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BurmaNet News: July 10, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: July 10, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2001 07:09:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
July 10, 2001 Issue # 1840
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Newsweek: School's open--but only for docile techies
*The Washington Times: A beautiful land that rests uneasily
*The Nation (Thailand): Burmese Politics-- Junta, NLD 'to form govt'
*DVB : Interview with U Lwin, NLD joint secretary
*Channel NewsAsia (Singapore): New law to get Myanmar firms to use
*Bangkok Post: Ports play catch-up before trade links to China cause
*Business Daily (Thailand): China: Myanmar, Chinese company sign cement
*Burma Courier: Thailand's Sutech Building Burma's Largest Sugar Mill
*TTU (France): Burma Purchases MIG 29s at Discount Price
*Bangkok Post: Junta general agrees to join Pattaya talks
*AFP: Thai defence minister to visit Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam
*The Nation (Thailand): Burma, New Zealand visas under review
*Burma Courier: Name Confusion May Have Led to Arms Speculation
*Myanmar Information Committee (SPDC): [Denying recent steps by
government were taken under western pressure]
*BMA: Canadian Burma Activist Passed Away
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Newsweek: School's open--but only for docile techies
July 9, 2001
By Tony Emerson
At his house in Rangoon, Tin shows off black-and-white photos of his
brothers and sisters in university cap and gown. In a nation where
education is revered, Tin is proud of his family, and worried for
himself. Since students led an uprising in 1988, Burma's ruling generals
have shuttered the universities more often than not, including four of
the last five years. Tin, 24, is a pedicab driver and a math major at
the University of Rangoon--when it is open. "I have to graduate," he
says, with an eye to the pictures on the wall.
Burma has the only government on earth that places such hurdles between
its citizens and an education. Many teachers and students have fled to
the United States, Thailand and Singapore. Burma's universities are
currently open, but only for technical subjects and for students who vow
in writing to avoid politics. Old city campuses have been replaced by
new ones close to Army bases. Tiny private schools now offer classes,
but not enough. When the United States Information Service opened
classes last year, fistfights erupted among students vying to get in.
Says exiled editor Tin Maung Than, "Knowledge is paralyzed."
The Washington Times: A beautiful land that rests uneasily
July 09, 2001
Georgie Anne Geyer
RANGOON, Burma - Every night, the generals who run this country with an
iron fist go to sleep, each with one eye open, in the same compound.
They will tell you it is to "protect" the country and its fragile
"unity." Onlookers will tell you it is because there have been so many
coups here that nobody sleeps easily.
Just across town, in a lakeside home, the Nobel Prize-winning woman whom
the Burmese in whispered tones call "the lady," Aung San Suu Kyi, is
still under military house arrest. She is permitted to have people
living with her now, and to have visits from members of her party, the
National League for Democracy, but she sees few foreigners.
The military now known as the State Peace and Development Council,
formerly known as SLORC, has a structure unique in today's world. The
top generals are Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and, not surprisingly, they have Nos.
1, 2 and 3 under them. (They are so identified in the papers.) The men
look extremely dour in pictures, but foreigners and Burmese who know
them say they like parties, protocol and anything that identifies them
with the historical Burmese royalty. They perfervidly believe that they
alone are defending the unity of this country of many tribes. (They're
also making a lot of money at it.)
"The lady," a striking woman with fine features, has a different power.
Part of her appeal is that she so closely resembles her venerated
father, Gen. Aung San, the "George Washington" of Burma, who was
assassinated on July 19, 1947. Another factor is the military's
knowledge that she and her party have political legitimacy here, having
won overwhelmingly in the 1990 elections. She believes in working toward
democracy through a kind of "engaged Buddhism."
In short, the country is strange. It was once known as the "Golden
Land," because it was so advanced and prosperous. Today, although
beautiful and enchanting, it is one of the poorest, most miserable
countries anywhere. It has some of the sweetest people in the world and
yet also a history of endless warfare.
Driving from the airport into downtown Rangoon, your first sight is the
magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. More than 300 feet high, it is covered
with gold and towers over the city like a mystical being. To the north,
the valleys of the Bagan region are filled with thousands of pagodas.
Rangoon is a gracious city of boulevards lined with handsome public
buildings, most built by the British colonialists who ruled the country
from 1886 until World War II.
But a close look at the stately buildings reveals that they are all
decaying. The yearly per capita income in Burma is a miserable $180, an
estimated 60,000 Burmese (of a population approaching 50 million) are in
some kind of forced labor, and AIDS and innumerable diseases are
ravaging the country. "If you get sick here," says one foreigner who
works here, "you leave or you die."
You want to know what Asia looked like half a century ago? Come to
Burma. It is as if time stopped here.
The first question asked by the relatively few foreign visitors is
often: "Is there any chance of change?"
At times, it seems so. "The lady" has been meeting regularly with a
representative of "the leader," Thang Shwe, also known as "Sr. General
No. 1" for the last nine months. The meetings are top secret, but so far
nothing has come of them.
The military leadership, which has its hands in all kinds of lucrative
Burmese businesses from lumber to guns (but probably not,
institutionally, drugs), has allowed some foreign investment in the last
few years, but none of this has affected the people's misery.
Diplomats and international civil servants wonder how a country like
this can make a transition to some form of democracy. Perhaps, some
reason, Burma could follow a "Turkish model" where the military stays in
the background as a guarantor of the nation while elected politicians
A leading military source insisted to me that the military always
considered itself a "caretaker" government and that it probably "would
not stay in power more than four or five more years."
Realistically, these types of old-style military rulers are never good
at the complexities of transitions, and neither the bitter criticism of
the outside world (which stings and enrages them), nor the attempts of
their Asian neighbors to engage them have been effective so far.
Is there, analysts ask, any basis for some form of decent representative
government? The country, after all, went from repressive kingships to
British colonialism to General/President Ne Win's crazy, astrologically
based "Burmese road to socialism" to the present military dictatorship
without ever paying homage to the altar of self-determination.
A central problem lies in the country's tribalism. With more than 50
different tribes and 100 indigenous languages (not dialects, but actual
languages), Burma is an easy country to repress. But it is also a rich
soil for insurgent tribal armies. At one point, the military regime
faced 17 of them and, although agreements have been signed between
Rangoon and the tribes, any real peace eludes this richly endowed but
Strangest of all is the extent to which this land is ruled by, as some
here put it, an "invisible government." You don't see it until it
strikes, usually brutally and without warning. But you feel its
tiresome, banal repression everywhere in this beautiful, fossilized
Georgie Anne Geyer is a nationally syndicated columnist.
The Nation (Thailand): Burmese Politics-- Junta, NLD 'to form govt'
July 9, 2001, Monday
Defence Minister Chavalit optimistic about peaceful settlement between
military leaders and opposition
The Burmese junta and its opposition are poised to set up a national
government, wrapping up months of secret negotiations, according to
Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh.
Chavalit, who broke the international political embargo against Burma in
1988 by visiting the military leadership as the Thai army
commander-in-chief, said that it was always Thailand's wish to see all
the political parties and ethnic minorities in its troubled neighbour
patch up their differences with dignity.
"Once all the groups are engaged in forming a national government and
get to work, confidence among the former rivals will soon be
established. After a while, a new election should be called," the
retired general told The Nation in an interview.
Chavalit did not say what led him to believe that there had been
encouraging developments inside Burma but the minister, who boasts of a
having a personal rapport with Burma's leaders, said it was a step in
the right direction.
The minister said that after the Burmese national government is in
place, all the Burmese illegal immigrants and refugees in Thailand would
be repatriated and settled in communities where they could find enough
work to earn a decent living. He referred to various projects Thailand
has proposed to Burma including the construction of a road from
Kanchanaburi to Tavoy and the diversion of the Salween River.
Chavalit's optimism was in stark contrast to the growing frustration
among Western nations and Burmese overseas dissidents as well as
observers over the apparent lack of progress in talks between First
Secretary Lt-General Khint Nyunt and National League for Democracy (NLD)
leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The outsiders have expressed concern the
dialogue might be in jeopardy following months of silence on both sides.
The only positive sign has been Rangoon's continuing release of
political prisoners. Since January, 129 NLD members including nine NLD
MPs have been freed. Seven were released yesterday.
The observers also contended the two-way dialogue would not represent
genuine national reconciliation without the participation of pro- and
anti-Rangoon ethnic minorities. Two armed insurgency groups - the Karen
National Union and the Shan State Army - still refuse to enter into a
cease-fire with Rangoon.
Thailand has pledged not to support the rebels' anti-Rangoon activities
so that an environment could be created conducive to national
reconciliation, Chavalit said.
Chavalit is due to visit Burma sometime this month after receiving
clearance from Rangoon on convenient dates. The visit appears to signify
a normalisation between the two neighbours' armies following a build-up
of tension over the flow of illegal drugs into Thailand, which has
erupted into sporadic border clashes since February.
Chavalit said he would take along senior military officers responsible
for policing the border with Burma, including outspoken Third Army
Commander General Wattanachai Chaimuenwong, to acquaint them with their
"It will be just a casual trip to get together since everything was
already agreed upon during Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's official
visit to Rangoon last month. I'll just go there to meet with senior
Burmese military leaders whom I've not seen for a long time and play
some golf," he said.
But his aides said Chavalit will tie up some remaining loose ends
including how joint patrols along the border could conduct drug
suppression operations with due regard to the sovereignty and domestic
security sensitivities of both sides.
The minister was confident that cooperation could be firmed up enough
that a joint patrol along the rugged border could efficiently stem the
flow of drugs.
Both Thailand and Burma see the need to engage the United Wa State Army
(UWSA) so that it can ease its dependence on drug money for sustenance.
The Wa have signed a cease-fire agreement with Rangoon to keep their own
autonomous region in return for helping Rangoon wage a proxy war against
the Shan separatists.
Chavalit said China was more than willing to help defuse the internal
strife since its drug problems are much more serious than Thailand's,
especially the influx of Burmese drugs into Yunnan, bordering Burma's
Shan state where the Wa are based.
The drug meeting with Thailand, Burma and Laos that China will be hosted
in Kunming this year would be a crucial step in tackling the drugs
trade, the defence minister said.
DVB : Interview with U Lwin, NLD joint secretary
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1430 gmt 6 Jul 01
Burma releases seven more MPs, opposition reopens township branches
DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the SPDC [State Peace
and Development Council] military government has again released
political prisoners - seven elected representatives held at the Guest
Houses. They were all released at about 1300 [local time] today [6 July]
from Yemon cantonment detention centre and the SPDC spokesman has issued
a statement stating that all the remaining NLD [National League for
Democracy] elected representatives in Rangoon [Yangon] have returned to
their homes. But the NLD joint secretary, U Lwin, told DVB that three
NLD elected representatives still remained in detention. The names and
constituencies of the seven released NLD elected representatives are U
Thein Nyunt, age 57 years, Thingangyun Township Constituency-1; U Myint
Thein, age 73 years, Thingangyun Township Constituency-2; U Hla Thein,
age 51 years, Tamwe Township Constituency-1, U Thein Myint, age 51
years, Tamwe Township Constituency-2; Dr Myo Win, age 47 years, Kawa
Township Constituency-1; U Thein Oo, age 52 years, Oktwin Township
Constituency-1; and U Win Myint, age 50 years, Danubyu Township
Constituency-1. Since the June trip of UN Special Envoy Mr Razali, 35
political detainees have been released. According to latest reports
received by DVB, the Sanchaung Township NLD signboard was reinstalled
with the office opening this morning. NLD sources told DVB that Kawhmu,
Kungyangon, Insein, Hlaingtharyar, and Ahlone Township NLD branches
would be reopened in the coming weeks. Taikkyi and Hmawbi branches were
reopened in the past weeks while Shwepyitha branch was reopened on 4
July. The other three opened NLD branches were the ones that were left
DVB interviewed NLD Joint Secretary U Lwin on the release of NLD elected
DVB first asked him to verify whether all detained NLD elected
representatives were released.
[Begin recording] [U Lwin] It is not true. There are three remaining.
They are Dr Aung Moe Kyaw in Magwe Division, U Saw Hlaing in Sagaing
Division, and U Tin Htut Oo in Mandalay Division.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] How many elected representatives are there in prison
excluding those that were detained [at the Guest Houses]?
[U Lwin] There are 37 elected representatives who are currently in jail.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Now that many have been released most people are saying
that the talks have been improving. What is your view?
[U Lwin] The release is one thing and the dialogue is another. They are
having talks with their own agenda.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] According to our sources we heard that they agreed at
the talks to release the elected representatives first, then the other
political prisoners who are sick, and next will be those who are
overdue. We heard this is the first step. What can you say?
[U Lwin] I do not know exactly.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] The Sanchaung NLD office was reopened today. What is
the situation of the NLD branch offices?
[U Lwin] Well, the branch offices are reopening one after another
according to their programmes but how can I answer about the situation.
Well we have already reopened four branches.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] What can you say about the NLD elected representatives
and the political prisoners that are still in jail? When will they be
[U Lwin] I don't know. They are still in jail. We only heard the new
from your reports.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Well news is going around that the talks are
progressing. What can you say about the prospect?
[U Lwin] What more can I say when the responsible people are not saying
[Htet Aung Kyaw] As most of the elected representatives have been
released from detention what will be the future function of the NLD and
the CRPP [Committee Representing People's Parliament].
[U Lwin] They have been recently released so what change can you expect.
[Htet Aung Kyaw] Well what can you comment on the probable release of
Aung San Suu Kyi and U Aung Shwe.
[U Lwin] I don't know. [End of recording]
Channel NewsAsia (Singapore): New law to get Myanmar firms to use local
July 9, 2001 Monday
'Buy Myanmar' - that's what the Yangon government is trying to get
manufacturers in the country to do with a new ruling that makes export
The law puts an end to Myanmar companies pooling the amount of foreign
parts and materials that they're allowed to import.
When Myanmar began opening up its economy a decade ago, businesses
wanting to import parts, machinery and equipment could use up to 80% of
export earnings to buy them.
Those wanting more foreign raw materials were allowed to pay other
exporters for their excess quota.
But the new ruling bars such transfers as it aims to get more
manufacturers to use local supplies to make Myanmar more
Many businessmen in the country say the economic crisis in the late 90s
has shown Myanmar that opening up too soon may cause instability.
Dr Y. M. Hassanjee, a shop owner, said: "We have got the open-door
policy but the door is not open very wide.
"It is just a slit, according to my opinion. But there are some
businessmen here flourishing like anything.
"They are from India, Bangkok and Malaysia, Indonesia.
"Now we are progressing, step by step. We don't want to jump like
"We want to go slow and steady."
Companies that sell steel nails, barbed wire and mesh are among those at
the front line of the latest economic policies as many of their
materials come from neighbouring Thailand and China.
It's a reflection, analysts say, of the realities facing the government.
The skirmish with Thailand over border disputes and drug traffickers
earlier this year led to a sealing of the borders.
The lack of border trade and a stop to the import of Thai products and
goods that followed caused the currency the Kyat to weaken against the
greenback and raised prices of goods.
With the re-opening of the border this month, the Kyat is expected to
stabilise, helping to bring prices down.
But experts say much more needs to be done to draw back foreign direct
investments which have been on the decline.
Investments from Myanmar's biggest foreign investor, Singapore, for
instance, fell from S$1.3b in 1997 to S$940m last year.
There was however good news in that economic growth for Myanmar exceeded
8% last year.
Although many in the country are positive about the business climate,
they hope the law will be amended to allow Myanmar to get more materials
and goods not available locally but are essential in enhancing goods it
exports in order to compete in the international arena.
Bangkok Post: Ports play catch-up before trade links to China cause
[BurmaNet adds--The security worry this article mentions but does not
clearly state is that traders in Thailand have been evading the Thai
army?s restrictions on the export of military supplies to Burma by
nominally exporting them to China via the Mekong River. The goods are
shipped from the Chiang Saen pier ostensibly to China but are offloaded
when the boats stop in Burma.]
July 08, 2001.
Nauvarat Suksamran, Jinghong, China
Thailand joined China, Laos and Burma in inaugurating four-nation
commercial navigation on the Mekong river in Jinghong on June 26 but it
has been a reluctant participant.
Thailand appears to be wondering whether it can prosper from trade and
tourism without putting national security at risk.
One year after signing an agreement on Quadripartite Co-operation in
Commercial Navigation on the Lancang-Mekong river, Thailand now faces
the challenge of catching up with the three other signatory nations in
developing facilities to accommodate increased international shipping.
The country also may need to establish direct trade by water with China
as a way to combat contraband smuggling through Burma. Trade relations
would also help promote investment in shipbuilding, transportation and
Under the agreement, the four countries can use the Mekong waterway for
commercial purposes without having to pay border charges.
The commercial route covers the 14 ports of Si Mao, Jinghong, Meng Hai
and Guan Lei in China; Ban Sai, Ban Xieng Kok, Muang Mo, Ban Khouane,
Ban Houei Sai and Luang Prabang in Laos; Wan Seng and Wan Pung in Burma
and Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
The Chinese fleet was the first to make use of the 4,880km river, dubbed
the Eastern Danube, for trade expansion in 1947. Si Mao and Jinghong
have been developed into modern ports and China later signed a joint
agreement on navigation in the Mekong river with Laos.
Trade and shipping between Thailand and China via the Mekong river began
a decade ago. Businesses, however, have been dominated by Chinese
investors as most Thai traders considered the tax system, customs
regulations and troubles at the Thai-Burmese border too big an obstacle.
Pioneers from Thailand were a few businessmen in the North.
Thanomsak Serivichayasawat, former chairman of Chiang Rai's chamber of
commerce, said efforts by the public sector to promote trade relations
and navigation co-operation were still inadequate.
Mr Thanomsak said the private sector, which had set a milestone for
commercial use of the Mekong river, now wanted immigration rules relaxed
so Chinese tourists could enter Thailand through the two ports using
only border passes.
He expected the amount of goods traded between Thailand and China, and
their value, would continue to grow, particularly at Chiang Saen where
about 100 cargo ships docked every year.
Thailand sold lamyai, rubber and sugar to China while Chinese goods
brought in included apple, garlic and electrical appliances.
Mr Thanomsak said, however, that since Thailand did not have direct
river-trade ties with China, most Thai goods were not labelled as
products from Thailand.
Most Chinese goods were also sent to Burma first because its ports were
duty-free zones. The merchandise would then be smuggled into Thailand.
Mr Thanomsak said a thriving shipping business had encouraged investors,
most of them Chinese, to build freighters which could charge about
300-700 yuan per tonne of goods transported (up to 3500 baht a tonne).
Freight business on the Mekong river could carry on all year round now
China was able to build ships that could sail even when the water was at
a low level.
In Thailand, however, infrastructure to accommodate the growing number
of river trips was poorer than that of the other countries.
Mr Thanomsak said the Chiang Saen pier was not in good shape while the
Chiang Khong port was built in shallow water and could not receive large
Construction of new facilities at Chiang Khong has been disrupted. Thai
and Laotian officials still could not settle disputes on river border
demarcation, he said.
Rachan Veerapan, chairman of the Chiang Mai chamber of commerce, said
authorities should look beyond selling Thai goods to neighbouring
countries. They could, however, use river transportation links to seek
help from China to develop a road system enabling inland travelling from
northern Thailand to different parts of the Growth Quadrangle-a joint
economic development zone between China, Laos, Burma and Thailand.
Mr Rachan said China stood to benefit the most from commercial
navigation. That country had a modern fleet and port facilities and was
eager to make passage to the South China Sea to further expand its
exports through the Mekong river.
China had already helped build roads from ports in Burma and Laos to
several of its border towns, he said.
Kanyani Rutarakarn, a Thai businessman in Kunming, said internal
campaigning was needed to increase awareness about new investment
Thailand had already wasted opportunities to bring in foreign exchange
through the Mekong river because of tax barriers against Chinese goods,
Mrs Kanyani said.
The Commerce Ministry reported that Sino-Thai trade via the Mekong river
last year was valued at 800 million baht.
Mrs Kanyani said Thai investors had shown little interest in trading
with China. It was a disappointment for that country that there were
only a few Thai businessmen in the delegation to the June inauguration,
Vichai Charnrungruang, manager of Lancang Transport Co which delivers
goods between Thailand and China, said income was good but added that
Thailand would earn more if it established direct trade links with
Mr Vichai said his China-registered ships could not unload certain types
of Chinese goods at Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong ports but had to send
them to Muang Mo in Laos and Wan Pung in Burma.
Thailand was missing out on big revenues from port fees, he said.
Sawat Boonplian, a Chiang Mai city councillor, said restrictions on
sales of strategic goods to neighbouring countries had made way for
contraband trade to prosper in border areas.
State agencies said they had to limit free trade activity along the
Mekong river to prevent an influx of illicit drugs and illegal
immigrants from Burma and southern China.
Mr Sawat said that reflected a weakness by Thai authorities in
safeguarding their own country and suggested intelligence be improved
along with the ability to suppress drug traffickers and foreign
Security sources said allowing Chinese tourists travelling by water to
enter the country using only border passes could impose big demands on
officials. Chalermsak Suranan, director of the Northern Tourism Office,
predicted that the Mekong river cruise may not be popular because target
groups would be confined to adventurous people willing to accept
discomfort as part of the journey.
Mr Chalermsak also questioned whether Thailand could win a bigger share
of the outward-bound travel market from southern China, from which one
million people travel overseas each year.
Representatives of the four nations at the inauguration, however, agreed
that trade and tourism would grow after four-nation commercial
navigation under the agreement made its debut.
There were forecasts that cargo flows on the river would reach 1.5
million tonnes a year and no fewer than 500,000 people would opt to make
river tours within the next 10 years.
Business Daily (Thailand): China: Myanmar, Chinese company sign cement
July 9, 2001
The Myanmar Ceramics Industry authorities and a Chinese company signed
an agreement in Yangon Friday on building a cement plant project in
Kyaukse, central Mandalay Division of the country.
The signing ceremony of the agreement between the state-run Myanmar
Ceramics Industry (MCI) of the Ministry of Industry-1 and the China
National Constructional and Agricultural Import and Export Corporation
(CAMC) was attended by Myanmar Minister of Industry-1 U Aung Thaung and
Economical and Commercial Counselor of the Chinese Embassy Jin Honggen.
Representing their respective parties, Managing Director of MCI U Than
Shwe and Chairman of the CAMC Ren Honbin signed the agreement.
The plant, whose capacity is to be 500 tons a day, will have machinery
and technology worth US$16.5 million. And it will be built within 22
Myanmar produced a total of 338,007 tons of cement in 1999, a drop of
7.38 percent compared with 1998.
In recent years, Myanmar has sped up the pace of infrastructural
construction of roads, bridges and dams, resulting in a shortage of
cement day by day.
To meet the rising demand for cement, the Myanmar government has been
trying to build more cement plants.
Burma Courier: Thailand's Sutech Building Burma's Largest Sugar Mill
Courier News Service: July 3, 2001
RANGOON - Construction underway on what will be Burma's largest sugar
mill in the Sagaing township of Kanbalu is being carried out by a Thai
A brief news item in the June issue of Business Tank, a Rangoon based
e-zine, reports that the Kanbalu mill will be capable of handling
3800-4000 tons of sugar cane daily. Other mills using machinery and
technology provided by Chinese companies over the last few years have
been in the 2,000-ton capacity range.
The Kanbalu project is a joint venture between Sutech Engineering of
Bangkok and Myanmar Economic Corporation, one of two large military
owned companies in Rangoon. Sutech which specializes in sugar mill
engineering, is responsible for setting up the mill and providing the
required technology. MEC will assume responsibility for day-to-day
operations. Business Tank said the plant which will take two years to
complete, will be operational by the end of the present year. This
would suggest that the plant has been under construction for at least a
Sutech previously built the 2,000 ton Nawade Sugar Mill, finished in
1999 and operated as a joint venture with the government-owned Myanmar
Sugar Enterprise (MSE). During the construction phase of the Nawade
mill, there were complaints from local farmers that plots of land which
they used for growing crops and vacant land which had served as
traditional grazing ground for their animals had been seized. Local
cultivators were told that they must sell their sugar cane to the JV
mill company, known as Myanmar Sutech Co Ltd.
The Export-Import Bank of Thailand provided a US$ 21 million loan for
the building of the Nawade mill. The loan has a seven-year repayment
schedule. There was no indication in the BT news item how the Kanbalu
plant is being financed.
Sugarcane is already cultivated on about 345,000 acres throughout the
country, but according to U Soe Myint, a sugarcane expert at MSE, the
industry needs access to at least another 100,000 plantation acres to
fill the production capacity of the country's 17 existing refineries.
Most of the mills and all of the larger ones are located in lower Burma.
But there is also extensive sugarcane cultivation in the Upper Burma
townships of Kanbalu, Thabeik-kyin and Madaya which are currently being
serviced by smaller, privately owned plants.
Water stored in the recently completed Thaphanseik dam on the Mu river,
upstream from Kanbalu township, is expected to augment land use in the
sugar cane area farther south.
Sugar fetches about US$ 250 per ton on the international market and
exports reached as high as 20,000 tons in 1999. However, the government
has had to make in-kind payments to finance the construction of the
eight Chinese-built mills and cash exports will have to be cut back over
the next few years.
TTU (France): Burma Purchases MIG 29s at Discount Price
BurmaNet adds--This article is a translation from the French language
newsletter TTU. TTU is an intelligence newsletter that is widely read
in French military and government circles. It?s former editor is now
the communications advisor to France?s Minister of Defense. "TTU" is an
abbreviation for Tres Tres Urgent (Very Very Urgent).]
Burma has ordered 10 MIG 29s, including 2 MIG 29 UB. Russia is
conducting a very aggressive commercial policy in the bay of bengal: in
1999, Bengladesh successfully bought the same aircraft for $ 11 million
each, including maintenance and associated services, and $ 13 million
for aircraft negotiated in March 2001. Burma obtained this tariff. The
Burmese contract - $130 million- contains important payment delays, an
opportunity for a country known for its financial difficulties. One
third has to be paid on delivery and the remaining in 10 years. this
purchase should contribute to a new deterioration of relations with
[BurmaNet adds--The Mikoyan MIG 29 Fulcrum is a sophisticated
Russian-made aircraft primarily useful for air to air combat but with
some air to ground capabilities. The MIG 29 is far superior to any
aircraft in Burma?s current inventory which is primarily made up of F-7
fighter-interceptors and A-5 fighter-ground attack aircraft. The MIG 29
UB is a two seat trainer. The MIG 29 is roughly comparable the
American-made F-16s. The Thai Air Force operates 32 F-16s which are the
most potent weapons their inventory. Thailand used F-16 flyovers to
intimidate Burmese troops during border clashes earlier this year.]
Bangkok Post: Junta general agrees to join Pattaya talks
July 09, 2001.
Golf diplomacy helps pave way
Burma's Regional Triangle commander agreed to join the 19th Regional
Border Committee meeting in Pattaya next month, it was reported.
During a round of golf on Saturday in Tachilek, opposite Tak province,
Maj-Gen Thein Sein reportedly told Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong,
Third Region Army commander, he would participate in the high-level
Lt-Gen Wattanachai said his casual meeting with Maj-Gen Thein Sein was
an amicable one.
The generals agreed to avoid violence and settle border disputes through
dialogue, but specific issues were not raised during the golf game for
fear of dampening the atmosphere, he said.
The issues requiring immediate attention would be brought up at the RBC
meeting. The agenda was expected to be dominated by the joint narcotics
suppression efforts. The co-operation was acknowledged at the last RBC
forum in Burma in April.
Thailand would relay to Rangoon information on some 50 narcotic
production bases scattered along the common border so suppression could
be launched in accordance with bilateral agreements.
Initially, help from Rangoon would be sought to destroy a few major
Lt-Gen Wattanachai said the Joint Operation Command (JOC) 103 would
liaise in the meeting and arrange the meeting agenda.
He said the border demarcation issue would be left to Joint Boundary
Meeting to be organised jointly by the Thai and Burmese foreign
A defence ministry source said Rangoon asked Defence Minister Gen
Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to postpone his July 19-20 visit because July 19
is Burma's national day.
AFP: Thai defence minister to visit Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam
BANGKOK, July 10 (AFP) - Thailand's Defence Minister Chavalit
Yongchaiyudh said Tuesday he will make an official tour of Myanmar,
Cambodia and Vietnam this month.
"I will travel to Myanmar within this month, after a trip to Vietnam
and then followed by a visit to Cambodia," said Chavalit, who also
serves as deputy premier.
Ministry spokesman Colonel Jongsak Panichkul said Chavalit was
tentatively scheduled to travel to Myanmar on July 23 and 24, but no
dates had been set for the other legs of the trip.
The official tour is Chavalit's first to the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbours since he was sworn in as part of Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's coalition government in February.
Chavalit, a former army chief who has close links with Myanmar's
military government, said he was optimistic the current dialogue between
the junta and the opposition is paving the way for a new reconciliation
"The format of the national government would be to invite all
conflicting parties ... and together they would draft common rules and
regulations to solve their problems and organise a general election," he
Chavalit suggested over the weekend that, after nine months of talks,
the junta was poised to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from
house arrest and announce a new national government.
However, the Yangon regime downplayed that idea Monday, saying "there
has been too much speculation" surrounding the tightly guarded dialogue.
The Nation (Thailand): Burma, New Zealand visas under review
July 9, 2001
Changes in the status of visitors from Burma and New Zealand are among
topics expected to be discussed when authorities meet this week to
review immigration regulations.
Representatives from the National Security Council (NSC), the Foreign
Ministry, the police and the Tourism Authority of Thailand are also
likely to consider increases in visa fees, sources said.
They added any increases were likely to be opposed by the TAT, the state
According to present immigration regulations, nationals from a number of
countries - including the United States, Japan, New Zealand, Burma,
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore - are entitled to one-month visas with
no charge when entering Thailand.
Nationals from several other countries - including Japan, India, Russia
and Hungary - can obtain visas on arrival that allow them to stay up to
"The review of the visa-free agreement on the Burmese turns on the fact
that Burma does not have a reciprocal agreement for Thais," a senior
Foreign Ministry source said.
However a high-ranking source at the NSC said that a series of recent
incidents involving Burmese had played a major role in the review of
The incidents included the seizure of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok in
1999 and a hospital in Ratchaburi province last year. Burmese students
who are allowed to reside in a detention camp along the border were
involved in those incidents and have also carried out "many crimes and
offences", the source said.
"In any case the Burmese should not be considered potential tourists to
Thailand as they are generally poor, having no time or money to visit
our country," he added.
The source at the Foreign Ministry said the review of visa rules for New
Zealanders was based on the fact that Wellington has revoked visa-free
privileges for Thai visitors. "We believe that the agreement should be a
reciprocal one," he said.
New Zealand stopped allowing Thais to enter the country without a visa
because too many were abusing the privilege to work illegally there.
Visa requirements for African countries whose nationals rarely visit
Thailand will also be reviewed at this week's meeting.
Pranee Muenpangwaree, Piyanart Srivalo
Burma Courier: Name Confusion May Have Led to Arms Speculation
July 7, 2001
Based on news from Yonhap, Kyodo and MNA: Updated to July 5, 2001
SEOUL - A visit to Myanmar in mid-June by Park Kil-yon, North Korea's
deputy minister of foreign affairs, stirred speculation this week that
the two countries may be about to strengthen bilateral military
The South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted a South Korean government
official as saying that Park visited Rangoon from June 20-22 and met
with the military junta's Deputy Defence Minister Khin Maung Win to
discuss defence industry co-operation. The official told Yonhap that
in November last year a Myanmar government delegation secretly visited
North Korea for talks with high-ranking officials of the Armed Forces
The only previous arms deal between the two countries was a sale
reported by Jane's Defense Weekly in 1998 of 20 howitzers manufactured
by North Korea in exchange for rice to offset serious food shortages
created by drought conditions.
Myanmar suspended diplomatic relations with North Korea following a 1983
terrorist bombing that killed 17 South Korean government officials who
were on a visit to Rangoon. Myanmar has reportedly said it wants North
Korea to officially acknowledge its responsibility for the bombing and
apologize before diplomatic relations are reopened.
There may be a less sinister explanation for the visit to Rangoon by
Park than a secret arms deal. As it happens, Myanmar has two deputy
ministers with the same name -- Brigadier-General Khin Maung Win of
the Defence Ministry and U Khin Maung Win in Foreign Affairs. Most
countries do not send their deputy foreign ministers to make arms deals
and it seems far more likely that Park held meetings with his junta
counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister U Khin Maung Win.
It could well be that Park's visit was related to upcoming sessions of
the ASEAN Regional Forum, a 23-member body that meets for consultations
on security and other matters. North Korea is set to join the regional
consultations for the first time this month following a decision last
year by the ARF to allow the hermetic Pyongyang regime to join the
forum. The Myanmar regime did not oppose North Korean participation at
Just to be sure what it was all about, South Korean Ambassador Chung
Jung- gum held talks Thursday with U Tin Winn, the former junta
ambassador in Washington, who was recently appointed to serve as a
minister in the PM's office in Rangoon.
Myanmar Information Committee (SPDC): [Denying recent steps by
government were taken under western pressure]
Embassy of Myanmar in London
July 10 2001
Misperceptions on Myanmar have been the result of mostly negative
reporting by the western media making interpretations of the present
steps taken by the government diverse and difficult.
The following is an attempt to rectify some of them.
Misconception 1- That recent political steps are results of political
pressure from the West
The Government of Myanmar has been slowly and steadily implementing it's
declared objectives without unduly compromising the peace and stability
of the nation at the same time protecting the interests of it's silent
majority inhabiting the predominantly rural areas.
The recent "political steps" taken by the government are a part of this
process as prevailing circumstances have permitted such steps to be
taken. For example, two years ago, the disruptive attempts to create a
political upheaval of "9-9-99" by collusive actions of local and
foreign agitators, have only negatively impacted on and in fact delayed
certain steps of the political transition process until recently. This
is a fact that should be lucidly appreciated.
Misconception 2 - That ethnic insurgencies are fighting the Military
The so-called ethnic and "multicoloured" insurgencies were fighting the
post-independent political government for various reasons since 1949. It
was the present military governments of State Law and Order Restoration
Council and the State Peace and Development Council that made peace
(a) Myanmar National Democracy Alliance (MNDA)
(b) Myanmar National Solidarity Party (MNSP)
(c) Shan State Army (SSP)
(d) National Democracy Alliance Army Military Local Administration
(e) Kachin Defence Army (KDA)
(f) PA-O National Organization (PNO)
(g) Palaung State Liberation Party (PSLP)
(h) New Democratic Army (Kachin) (NDA)
(i) Kachin Independence Organization (KIO)
(j) Kayah National Guard (KNG)
(k) Kayinni National People Liberation Front (KNPLF)
(l) Kayah New Land Party (KNLP)
(m) Shan State Nationalities People's Liberation Organization (SNPLO)
(n) Kayinni National Progressive Party (KNPP)
(o) New Mon State Party (NMSP)
(p) Mong Tai Army (MTA)
(q) Shan State National Army (SSNA)
(r) Burma Communist Party (Rakhine State)
(s) Democratic Kayin Buddhist Association (DKBA).
Even some former KNU leaders and thousands of their followers have
settled back in the Karen State at Eindu and making rapid progress in
developing the area.
The above actually represents over 90% of all armed insurgencies
wreaking havoc to the countryside for half a century. A return to the
post-independent situation could become analogous to a "Balkanization
of South-East Asia".
Misconception 3- The Union of Myanmar is a nation in CRISIS
The predictions made by so-called Burma Experts such as "political
upheavals", "imminent economic collapse", "becoming epicentre of an AIDS
epidemic"," a country of drug addicts", "a pre 1988 situation" have
been circulating on and off since 1997 and repeat performances of such
a negative media campaign now and then have also been a ritual of the
The facts, however, remain that none of those predictions came true and
once again likely to ring hollow. This is simply because, the rice
harvests have been good, both the farmers, private and government
sectors have ample stocks, border problems with a trading neighbour
have been amicably resolved and even value of the US greenback have
settled back to pre summer levels.
Misconception 4 - That Myanmar is an increasingly isolated country -
fast becoming a "pariah" state
This is an often used phrase in the popular western media- which is
against the trend of developments in reality.
Living in between the two most populous nations of the world and having
become a member of South-East Asian and South-Asian economic
cooperation groups, Myanmar already enjoys cordial relations with half
the population of the planet even without counting other nations of the
third world in Africa and Latin America. Attempts to isolate Myanmar
politically and economically with the hope of bringing the country "to
it's knees", therefore can only be an exercise in futility.
BMA: Canadian Burma Activist Passed Away
By Tin Maung Htoo (Canada)
Burma Media Association
July 9, 2001
A final farewell, but what a friend says is "too young to go," grieved
all Vancouver-based Burma activists, as well as closed friends and love
once attending the past weekend memorial service for Mrs. Louise
Lamontagne, who had passed away last week at the age of 53.
Mr. Alan Clements, a well known author of "Voice of Burma", a Buddhist
devotee and a friend of Mrs. Louise for more than twenty years, was
quoted as saying in the event that she found great inspiration in Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi's words about courage -- "courage to see the truth,
courage to feel the truth, courage to act the truth."
Led by Mr. Alan Clements, the memorial service was taken place on
Saturday in a Vancouver's Unitarian Church filled with over 300 of
friends, colleagues and love once.
Mr. Eric Snider, who closely worked with her for a free Burma campaign
in Canada, recalled his memory, "she bought up a few shares in Ivanhoe
and went to several company meetings with me. The last time was in the
middle of June, when she had already wasted away too much."
Mr. Snider referred to the event while the Ivanhoe shareholders meeting
was taking place last month in Vancouver at the time she was already
ill. But he said, "it was great for her to be able to sit outside for a
few moments, after the (shareholders) meeting, with some of the 40-50
demonstrators who showed up and to realize that the small beginnings we
made in 1998 were beginning to have an impact."
For the Free Burma Movement, this is the second to lose the most two
devoted activists and veterans within a month. An American activist Don
Erickson, who is a teacher and a leading campaigner for free Burma, also
passed away on June 3 at the age of 75 in his native city Chicago.
Friends and colleagues also observed a memorial service for him in honor
of his devotion and endeavor for free Burma.
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