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BurmaNet News: May 26, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
May 26, 2001 Issue # 1810
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Xinhua: Myanmar, India Sign MOU on Maintenance of Road
*AFP: Singapore, Myanmar open fourth round of economic talks
*Mizzima: Burmese kyat stabilizes
*Independent Mon News Agency: Khun Sa invests in cement factory
*Nation: Chavalit may visit Burma ahead of PM To lay groundwork for
patching up ties
*AFP: Senior Myanmar diplomat applies for asylum in United States
*AP: Thaksin warns relations with Myanmar in danger of collapsing
*AP: Human Rights Watch calls for Myanmar to release detained lawmakers
*AP: Canberra to repeat human rights lessons in Myanmar
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Perceiving the truth
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Xinhua: Myanmar, India Sign MOU on Maintenance of Road
YANGON, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar and India have reached a memorandum
of understanding (MOU) on maintenance of the India- built Kalay-Tamu
highway road, according to the Myanmar Ministry of Construction
Saturday. Representing respective countries, Managing Director U Nay Soe
Naing of the Public Works of Myanmar Ministry of Construction and
Additional Secretary Leela K Ponappa of the Indian Ministry of External
Affairs signed the agreement here on Friday.
The event was witnessed by Myanmar Deputy Ministers of Construction U
Tint Swe and Brigadier-General Myint Thein, Myanmar Deputy Minister of
Foreign Affairs U Khin Maung Win and Indian Ambassador to Myanmar Shyam
Saran. In February, Indian Minister of External Affairs Shri Jaswant
Singh attended the inaugural ceremony of the Kalay-Tamu highway in Tamu,
a border town on Myanmar's northwestern Sagaing division linking India.
The 160-kilometer-long Kalay-Tamu highway, which India built for Myanmar
at a cost of one billion Indian rupees (about 22 million U.S. dollars),
forms an important link from the Indian- Myanmar border to central
Myanmar and the commercial and cultural center of Mandalay.
Mizzima: Burmese kyat stabilizes
Burmese kyat stabilizes
Rangoon, May 23rd 2001
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)
Burmese kyat has stabilized and edged higher in its exchange with US
dollar after declining to its lowest ever record last week. "The kyat
has risen against the dollar in the (black) market. It is around 740/750
kyat to the US dollar today", said a currency dealer in Rangoon. Burmese
kyat declined to record lows last week hitting the market with kyat
850/900 to the US dollar.
The country?s Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) has also strengthened
itself today with the prevailing market rate of kyat 720/730 to the FEC.
The authorities had cracked down on some dozens currency dealers in
Rangoon and Mandalay after the sudden slide of kyat last week. ?Those
dealers who were arrested are not yet released?, said the currency
dealer who wants to remain anonymous.
?Words are spreading that the authorities are warning the people not to
talk and discuss about the currency exchange situation?, said a Rangoon
Independent Mon News Agency: Khun Sa invests in cement factory
Oo Kun Sa (Drug King) also invested in a new cement factory project in
Mying Kalay town Karen State southern Burma described by IMNA reporter.
This cement factory started constructing in 1998 and SPDC are trying to
open it in December 2001.
In this factory they appointed only military officer who were finished
military engineering and when they are constructing they used only
engineer from the army.
This factory was managed by military, and named Oo Paing Ltd, but
Zaykabar, Oo Khin Shew, Oo Kun Sa and a Japanese company also invested.
They had an agreement that cement produced from this factory has to sold
to Japan for 20 years. After 20 years military will own it. For this
factory, Japanese company bought the machinery which runs on natural
AFP: Singapore, Myanmar open fourth round of economic talks
SINGAPORE, May 25 (AFP) - Singapore and Myanmar held a fourth round of
bilateral economic talks here Friday, as Southeast Asia's most affluent
country works "to strengthen the economic integration" of its struggling
The Myanmar economy is reeling from a crippling regime of sanctions,
and foreign investments have all but dried up owing to the stigma
attached to investing in a country blamed by the West for serious human
However, well-off Singapore has adopted a policy of "patient and quiet
diplomacy" towards the ruling junta, encouraging Myanmar to open up via
economic engagements such as investments and tourism.
Friday's meeting endorsed 22 new initiatives "for sustained economic
growth in Myanmar," and agreed to negotiate a bilateral investment
guarantee system, the trade ministry said in a statement at the end of
Singapore is the largest foreign investor in Myanmar, with total
investments of 1.54 billion US dollars.
The planned new agreement would encourage greater investor interest,
not only from Singapore but from foreign companies based in the
Singapore is Myanmar's largest trading partner, although bilateral
trade peaked at just 1.3 billion Singapore dollars (725 million US) in
1997, the year Yangon joined the 10-nation Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In a speech opening the talks, Singapore Trade Minister George Yeo
noted an erosion of confidence in ASEAN in the past three years and that
foreign direct investment (FDI) had dropped from 28 billion US dollars
in 1997 to 15 billion US dollars in 1998.
"For the year 2000, FDI inflow is expected to be even lower. It is
therefore critical for Myanmar and Singapore to work with other
countries in ASEAN to build a more conducive, pro-business and
investment-friendly environment," he said
Last November, Singapore unsuccessfully tried to raise support to block
the International Labour Organisation from recommending sanctions
against Yangon over the issue of forced labour.
A month later, Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong threatened to
call off talks between ASEAN and the European Union amid reports some
European ministers would not attend because of Myanmar's presence.
Nation: Chavalit may visit Burma ahead of PM To lay groundwork for
patching up ties
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh may go to Burma before the prime
minister's official visit to lay down the groundwork for the two
countries to settle their differences.
In the wake of the growing border conflict, Gen Chavalit said he would
seek permission to do so from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
He said he would tell Rangoon that Thailand was concerned about the
amount of drugs being smuggled in from Burma.
He would also inform Burma that Thailand has no reason to support ethnic
He insisted the military and police were ready to cope with further
hostile action following the shelling of a royal project at Doi Angkhang
in Fang district, Chiang Mai. Gen Chavalit warned people not to become
victims of a "third hand" that might be trying to drive a wedge between
Burma and Thailand.
The deputy prime minister said he had discussed the situation with the
prime minister and Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.
Mr Thaksin believed the conflict stemmed from mistrust between the two
countries despite two visits to Burma by the foreign minister and
Thammarak Issarangura na Ayutthaya, PM's Office minister. He said the
situation had not improved because of border tensions.
He admitted the conflict was being developed from local level to the
government-to-government level and action must be taken to stop it.
AFP: Senior Myanmar diplomat applies for asylum in United States
BANGKOK, May 25 (AFP) - A senior Myanmar diplomat stationed at the
United Nations headquarters in New York has applied for asylum in the
United States after his four-year term expired, sources said Friday.
Ko Ko, formerly the first secretary in Myanmar's mission to the United
Nations, left his official residence in New York earlier this month, a
source in the foreign ministry in Yangon said.
He had been ordered to return home with his wife and two children in
April, the source said, adding that he had now been dismissed from the
The US embassy in Bangkok declined to comment on the case, saying all
applications for asylum remained confidential.
The diplomat's move comes just days before the UN's special envoy to
Myanmar, Razali Ismail of Malaysia, is due to make a landmark visit to
the military-run country.
Razali is expected to try to push along the dialogue between the junta
and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which is believed to have run
into trouble in recent weeks as it entered a delicate decision-making
AP: Thaksin warns relations with Myanmar in danger of collapsing
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra warned Friday
that Thailand's relations with Myanmar could be destroyed because of
growing mistrust following weeks of border skirmishes and angry words.
``Mistrust is a key reason of Thai-Myanmar problems. Mistrust started
at the border level, which aroused hate between people of the two
nations,'' Thaksin said.
``The mistrust is going to destroy
government-to-government relationship if we are not careful,'' he told
On Thursday, Thailand's Foreign Ministry summoned Myanmar's ambassador,
Myo Myint, to formally protest articles in a state-run Myanmar newspaper
that allegedly insulted the Thai monarchy.
The protest came as long-standing tension between the two nations
reached a new peak following Myanmar artillery shells landing Tuesday on
Thai soil, narrowly missing a royal villa near the border. The two sides
have been firing at each other since February.
Thaksin said the defense and foreign ministers are trying to solve the
problems together. ``It will take sometime to mend the conflict,''
He appealed to the Thai people to ``understand the situation'' and not
``rise up to protest against Myanmar because of mistrust.''
Separately, Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh said Thailand was
not an enemy of Myanmar. ``We want to sit down and talk before
everything gets out of hand,'' he said.
But, he added, Myanmar's Foreign Minister has not made a decision
whether to come to Thailand. ``So we cannot proceed in solving the
conflict,'' he said.
The tensions between the two countries stem from a series of problems,
but principally over drug smuggling.
The Thai press and officials accuse Myanmar's military government of
ignoring the large scale production of the illegal drug methamphetamine
by ethnic minority groups, mainly the United Wa State Army, based along
the border for sale in Thailand.
Wa has been named by the U.S. State Department as a major drug producer
in the area. But Myanmar's junta defends the Wa, saying the group has
stopped producing drugs since the 1989 cease-fire and is now sincerely
developing its homeland, just as other former rebel groups are doing in
other border areas after giving up their armed struggles.
Myanmar's state-controlled press has retaliated with sometimes crude
articles and cartoons attacking Thailand for alleged hypocrisy and
historical misdeeds. The articles in The New Light of Myanmar daily
which Thailand said insulted its monarchy referred to matters that took
place in the 19th century.
Myanmar also accuses Thailand of providing sanctuary and support to
anti-government rebel groups.
AP: Human Rights Watch calls for Myanmar to release detained lawmakers
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ An international human rights group called
Friday for the release of 85 people who were elected to parliament in
1990 but later detained after Myanmar's ruling military annulled the
The New York-based Human Rights Watch issued the call ahead of Sunday's
anniversary of the elections, which were won by the National League for
Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
The elections would have put an end to 28 years of military rule.
Instead, the military blocked Parliament from convening, saying it would
draft a new constitution, a process that has not made any notable
progress. The ruling military also has harassed and repressed members of
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.
In the past six months, the military has opened a dialogue with Suu
Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace laureate, in an effort to ease the political
deadlock. The military regime has been ostracized by the West for its
poor human rights record and failure to hand over power to a
democratically elected government.
Most of the detained lawmakers were arrested in crackdowns on the
political opposition after the elections, but some have been held since
1990, said Human Rights Watch.
The group says it believes all are being held for the peaceful
expression of their political views.
Besides the 85 members of Parliament, at least 1,000 other political
prisoners are in detention, Human Rights Watch said.
Other lawmakers fled into exile or were pressured to resign from their
political parties, while ``at least four are believed to have died in
detention,'' said Human Rights Watch.
It urged the government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, ``to
immediately and unconditionally release all imprisoned members of
``By freeing all imprisoned MP's, the Burmese government could
demonstrate its willingness to begin addressing the country's massive
human rights problems,'' said Joe Saunders, deputy Asia director for
Human Rights Watch. ``To have a truly meaningful dialogue, all
opposition leaders should be free to express their views and ideas.''
Some of the detained members of parliament have been tried and
convicted under national security statutes, while others are being held
without charges in government ``guest houses'' at military bases
AP: Canberra to repeat human rights lessons in Myanmar
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) _ Australia is planning to run a series of
human rights workshops for civil servants in Myanmar's military regime
for the second year, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Friday.
The workshops provoked condemnation when introduced last year but
diplomats at the foreign ministry who assessed the lessons said they had
some value, prompting Canberra to run them for a second time.
``We harbor no illusions about the difficulty of promoting change in
Burma, but continue to believe that it is worth trying to promote
long-term progress through raising awareness in the specific area of
human rights,'' Downer said in a statement.
This year, the four-day workshops will be conducted in Mandalay as well
as the capital, Yangon, and representatives of Burmese civil society
organizations will be invited to join.
``They will raise awareness of international human rights standards and
relevant United Nations conventions,'' Downer said.
The lesson will be conducted by lecturers from Australia's Monash
University at a total cost of 140,000 Australian dollars (dlrs 72,000).
Military rulers in Myanmar, also known as Burma, have long been
criticized for the regime's failure to implement election results and
repeatedly detaining pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Perceiving the truth
Thursday, 24 May, 2001
Hearsay is what you hear from those who are not directly involved. The
information heard through others and not from the horse's mouth is
difficult to be considered as true. Believing only what you see with
your own eyes or what you yourself have experienced is perceiving the
At present, the Myanmar government and all the national people are
striving hand in hand to completely root out the opium, the evil legacy
of the colonialists, from the nation. Due to the concerted efforts of
the government and the national people, opium cultivation is
significantly decreasing in and disappearing from the nation. As peace
has been restored in border areas, the national ethnic groups and the
State have been able to pay more attention to totally wiping out the
The Narcotic Drugs Elimination Museums have been built in the nation,
one in Mongla town in eastern Shan State and another in Laukkai town in
northern Shan State. Mongla region was already announced to the world as
an Opium-Free Zone in April 1997. All the national races peace groups
are making all-out efforts to declare their regions " Opium-Free Zones".
Myanmar has gained success right from the first year in implementing the
15-year project to eliminate the narcotic drugs harming the entire
mankind. The first five-year period of the 15-year project is from
1999-2000 to 2003-2004; the second five-year period, from 2004-2005 to
2008-2009; the third five-year period, from 2009-2010 to 2013-2014. The
fiscal 1999-2000, which is the first year of the project, has concluded
successfully. The government spent K 1,319.6054 million and US $
1,495,417 in implementing the first year of the 15-year project.
The government has carried out the security duties and launched
operations to stop drug trafficking and production in border areas,
taken action against and handed down sentences on the drug- related
offenders, destroyed poppy fields and torched the seized narcotic drugs
in the presence of the international community. It is also actively
cooperating with her neighbouring countries, other world nations and the
United Nations to eliminate the narcotic drugs.
Myanmar, the People's Republic of China, Laos, Thailand and the United
Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) signed the Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) on Drug Control in the Subregion at the UN General
Assembly in New York, the United States, in October 1993 with the belief
that concerted international efforts are required to address the severe
problems of illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse in the
Cambodia and Vietnam joined the regional anti-narcotics efforts and
became parties of the regional group at the first Ministerial Meeting of
the signatories to the 1993 MoU which was held in Beijing, PRC, in May
1995. Thus, the number of signatories to the MoU has increased to six.
Myanmar hosted the Ministerial Meeting of the six signatory countries to
the MoU Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, the People's Republic of China,
Cambodia and Vietnam and the Senior Officials Meeting as well as the
High Level Officials Meeting at Hotel Equatorial in Yangon from 8 May to
On 8 May, Myanmar-Thai and Myanmar-China High Level Officials Meetings
were held in the morning session and Cambodia-Vietnam and Cambodia-Thai
High Level Officials Meetings were held in the afternoon session. The
MoU Senior Officials Meeting was held on 9 and 10 May. The MoU
Ministerial Meeting was held on 11 May.
At the MoU Ministerial Meeting which was held on 11 May, Secretary-1 of
the State Peace and Development Council Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt delivered the
In his address, the Secretary-1 said " In the world today, the
political, economic and social fabrics of individual nations as well as
peace and stability of various regions of the world face increasing
threats ranging from the illicit production, transportation and
trafficking of narcotic drugs, to drug-related crimes, and
narco-terrorism, as well as from money-laundering and trans-border
crimes committed by organized gangs. Moreover, the phenomenon of drug
addiction among youth is increasing world-wide. The problem affects not
only individual families but also the whole society directly or
" The process of globalization as well as advances in information and
communication systems and networks mean that the world is growing
smaller. At the same time, it can be seen that these developments have
opened the door for the criminal elements to take advantage of these
conditions for their nefarious schemes. " The menace posed by narcotic
drugs to the entire world cannot and must not be underestimated. The
problem of narcotic drugs is not confined to any single nation. Nor can
it be resolved by any one nation."
Author : Maung Hmat Kyauk
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