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BurmaNet News: June 27, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: June 27, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 23:41:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
June 27, 2001 Issue # 1833
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Reuters: Myanmar's generals seek power with legitimacy
*AP: Myanmar Doesn't Want To Be Isolated - A Top Govt Leader
*AFP: Aung San Suu Kyi eviction suit drags on in Myanmar court
*Irrawaddy: Laughing all the way to prison
*AP: Myanmar says differences with Thailand resolved
*AP: Myanmar AIDS response called grossly inadequate by health experts
*Irrawaddy: Joking with the Generals
*AFP: China hands over passenger liner to Myanmar
*Asia Pulse: Indonesia's GMF to Cooperate With Myanmar Airways
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Shan army tightens security
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Villager: Junta waging war of drugs on
*AFP: Thai police arrest notorious sea pirate
*The Nation: Opinion - Wooing the junta is a tricky game
*Xinhua: Myanmar Takes Measures to Tackle Power Shortage Problem
*Xinhua: Pressure Tactics Have Not Much Impact on Myanmar-- Leader
*Xinhua: Guangdong Defeats Myanmar in Women's Soccer Friendly
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Reuters: Myanmar's generals seek power with legitimacy
By Dominic Whiting
BANGKOK, June 26 (Reuters) - Myanmar's military rulers are offering
concessions to the pro-democracy opposition in a bid to improve their
global image but analysts say they have no real intention of relaxing
their iron grip on power.
They say the government's aim is to create a regime which allows the
military to maintain a central role but gives the ruling generals more
legitimacy in the eyes of the outside world.
The international community welcomed secret talks between the
government and pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, which
began in October, and became concerned earlier this year over reports
the dialogue had stalled.
But analysts said a recent visit to the country by U.N. special envoy
Razali Ismail, who played a key role in brokering the talks, was a
The recent release of 13 political prisoners and the reopening of 20
opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) offices in Yangon also
suggested a thaw, analysts said.
``Razali clearly communicated that the international community was
losing patience and that more evidence was needed to show that this is
going to be a sustained process,'' a Western diplomat in Bangkok told
``The talks had been going on for several months and they were greeted
with great optimism, but then people started wondering if anything was
happening and whether it was all just hot air.''
Razali left Myanmar hopeful of civilian rule in four years.
But the NLD is frustrated that dozens of its members are still in
government ``guest houses'' -- a euphemism for a loose form of
detention. Aung San Suu Kyi is also under house arrest.
The human rights group Amnesty International says about 1,850 political
prisoners remain behind bars.
Myanmar-watchers say any deal would involve reconvening a constitution
drafting body, guaranteeing a military role in politics, giving the
generals amnesty for any past rights abuses, and not allowing Aung San
Suu Kyi to take political office.
But political analysts say without substantial concessions on
power-sharing or other steps to solve the country's chronic political
problems, the opposition is unlikely to strike a deal.
``PUPPET POLITICAL MOVEMENT''
The NLD won Myanmar's last elections, in 1990, with a landslide victory
the military did not expect or accept.
Analysts say the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) will
not make the same mistake again, and will make sure the NLD is in no
position to win another election.
``The recent developments are positive, but I don't see much real
progress on domestic politics,'' said Chaiyachoke Chulasiriwongs, a
lecturer at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.
``The SPDC is weakening the NLD, threatening those who are not already
in jail, while preparing its own political foundations.''
A recent speech by SPDC Chairman Than Shwe calling on war veterans to
be more politically active indicated the military could be preparing a
vehicle to fight elections.
``The SPDC's more pragmatic faction is trying to create a kind of
puppet political movement,'' said Sunai Pasuk, a researcher at Forum
Asia, a Bangkok-based human rights organisation.
``It's clever to integrate war veterans, which would underline the
presence of the military in politics, and involve the youth movement --
led by children of regime members,'' he said.
``Political dialogue gives the regime a face-lift but the SPDC will
manage every aspect of the dialogue to give an outcome in its favour.
They won't want to repeat their 1990 mistake.''
ASIAN ROLE MODELS
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, highly respected by
Myanmar's generals, has also hinted at some kind of accommodation to
keep the military in power.
Earlier this year Mahathir said any future elections in Myanmar would
not ``undermine authority'' and suggested the country could adopt other
southeast Asian political models, rather than Western-style
But the pace and direction of change will depend largely on the
internal power struggles within the ruling regime.
Rivalry between military intelligence chief Khin Nyunt and the SPDC's
second ranked general, Maung Aye, to replace Than Shwe at the top has
been simmering for years, analysts say.
Khin Nyunt seems to have the upper hand since a helicopter crash killed
one of Maung Aye's powerful allies in February, and observers say he has
recently succeeded in placing supporters in key regional military posts.
Khin Nyunt is seen as more favourable to some kind of political change,
and analysts say he backs the talks with Suu Kyi while Maung Aye wants a
hardline approach to continue.
``Khin Nyunt is more inclined to take the international community more
seriously,'' the diplomatic source said.
Forum Asia's Sunai said Khin Nyunt would try to emulate Cambodian Prime
Minister Hun Sen, who won national polls in 1998 that were endorsed by
the international community despite some intimidation of the opposition
and voters in the run-up to the vote by ruling party officials and
``Khin Nyunt will have a two-pronged strategy -- keep the SPDC in power
and achieve world legitimacy -- what I call...dictatorship with a new
face,'' he said.
AP: Myanmar Doesn't Want To Be Isolated - A Top Govt Leader
Tuesday June 26, 7:34 PM
YANGON (AP)--Myanmar recognizes the need to stay in the international
mainstream but will do so according to its priorities, a top government
leader said, adding that international economic sanctions on the country
"Under the present circumstances when globalization is taking place at a
fast speed, no nation can stay aloof or isolated," Lt. Gen. Khin Nyunt,
the No. 3 leader in the military junta, said in a speech Monday. It was
reported by state-run newspapers Tuesday.
But, Khin Nyunt said, Myanmar is trying to be in the mainstream of
international community "in accordance with our policies and
Myanmar faces regular criticism, largely from the West, for suppressing
the opposition National League for Democracy party of Nobel peace
laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The party won the 1990 general elections, but
the generals never allowed it to take power. Both sides are now holding
The junta is also accused by the West of abusing its citizens' human
rights, including using forced labor. To force Myanmar to change its
ways, the U.S. has banned new investments in the country, and virtually
every donor country has imposed development aid embargo.
Khin Nyunt, who is also the chief of military intelligence, said the
sanctions have failed.
"It is more than 10 years since the imposition of economic sanctions by
some Western nations, but such pressure tactics had not much impact
since the country's economic and social infrastructure continues to grow
steadily," he said.
The country's average annual growth rate was 8.4% during the period
1996-97 to 2000-2001, he said at the opening ceremony of a course in
diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry.
He said Myanmar's differences with Thailand have been resolved through
"friendship, understanding and cooperation," and credited Thai Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for the breakthrough.
"Due to sincere efforts undertaken during the goodwill visit of Prime
Minister Thaksin, the problems were resolved," Khin Nyunt said.
He blamed the tensions on opposition groups and biased media
organizations, which he didn't name.
Since Thaksin's visit to Myanmar last week, the two countries have
stopped trading accusations. Myanmar also reopened over the weekend a
border checkpoint that had remained closed for four months after border
clashes between the Thai and Myanmar armies.
The tensions between the two uneasy neighbors were over drug trafficking
from Myanmar and support for anti-Yangon rebels. Thailand and the U.S.
accuse the junta of not doing enough to crack down on drug lords in its
AFP: Aung San Suu Kyi eviction suit drags on in Myanmar court
YANGON, June 25 (AFP) - A Yangon court Monday held a brief hearing in
the property suit against democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose
brother Aung San Oo is fighting for ownership of her home, before
ordering an adjournment to July 9.
It was the sixth hearing in the case, where US-based businessman Aung
San Oo is seeking to claim half-ownership of the lakeside villa that
belonged to their late mother.
Aung San Suu Kyi has has been restricted to the house since September,
shortly before she and Myanmar's ruling junta embarked on a tentative
dialogue that could pave the way for a national reconciliation process.
There are fears that if the suit is successful it could prove a major
irritant to the talks which have entered an extremely delicate stage.
Legal argument Monday centred on the same technical issue that derailed
Aung San Oo's first attempt to lodge the case earlier this month.
Defence lawyers asked the court to reject amendments issued by the
plaintiff's side, saying they would change the whole substance of the
"Whereas the plaintiff side has put up a case for administration of
property, it in fact continues to demand partition and half-ownership of
the property," they said.
Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers originally argued that Aung San Oo had no
right to apply for his sister to be evicted because, as a foreigner
living in the United States, he has no right to own property in Myanmar.
If he wins the case, Aung San Oo is expected to turn his share of the
house over to the government, a result which would put Aung San Suu Kyi
in an extremely precarious position.
The legal action is believed to be driven by Aung San Oo's wife,
motivated more by a family rift than by political concerns.
Irrawaddy: Laughing all the way to prison
by Aung Zaw
Zargana, Burma?s most famous comedian, dared to make jokes about the
ruling generals. Former dictator Ne Win even invited him to his
residence to hear jokes about corruption and economic mismanagement. The
jokes made Ne Win and his cronies laugh.
Zargana openly admitted that he collected jokes from men on the street.
When the authorities eventually ordered him not to perform any more, he
and his troupe went on stage with plasters covering their mouths.
The country?s current bunch of leaders didn?t find his jokes funny, so
they tossed him in jail for several years. Released in 1994 on the
condition that he no longer practice as a comedian, Zargana immediately
accepted an invitation to perform at a festival in Rangoon on his first
day out of prison. On stage, he launched into his jokes without fear.
Other comedians have also defied certain arrest to bring laughter to
Par Par Lay and Lu Zaw, two comedians from Mandalay, were thrown in
prison in 1996 shortly after they performed at an Independence Day party
hosted by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Their humorous
observations about corruption in the military government won almost
non-stop applause, but the authorities were less than amused. The pair
was arrested, sentenced to seven years in jail, and later shipped to a
labor camp in Myitkyina, in remote Kachin State.
But it seems the threat of punishment can?t deter Burma?s comedians.
Myitta, a famous comedian, regularly appeared on state-controlled TV
programs until he pushed his luck too far. During one program, he asked
a teenager appearing in a singing contest what grade she was in. "I?m in
grade 10," she replied. To which Myitta added: "So, you have completed
At the time, the junta had closed all the universities and colleges in
the country for fear of anti-government demonstrations. As a result,
students who were in 10th grade could not continue their education.
Myitta lost his job for joking about this sensitive matter, and is still
banned from making public performances.
AP: Myanmar AIDS response called grossly inadequate by health experts
June 26, 2001
NEW YORK (AP) _ Shunned by a repressive military junta and shut out by
their own fearful communities, AIDS-stricken people in Myanmar are dying
in numbers that researchers say may be more than 50 times higher than
In a country where information is so tightly controlled that an
unlicensed fax machine can land you in jail, the extent of Myanmar's HIV
crisis has until recently been withheld, both from the outside world and
from many of the people it is killing.
``The problem with this epidemic has been the tremendous difficulty in
getting a handle on what is really going on,'' said Chris Beyrer, an
American researcher who directs an AIDS program at the Johns Hopkins
University School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Beyrer presented a study suggesting 687,000 adults in Myanmar were
living with AIDS in 1999 _ or nearly 3.5 percent of the population, a
rate worse than any other nation in Asia except Cambodia, where about 4
percent are infected.
Beyrer _ one of three panelists who discussed the epidemic as part of
the U.N. session on AIDS _ said the survey did not include an estimated
1.4 million drug users who may have been infected through needle-sharing
and would make Myanmar's case the worst in Asia.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, reported 802 AIDS deaths in 1999. But the
United Nations estimated the death toll was 48,000 _ a number Beyrer
said was probably closer to the actual figure.
Worse, the panelists said, many who contract HIV don't know what it is.
And most go untreated in a health care system destroyed by military
leaders who spend more of their budget on defense than any other country
in the area.
``The response has been grossly inadequate,'' Beyrer said.
Than Htung, a former doctor in Myanmar who went into exile when the
junta took power in 1988 and now speaks for the exiled government at the
United Nations, said the country's military leaders have been reluctant
to acknowledge the AIDS crisis.
Ignoring the extent of the epidemic ``is a justification to hold onto
power,'' he said. ``They are really reluctant to say that situation is
Panelists said the regime must tackle the disease by resurrecting the
health care system, educating citizens and opening up the country to aid
``These are the people who seized power. This has happened on their
watch, and it is their responsibility to address it,'' Beyrer said of
the junta. He said the ability of foreign aid groups to work inside
Myanmar ``is still very limited.''
Therese Caouette, a panelist who has worked with refugees and migrants
fleeing violence and political repression in Myanmar, said ethnic
minorities in the diverse nation are cut off from what little
information and care there is to be found for infected people.
In many cases, people suffering symptoms of AIDS will be shunned by
fearful neighbors who do not understand the disease. Sometimes
communities will isolate victims by building huts on their fringes, she
Irrawaddy: Joking with the Generals
May 2001 issue
Humor is one of the few things that make life in Burma bearable for most
people, but even this salve for the soul can rub the ruling generals the
by Aung Zaw
When Lt-Gen Tin Oo and several other members of Burma?s ruling junta
died in a helicopter crash in southern Burma earlier this year, the
state-controlled press attributed the accident to bad weather and poor
visibility. According to Burmese on the street, however, the real reason
was something quite different:
Shortly after take off, Tin Oo, who was wearing a jacket, complained
that he felt cold. "Why is it so cold?" the junta?s Secretary Two
demanded to know.
"My dear general, I think it is because of the fan," answered the pilot
facetiously, pointing overhead to the chopper?s spinning propeller.
Tin Oo immediately ordered the pilot to switch off the "fan", as he
could feel a fever coming on.
"My dear general, that is impossible," the pilot protested, horrified
that his little joke had backfired.
But the general was not accustomed to taking no for an answer. "That?s
an order!" he bellowed.
The pilot, fearing a fate worse than death, followed the general?s
order. He turned off the "fan", otherwise known as rotor blades.
And so the general and the other passengers perished?victims of that
fatal combination of arrogance and stupidity that has been a mainstay of
military rule in Burma over the past four decades.
Welcome to world of Burmese humor. Jokes and humorous anecdotes have
long served to hold a mirror up to the absurd side of Burma?s stark
social and political realities. They also provide a clue to the
indomitable spirit of the Burmese people, so unlike the drab
humorlessness of their self-imposed leaders. Without their often dark
sense of humor, Burmese would likely never have survived the harsh
economic conditions and political repression that have gripped the
country for longer than most care to recall.
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi made a remark to a foreigner during
an interview in 1996 that she didn?t think she and her executive party
members had ever had a single meeting where there hadn?t been at least
"Obviously, its? not a happy situation we?re in, but the seriousness of
the situation is something we can all joke about," said Suu Kyi. "In
fact, lots of Burmese people joke about it; there are jokes about forced
labor, about prison. This is very much part of our Burmese culture."
True. Political prisoners often joke about prison life as they recall
their experiences. Humor is applied as painkiller to relieve the tension
During the Ne Win era from 1962 to 1988, there were many jokes and
amusing tales. One popular story went like this:
Two former soldiers of Gen Ne Win come to see him to ask for his
assistance. The first asks Ne Win for a Mazda automobile, so that he can
make a living as a taxi driver. But the second asks only for a statue of
After six months, the first person, who is by now making a decent living
as a taxi driver, comes back to see Ne Win to show his gratitude. The
second man, however, does not show up.
On the next full-moon day, however, Ne Win chanced to meet the man
during a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, where he noticed that a large
crowd had gathered. The curious dictator went over to investigate the
scene, and was surprised to see his life-size likeness and the man who
had requested it from him. The man was so busy collecting money from
people milling around the statue that he didn?t notice his approaching
benefactor. Indeed, he seemed to be making money hand over fist.
At last the old despot discovered the man?s secret. Beside the statue
was a sign that read: "Spitting?10 kyat; Kicking?20 kyat; Choking?50
When the country plunged into an economic crisis in the 1980s, a popular
joke spread to teashops in Rangoon and elsewhere. The joke went like
Ne Win and his two top officials, the president and secretary general of
his Burmese Socialist Program Party, were in a plane. There they began a
conversation. Ne Win?s deputies said the people would be happy if they
dropped banknotes from the plane. But then they got into a loud argument
about how much money they should spend and what sort of banknotes should
Upon hearing the heated argument, the annoyed pilot, tired of turning
circles in the sky, interrupted the conversation with this suggestion:
"Why don?t you three jump out of the plane? Then the whole country will
be very happy."
Under the current military regime, there are many more examples of such
black humor in circulation. The generals? speeches, usually replete with
threats against "destructive elements" and "foreign stooges", invite
parody, and Burmese people delight in mocking their leaders? child-like
obsession with political bogeymen.
Indeed, humor seems to be one of the things the regime fears most in the
world. Political jokes are banned and comedians who dare to make jokes
about the generals are put behind bars. (See box)
For the past 13 years, however, the state-run press has been filled with
cartoons and commentaries that would seem to suggest that even the
country?s illustrious leaders know how to enjoy a good laugh now and
then. But since most of the crude witticisms that have made their way
into the official media have consisted of attacks on the country?s
democratically elected leaders, most citizens decline to share a chuckle
with the generals.
Meanwhile, it appears that the generals have caught wind of rumors that
a fan had something to do with the death of Tin Oo, and are taking the
matter very seriously. It has even been reported that many are at
death?s door with pneumonia: It seems that the generals are all
unaccountably terrified of turning off their electrical fans, even when
they?re feeling quite chilly.
AP: Myanmar says differences with Thailand resolved
June 26, 2001
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) Myanmar's differences with Thailand have been
amicably resolved due to the ``sincere efforts'' of the Thai prime
minister, a top member of Myanmar's ruling junta has said.
``The matters between Myanmar and Thailand were resolved through
friendship, understanding and cooperation,'' Gen. Khin Nyunt, the No. 3
leader in the military junta, said in a speech on Monday. It was
reported by state-run newspapers Tuesday.
Khin Nyunt said the recent tensions between Myanmar and Thailand were
caused by opposition groups and biased media that tried to put a wedge
between the two countries.
Since Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited Myanmar last week,
the two countries have stopped trading accusations. Myanmar also
reopened over the weekend a border checkpoint that had remained closed
for four months after border clashes between the Thai and Myanmar
``Due to sincere efforts undertaken during the goodwill visit of Prime
Minister Thaksin, the problems were resolved,'' Khin Nyunt said at the
opening ceremony of a course in diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry.
The tensions between the two uneasy neighbors were over drug
trafficking from Myanmar and support for anti-Yangon rebels. Thailand
and the United States accuse the junta of not doing enough to crack down
on drug lords in its border areas.
The West also criticizes the junta for suppressing democracy and
accuses it of violating human rights of its citizens. The United States
has banned new investments in Myanmar and virtually every donor country
has imposed an aid embargo.
Khin Nyunt, who is also the chief of military intelligence,
acknowledged that Myanmar must stay with the international mainstream.
``Under the present circumstances when the globalization is taking
place at a fast speed, no nation can stay aloof or isolated,'' he said.
But Myanmar is trying to be in the mainstream of international
community ``in accordance with our policies and priorities,'' he said,
adding that sanctions imposed by the West have failed.
``It is more than 10 years since the imposition of economic sanctions
by some western nations, but such pressure tactics had not much impact
since the country's economic and social infrastructure continues to grow
steadily,'' he said.
The country's average annual growth rate reached 8.4 percent during the
period 1996-97 to 2000-2001, he said.
AFP: China hands over passenger liner to Myanmar
BANGKOK, June 25 (AFP) - A Chinese-built passenger ship was delivered to
Myanmar on Monday, state-run television reported.
The new vessel, which can carry 440 passengers, was ordered for the
state-owned Myanmar Five Star Shipping Line at a cost of 7.75 million US
dollars, TV Myanmar said in a dispatch monitored here.
The ship was built in a Shanghai shipyard by the Yunan Machinery Import
and Export Company (YMC).
The Myanmar junta's powerful first secretary Lieutenant General Khin
Nyunt, leading cabinet ministers, YMC President Chang Chai and
Yangon-based Chinese diplomats attended the delivery ceremony in Yangon,
the report added.
Since 1992, Myanmar authorities have signed multi-million dollar
contracts with the YMC to purchase ocean-going passenger and cargo ships
as well as double and triple-deckers passenger ferries for inland river
China, one of the largest investors in Myanmar, was the first country
to recognise the Yangon's military regime after it brutally came to
power in 1988.
Asia Pulse: Indonesia's GMF to Cooperate With Myanmar Airways
Tuesday June 26, 12:47 PM
JAKARTA, June 26 Asia Pulse - Garuda Maintenance Facility [GMF] of the
state-owned airline company Garuda Indonesia has announced plans to form
a long term cooperation in aircraft maintenance with Myanmar Airways
Myanmar Airways is interested in the performance of GMF, Maung Maung
OPh, chairman of Myanmar Airways, said after the completion of
maintenance of a Boeing 737-300 aircraft of the Myanmar Airways by GMF
in Cengkareng, Monday.
Repair of the aircraft's cabin and painting of its body at the GMF took
Maung Maung said Myanmar Airways will send another Boeing 737-300
aircraft for repair to GMF later this month.
GMF is also handling repair of two Boeing 737-200 aircraft of Phuket
Airlines, three Boeing 737-200 planes of Phoenix FZE (Dubai) and a
Boeing 737-200 of NAT Aviation of the United States
Shan Herald Agency for News: Shan army tightens security
June 26, 2001
The Shan State Army of Yawdserk issued an order to its units along the
Thai border to increase its vigilance, said one of his deputies on 22
Col. Khurh-ngern, who is responsible for military affairs, told S.H.A.N.
he had just ordered all units to maintain strictest observance of its
principles and regulations following Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's
visit on 19-20 June.
"One result, we learned, was Rangoon's agreement to allow Thai
inspection of our side of the border," he explained. "Accordingly, we
have ordered our commanders to see that our troops keep to our side and
that anyone caught dealing in drugs will face capital punishment
whatever his past merits are."
He added that the leadership suspected that the Burmese military might
try to implicate the Shans in connection with drugs.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Villager: Junta waging war of drugs on
26 June 2001
A source across the border alleged that Rangoon has been destroying the
Shans with drugs.
The source, who requested anonymity, reported that a Col. Saw Win from
Kengtung, on 24 June, at a meeting with battalion commanders in Mongton
had placed special emphasis on the point.
"We must by all means get the Shans to become addicted to drugs," he was
quoted as saying.
The meeting was attended by Lt.-Col Myint Sway, Commander, IB 65,
Lt.-Col. Maung Maung Than who had recently replaced outgoing Lt.-Col.
Chit Hla as Commander, IB 225 and Lt.-Col Aung Htun, Commander, LIB
He also urged the commanders for each of them to sell 150,000 pills of
methamphetamines per month. "If you can sell more, the better," he said.
He also warned them that those who failed to achieve the 150,000 mark
were liable to face transfer.
"If you can sell thus, one-third from the proceeds shall be yours
personally, another third for your men and the rest for our common
fund," he said, according to the source.
Burma has pledged to eliminate drugs by the year 2014.
AFP: Thai police arrest notorious sea pirate
BANGKOK, June 25 (AFP) - Thai police said Monday they had arrested
notorious sea pirate Viroj Buasuwan, better known as "Roj 100 Corpses"
for his brutal treatment of ships' crews.
Viroj, 50, was arrested Saturday in the southern province of Ranong
over an attack on the Myanmar fishing trawler "Thorae" in January, the
Crime Suppression Unit said.
He and his 20-strong gang forced the crew of the trawler to jump into
the sea and then towed away the vessel and its catch, worth a total 3.0
million baht (66,000 dollars).
The crew were fortunate enough to be saved, and later filed charges
with police in Ranong. Viroj's men, including four Thais and 16 Myanmar
nationals, have also been rounded up, police said.
Viroj confessed to the charges, but told reporters that he mistakenly
believed the Thorae was a Myanmar naval vessel.
He told the Thai-language Matichon daily that he had spent time in jail
in military-run Myanmar and that the he planned the assault in revenge
for the harsh treatment he received there.
Piracy on the high seas remains a serious problem in Asia. The Gulf of
Thailand and the Andaman Sea are two hotspots for the crime, together
with Indonesian waters and the Malacca Strait.
The International Maritime Bureau said a record total of 469 attacks on
ships at sea, at anchor or in port were recorded worldwide in 2000 -- 56
percent more than in the previous year.
The Nation: Opinion - Wooing the junta is a tricky game
June 26, 2001.
Thaksin's visit to Burma could prove fruitful to relations, though there
are many |long-term obstacles
In reality, there is no black and white foreign policy, nor is there a
single mould for every problem. It all depends on where and when a
particular event occurs.
With 2,401 kilometres of common border, Thailand has been shouldering
the burden of proximity of internal political disruption in Burma
without the comfort of distance. Hence the question of whether to engage
the Burmese military junta is irrelevant. A more pertinent issue is how,
bearing in mind our national interest and political values.
Of late, two main approaches towards Burma have been dominant among Thai
policy-makers. The first is that of the liberal-democratic school of
thought which favours values like human rights, democracy, institutions
and formality. This group believes the root of the problem lies with the
undemocratic junta using military solutions for ethno-political issues.
The cure, it says, is to restore democracy and civilian control, which
not unexpectedly is rejected by the junta as intrusive and unfriendly.
The other school of thought addresses the Burmese question from a
completely opposite perspective, stressing ends over means. This group
proposes non-interference, informality, a non-confrontational stance and
a preference for summit meetings, reflecting the highly elitist nature
of decision-making in this part of the world. All these make up the
controversial trait called the "Asian Way".
With this in mind, a landmark visit to Rangoon last week by Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra effectively pushed the pendulum to the
extreme "Asian Way". The merit of this argument has to be gauged deeper
than the facade of cordiality the Burmese leaders rolled out for him.
Rather it is the concrete implementation of transforming the "tyranny of
geography" into an opportunity.
Thaksin's trip may well serve the immediate national interest of peace
and stability, but the long-term value has to be taken with a grain of
salt. No one wants war: war means the failure of diplomacy as the first
line of defence. But the Thai-Burmese relationship is too complex and
contains many uncontrollable variables that cannot be dispelled
completely at a meeting between leaders. There are several fundamental
issues warranting immediate scrutiny.
First, have we yielded too much? It is clear that at present Thailand
recognises the Burmese brand of politics and is determined to deal with
it accordingly. This was reflected by Thaksin's conviction that only
summit meetings will rescue worsening bilateral ties because in a highly
centralised state like Burma "the tail won't move if the head does not
move first" and there is a decree-based legal system. But for how much
longer can we continue to play this game? Friendship and fraternity are
a two-way street requiring a great degree of give and take. Therefore we
should also make the Burmese junta accept our brand of politics. If
Rangoon is true to the spirit of brotherhood, it should do so.
Second, Thaksin's economic diplomacy calls into question an orthodox
assumption that economic development will eventually lead to political
reform. It is doubtful whether economic transactions reduce the chances
of conflict by raising the cost of aggression. It is even more uncertain
how a middle class of independent entrepreneurs can emerge given the
stranglehold of the military on all aspects of the economy. How to
guarantee that the economic pie will not be gobbled up by vested
interests of both sides needs a serious answer.
Third, does Rangoon have the capability to tackle narcotics and border
problems? The short answer is no. Most drug-production areas are ruled
by armed ethnic minorities which have peace accords with the junta in
exchange for quasi-autonomy. It is an open secret that the Burmese
military has little control over these groups and a lot of them cohabit
with the drug-traders. Rangoon could ill-afford to open a war on two
fronts by getting tough with the heavily armed United Wa State Army
(UWSA) given the fact that it still cannot exert control over the entire
border, which is rife with insurgents. In this vein, national security
and consolidation come before drug suppression.
Fourth, it is doubtful whether the renewed friendship is based on
personal rapport or a genuine willingness on the part of Rangoon to
coexist with its eastern neighbour. If the past is any guide, friendship
is left often to the whim of the Burmese generals. Pandering too much to
the generals also risks alienating pro-democracy forces and future
generations of Burmese, who we have to live with.
Last but not least, there is folly in thinking about Thailand-Burma
border problems in terms of a post-modern state system where the
political border has become obsolete and the states are bound by a web
of transactions to the point of sharing a common destiny. The two
nations are nowhere near that point in view of the level of political
development and the unstable environment. Burma is a state extremely
conscious of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Failure to address these problems will have far-reaching ramifications
and set a wrong policy course. Therefore, the onus is on the Thai
government to steer the country's foreign policy in the right direction,
since it is a policy that affects national security and well-being. For
the first time in history it has the chance to open a new chapter in
But in view of the chronic internal political problems in Burma, more
spillover can be expected. The only way is to utilise the friendship to
activate mechanisms and construct a "safety net" as insurance for when
the incumbents are no longer in power, so that the spirit of brotherhood
Xinhua: Myanmar Takes Measures to Tackle Power Shortage Problem
YANGON, Jun 26, 2001 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The shortage of electric
power is a
major difficult problem which the Myanmar government has long been
has not only restrained the country's economic development but also
about extreme inconvenience with people's daily life.
After taking over the state power on September 18, 1988, the Myanmar
government took various measures in tackling the electric power shortage
and made certain achievements.
The main measures taken by the Myanmar government to solve this problem
Firstly, breaking the monopoly of the state on electric power industry,
permitting and encouraging cooperatives and private enterprises to
engage in the
exploitation of electric power resources to appropriate scale.
For a long duration, Myanmar's electric power industry was entirely
by the state, thus hindering the development of the industry to some
The Myanmar government introduced in 1994 a policy permitting
private entrepreneurs to build small-sized hydropower stations in places
The policy grants the cooperatives to set up such small hydropower
stations of a
capacity up to 750 kilowatts (kw) and the private entrepreneurs to
such stations of a capacity up to 3,000 kw.
Although the policy limits the sizes and scales of hydropower stations
the two sectors, it has still made a major step forward compared with
Secondly, strengthening cooperation with foreign countries in the
of electric power.
In October 1998, the Yunnan Machinery Equipment Import and Export
China and the state-run Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE) signed
contract on building in Myanmar's northern Mandalay division the
hydropower plant which has an installed generating capacity of up to 280
This major project, now under implementation, is expected to solve 25
the country's domestic power consumption on completion.
In November 1998, China International Trust and Investment Corporation
MEPE endorsed another contract on the implementation of the Thanphanseik
hydropower station in Myanmar's northwestern Sagaing division and the
station in southwestern Magway division.
The installed generating capacity of the two small hydropower plants are
respectively 30 mw and 75 mw.
In addition, the Japanese government announced in early May this year
to failure of maintenance of the Lawpyita hydropower station, built for
by Japan in the 1960s, and outdated equipment, the Japanese government
extend 3.5 billion yens( 28.6 million U.S. dollars) of aid to Myanmar to
as maintenance cost for the station.
Thirdly, Raising highly the electricity charges. Since February 1999,
has raised highly the electricity charges, introducing a system of
the charges in sections, that is 2.5 Kyats per unit if monthly
within 50 units, while 10 kyats per unit if between 51 and 200 units and
kyats per unit if over 200 units.
Meanwhile, electricity charges for industrial use rose the sharpest with
Kyats per unit.
According to the figures published by Myanmar's Central Statistical
Organization, as of 2000, the installed generating capacity of the MEPE
1,172 mw, an increase of 509 mw or 43.4 percent from 1988. Of them, that
natural gas power plants rose 255 mw, while that of steam power ones 143
that of hydropower ones 111 mw.
Meanwhile, the MEPE's electric power generated in 2000 was 5.028 billion
kilowatt-hours (kwh), up 55 percent compared with 2.226 kwh 13 years
Although Myanmar made some achievements in easing the tension of
shortage, but as the country's economy develops, the demand also
It can be said that Myanmar's present generated power is far from
domestic demand, thus restricting to a large extent Myanmar's economic
by Duan Tingchang
Xinhua: Pressure Tactics Have Not Much Impact on Myanmar-- Leader
YANGON, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Pressure tactics applied by some Western
countries against Myanmar have not much impact as they had hoped since
the nation's economic and social infrastructure continues to progress
steadily, Tuesday's official newspaper The New Light of Myanmar quoted
the country's leader Lieutenant- General Khin Nyunt as saying. Meeting
with officials attending a diplomacy course conducted on Monday by the
Myanmar Foreign Ministry, First Secretary of the Myanmar State Peace and
Development Council Khin Nyunt pointed out that it has been more than
ten years since the imposition of the economic sanction by these
countries, however, he added that the actual situation on the ground has
proved that these actions have not been as successful as they would like
them to be.
He denied the charges by some opposition groups that there are
widespread human right abuse and forced labor in Myanmar. He accused the
opposition groups, holding negative views on Myanmar, of sowing seeds of
discord between Myanmar and friendly countries, particularly the
neighboring ones. He spoke out Myanmar's desire to maintain friendly
relations with all the countries in the world particularly the
neighboring states to create zones of peace, harmony and prosperity in
border areas with them. He reiterated Myanmar's stand that it will never
allow any opposition group to use the country's territory as base to
operate against its neighbors. "However, it is only natural that
sometimes matter can arise between neighbors since they share a common
border," he said, implying the country's recent border clashes with
Thailand. He gave an account of Myanmar's approach to such issues in the
spirit of friendship, goodwill, understanding and mutual respect. He
disclosed that the situation in Myanmar-Thai border is now returning to
normal, thanks to the understanding reached and the resolution of the
issues involved during the recent visit of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra to Myanmar. Enditem
Xinhua: Guangdong Defeats Myanmar in Women's Soccer Friendly
June 26, 2001
China's Guangdong Women's Football team beat the Myanmar National
Women's team 1-0 in a friendly soccer match at the Youth Training Center
Monday evening in Yangon.
Xu Qiaoqin scored the winning goal for Guangdong just four minutes into
In the second half, both teams had to play in heavy rain and could not
added change the score board.
"Guangdong Women's team is a high-standard team and turned out better
than the Myanmar team in physical power, height, technique and
experience." U Saw Oo, head coach of the Myanmar team told Xinhua after
"It is benefits for our team by getting many experiences from these
friendly soccer matches," he added.
The Guangdong team, with an average age of 22 while the Myanmar girls
average only 20. Guangdong team also beat the hosts side 2-1 in their
first friendly soccer match on the same venue here last Saturday.
The third match will be on Wednesday in Bago, 80 kilometers in the north
of the capital of Yangon.
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