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BurmaNet News April 6, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------  
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"  
The BurmaNet News: April 6, 1997  
Issue #686

Noted in Passing:

If we delay reconciliation, we are going to lose another generation. The
military cannot provide the leadership that this country needs to get out
of 30 years of stagnation.     - a Burmese businessman



April 10, 1997
Pent-up anger fuels anti-foreigner riots

By Bertil Lintner in Bangkok

March 27, Armed Forced Day in Burma, used to be a day of parades, with
civilians garlanding soldiers in the streets of Rangoon. But since the army
crushed a pro-democracy uprising in 1988, the soldiers have been parading
inside a sealed-off park, while citizens watch the event on television.

This year, the polarization was even more evident. Helicopters hovered
overhead from yet another bout of unrest, this time involving Buddhist
monks. And yet again, the ruling junta, the Slorc, has exacerbated the
crisis by refusing to address public grievances.

According to a Slorc information sheet dated March 25, the violence erupted
when "a Buddhist girl was molested by a Muslim youth" in the northern city
of Mandalay. Then, "elements bent on creating unrest exploited the
situation." The Slorc bulletin said that  mosques were attacked to create
misunderstanding between Burma and Muslim countries in Asean, which the
country is expected to join this year. As the unrest spread to towns all
over Burma, the authorities stepped in to "maintain law and order" and to
"protect Muslim communities."

Local sources, however, tell a different story. They say the trouble began
earlier this year when the military decided to renovate the Mahamuni Pagoda
in Mandalay. "But after the job was done, it looked worse than before," says
a source from Mandalay. Rumours circulated that precious stones were missing
from the pagoda's Buddha image.

The abbots then demanded a meeting with the Mandalay commander, Maj-Gen 
Ye Myint. They took the opportunity to raise other questions, among them the
influx of foreigners to Mandalay. Since the city opened up to foreign trade
in 1989, thousands of Chinese have moved in, taking over shops, property,
hotels and restaurants. "Our city is being swamped by foreigners," an abbot
is reported to have told the general.

Many Chinese arrive in Mandalay armed with Burmese identity cards. "If a
person in Mandalay dies, his or her relatives send their ID card to a broker in
Yunnan, who in turn sells it to a would-be Chinese emigrant who suddenly
becomes a Burmese who's involved in the business.

Other Chinese are former rebels of the defunct Communist Party of Burma.
In exchange for making peace with the government, they've been allowed
to engage in any kind of business, the most lucrative being the Golden
Triangle drug trade.

It was in the context of foreigners swamping Mandalay that the abbots
mentioned that a Buddhist girl was raped by some Muslim of Indian origin,
who were freed after a 30,000 Kyat ($4,778) bribe to the police. "But of all
these issues, the military decided to announce only the last one," the
source from Mandalay says. Pent-up frustration led to widespread rioting,
with the Muslim minority bearing the brunt of the attacks.

The events show how sensitive the issue of Chinese migration into Mandalay
is, says an Asian diplomat based in Rangoon, and how a minor incident can
lead to nationwide unrest. Monks and other people took to the streets in
Moulmein, Shwebo, Thazi, Amarapura, Sagaing and even in isolated towns in
the Irrawaddy delta. "It's not difficult to divert the anger to the
Muslims," says a Western diplomat in Rangoon. "The Indians were brought in
by the British during the colonial days, and anti-Indian sentiments have
been strong in Burma ever since."

The scapegoats were perhaps necessary to avoid a more serious conflict,
involving the Chinese community in Burma. Close relations with China are the
cornerstone of the regime's foreign policy. Burma and China recently signed
a new border-cooperation agreement, and Luo Gan, secretary-general of
China's State Council, pledged a million-renminbi ($121,000) loan to Slorc.

"We are aware of rising anti-Chinese sentiment," says one of the many
Sino-Burmese who have lived in the country foe generations. Last December,
several Sino-Burmese expressed their concern to the Chinese Embassy in
Rangoon after the army used tanks to intimidate student demonstrators. "The
tanks were Chinese made, and any Chinese association with the brutal nature
of the regime could back fire on the Sino-Burmese community."

This time, Muslims were the victims of public anger. But if popular
grievances are met with the same attitude by Slorc, there could be more
trouble ahead. (FEER)


April 4, 1997

GLUM YANGON: Clashes between Buddhist monks and Muslims last
month has made the government more cautious about public festivities
during the Myanmar New Year water festival from April 13 to April 17.
Yangon's military commander was reported to have said he could not
take responsibility for the safety of the celebrations. -- AFP.


April 1, 1997  (abridged)

RANGOON, April 1 (AFP) - Burmese authorities disrobed 150
monks and detained 10 members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National
League for Democracy (NLD) in the wake of communal unrest in
Mandalay, a resident of the city said Tuesday.

Buddhist monks in the central Burmese city have vandalized 12
mosques and other Moslem properties since communal unrest
broke out there in the middle of last month, the resident told AFP
during a visit to Rangoon.

The NLD members detained included nine organizers and Htin
Gyaw, who was elected representative of east Mandalay in
nationwide elections which swept the party in 1990 into a
parliament never convened by the military government.
Burmese and NLD officials could not immediately be reached for

Analysts and opposition sources inside and outside the country
have said the attacks may be an expression by monks of discontent 
with the ruling military.

Burmese authorities were reported to have quashed attempts by
younger monks in Mandalay prior to the outbreak of unrest to
arrange demonstrations protesting the death of 16 of their number
in prison camps.

The military has also been accused of damaging the buddha at the
city's Payagyi Pagoda, searching for a legendary ruby which
supposedly brings victory in war to its possessor.

There was a report of fresh unrest in Sittwe in the Arakan state
bordering Bangladesh, but this could not be confirmed. With a high 
Moslem population, the state has historically been a hotbed of religious 

Arakan was also one of the areas in which opposition groups have
accused the military government of excavating historic pagodas to
loot valuables, ancient Buddha images and relics in the guise of restoration.

Sittwe, Mandalay and Rangoon are three of the five cities
reportedly put under a first degree security alert by authorities to
prevent the troubles spreading further.

Residents in Rangoon said Buddhist monks who believed they
have been made scapegoats for the troubles remained restless.
There were suspicions that people outside the monkhood have
been donning robes and provoking the unrest.


March 31,1997
Threat of civil unrest worsens plight of cash-starved government

Staff writer

BANGKOK - A sense of foreboding hangs over Myanmar's economy. 
Although the country desperately needs to improve its social infrastructure, 
it is suffering from a severe shortage of hard currency, as international
criticism of the government's human-rights record continues to dry up
foreign investment.

The threat of civil unrest is further complicating its economic
circumstances: Conflict between the country's military rulers and
pro-democracy supporters dregs on with no end in sight. 

Myanmar's generals seem to be increasing the nation's dependence on
China and other developing countries in Asia by using the scheduled
entry of Myanmar in July into the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN).

Poor rice sales overseas in fiscal 1995 and increased general imports
prompted by its recent economic spurt have left Myanmar in dire need
of hard currency.  According to a report released by the International
Monetary Fund, the country's foreign-currency reserves had plunged to
$183 million as of August last year from $663 million a year earlier.

To rectify the situation, the junta gave Ministry of Finance and
Revenue officials authority late last year to take control of funds
apportioned to individual ministries, including the Ministry of Construction. 

The number of foreign contracts signed by the government has been
falling ever since, as the ministry is strictly screening imports of
equipment and machinery, a foreign trading-company official said.
Fears are emerging that the ministry's crackdown will further slow the
development of Myanmar's  infrastructure.

Some of the hard currency saved by the ministry has been used to
purchase crude oil on the spot market because foreign oil companies
are unwilling to sign long-term contracts with the dollar-poor government.

Myanmar needs to continue its austerity policy at least until summer,
when its Yadana offshore gas field is scheduled to start pumping out
natural gas and earning foreign currency.

But mixed signals are coming from U.S. and European companies, the
keys to foreign investment and economic growth.  While natural-gas
developers, including Texaco Inc. of the U.S. and Total of France, are
willing to invest in the country, companies operating in most other
sectors are not.  PepsiCo Inc., for example, after facing tremendous
pressure from a public campaign in the U.S., announced in late January
it would support Washington's foreign policy and pull out of the
Myanmarese market.

In Massachusetts and at least 10 other localities in the U.S. with
selective pur. chasing laws, companies operating in Myanmar are
prohibited from obtaining government-procurement contracts, and more
state and local governments are expected to follow suit.  Although
Japanese companies are active in Myanmar, they are growing concerned
about the toughening U.S. and European stance.

Myanmar's military regime longs for the Japanese government to resume
yen loans, but Japan shows no sign of changing its policy.  Thein Win,
Myanmar's minister for transport, is irritated by the Japanese
government, which he sees as overly concerned about reactions from the
U.S. and Europe.  He said the Myanmarese government will complete
Yangon International Airport on its own, without yen loans.

He also muttered about Japanese companies being all talk and no
action, when listing the Chinese and ASEAN companies participating in
building the country's other airport and large scale seaports.

A Chinese government delegation signed a memorandum with the Myanmar
government last week to promote economic cooperation, including
provision of grant funds, official sources said.

The memorandum provides for extension of 5 million Yuan ($605,000) in
grants and provision of agricultural and farming technology.  The two
countries also agreed to strengthen trade.

These will be the first Chinese grants to Myanmar since the military
junta seized power in 1988.

China's Yunnan Machiner: and Equipment Import and Export Corp. signed
a contract in mid-Mami with Myanmar's Ministry of Rail  Transportation
to supply $50 million worth of locomotives and coaches.  Payment will
be made through credit offered to Myanmar by the Chinese government.
Another Chinese company 'China First Automobile Group Corp.,
established an automobile-sales joint venture in Yangon with the
Ministry of Defense last autumn.

Government goals
Myanmar's five-year economic plan; fiscal 1996 to 2000

						FISCAL 1995		FISCAL 2000

-	Population; In millions			44.7			49.01
-	Real GDP; In billions of kyat		68.5			91.8
-	GDP per capita; In kyat			1,532			1,873
-	Exports; In billions of kyat		5.9			15.8
-	Manufactuing lndustry's share of GDP	9.4%			10.1%
-	Agriculture's share of GDP		38.3'/.			37.2%

Note: Official rate is USS I - 6 kyat., market rate is US$I. 165 kyat
Source; The Nihon Keizei Shimbun

Buying In

Foreign direct-investment approvals In Myanmar from Nov. 1988 to
Dec.'96; in billions of U.S. dollars

2.	U.K.			(26)		|XXXXXXXXXX
6	U.S.			(15)		|XXX
9	JAPAN			(12)		|XX
						0         0.5       1.0       1.5

Note:	Numbers of projects In parentheses 
Source., The Nihon Keizai Shimbun

A country-by-country breakdown of direct foreign investment approved
in Myanmar shows companies from Singapore, Thailand and other
Southeast Asian nations spent freely, pushing the record investment
total above $2.2 billion.  Myanmar is one of the most popular countries
for small and midsize -Thai garment makers, said Chairman Chavalit
Nimlaor of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association.

After averaging annual economic growth of 8.2% during its four-year 
economic plan through Fiscal 1995, the Myanmar government aims to
expand its economy at a greater-than. 6% clip in the five years
through 2000.  While the government's method for realizing this goal
appears dependent on closer relations with Asian nations, their help
alone is unlikely to be sufficient to improve Myanmar's infrastructure
while restraining inflation.

To gain the support of rich, industrialized countries, !he military
regime needs to improve its relationship with pro-democracy
supporters.  But it has given no indication it intends to either
initiate talks or offer concessions to its opponents.


March 30, 1997

Myanmar is stirring with economic activity, but all is not well, as Lee Kim 
Chew finds out. 
MYANMAR is done with its self-imposed isolation. A sure sign of this
happening is the new passenger terminal at Yangon Airport that was
opened some months ago to herald Visit Myanmar Year.

Of all the modern facilities in the capital, this symbolises best the
changing outlook of the generals who rule with an iron grip a country
that was closed to the outside world for nearly three decades.

Six years ago, there was not even a baggage conveyor belt in the old
terminal. Today, the airport is being expanded, the city boasts many
new buildings, luxury hotels, satellite television and more cars. 

Myanmar is in the midst of a construction boom fuelled by foreign
investors, some starting from scratch to build new roads, wharves,
factories and industrial parks.

A country long neglected by foreign investors until recently, it now stirs
with economic activity.

Despite being blacklisted by some Western countries for gross
 human-rights violations, the generals have succeeded in attracting
 foreign capital and creating more jobs.

On this score, the military regime is hard to fault. Government figures
show that foreign investments totalled US$5.2 billion (S$7.2 billion) last

Singapore is its biggest investor with US$1.1 billion, followed by Britain
(US$1 billion), Thailand (US$960 million), France (US$466 million) and
Malaysia (US$446 million).

Apart from oil and gas, much of the foreign capital has gone into hotels,
tourism projects, property development and light industry, all of which
promise to transform the economy.

Not bad for an isolated and cash-strapped junta which came to power at
gunpoint in 1988, when the country's foreign investments then totalled
no more than US$450 million.

But for all its efforts, the regime is deeply alienated from a people who
yearn for deliverance from military rule.

Little of whatever good it does is appreciated, such is the animosity it
has earned by the political repression it has unleashed on the people.

After the generals crushed a nationwide uprising against military rule in
1988, whatever good they do is often interred in the bones of the victims.
The alienation became complete when they ignored the sweeping victory 
achieved by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National 
League for Democracy (NLD), in the 1990 general election. 

Further, while Myanmar appears to be experiencing an economic revival
despite the political stalemate, life remains, in reality, hard for many.

To be sure, now there are thousands of cars, gleaming Mercedes Benzes as 
well as old NTUC Comfort taxis phased out of Singapore roads when only a 
few years ago, traffic jams were never heard of in Yangon.

There is rapid physical change, yes, but no sense of improvement among the 
poor.  Inflation has soared at 30 per cent over the past few years, and the
of the kyat has fallen in the black market. One Singapore dollar fetched 85 
kyats in 1995. Now it exchanges for 116 kyats.

An unskilled labourer earns 90 kyats (77 Singapore cents) a day, while
skilled workers can get 300 kyats (S$2.58). An army captain does worse.
He gets about 1,570 kyats a month, while a director- general of a government 
department earns 2,500 kyats.

Government employees are given subsidies for rice, cooking oil, transport 
and free medical care, but it is still hard to make ends meet.

"Not everybody can steal. Only wheeler-dealers are making it good.  They 
make up no more than 10 per cent of the population,'' said a researcher, who 
asked not to be named for fear of official retribution.  It was the middlemen, 
he argued, not farmers, who were growing richer from higher rice prices. 

Vendors selling tourist souvenirs are complaining of poor business. The
anticipated deluge of tourists has failed to materialise.  "Visit Myanmar 
Year? It's broken,'' an antique dealer complained.

Dr Naw Angeline, director of tourism, blames it on the bad press that the
country is getting abroad. "Myanmar is very safe for tourists.  We need to
promote the country more,'' she said.

But she faces an uphill task. Not only are the air fares to Myanmar high in
comparison with other tourist destinations in the region, the political
stalemate that cast a pall over the country is also beyond her control.

Two groups of tourists were turned away last year when the military
authorities found out they wanted a meeting with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi
included in the package.

Thus, though more new hotels are opening in Yangon, room rates have
fallen in the past few months because too many rooms are chasing too
few tourists. 

The prevalent feeling is that the people's lives are not getting better.

But National Planning and Economic Development Minister, Brigadier-
General David Abel, sees things in another light.  "The situation now, 
I think, is not bad, not bad,'' he told The Sunday Review.

"We've been spoilt. The country has been spoilt. In the 26 years of
socialism, everything was subsidised for them. 

"They want everything free. Now with the new system of a market economy, 
they have to pay for it. They don't like it. They still want it free.'' 

Because wages are so low, every member of a typical family has to work. 
Children help their parents sell food or carry bricks and shovel sand.

Productivity is low, even among the graduates, most of whom have few
commercial skills and virtually no idea of modern management.

One Singapore company employs an accountant who had 15 years' 
experience in the auditor-general's office, but cannot do book-keeping
without close supervision.

This is an outcome of the autarky under the Myanmar way to socialism.
It will take time, effort and new talent to get the country really going.
There is much catching up to do with its fast- growing neighbours.

The New Light of Myanmar, the state-run newspaper which serves as
the regime's mouthpiece, runs daily stories about the generals working
ceaselessly to improve the people's lives.

Has this helped to popularise the regime?  Not really, if one goes by popular 
reactions. People tune in to the Myanmar language broadcasts of the Voice of 
America, Radio Free Asia and the BBC, often the cause of great angst for the 
military rulers.

Last year, Myanmar TV ran a serial in a campaign to discredit Ms Suu Kyi. 
Angry viewers stoned the house of the actress who portrayed her as a

Shopkeepers at Shwedagon pagoda, the centre of religious life in Buddhist 
Myanmar, last month refused to sign a letter saying they did not welcome Ms 
Suu Kyi.

There was anger when the authorities put an end to the weekend rallies outside 
her house at University Avenue last year. Her rousing speeches, the chanting 
crowds and her dialogue with the people are heard no more.

Instead, University Avenue, one of the capital's main streets, is now
Military intelligence and police officers man the roadblocks. No one can get 
past without permission.

My two attempts to keep an appointment with her were foiled by security

officers who stopped me from going anywhere near the gate of her house. 
They photographed me instead.

Her rallies, which she began after her release from six years of house
arrest in 
July 1995, had been an outlet for the people to vent their frustrations. Now
lid has been clamped shut. But the pressure continues to build up.

When university students poured into the streets last December to demonstrate 
against the regime, the generals rolled out tanks and armoured carriers to 
disperse them.

Some of the tanks are still parked in the city centre, a grim reminder that
the military is quite prepared to use force to quell social unrest.

A rampage by monks in Mandalay and other cities this week is
symptomatic of the underlying discontent in the country.

The political climate has soured since Ms Suu Kyi withdrew her party
from the National Convention, which was tasked by the military to draft a
new constitution.

She has condemned it as a sham because, she said, its members were
handpicked to write a constitution that entrenches military rule.

The intimidation and harassment of political opponents has increased
since last June after the military blocked her attempt to convene a party

Asked to assess the mood in the country now, an Asean diplomat said:
"It's a powder-keg situation.''

Security in the capital has been stepped up after a bomb blast at a pagoda in 
December. With heavily-armed troops patrolling the city, things appear under 

Students staging a protest ... last December's street protests were snuffed
out quickly without difficulty and student leaders who have not been arrested 
remain underground. 

But beneath the surface calm, Myanmar is gripped by tension and fear.
The people are fearful of military rule, police informers and the midnight
knock on the door. The generals are, in turn, fearful that the people will
rise against them.

There is widespread talk that able-bodied men are being rounded up in
teashops and sent to work as porters for the troops fighting the insurgency at 
Myanmar's border.

Unlucky bystanders who watched the students demonstrate last December 
were detained, and many NLD activists have been given long jail sentences.

For student activists and NLD supporters, the danger of being thrown into
prison on trumped-up charges is very real.

"All conversations are recorded, including this one,'' one of Ms Suu Kyi's
advisers warned me when I spoke to him on the telephone.

YANGON UNIVERSITY remains closed after the authorities broke up the
street protests and sent the students back home to the villages.

The people have been cowed into submission and they are easy to frighten.
"Dangerous,'' said Mr Ya Myint, my driver, putting a hand on his heart,
after our abortive trip to University Avenue.  He did not show up the next 
day after security officers noted his car number for driving me there.

A secretive group of 21 leading military commanders, which make up
the State Law And Order Restoration Council (Slorc), rule this country of
47 million people.

The leadership maintains a united front and the consensus among diplomats 
is that whatever internal differences there are among key SLORC members 
are confined to tactical, not ideological, differences.

Businessmen who deal with the generals in charge of ministries describe 
them as warlords, each guarding his turf jealously.

Little is known about how policy decisions are taken. Requests for
interviews are often ignored. 

A colonel once told me: "I can't talk to you because it's no good for me,
no good for you, and no good for my country. So we don't talk.''

Even friendly diplomats from Asean countries have difficulty getting
access to the leadership or fathoming its thinking.

Last year, Slorc began monthly press conferences to which foreign journalists 
were invited. Now there is talk that foreign correspondents will not be
invited because they ask troublesome questions and then flock to Ms Suu Kyi

With her access to the foreign media curtailed severely, she has learnt to
play a cat-and-mouse game with the authorities. She tries to rendezvous
with foreign journalists whenever they gather in town.

But things can turn rough. Ms Suu Kyi's car was smashed by unknown
persons last year, and it was suggested that she should not go anywhere
 near a street protest  for her own safety.

A Yomiuri Shimbun correspondent, a Myanmar national, was beaten up
and had to be hospitalised for 10 days when he covered last December's
street unrest.

Indeed, the regime tends to be heavy-handed, arrogant and contemptuous 
of its opponents.

A Myanmar writer said: "For the past 30 years, they have shown the
same behaviour, the same temperament and used the same methods.''

The generals welcome businessmen, and there is no problem for those
who want to invest money so long as they stay out of the country's politics.

The risk they take is that of dealing with a junta which is estranged from
the people and which rules by the gun.

For long-term stability, the political deadlock has to be broken, but the
prospect of this happening is dim. Said an Asean diplomat: "There's no 
light at the end of the tunnel.''

The generals are not prepared to accord Ms Suu Kyi any status as a
political leader. Indeed, they have hardened their stand because they
think she has become more provocative in consorting with Western
countries to attack them.

"She seems to have no new ideas except to confront the regime,'' the
diplomat said. "The reason for Slorc's existence is maintenance of law
and order. It takes a soldier's approach to problems.''

As long as the military refuses to hold talks about political reconciliation
with her to end the stand-off, the country's future remains uncertain.

A Myanmar businessman said he saw nothing good on the horizon.
"If we delay reconciliation, we are going to lose another generation. The
military cannot provide the leadership that this country needs to get out
of 30 years of stagnation,'' he said.

Obviously, the generals will not hear of such heresy. They are fond of
pointing to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia as an object lesson,
and the anarchy in Albania will reinforce their convictions about
maintaining an iron grip on power.

Visitors in Yangon now will see heavily-armed soldiers guarding key
areas and sweeping the roads with mine detectors. The regime, hoping to 
join Asean this year, wants to ensure that nothing untoward happens.

The Slorc leaders seem to be doing all they can to get the country back
into swing, and their eagerness to join Asean and open up the economy
are moves that will put Myanmar on the right track.

Sadly, however, their harsh treatment of political opponents has created
deep resentment and fear.  The regime will no doubt use the gun again in 
the name of law and order, and few people now have the stomach for a repeat 
of the 1988 bloodbath.

The military forces, disciplined and well-armed, have virtually been doubled to
300,000 troops, and the insurgents at the border states have been brought 
under control. In short, the military has never been stronger, and it defies
imagination to think of a scenario in which the generals would give up power

"The military rules by fear because its policy is "Kill or be killed'. That's
why it won't give up power,'' said a critic, who is disappointed that Asean
is on the verge of taking the regime aboard as a member.

He wanted his country to join Asean, but not when it was under military
rule, he said.

There is a deep desire for political change and democratic reforms, but
the junta ignores it. For now, Slorc has kept things firmly under the lid
and it has the means to deal with trouble.

Last December's street protests were snuffed out quickly without difficulty 
and student leaders who have not been arrested remain underground.

The regime's network of informers has increased, the harassment of
political opponents continues and the people have grown even more
afraid of the authorities. That is why a repeat of the 1988 nationwide
uprising seems unlikely for the moment. But the bitter political struggle 

Ms Suu Kyi and the generals are obviously not communicating with each
other. The junta's refusal to start a dialogue with her has sharpened their 

When I telephoned to tell Ms Suu Kyi that the security forces had
stopped me from going to her house because they said they had not
received her instructions to let me through, she said:

"That's an absolute lie. They do that all the time. They also did that to the
Canadian ambassador. They told him that I cancelled the appointment. I
never did anything like that. That's how they try to isolate me and frighten 
people off.''


April 4, 1997

YANGON -- Myanmar yesterday dismissed a decision by the European Union (EU)
to stop giving Myanmar concessional trade privileges, saying the move would
not hurt its economy. 

Myanmar official newspapers said: "They would think Myanmar people would
become bewildered and wide-eyed and come kneeling down and be subservient.
However, Myanmar felt nothing about it and did not care less and even did
not blink eyes." 

The EU on March 24 stripped Myanmar of special trading privileges in
reaction to reports that it had used forced labour to help boost exports. 
The decision would deprive Myanmar of generalised system of preferences
(GSP) benefits that it had received for exporting agricultural and
industrial products to the EU. 

EU-Myanmar trade amounted to 41 million European currency units (S$66.5
million) a year, about a quarter of which enjoyed lucrative GSP tariff breaks. 

Stressing Myanmar's self-reliance, the commentary said the country had
undertaken by itself many road, bridge, dam, power station and factory
projects without foreign assistance. 

"There was no one to lend a helping hand. They were built with own strength.
There is no one to thank about," it said. 

An analyst said the loss of the GSP status might affect foreign investment
in Myanmar, especially in the export-oriented garment industry. (ST)


April 2, 1997
by Assawin Pinitwong

TAK: The Burmese junta is apparently using the recent appointment
of a former Karen National Union (KNU) commander to the National
Convention as an attempt to lure more KNU troops to defect, a
Thai military source said  yesterday.

Lt-Col Tamuehae, together with his troops from the KNU's 6th
Division's 16th Battalion, was forced to surrender to the State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) earlier this  year, and
was reportedly welcomed with open arms.

Not only was he appointed to the National Convention, he is also
tipped to be leader of the Karen State.

The Thai source, who asked to remain anonymous, said Tamuehae and
his troops have been accepted by the Slorc due to their knowledge
and ability, which outstrips that of the pro-Rangoon Democratic
Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), the KNU's arch rival.

Meanwhile Radio Myawaddy, which like all media in Burma is under
Slorc control,  yesterday reported that over 800 KNU soldiers
surrendered and handed over their arms to Burmese troops at Kya
Inn Seik Gyi.

The radio claimed that the soldiers had surrendered due to the
privations of life in the KNU, which have worsened following the
Slorc's recent military campaign in Karen State in which many KNU
bases have fallen.


April 4, 1997

Mae Hong Son - Heroin factories in the Golden Triangle are flourishing again
as they once did under now-retired drug warlord Khun Sa - but this time at
the direction of his long-time rivals, ethnic Wa guerrillas.

Khun Sa's former turf has been taken over by the United Wa State Army
(UWSA), a splinter group of the Burmese Communist Party in northern Burma's
Shan state which maintains a ceasefire with the military government in
Rangoon, sources with Thai and US anti-narcotics authorities told Reuters.

The factories in the state's opium poppy-growing area formerly belonged to
Khun Sa, the half-Shan, half-Chinese leader of the now defunct Mong Tai Army
(MTA), which controlled the opium trade while fighting the Burmese
government for Shan state independence.

"The information we have is, the United Wa State Army has resumed much of
the drugs production and activities from the Shan United Army[MTA]," said a
drug enforcement officer with the US Embassy in Bangkok.

Opium is refined into heroin. The Golden Triangle, which straddles the
borders of Laos, Thailand and Burma, is said by US drug enforcement
officials to supply about 70 per cent of the world's heroin.

Khun Sa surrendered to Burmese authorities in January 1996 and is believed
by anti-drug officials to be living in luxury in Rangoon. Burma has said
Khun Sa, who is wanted by US authorities, will not be extradited.

Golden Triangle heroin production went into hiatus during the power vacuum
following Khun Sa's surrender.

But the United Wa State Army had since taken over several former MTA jungle
bases in defiance of demands by Burma's ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council (Slorc) that it pull out of the area, the Thai sources said.

"The heroin factories that used to belong to Khun Sa such as Doi Lang and
Huay Maekahm are now under the control of the Wa," a Thai narcotics officer

The Wa took over the heroin factories after Wei Siao Gang, who is wanted by
the United States for drug trafficking, was appointed commander of UWSA
forces near the Thai border late last year, replacing Tei Kung Ming, who was
murdered in China, a Thai police source said.

Wei Siao Gang and his brother Wei Siao Long are longtime, bitter rivals of
Khun Sa in the drug trade.

"The Wei brothers are the new drug kings in the Golden Triangle," the
narcotics officer said.

Doi Lang is a former Khun Sa stronghold while Huay Maekhan was believed to
have housed one of his biggest heroin factories.

A journalist who visited the areas last week confirmed heavy deployments of
Wa guerrillas in the two places.

"Every month, the Wa produce at least 140 kilogrammes of heroin from these
two factories," said another Thai anti-narcotics source based in northern

He estimated that the Wa produced at least two tonnes of heroin annually.

Khun Sa's former headquarters at Ho Mong in Shan state is now a ghost town.
A the height of this power, Ho Mong housed more than 12,000 people who
enjoyed such amenities as a school, hospital, electricity and karaoke bars. (TN)