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BurmaNet News: July 17, 2001
- Subject: BurmaNet News: July 17, 2001
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 17:54:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
July 17, 2001 Issue # 1845
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*International Herald Tribune: Burmese Security Takes Cue From Keystone
*Shan Herald Agency for News: Burmese and Wa step up eviction program
of Shan villagers
*Burma Courier: Investors Looking for Alternatives to the Kyat
*The Nation: US arms sale to Thailand seen as tit-for-tat with Burma
*Bangkok Post: Rangoon free to spend gas money on anything it
wants-Purchase of MiGs a totally separate deal
*Bangkok Post: Warplane purchase no cause for alarm
*Freedom News (SSA): SSA - A Sanctuary for SPDC's soldiers; Burmese
soldiers deserted post
*The Washington Post: 'Crazy Medicine' Flows Out of Burma
*AP: Thailand Says Myanmar Talks Good Sign For Democracy
*Bangkok Post: Top brass put off golf game
*Xinhua: Myanmar Leader Meets Chinese Yunnan Vice-Governor
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
International Herald Tribune: Burmese Security Takes Cue From Keystone
Tuesday, July 17, 2001
RANGOON Like a cheap paperback, the whispered warning came complete with
bad grammar and a foreign accent: "Military Intelligence across the road
right now watches you. Look out!"
MI, as it is often called, is perhaps the most despised arm of Burma's
military dictatorship. Sporting self-consciously casual clothes that
often include a longyi - the Burmese sarong - and incongruous
aviator-style sun-glasses, the plainclothes agents of MI seem to turn up
anywhere of interest to journalists. Foreign correspondents quickly grow
accustomed to being tailed, tapped and photographed while in Asia's
authoritarian countries. China and Vietnam actually charge journalists
substantial daily fees for minders, who nominally also work as
Government operatives in Laos have wrestled away tapes with television
footage they fear is unfavorable. Burma's agents enjoy leaping from
behind bushes to fire cameras at close range, paparazzi-style (Best, I
find, to smile and say cheese.). As a notebook-carrying Western visitor
to the recently reopened headquarters of Burma's opposition party, the
National League for Democracy, I must have set off a three-alarm MI red
alert. Across the road from the opposition's headquarters is a series of
small makeshift tea shops, only one of which is packed with customers
every day and in all weather. As I hailed a cab to leave, most of the
so-called customers stood up to scrutinize me. Two jumped into a brown
Nissan Sunny Super Saloon with darkened windows that followed my taxi
behind several other cars. While passing by the gold-encrusted Shwedagon
Pagoda, I directed the cab into a chaotic series of sudden U-turns that
looped around the traffic islands. Hindered by potholes, pedestrians and
traffic, the swerving chase took place at half speed, like a slow motion
scene from the Keystone Cops.
Heavy monsoon rains prompted a fast sprint from the taxi when we
arrived at the Foreign Ministry. This sudden getaway must have surprised
my pursuers, who drew up nearby as I checked in with the guard. Grabbing
two name cards, I walked out to confront them. "I visit my friend in
office here. I visit my friend in office here," the surprised driver of
the car shouted back when I asked whether he was MI. "Then I suppose you
are not interested in my name, occupation and publication," I replied,
offering a name card with a shrug. "Oh, yes, name card please," the
driver replied, grabbing it through the slightly open window, only to
have it wrestled away by his colleague.
I passed over another card and formally introduced myself, but still
they declined to identify themselves. The next day, returning to the NLD
headquarters, I provocatively walked into the agent-infested tea shop
and offered greetings in Burmese. Laughter at my impertinence ceased
when I loudly asked for the name of their employer. MI is, in fact, no
joke. As a foreign journalist, the worst punishment I could expect is a
light interrogation and brief detention followed by permanent expulsion.
For a Burmese national, however, even accidental contact with a foreign
journalist can end in prison. After a previous trip the government
actually reconstructed my travels through the Shan States. MI agents, I
later learned, visited the home of at least one contact almost every day
for a month, interrogating him about my role in some imagined CIA plot
to supply arms to a rebel ethnic army I had visited. Following my
interview at the opposition headquarters, the taxi I hailed did not
understand the location of my next appointment: the guesthouse inside
the Ministry of Defense compound, which is also home to MI. Exasperated,
I finally told the taxi to stop at the crowded tea house. In what turned
out to be their only tacit acknowledgment of connections with the
military, two clients kindly gave detailed directions to the driver.
They are despicable and dangerous, but the agents of Military
Intelligence did, on one occasion, assist a foreign journalist in need.
Shan Herald Agency for News: Burmese and Wa step up eviction program of
July 13, 2001
Since the order came out from Triangle Region Command in Kengtung in mid
May, Shan villagers south of the Monghsat-Tachilek highway are being
threatened to leave their villages by both Burmese and Wa forces in the
area, reported sources from the border.
On 20 June, Kawnzing, 51, headman of Mongton Tract, Monghsat Township,
and his secretary, Zai Nyunt, 45, were arrested by Captain Saw Maung,
Commander, Company 4, LIB 336 (Mongphyak) on charges of collaboration
with the Shan State Army. They were beaten and tortured until they were
unable either to eat to drink.
"It naturally terrified us, so we decided to leave fearing it may also
befall on us," said a villager who arrived in Fang, Chiangmai provicne,
with his family.
They also reported the forced possession of their homes and fields by
the Wa troops. Lao Chung, a subordinate commander of Wei Hsiao-kang,
United Wa State Army. "They took wheatever they wanted from our
fields," said the same villager. "If they decided they liked a
particular field owned by a villager, they just put up a house in there
without paying anything. A home of one of our neighbors was taken after
promising to pay rent. But in the end he received no payment and just
lost his home."
Mongtoom, a village tract of 400 households, had since May saw more than
20 of its inhabitants being taken into custody by local Rangoon
authorities. (See Report No: 05 - 19 on www.shanland.org)
"More than 300 of us have fled our homes," the villager estimated. He
asked S.H.A.N. not to reveal his name because he might place his
relatives who were still back in Mongtoom in danger.
Mongtoom is near Mongkarn Tract that is opposite Therdthai tract of Mae
Fa Luang District, Chiangrai Province.
Burma Courier: Investors Looking for Alternatives to the Kyat
Based on an article by Maung Maung Oo in the Irrawaddy On-line: July
RANGOON - Burma's wary investors are turning to real estate as a way of
cushioning the downturn in the value of the kyat.
An article posted by Irrawaddy magazine this week quoted Ko Win Naing, a
businessman involved in real estate and business brokerage, as saying
that "people are trying to buy land, real estate and as many items of
value as possible after withdrawing their money from the banks. They
have no more faith in the Burmese currency."
The remark appeared to confirm news published in April by the Myanmar
Times that the real estate market in Rangoon had bottomed out and was
beginning to rebound. While demand was still low at the time - about a
quarter to a third of supply - in the city's central townships and close
to industrial zones in the suburbs, it did represent a significant
turnaround from the lows of 1998-9.
Gold and other traditional "inflation-proof" investments were also being
turned to, the Irrawaddy reported. It quoted a business source in
Mandalay as saying the price of gold had been rising, causing some to
reinvest their money there. Bank savings account interest though high
in comparison with other southeast Asian countries is not high enough to
offset the loss in value of the kyat and has contributed to the turn to
touchables as a way of safeguarding value.
On Thursday, the kyat was trading on the street market in Rangoon at 650
to the U.S. dollar down from 590 last week. The newly licensed
official traders were still keeping to the rate of 495 to the U.S.
dollar, authorized by the Central Bank when it set up its new system a
The Nation: US arms sale to Thailand seen as tit-for-tat with Burma
July 17, 2001.
The US Senate has approved the sale of air-to-air AIM-30 missiles to
Thailand in what is believed to be a reaction to Rangoon's plan to
purchase a squadron of Russian MiG-29 supersonic warplanes, informed
sources within the Royal Thai Air Force said.
The weapons, known as advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (Amraam)
will be equipped on F-16 jet fighters currently used in the Royal Thai
Air Force, making Thailand the first country in the region to acquire
Earlier, the US was adamantly opposed to a Thai request to buy 60 to 70
rounds of these sophisticated weapons, for fear their acquisition would
stimulate an arms build-up in the region, the sources said. The decision
was reversed last year but the Thai army asked to postpone the sale
until it was financially ready.
The sale, however, needed congressional approval and guarantees the
weapon would not be used against the US but would be kept in the US for
safety reasons. It could be delivered to Thailand when needed within 48
hours. The sources said the Congress finally approved the sale but did
not say when the decision took place.
According to the sources, it is possible that the US sees Burma's MiG-29
purchasing plan as tilting the equilibrium of the regional arms
structure and could cause an arms race within the region.
Senator Mitchell McConnell told the US Congress last week, quoting
Jane's Defence Weekly, that Rangoon has struck a deal with Russia to buy
10 MiG-29s to increase its air defence capability.
Before the deal, Burma relied on 42 Chengdu F-7M and Nanchang A-5C
aircraft from China.
McConnell also said Thailand and the US should be concerned about the
move, which he said has the potential to destabilise Southeast Asia.
The Burmese-Russian deal was struck shortly after Thailand and Burma's
border friction worsened, mainly due to a Thai accusation that Rangoon
was turning a blind eye on the drug trade by its ethnic ally of Wa
At the peak of the crisis, the Thai air force dispatched an F-16 jet
fighter to perform a sonic boom near the Wa-controlled areas, adjacent
to the Thai Northern border, prompting a protest by Rangoon.
Thai military and arms experts, however, downplayed the regional tension
and the arms build-up the Burmese arms purchasing plan may cause, saying
the country should wait and see how Rangoon intends to use these
The Royal Thai Air Force's secretary Air Vice Marshal Prapas Jiamchawee
said the airforce was cross-checking the Jane's report, saying that
although the purchasing plan is on, the acquisition could take time.
According to a senior air force officer, both the MiG-29 and the F-16
have strong and weak points, although in theory the F-16 contains more
sophisticated technology than the MiG-29.
Defence Analyst Prof Panitan Wattanayagorn said the Burmese plan is
worrisome but not unexpected.
Panitan said that regional countries have been warning for some time of
a new arms proliferation within Southeast Asia that would include
missiles, submarines and warships.
"It is worrisome because it's happening at a time the region is plagued
with political and territorial conflicts," he said.
Panitan, however, downplayed the threat of the MiG-29, saying that any
danger would depend on the Burmese army's capability and preparedness to
use the aircraft.
Singapore has 20 F-16s, the most advanced version of this class in the
Thailand has 32 older models of the F-16 and has approved a plan to buy
two squadrons of used F-16 jet fighters (currently used in Israel) from
the US Army.
Malaysia is the only country in the region to have obtained F-16 jet
fighters, MiG-29s and F-18 fighter-bombers at the same time.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry's deputy spokesman, Ison Pocmontri,
urged Jane's to provide evidence of its claim that money Rangoon used to
buy the MiG-29 was with profits obtained from gas sales to Thailand.
Bangkok Post: Rangoon free to spend gas money on anything it
wants-Purchase of MiGs a totally separate deal
July 17, 2001
Burma can use the money Thailand pays for natural gas for any purpose it
pleases, including buying new warplanes, the Foreign Ministry said
However, a spokesman denied a report in Jane's Defence Weekly that
Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai was president of PTT Exploration
and Production when the deal to purchase gas from the Yadana natural gas
field was signed.
The weekly reported in its July 11 edition that Rangoon was buying 10
MiG-29 jet fighters from Russia for US$130 million and the money was
coming from Thai gas purchases.
Deputy ministry spokesman Isorn Pocmontri said neither Thailand nor Mr
Surakiart had anything whatsoever to do with the plane purchase.
The MiG deal was between Russia and Burma.
The gas purchase was a separate matter, Mr Isorn said.
"It's not a Thai grant, but payment on a business deal.
"Therefore it is up to the Burmese government how it uses the money."
The magazine also said the gas deal was sealed when Mr Surakiart was
president of PTT Exploration and Production, a joint investor in the
Yadana gas field with France's Total and Unocal of the United States.
Mr Isorn said PTTEP signed the joint venture agreement with Total in
1995, three years before Mr Surakiart became the state-oil company's
president, a position which he resigned from in March last year.
Bangkok Post: Warplane purchase no cause for alarm
July 16, 2001.
Thaksin says it is not a threat
Burma's plan to procure MiG-29 jet fighters from Russia does not worry
key figures like Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Deputy Defence
Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapa who view the issue as normal defence
preparations. Mr Thaksin said yesterday that he did not consider the
plan a threat because any government had the duty to have weaponry for
"Today, Thai-Burmese relations have returned to normal. Burma is
developing itself in many aspects. We are ready to co-operate on
development. We would like to see our neighbour improve," the premier
Gen Yuthasak said that the Burmese air force needed to upgrade its fleet
because its existing aircraft were out of date.
"Of course, a new procurement must mean modern aircraft. They have a
capability close to Thailand's F-16s.
"What will matter are the arms to be equipped on board. In this case,
the Amram missiles (advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles) are
considered perfect," the deputy defence minister said.
He said it was normal for Burma to need new aircraft for defence because
it bordered India and China.
In Thailand's case, Singapore and Malaysia had strengthened their
weaponry, but posed no problems to relations with Thailand, he said.
Freedom News (SSA): SSA - A Sanctuary for SPDC's soldiers; Burmese
soldiers deserted post
14 July 2001
On 1st July 2001, 3 soldiers from the Burmese Army of 64th Infantry
Battalion based at Laikha township, central Shan State had deserted
their post. This incidence occurred when these men were stationed at
camp Pang Hoong, Hsipaw township, northern Shan State. The guards were
alerted and others soldiers tried to surround them and ordered them to
surrender. As these deserters refused to surrender, a skirmish broke out
and 2 of the deserters were killed. The last one managed to escape with
his assault rifle. On 8th July, he reached the SSA lines and was warmly
welcome at SSA 758th Brigade.
Once in secure atmosphere, the deserter told his story of desertion. He
is private Aung Myint Htun, 17 years old, son of U Tin Myint and Daw Ma
Mee, has an elder brother named Myint Htun. They are ethnic Danu from
Yama quarter, Mong Pai (Moe Pye), Karenni State. He was forced
conscripted and became a private in the SPDC's 64th infantry battalion
at Laikha. His company leader was Captain Htun Hla but did not know his
Private Aung Myint Htun, told his story that, the majority in the
Burmese Army consists of new recruits, who joined the army unwillingly.
Some were captured as porters and later forced to enlist in the army.
Others were levied by military authorities and were enlisted to fill up
their village quota. In the Burmese Army there are total discrimination
among officers and raw recruits. If the recruits are from non-Burmans
group, the degree of discrimination become intense. Because of such
condition in the Burmese army, many wish to flee, but could not find a
safe haven. If there is a safe haven, many will desert from the Burmese
According to some of the atrocities committed by the Burmese Army, Aung
Myint Htun said, in order to keep the Shan State people in poverty, the
Burmese soldiers forced the villagers to work for them all the time and
does not give enough time to make a living. In his camp Pang Hoong
alone, 20 villagers have to work for them and another 15 villagers had
to stand by as porters, daily. Besides, chicken, pigs and cattle for the
consumption were demand at random.
Before Aung Myint Htun and his friends deserted, their duty in their
camp was to keep the cease-fire groups (i.e. SSA-N and SSNA) under close
observation. They had received orders from their battalion commander
stating: 1) never trust the cease-fire group,2) observed and informed of
the movement of the cease-fire group, 3) on seeing the cease-fire groups
bearing arms, permission is given without further orders, 4) you are
allowed to kill the Shan villagers at will, but conduct it secretly, do
not forget to bury the corpses and don't forget to destroy the
Many soldiers in the Burmese Army, are fed up with these orders and do
not wish to become murderers. They also hate being discriminated, but
cannot find a way out. Aung Myint Htun added that if the soldiers knew
that he is now safe and sound, many will desert from their post.
The Washington Post: 'Crazy Medicine' Flows Out of Burma
Tuesday, July 17, 2001; Page A11
U.S. Trains Thai Unit to Block Methamphetamine Traffic
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
DOI KIU HUNG, Thailand -- In Southeast Asia's infamous poppy-growing
heartland known as the Golden Triangle, drug warlords have begun
producing large quantities of a methamphetamine -- known as "crazy
medicine" -- that is rivaling the traditional trade in heroin and
prompting the U.S. military to quietly train an anti-drug commando unit
Most of the drug production is occurring in Burma, also known as
Myanmar, where Thai military officials and Western drug-control
specialists estimate as many as 50 large factories are synthesizing the
substance. Thai officials estimate as many as 800 million tablets of the
drug -- about 80 tons -- will be smuggled into their country from Burma
this year, a figure one drug expert described as "unprecedented for a
country the size of Thailand."
Some of those pills are then shipped on to other Asian countries, Europe
and the United States, but most remain in Thailand, where
methamphetamine use has skyrocketed among teenagers and young adults.
The abundance of crazy medicine, a form of speed called yaba in Thai,
has provided people who never could afford heroin with a quick, cheap
The Thai Health Ministry estimates that 3 million people, or about 5
percent of the population, regularly use yaba, making Thailand the
world's largest per capita consumer of methamphetamines, a level of drug
abuse comparable to the cocaine epidemic in the United States during the
Thai military officials contend that most of the yaba from Burma is
produced by the United Wa State Army, a contingent of 15,000 ethnic
tribespeople in Shan state, Burma's easternmost province. Western
anti-drug agents regard the United Wa force, which is allied with
Burma's ruling junta, as one of the world's largest and best-armed
Members of the Wa used to live near Burma's border with China, but they
have relocated to areas near the Thai border. Thai officials and Western
analysts said Beijing pressured the Wa to move to stem the flow of drugs
entering southwestern China.
"It was a very smart move," said a Thai military intelligence officer.
"The Chinese got rid of the Wa problem and gave it to us."
Intelligence sources said China has provided the Wa -- who are fighting
other ethnic groups in Shan state -- with weapons, including
sophisticated surface-to-air missiles, in exchange for help in
constructing a network of roads in areas they control. The Chinese are
building the roads in an effort to use Burma's ports, which would
provide China's navy with long-coveted access to the Indian Ocean, the
The Wa's move to Thai border regions has transformed once sleepy
hillside villages into boomtowns with new schools, hospitals, homes,
restaurants -- and large laboratories where methamphetamine is
synthesized and opium is refined into heroin. From a fortified Thai
border checkpoint here in Doi Kiu Hung, soldiers scan the largest such
town, Mong Yawn, which is surrounded by several large buildings
intelligence officials said are drug factories.
"All this stuff, it's new," said Maj. Gen. Anu Sumitra, the army
intelligence chief for northeastern Thailand, where most of the
smuggling has occurred. "It was built with drug money."
Drug experts said it costs the Wa about 5 cents to make a yaba pill.
They sell it for about 30 cents to Thai intermediaries. When it reaches
the streets of Bangkok, it goes for as much as $2.
"Some of their factories have such sophisticated pharmaceutical
equipment that they can churn out more than a million pills a day," said
one Western anti-drug agent.
The influx of yaba pills has so alarmed Thai authorities that they have
asked the U.S. military to train an anti-drug task force of army
commandos and border patrol officers. In a collaboration that is part of
a new American effort to work with foreign armed forces to stem the
global drug trade, U.S. Special Forces troops are training the Thai unit
to interdict smugglers who traverse the rugged hills that separate
Thailand and Burma.
Although the mission in Thailand is far smaller than the widely
publicized American training program in Colombia -- which is receiving a
$1.3 billion U.S. aid package to attack its drug trade -- both involve
an emphasis on advanced combat and reconnaissance tactics. And just as
in Colombia, the U.S. anti-drug program here will involve sharing
satellite imagery and other intelligence information to help the
military identify targets, officials said.
"We believe it will be a very valuable collaboration," said Gen. Anu.
"The Americans can provide us with a much higher level of training and
U.S. officials here said the instruction, at an army base near the
northern city of Chiang Mai, began in May and is scheduled to end in
October. Much of the training will focus on using sophisticated
night-vision technology and flying American-made Black Hawk combat
helicopters, officials said.
U.S. and Thai officials said that 20 American soldiers will act only as
instructors and will not participate in interdiction missions. The Thais
plan to buy the Black Hawks.
One U.S. official said the Pentagon agreed to the Thai request because
of concern about the volume of drugs believed to be inundating the
country -- and fear among U.S. anti-drug officials that unfettered
smuggling into Thailand could result in more yaba reaching U.S. soil.
"The Thais see the drug problem as their number one security concern,"
the official said. "But it is also a concern for the United States."
Thai military officials contended that Burma's junta has ignored the
Wa's drug production because the Wa army is helping government troops
fight another ethnic force in the area, the Shan State Army.
The Wa fought Burma's government for years to establish a communist
state, but signed a cease-fire in 1990. In return for ending the
rebellion, Wa leader Wei Hsueh Kang has been given near-total control
over Shan state.
Wei has been sentenced to death in absentia by a Thai court and has been
indicted by a New York court, both on drug-trafficking charges. The
State Department has offered a $2 million reward for information leading
to Wei's arrest and conviction.
A spokesman for the Burmese government, Lt. Col. Hla Min, said in a
written statement that some "low rank officials" from the Wa force have
been arrested on drug charges, but that the United Wa State Army "as a
whole is not involved" in methamphetamine production. He called Thai
estimates of 800 million pills being smuggled across the border
Hla Min accused the Thai military of failing to deal aggressively with
drug producers in Thailand and doing little to stem the flow of
chemicals used to make methamphetamine into Burma. The "Thai military
has to grow up and understand the situation and find ways to solve the
problem rather than pointing fingers," he wrote.
Burma's government also has objected to the presence of the U.S. Special
Forces instructors in Thailand, calling them a threat to regional
Thai officials said their reports of Wa involvement have been
substantiated by Western intelligence agencies and drug specialists.
Most of the crazy medicine tablets seized in Thailand are labeled "WY,"
which officials said is a logo of the United Wa force.
The pills, which are ground up and smoked but also can be swallowed or
ground up and injected, are typically smuggled into Thailand in convoys
of seven to 10 couriers, who often travel with heavily armed escorts and
backpacks filled with 200,000 pills apiece. The packs are chained to
their torsos to prevent them from ditching their valuable cargo if Thai
forces pursue them and in the hopes they could escape with the
The mountainous border area between Shan state and northwestern Thailand
has long been a point of friction between the two countries, with
frequent disputes over the location of the border. Earlier this year,
the two sides exchanged mortar and light-weapons fire on several
Thai military officials said some of the exchanges have been with the
Burmese army and others with Wa forces. The officials said they believe
some of the skirmishes were instigated to push the Thai military back
from parts of the border that are frequented by smugglers and to protect
drug factories and trafficking routes.
In addition to the booming methamphetamine trade, Burma's corner of the
Golden Triangle produced more than 1,000 tons of raw opium last year,
which was transformed into about 90 tons of refined heroin. In 1999,
Southeast Asian heroin accounted for 40 percent of the world's supply
and about 20 percent of U.S. consumption, according to the U.S. Drug
Afghanistan has long been the world's largest opium producer, but with a
recent announcement from the country's rulers, the Taliban, that it has
almost eradicated its poppy crop, international drug control specialists
said Burma likely will be the world's top producer this year.
Decades ago, Thailand was one of the largest opium producers and
consumers. The nation banned opium smoking in the 1950s and has provided
incentives to farmers to grow vegetables and coffee instead of poppies.
>From 1985 to 2000, the country reduced its poppy cultivation area from
33 square miles to only about four square miles.
But just as Thais were prepared to declare victory in the war on drugs,
yaba burst on the scene. A recent survey showed that 12 percent of high
school and college students are regularly using drugs -- largely
methamphetamine -- and hospitals have reported that methamphetamine
addiction cases have eclipsed those involving heroin.
"We are being flooded with yaba," said Chartchai Suthiklom, deputy
director of the Office of Narcotics Control Board, "and it is having a
devastating impact on our society."
Some addicts, particularly students and taxi drivers, said they are
attracted to yaba because it is relatively cheap and it allows them to
work for hours without sleeping -- an asset in a country still reeling
from the Asian economic crisis and where many people must work two jobs
to make ends meet.
And, they said, it is easy to come by.
"Everyone I know takes crazy medicine," said Teng Saelee, 39, a laborer
who lives near Chiang Mai. "It's everywhere in our country. It's as easy
to find as cigarettes or beer."
AP: Thailand Says Myanmar Talks Good Sign For Democracy
Tuesday July 17, 1:58 PM
SINGAPORE (AP)--Secret talks between the military regime and democracy
leader Aung San Suu Kyi show there is movement toward democracy in
Myanmar, Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said Tuesday.
During a speech in Singapore, Surakiart said Thailand has no plans to
participate in the talks unless asked to do so.
"Our position is that we support the national reconciliation process
with the regime and Myanmar. And I personally do feel that the process
is real," Surakiart said.
Many have dismissed the secret talks as a publicity stunt aimed at
getting international critics off the junta's back.
The current military rulers of Myanmar, also known as Burma, came to
power after brutally crushing pro-democracy demonstrations in 1988.
Elections were held in 1990, but the regime refused to honor the victory
of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.
Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her democracy struggle,
has been under house arrest since Sept. 22 after she tried to travel
outside the capital Yangon in defiance of official restrictions.
The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962.
Earlier this month, Thai Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was
quoted in a Thai newspaper, The Nation, as saying Suu Kyi and the
military are set to form a national government.
When asked if he shared Chavalit's confidence, Surakiart said that
whether a compromise of that nature could be reached "remains to be
Despite recent bitter arguments between Thailand and Myanmar, Surakiart
said the neighbors "have entered a new era of mutual trust and
There are plans to build new roads connecting the countries, and
Surakiart said Thailand has reversed a policy of trying to expel 1
million illegal immigrants working in the country - mostly from Myanmar.
Hundreds of thousands of people from Myanmar are working in wealthier
Thailand illegally. Surakiart said the problem "cannot continue," but
Thailand no longer planned to deport the migrants.
"I can assure that it will be a very practical approach ensuring the
rights of illegal immigrants and also taking into account the security
concerns of Thailand," Surakiart said.
Surakiart said the plan would be unveiled in about a month.
Bangkok Post: Top brass put off golf game
July 16, 2001.
A friendly round of golf between officers of the Third Army Region and
Burma's Regional Triangle Force scheduled for July 23 has been postponed
indefinitely, according to the director of the civil affairs unit of the
Third Army Region.
Col Chucheep Srisomboon said the postponement was in response to a
request by Maj-Gen Thein Sein, the Regional Triangle commander.
At a Regional Border Committee meeting in Kengtung in May, the two sides
agreed to hold a friendly round of golf on July 23 at Waterford Golf
Course in Chiang Rai.
Col Chucheep said Maj-Gen Thein Sein may be busy during that time.
However, plans for the game is still on and can be held whenever Burma
A Third Army source said the venue for the Regional Border Committee
meeting, which was originally to be held in Pattaya, may have to be
moved to Phitsanulok instead.
Xinhua: Myanmar Leader Meets Chinese Yunnan Vice-Governor
YANGON, July 17 (Xinhuanet) -- First Secretary of the Myanmar State
Peace and Development Council Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt met with
visiting Vice-Governor of Yunnan Province of China Shao Qiwei here
Present at the meeting were Myanmar Minister of Electric Power
Major-General Tin Htut, Foreign Minister U Win Aung and Chinese
Ambassador to Myanmar Li Jinjun.
Khin Nyunt said on the occasion that Myanmar supports China's joining
of the World Trade Organization.
At the meeting, Shao noted that China and Myanmar have great potential
in economy and trade, and are strong in mutual supplementation.
He looks forward to continuous exploration of new channels and methods
of cooperation by the two sides in future, saying that the Chinese side
will build the Paunglaung station as a demonstration of project in
economic and technical cooperation.
The economic and trade delegation of Yunnan provincial government led
by Shao arrived here last Friday on a five-day visit to Myanmar at the
invitation of Tin Htut.
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