BurmaNet News, August 9, 2006
editor at burmanet.org
Wed Aug 9 14:21:17 EDT 2006
August 9, 2006 Issue # 3021
Irrawaddy: Rangoon rice traders arrested, businesses closed - Yeni
AFP: Myanmar to sell newly-built National Library building: report
NMG: NMSP not to give up arms unless ethnic rights are guaranteed
Taipei Times: Myanmar dissidents recall massacre
ON THE BORDER
BBC Burmese Service: Human traffickers handed over to Burma
SHAN: Prodigal son still at large
DVB: Burmese boat refugees stage hunger strike on Indias Andaman Islands
BUSINESS / TRADE
Irrawaddy: Thailand looks to Burma for increased bio-fuel production
Xinhua: Myanmar to set up second largest border trade zone in Myawaddy
Kaladan: MSTEC ministerial meet expected to endorse free trade agreement
AP: Philippines to help Myanmar on the path of democracy, says Manila's
fnWEB: NGO urges Exim Bank to clarify loans to Myanmar
OPINION / OTHER
Washington Post: Time to act on Burma; another test for the United Nations
DVB: Unofficial translation of the statement of 88 Generation Students to
the people of Burma on the anniversary of 8888 uprising
ALTSEAN: Altsean briefer "The Spirit of 8888 Lives on"
August 9, Irrawaddy
Rangoon rice traders arrested, businesses closed - Yeni
A number of rice traders at Rangoons biggest commodity wholesale market,
the Bayintnaung Complex, and the patron of the Myanmar [Burma] Rice
Traders Association, U Nyein, have reportedly been arrested in connection
with attempts by the authorities to control the price and supply of rice.
The warehouses and shops of the arrested traders have been closed pending
investigations, according to business sources. The sources also report
that the arrests have led many other traders to flee from the Bayintnaung
Although no official reason has yet been given for the arrests, local
business people note that they follow a recent decree by Rangoons mayor,
Brig-Gen Aung Thein Lin, ordering a price freeze and a halt to the
transport of rice from Rangoon to outlying areas.
The mayors action has had the effect of driving rice prices lower as
traders try to clear their warehouses. No one here dares to retain large
amounts in their warehouse and it makes doing business very scary, one
On the other hand, price rises and shortages could occur in outlying areas
which rely heavily on rice from Rangoon.
Meanwhile, the Burmese military government says it aims to grow monsoon
paddy on more than 16.04 million acres this year1 million acres more than
Reaching the target acreage is expected to result in the production of
1.18 billion baskets of paddy, or an average yield of 71.78 baskets an
acre, Hla Kyaw, director of the Department of Agricultural Planning under
the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, told Rangoons
English-language newspaper The Myanmar Times. A basket of paddy weighs
about 21 kilograms.
Analysts say the government price control policy is intended to forestall
shortages, which could cause public discontent in Rangoon.
August 9, Agence France Presse
Myanmar to sell newly-built National Library building: report
Military-ruled Myanmar has announced plans to sell its newly built
eight-storey National Library for about 10 billion kyat (7.7 million
dollars), state media reported Wednesday.
No reason was given for the sale of the building, which opened in Tamway
Township, Yangon, in 2004 and houses the country's collection of books and
The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said that interested parties have until
August 24 to submit their tender forms.
Myanmar's first free public library was opened in 1883 by the British
colonizers and was known as the Bernard Free Library. It was transferred
to Myanmar's ministry of culture in 1952 and renamed the National Library.
According to official records, the library has a collection of about
618,000 books and periodicals as well as a collection of 15,800 rare and
valuable manuscripts from Myanmar.
But the people of Myanmar have not had access to this wealth of
information. In 1965 the ruling military junta closed the library for
"security reasons", and it has only been sporadically open to the public
In 1984, the National Library moved to a new building in Yangon, and then
in 2004 the ruling State Peace and Development Council opened the new
eight-storey building housing the collection.
The New Light of Myanmar did not say where the National Library collection
will relocate after the sale of the new building.
However, a number of key government buildings have been moved to the new
administrative centre Nay Pyi Taw, or 'Seat of the Kings', which lies in
the country's central jungles and will eventually replace Yangon as the
August 8, NMG
NMSP not to give up arms unless ethnic rights are guaranteed
The New Mon State Party will not give up its arms unless a federal union
and ethnic rights are guaranteed, said a committee member of the party on
the 59th Anniversary of Mon Resistance Day today.
Well have to think hard on giving up arms. It is subject to ethnic
rights being endorsed, said Nai Ong Ma-nge, a Central Committee member of
the NMSP. In 1958, we exchanged arms for peace and we learnt a big
lesson. It was a great loss for we were unarmed. There are a lot we need
to negotiate about in order to achieve a genuine federal union.
The party today released a statement urging ethnic ceasefire groups to
reconsider the situation they are in, given their inability to resolve the
political problems in Burma.
We urge for a common goal for every [opposition] organization and
political party and we should work together in harmony to achieve that
goal, with cooperation from the people, said Nai Ong Ma-nge.
Meetings and negotiations [with the Burmese junta] can be carried out if
Mon people and the allies work together on common plans, suggested the
The partys chairman Nai Htow Mon, in his statement to the Mon people on
Resistance Day, said the party will work hard to solve the political
problems through talks across the table.
To restore Mon State and gain self-determination rights for Mon people the
National Defence Organization (MNDO) took up arms on August 19, 1948.
After MNDO, the NMSP continued the resistance and agreed to a ceasefire
with the Burmese military junta in 1995.
August 9, Taipei Times
Myanmar dissidents recall massacre
Yangon: Myanmar dissidents yesterday held a Buddhist ceremony in Yangon to
mark the 18th anniversary of the military's brutal crackdown on
pro-democracy protests that left hundreds, if not thousands, dead.
Amid tightened security in Yangon, Myanmar's former capital, more than 200
veterans of the so-called "8-8-88" crackdown and opposition politicians
participated in an early-morning robe offering ceremony to Buddhist monks
at the Tharthanatheikpan temple.
The ceremony, also attended by several Western diplomats, was led by
former student leader Min Ko Naing, who spent more than a decade in jail
for playing a key role in the nationwide anti-military demonstrations that
rocked Myanmar 18 years ago and came to a bloody end on Aug. 8, 1988.
On that date Myanmar's military launched a brutal crackdown on
increasingly belligerant pro-democracy protesters, killing hundreds --
possibly thousands -- and placing thousands more in jail.
The date, 8-8-88, was reportedly deemed auspicious by Myanmar's
notoriously superstitious military hierarchy who have ruled the Southeast
Asian nation since 1962 and continue to do so today.
In Bangkok, a dozen Burmese protesters gathered outside the Myanmar
embassy to mark the anniversary and light prayer candles for the 8-8-88
Thailand, which neighbors Myanmar, has been the main refuge for Myanmar
dissidents, with mixed treatment from various Thai governments, since Aug.
Waving posters reading "8-8-88, Don't Forget, Don't Give Up," and pictures
of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the protesters dispersed
Suu Kyi has been under house arrest in her family's Yangon compound since
May, 2003. Myanmar's ruling junta decided to extend Suu Kyi's imprisonment
by another year last May, claiming her freedom would pose a threat to
ON THE BORDER
August 9, BBC Burmese Service
Human traffickers handed over to Burma
Chinese authorities have handed over a Burmese couple for human
trafficking charges on Burma China border.
The couple is said to smuggle more than ninety Burmese girls across the
border during three years.
China and Burma have coordinated in combatting cross border crimes and the
couple is handed over under the prisoners exchange programme.
August 9, Shan Herald Agency for News
Prodigal son still at large
A week after news broke that Col. Moengzuen, who made his peace with the
ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) on June 29, had returned
to armed struggle, his whereabouts are still unknown, according to Shan
State Army-South sources.
Moengzuen seems to have disappeared into thin air after he made his first
contact last week, said a field officer from his temporary base in Laikha
last night. Maj Sai Htoi (one of his commanders who rejoined the SSA
with 70-men on August 2) has also left us again and some of their men were
reported to have joined in the Burma Army operations against us.
Moengzuens blood relative, who is currently in northern Shan State and
who had earlier confirmed Moengzuens return to the struggle, is also
backtracking. Under the circumstances, I wont be able to say with
confidence whether or not he will be returning to the (SSA) fold, he
replied when questioned by S.H.A.N. over telephone.
I fear Moengzuen and his men may eventually end up as the Shan DKBA
(Democratic Karen Buddhist Army), commented a long-time Burma watcher.
The DKBA, a Karen National Union (KNU) splinter group, formed in 1994 had
escorted the attacking Burmese troops to the KNU headquarters Manerplaw
which fell in 1995.
Col Moengzuen, a former SSA South brigade commander defected to the
Interim Shan Government (ISG), formed last year. He later concluded a
peace pact with the Burma Army. His return to the legal fold was
celebrated on July 16 with much pomp.
August 7, Democratic Voice of Burma
Burmese boat refugees stage hunger strike on Indias Andaman Islands
Burmese boat refugees who have been detained at an open jail on Indias
Andaman Island are staging a hunger strike to highlight their plights.
What we are demanding are, to improve our food and to give us the
permission to go out sometimes and we want to know when we could return to
Burma, said one of the protesters. Therefore, we asked them to let us
meet with their elders (officials). The police who are guarding us did not
do that. Therefore, we protested with the desire to see the elders. We
have been protesting for two days. We are still doing it and we are at a
stage in which we are quite weak. We will continue to protest until we get
what we want.
These Burmese boat refugees were arrested for unwittingly drifting into
the Indian waters while fishing. They were each sentenced to six months
and detained at an open jail near Taplaboo Jail.
Nearly 380 boat refugees, mostly fishermen have been on Andaman Islands as
prisoners for a year and five months, still waiting for the Burmese
authorities to take them back to Burma.
BUSINESS / TRADE
August 9, Irrawaddy
Thailand looks to Burma for increased bio-fuel production - Sai Silp
Thai investors in coordination with government authorities have proposed
that the Burmese government set aside more land in contract farming
projects for bio-diesel crops in Burmas border regions.
Niyom Waiyaratpanit, chairman of the Thailand-Burma Border Trading
Committee of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday
that the committee recently released a plan for contract farming in three
locations in Burma: tapioca and sugar cane crops in Shan and Karen states,
and palm oil plantations in Mon State.
We are waiting for a response from the Burmese government to approve and
cooperate with us on this project, which is expected to cover about
160,000 hectares of land, Niyom said. He added that some investors are
also interested in establishing ethanol factories on border land.
According to an official from Thailands Ministry of Agriculture and
Cooperation, the land and climate of lower Burma are well-suited to
growing bio-diesel products such as palm oil. Crops in other locations
would be determined after a study of what would best suit each
The official said that the main problem with Thailands bio-fuel
production is that there are not enough factories to process fresh palm
oil, thereby flooding the markets with excess oil and driving down the
In the near future, the demand for bio-fuel factories will be much higher
in Thailand, said the official. The government plans to support the
establishment of more factories across the country and in Burma by private
The production of gasohol in Thailand grew out of King Bhumibol
Adulyadejs Royal Project in 1985. Currently there are 24 ethanol
factories in Thailand that produce more than 4 million liters a day,
mainly from tapioca and sugar cane crops.
In contrast, Thailand produces only 500,000 liters a day of bio-diesel
derived from palm oil crops in southern Thailand and recycled palm oil
from household and commercial consumption. Bio-fuel, however, is not yet
widely used commercially in Thailand, according to an official at the
Ministry of Energy.
The Thai government has been promoting the study of bio-diesel as a
potential replacement for imported fuel from regional neighbors.
Meanwhile, Burmas military government has imposed a national plan for the
cultivation of physic nut crops to be used for bio-fuel.
August 9, Xinhua General News Service
Myanmar to set up second largest border trade zone in Myawaddy
Myanmar will establish another border trade zone in Myawaddy, a border
town in southeastern Kayin state bordering Thailand's Maesot, to push
transformation of border trade into normal trade, the official newspaper
New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday.
The Myawaddy Border Trade Zone will be the second largest one of its kind
in Myanmar after the Muse 105th Mile Border Trade Zone bordering China's
Ruili in Yunnan province which just opened in April this year.
Like the Muse zone, the trade system to be applied in the Myawaddy zone
will also be transformed from the border trade system into normal trade
one, the report quoted Myanmar ministers as saying.
Placing special emphasis on the Myawaddy border trade zone, six ministers,
including those of National Planning and Economic Development, Commerce,
Finance and Revenue, Transport, Communications and Posts and Telegraphs,
and Livestock Breeding and Fisheries, visited the zone site in the last
few days, according to the report.
The ministers stressed five objectives of undertaking the border trade
which include improvement of bilateral relations with neighboring
countries, progress of border trade, transformation of border to normal
trade and full collection of taxes.
The ministers encouraged traders engaged in border trade to strive for the
progress but warned against doing illegal business, calling on them to
respect the rules and regulations set by the state.
After the establishment of the Muse and Myawaddy border trade zones, other
trade points with the rest of the neighboring countries such as Tamu with
India and Maungtaw with Bangladesh will follow suit under the country's
plan of changing its border trade system with all neighboring countries
into normal trade one, earlier reports said.
Thailand stands as Myanmar's largest trading partner, taking up about 1.9
billion U.S. dollars or 38 percent of Myanmar's 4.9 billion dollars'
foreign trade in 2004-05. Of the Myanmar-Thai bilateral trade, the border
trade represented about 70 percent.
Myanmar has a total of 13 main border trade points with the four
According to Myanmar commerce ministry's statistics, the foreign trade of
Myanmar in the fiscal year of 2005-06 which ended in March totaled 5.5
billion dollars, of which the border trade accounted for over 30 percent.
August 9, Kaladan Press
BIMSTEC ministerial meet expected to endorse free trade agreement
Dhaka, Bangladesh: Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat arrived in the Indian
capital August 8, to participate in the 9th BIMSTEC ministerial conference
which, among other things, is expected to finalize the date for the
enforcement of a free trade agreement between the seven member states of
South and South East Asia, according to an official report.
Also Tuesday, hectic negotiations were underway between the senior
officials of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sector Technical and
Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries - India, Bangladesh, Bhutan,
Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. At the 11th BIMSTEC Senior Trade and
Economic Officials meeting, they were finalizing agenda and report to be
discussed during Wednesday's ministerial conference. Nepali officials
participating in the preparatory meeting included Officiating Foreign
Secretary Bhagirath Basnet, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce
Nagaindra Upadhyay, and Joint Secretary at the Finance Ministry Ram Kumar
BIMSTEC was supposed to the set an earlier deadline for enforcement of the
free trade area, but that couldn't happen because the joint Trade
Negotiation Committee failed to finalize the agreement framework within
the stipulated time.
Besides fixing a new date for the implementation of BIMSTEC, the
inter-regional trade bloc's conference on Wednesday is expected to make
several important decisions to promote cooperation in the areas of trade
and investment, technology, transportation and communication, energy,
tourism and fisheries, officials said. Also the meeting will set the stage
for the Second BIMSTEC Summit, which is scheduled to be held in India
early next year.
Set up in June 1997 to foster socio-economic cooperation between
Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma, BIMSTEC admitted Bhutan
and Nepal in 2004. The inter-regional bloc seeks to promote cooperation
between the five SAARC countries and two Association of South East Asian
Nations (ASEAN) members
August 9, Associated Press
Philippines to help Myanmar on the path of democracy, says Manila's
The Philippines' foreign secretary said Wednesday he will offer Myanmar
help in restoring democracy during a visit to the country, but was
uncertain if he could meet detained political leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
"It is important to visit Myanmar to get a better sense of how the
country's national reconciliation and democratization process is
progressing on the ground," Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo said in a
statement ahead of his four-day visit starting Thursday.
"The Philippines has always supported Myanmar's roadmap to democracy, and
I hope to hear from Myanmar's leaders how we can help Myanmar move forward
on this path."
Romulo is the latest official from the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations to visit the reclusive nation, one of the Philippines' partners in
the regional bloc, which also includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos,
Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
He earlier told reporters in Manila he was unsure if he would be allowed
to meet detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, but said the
meeting with the Nobel laureate was not a condition for accepting the
invitation to visit Myanmar, also called Burma.
The two countries mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations next
month. Romulo said he would use the opportunity "to take stock of the
evolution of our relations ... as well as to chart its future course" and
also to "build confidence" between the two nations.
The Philippines is currently the chairman of ASEAN after taking over the
rotating position from Malaysia last month.
Myanmar has become a source of embarrassment to ASEAN, largely because of
its failure to fulfill promises to restore democracy and free political
prisoners, including Suu Kyi.
ASEAN foreign ministers last month pressed Myanmar to show "tangible
progress" on democratic reforms and sought the release of political
detainees during their annual summit in Malaysia.
Suu Kyi, 60, has spent nearly 11 of the last 17 years in detention, mostly
under house arrest. She was most recently taken into custody in May 2003,
after a mob supporting the junta attacked her motorcade.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar went on a fact-finding visit
to Myanmar last March as an ASEAN envoy, but he was not allowed to meet
Suu Kyi and other members of her National League for Democracy party.
Myanmar has been under military rule since 1962, and the current crop of
generals took power in 1988. They called elections in 1990 but refused to
recognize the results, which gave a resounding victory to Suu Kyi's party.
August 9, fnWEB
NGO urges Exim Bank to clarify loans to Myanmar
Bangkok: The Campaign for Popular Democracy (CPD) has asked the Export-
Import Bank of Thailand (EXIM Bank) to make public details of the Bt4
billion (US$106.5 million) loan it extended to Myanmar two years ago
within seven days.
The details and terms of the loan will help shed light on why caretaker
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra made a surprise trip to Myanmar last
week, Somkhuan Promthong, CPD Deputy Secretary General said.
An EXIM Bank representative promised to convey the letter from the
democracy NGO to EXIM Bank President Apichai Boontherawara.
Mr. Somkhuan said Mr. Thaksin instructed the EXIM Bank to lend Bt4 billion
to Myanmar at a low rate of interest on June 25, 2004.
"The Campaign for Popular Democracy is concerned that the loan may have
been wasted with the leadership change in Myanmar and its possible
default, as the loan is from Thai taxpayers' money."
The CPD wants to know the terms and beneficiaries of the loan and if EXIM
Bank is not forthcoming with the information requested, the group will
seek information from other sources.
"Information from EXIM Bank will provide an answer why Mr. Thaksin made a
hasty trip to Myanmar," Mr. Somkhuan said. "CPD disapproves the act by
politicians to seek personal interest under the mantle of the nation."
OPINION / OTHER
August 9, The Washington Post
Time to act on Burma; another test for the United Nations
This might seem the least likely moment to expect the U.N. Security
Council to take up the question of Burma. Lebanon is burning; Iran is
going nuclear -- do the world's diplomats really need one more intractable
But in one sense, the fact that Burma is not at the top of anyone's agenda
is exactly the reason the Security Council should act. Burma, also known
as Myanmar, offers the United Nations a chance to show that it can deal
with a threat to global security before it explodes onto the front page.
Burma is not engaging in nuclear blackmail, and it has not attacked a
neighboring country. But its malevolent dictatorship does represent a
threat to peace: Its depredations at home (mass rapes, enforced child
labor, burning of farms and villages) push masses of refugees across its
borders. Its economic failures make it a locus of AIDS and other diseases.
Its corruption makes it a leading source of illegal drugs. And its
population of 50 million suffers under a regime whose repressiveness is
rivaled only by North Korea's.
In the face of this anguish, the beleaguered democrats of this Southeast
Asian nation are asking only that the Security Council put their misery on
its agenda. They are not asking for U.N.-mandated sanctions, let alone
peacekeepers or intervention -- only some attention from Secretary General
Kofi Annan and the international body that promised, not so long ago, not
to let notions of national sovereignty keep it from standing up for human
This shouldn't be a hard call. Unlike many dictatorships, Burma boasts a
clearly legitimate alternative: the National League for Democracy, which
demonstrated overwhelming popular support when the hubristic junta
mistakenly permitted free elections in 1990. Many party leaders have been
in prison since, and the NLD's leader -- Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung
San Suu Kyi -- is under house arrest. But despite that treatment, she and
her colleagues are asking only for dialogue about a gradual transition to
democracy. The Security Council needs to put Burma on its formal agenda
and then adopt a resolution calling for her freedom and the release of all
political prisoners; for a process of national reconciliation with the
democrats at the table; for U.N. and other international aid to flow
directly to Burma's most vulnerable people, not through the corrupt
bureaucracy; and for Mr. Annan to report back regularly on progress made
on all these points.
The United Nations would enhance its own stature by associating itself
with Burma's nonviolent democrats.
August 8, Democratic Voice of Burma
Unofficial translation of the statement of 88 Generation Students to the
people of Burma on the anniversary of 8888 uprising
Today is the 18th anniversary of Burmas 8888 pro-democracy uprising. The
1988 uprising is a great national movement in the history of Burma that
displayed the biggest expression of the true desire of the public as a
whole by all the individual citizens.
In 1988, in order to change a one-party, dictatorial system into a
democratic one and to escape from the ongoing social, political problems,
all the citizens of Burma, with many sacrifices, unanimously took part in
the pro-democracy uprising. On this day and date, the people of Burma
themselves opened a new history of Burma.
During the 26 years of the past history (under the Burma Socialist
Programme Party from 1962 to 1988), due to the dictatorial systems
unilateral use of force to solve problems, both the rulers and all the
ruled citizens became its victims.
The 1988 public uprising showed that the long-term stability of a
countrys politics and economy cannot be achieved by the one-sided use of
The period of 18 years is a sufficient period for the transformation of a
country, if the national (?affairs) were carried out with reciprocal
recognition/respect and understanding.
But after 18 years, we are still not only unable to obtain the desire and
hope of the people for democratic reforms, but also facing social and
The political difficulties, social and economic difficulties and important
matters of Burma which we are currently facing, must be treated as the
In order to do so, we seriously urge all political forces, ethnic national
forces and all the citizens of Burma including members of the Tamadaw
(Army) to cooperate and solve (the problems together).
88 Generation Students
August 8, Alternative Asean Network on Burma
Altsean briefer "The Spirit of 8888 Lives on"
The Alternative Asean Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma) has released a
background briefer titled "The Spirit of 8888 Lives on" to honour the
recent acts of non-violent resistance by activists in Burma. The briefer
can be downloaded as a PDF file from www.altsean.org
The briefing highlights the courageous actions of ordinary people and
political leaders alike to stand up for the principles of human rights and
democracy in the past 3 years. It provides proof that the spirit of 8888
is alive and well in Burma. That these actions are being done despite
threats of death, detention or persecution, show that the peoples of Burma
refuse to give up on their vision of a free and democratic Burma.
Altsean-Burma salutes the courage of the peoples of Burma, both in and
outside the country, in their struggle. We support the common aspiration
of the diverse ethnic groups for peace, justice and development and renew
our determination to see the achievement of political reforms in Burma in
the near future. We call upon the international community, in particular,
the governments of ASEAN, India, China and East Asia, to actively support
political and economic reforms in Burma. We urge them to support
initiatives to bring Burma before the UN Security Council as a means to
8888 - Don't Forget, Don't Give Up
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