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BurmaNet News: June 18, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: June 18, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2001 01:06:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
June 18, 2001 Issue # 1827
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
NOTED IN PASSING: ?...traitors, ciphers and fugitives.?
The regime?s description of the Burmese staff of the BBC, Voice of
America, Radio Free Asia and Democratic Voice of Burma. See The New
light of Myanmar (SPDC): Those who daren't show their face - 18
*AP: Myanmar military eases pressure, allows opposition office to open
*AP: Myanmar press critical of Thailand ahead of Thaksin's visit
*Asiaweek: Behind the War of Words--Have Myanmar's generals learned to
listen as well as lecture?
*Xinhua: Myanmar's Domestic Tax Revenue Up in First Two Months
*Xinhua: Myanmar's Customs Duties Income Up Sharply in 1st Two Months
*Xinhua: Myanmar's Machinery Import up in First Two Months
*Asiaweek: Copper miner denies using forced labour in Myanmar
*Xinhua: Thailand, Myanmar to Sign MOU on Drug Suppression-- Report
*AFP: Annan welcomes release of prisoners in Myanmar
*The Nation: Thaksin taking risk in Burma
*The Nation: PM urged to tip hat to Suu Kyi
*Bangkok Post: Premier to cement ties, fix relations
*Bangkok Post: Rivals agree to sign accords, build trust
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Those who daren't show their face - 18
INSIDE BURMA _______
AP: Myanmar military eases pressure, allows opposition office to open
June 16, 2001
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ In the latest move easing pressure on Myanmar's
pro-democracy movement, the military government has given the National
League for Democracy permission to reopen some of its offices in the
capital after releasing eight elected opposition legislators.
``Out of 40 NLD offices in Yangon Division, 18 branch offices will be
allowed to reopen out of which nine will put up their old party
signboards,'' U Lwin, secretary and central committee member of the
National League for Democracy told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The government on Thursday released eight elected members of Parliament
from the 1990 general election whose results the military refused to
honor, never allowing Parliament to convene. The National League for
Democracy won a landslide victory in the polls.
The releases marked the third batch of political prisoners freed since
January. A group of 84 National League for Democracy members were
released from Insein Prison in January and 16 more were released in
The releases followed the start of secret talks between National League
for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the military government, whose
existence was made public in early January by U.N. special envoy Razali
Ismail, a mediator in the country's political deadlock.
One of those released Thursday, 83-year-old Dr. Saw Mra Aung, was one
of the country's oldest political prisoners.
The others released on Thursday night from so-called ``government guest
houses'' inside military bases were Maung Aye, Ba Swe, Han Zaw, Tun
Kywe, Tun Myaing, Myint Thein and Cin Shin Htan.
Saw Mra Aung belonged to the Arakan League for Democracy and Cin Shin
Htan to Zomi National League for Democracy. The other six released
detainees belonged to the NLD.
``With the release of eight elected representatives on Thursday, 27 MPs
now remain at so-called guest houses. We are hopeful that more will be
released soon,'' said the NLD's U Lwin.
The military started a campaign of repression against the NLD soon
after the election.
Military authorities detained hundreds of elected representatives,
mostly from the NLD, in 1998 following the opposition party's
announcement that it intended to unilaterally to convene a parliament.
Junta leaders had said they would be released when they renounced their
intention to convene an alternative parliament.
AP: Myanmar press critical of Thailand ahead of Thaksin's visit
June 16, 2001
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Myanmar's state press on Saturday announced the
upcoming visit of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, but a critical
commentary in one newspaper suggested he might not get a very warm
Thaksin's visit, to take place June 19, had already been announced in
Thailand. The prime minister had said since taking office in February
that a visit was a priority, but postponed his trip several times due to
tensions between Yangon and Bangkok, as well as pressing domestic
Relations between Thailand and Myanmar, also known as Burma, have been
at their lowest ebb in years since several small border clashes between
their soldiers in February.
Thailand accuses Myanmar's military government of turning a blind eye
to the production and trafficking of the illegal stimulant
methamphetamine, which is smuggled into Thailand in huge quantities.
Myanmar accuses Thailand of failing to tackle the drug problem within
its own borders, and of supporting Myanmar anti-government guerrillas.
A short announcement in the official press Saturday said that Thaksin
would be making his visit at the invitation of junta chairman and Prime
Minister Gen. Than Shwe.
A separate commentary in the Myanmar-language Myanma Ahlin daily blamed
some Thai officials and members of the military as well as the Thai
media for creating misunderstanding and driving a wedge in relations
between the countries.
``I strongly believe that relations between the two neighboring
countries which share a common geographical conditions and religious
background should be smooth and free of any obstacle,'' wrote the
pseudonymous author ``Pauk Sa'' in the state-run daily.
``However, Thailand should understand how Myanmar people had suffered
due to Thailand's conduct which is contrary to mutual trust and
understanding and in violation of good neighborliness.''
The author pointed out that Thailand has portrayed Myanmar in a
negative light in their school books and movies, and repeat familiar
charges about Thai support for Myanmar anti-government groups.
``Thai media in connivance with some Thai army officials have made
biased allegations against the Myanmar people, the Myanmar government
and Myanmar military leaders. Armed with their pens, Myanmar historians,
columnists and writers eventually retaliate for the biased and one-sided
accusations of the Thai media,'' the column said.
The commentary charged that Lt. Gen. Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, the
regional army commander for northern Thailand, gave military support to
the ``drug trafficking terrorist'' Ywet Sit when he was under attack by
the Myanmar army. launched offensive against the ethnic rebel. Ywet Sit,
also known as Yawd Serk, is head of the Shan State Army, an ethnic rebel
Asiaweek (online edition): Behind the War of Words: Have Myanmar's
generals learned to listen as well as lecture?
Thursday, June 14, 2001
Web posted at 04:50 p.m. Hong Kong time, 04:50 a.m. GMT
By DOMINIC FAULDER
Apart from the problem of finding a cheese-free dish for my
distinguished Burmese guest, our lunch in Bangkok had been a delight.
Twenty or 30 years ago, Thais, too, weren't happy about eating cheese or
drinking cow's milk. Times change and enzymes adapt. Modern Thailand is
now a frontline state in a global pizza war in which the super cheesy
pizzas of one local chain are poised to win the day. Every conceivable
type of ice cream is guzzled here, and caf? lattes abound.
My Burmese guest finished his cheese-free sandwich and handed over a
recent copy of The Myanmar Times. Tin Maung Than, 47, was the editor of
Your Life magazine and one of Myanmar's best-known journalists until he
fled to Thailand with his family last November. It would be hard to find
anybody less threatening or more sincere. His main fear was that his
efforts to hot-wire a dialogue between the ruling State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC) and the National League for Democracy would
come to light. From there it could have been a short hop to indefinite
incarceration for some trumped-up offense against the state. That's
Myanmar. And people wonder why ASEAN's vaunted policy of constructive
engagement has flopped.
The June 4 edition of the MT contained an interesting profile of Thakin
Ba Thaung, "the revolutionary, and author of the national anthem." As I
flicked through, an unexpected wave of nostalgia crashed down upon me.
Clean white paper, crisp layout, generous use of color, a reasonable
balance of news, business and features. In fact, all in all, completely
unlike anything I had read from Myanmar before, especially when it was
still known as Burma. This newspaper bore not the slightest resemblance
to The Working People's Daily, which in 1989 was still a bargain at one
In those days, visiting correspondents would compete with each other
over breakfast to find a single fact in endless reports of officers
dispensing advice to mute officials at meetings with cryptic headlines
such as "Refresher Course No. 8." It was all so mysterious -- a bit like
guessing what freemasons get up to at their lodge meetings. The WPD was
set in gloriously wobbly type and specialized in articles that began on
the back page and meandered forward. More than half the weather forecast
was devoted to what had already occurred in the previous 24 hours. I
suppose it's always better to avoid undue speculation, like what might
happen next. Information can be a dangerous thing.
Best of all were the fiery editorials and commentaries, not infrequently
directed at the foreign correspondents themselves over alleged
calumnies. Nothing like a public rap over the knuckles to get the day
going. My worst offense was revealing on the BBC that one of the WPD's
most fearsome columnists, Bo Thanmani, ("General Steel") was none other
that Soe Nyunt, the newspaper's editor. I was hauled up in front of the
State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) Information Committee to
hear him read a four-page denunciation itemizing my journalistic
shortcomings with Stalinesque attention to detail, little of it factual.
My punishment was to be an admission of all my transgressions published
in the Far Eastern Economic Review. "But he writes for Asiaweek," hissed
a military intelligence officer, rousing himself from near slumber. An
unenforceable penalty. There was embarrassed silence. A condemned man
reprieved, I was fed bananas, thick sweet tea and wane smiles before the
video camera was switched off and Myanmar's information czars shuffled
The good old days. Nostalgia isn't what it was, and all that. Actually,
it is. The Working People's Daily has been replaced by The New Light of
Myanmar as the repository for some of the most cherished traditions of
Burmese state journalism. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology,
this astonishing publication can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own
home with free online delivery. (That's just so long as you don't
actually live in Myanmar, where Internet access is restricted to about
3,500 mailboxes.) The wobbly fonts and reverse weather forecasts may be
gone, but the vitriol and pious editorials about how everybody else in
the world has everything completely wrong are still alive, well and
remarkably venomous. So too, are reports on generals giving undisclosed
advice to quaking officials -- no doubt about something really crucial,
like onion exports.
Thailand has been on the receiving end of most of the venom lately, and
has very curiously been referred to by its old name of Siam in some
commentaries. The real Siam's skillful handling of predatory colonial
powers in the 19th century was recently judged by one Burmese authority
to be tantamount to enslavement -- a very contrary assessment of a
kingdom that managed to avoid colonization, given that Burma was overrun
by a small, well armed British force. A recent Burmese textbook
described the Thais as -- in more politically correct parlance - "work
Last year, Myanmar's deputy minister of national planning and economic
development was sacked for his pointed revelations during a business
seminar about the terrible state of the Burmese economy. At one point,
he said: "There is no way Myanmar, with a GDP of only $1 billion
dollars, can compete with Thailand which has a GDP of $55 billion. There
is a lot we have to do to catch up with them." Indeed, perhaps we can
all learn a thing or two from the Thais if they can be so productive
with so little alleged effort.
The Thai media have responded with broadsides of their own, and a war of
words has raged. Mostly it trades on simplistic stereotypes and reopens
historical hurts that have little bearing on the present day. The
vicious snarling of the junta's media is anyway meant to divert
attention from the rotten state of the Burmese economy. In May, chronic
hard currency shortages sent the kyat's free market rate to over 950 to
the dollar, an all time low. The preposterous official rate is 6.7 to
Flaying Thailand may be a perverse short-term psychological palliative,
but it won't change anything in the real world. Unpegging the kyat
might. Be that as it may, the benefit of the economic meltdown is that
the generals may finally have been compelled to enter a dialogue of
sorts with Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. Could even
the SPDC be learning that nothing can be achieved when people refuse to
talk to each other reasonably?
Xinhua: Myanmar's Domestic Tax Revenue Up in First Two Months
YANGON, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's State Internal Revenue Department
(SIRD) received a total of 8.275 billion Kyats (18.38 million U.S.
dollars) in domestic revenue from various taxes in the first two months
of this year, up 14.87 percent from the same period of 2000, according
to the latest official Economic Indicators. Of the revenue obtained
during the two-month period, 62 percent were from commodities and
services taxes and commercial tax, 13.4 percent from state lottery, 12.1
percent from profit tax, 9.2 percent from income tax and 3.3 percent
from stamp duties. In Myanmar, individual citizens having an income
amounting to 10,001 Kyats (about 22.2 dollars) and above are assessed to
tax under the country's Income Tax Law which also covers cooperatives,
companies and joint venture enterprises. However, salary recipients are
not required to pay for income tax as the tax has been paid by way of
deduction at their income sources, according to the SIRD. According to
official statistics, Myanmar received 53.25 billion Kyats (118.3 million
dollars) in domestic revenue from various taxes in 2000.
Xinhua: Myanmar's Customs Duties Income Up Sharply in 1st Two Months
YANGON, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar received 771.1 million U.S. dollars
from customs duties in the first two months of this year, 394.58 percent
more than the same period of 2000 when it registered at 155.91 million
dollars with the income, according to the latest figures released by the
country's Central Statistical Organization. The sharp increase of the
country's customs duties income in the two-month period was attributed
to the high income from import duties in February alone with 711.32
million dollars. This phenomena was also linked to the strict management
and supervision of the country's Customs Department. The main source of
Myanmar's customs duties income comes from import through normal trade
and border trade, of which the import customs duties income earned
through normal trade accounted for 89. 32 percent of the total. To
promote agricultural development, Myanmar government has exempted import
customs duties levied on agricultural implements including fertilizer,
pesticide and improved variety and machinery. According to official
statistics, in 2000, Myanmar earned 891 million dollars from customs
duties and its foreign trade totaled 4.086 billion dollars in the year,
of which imports amounted to 2. 567 billion dollars, while exports were
valued at 1.519 billion dollars.
Xinhua: Myanmar's Machinery Import up in First Two Months
YANGON, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's import of machinery equipment,
which includes electric and non-electric ones, was valued at 147.08
million U.S. dollars in the first two months of this year, increasing by
65.72 percent compared with the same period of 2000, according to the
latest data published by the country's Central Statistical Organization.
During the two-month period, the import value of such machinery
equipment accounted for 34.1 percent of the country's total import value
which was registered at 431.15 million dollars. Of this, the import
value of electric machinery apparatus amounted to 33.16 million dollars,
increasing by 10.9 percent from the same period of 2000, while that of
non-electric ones reached 113.92 million dollars, also rising by 93.57
percent from the corresponding period of 2000. According to official
statistics, in 2000, Myanmar imported 628. 05 million dollars worth of
machinery equipment including electric and non-electric ones. Myanmar,
an agricultural country lacking development in industry, has to depend
on import for most of its different machinery equipment in need.
Asiaweek: Copper miner denies using forced labour in Myanmar: Invanhoe
annual meeting: Company officials come prepared to challenge
June 17, 2001 12:08am
By DREW HASSELBACK
VANCOUVER - Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. denied yesterday it uses forced labour at
its copper mine in Myanmar and said it remains committed to a
US$280-million expansion of the project.
Ivanhoe, which is chaired by mining promoter Robert Friedland, owns 50%
of the Monywa Copper Project in Myanmar. The other half is owned by the
Forced labour is something that is abhorrent to directors, to all of the
management, and to anyone right-minded. We have a policy where, I can
assure you, we do not use forced labour, Daniel Kunz, Ivanhoe's
president, told shareholders at the company's annual meeting yesterday.
About 40 protestors yesterday picketed the Vancouver hotel where
Ivanhoe's annual meeting was held. They complained of Myanmar's human
rights record and handed out leaflets criticizing the country for
allowing forced labour.
Some critics have demanded Ivanhoe quit Myanmar, formerly known as
Mr. Kunz said Ivanhoe's investment in Myanmar uses no
government-produced infrastructure that has been built with involuntary
The company was prepared to be challenged about the human rights issue
at yesterday's meeting. Ivanhoe handed out a prepared statement to all
shareholders. There has never been any evidence that Ivanhoe has ever
used forced labour, and there is not a whit of evidence that Ivanhoe's
investment is contributing to the use of involuntary labour in Myanmar,
In an interview after the meeting, Mr. Kunz said Ivanhoe has received
competing offers to supply the US$280-million in loan financing the
company needs to expand the second phase of the Monywa project. The
company wants to increase annual production to 125,000 tonnes by 2003,
up from the present level of 30,000 tonnes.
Ivanhoe has been looking for the financing since February, when Mr.
Friedland conducted a week-long Canadian road show to promote the
Mr. Kunz said it has not been hard to interest lenders from Asia in
backing the expansion. Two potential lenders have submitted bids. That'
s not a lot of money when you consider the size of resource we're
talking about here.
Mr. Friedland did not attend.
Xinhua: Thailand, Myanmar to Sign MOU on Drug Suppression-- Report
BANGKOK, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Thailand and Myanmar will sign a memorandum
of understanding (MOU) on drug suppression and a 21- point joint
communique during Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's visit, the Bangkok
Post reported Monday. Thaksin will begin a two-day official visit to
Myanmar Tuesday. In the communique, six points of which were proposed by
Rangoon, a military source was quoted as saying. Myanmar agreed to take
part in a four-way drugs meeting in China's Kunming with China, Laos and
Thailand. The source said Myanmar rejected Thailand's proposal to set up
two joint task forces, one for joint border defense and the other for
drug suppression operations. Myanmar proposed instead the two countries
make use of existing mechanisms at all levels to peacefully solve
The mechanisms include the township border committee, regional border
committee and joint boundary committee. The two countries have not
reached agreement on disputed border areas, however the communique
requires both sides to build mutual trust and respect for each other's
independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The source said
Myanmar was very careful with the wording of the MOU and the joint
communique, leaving details on several issues for further negotiations.
In the joint communique, Myanmar wanted Thailand to support the
construction of two roads to promote trade and tourism. Myanmar agreed
to reopen three border checkpoints, but refused to discuss fishery
concessions. Myanmar also asked Thailand for educational support through
the ASEAN University project and public health education, especially
regarding HIV and AIDS. The MOU and joint communique were worked out in
Rangoon by an advance team led by high-ranking Thai army officers and
foreign ministry officials. The team visited Rangoon on Friday and
Saturday and worked closely with Myanmar's Deputy Foreign Minister Khin
Maung Win, the report said.
AFP: Annan welcomes release of prisoners in Myanmar
UNITED NATIONS, June 15 (AFP) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on
Friday welcomed the release of 12 political prisoners by the military
junta in Myanmar, and said he hoped to see other detainees freed soon.
In Yangon earlier, it was announced that eight members of parliament
and four other people had been released from detention. The announcement
came after a four-day visit to Yangon by Annan's special envoy, Razali
Ismail, at the start of this month.
The eight MPs included Saw Mra Aung, a high-ranking opposition figure
who is close to the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San
In a statement through his spokesman, Annan repeated his view that
"there is no alternative to the ongoing talks between the government and
Aung San Suu Kyi to bring about the democratisation and national
reconciliation in Myanmar."
He urged the two sides "to make further efforts to achieve tangible
progress and calls on the international community to continue supporting
the dialogue process," spokesman Manoel De Almeida e Silva said.
Annan "hopes to see further release of more political detainees in the
near future," he added.
There are believed to be at least 1,700 political prisoners in Myanmar,
which has been under a military dictatorship since a coup on September
At Razali's behest, the junta opened a high-level dialogue with Aung
San Suu Kyi in October for the first time in six years, aimed at
achieving "national reconciliation."
Aung San Suu Kyi is believed to have demanded that the junta begin
releasing prisoners, and allow the NLD to reopen its offices around the
country, before the contacts develop into a full-blown dialogue.
Razali is expected to visit Yangon again in July.
The Nation: Thaksin taking risk in Burma
June 18, 2001
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra leaves Bangkok today on official
visits to Thailand's two close neighbours, Cambodia and Burma, countries
which not so long ago shared one thing in common - an internal political
The presence of tens of thousands of Burmese refugees along the border
as a result of Burma's political conflicts and the spill-over of
fighting between Burmese troops and ethnic armed rebels |is clear in
many people's memories.
And this serves to remind us how painstakingly Thai border villagers had
to endure the same problem during the Cambodian conflicts of the1980's
and early 1990's
Only at the end of Cambodian conflicts in 1991, did Thailand begin to
move with speed in normalising its ties with Cambodia, not without
leaving a legacy of ragged nerve-ends exacerbated by boundary disputes.
Nevertheless, the leaders of both countries managed to resolve their
Thaksin's visit to Cambodia will be "icing on the cake", building on
past efforts to restore trust and resume normal economic relations with
He will witness the signing of two historic agreements between Thailand
and Cambodia during his two-day visit.
One will delimit their mutual sea boundary and jointly develop their
overlapping maritime borders.
Another is a framework agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation.
The late prime minister Chatichai Choonhavan helped open doors for
economic opportunities to the war-torn Indochina by his popular policy
of turning the Indo-Chinese battle field into a marketplace and thus
laying the groundwork for boundary demarcation.
Former premier Anand Panyarachun emphasised trust-building with
Their successors, including Chuan Leekpai and Banharn Silpaarcha, have
followed |suit although with different emphases.
Banharn was the first Thai prime minister to visit Burma in a decade
when he travelled to Rangoon in 1995.
However under Chuan's administration, Thailand has achieved a more
balanced relationship with Burma. Whilst maintaining economic
co-operation, the country fully encouraged political dialogue between
|the Burmese military junta and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Like it or not, Thaksin sets his own record as being the first Thai
prime minister to visit Burma and is in favour of what he believes to be
sincere efforts to solve pressing problems.
His visit was preceded by three months of unprecedented turbulence,
mainly stemming from his highly-publicised anti-drug campaign which
blamed Rangoon for the massive influx of stimulant pills into Thailand.
He dispatched Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and PM Office
Minister Thammarak Issarangura on separate fence-mending missions to
Burma only to encounter new obstacles.
Rangoon has tactically pushed the limit too far, using the media to play
up the historic rivalry between Thailand and Burma and by criticising
this country's highly revered monarchy.
Without giving a clear signal or a sign of repentance, this tactic
effectively prompted Thaksin to hastily arrange his visit to Rangoon
before Burmese Foreign Minsiter Win Aung's trip to Thailand next week.
In the latest spate, widely publicised here this past week, Burma
released a new history textbook for elementary schoolchildren,
portraying Thais as servile and lazy.
It seemed an unnecessary insult to throw at Thailand, particularly on
the eve of an important visit such as the one taking place in Rangoon
It would be interesting to be a fly on wall, tuning-in to the private
discussions to be held between our two countries' most important
leaders, to hear precisely how Thaksin deals with these latest
slanderous attacks which were clearly authorised by those in charge in
His visit is considered highly risky since he has played Thailand's last
remaining card in his dealings with Burma.
Securing, the anti-drug cooperation as well as a united front on border
controls would certainly help improve the atmosphere after the recent
period of diplomatic turbulence.
But Thailand's approach to its future relationship with Burma will never
be the same.
The Nation: PM urged to tip hat to Suu Kyi
June 18, 2001
By Jeerawat Na Thalang
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should send a delegate to meet
opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit to Burma, Kobsak
Chutikul, deputy chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said
Kobsak said it would show Thailand's determination to support national
reconciliation in the country, and rid the Burmese of suspicions about
Kobsak, an MP under the Chat Thai banner, also said in an interview with
The Nation that the prime minister should expect to achieve some
fundamental short-term gains such as the reopening of border checkpoints
and an agreement on stopping cross-border drug-smuggling.
Describing the visit as Thailand's last card, Kobsak said the fact
Thailand had made the first move in visiting Burma meant it would
"lessen our bargaining strength." Thaksin believes the visit will reduce
tension and dispel mistrust, crucial to the resumption of normal border
activities and the firming up of anti-drug-smuggling cooperation.
But Kobsak said Thaksin should think of long-term solutions rather than
short-term sentiment with regard to his visit. He said the prime
minister's visit should certainly reduce tension between the two
countries, but added: "I am doubtful if this will be sustained."
He said that since Thai-Burmese tensions were the result of internal
problems in Burma, Thailand should aim to help Burma address the root
"If Thai leaders meet the junta leaders while ignoring 80 to 90 per cent
of the population [who voted for Suu Kyi] it may leave feelings of
distrust among the Burmese people," Kobsak said. He then cited the
visits of other Asean leaders such as Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia,
Abdulrrahman Wahid of Indonesia and Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok
Tong, who have all sent delegates to meet Suu Kyi. He said the absence
of such a gesture from his schedule would send the wrong signal to the
international community, especially after the more balanced engagement
policy pursued by previous governments.
Meanwhile, Thaksin yesterday remained unperturbed by the latest Burmese
news report suggesting that he might not get a red-carpet welcome in
Rangoon, saying he cared more for substance than for formality.
Thaksin said he believed that high-level talks with the Burmese leaders
would eliminate problems between the two countries, including negative
media reports from both sides.
The prime minister said an advance party preparing his visit had
confirmed that all agreements he would sign during the visit had been
Thaksin was responding to the latest commentary by Burmese-language
newspaper Myanma Ahlin suggesting he might not get a very warm welcome.
The daily paper on Saturday blamed some Thai officials and members of
the military, as well as the Thai media, for creating misunderstanding
and driving a wedge in ties between the two countries.
The author of the article pointed out that Thailand had portrayed Burma
in a negative light in its school textbooks and films and repeated
familiar charges about Thailand's support for Burmese anti-government
The commentary charged that Lt-General Wattanachai Chai-muanwong, the
regional army commander for northern Thailand, had given military
support to the "drug-trafficking terrorist" Yawd Serk when he was under
attack by the Burmese army during its offensive against the Shan ethnic
Jeerawat Na Thalang
Bangkok Post: Premier to cement ties, fix relations
June 18, 2001
By Bhanravee Tansubhapol and Yuwadee Tunyasiri
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will cement ties with Cambodia and
patch up relations with Burma when he launches the last leg of his visit
to Thailand's neighbouring countries beginning today, officials and
Government officials are confident the premier will fly from Phnom Penh
directly to Rangoon tomorrow after fostering bilateral economic
co-operation with Cambodia.
The two countries, represented by their foreign ministers, will sign
memorandums of understanding on overlapping maritime claims and a
blueprint for economic co-operation.
The economic blueprint is the first with a neighbouring country to
develop border areas infrastructure, trade and investment, agriculture,
industry and tourism. It will reflect a growing trust and confidence
between the two governments in working together, a government official
With the framework of co-operation to be put in place Cambodia would get
the most benefits, the official said.
At the same time it would end duplication of assistance from various
Thai government agencies, especially financial support, to Cambodia.
The trip to Burma tomorrow and Wednesday is seen as "a healing process"
to return relations back to normal.
Burma rejected all co-operation proposed by Thailand from scholarship to
fishery, except that in health care programmes. Rangoon has also banned
the import of energy drinks and monosodium glutamate from Thailand.
Thai investors in Rangoon have been affected by soured relations and are
hoping this high-level visit will help improve their business.
The most important part of Mr Thaksin's trip was rebuilding trust with
Burma and seeking co-operation in the fight against drugs, an analyst
The many reasons said to have caused relations to deteriorate include
Burma's dissatisfaction over what it claims is Thai support for the Shan
State Army; for not supporting Burma in the International Labour
Organisation; allowing the Thai media to criticise Rangoon; and being
the only Asean country which former premier Chuan Leekpai decided not to
Sunai Phasuk, a researcher of Asian Forum for Human Rights and
Development (Forum Asia), said although he was against Mr Thaksin's trip
to Burma, he hoped he would be able to clear up misunderstandings with
"Mistrust and suspicion has now reached its deepest point in relations
in the last decade," he said.
Mr Sunai was worried Thailand might end up in a game plan set by Burma.
"I don't know what Thailand has to offer in exchange for this trip," he
At least Rangoon had sent a signal of its readiness to negotiate with
Thailand by suspending verbal and media attacks on the government two
weeks ago, and turning instead to the Thai media as a target.
In Rangoon, Mr Thaksin will witness the signing of a memorandum of
understanding on drug co-operation by Thai and Burmese foreign
Thailand expects the two countries will soon exchange drug suppression
"The drug issue is a fundamental problem," an official said.
Thai-Burmese relations worsened after Mr Thaksin said in March that Mong
Yawn was a production base for the methamphetamine pills plaguing
His remark "made Burma lose face", another analyst said. The summit
between leaders of the two countries was the only way to tackle the
Mr Thaksin and Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai have both
expressed confidence this visit would be able to clear up
misunderstandings, which were "sensitive" issues between the two
In the Burmese capital, the prime minister will hold talks with his
Burmese counterpart Than Shwe, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, the first secretary of
the State Peace and Development Council, and Thai businessmen.
Mr Thaksin said he would have a heart-to-heart conversation with the
There should be a hotline between the two countries so problems could be
solved immediately, he said.
"I am going there to solve, not to create, problems," the prime minister
Bangkok Post: Rivals agree to sign accords, build trust
June 18, 2001
By Wassana Nanuam
Thailand and Burma will sign a memorandum of understanding on drug
suppression and a 21-point joint communique during Prime Minister
Thaksin Shinawatra's visit, a military source said.
Mr Thaksin will be in Rangoon tomorrow and Wednesday.
In the communique, six points of which were proposed by Rangoon, Burma
agreed to take part in a four-way drugs meeting in Kunming with China,
Laos and Thailand.
The source said Burma rejected Thailand's proposal to set up two joint
task forces, one for joint border defence and the other for drug
Burma proposed instead the two countries make use of existing mechanisms
at all levels to peacefully solve problems.
The mechanisms include the township border committee (TBC), regional
border committee (RBC) and joint boundary committee (JBC).
The JBC, which was responsible for border demarcation, was formerly
co-chaired by deputy foreign ministers from the two countries.
Since Thailand currently does not have a deputy foreign minister, it
would be represented by Pracha Gunakasem, adviser to the foreign
Burma was not ready to agree on disputed border areas like Doi Lang in
Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai, and Kuteng Nayong in Mae Sai district,
The communique just requires both sides to build mutual trust and
respect for each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial
The source said Burma was very careful with the wording of the MOU and
joint communique, leaving details on several issues for further
In the joint communique, Burma wanted Thailand to support the
construction of Myawaddy-Pa-an and Myawaddy-Tavoy roads to promote trade
Burma also agreed to reopen border checkpoints at Mae Sai-Tachilek, Mae
Sot-Myawaddy and Ranong-Kawthaung. "Burma refused to discuss fishery
concessions. But Burma was expected to consider returning the
concessions to Thailand after the opening of the Ranong-Kawthaung
checkpoint," the source said.
Burma asked Thailand for educational support through the Asean
University project and public health education, especially regarding HIV
and Aids. It sought information on the V-1 Immunitor pill, claimed by
its manufacturers to be a health product and distributed to Aids
patients here by a charity foundation.
The MOU and joint communique were worked out in Rangoon by an advance
team led by Gen Sommai Wichaworn, the armed forces chief-of-staff, Gen
Vichit Yathip, chief of staff officers attached to the defence minister,
and Krit Kanchanakunchorn, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's
East Asian Affairs Department. The team visited Rangoon on Friday and
Saturday and worked closely with Burma's Deputy Foreign Minister Khin
The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Those who daren't show their face - 18
Friday, 15 June, 2001
The shameless lies of traitors, ciphers and fugitives and BBC, VOA, RFA
and DVB, the radio stations under colonialists' influence and
domination, have become a monotonous story for all the people of
Myanmar. Talking ill of all the developments of Myanmar and her people
with ulterior motive is their regular job and their pleasure.
However, time and again, we have to rebut their slanderous accusations,
as the foul air fanned by them has become intolerable for the people of
the surrounding areas.
BBC interviewed a nonentity, Dr Thein Lwin, and a Myanmar lady, Daw Tin
Tin Myaing, in its Myanmar and Global Affairs programme at 8.15 pm on
30 May 2001. The interview itself had revealed that it was just a
machination of BBC. It was so ridiculous that when Daw Tin Tin Myaing
never followed the BBC's trend, it cut short of the interview with her.
However, as Dr Thein Lwin and BBC spoke with one voice, they played
their own game, and made the interview longer.
BBC started the programme with an introduction, stating that all would
welcome the development of education standard in Myanmar and that at the
same time, the possibility should be assessed in this matter. BBC then
asked Daw Tin Tin Myaing, "Are there computers in schools?" Daw Tin Tin
Myaing answered that there were computers in schools, but they were
kept safe during blackouts; and that as there was rise in the power
generation capacity of the nation in January 2001, the schools were
Then, BBC asked her the approximate number of computers installed at the
Institute of Education Training School (TTC). She said " Ar, the room
is full with computers, and I think about 30 or 40. Children are
operating the computers in the room.
" I wonder whether the interviewer had ignored all the principles of
journalism when he heard her answer. When the trend of the interview did
not go as he wished it to go, the interviewer himself gave the answer.
He said, " espite the boost in power generation, it should be that
electricity supply is normal only at TTC. Now let's discuss about the
schools outside Yangon which are not within your reach." Then, BBC
presented an introduction, saying that the finding of Dr Thein Lwin, a
doctorate in education field, and who had served in Myanmar for many
years, would be presented.
Here, BBC asked Dr Thein Lwin a leading question. ' Do you think that
the computer data education system can be implemented (in Myanmar)
soon?" Dr Thein Lwin said that it was possible only in the cities such
as Yangon and Mandalay, but impossible at schools in townships and
villages; that there were about one or two computers at schools in the
cities; that such a small number of computers were not enough for the
students to pursue education through computers; that in the land of
ethnic peoples he had visited, computers were never seen or heard of
and that it was still much difficult to adopt a computerized education
system in the nation.
In this situation, the interviewer continued, saying, " Dr Thein Lwin
does not believe that Myanmar's education standard will be on a par
with those of the developed ASEAN nations within four years as stated
by the Myanmar Education Committee Chairman. However, do you believe it
is possible, Daw Tin Tin Myaing?" She answered, " Ar, yes...yes. In my
estimations, it is possible. Because of the situation in Myanmar during
my visit to the country in January 2001 was not the same as that of my
previous visit to the country in January 1999. I saw much progress
there. It is sure that the education sector is gaining development
because in addition to the efforts of the Education Department (the
Ministry of Education), the parents, other persons and teachers are
also partaking in the task". When the interviewer heard her answer, he
asked her more questions continuously. " You mean only in cities? Only
at schools in Yangon? Only .....?" It might be that because his
questions were irritating, Daw Tin Tin Myaing interrupted him and said
that at the schools in towns, personnel of the education sector were
working with high acceleration in accord with the projects; that the
people were making donations for the schools in rural areas as the
people there were poor; and that fund-raising festivals were also held.
As she gave the straight answer, the BBC interviewer began to show his
" However, it seems that the people have no confidence in the education
system of the nation. Do you think that the government can solve the
problem in the near future?" He asked her the question in the voice of
great learned person. Nevertheless, Daw Tin Tin Myaing countered his
questions in a clever way, saying that capable or incapable of solving
the problem was a different matter; that she had witnessed the efforts
being made by the government; that closing of schools had bad effects
on the nation; that such situations were over; that she had seen the
significance in the education sector this year due to the strenuous
efforts; and that she thought that every sector of the education sphere
would be in order within three or four years. As his interview with Daw
Tin Tin Myaing didn't go well according to the scheme, he made a long
interview with Dr Thein Lwin or his saviour in a harmonious way in
order to realize his scheme.
Here, I will point out only the essence of the interview.
During the interview, Dr Thein Lwin said that the education development
of the nation was delayed because of the unsolved political problems;
and that as the education development was connected with history,
culture, traditions and language of the respective races as well as
politics, Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and officials should find the answer to the
political problem first. This is a brief account of the slanderous
accusations made by the so-called education expert against the
education developments of the nation and her people. With a view to
enabling the entire people to find the answer, I have presented the
true colours of the participants in the interview of BBC's regular
programme " the Myanmar and Global Affairs". In the programme, Daw Tin
Tin Myaing, an ordinary Myanmar lady, was only a stand-in, the
so-called gentleman, Dr Thein Lwin, was the main actor, and the BBC
interviewer was the script writer, the director as well as the
producer. The main aim of the interview is to ruin the Myanmar's
education sector, to destroy the national solidarity, to suppress the
national spirit and to enslave the nation in accord with the wish of
If the innate nature of the three characters of the interview are
studied, it can be seen that Daw Tin Tin Myaing, who never forgets her
identity as a Myanmar women, sincerely spoke of Myanmar's education
promotion programmes as she had seen; and that Dr Thein Lwin who got
the doctorate degree in the former Soviet Union with the aid of the
Myanmar government is a traitor who had done nothing good in the
interests of the Myanmar education sector, living as a shirker, and is
now plotting to undermine the nation and the people. If I have to point
out only the necessary facts to Dr Thein Lwin, it is that though the
sincere eyes of an ordinary citizen like Daw Tin Tin Myaing can
correctly and clearly see that the international standard
all-round-education development programmes and the four-year national
education promotion plan are not only in words or on paper, but are
being implemented in the practical education field, and that the eyes
of Dr Thein Lwin, who has lost his race, and whose eyes are being
blinded by the dollars under the domination of the colonialists, cannot
see them. I would like to say that I pity him.
Is the Myanmar's education sector developing slowly or with high
momentum? Are all the states and divisions harmoniously implementing
the sector in a proportionate way? The answer is that international
standard multi-media teaching centres are being opened in the
townships; that the e-education systems, which receive the lectures
sent by satellite data broadcasting system through the learning
centres, are available at the multi-media teaching centres; and that in
addition to these modern education facilities other advanced learning
and teaching facilities such as multi-media resource centres, new
century resource centres and e-libraries for all ages and education
levels are being set up in all the states and divisions the length and
breadth of the nation. But the fellow, Dr Thein Lwin, who seems to be a
fugitive or an absconder, who has lost his national identity and who has
become a flatterer, has never known these education undertakings and
It is no wonder that a cipher like him is launching random and
fabricated accusations against Myanmar's education sector. I will
record his perpetrations for our future generations. The radio
interview of the Myanmar and global affairs programme of BBC was
reported at 8.15 pm on 30 May 2001. All the people of Myanmar, who have
clear outlook, know that the twisted interview is a conspiracy of the
BBC and Dr Thein Lwin the cipher under the influence of global
colonialist group. They are trying to obstruct and disturb all the
interests and progress of the Myanmar and her people and to launch
slanderous accusations against them. And the Myanmar people also know
that it has no essence nor significance, but just a foolish interview.
Thus, the BBC interviewer and the interviewee, Dr Thein Lwin, have
become the persons who daren't show their face.
Author : Pauk Sa
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