BurmaNet News: November 19 2002
editor at burmanet.org
editor at burmanet.org
Tue Nov 19 15:04:03 EST 2002
November 19 2002 Issue #2124
DVB: Release U Win Tin says Ludhu Daw Ama and Poet Saya Kyi Aung
AFP: Myanmar says reform process moving forward, thanks UN envoy
Irrawaddy: Suu Kyi arrives in border town
DVB: Reactions on Razalis proposal for New National Convention
Malaysiakini: Razalis confidante meets Aung San Suu Kyi
TV Myanmar: Indian-equipped electrical power station handed over in Burma
Irrawaddy: DKBA branches battle
Irrawaddy: Counting the cost of closure
Irrawaddy: China calling on Burma
United Nations via World News: Special envoy visits Myanmar 12-16 November
Xinhua: Cambodias entry into WTO to raise ASEAN voices: Thai official
SCMP: Can China persuade the generals to resume talks?
Independent Bangladesh: Morshed visits Yangon tomorrow
Government of the Union of Myanmar: Government of Myanmar extends
appreciation to U.N. special envoy Razali Ismail
Democratic Voice of Burma
November 18 2002
Release U Win Tin says Ludhu Daw Ama and Poet Saya Kyi Aung
There have been constant demands from international communities for the
release of the Burmese journalist U Win Tin who was arrested and
imprisoned in 1989 by the military junta of Burma. At the same time,
journalists and literary circles inside the country are also requesting
his immediate release. Ludhu Daw Ama, a national literary figure and the
poet U Kyi Aung express their opinions as followed:
Ludhu Daw Ama : U Win Tin is a journalist of intelligence and good breed
with a deep sense of honour. There is nothing we need to say about his
characters. He is also a teetotaller. He is impartial, unbiased and he
does thing righteously as a journalist. As a result, he is loved by many
and respected by more. He joined the NLD not as a politician but because
lack of people with his talent. He is a journalist at heart. He has been
in prison more than 13 years and must be feeling very miserable. To
imprison someone who is in his sixties for more than ten years must be the
same as torturing him to death. I really pity him. He is still not free
Poet U Kyi Aung : When I published a collection of my poems, 'From
Duttawaddi to Irrawaddy' I approached him to help me out and he did so
willingly. U Tin Win is Burma's best journalist and a very knowledgeable
media expert. He is able to understand and see the affairs of the world
with a well-balanced view. He didn't use his knowledge and talents for his
personal gains nor for the rulers' but for the good of the people.
Speaking as a human being, U Win Tin never uses a single 'pya' for himself
but does everything for the good of his countrymen.
Many people have said many things about U Win Tin and these are quite
sufficient to describe his virtues. What many people don't know is, even
though he is not a poet, U Win Tin is able to love and appreciate poetry
like a poet. He is also a great art critic. He introduced world arts to
Burmese audience in his quest for beauty. We are very fortunate to have
produced a brilliant journalist like U Win Tin. Either from the
perspective of a journalist or as a human being, he is a great human
I am waiting for the day of his release. As a Buddhist, I have been
praying every evening for his health. Similarly, I have been praying for
his health so that we could see him in good form when he is released and
publish his new books. May he regain his pen freedom. We all pray - may
his body and soul be healthy and wealthy.
November 19 2002
Myanmar says reform process moving forward, thanks UN envoy
Myanmar insisted Tuesday that its reconciliation drive with the political
opposition was "moving forward" despite a pessimistic assessment by a UN
go-between who visited the military-ruled state last week.
United Nations envoy Razali Ismail said he was disappointed that two years
after he launched his brokering effort, only low-level contacts were
taking place between the government and the opposition party of Aung San
Suu Kyi, which were short of a full dialogue.
But Myanmar, the former Burma, insisted in a statement issued here that
"the process is moving forward," although it implicitly recognised that
progress was slow when it praised Razali for his "persistent and patient"
efforts on behalf of national reconciliation. "The government notes Mr
Razali's balanced approach and determination to assist the ongoing
dialogue in the national reconciliation process," the statement, issued
through Myanmar's Washington-based political lobbying firm, said.
"We very much appreciate the hard work of UN special envoy Razali and hope
that friends of Myanmar worldwide will support this process with patience
and understanding of the complexity of the situation," junta spokesman Hla
Min said, adding: "We are encouraged after Mr Razali's five-day visit last
Contacts brokered by Razali between the junta and the opposition have
completed a confidence-building stage, but since Aung San Suu Kyi's
release from house arrest in May, a hoped-for political dialogue has
failed to materialise.
"I am always disappointed where there are no full results, but that's the
nature of my mission," Razali, a Malaysian diplomat, told reporters on his
return to Kuala Lumpur after talks with top junta leaders and Aung San Suu
"I now understand how complicated the issues are. Nevertheless, the UN
will keep on insisting that the reconciliation process must continue."
Earlier, a government spokesman denied in comments to the semi-official
Myanmar Times that talks between the two sides had stalled.
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a landslide victory
in elections in 1990 never recognised by the military.
Since then, the party has seen hundreds of members detained, and Aung San
Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate, has endured periods of house arrest.
November 19 2002
Suu Kyi Arrives in Border Town
On her fourth trip outside Rangoon, opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
arrived today in Tachilek, Shan State. Close to the Thai border town of
Mae Sai, Tachilek was the scene of clashes between the Thai and Burmese
Suu Kyis nine-day trip to Shan State began last Wednesday after she met
with the UN special envoy Razali Ismail in Rangoon. Suu Kyi has already
visited towns such as Aungpan, Taunggyi and Nam San to meet local people
and reopen National League for Democracy (NLD) offices. She arrived to a
warm welcome yesterday in Kengtung, eastern Shan State.
According to sources, Suu Kyi stayed at the house of NLD member U Sai Phat
in Kengtung, who died in detention last month.
Suu Kyis trip to Shan State is the leaders first visit to the area since
her release in May. On this trip, the junta allowed Suu Kyi to fly by
plane, the first time in 14 years.
Since her release in May, Suu Kyi has already traveled to Mon State and to
Mandalay, to meet with local NLD representatives. On her trips through,
Burma, the junta always provides "security" to monitor as well as protect
the opposition leader.
This visit to Shan State is significant as it Suu Kyis first chance to
visit the area after the release of "License to Rape", a report on sexual
abuse and human rights abuses by the military on Shan people. It will also
give Suu Kyi a chance to consolidate local NLD offices, who are fighting
for relevancy against the popular ethnic nationality-based Shan National
League for Democracy.
Next on her schedule is a visit to Lashio in the north of Shan State,
Maymyo and Mandalay.
Coincidentally, Vice Sen Gen Maung Aye, vice chairman of the junta was
also in the Shan State last weekend meeting junta officials in eastern and
southern areas of the state.
Democratic Voice of Burma
November 18 2002
Reactions on Razali's proposal for New National Convention
Karen National Union - Secretary Phado Mahn Sha: As most ethnic groups are
being broken and torn into factions; there are some with political parties
and some are in ceasefire agreements with the SPDC and some are still
fighting in armed struggles. We believe that all these groups need to meet
and discuss things in a tripartite talk.
Htet Aung Kyaw : Yesterday, the people from inside such as U Khun Tun Oo
have talked about a new national convention based on tripartite dialogue.
As an armed group, what is your view on that?
Phado Mahn Sha : We believe that we need a genuine national convention.
It's not like the one the SPDC are sponsoring in which they invite only
the people they like. We mean a proper national convention that invites
each individual ethnic nationality group with its leader to represent
Htet Aung Kyaw : What do you think will become of the 1990 election result
if that idea of national convention is followed?
Phado Mahn Sha : We have been urging the military rulers to respect the
election result of 1990. It would be better if we do things based on the
results of the election. It would be better if the NLD took the
initiative, more than if the SPDC did it. In another word, it would be
better if the NLD chaired and formed a national convention committee,
which includes ethnic groups. In this way, it would have a sense of
connection with the original election.
Dr Tint Swe of NCGUB : We have to welcome it, if it is a genuine one. But,
as this idea was mentioned in the meeting with Mr Razali and Senior
General Than Shwe for only 15 minutes, I think, it couldn't be just more
than a topic for conversation. Does the SPDC really want to do that? Are
the political leaders who will attend it willing to do that? These are
more important questions. If the people who should attend the convention
and the people are organising it think it worthwhile, then, we have to
rethink. Only after careful considerations, then we should say we should
welcome it. But only Mr Razali is saying it and the SPDC is saying
nothing, it's no more than a topic yet.
U Aung Naing Oo (former student activist and an observer on Burma) : We
can't deny it and we have to say that it's good. It could be one of the
options that could overcome the political stalemate. BUT it would be quite
difficult to say what would happen beyond the national convention and the
like. Whatever political route you are following, there must be a starting
point and an ending one. For example, there are ceasefire agreements now
in Burma. Some are almost 12 years old. They have started it but we don't
know whether they are in the middle of it or what? And we could see no
light at the end of the tunnel yet. Whatever political policy we hold, we
need a proper plan. You can't reconvene the national convention like
before. We need an ending to it. The most important things in here are
what we should do with the result of 1990 election and to release all
political prisoners; these are urgent matters. Only when we sort these
out, they national convention will be successful.
November 17 2002
Razali's confidante meets Aung San Suu Kyi
A confidante of UN envoy to Burma Razali Ismail met with pro-democracy
campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi in Shan state after Razali cancelled his own
trip there, a National League for Democracy (NLD) source said.
Leon de Riedmatten, of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, flew to the
southern Shan capital of Taunggyi Friday for talks with the Nobel peace
laureate, who is in the midst of an extensive political trip.
"He met with Aung San Suu Kyi and talked with her for two hours," a source
in Suu Kyi's NLD party told AFP on Saturday.
The substance of the talks was not revealed, but in several previous
meetings between Aung San Suu Kyi and Razali the two have discussed the
status of the reconciliation dialogue between the ruling generals and the
opposition which the UN envoy has brokered for the past two years.
November 17 2002
Indian-equipped electrical power station handed over in Burma
A ceremony to hand over the electric power substation installed with
machinery from India to the Industry-2 Ministry was held at the Industrial
Zone in Intagaw in Pegu Division on 17 November.
First, U Soe Thein, managing director of the Myanmar Burma Automobile and
Diesel Engine Industry, explained on the construction of the electrical
power substation. Then, Mr Pradeep Kumar Arya, deputy general manager from
the Angelique International Ltd from India, explained on import and
installation of machinery at the power substation and transferred
documents on the electrical power station to the managing director of the
Myanmar Burma Automobile and Diesel Engine, U Soe Thein.
The ceremony concluded after Industry-2 Minister Maj-Gen Saw Lwin, Deputy
Minister Lt-Col Khin Maung Kyaw, and visitors inspected the electrical
November 19 2002
DKBA Branches Battle
By Aung Su Shin
A breakaway faction from the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army
(DKBA) was crushed in heavy fighting over the weekend by the DKBAs Myaing
Gyi Ngu central security forces, according to villagers who fled their
homes due to the fighting.
At least eight members of the splinter group were killed after
surrendering to the security forces, and the groups leader, Maj Phar Det,
reportedly committed suicide before troops were able to capture him. The
exact number of casualties remains unclear, and the DKBA headquarters at
Myaing Gyi Ngu has yet to release a statement concerning the incident.
The fighting occurred on November 16-17 after central security forces
stormed Myaing Gyi Ngu hill, where sixty members from the DKBAs Battalion
555 stationed themselves after splitting from the main branch. Analysts
note that while conflicts are common within the DKBA this is the largest
and bloodiest to take place since the DKBA split from the Karen National
Union (KNU) in 1994 over religious differences.
According to villagers from Baw Ba Hta and Kha Le Day, where Battalion 555
has bases, the split occurred after an abbot from Myaing Gyi Ngu ordered
Battalion 555 members to stop trading cattle along the border, which its
KNU District Chief Pado Artoe said members of DKBA Battalion 555 are now
on the verge of starvation. "DKBA Battalion 555 has no income now," said
Pado Artoe. "They are begging from the villagers for their daily meals."
Villagers said they had relied on the cattle trade for food, medicine,
education and social affairs. They added that the DKBA headquarters in
Myaing Gyi Ngu had never provided any assistance.
The area in Burma that Battalion 555 controls is just across the Moei
River from Tak Provinces Thasaungyan District in Thailand.
The DKBA allied themselves with Burmas military government after breaking
away from the KNU. They are now widely believed to be involved in drug
smuggling operations along the border. They have also torched Karen
refugee camps inside Thailand.
Counting the Cost of Closure
After nearly five months of locked gates and locked horns, Thai-Burma
border checkpoints reopened on Sept 15. But it may take traders on both
sides just as long to recover from economic losses because of roadblocks
on trade. According to the Bangkok Post, the closure cost Burma around 300
million baht or close to US$ 7 million in lost revenue.
The closure had a strong impact on the value of the kyat despite the
reopening of the border, the currency continued to slide. "Two days ago,
100 kyat was equal to 4.2 baht," said a currency exchanger in Mae Sot on
the day the checkpoint reopened. "Today, 100 kyat is only 3.8 baht." One
dollar buys around 1,200 kyat at current unofficial rates in Burma.
The border closure also spelled heavy financial losses for the Thai side.
"In the five months the border remained closed, the Mae Sot checkpoint has
lost 2.1 billion baht on import and export taxes. The total losses for all
checkpoints equals about five billion baht," Mae Sot customs chief
Boontian Chokewiwat said.
Before the closure, the daily value of goods crossing the Myawaddy-Mae Sot
checkpoint alone was 18 million baht (around $800,000), he said.
Thai and Burmese people living in border towns can now also expect better
economic times ahead. "We have wanted to export and import legally," said
a Burmese merchant. "And now we can."
The Myawaddy-Mae Sot checkpoint was also opened temporarily on Oct 8 to
allow Burmese goods to get to Bangkok for the Asean Trade Fair.
Burma closed its borders with Thailand after an incident that involved
Thai and Burmese soldiers, as well as Wa State Army and Shan State Army
insurgents, whom the junta believes were being supported by the Thai
China Calling on Burma
One of Chinas leading telecommunications companies, Shanghai Bell, will
be the beneficiaries of a second Chinese government loan to develop
communications infrastructure in Burma. Shanghai Bell is the Chinese arm
of Alcatel, the worlds largest supplier of telecommunications equipment.
"The Chinese government has already given the green light for the loan,
and the projects it will fund are being identified," Myanma Posts and
Telecommunications (MPT) chief engineer U Han Win told the Myanmar Times.
China will offer a second loan of US$ 17 million, on low interest terms of
around 3 percent, to further develop digital and analog lines in a joint
project by Shanghai Bell and MPT.
An initial loan was granted in 2000 and a total of 55,000 digital lines
were then installed in Rangoon, Mandalay, Prome and Taungoo.
In September, a report from MPT said Burma had more than 400,000 fixed and
mobile telephone lines and 630 exchanges, of which 125 were automatic.
According to the report, exchanges were being digitalized in Myitkyina,
Bhamo in Kachin State, Katha in Sagaing Division, Taunggyi in Shan State
and Tavoy in Tenasserim Division.
Even with greater access from this second loan, lines will continue to be
allocated by local authorities.
United Nations via World News
November 19 2002
SPECIAL ENVOY VISITS MYANMAR 12-16 NOVEMBER
Razali Ismail, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Myanmar, visited
Yangon from 12 to 16 November for his ninth mission to facilitate the
national reconciliation process in that country.
During his stay in Yangon, Mr. Razali met with Senior General Than Shwe,
the Prime Minister of Myanmar, and the Chairman of the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC), General Khin Nyunt, Secretary-1 in the SPDC,
and other Government leaders. Separately, Mr. Razali met with the General
Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi,
and with the members of the NLD Central Executive Committee.
Additionally, he met with the representatives of the Committee
Representing the People's Parliament (CRPP), the United Nationalities
Alliance (UNA), and the National Unity Party (NUP).
Mr. Razali continues to believe that dialogue on substantive issues is
essential if a lasting and durable national reconciliation in Myanmar is
to be achieved. He urged the Government and the NLD to maximize and
develop the existing channel of discussion in order to bring such a
dialogue about. The Special Envoy indicated to the Government that it
should take steps to reconvene the National Convention in a manner
acceptable to all parties committed to the national reconciliation
process. He made a similar appeal to the NLD and the representatives of
Myanmar's other political parties. Mr. Razali also reiterated his call
for the Government to release at one time a very substantive number of
political prisoners by the end of 2002.
The Special Envoy remains committed to helping to facilitate national
reconciliation and democratization in Myanmar. He intends to return to
Myanmar early next year to assess developments.
Xinhua News Agency
November 19 2002
Cambodia's entry into WTO to raise ASEAN voices: Thai official
Cambodia's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) will strengthen
the voices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the
international trade system, said a Thai official.
Srirat Rastapana, chief of the Department of Trade Negotiations, was
quoted by the state-owned radio here as saying Monday that Cambodia, which
is likely to join the WTO before next WTO Ministerial Meeting in Mexico in
September 2003, stands a good chance to shorten its gap with six old ASEAN
members -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and
Brunei -- and to recover its war-ravaged economy. Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
and Myanmar, the four new members, are economically lagging behind the
other old ones.
A WTO working group on Cambodia's membership said in a meeting last week
that it aimed to complete the country's accession arrangements before next
September and that could make Cambodia the first least-developed country
join the WTO.
Srirat said Thailand is helping Cambodia in establishing an agriculture
central market and other projects.
"I am surprised that Cambodia's economy is very free. It opens the door
wide to foreign investors without protectionism and the government really
wants foreign investors to revive the economy," she said.
The official said ASEAN is also encouraging Vietnam and Laos to get WTO
membership, following Cambodia.
The WTO is going to allow Cambodia a transition period to meet its
accession obligations. But the US asked for a timetable and Australia
urged Cambodia not to convert tariffs into tariff quotas.
However, other ASEAN members called on developed countries not to make
tough demands on Cambodia, given its vulnerable economic conditions.
South China Morning Post
November 19 2002
Can China persuade the generals to resume talks?
By William Barnes
IT SEEMS THAT the "bigger cage" theory about Myanmar opposition leader
Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest this year may be correct.
Right now, any assessment of the prospects for that country must conclude
that there are no obvious signs that a military caste that has ruled since
1962 can be persuaded, or forced, to cede power.
The generals do not appear to want to proceed with two-year-old talks with
"The Lady" and nothing and no one, certainly not economic disaster,
appears able to force their hand. Much as this might stick in the craw of
Western liberals, could it now be China's time to persuade its neighbour
that its status as a failed state can only be changed if the generals ease
their iron grip?
China has what may be unique access to the regime after standing by it in
the dark days of its pariah status, supplying it with about US$ 1.4
billion (about HK$ 10.9 billion) in arms, soft loans and barter deals.
Hardly a week now seems to go by in Yangon without a delegation arriving
from the north, lovingly reported in the state press. Much has been
gleefully written in the international media about the "Sinification" of
northern Myanmar, with claims even that the northern capital Mandalay has
been turned into "a new Hong Kong".
It is undoubtedly true that illegal migration from Yunnan has touched the
generals' nerves, but many of the stories appear exaggerated.
"China is booming, Burma is dead. Where would you go?" said one regular
visitor to Mandalay.
China has a lot to gain by engineering the resurrection of a country that
half a century ago was the jewel in the Southeast Asian crown. Myanmar is
superbly placed as a southern gateway for the vast hinterlands of Yunnan
and western China. This has both economic and strategic significance.
Poor it might be, but Myanmar has provided a ready market for Chinese
goods, from bicycles to beer. If this is to continue, then the buyer must
be in a position to pay. Access to the Indian Ocean is also important for
Beijing is unlikely to let any sentimental attachment to floundering
rulers cloud its judgment. It has discreetly made contact with both ethnic
rebel groups and Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.
Beijing also knows a bit about dissent and suppression. The big northern
brother may be more aware than the privileged Yangon elite how fragile an
unpopular regime may be if it cannot at least get the economy going.
If the West's sanctions, boycotts and protests have failed, so has
friendly advice from more sympathetic neighbours, like Japan and
Malaysian diplomat-turned-United Nations point man Razali Ismail,
currently on his ninth talks-brokering visit, has even threatened to
resign because the generals seem to have lost interest in negotiations.
" China really is the only country that the boys might listen to. It
surely cannot be in China's interest to have a failed state on its
border," said a European-based expert in the relationship.
But if Beijing is leaning on Yangon, it is doing so quietly, noted a
senior Western diplomat in Myanmar. "China is currently focused on its own
development. It will not pick a quarrel with the US or Japan over Burma."
For the moment then, no news from Myanmar is probably acceptable to China
- just as it is for the generals.
November 19 2002
Morshed visits Yangon tomorrow
Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan leaves Dhaka tomorrow (Wednesday) for
Yangon on a three-day official visit to Myanmar.
According to Foreign Ministry source, Morshed Khan will hold official
talks with his Myanmar counterpart U Win Aung and discuss bilateral
Foreign Minister will also discuss about Myanmar Prime Minister Senior
General Than Shwes proposed visit to Bangladesh in the third week of next
The date of Senior General Than Shwes visit to Bangladesh is likely to be
finalised during the official talks of the two foreign ministers in
Yangon, said a spokesman of Myanmar Embassy in Dhaka last night.
Government of the Union of Myanmar November 19 2002
Government of Myanmar Extends Appreciation to U.N. Special Envoy Razali
"The process is moving forward," government spokesman says
Washington, D. C., November 19 - The Government of Myanmar extends its
appreciation to U.N. Special Envoy Razali Ismail for his persistent and
patient efforts on behalf of national reconciliation in Myanmar.
The Government notes Mr. Razalis balanced approach and determination to
assist the ongoing dialogue in the national reconciliation process. Mr.
Razalis frank discussion with State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)
Chairman, Senior General Than Shwe; Vice-Chairman, Vice Senior General
Maung Aye; and Secretary 1 of the SPDC General Khin Nyunt, helped clarify
issues and continued to expand confidence.
Myanmar Government spokesman Hla Min said, "We very much appreciate the
hard work of U.N. Special Envoy Razali and hope that friends of Myanmar
worldwide will support this process with patience and understanding of the
complexity of the situation. We are encouraged after Mr. Razalis five day
visit last week.
Since 1990, the Government of Myanmar has achieved much in its progression
toward national unity, concluding agreements with 17 armed national groups
bringing them into the legal fold. The Government of Myanmar is committed
to working with all national races to ensure an enduring national
reconciliation and steady progress toward building a more unified and
peaceful nation. [released by DCI Group]
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