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BurmaNet News April 24, 1997

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------  
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"  
The BurmaNet News: April 24, 1997  
Issue #702

Noted in Passing:

Please let your voices  be heard in the name of democracy and
 human rights in Burma and  elsewhere in the world. 
- Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, about South Africa


January 1997

Aung San Suu Kyi sent this text as a key note statement for an
international coference held at Asia Plateau, Panchgani, Maharashtra,
India. from January 3 to 7, 1997.

By Aung San Suu Kyi

Visionary leaders of movements to free their peoples from colonial rule
understood that self-government was only a necessary first step towards
good government. Countries which achieved independence after the second
World War are approaching the fiftieth year of their nationhood as the
twentieth century draws to a close.

It is time to consider how far we have come along the road to genuine
good government, without which a nation cannot take its place in a free,
progressive world.

Many countries have achieved self-government only to find that the
rights and freedom of their people have come under more restraint than in
the days when they were ruled by an alien power. It is a sad truth that
self-government does not necessarily entail good government.

Good government is not simply the result of a political system. It is
indissoluble linked to the values that prevail within a society. Unless
a nation can be reconstructed to enhance human values, independence will
not mean a more fulfilling existence for its citizens.

In Burma, despite half a century of self-government, good government is
still somewhere in the nebulous future. As Gandhiji wrote, 'In truth, a
government that is ideal governs the least. It is no self-government
that leaves nothing for the people to do. That is pupilage - our present

These words were written in 1925, yet could well be applied to the state
of present-day Burma, although it might be questioned whether 'pupilage'
is not too tender a word to describe the abject situation in which my
country finds itself today under a military administration that leaves
the people with no role to play in their own government. We remain a
nation in bondage after forty-nine years of independence.

There can be no real freedom unless the mind and spirit are free. It is
the duty of responsible leaders to nuture conditions under which the
minds and spirit of the people can reach a full flowering.

Self-government is meaningful only if it gives the people greater
confidence in their own worth. Self-government that results in a
crushed, intimidated people who have no control over their own destiny
constitutes a betrayal of the struggle of independence, a struggle
during which so mach was sacrificed by so many.

It is often the privilege as well as the duty of succeeding generations
to realize the dreams of those who sacrificed  their well-being and
their lives for the freedom of their country. It could be said that the
youth of today have a more difficult task than those who conducted the
fight against colonialism.

When a struggle is directed against an alien people, the issues are
clear cut. When the struggle is directed against negative elements
within our own society, doubts and confusion creep in.

Therefore young people working for a better world need constantly to
assess and reassess the valves of their own society, as well as their
own motives. It is through continuous assessment that we learn how to
guard and preserve our freedom and how to make the best use of it.

Freedom means choice. Young people of today have a far wider range of choice
than those who lived half a century ago. It is of the utmost importance to
make the right choice. We can choose either to gratify narrow, selfish
interests or to expand our hearts and minds to encompass the needs and
aspirations of others.

We are about to embark upon a century which will surely bring
developments that will change our world radically. The twenty-first
century could offer exceptional opportunities for creating an
environment that provides greater security and happiness for all peoples.

It could also be an era when gross materialism is let loose to trample
afoot the forces of justice and compassion. It is for us to choose which
path to follow. The young people of India can be proud that they have
before them the tradition of their great leaders to illumine the way forward.

Once again to quote Gandhi on the best kind of self-government:
        Real Swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but
by the acquisition of the capacity by all to resist authority when it is
abused. In other words, Swaraj is to be attained by educating the masses
to a sense of their capacity to regulate and control authority.

Education is therefore the key to creating a nation worthy of the heirs
of men and women who dedicated themselves to the cause of justice and
freedom with the unstained passion of  children and the fierce
determination of spiritual giants.

By education I do not mean just formal schooling but the cultivation of
the mental strength and courage to coup with both the known and unknown.
It is through the ability to evaluate the pass correctly and to face the
present bravely that we can build a future fit not just for ourselves
for generations to come.

There are enduring values that transcend national borders and centuries.
there are also values that has to be discovered for our own times. the
process of discovery is a challenge to young people who wish to mould
the world into a pattern that reflects the morning freshness of their lives.

They have a unique opportunity to leave their impress on their society.  I
would like to urge them to seize this opportunity  with gratitude and
enthusiasm: missed opportunities could set back individuals and nations
by decades.

As young people look forward to the new century with receptive minds and
open hearts, they can strive to build better lives not just for
themselves or their own people but for all humanity.

How fortunate to be on the threshold of life at a time when the world is
on the threshold of a new century! The future belongs to the young and
it is wonderful that is should be so. I would like to wish to the young
people of India and of the world happiness, love, wisdom and peace for
the New Year and the New Century.

Happy New Year
Aung San Suu Kyi
January 1, 1997.


April 23, 1997 (Imphal, Northeastern India)

For over a fortnight the bilateral legalized border trade between India
and Myanmar has come to halt since police and army in India stopped
import of foreign goods in protest against the shifting of the market
from Prem Nagar in India to Tamu in Myanmar.

Angry Indian traders had imposed an economic blockade in protest and now
police in Chandel district bordering Myanmar are not allowing foreign
goods into India. As a result prices of all items have goon beyond the
reach of the common people.

Officials fear that the agreement on the legalization of border trade
will not be renewed after its expiry later this year.

Indications are that unless traders in Myanmar agree to once again shift
the business to Prem Nagar there will be no trade. For several decades,
Myanmarese nationals had been  coming to Moreh, the smugglers' town in
Manipur bringing all sorts of foreign goods. A few thousands of south
Indians deported from Myanmar were staying at Moreh to carry on the business.

In the morning these businessmen bought foreign goods wholesale, and
sold them to small time smugglers and traders from Imphal. They made
huge profits in the process. However, once the border trade was
legalized Myanmarese asked to be permitted to sell goods directly to
Indian traders and smugglers and not through the South Indian middlemen.

These middlemen then launched some agitation making the Manipur
Government realize that shifting the market to Tamu about 10 km inside
Myanmarese territory was not in India's interests. There is no policing
of the 10 km long stretch of  the jungle rout from Tamu to Moreh making
it dangerous for smugglers and traders traversing the path.

Beside shifting the market from Moreh where the under world business
flourished from the late 50's is not a part of bilateral agreement.
Because of the untenable condition imposed by the Myanmarese government
it seems India has also retaliated.

All these years the business had been in terms of millions of rupees
daily since heroin, arms and other contraband were clandestinely imported.

It is likely that Myanmar will agree to the restoration of business at
Moreh and Prem Nagar since the country is suffering having financial
losses daily. However, military officials in charge of the border trade
told traders to bear with the "passing phase".


April 19, 1997

 BANGKOK, April 19 (AFP) - Burmese government forces have attacked a
dissident student base close to the Thai border triggering a new exodus of
refugees into southern Thailand, sources said Saturday.

Some 1,000 troops of Burma's State Law and Order Restoration Council
 (SLORC) are conducting an offensive against the student's "8888 Camp" and
nearby ethnic settlements, opposite Thailand's Prachuab Khiri Khan province,
according to the All Burma Student's Democratic Front (ABSDF).

Colonel Somdej Seumak of Thailand's Ninth Infantry Division confirmed there
had been fighting across the border on Friday and that 138 refugees had
crossed into Thap Sakae district of Prachuab Khiri Khan that afternoon.

An ABSDF spokesman reported that a further 500 ethnic Mon refugees had
fled to the border, but were yet to cross into Thailand. More refugees were
expected from settlements of Karen, Mon and Moslem communities close to
the student camp.

An estimated 20,000 refugees have already escaped to Thailand since February
during a massive sweep by Burmese junta troops along Burma's
western border, to flush out resistance from rebel Karens.

Small groups of dissidents including the ABSDF have supported the Karens'
resistance to the SLORC.

The ABSDF spokesman said 8888 Camp, which is located about two kilometres
(one mile) inside Burma, had been under attack for over a week and was
shelled on Friday. There had been no further fighting on Saturday.

The camp is named after the the pro-democracy demonstrations of August 8,
1988, that led to a bloody clampdown by the junta and forced thousands into
exile, including students who later formed the ABSDF.

"They (the SLORC) are determined to wipe out any resistance in this area.
Strategically and economically, it's very important to them," the spokesman

An ABSDF statement said that the student camp is based close to proposed
infrastructure developments including a road and railway that will link
Burma and Thailand.

Since May, some 20,000 people from 79 villages had been forcibly relocated
in this area of Burma's Tenasserim Division to pave the way for the planned
construction of deep sea ports and a gas pipeline to 


April 24, 1997

	The sanctions imposed by the U.S on Myanmar, 
we believe, is for their own domestic political consumption.  
But Myanmar, has her own national interest to serve and has 
already laid down policies, aims and objectives for the benefit 
of the whole nation.  Since Myanmar is walking on a straight line 
towards her noble goal, there is no reason to deviate from its 
original path to serve the interest of a foreign government .

	More importantly, Myanmar has opened her doors to 
outside investments and her abundant natural resources will 
benefit all those who come to invest.  But if the U.S refuses to 
come in to invest or pull out its companies from doing business 
in Myanmar, we can only feel sorry for the U.S companies, 
because they will not get a second chance later to invest in 
Myanmar if opportunities are taken over by companies from 
nations with consistent foreign policies.


April 24, 1997 

Ruling junta continues to oppress democratic forces

Two years ago, when Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in
Myanmar, she cautioned the West against giving too much credence to the
appearance of new political openness in the ruling military junta.  Wait and
see, she warned.

Indeed, today the leading opposition figure is once again detained at her
home.  That and the military's other recent acts of repression have prompted
Washington to impose a ban on new U.S. investment in the Southeast Asian
country, once known as Burma.

The sanctions may not have much practical effect, in that most U.S.
companies have pulled out except for a few energy producers, but the act
sends a necessary message.  The military is ignoring the will of the Burmese
people, who voted overwhelmingly in 1990 for Suu Kyi's party.

Under a law passed by Congress last year, President Clinton could invoke
sanctions if Myanmar engaged in "large scale repression" or detained Suu
Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner.  Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
noted that Myanmar has repeatedly refused to engage in political dialogue.
Instead, opposition politicians have been arrested or kidnapped.

The junta, which has been waging a tourism campaign, blithely dismissed the
U.S. sanctions and denied it abused human rights.

Isolating Myanmar requires international pressure.  Last month, the European
Union revoked some trade preferences to Myanmar.  But leaders of the Assn.
of Southeast Asian Nations say they still plan to bring Myanmar into
membership in July.  U.S. oil companies have substantial projects in the
country.  One of them, California-based Unocal, said Wednesday it will forgo
some planned expansions.

Those who preach economic engagement in Myanmar similar to what Washington
practices with China and Indonesia ignore an important difference.  The
Burmese voted the militry out.  It is one thing to keep ties with a regime
that has not democratized, another to hold hands with a regime that has
crushed a democratic election.


April 23, 1997

                              PRESS RELEASE
		  Date: April 23, 1997


The ABSDF is calling for a coordinated international effort to
impose economic sanctions on Burma following the imposition of
investment sanctions by the US in response to worsening political
repression in the country.

The ABSDF believes a multilateral approach is necessary to ensure
the effectiveness of economic sanctions to further pressure SLORC
into ending its hard line against the pro-democracy movement.

The imposition of US investment sanctions is an important step in
increasing international pressure on the Slorc to begin a
dialogue with the democratically elected government of Burma led
by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The sanctions prevent any new investment in Burma from the US,
but allow existing ventures to continue.

However, such sanctions must be imposed on a multilateral basis
for them to be effective in forcing the Slorc to enter into a
political dialogue. Other governments must now examine the use of
sanctions to further isolate the Slorc and force the regime into talks.

In particular, countries from the European Union, Japan, and
other trading nations must now explore the imposition of sanctions 
against Burma to ensure further isolation and pressure on the Slorc.

The ASEAN countries must also reconsider admitting Burma into the
economic group and realise that its so-called "constructive
engagement" policy towards Burma has been a complete failure.

All Burma Students' Democratic Front
Central Committee

For further information contact 01-654-4984.


April 18, 1997

                    Durban, 18 April 1997 

          Honorary Doctorate for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

In a remote part of the world, 40 million people are kept in a prison 
without walls.  Their everyday existence is dominated by fear.  Those who 
dare ask for democracy are usually answered with bullets.  The jackboots 
who control this beautiful land have met their match in one woman who 
simply is not afraid.  Aung San Suu Kyi is the lone voice of the 
frightened and her country, Burma, is one of the most violent places 
on earth. This is a  violence that should not be, for the demand of the 
Burmese is simply for basic human rights.  The generals who have ruled 
Burma since 1962 are deaf to their people but the chorus demanding they 
step down is growing internationally.

The Free Campaign applauds the University of Natal for lending its voice 
to this chorus.  The university will confer on Aung San Suu Kyi an 
honorary doctorate on April 23, 1997 at its graduation ceremony in Durban. 
She has been unable and unwilling to leave Burma to accept a host of 
awards, among which are the 1991 Nobel Prize for Peace and the prestigious
Sakharov Prize.  Her refusal is based on the belief that the military  may
refuse to allow her back into the country.  Being the international  symbol
of the Burmese pro-democracy movement, she considers her daily
responsibilities far too immense to away from her beloved people.

Her poignant appeal to the international community is to, "Please use 
your liberty to promote ours."  As a people recently liberated from 
the yoke of authoritarian rule, we, South Africans, have a moral 
obligation to answer this desperate call for help.  It was after all 
the selfless sacrifices of ordinary men and women in all corners of 
the world who helped us defeat the tyranny of apartheid.  Burma is a 
tyranny that we dare not allow to continue.  The Free Burma Campaign 
urges the South African government to distance itself from the military 
authorities in Rangoon and work towards its isolation in international 
fora.  The University of Natal has boldly taken the first step and 
President Mandela would do well to offer the support of our 
freedom-loving people to Aung San Suu Kyi and the freedom-seeking 
people of Burma.  

Released by :  Free Burma Campaign (South Africa) , P.O. Box 138 , 
Pavilion, 3611  South Africa   Tel: Intl +27 82 4166585
                                    Local 0824166585
                                    Email:  kiru@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


April 23, 1997

Address by Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, Nobel Peace Laureate,
on receiving  in absentia  the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa,  from
The University of Natal, South Africa
delivered by her husband Dr Michael Aris in Durban, 23 April, 1997

To receive an honorary degree from a foremost educational institution of
South Africa is the equivalent of a cohort of legendary heroes coming to
the aid of our course. For those fighting for their belief in justice and
freedom, there is no weapon  more potent than an acknowledgment of their
endeavors by others who themselves have known- and  overcome - the trials
and tribulations of a bitter  struggle against the forces of inhuman repression.

The story of  South Africa's victory over one of the most unjust systems
man has ever devised is an inspiration to peoples of all races and creeds
who accept that basic human dignity is inviolate. The young people of such
a country have just cause to be proud of their heritage. It is a unique
heritage that includes intense pain, unexpected  joys, ugliness and beauty,
unimaginable brutality and glorious  sacrifice. And, in the end, supreme

True, the struggles of South African nation are far from over, for it will
take many years  to undo the effect of the wrongs that  were committed over
 centuries. But, I am confident that  you will be able to  conquer the past
and  build a future that will vindicate the blood and tears that have been
shed over  the long years of fighting  for your birthright to be a free
people, the equal of  all other races. In fact, because of your
achievements it can be  said that you are the first among equals in a
world, where , despite the cynicism and materialism of our times, courage
and steadfast commitment to a just cause are still highly valued.

Many of us in Burma know of your struggle against apartheid, and your
victory has helped us  to face  adversity with fortitude, and to strengthen
our  faith that right will ultimately  prevail. It was through your
struggle  that I learnt my first practical lesson in the importance of
universal participation in the fight for justice in any society. As a very
new  student  at Oxford University, I was taken to shop for  fruit by an
English friend.  As I was reaching for a big , handsome orange she looked
at the label on the fruit, told me it come from South Africa and explained
why I should not buy it. I was struck by the  strength of  her determination
to do whatever  she could to combat apartheid, particularly as she was  not
at all politically inclined. For her it was a matter  of conscience, an
act of  common humanity to stand by  the black people of South Africa  in
their fight to live as full citizens in their own country. I am happy  and
proud to be able to say that from that day  I never bought anything from
South Africa as a protest against apartheid. Since apartheid collapsed  I
have not had  a chance to buy anything South African. It is a pleasure
which I hope to enjoy one day, in  your own country.

You are perhaps not very familiar with our struggle to win basic democratic
rights for the people of Burma. Almost nine years ago, spontaneous  public
demonstrations across the country led to the  fall of  a single-party,
authoritarian  socialist regime. But the demonstrations were  put down by
force of arms; and a military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration
Council, or SLORC, took over the powers of government. The junta promised
free and fair elections to choose a democratic government, and a large
number of parties sprang up.  Of these, the National  League for Democracy
(NLD), of which I am the General Secretary, won the landslide victory in the
elections held in May 1990. However, the SLORC refused to honour its promise
of a change to democratic government and proceed to reward the winning party
with a campaign of intense persecution.

Today the persecution is worse than ever. Many of our elected  Members of
Parliament  have been  forced to resign or to flee into exile. There are
numbers of them  languishing in prison, while those still working for the
party are subjected to various forms of harassment. Although the NLD has
not-to date- been declared an illegal organization, its  torment is no less
than that  suffered by the ANC in the worst days of apartheid. We face the
same dilemmas of  a society where a minority section enjoys all powers  and
 privileges while the great majority  live in a constant state of
insecurity, both  political and economic. There are the same debates going
on about the  efficacy of  sanctions with regards to  Burma as went on in
your country  a decade ago. There are the same questions posed about whether
the people of Burma are in fact fit for the democratic system of government.

Democracy should not be the  preserve of any race or culture, because it is
a  system that seeks to protect the rights of  both the strong and the
weak. It is the system which attains, not a perfect ,but the best practical
balance between  security and freedom. Every fight for freedom  is  an
individual fight. It is  every individual fighting for his or her rights.
At the same time it is a universal struggle, the struggle of all who
believe that it is wrong to inflict  suffering  on others.

You in South Africa have known the iniquities of a society founded on the
conviction that the worth of human beings is decided by the colour of their
skins. Dividing the human race into good and  bad people  is no more
meaningful than deciding their worth according to whether  they are black,
brown, yellow or white. I believe that the only real division is that
between those who are capable of learning and those who are not capable of
learning. Those who are capable of learning are the builders and healers;
those who cannot learn are the  destroyers. You young people  who came to
this university to acquire educational skills that will enable you to build
respectable lives for yourselves, I hope you will take away with you the
capacity to build  for others  as well as yourselves, that  you will have
acquired the habit of learning from your encounters with the unknown and
the unexpected along the way to the future.

Those who have to tread the long and weary path of a life that sometimes
seems to promise little beyond  suffering and yet more suffering need to
develop the capacity to draw strength from the very hardships that trouble
their existence. It is from hardship rather than  from ease that we gather
wisdom. During my years  under house arrest I learnt my most  precious
lesson from  a poem  by  Rabindranath Tagore, many of whose verses, even in
unsatisfactory translation, reach out to  that innermost , elusive land of
the  spirit that we are not always  capable of exploring by ourselves. The
title of the poem, Walk Alone, is bleak and its message is equally  bleak:

          If they answer not your call, walk alone;
          If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
          O thou  of evil luck,
          Open the mind and speak out alone.

          If they turn away and desert you when crossing the wilderness,
          O thou  of evil luck ,
          Trample the thorns under the tread,
          And along the blood-lined track travel alone.

          If they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with
          O thou of evil luck,
          With the thunder- flame of pain ignite thine own heart,
          And let it burn alone.

There are no words of comfort in the poem, no assurance of joy and peace at
 the end of the  harsh journey. There is no pretense  that it is  anything
but evil luck to receive no answer to your call , to be deserted  in the
middle of the  wilderness, to have no one who would hold up a  light to aid
you  through a stormy night. It is not a poem that offer's heart's ease,
but it teaches that you can draw strength from  your harshest experiences,
that a citadel of endurance can be built on a foundation of anguish. How
can anybody who  has learnt to ignite his heart with the thunder-flame  of
his own pain ever know defeat? Victory is ensured to those who are capable
of  learning the hardest lessons that life has to offer.

We live, we make mistakes, we suffer and we learn. That is the cycle of
life that we have to follow. Where will you go from here, you with your
pristine  young lives ahead of you?  I have no words of wisdom to offer
you, no words of infallible advice that will enable you to avoid the
pitfalls of human existence.  I would wish you a happy journey, one that is
free from  trouble and defeat. But  such fortune is not ensured to all of
us. So for those of you who will have to face the usual- and at times  more
than the usual - quota of disappointment and sorrow, I would like to say
that the warmth  of my heart goes with you.  I would like you to remember
on the darkest nights of storm that there are those who do not know you but
who understand your trouble and who care , because they themselves have
known the absence of a comforting light.

And in those times when your lives are full of  light, I would like you to
think of the ones who are deprived of the basic requirements of a
meaningful  existence, those who can not even dare to  hope that  salvation
is around the corner. South Africans have acquired  a moral standing
without peer in the world today. I would like you to use this, your special
asset, to help others achieve what you have been  able to achieve, a change
to a just society. Your  voices will carry further than the  voices of the
other people. Please let your voices  be heard in the name of democracy and
 human rights in Burma and  elsewhere in the world.

No message to  a South African university  can be complete without  a
reference to two of  your great  freedom fighters: President Nelson Mandela
 and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They are men whose stature towers over the
great mass of  humanity, who stand  "higher than hope " for the weak and
oppressed. May there be many more  South Africans who will be  as living
symbols of courage and endeavour. You have a proud tradition  to maintain.

May I end with the expression of heartfelt thanks to the senate and the
council of   the University of Natal and to the  Vice-Chancellor and
Principal, Professor B.M.Gourley, for conferring on me  the degree of
Doctor of Letters, honoris causa?  It is an honour  which I accept with
pride and joy and the  conviction that it is an augury of good things to
come for my country.

Thank you.


April 24, 1997

(a)  On the morning of 24th of April Mr. Blaise G. Odet, the Bangkok based
Swiss ambassador,  met with Mrs. Aris at her University Avenue residence.

(b) Mrs. Aris gave a press conference this morning at U Kyi Maung?s
 residence. The function was attended by some embassy officials and news


from Burmese)
April 24, 1997

Rangoon TV Myanmar in Burmese at 1330 GMT on 21 April in a two-minute report
says that 44 members of the Karen National Union [KNU] and three members of
the All Burma Students Democratic Front exchanged weapons for peace between
7 and 17 March in the Southeast Command and the Tenasserim Command.

The KNU members brought with them six carbines, four M-16 rifles,
three M-22 rifles, four AK-47 rifles, one hand grenade, one launcher, two
revolvers, one PA-6 rifle, and 125 roundes of ammunition.
Those who returned were warmly welcomed by the authorities who gave
them necessary assistance.


April 21, 1997

	Philip Tose's comments about democracy are quite ironic in light 
of his company's current situation. The chairman's firm, Peregrine 
Securities Group, is involved in scandals in Vietnam and Burma. 
	At the Harvard Business School alumni conference Tose was 
asked why China had emerged as an economic superpower while India had 
languished in its business potential. 
	He replied, ''One word: democracy." 
	He said universal suffrage had proven disastrous for the Indian 
economy. It caused chaos and created more than a dozen contending 
parties ­ he also described it as a ''crazy" system. Tose backed his assertion 
by claiming that America's economic performance had also suffered since 
the mid-1960s when, he said, universal suffrage was introduced. 
	But Tose congratulated China's economic managers, who belong 
to a single ruling party, for their performance. 
	Tose's view on China and democracy should be viewed with 
strong reservations. The rise of China economically is partly a result of
the pragmatic vision of its leaders, to their credit; but problems are
numerous ­ not least  of which, China is becoming a very rich state but the
same cannot be said of its people. 
	For his senseless and immoral remarks, Tose must be condemned. 
One may recall that Peregrine was formed by former executives of the 
Vicker da Coasta brokerage house. These executives managed to befriend 
the business leaders of Hong Kong, which has close ties to Beijing. 
Through its connections rather than its business acumen Peregrine rose 
overnight to become a regional security giant, because of business handed 
out by Beijing. 
	The firm had hoped to repeat its success in Burma and Vietnam. 
In Rangoon and Hanoi Peregrine employed people it thought had good 
connections with the ruling parties ­ the State Law and Order Restoration 
Council in Burma and the Communist Party of Vietnam. 
	But there was a heavy price to relying on personalities rather than 
business norms. The firm was drawn into a dispute over business interests 
with its representative in Rangoon. Last week its Hanoi representative was 
charged with fraud by the Vietnamese authorities. 
	Peregrine may boast of its success in Hong Kong, of being the 
biggest investment banker for China. But here and elsewhere in Asia the 
firm is merely a typical securities house ­ doing a fair amount of business 
but nothing exceptional. 
	No wonder Tose does not like democracy. It has proven that his 
firm is ordinary because of the competitive environment that comes with 
	The attitude that Tose possesses has also blurred his 
understanding of politics in India. 
	In many ways, the ''crazy" nature of Indian politics could be even 
more chaotic if it were under the rule of one party such as the BJP, whose 
policy on minorities is likely to create more instability. One might 
remember that the elected government of former prime minister Rao 
propelled India forward with a liberalisation that allowed everyone to fairly 
participate in the economic development. 
	In Tose's statement there is a tendency to confuse weak leaders 
with democracy and strong leaders with one-party rule. Thailand has had 
its ups and downs with democracy over the past 60-odd years, but the 
economy has done very well, due in part to the initiative of the private 
sector under a liberalised environment and a relatively strong bureaucracy. 
	The test of time on Tose's viewpoint will come soon for Peregrine, 
when its homebase of Hong Kong is transferred back to China on July 1. 
The future of Hong Kong could follow one of two paths. 
	One is that the colony will not thrive if some form of democracy 
that enhances competition is not in place. Another is that China's growing
economic might will be an automatic boon for Hong Kong whether 
democracy is a part of the package or not. 
	The real danger for Peregrine is its future. If Beijing's leaders look 
more favourably at Shanghai as Hong Kong's rival financial sector and 
find other securities houses, Peregrine's place as the representative of the 
new thrust is not very secure. (TN)


April 20, 1997
Kulachada chaipipat, Don Pathan

FOREIGN Minister Prachuab Chaiyasan is pushing a proposal for a
new development zone in the Mekong subregion, an "economic circle" 
which would include poverty-stricken areas in northeastern Thailand.
	He has asked regional development institutions to study the
feasibility of the new growth zone, and plans to raise the idea with 
Cambodian Foreign Minister Ung Huot, Laotian Foreign Minister 
Somsavad Lengsavat and Burmese Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw during an 
informal meeting and round of golf in Bangkok this morning.
	The new development region would follow the old trade route that
linked southern northeast Thailand with central Vietnam via southern Laos 
and northern Cambodia.
	The Director General of Economic Affairs, Kobsak Chutikul, said
the ministry had already asked the United Nations Development 
Programme (UNDP) to make a three-month preliminary assessment of the 
area's growth potential in terms of trade, agriculture and tourism and 
planned to ask the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to conduct a further 
economic assessment of the proposed growth zone.
	Kobsak said the studies would take into account the existing
infrastructure in the zone, including roads, railways and waterways.
	"The area is a traditional economic route, people travelled freely 
between territories in the past, but now it is obstructed by national 
frontiers," Kobsak said.
	He hoped the legacy of the past could be revived through sub-
regional cooperation.
	The proposed link is not a priority within the ADB-sponsored
Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation framework.
	The GMS encompasses 260 million people in the Mekong basin, 
which includes China's Yunnan Province, Burma, Thailand, Laos, 
Cambodia and Vietnam.
	The route Prachuab wants to develop links Ubon Ratchathani with
Champassak in Laos, Strung Treng and Phnom Penh in Cambodia and
Ho Chi Minh City.
	It is expected to be incorporated in the proposed Asian Highway,
currently being developed by the Economic and Social Commission for 
Asia and the Pacific Region (Escap).
	Today's recreational golf gathering comes amidst speculation that
Laos, Burma and Cambodia will indeed by admitted to the Association of 
Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) at the Annual Ministerial Meeting 
(AMM) in July.
	Of particular interest is the possibel acceptance of Burma by
Asean, a move that has been strongly warned against by international 
organisations citing the Burmese junta's record of human rights abuse.
	Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh is scheduled to visit 
Burma in early May and Prachuab discussed the trip with  Ohn Gyaw
	After an hour-long meeting with the Burmese Foreign Minister,
Prachuab said Saroj Chavanaviraj, the Foreign Ministry's permanent 
secretary, would lead an advance party to Rangoon on April 24 and 25 to 
work out itinerary of the early May trip and set agendas for the Thai-
Burmese Joint Commission meeting, which Thailand is scheduled to host.
	Prachuab said Burma and Thailand would like to create a non-
official public association modelled on the Thailand-Laos Association.
	The minister said Burma's membership in Asean had not been
discussed because the issue would be addressed at the informal meeting of 
Asean foreign ministers in Kuala Lumpur on May 31, being held in 
preparation for the AMM.
	Prachuab said the Jakarta-based Asean Secretariat would make a
formal report on the progress made by the three countries, containing facts 
to support Asean's decision-making process.
	"We have a tradition of [acting by] consensus in Asean. If even 
one country disagrees with a decision, then we will not make a 
commitment," Prachuab said. "Likewise, any one country cannot make a 
decision on its own."
	Asked if recent bombings in Burma and Cambodia, taken by the
international community as signs of political unrest, would affect the two 
countries' membership, Prachuab only said: "We must take everything into 
	Thailand will mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations
with Burma next year. Prachuab said Thailand planned to build a hospital 
in Burma to commemorate the occasion.