiming its vast fishery resources, which until now have been far
more ably exploited by neighbouring Thailand.
But a French colonel-turned-businessman, who has established close links
with the generals in Yangon, promises to change all that by building the
first deep sea port along the military-run nation's 2,800 kilometres of
Jean Pichon, an old Indochina hand who settled in Yangon in the early
1990s, has a grand vision.
In Mergui, a picturesque archipelago of 800 islands in the south of
Myanmar, the old soldier turned business mercenary plans to construct
the "biggest fishing port in Asia".
Vice-chairman and CEO of Myanmar Fisheries International (MFI), he says
there is "an abdundance of marine resources in Myanmar's seas even
though others around it have become depleted."
"Myanmar's fish are the only ones in the world which die of old age," he
Ground was broken on the project a year ago and the first phase of
construction is already completed at a cost of some 10 million dollars.
The site covers a 55-hectare (150-acre) industrial zone which within
another 12 months time, if all goes to plan, is destined to host a
processing factory and a container port that will be linked with the
According to the grand design it will eventually be transformed into a
complex integrated facility complete with customs, immigrations
services, banks and other infrastructure.
The icing on the cake is a planned 120-kilometre (75 mile) "highway"
which in three years would link Mergui with the southern Thai port of
The Thai capital Bangkok, with its established markets and teeming
tourist industry, will then be less than six hours drive away.
All up, the project is worth some 70 million dollars, representing the
biggest private investment ever to land in the laps of the military
regime which runs the woefully underdeveloped country.
Pichon -- a former colonel in the French marines who has no qualms about
his involvement with the pariah government -- controls 60 percent of the
project trough his company Setraco, in association with an unnamed
"powerful Singaporean partner".
The fisheries ministry holds 30 percent and a Myanmar businesswoman
Kyawt Kyawt Lwin controls the remaining 10 percent.
Today, a 225 metre long jetty, bristling with 21 cranes, stands waiting
to welcome its first visiting vessels which are due to begin sailing in
at the end of this month.
Meanwhile, A dozen trawlers busily unload empty barrels on the pier in a
dry run aimed at ensuring everything goes smoothly when the fish begin
pouring in to the facility.
"Opposite the jetty, a "international auction room" sprawls over 20,000
square metres. Very soon, Pichon dreams, it will be alive to the cries
of prices being set for fish destined for Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan
"If it works, there will be a second one," says 58-year-old engineer
Jean-Robert Behar, who is supervising the work.
The idea is to encourage the use of Mergui to process fish from Myanmar
waters which until recently have been offloaded at the Thai port of
Ranong, depriving Myanmar of profits estimated at hundreds of millions
of dollars a year.
"The advantage of Mergui is its proximity to fishing zones, which are a
maximum of eight to ten hours away," says Pichon, adding that the
project is also more ecologically friendly.
"Before, there was appalling wastage. Now the Myanmar government has
given us the right to control the marine resources with its coast
guards. All the trawlers will be equipped with the Argos geo-positioning
system to monitor their movements."
"We hope for the first time to monitor the stocks," says oceanographer
Jacques Marcille, 57.
Yet some observers in Yangon are sceptical about Pichon's motives as
well as the predictions of a fortune in fish out there for the taking,
which they say is not backed up by scientific data.
They put the whole scheme down to the megalomania and empire-building of
an old soldier.
But, say Pichon's friends and fellow adventurers, "all that's just
The Nation: Fighting 'Not Serious Enough' for Missiles - Chavalit
Sunday, May 13, 2001
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh yesterday rejected Burmese
accusations that Thai jets had fried missiles into its territory, and
said the recent border fighting had not been serious enough to warrant
such an action.
Burma on Friday lodged la "strong protest" against Thailand, saying two
F-16 fighter jets had fired seven missiles, of which three had exploded
and injured four adults and two children.
After touring the border area, the scene of the fighting between Burma
and Thai troops, Chavalit said the Burmese accusations were incorrect.
"The situation along the border isn't so tense that we needed to use the
Air Force. Besides, such an attack would have needed approval from
defence minister," Chavalit told reporters accompanying him.
Earlier, Chavalit was briefed about the skirmishes by Army officers of
the Phamuang Task Force at the border, 580 kilometres north of Bangkok.
Chavalit said the situation at the border "was not a big deal". "Thai
and Burmese soldiers have no dispute at all," said.
But Burma's warning on Friday that it "reserved the right to take
appropriate action" has escalated tensions between the uneasy
neighbours, who have had angry exchanges for years, principally over a
dispute involving illegal drugs.
Thailand says the drugs are being smuggled in huge quantities from
Burma's border regions by the pro-Rangoon ethnic Wa guerrillas and that
the Burmese military junta does little to stop it. Burma denies the
accusations. Chavallit said the misunderstanding over the F-16 flights
could have resulted from the "centralised" system of government in
Burma, suggesting it was a communication gap between Burmese field
officers on the border and the military junta's generals in Rangoon.
"In Burma everything is centralised in Rangoon, which may not be that
good, but that's the way they run the country, so if anything happens
[on the border], everyone must wait for Rangoon to give an order,"
On Friday the Thai Air Force said two F-16s had flown sorties over the
border area on a reconnaissance mission but dropped no missiles or
bombs. It said the loud bangs heard had been sonic booms.
But Thai residents on the border said the planes had fired missiles,
which they said had fallen into Thai territory and caused no injuries.
The F-16 flights came after the army said it had driven a group of
ethnic Wa guerrillas from a disputed hill. Chavalit cancelled a
scheduled trip to the hill because of bad weather.
Meanwhile in Rangoon, Burmese army chief General Muang Aye blamed
Thailand for taking in and supporting rebels, local newspapers reported.
"Unable to secure a base inside [Burma], the drug-trafficking Ywet Sit
group was en-tirely dependent on outside help," said Burma's No 2
leader, without naming Thailand.
Bangkok Post: Clashes 'Caused by Unclear Messages'
Sunday, May 13, 2001
Chavalit puts blame on minority rebels
Unclear messages and lack of good communication lines between Burmese
border troops and the miltary leadership in Rangoon had led to
Thai-Burmese border clashes, Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said
Gen Chavalit made the comment after he was briefed on the latest
situation at Hua Lone hill in Fang district, Chiang Mai, the scene of
heavy fighting between Thai troops and guerrillas of the United Wa State
Army, which has the support of Burmese border troops.
Gen Chavalit said Thai-Burmese border tensions often resulted from
unclear messages sent by Burmese border troops to
their superiors in Rangoon.
A good example was the incident at Hua Lone hill, he said. Burmese
troops at the border had made an unfounded claim that Thai air force
jets had fired missiles at them on Thursday.
Rangoon then sent a letter to Bangkok protesting against what it
described as an air strike by two Thai F-16 jet fighters that wounded
six people and killed three head of cattle inside Burma.
"We have not dropped a bomb or fired any missiles," Gen Chavalit said.
He also said a border clash in February at a Thai military outpost at
Ban Pang Noon, Mae Fah Luang district, Chiang Rai, could have been
avoided had the Burmese military commander been aware that his order for
his men to withdraw from the area had been ignored.
The outpost, located about 500m inside Thailand, was seized by some 200
Burmese troops who used it as a springboard to launch assaults on a Shan
rebel base straddling the border.
Gen Chavalit said the Burmese commander did not know that his forces
remained on Thai territory even after he had ordered them to withdraw
from Ban Pang Noon by the 4pm deadline set by the Thai side.
The Burmese intruders suffered heavy casualties after fierce shelling by
the Thai side after the deadline expired.
Burmese forces then retaliated by firing mortar rounds into Chiang Rai's
Mae Sai border town.
Gen Chavalit said there was no real conflict between Thai and Burmese
The real cause of Thai-Burmese border trouble was Burma's ethnic
minority rebels operating along the common border, he said.
Meanwhile, two Thai soldiers were reported wounded yesterday when they
stepped on a booby trap planted at Hua Lone hill by Wa soldiers before
Freedom News (SSA): Parng Kwai Battle
13 May 2001
On 4th May 2001, 3 SSA troops from 404th Battalion, 758th Brigade led by
Sergeant Kar Wi made an attack on the Burmese camp of Parng Kwai, in
Murng Pieng area, Ho Pong township. The casualty of the enemy was not
known while SSA troops were safe.
On 6th May 2001, 5 SSA troops from 100th Battalion, 198th Brigade led by
Sergeant Zai Aw stormed a Burmese camp in Murng Yorn area, Hsi Hseng
township. Two enemy were killed in the clash while SSA men suffered no
AP: Myanmar drug burn is more than a dog-and-pony show
By GRANT PECK
May 12, 2001
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Close to a billion dollars in opium, heroin and
amphetamines went up in smoke Saturday as authorities in Myanmar sought
to impress foreign governments and media with the seriousness of their
efforts to stamp out the illicit drug trade.
The destruction of seized drugs was staged to coincide with a regional
meeting held to coordinate the anti-drug efforts of Cambodia, China,
Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
The three-day meeting, held under the auspices of the United Nations
International Drug Control Program, ended Friday, but many delegates
stayed on to see Myanmar's real efforts in the field.
Drug burnings have become a ritual in Southeast Asian countries, making
a public relations virtue out of the necessity to dispose of the
dangerous drugs. Myanmar has conducted 15 such events.
On Saturday, the seized drugs were laid out along tables set end to end
for about 66 feet.
The drugs -- including 2,862 pounds of opium, 255 pounds of heroin, 968
pounds of marijuana and 2.7 million amphetamine tablets -- were mostly
in their original packing: brown paper wrapping, plastic bags and jute
sacks. Below the tables was gasoline-soaked wood for kindling.
The total street value of the drugs in the United States would be $920
million, officials said.
At each of these drug burning events, foreign drug experts are invited
to test random samples.
A typical program includes slicing open a bag and dropping a sample into
a test solution: amphetamine turns the solution orange, heroin a shade
Observers are then motioned back for the big moment. A button ignites a
fire that engulfs the table, burning the packets and sending white
powder spilling to the ground.
The opium burns slowly, like peat. Heroin, its derivative, burns
slightly faster. The marijuana burns like the dry leaves it is.
Amphetamines send flames high into the air, burning fiercely with huge
heat and billowing black smoke.
Afghanistan and Myanmar are the top two producers of opium and heroin.
Hoping to shake off its unsavory reputation, Myanmar is eager to show
off its drug-fighting efforts.
While Myanmar's military government has curbed opium production
considerably, the country has in recent years become a major source of
methamphetamine, the cheap and popular stimulant that is wreaking social
havoc in several Asian nations.
Police Maj. Gen. Soe Win, secretary of the Central Committee for Drug
Abuse Control, said Myanmar cannot be blamed entirely for
methamphetamine production because other countries supplying the raw
materials have an obligation to tighten their law enforcement.
Reuters: Myanmar ethnic group denies making, selling drugs
By Aung Hla Tun
MONG YAWN, Myanmar, May 13 (Reuters) - A Myanmar ethnic group says it
stopped producing and selling narcotics several years ago and has
invited foreign governments and drugs agencies which doubt its innocence
to check for themselves.
Khin Maung Myint, liaison officer for the Wa people who live in the
notorious Golden Triangle about 700 miles (1,120 km) northeast of
Yangon, admitted his group used to produce narcotics but he said they no
longer did so.
``Seeing is believing,'' Khin Maung Myint told reporters on a rare trip
to the Wa region on Saturday organised by Myanmar's military government.
``I hereby invite all unbiased and unprejudiced international media
persons and responsible officials to come to our region and check
whether the accusations are right or wrong,'' he said.
Neighbouring Thailand has accused the Wa, an ally of the Myanmar
military, of being the source of most of the drugs flooding into
Thailand from the Golden Triangle, the mountainous area where Thailand,
Laos and Myanmar meet.
Myanmar, keen to stress its anti-drugs credentials, hosted a
U.N.-sponsored conference on drugs in Yangon last week and said it was
ready to cooperate with other countries in the region in the fight
The offer looked like an olive branch to Thailand, whose relations with
Myanmar have been soured by Thai charges of Wa drug production and
Myanmar's counter-accusations that the main drug makers were the Shan
ethnic group, allied to Bangkok.
International drugs officials have said the Wa's military wing, the
United Wa State Army (UWSA), is a major producer of the stimulant
methamphetamine, known in its crystalline form in the West as Ice.
They say the Golden Triangle is also the second biggest source of opium
and its derivative heroin after Afghanistan.
Thai officials recently identified one particular building just inside
Myanmar on the Thai border which they said was a major methamphetamine
Khin Maung Myint denied this. ``This is the building which the Thai
army commander, Lieutenant-General Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, told the
Thai media was a stimulant factory,'' he said, pointing to what appeared
to be a large rice storehouse.
``COME HERE ANY TIME''
``You can come here any time after seeking permission from the Myanmar
government, and you are free to go anywhere and to check any building in
our region,'' he said.
Khin Maung Myint admitted that the Wa had been in the drugs business
``We decided to give up this business in 1996 at the insistence of the
Myanmar government and international community and we introduced a poppy
substitution project,'' he said. ``I can assure you that the Wa people
will never be involved in any drug activities,'' he added.
Myanmar authorities arranged a two-day trip to Mong Yawn area for 30
journalists and officials from the United Nations International Drug
Control Programme (UNDCP) and neighbouring countries to inspect the Wa
Relations between Thailand and Myanmar have deteriorated since the
election in January of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who
pledged to ``wage a war against drugs.''
Myanmar protested on Friday at what it said was an airstrike by Thai
jet fighters against the Wa region. Thailand denied it had attacked the
The Wa spokesman said Thai journalists and officials were not invited
to the Wa region because they were ``very biased and prejudiced and will
never report what they really see here.''
``We love peace. But if the Thai Third Army keeps attacking us like
this, we will not tolerate it any longer. We will be forced to
respond,'' he added.
In Yangon on Saturday, Myanmar officials ceremonially destroyed what
they said was $920 million worth of narcotics.
In the presence of UNDCP officials, they burnt 1.3 tonnes of opium, 116
kg (255 pounds) of heroin and 27 million stimulant tablets. Other drugs
were crushed with a steamroller.
(With additional reporting by Chris Johnson in Bangkok)
Reuters: Myanmar to help Thailand fight drugs-Thai minister
BANGKOK, May 13 (Reuters) - Thailand said on Sunday that the
relationship with Myanmar remained good and the neighbouring country
would cooperate closely with Thailand to fight drug production and
``The relationship between Thailand and Myanmar is still good, there
are no problems between us,'' Thammarak Isarangura, a Thai minister at
the Prime Minister's Office told reporters upon his return from Yangon.
The Thai minister held a meeting on Friday with Khin Nyunt, the
powerful Secretary One of Myanmar's ruling State Peace and Development
Following the meeting, held on the sidelines of the United
Nations-sponsored drug conference, the two countries have agreed to hold
a joint-committee meeting to discuss ways to solve the drugs problem,
``Myanmar informed us in the meeting that they would cooperate closely
with Thailand to help solve the drug problems,'' said Thammarak.
The meeting date has yet to be set, however.
Thailand would also seek meetings with China for the same purpose, the
Thai minister said. He did not elaborate further.
Thailand has been urging Myanmar's military government to help stem an
estimated 700 million methamphetamine tablets flooding across the border
from Myanmar every year.
``About the conflicts between the two countries at the borders,
Thailand and Myanmar will hold as many meetings as possible between the
two countries to solve the problems,'' said Thammarak.
Bilateral relations between Thailand and Myanmar are at their lowest
ebb in years following cross-border shelling over two months ago.
The relations worsened when military-ruled Myanmar said on Friday that
two Thai F-16 jet fighters separately fired rockets inside Myanmar,
wounded six people and killed three head of cattle.
Bangkok has denied the accusation, saying Yangon appeared to have
mistaken a routine air exercise on Thursday for an air raid.
The Nation: Burmese in Drugs Bonfire
Sunday, May 13, 2001
The Nation, Rangoon
To showcase its drug-suppression efforts t the international media and
foreign diplomats, the Burmese government yesterday incinerated illicit
drugs with a street value of almost Bt40 billion. Some 1,300 kilograms
of opium, 116 kg of heroin, 440 kg of marijuana and 2.7million
methamphetamine tablets went up in smoke in the latest of periodical
burnings of seized drugs.
The bonfire followed the conclusion of a three-day meeting sponsored by
the United Nations International Drug Control Programme to coordinate
the drug-suppression on Friday,, attended by PM's Office Minister
Thamarak Isarangura, it was agreed to crack down on precursor chemicals
used to produce heroin and methamphetamines.
AP: Malaysia mulls expanding military ties with junta
Saturday, May 12, 2001
ASSOCIATED PRESS in Kuala Lumpur
Updated at 3.43pm:
Malaysia is considering boosting military ties with Burma, possibly
including joint exercises, the chief of the Malaysian armed forces said
The move is likely to raise international controversy. Burma's military,
which has ruled the country since 1962, is widely criticised for
suppressing democracy and human-rights abuses against rebellious ethnic
General Zahidi Zainuddin received Burma's air force chief Lieutenant
General Kyaw Than and was quoted by the Malaysian news agency Bernama as
saying talks were under way to enhance ties between the air forces and
armies of both countries.
"I fully endorse measures towards strengthening military ties between
Malaysia and (Burma),'' said General Zahidi, adding that joint exercises
were a possibility in the future.
Malaysia has long been a defender of Burma, and was instrumental in
bringing the country into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in
1997. Malaysia has argued that sanctions many countries impose on Burma
are counter-productive and make change harder.
Thailand, a neighbour of both countries, has accused the Burmese
government of staging incursions on Thai territory and supporting armed
ethnic groups that traffic heroin and methamphetamines.
The Golden Triangle area where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos
converge is one of the world's biggest production centres for heroin and
Elements in both the Thai and Burmese armies have been accused of
abetting and profitting from the trade.
General Zahidi said that General Than told him that Thailand and Burma
were talking to ensure that there would not be a repeat of border
clashes earlier this year, but warned that Burma was ready for any
The Burmese government is committed to rid the entire area from drug
production and develop it, General Zahidi quoted General Than as saying.
Mizzima: Burmese called off hunger strike
New Delhi, May 13, 2001
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
The Burmese asylum-seekers in New Delhi had called off their hunger
strike on Saturday after they were assured that UNHCR will re-interview
all of them for the refugee status.
Total 24 Burmese asylum-seekers, who are Chin nationals from Burma,
started a hunger strike in New Delhi on May 8, demanding for refugee
status and assistance allowance. They alleged that UNHCR-India office
has neglected their plight for protection and assistance, some of their
cases had been pending with the UNHCR for several months and many of
them were rejected.
On Friday, Mr. Augustine Mahiga, Chief of Mission of the UNHCR India had
assured the hunger strikers that his office will start interviewing
their cases from Monday onwards and will announce the results within a
week after interview. He also assured them that he will tell the police
not to arrest them.
Out of 24 Burmese asylum-seekers, UNHCR has already granted six persons,
including a mother of six-month old baby, the refugee status while they
were undertaking the hunger strike. The UNHCR officials have issued the
date of interviews for the rest and the results are expected to come out
in two weeks time.
However, the Burmese protestors continue to stay on the roadside in
front of the UNHCR office on Lodhi Road, saying that they do not have
any place to go. They will be there until the results come out.
In a memorandum to Mr. Mahiga dated today, the Burmese asylum-seekers
however mentioned that they are calling off their hunger strike
temporarily to ôreciprocateö his kind response and added that they are
determined to resume their hunger strike if they are not granted refugee
status and monthly subsistence allowance.
The Nation: Border Confusion Targeted
Saturday, May 12, 2001
Opposition plans to file motion
The opposition will file an urgent motion next week asking the
government to explain the contradictory messages it and the Army are
sending out about the tension on the Thai-Burmese border.
The problem has been brewing since February, when Thailand declared war
on the flow of drugs from Burma. Former deputy foreign minister
Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the motion, scheduled to be filed on
Thursday, is directed at the confusion caused by statements made by
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and other military leaders about
the situation on the border. This includes the Third Army's latest
operation to dislodge Rangoon allied Wa fighters from Chiang Mai's Hua
Chavalit has been at odds with Third Army Commander General Wattanachai
Chaimuenwong over the aggressive attitude the latter has taken towards
Chavalit said the Wa intrusion on Hua Lone Hill, beginning on Monday,
did not require the aggressive response made by the Army. Chavalit
reportedly ordered the Third Army to stop shelling the Wa on Wednesday,
the day before they retreated over the border. The Army has accused
Burma of helping the Wa take the hill.
"How can one say the WA intrusion was a small matter. Foreign aggression
even of one inch is a big matter," Sukhumbhand said.
The Nation: The Foreign Ministry on Surakiart's Burma Trip
Saturday, May 12, 2001
Director, Press Divisiondepartment of Information Ministry of Foreign
I refer to The Nation article "Surakiart in Burma, Junta rejects
overtures" on May2 suggesting that Foreign Minister Surakiart's trip to
Burma was doomed to failure. The article contained a number of errors
and inaccuracies which may partly explain why such an incorrect
conclusion was arrived at despite the fact that The Nation's
correspondent was with the minister's party. I would like to correct the
following errors in the article:
1. You reported that Foreign Minister Surakiart told Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra by telephone from Burma that "the Burmese response
was less than forthcoming than he had hoped". At no time during his
visit did Minister Surakiart telephone PM Thaksin. Minister Surakiart
called the prime minister on May 3, the day after he arrived back in
Bangkok, to report the results of his visit.
2. The article also reported that Minister Surakiart was scheduled to
call on General Than Shwe on May 2. This is also not correct. The only
occasion Minister Surakiart met General Than Shwe was together with his
Asean counterparts in their collective call on General Than Shwe on
3. Whether the visit was or was not a success, suffice it to reiterate
what Minister Surakiart stated in his interview upon his return to
Thailand that he has found the visit most gratifying, achieving, in
particular, progress in the issue of utmost
importance to the Thai side, namely the suppression of narcotic drugs.
In addition to the formal meetings, Minister Surakiart had separate
private meetings with Lt-General Khin Nyunt and
Foreign Minister Win Aung. During the two private meetings, each side
raised their issues of major concern which were discussed in a frank
Based on such talks, Minister Surakiart returned home with confidence
that the Burmese top leaders whom he met are sincere in their desire to
cooperate with Thailand in the fight against narcotics. The following
can be described as important and concrete breakthroughs in our attempt
to obtain cooperation from Burma on drugs and other issues of concern.
3.1 Burma has agreed to Thailand's proposal to conclude a Memorandum of
Understanding on Drug Eradication and Cooperation. Burmese authorities
concerned are considering a draft MOU presented by the Thai side and
have indicated that only a few minor legal details need to be worked
out. If negotiations are successful, it is hoped that the MOU can be
signed during Prime Minister Thaksin's visit to Burma.
3.2 Earlier, China had responded positively to Minister Surakiart's
proposal to establish trilateral coooperation in drugs prevention and
suppression between Thailand, China and Burma. Minister Win Aung has
confirmed to Minister Surakiart Burma's readiness to participate in the
Talks among officials of the three sides are scheduled to begin soon.
3.3 Both sides have agreed to resume the Joint Commission (JC) Meeting
which has not met for almost two years. Foreign Minister Win Aung has
also accepted Minister Surakiart's invitation to visit Thailand which
may be scheduled back to back with the JC or possibly earlier.
3.4 The two sides also agreed to hold the Thai-Burma Joint Boundary
Committee in the near future. Dr Pracha Kunakasem, senior advisor to the
foreign minister, will head the Thai delegation.
3.5 Bilateral matters aside, but in terms of future stability for Burma
and the region as a whole, equally important, Minister Surakiart
reiterated Thailand's unequivocal support for the process of national
reconciliation. Having been informed by the Burmese leadership of
positive developments in the process, the minister stressed that it was
crucial to maintain the momentum. Thailand, the minister told his
counterpart, stood ready to assist in any way it could, if requested.
I hope the above clarification will be published in your newspaper so as
to present an accurate picture and provide correct understanding to your
The Nation: Sidelines: Kid Gloves Don't Work with Burmese Junta
Sunday, May 13, 2001
As Prime Minister Thaksin and his team are still busy with a series of
workshops for setting the agenda and policy direction on domestic
affairs, they continue to face the thorny issue of the worsening
relationship with Burma following long-running border problems.
The latest armed clash, involving a duel of mortars and artillery fire
between Thai forces and a combined unit of Burmese and Wa troops, saw a
larger scale of border conflict, mixed with a frequent war of words. Now
the military junta in Rangoon has accused the Thai forces of using jet
fighters to attack targets inside Burma. Defence Minister Chavalit
Yongchaiyudh countered that the loud noises were just sonic booms to
scare the Wa fighters.
It does not matter who is right or wrong in the on-and-off border
conflicts, which have led to border closures at various points, hurting
the trade on which the peoples of the border depend for income. The
latest incident flared up just after Foreign Minister Surakiart
Sathirathai returned from negotiations with his counterpart in Rangoon.
The effectiveness of diplomatic negotiations between Thailand and Burma
has always been questioned. Too many parties on the Thai side want to
have a hand in the relationship with Burma. Under the Thaksin
administration, there is even more confusion and blurred direction.
The prime minister himself wants to get tough with Burma so that Rangoon
will come clean about its policy on the Wa. All along it has been
perceived that the rulers in the capital have turned a blind eye to the
tribe's profitable production and distribution of the so-called mad
drug, with Thailand as the main outlet.
Of late General Chavalit has been making loud noises and his presence
felt in diplomacy towards Burma, for reasons best known to himself. The
former army chief has even been at odds with the Third Army Region
commander Lt-General Wathanachai Chaimuanwong, who has been talking and
acting tough with the Red Wa and their supporters in Rangoon.
Prime Minister's Office Minister General Thammarak Israngkun also has a
say in the way Thailand deals with the conflict.
So there are at least four parties, not to mention the National Security
Council and the Defence Council for that matter. Diplomatic niceties
mixed with tough talk have boiled down to confusion for the people at
home. Who is the boss, and what should be done in the way we negotiate
The pattern of the bilateral relationship with Burma shows that Rangoon
has never shown eagerness to seek negotiations during normal times or
after conflicts have flared up. It has always been the Thai side,
especially the military led by its chief representative Chavalit, in
different positions, who is perceived as the person who understands the
mentality of his counterparts in the junta.
History shows that if he had such clout with the junta leaders,
bilateral relations would not have been rocky and strewn with periodic
conflicts that are getting worse. In the view of his compatriots,
Chavalit has been surprisingly soft on Burma, even after many border
clashes that have resulted in casualties for the Thai side. Again, this
is evidence that his style of schmoozing, chortling and chummy diplomacy
does not work.
Let us conclude then that kid-glove diplomacy with the Rangoon junta
will never produce long-lasting peaceful neighbourliness. Is it perhaps
time to talk tough with them? This will be the subject of long debate
before the proper means are found.
One thing the Rangoon military junta must enlighten the Thai side on
when next both meet in its capital is how the Red Wa have been able to
finance the rapid expansion and high-cost development of Mong Yon near
the Thai border, which serves as the main hub for narcotics production
The Burmese junta should also tell the world how the Red Wa have been
earning income for all their development projects, including a
hydroelectric dam, making the whole area more like an autonomous city.
The area is a far cry from other towns in Shan State, which have been
targets for repression by the central government for decades.
Can we presume that the Rangoon junta never believed us when we insisted
that the Red Wa community was the main source of the methamphetamine
supply and that the tribe had the blessing of the central government? If
this is not so, what plausible explanation can they produce? Is it time
we dealt from strength? If, that is, we have it.
Let's not forget that the Burmese government is a military dictatorship,
which resorted to cheating the lady who won the general election and has
now been under house arrest for nearly a decade. If they could cheat
her, they should not be expected to behave like gentlemen and keep their
word after what are supposed to be frank and sincere diplomatic
negotiations with us.
Before Prime Minister Thaksin leads a delegation to Rangoon, he should
come up with a clear direction and sort out the different approaches
among the members of his government and the agencies concerned. Another
of his workshops on the Burma issue would certainly do no harm.
The New light of Myanmar: Those who daren't show their face - 15
Sunday, 13 May, 2001)
(Continued from 12-5-20001)
Similarly, the Wa people have raised 300 pigs for meat and 3,000 layers
for eggs at Loisansaw by applying modern breeding methods. In Mongyun
area also fish have been bred in a three-acre pond, and 2,000 layers,
1,500 pigs and 2,500 draught cattle have been raised in the farms.
Minyaza bottled water factory at Panhai, Monghsat Township, has started
production and distribution of bottled water. Two 200-kilowatt
generators and another two 400-kilowatt generators have been installed
in Mongyun region.
The honey orange and vineyards are thriving in the surrounding areas of
Tachilek. Over 900 acres of land have been put under 40,000 lychee and
4,200 other trees including mango of local (Mandalay Seintalone) and
foreign species. A 15-acre farm in Pahsat village is raising over
16,000 layers and producing round about 12,000 eggs daily. The farm is
making an annual profit of K 20 million. The Wa people also raise 8,400
turtles, 80,000 perch and 170,000 ngakhu (a kind of catfish). The
1,012-acre Mine-zin pig farm of international standard in Kengtung
Township has a pig raising compound, a livestock breeding centre,
separate accommodations for male and female pigs, a reproduction
sector, feedstuff warehouses, insecticide areas, a laboratory, staff
quarters, a messing hall, a briefing hall, a helicopter pad, a weighing
hall, an office building and feedstuff processing machines. The farm's
current daily production capacity is 3,000 viss of pork.
Some Thai army officials and authorities are ignoring the regional
development and nation-building endeavours of the Wa people which are
making progress. Instead, they are making unjust accusations on the Wa
people, talking in an over bearing manner that the government has no
control over Wa people and that the government should clarify its
relations with the Wa ethnic people. I assume that these Thais are
thinking themselves as the king of the kings. Myanmar people never give
orders to and make interferences in internal affairs and intrusions
into other nations. Myanmar never yields to any alien orders,
interferences or intrusions but reacts to even the big nations for such
acts. It is not required for the national people of Myanmar to pay heed
of the Thai authorities and the Thai army.
I dare say that the Thai authorities and the Thai army are not sincere
in calling an opium insurgent like Ywet Sit " Shan ethnic freedom
fighter" while brazenly launching slanderous accusations against Wa
people saying that the Wa ethnic people are producing and trafficking
large amounts of drugs. In reality the Wa nationalities are joining
hands with the government in conducting regional development and
Over a decade ago, the national people of Myanmar who were living near
the border with Thailand were caught in the middle of the armed
conflicts of the national races. Those who were the victims of the
conflicts had to lead an unstable life for their continued existence.
During the time, our national brethren living near the border had to
buy all their daily necessities including food from Thailand at
excessively high prices.
But at present, regional development and nation-building endeavours of
the ethnic people including Wa nationalities, who have won back peace,
have upset the past's condition. As our national people can now produce
the food and foodstuff which were imported from Thailand in the past,
the Thai goods can no longer penetrate our markets at the border. The
regional development undertakings of the Wa people have ensured food,
clothing and shelter sufficiency for the national races; and the Wa
people can even sell their farm produce in Thailand. Thus, Thailand
sees the Wa people as the ones who are disturbing them.
A mountain road built for smooth transport
Such situations have negative effects on the Thai interest and its
Greater Thailand Policy. Thus, the Thai authorities and the Thai army
are using Ywet Sit to cause problems at the border. They are also using
Ywet Sit, who is being kept by their country as a guard dog at the
border, with wicked schemes to destroy the unity, peace and the
improving social life of the national people of Myanmar.
As the Thai authorities and the Thai army are cooperating with drug
trafficking Ywet Sit insurgent group in launching intrusive attacks on
Myanmar territory, accusing the Myanmar Tatmadaw of being involved in
drug production and launching unfounded accusations on the Wa people in
order to destroy the national solidarity and peace of Myanmar, these
Thai authorities and the Thai army are breaching the ethics of the
good-neighbourly practices and the principles to be observed by the
members of the ASEAN nations; and by committing such evil acts, they
have become so shameless and that their political status is shameful.
So, I would like to say that they are the persons who do not dare to
show their face.
Author :Pauk Sa
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