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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 _______________

*DVB: Exiled Burmese minister says cabinet reshuffle not to affect 
political situation

MONEY _______
*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 
political situation

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 
helicopter crash. 

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 
local airport. 

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 
Bang Saphan. 
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 
and elsewhere. 

"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," 
Chavalit said.
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

Cheewin Sattha

Chiang Mai

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 
border troops.

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 
their retreat.


Freedom News (SSA): Parng Kwai Battle

13 May 2001

Battle News

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 


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 
of purple.  
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 
against narcotics. 

 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. 


 ``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 
until 1996. 
 ``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 
Council government. 
 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, 
Thammarak said. 

 ``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.

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

AP: Malaysia mulls expanding military ties with junta 

Saturday, May 12, 2001


Updated at 3.43pm:
Malaysia is considering boosting military ties with Burma, possibly 
including joint exercises, the chief of the Malaysian armed forces said 
on Friday.  

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 Nation

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 
Lone Hill.

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

Chalit Manityakul

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 
April 30. 
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 
trilateral arrangement.

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

Sopon Onkgara

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 
with Burma? 

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 
and trafficking.

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 
nation-building tasks.  

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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