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BurmaNet News: June 4, 2001
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
June 4, 2001 Issue # 1817
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
NOTED IN PASSING: "He told us that there will be transition from
military to civilian government in two to four years."
A Rangoon-based diplomat on the UN Special Envoy?s optimistic assessment
of talks between the regime and the NLD. See Reuters: U.N. envoy upbeat
on Myanmar political progress
INSIDE BURMA _______
*AFP: UN envoy completes Myanmar reconciliation mission
*Reuters: U.N. envoy upbeat on Myanmar political progress
*BBC: Burma visit brings hope
*DVB: Burma said "fabricating" news to label Karen National Union as
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Curfew for cease-fire groups imposed
*Burma Courier: New Face at the Table of the Ruling Military Council
*Burma Courier: EIU Revises Outlook for Myanmar Economy Downward
*The Asian Age (India): "Cheap Burmese 'poison' smokes flood the Indian
*Bangkok Post: Shan intensify struggle for recognition
*Bangkok Post: Rangoon raises religious flag to end skirmishes
*Rohingya National Army: Battle news
*Burma Courier: Ahlon Port Terminal Fully Operational
*BBC: Two Burmese journalists honoured
*The Nation: A Thai-Burmese communique?
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Your history doesn?t bear comparison
*WAN: The Golden Pen of Freedom
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
AFP: UN envoy completes Myanmar reconciliation mission
Monday June 4, 4:25 PM
UN envoy Razali Ismail Monday ended a four-day mission to Myanmar where
he met democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the ruling junta in a bid
to revive the reconciliation talks they began last year.
Razali visited Aung San Suu Kyi twice at her lakeside villa during his
visit, and also met the junta's influential number three, Lieutenant
General Khin Nyunt, and Foreign Minister Win Aung.
The Malaysian diplomat is credited with acting as a catalyst for the
historic dialogue that began last October but which in recent months
appears to have faltered after reaching a delicate decision-making
All parties involved in the talks, the first between the military regime
and Aung San Suu Kyi since 1994, have agreed not to divulge any details
of their content or progress.
However, diplomats in Yangon said that Razali's presence after a break
of five months was a good sign that the reconciliation process has not
completely broken down.
"He's come here and been able to talk to both sides and go to and fro
between them and encourage them, and that's pretty important," one said.
"He comes as a special person with a special mandate which the Myanmar
side recognises ... but the situation is all still very delicate."
Senior members of the opposition National League for Democracy had said
they expected the junta would mark Razali's visit with the release of
some of the country's estimated 1,700 political prisoners.
But with no sign so far of any goodwill gesture, or of a hoped-for
official statement on the progress of the talks, there will be
disappointment among those who have so far been left out of the process.
Dissident groups and the nation's many ethnic minorities, whose support
will be crucial in any transition to democracy, have made increasingly
loud calls for light to be shed on the secret dialogue.
"It's difficult for everyone else to have the patience and forbearance
to deal with this situation when we don't have a great deal of
information to go on," the diplomat said.
"The mood here is one that we have to be very patient and we have a long
way to go," he said, adding however that fears Aung San Suu Kyi could
call an end to the contacts appeared to be unfounded.
"I don't think Aung San Suu Kyi is about to call the talks off. That
would be a very serious step and I think she probably think it's better
to keep them going even if they're not making much progress," he said.
Razali wrapped up his visit with a meeting at NLD headquarters with six
members of the party's Central Executive Committee. The three other
members, including Aung San Suu Kyi, are being held by the regime.
Before flying out of Yangon in the early afternoon, he paid a final call
on Foreign Minister Win Aung.
Reuters: U.N. envoy upbeat on Myanmar political progress
Monday June 4, 8:47 PM
By Aung Hla Tun
The U.N. special envoy to Myanmar hopes civilian rule will emerge
within four years and has urged the opposition to have confidence in
historic peace talks with the military government, diplomatic sources
said on Monday.
Veteran Malaysian diplomat Razali Ismail, on Monday ended a four-day
visit to Myanmar which the international community hopes will break an
impasse in talks between the government and pro-democracy opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
A Yangon-based diplomat from one of Myanmar's fellow members of the
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) said Razali told
diplomats during his visit he was confident the country would make the
transition from military rule in coming years.
"He told us that there will be transition from military to civilian
government in two to four years," the diplomat, who declined to be
identified, told Reuters.
But the diplomat said he could not comment on whether Razali was more
optimistic than during his previous visit in January.
Razali had no comment on his visit, during which he had two meetings
with Suu Kyi and held talks with senior members of the military
government and representatives of Myanmar's many ethnic groups.
"The U.N. will issue a statement in New York about the results of my
visit," Razali told Reuters.
Razali helped broker the start of dialogue between the government and
Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi on previous visits.
Leading members of the ruling junta have been holding regular meetings
with Suu Kyi since October, raising hopes that the political stalemate
that has gripped Myanmar for more than a decade could finally be broken.
Both sides agreed to keep the content of the talks confidential and even
senior members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), which
won elections by a landslide in 1990 but has never been allowed to
govern, say they have no information on what progress has been made.
CONCERN OVER DEADLOCK
Concern has been growing that the talks are deadlocked.
Foreign diplomats in Yangon say they believe the dialogue has been
stalled in recent months, amid talk of a heightened power struggle
between senior members of the government.
Some NLD members and representatives of ethnic groups have become
increasingly frustrated about the lack of news on the talks. Diplomats
hope Razali's visit reassured them and can prevent the talks
Razali met members of the NLD's Central Executive Committee on Monday
morning. One of the committee members said Razali encouraged them to
stay confident about the talks.
"He gave us encouragement and urged us to have confidence in the talks,"
the committee member told Reuters.
"Razali told us that he was not a negotiator but a go-between. He said
his duty was just to make us start talks. He said the entire
international community encouraged the talks and they also wish the
process to continue smoothly."
Diplomats say that while the government faces no serious internal
political threat, the country's precarious economic situation is the
main factor pushing the military towards dialogue with the opposition.
Most Western nations have imposed sanctions against Myanmar including
the suspension of aid programmes, a ban on sales of military items,
suspension of access to favourable tariff rates and opposition to
This was due to Yangon's treatment of the opposition and alleged
systematic human rights abuses.
The military says it is committed to building a democracy in Myanmar,
but it says the country could disintegrate if the process moves too
BBC: Burma visit brings hope
Monday, 4 June, 2001, 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
By regional analyst Larry Jagan
The UN special envoy for Burma, Razali Ismail, has completed a four-day
visit to Rangoon.
During the trip he met Burma's military leaders and the opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Analysts believe Mr Razali's trip to Burma might add new momentum to
negotiations between the opposition leader and the military leadership
which he helped to broker last year.
Many have feared that the talks were on the verge of collapse.
Mr Razali told the BBC that he could not comment on the progress of the
talks, but said he expected the UN secretary-general to make a statement
on his trip later on Monday.
Grapping with democracy
Although everyone is being tight-lipped about the progress of the talks,
diplomats in Rangoon believe that the Mr Razali's visit is a clear sign
that the dialogue process is proceeding.
There were earlier concerns that it had stalled.
With the talks taking place in complete secrecy, there is no way of
determining what progress, if any, is being made.
A senior opposition figure told the BBC that the international community
must have patience with the process.
He said that the real problem was that the military were still grappling
with the implications of introducing democracy.
Many of the military commanders, particularly those out in the border
areas, fear that if they move too fast the country could disintegrate.
Senior members of National League Democracy are hoping to see more
concrete signs that progress is being made.
One of them told the BBC that the military had not fulfilled its earlier
promise to release many of the party's political prisoners currently
being held in Burma's gaols.
Their release soon, he said, would certainly be a sign of good faith on
the part of the authorities, as would the release of Aung San Suu Kyi's
from her eight-month house arrest.
DVB: Burma said "fabricating" news to label Karen National Union as
The SPDC [Peace and Development Council] has issued a news release today
[1 June] stating that one passenger was killed and another five were
injured when the KNU [Karen National Union] Karen rebels fired at a
passenger car plying between Myawadi and Kawkareik. The incident
occurred last Wednesday [30 May] at a location near Sukali Bridge close
to Kawkareik. Regarding the SPDC's announcement DVB [Democratic Voice of
Burma] contacted KNU Secretary Phado Mahn Shar and asked him about the
[Begin Phado Mahn Shar recording] Firstly, we have ordered our troops
not to hurt any civilian at all and to avoid any possible civilian
casualty in attacking the SPDC troops. The second point is the civilians
are not our targets and we have a duty to protect them. The third point
is the SPDC has stationed troops very heavily in that area and for us to
go and attack them in that area in such small number is ridiculous. We
have not received any news about that incident. Recently, there were
news that the KNU attacked a passenger car and killed innocent
civilians, in another occasion they said the KNU killed over 20
woodcutters in the forest, and now this. They are deliberately
fabricating these news to label us as terrorists. [End of recording]
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 1 Jun 01
Shan Herald Agency for News: Curfew for cease-fire groups imposed
1 June 2001
The military in Taunggyi has laid down a set of rules for the cease-fire
groups residing in the city, said sources from northern Shan State
A meeting was held on 19 May when Maj. Min Lwin of Military Intelligence
Detachment -23 (MI-23) read a six-point set of rules to the attending
representatives of the cease-fire groups in the Shan capital. He said
the regulations came down "from above".
The rules were as follows:
1. All identifications of each respective group on every motor vehicle
must be erased;
2. Members of all groups are forbidden from wearing military uniforms,
with or without insignias, within city limits;
3.No motor vehicles shall be purchased or driven without official
license; 4. All members must stay indoors form 22:00 -05:00;
5. No traveling members shall enter the city after 20:00;
6. No involvement in drugs.
Sources said so far nothing was heard whether the groups concerned are
following the order. " Anyway, it is difficult to imagine that the Wa
are going to abide by it, especially with regards to Rule # 1,2 and 3",
said a source.
"The authorities' main problem is with the Wa", said another. "It means
other groups will toe the line only if the Wa does".
Burma Courier: New Face at the Table of the Ruling Military Council
Issue of June 2, 2001
RANGOON, May 28 (CNS) -- Virtually unnoticed by the outside world, a new
commander has been appointed to head the Burma Army's military
operations in Mon and Karen states. A news item in the New Light of
Myanmar on May 27 noted that Brig-Gen Myint Swe, the commander of the
Southeast Military Command, had made a speech at the opening of a dam in
Mudon township the previous day.
Brig-Gen Myint Swe replaces Maj-Gen Sit Maung who was killed in a
helicopter crash in February. He previously headed the Drug Control
Directorate of the Ministry of Defence.
As a regional commander he will also assume Sit Maung's position on the
military council that rules Burma. One vacancy remains on the 19-member
council, as no one has yet been named to replace Lt-Gen Tin Oo who also
perished in the same helicopter crash. There have been rumours that
divisions within the ruling junta have prevented the naming of a
successor to Tin Oo, widely known as Secretary No.2.
In an interesting sidenote, the cabinet minister formerly in charge of
the Telecoms Ministry, Brig-Gen Win Tin, would appear to have become a
"non-person" in the military hierarchy in Burma. His name was neatly
excised from translation by the junta's Paris embassy of an article
describing a visit Win Tin made to Beijing just before he got the sack
from the Telecoms position. Sic transit gloria.
Burma Courier: EIU Revises Outlook for Myanmar Economy Downward
Based on the May, 2001, report of the EIU Risk Service
LONDON -- The May report of the closely watched Economist Intelligence
Unit forecasts a more uncertain outlook for the Myanmar economy than
bulletins issued by the EIU earlier this year.
Written before the kyat crumpled to its record street-level low of 900
to the $US in mid-May, the EIU report predicts that "weak reserves, high
inflation and political uncertainty" will drive down the value of the
kyat " more rapidly than we had previously expected". The EIU report
sees little prospect that the junta will attempt to realign the official
value of the kyat, a move believed by many economists to be a key to
long-term recovery of the currency.
The report says that little that is new emerged in the junta's five-year
economic plan for 2001-6, unveiled in April. Development of the
agriculture and energy sectors remain priorities. "However no new
policies have been introduced to help stimulate these sectors."
The EIU notes the current discussions with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi
and ventures the opinion that "an NLD government could be expected to
undertake sweeping economic reform with the assistance of multilateral
institutions. Such developments would result in a faster rate of growth
and a much stronger external environment. . However, until there are
further signs of progress towards political reform, we have maintained
our less optimistic economic forecast."
According to some press accounts, the country's current account balance
- the sum of its external trade, services and private remittance
surpluses or deficits - sank to a record deficit of US$ 500 million in
2000, although the Economist estimate is closer to a US$ 335 million
shortfall. The trade deficit continued at about a billion dollars in
2000, the report says, and overseas remittances and other transfers
again fell, down from a high of US$ 655 million in 1997 to US$ 440
million in 2000.
These remittances from workers and exiles in foreign countries - now a
vital source of foreign exchange and the reduction of the trade deficit
-- will again fall in the current year, the EIU forecasts, as a result
of the tougher climate for migrant workers and the slow down in
Thailand's economy, in particular.
The slowing of economic growth in southeast Asia this year will also
"reduce demand for Myanmar's exports and constrain inflows of foreign
investment". The price of key agricultural commodities and exports, such
as rice, pulses and fish products, as well as timber and rubber, will
continue to move downwards as a result of weakening world demand, the
EIU predicts. "Oil prices will fall in 2001-2, but will remain fairly
high in historic terms, keeping up the pressure on import costs and
hampering industrial activity."
Economic growth in Myanmar will slow to an average of around 5% this
year and next and will only pick slightly in 2002-3 to about 5.3%, the
current forecast says. However, the industrial sector will grow
steadily but slowly at around 7%. "Sluggish foreign direct investment
will hold down manufacturing growth."
Inflation will accelerate to 13% in 2001 and 16% in 2002, fueled by wage
hikes, monetization of the fiscal deficit and upward pressure on prices
of imported consumer goods.
The Asian Age (India): "Cheap Burmese 'poison' smokes flood the Indian
By Gurdip Singh
Date: June 2, 2001.
New Delhi, June 1:Forget the Chinese threat, the latest invaders if
Indian bazaars are Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Burmese "poison" smokes.
Cheap cigarettes from these three neighbours, using low grade tobacco
with defective filters are flooding the Indian markets.
Priced at as low as Rs 4 for a packet of ten, the cigarettes have
turned out to be his no only among regular cigarette smokers but also
among those who otherwise smoke "bidis".
The "invasion" has alarmed both the authorities as well the medical
According to Mr. Uma Rao, former vice-chairman of the Tobacco Board of
India these cigarettes which use low grade tobacco are being smuggled in
from across the border.
"Many of them are filter-less, while others have badly made filters,
which are of no practical use. Lab tests have demonstrated that these
cigarettes have nicotine content of 3 percent or even more. Medical
scientists consider these extremely hazardous for health". Dr. Vinay
Aggarwal, joint secretary of the Indian Medial Association agrees.
"Cheap cigarettes with poorly built filters can be lethal. Smoking
itself is bad, but these could prove to be even more number of people to
dreaded diseases like lung cancer and heart problems in a quicker time
frame", he says.
Brands like Embassy, Gold Flake, Good Luck, Peacock, Aziz Gold have
flooded markets as far removed as Delhi, Jaipur, Siliguri, Hederabad and
The totals size of the Indian cigarette market is about Rs 9000 crore
of which about 35 percent is smuggled, says Mr. Rao. Some Rs 300 crore
worth of smuggled cigarettes are estimated consumed in West Bengal
alone, while South India smokes about Rs 500 crore worth of these risky
The tobacco board official adds that none of the smuggled brands carry
dates of manufacture and "there is a strong possibility these are being
dumped here after their expiry date", something which if true "could
prove to be very hazardous", admits Dr. Aggarwal.
To make things difficult, many of these brands have packs, which look
deceptively similar to globally known ones. "What gives them away are
the Urdu, Burmese or Bangla markings on them", says Mr. Rao.
Bangaladesh is using the highly porous West Bengal border. Trained teams
cross over in the thick of the night with their illicit loads. While
Burmese cigarettes are mostly brought in on country Sampans using
coastal waters. Pakistan which has joined race more recently, smuggles
its deadly cargo across the sands of Rajasthan using camel caravans, say
Most of the manufactures are obscure companies like perfect tobacco and
banani tobacco of Bangladesh and Yonfong Kyukoke of Burma. Mr. Rao who
himself it a top exporter of Virginia grade tobacco says, "I still don't
understand the economics of these manufactures of smuggled cigarettes.
Even if they used the cheapest grade of tobacco, they can't make
cigarettes at these prices, its obvious there is far more than meets the
The Delhi-based Indian Tobacco Institute an apex organization of
domestic cigarette manufactures too has written letters to commerce and
industry secretaries, warning them of this new hazard.
In his letter to the commerce secretary Prabir Sen Gupta, A.C. Sarkar,
the director of the ITI, points out that "scale of international
operations involved in contraband sale of cigarettes has attained such
great magnitude, that governments abroad are taking concert measures to
curb this menace".
He adds that in India too "the rapid and widespread distribution of
these contraband brands indicates the existence of large scale and
efficiently organized operations". (UNI)
Bangkok Post: Shan intensify struggle for recognition
June 04, 2001.
Observers welcome to its military camps Subin Khuenkaew and Nauvarat
The Shan State Army has embarked on a new strategy to seek global
recognition of its decades-old independence movement.
Shan Resistance Day celebrations on May 22 was a successful public
relations campaign which attracted Thai and international media, as well
as Thai entertainers.
The SSA had intensified its independence movement by attacking Burmese
forces and pro-Rangoon United Wa State Army troops opposite Mae Fah
Luang and Mae Sai districts, Chiang Rai, and Fang district, Chiang Mai.
SSA leaders claimed almost all the attacks were aimed at illegal drug
laboratories and smuggling routes.
"Anti-narcotic missions are our first priority," said Col Yod Suek,
chairman of the Restoration Council of the Shan State, mirroring the
Thai government's ongoing fight against drugs along the border.
The idea of narcotics suppression has been raised in place of the
four-decade-long quest for independence. This represented a significant
change in strategy to gain recognition from foreign observers.
The Shan army has received unofficial support from Thailand and expects
the same from the world community. To this end, the SSA set up its own
news agency and tapped into the Internet with it own websites, including
The situation was completely changing for the SSA, which had never
before enjoyed international support because of its unacceptable
involvement in drugs.
It also depends on financial support from its own people, especially
those who deal in precious stones and mineral concessions.
"We are ready to prove ourselves. Anyone can come and see that we are
not involved with illegal drugs.
"Today we need help from all possible channels to allow our people to
survive," said Tuen Saeng, deputy secretary-general of the SSA.
Shan soldiers welcome the press to their military camps, especially Thai
reporters, so that their struggle can be documented throughout the
Although media reports about the SSA have not attracted concrete support
from foreign observers, they have reached thousands of Shan people
living and working in Thailand.
Sources said Shan immigrants in Thailand played an important role in
funding the past few attacks against strongholds of the pro-Rangoon Wa
troops. It was even reported that Shan men working in Thailand took
turns joining their comrades in the fight against Burmese troops.
"The SSA is training a new generation of soldiers. They are relying on
young Shan men who are seeking their fortune in Thailand," the source
Singer Surachai Chantimathorn, also known as Nga Caravan, said the SSA
invited his Caravan band to perform during the Shan Resistance Day.
"I know they need public relations but their PR is not overly done. We
are interested in the problems of ethnic groups.
"We wonder why there is such a longstanding battle. This shows that
injustice exists. We intended to gather information," he said.
Mr Surachai said the SSA invited Ad Carabao for the same purpose.
Mongkol Utok, a Caravan member, said their presence with the SSA did not
mean they supported the ethnic group.
"We have been visiting Indochinese countries for our musical
We have gathered information on lives and this is our first time to
perform beyond the western border. The Burmese government may
misunderstand our presence and ban our entry in the future. But we want
to confirm that we are not a tool of any particular party," he said.
Bangkok Post: Rangoon raises religious flag to end skirmishes
June 04, 2001.
Gen Sommai told to exploit his good ties
Burmese soldiers have apparently called a truce in the disputed border
area of Kuteng Nayong by raising a religious flag next to the Burmese
Lt-Col Suparerk Supapornpol, commander of the 18th Cavalry Battalion,
said the religious flag was raised two weeks ago by the commander of
Burma's 316th battalion.
Burma and Thailand have been locked in a dispute over the
one-square-kilometre area overlooking Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai.
Thai soldiers erected two outposts either side of an existing Burmese
outpost. The three outposts were only 200m apart.
Col Wanthip Wongwai, commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, said Thai
soldiers remained on alert despite the truce signal.
Col Wanthip, who has just been appointed chairman of the Thai Township
Border Committee, said the TBC meeting originally scheduled for May 28
was postponed indefinitely because the Burmese side failed to show up.
Rangoon has not issued an explanation.
Gen Sommai Wichaworn, armed forces chief-of-staff, yesterday visited
border units in Mae Sai and said border disputes had to be settled at a
national-level meeting of the Joint Committee. He was referring to
Kuteng Nayong and Doi Lang in Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai.
He believed the border situation would improve after the visit to Burma
of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Defence Minister Chavalit
Gen Sommai, a former Third Army commander, enjoys personal relations
with Gen Maung Aye, the Burmese army commander, and Maj-Gen Thein Sein,
commander of the Triangle Force. He was assigned by Gen Sampao Chusri,
the supreme commander, to co-ordinate with Burma.
Rohingya National Army: Battle news
Maungdaw (Arakan): May 28,2001
On 27 May (Sunday), at about 11.40 P.M (BST), the freedom fighters of
the Rohingya National Army (RNA) raided a Burma Army Camp at Bodala,
about 30 miles north of Maungdaw town , near Burma-Bangladesh border in
According to RNA report the Burma Army camp was heavily damaged. About
20 enemy soldiers were killed and injured. There is no casualty on the
part of the Rohingya National Army (RNA).
It may be here mentioned that on 5th April 2001 a joint operation of
column of Rohingya National Army (RNA) and Arakan Army (AA) had killed 5
enemy soldiers and injured 12 others.They also destroyed completely the
of Bandoola Camp, 40 miles north of Maungdaw town.
Rohingya National Army (RNA)
Burma Courier: Ahlon Port Terminal Fully Operational
Based on reports from Xinhua and NLM: May 30, 2001
RANGOON, May 30 (Xinhua) - The completion of a major renovation of the
Ahlon ship facility on the Rangoon river was marked Wednesday with a
ceremony to open the reconstructed terminal for ocean-going freighters.
The project to upgrade and extend the two main jetties at the terminal
has been carried out by a subsidiary of drug-lord Lo Hsing Han's Asia
World Company which will operate the facility for the Myanmar Port
The major work of the US$ 21-million project, begun more than five years
ago, has been carried out on the No. 1 Jetty which has been extended to
a length of 184 metres and is now capable of handling up to three 120
metre-long vessels at the same time.
The final stage of the project was marked by the installation of a
104-ton mobile crane which arrived in the port in late April. The wharf
has already been in partial operation since March of 2000. The rebuilt
No. 2 Jetty was commissioned in 1997. Work on extending the terminal's
smaller No. 3 Jetty is still ongoing. The port terminal offers a wide
variety of cargo handling modes, including break-bulk, container, dry
and liquid bulk operations.
On hand for the opening was Teo Siong Seng of Pacific International Line
and Advanced Container Line, who are among the principal users of the
BBC: Two Burmese journalists honoured
Monday, 4 June, 2001, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Two Burmese journalists imprisoned by Burma's military authorities have
been given an international award for their dedication to press freedom
and democracy at a ceremony in Hong Kong.
San San Nweh and U Win Tin, who are both reported to be in poor health
as a result of appalling prison conditions, were given the Golden Pen of
Freedom award by the World Association of Newspapers, which represents
18,000 publications worldwide.
The Association said the journalists, who were politically active in the
opposition National League for Democracy, were struggling with isolation
U Win Tin, 71, a former editor of an independent daily, was jailed for
14 years for allegedly being a member of the Communist party.
San San Nweh, 57, one of the first women to train as a jounalist in
Burma, was jailed for 10 years for publishing information harmful to the
The Nation: A Thai-Burmese communique?
- June 04, 2001.
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has already decided to visit Burma
along with key Cabinet ministers. The trip is so important that it has
been shrouded in secrecy. Several feelers were sent out last week about
the pending visit, but no one has given a specific time frame. Yet it is
almost certain that the trip will take place before the Constitution
Court wraps up its month-long deliberation on June 18.
Both sides are planning to issue a joint communique at the end of
Thaksin's visit. Judging from the ways the two countries have been
intensely engaged in the past 100 days, the all-purpose Thai-Burmese
communique will certainly be called "historic" and is highly likely to
contain the following points:
1. The Burmese government welcomes the visit of Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra. Knowing and appreciating full well the prime minister's
difficulties in coping with the political and juridical situation back
home, it is hoped that this trip will contribute to uplifting his image
as a courageous leader.
2. Thailand and Burma have enjoyed a long historical relationship. They
agreed that to improve their relations, the media should write only
positive things. It does not matter if the media is a government
mouthpiece. The New Light of Myanmar has shown the way here: after a
series of articles attacking Thailand and its past monarchs, the same
author praised the present monarch. Ridiculous as it might seem, this is
deemed appropriate as it has helped to jack up bilateral relations. It
so provided the justification for this historic visit.
3. Both sides have agreed to convene the Joint Border Committee, long in
abeyance. The committee will prepare an agenda and ensure that all
important issues are included since the last time it met almost two
4. Both sides have discussed bilateral issues affecting their relations,
including drugs, refugees, fishing cooperation and border demarcation.
New infrastructure projects and telecommunications plans were discussed
during the four-eye meeting.
5. On the drug issue, Thailand and Burma agreed to sign a memorandum of
understanding that bilateral efforts alone were not sufficient to cope
with the drug issue. Both countries also recognise that drugs are the
scourge of their nations and should be eliminated. Therefore anti-drug
efforts must not be confined to a bilateral framework but should involve
other regional countries and international organisations. The issue of
minority involvement in the drug trade was not discussed as there was no
representatives of United Wa State Army.
6. On fishing cooperation, Burma is working out new concessions for
fishing grounds. The Thai side will be invited to take part in "free,
fair and competitive" bidding to win new fishing concessions. This will
ensure the survival of thousands of Burmese fishermen working on Thai
trawlers, some of which have Burmese names.
7. Both sides have exchanged views related to the problem of displaced
persons from Burma. The discussion was serious and frank, as usual.
Burma was very sincere in expressing its strong commitment to take back
all these refugees if they could prove that they were of Burmese
nationality. Thailand was also sincere arguing that these refugees were
not Thai and should leave the country the same way they came in. Both
sides will take up this issue when they meet in the future.
7. The two countries acknowledge that their excellent relations are
crucial for the unity and stability in the region constantly at each
other's throat. They should avoid being the two black sheep of Asean.
Before 1997, Thai-Burmese tit-for-tat did not affect the political image
of Asean as Rangoon only joined Asean four years ago. Asean is still
very proud of its 34-year record that its members have never fought a
war except for exchanges of artillery shells and gunfire along the
8. Although the future and fate of Third Army Region commander General
Wattanachai Chaimuanwong was not touched on directly owing to
constraints of time, it is a welcome sign for the betterment of
Thai-Burmese relations that he will be promoted to the Supreme Command
Headquarters later this year.
9. To strengthen further relations, the two countries decided
unanimously to erect more statues along their porous border. The Burmese
side will continue construction of a statue of King Bayinnaung facing
the Thai side. In a similar fashion, the Thai side will erect a statue
of King Naresuan with his elephant's tusks pointing at Burma. It was
agreed the Thai side needed to hurry.
10. Both sides have agreed to meet soon. It is likely that the Thai
leaders will come to Burma.
11. This communique is drawn up in three languages, English, Thai and
Burmese. In the event of dispute, the English version shall be
authoritative provided that it is the same as the other two. Otherwise
each side may interpret it in whichever way suits its domestic
Signed in Rangoon, in the year of 443 AFFY (After the First Fall of
The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Your history doesn?t bear comparison
Monday, 4 June, 2001
By Kappiya Kankaung
I have to say what is necessary as crazy Siam (Thailand) media,
comparing their history with ours, are hurling preposterous accusations.
A study of historical facts about the existence of a sovereign
independent nation shows that Ayudhaya dynasty, the significant one in
the history of Siam, was many centuries later than Bagan dynasty in the
history of Myanmar.
In the history of Myanmar, there were successive dynasties before the
time of King Anawrahta (AD-1044). With regard to administration, there
were only Khayaing (district) and Taik (administrative unit) systems.
Ancient Myanmars called the place where they settled Khayaing (the
administrative district). And other expanded areas were called Taik (the
administrative unit). Successive kings after King Anawrahta extended
their kingdom, and the term nation emerged.
According to the book entitled Siamese history prior to the founding of
Ayudhaya by Siamese Prince Damrong, included in the empire of King of
Bagan Anawrahta was Lavo city situated in Chao Phraya of Siam. That Lavo
city is now called Lop Buri city.
The empire of the first Myanmar Kingdom (the empire of the King of Bagan
stretched up to Patikhara Province (now Bangladesh) to the west, up to
Jun Province (now the northern and north-west parts of Siam) to the
east, up to Nansaw Province (Gandalariz) to the north and up to
Taninthayi coastal region and Cape Salang (now Junk Ceylon) to the
south. The empire which was significant in the history of Siam was
founded by Rama Tibodi 1 only in AD1350. The area and royal power of the
empire was not significant enough to put on record. Its civilization was
not as high as that of Beikthano city (Pyu Period) in AD 1.
What I would like to say at this point is concerned with the
manufactured matter included in the propaganda film designed to incite
hatred against Myanmar that the troops of King Bayintnaung cut the head
of the Bronze Buddha Image in Siam and melted and cast it into a cannon.
To that extent, they tried to bring disgrace on Myanmar. The fact they
wanted to highlight was that King Bayintnaung and his Myanmar national
troops desecrated the religion, Sasana and culture of Siam.
In fact, Myanma hero King Bayintnaung behaved like the sun and fire in
defeating crushing Siam (Ayudhaya), which broke its promises and rose in
rebellion. But, when the king of Siam surrendered himself, King
Bayintnaung behaved like the moon and water. He was the king who had
physical and moral courage and safeguarded justice.
King Bayintnaung, after taking Siam (Ayudhaya), at once repaired things
which were damaged due to war. He had buildings, especially pagodas,
temples, stupas, monasteries and rest houses repaired. It can be said
that he sponsored the ordination ceremony for those who wished to enter
In order to rebuild Ayudhaya according to the time, the king sent for
hundreds of architects from Hanthawady and got them to rebuild it.
Stated on the page number 154 of the book entitled the Art of South East
Asia by Phillip Rawson was how architectural designs of Ayudhaya period
in Siam improved under the supervision of Myanmar architects.
It is said that after King Bayintnaung of Myanmar attacked and occupied
Siam, the artistic works and architecture of Siam reached their peak in
the 17th century. The wooden works of the palaces and monasteries in
Siam showed how the architectural and artistic works of Myanmar were
The walls were built of brick and cement. They were long. On the walls,
common paintings depicting the birth stories of the Buddha were drawn.
These paintings can be seen to date at Vat Yai Suwannaram and Vat
Buddhaisawan in Ayudhaya. The painted diamond-shaped wooden blocks and
brackets showed the architectural designs and sculptural work of
Now everybody can understand the matter. After King Bayintnaung seized
Ayudhaya on Tuesday, fourth Waning of Wagaung of 931 ME, the king
himself supervised the renovation of the city.
After two months, a coronation ceremony was held to install King of
Pitsanulok Maha Dhamma Raja as the king of Siam (Ayudhaya). After giving
100 pieces of silver and 13 viss of gold for renovation of religious
buildings which were in a state of dilapidation, the king returned to
The Siamese (Thais), who are today collecting money from tourists after
pointing to the ancient city Ayudhaya, should pay homage to King
Bayintnaung ten times before they go to bed and ten times after they get
out of bed. Like their accusations made to disgrace Myanmar, if King
Bayintnaung had destroyed Ayudhaya to the ground, the place would have
been like a cemetery.
Author : Kappiya Kankaung
WAN: The Golden Pen of Freedom
Hong Kong, 4 June 2001
The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) on Monday awarded its annual
press freedom prize, the 2001 Golden Pen of Freedom, to imprisoned
Burmese journalists San San Nweh and U Win Tin in recognition of their
outstanding services to the cause of press freedom.
San San Nweh and U Win Tin were imprisoned for their support of Burma's
freedom movement. Both have suffered unspeakable hardships, and both are
in poor health. Prison authorities have offered to release them if they
renounce all political activity, and both have refused to do so.
"We know that if they survive until 2010 and 2004, when their respective
sentences expire, they have every intention of continuing their work in
support of democracy in Burma," said Ruth De Aquino, President of the
World Editors Forum, who presented the award. She called their
experiences "a tale of terror."
The prize was accepted on their behalf by Burmese actor and democracy
advocate Aung Ko, who said: "U Win Tin and San San Nweh will never lose
their heart and never change their mind for the cause which is noble to
"People often ask me if freedom of expression in Burma is controlled. I
say no, because there is no freedom to be controlled, as it is
confiscated," he said.
The presentation was made during the opening ceremonies of the 54th
World Newspaper Congress and 8th World Editors Forum, which drew nearly
1,000 newspaper publishers, senior executives, editors and their guests
to Hong Kong, for the four-day annual meetings of the world's press.
U Win Tin is the former editor of the daily Hanthawati newspaper,
vice-chair of the Burmese Writers Association and a founder with Nobel
Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League of
Democracy, Burma's main pro-democracy party. The NLD's landslide
election victory in 1990 was not recognised by the military regime.
He is also the 2001 laureate of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize.
U Win Tin was arrested in 1989, tried in a closed military court and
sentenced to 14 years in prison for advocating democracy. A year later
he played a leading role in a hunger strike inside the notorious Insein
prison, and in 1995 he smuggled out letters describing prison conditions
to Yozo Yokota, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights
for the country.
For this act, U Win Tin was beaten, removed from all human contact,
deprived of all writing materials, transferred to Myingyan Jail in the
north of Rangoon and sentenced to an additional seven years
imprisonment. He is suffering from degeneration of the spine, heart
disease, chronic dental problems and high blood pressure.
Dissident writer San San Nweh, 56, was the first woman to train as a
journalist in Burma. She was editor of two journals AD Gita Ppade-tha
and Einmet-hpu AD and is a novelist and poet.
She was imprisoned for ten years in August 1994 for "anti-government
reports" to French journalists and for "providing information about the
human rights situation to the UN special rapporteur for Burma."
She is reportedly sharing a tiny cell with three other political
'convicts' AD forced to squat because of lack of head room, and allowed
to talk for only 15 minutes a day. She is suffering from kidney
infection, arthritis, partial paralysis, high blood pressure and eye
WAN, the global association of the newspaper industry, has awarded the
Golden Pen annually since 1961. Past winners include Argentina's Jacobo
Timerman (1980), Russia's Sergei Grigoryants (1989), China's Gao Yu
(1995), and Vietnam's Doan Viet Hoat (1998). The 2000 winner was Nizar
Nayouf of Syria.
Editors: Photos of U Win Tin and San San Nweh are available for use from
the WAN web site, www.wan-press.org.
The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry,
defends and promotes press freedom world-wide. It represents 17,000
newspapers; its membership includes 68 national newspaper associations,
individual newspaper executives in 93 countries, 17 news agencies and
eight regional and world-wide press groups.
For further information, contact Larry Kilman, Director of
Communications, at WAN, 25, rue d'Astorg, 75008 Paris, France, tel: +33
1 47 42 85 00, mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36, fax: +33 1 47 42 49 48,
email:lkilman@xxxxxxxxxxx, Internet: http://www.wan-press.org
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