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BurmaNet News: November 22, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: November 22, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 22 Nov 2000 06:24:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
________November 22, 2000 Issue # 1667__________
NOTED IN PASSING: "Things have never been this bad. We have always had
trouble with the authorities, but nothing like this.?
A senior NLD official in Rangoon. See Bangkok Post: Persecution of
Burmese democrats reaches new ferocity
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Bangkok Post: Persecution of Burmese democrats reaches new ferocity
*Jane's Defence Weekly: Myanmar academy triples cadet intake
*Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
snubs court summons
*Irrawaddy: Burma--One of the World?s Landmine"Black Spots"
*Deutsche Presse-Agentur : International pressure on Myanmar threatens
to overshadow ASEAN summit
*Associated Press: Board member says she won't go to Burma
*Agence France Presse: Armed Myanmar prisoners emerge from Thai jail
*Agence France Presse: India and Myanmar to step up counter-insurgency
*Myanmar Times: YKK unzips its US$63m high rise apartments
*Myanmar Times: Forum floats ideas to lure more Japanese investment
*Amnesty International: Myanmar - Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD colleagues -
two months in detention
*Bangkok Post: Editorial-- Burma's insincere attitude on drugs
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
Correction: Yesterday?s issue of BurmaNet should have been numbered
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
Bangkok Post: Persecution of Burmese democrats reaches new ferocity
Nov. 20, 2000
UNDER THREAT: Just being a member of Burma's opposition party is now
enough to invite arrest, imprisonment and much worse
In a small cramped office in downtown Rangoon, about 200 supporters of
Burma's last opposition group sit chatting quietly. Posters of their
leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi line the walls, and
pro-democracy slogans hang throughout the office. A group of about 20
supporters sit listening to a pre-recorded speech by Suu Kyi, while
others read party newsletters and pamphlets. Despite the flamboyant
pro-democracy appearance of the office, a climate of fear permeates the
"The office is infiltrated by agents from the Military Intelligence
(MI)," says a Member of Parliament from Suu Kyi's National League for
Democracy (NLD). He is visibly shaken, and is banned from leaving
Rangoon to visit his family. He predicts that he will be arrested "any
day". Speaking on condition of anonymity, he called the party's
"We are being strangled," he says. "We can't hold rallies, distribute
pamphlets or even communicate with our leader."He said that he expects
the party will be shut down completely within the next few months.
"Things have never been this bad. We have always had trouble with the
authorities, but nothing like this.... So many of our members have been
arrested that I don't even know how many we have left.... Morale is at
its lowest point.
"He says that all but a few MPs and NLD supporters have been arrested or
have simply disappeared.
The party was formed in 1988, after the junta killed hundreds of
demonstrators in a massive pro-democracy protest. Under intense
international pressure, elections were held in 1990 in which the NLD won
by an overwhelming 83%. The junta refused to recognise the election
results and has held Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of the
The recent crackdown on the pro-democracy movement began when Suu Kyi
defied house arrest in September 21 and tried to set up a party office
in the nearby Mandalay province. She was quickly arrested and escorted
back to her house, where she remains under heavy guard. Crowds used to
be able to gather near her house to hear weekly speeches, but the army
has barricaded her whole block, preventing any contact with her
At NLD headquarters, the junta's increasingly hard-line tactics are
visibly apparent. Opposite the office is a permanent secret police
presence. MI agents sit under umbrellas photographing supporters as they
come and go from the office. They often follow supporters home and
arbitrarily arrest them.
"You had better hide your face when you leave the office," says a party
member, handing me a straw hat and dark sunglasses. "If they get a good
photo of you, they will probably deport you."The MP tells me to return
to the office on the day I leave the country, saying that the MI will
seize my notes and photos if they identify me while I am in the country.
As I leave the office, an MI photographer shoots five photos at me
before I run into a taxi. Two agents follow me on motorbikes until I
dash from the car as it slows for a traffic light. I rush into a hotel
and leave through the fire escape and only return to my hotel after
changing taxis three times.
A CLIMATE OF FEAR
The junta's paranoia of the pro-democracy movement permeates Burmese
society. Massive billboards in the capital warn, "All internal and
external threats will be crushed." The government-controlled newspaper
The New Light of Myanmar carries daily editorials, which label
pro-democracy activists "foreign stooges" and "enemies of the people".
The omnipresence of government threats, however, has failed to crush the
spirit of democracy, according to many residents.
"Nobody likes the government," says a jewelry shop owner in Rangoon.
"The government knows that we all hate them too. So all they can do is
threaten us - telling us to mind our own business and not to think about
politics. If we do raise our voices, we get arrested, tortured or
killed. Everyone knows this, and the government wants it that way...
It's like being governed by a gang." The man would not give his name,
and said that he loves Suu Kyi because she stands for democracy and has
not left Burma, despite government efforts to deport her.
A restaurant owner in Rangoon said that he was a member of the NLD until
a month ago, but left the party under government pressure when the
government threatened his family. He peers outside his restaurant to
make sure that there are no agents nearby, explaining that the MI visits
him at least three times per day.
"It was very difficult for me (to leave the NLD). I hate the government
so much. I have had family members killed and imprisoned by them. But
the fact is, if you are with the NLD, you have no opportunity in this
country, and you live in constant fear of arrest or torture.. All of the
Burmese people love Suu Kyi, but they know that the government is very
brutal and can do anything it wants.. This is like Nazi Germany, we have
no rights." He quickly changes the topic as a neatly dressed man enters
the restaurant and sits nearby. The man leaves after about 30 minutes.
"There are MI agents everywhere in this country. They get especially
suspicious if they see a local talking to a foreigner. I am not sure,
but I think that guy was with the MI," he says.
ESCAPE FROM RANGOON
Two hours before leaving the country, I attempt to hail a taxi to the
NLD office. The normally zealous drivers simply drive away when I ask
them to drop me at the office. Others clasp their hands in front of
them, imitating themselves in handcuffs. When I finally get a taxi, the
driver will only drop me a block from the office.
As I approach the office, three MI agents begin taking photographs. I
run into the office, and am greeted by the Member of Parliament. "After
you came last week, the MI visited us and asked about you," he says.
"They get very concerned when foreigners come here... You had better
leave soon, they are sending more agents right now."
He refused to have his photo taken, or to have his name printed, saying
that the MI threatened him. Before I leave the office, a 60-year-old man
named Tok approaches: "I want to talk to you, and I want you to tell the
world about how terrible this government is," he boldly says. He
explains that he was at the train station on September 21 when Suu Kyi
tried to travel to Mandalay to set up a party office there. He says that
he went to the station with other NLD members to show his support for
"(The police) started arresting women in the crowd, and we protested.
Then the police told us to leave immediately. When we refused, they
arrested everyone they could. Before being taken into custody, he saw 11
women and five men being arrested. They took me to jail, and stuffed
three of us into a tiny cell with no toilet. There was only a small
bucket in the corner, it stank all the time of urine." He also
complained that prisoners were underfed: "when they did feed us, it was
like dog food," he said.
He described how the prison guards would awaken him three or four times
per night for interrogation. "They would grab me in the middle of the
night and blindfold me. Then, I would be taken to a room and
interrogated for anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours.. Often they
would make me stand the whole time."He said that two prisoners were
tortured by being forced to stand in sewage water for hours at a time.
"The authorities threatened to skin me if I ever participate in another
NLD rally."Despite the threats, he still visits the NLD office, and
asked to have his photo and name published. He said that he doesn't care
that the government may imprison him for five years for talking to a
In total, 67 prisoners were arrested during the September 21 incident.
Sixty-three remain in custody.
After speaking to Mr Tok and leaving the NLD headquarters, I notice the
MI agents have doubled their presence outside the office. A photographer
sits on each corner flashing photos as I run from the office. When I
dash into a taxi, a van drives in front to block it. I run for a second
taxi, persued by an MI photographer. Before jumping into the car, I
quickly flash three photos at the agent - the locals gathered nearby
defiantly clap their hands and cheer. A motor bike and a car follow my
taxi for 20 minutes before I jump out at a market and lose the agents in
the crowd. I immediately head for the airport and depart for Bangkok.
Back in Bangkok, a Burmese refugee named Eric who now lives in Thailand
said he is upset at the increased persecution of NLD supporters. "It is
true that the junta is having some success in stopping the NLD as a
formal political organisation, but the (Burmese) government will never
crush the ideology of democracy that is an integrated part of the
Burmese people's mindset... The pro-democracy movement is bigger than
the NLD and will never be crushed because it is in the hearts of the
Jane's Defence Weekly: Myanmar academy triples cadet intake
November 22, 2000
Bruce Hawke JDW Correspondent
Myanmar's Defence Services Academy in Pyin-Oo-Lwin [Maymyu] has this
year tripled its intake of officer cadets to 1,500, according to
Asian intelligence sources.
Cadets accepted to the college must be aged between 16 and 19 and
have graduated from high school. The country's most prestigious
officer training school, which encompasses the Defence Services
Institute of Technology engineering college, has undergone a
dramatic expansion in facilities and curriculum over the past three
The reason for the increase in intake is not clear. Analysts
estimate that about one-third of army battalions are under-strength
and some suggest that a further build-up of forces is planned.
Military strength has more than doubled from 180,000 to an estimated
400,000 since Myanmar's current regime assumed power in 1988.
The military-dominated government may be looking to fill specialised
civil service posts with serving officers. Myanmar's civilian
tertiary education system has been mostly shut for the past 12 years
because of political tensions and the capital, Yangon, has had
difficulty finding competent candidates to work in important
technical and administrative positions in the civil administration.
Military salaries increased by 500% on 1 April compared with a
threefold rise granted to civil servants. A full general now
receives a monthly income of Kt150,000 (about $380), plus
perquisites, while a second lieutenant can expect to earn Kt9,000 a
month on graduation from the Defence Services Academy.
The salary rises may be explained by the financial boost Yangon
received this year as revenue began to flow from natural gas exports
to Thailand. Plans for further military expansion and modernisation
that were shelved because of funding shortages could now be re-
activated, according to a Yangon-based source contacted by Jane's
Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
snubs court summons
Nov 22, 2000
Myanmar (Burmese) opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi failed to appear in
court on Tuesday to answer a lawsuit filed by her elder brother for
co-possession of her Yangon (Rangoon) home, court officials confirmed.
Court officials approached Suu Kyi with the court summons twice last
week to appear in court on Tuesday but she refused to accept them, and
refused to appear in court to face the charges lodged by Aung San Oo,
58, Suu Kyi's estranged brother who resides in the United States.
By failing to appear or to send a lawyer to represent her in court, Suu
Kyi lost her right to cross-examine plaintiff witnesses, court official
said. After a 30 minute examination of the case the Yangon Divisional
Court adjourned to continue the trial on November 27.
San Oo's advocates have filed suit for co-possession of Suu Kyi's Yangon
family compound where she has lived since returning to Myanmar (Burma)
Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar independence hero Aung San, was kept
under house arrest in her Yangon home between 1989 and 1995.
After many years abroad during which she married British national, the
late Michael Aris, Suu Kyi returned to her homeland to visit her ailing
mother in 1988 and became involved in the country's then-vibrant
She has led the National League for Democracy (NLD) party since its
inception in 1988, and is widely hailed as Myanmar's chief opposition
figure in a country generally cowed by its military leaders.
Besides being sued by her brother for co-possession for her Yangon home,
Suu Kyi is also losing her NLD office headquarters.
The owner of the NLD office building asked the opposition party to
vacate the premises shortly after the ruling junta's latest crackdown on
the party in September.
Irrawaddy: Burma--One of the World?s Landmine"Black Spots"
Vol 8. No. 10, October 2000
The Irrawaddy recently spoke with Stephen Goose in Montreal, program
director of the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, to discuss the
landmine situation inside Burma. Goose, who is also one of the founders
of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (recipient of the 1997
Nobel Peace Prize), described Burma as "one of the real black spots
around the world in terms of anti-personnel landmines," with both
government and rebel armies making extensive use of the weapon. Below
are excerpts from the interview:
Question: How much cooperation do you get from the Burmese authorities
when you are conducting research on anti-personnel landmines?
Answer: Well, as with almost every kind of issue, it is very difficult
to get any kind of cooperation or information from the government of
Burma. However, we have been allowed to conduct some research inside of
Burma, in many different areas.
Q: So they allow you to go in to inspect?
A: Yes, we have had researchers who are based in Thailand go into Burma.
And we have also been able to conduct interviews with some government
authorities, although they don?t give us any information that is useful.
Q: Can you describe the landmine situation in Burma these days?
A: Well, mines are being used both by government forces and by various
non-state actors, or rebel groups. Burma is one of the real black spots
around the world in terms of anti-personnel landmines. It is conceivable
that Burma is one of the countries where the most mines are being laid.
One of our surprising findings from our research over the past year and
a half is that it is likely there are more landmine victims each year
now in Burma than there are in places like Cambodia, which are almost
always cited as the heaviest mined countries in the world.
Q: Do you have any figures?
A: We?re estimating that about 1,500 people a year almost all civilians
step on landmines and are either killed or lose a limb.
Q: Which areas are most heavily mined?
A: There is extensive mining along the border with Thailand. There also
mines along the border with Bangladesh, and mines throughout the
interior as well. Regrettably, it is a situation where it is difficult
to find areas that are not mined. Wherever there is conflict in Burma,
mines are sure to be used.
Q: How about casualties in the Burmese army?
A: We don?t know about Burmese army casualties. They won?t provide us
with that sort of information. It is easier to get information about
civilian casualties, but hospitals generally won?t release information
because of intimidation. But at least ten different non-state actors are
using anti-personnel landmines, and a number of them have the capability
to produce the weapon as well. We have identified several different
types of homemade mines, and the government also produces the weapon.
There are only about a dozen different countries that still produce
landmines, and the government of Burma is one of them.
Q: What types of landmines are they producing? Are any other countries
also providing mines to Burma?
A: They produce at least two different types. One is a Claymore or
US-type mine, and the other is a Chinese-type mine. With regard to
selling mines, nobody is selling mines to Burma anymore. In the past, it
was likely that China and others did, but we have found no evidence of
transfers to Burma in the past five years or so or, for that matter, to
any other country in the world.
Q: Do you think the use of landmines in Burma can be halted while
various conflicts continue?
A: Well, I don?t accept the notion that lasting peace is necessary
before stopping the use of landmines. Indeed there are any number of
situations around the world, either with internal conflicts or border
war, where one or both parties have agreed to ban anti-personnel mines.
Most recently, the government of Columbia has agreed to never use
anti-personnel mines again and to destroy their stockpile, even though
rebel groups in Colombia continue to use them.... So we will continue to
press both the government of Burma though our capacity to do so is
limited as well as the rebel groups to stop the use of mines. And,
indeed, we have encountered some sensitivity on the part of a number of
the non-state actors on this issue, including some who have indicated to
us that they are prepared to move toward a halt to use of the weapon.
But time will tell. It is easy to say that to someone, but to actually
stop it when you?re engaged in conflict is a much trickier issue.
Q: Hasn?t Burma also agreed to an eventual ban on landmines?
A: Virtually every government in the world has gone on record as saying
that they endorse the eventual elimination of landmines. But what we
find is that their emphasis is on "eventual," not on "elimination," and
that many want to be the last government to sign on to the ban. But even
that is important. It is important that governments acknowledge that at
some point in time, we should have a world without anti-personnel
Deutsche Presse-Agentur : International pressure on Myanmar threatens to
overshadow ASEAN summit
By Ruth Youngblood, dpa
International pressure on Myanmar (Burma) over forced labour threatens
to overshadow signals of economic integration at the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations leaders summit this week.
"It's important that ASEAN demonstrates to the outside world that as an
organisation, we can get our act together," said Singapore Foreign
Minister S. Jayakkumar in the run-up to the November 24-25 event.
Economic cohesion and strengthening ties with China, Japan and South
Korea top the agenda amid such political upheavals as Philippine
President Joseph Estrada's battle to hold onto office and uncertainty
over Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid's grip on power.
Jayakumar said the 33-year-old grouping must come up with fresh ideas
and projects showing its 10 members are working together.
"ASEAN is going through a rather critical period of its history," he
told journalists, stressing the need to prevent a two-tier arrangement
between older members and the newer entrants - Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos
The 33-year-old ASEAN also includes Singapore, Indonesia, the
Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei.
With ASEAN still perceived as weakened and drifting as a result of its
slow response to the economic crisis triggered in mid-1997, host
Singapore is anxious to drive home the integration theme.
An ASEAN agreement seeking to use information technology to link the
countries closer together and explore e-commerce possibilities will be
signed by the leaders of the 10 countries.
The initiative aims to harmonise Internet laws, narrow the digital
divide and enhance inter-government cooperation on IT concerns.
The ASEAN leaders are also scheduled to meet with Chinese Premier Zhu
Rongji, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and South Korean President
Japan views the "ASEAN plus three" combination as an arrangement that
may make Asian countries more resilient to another financial crisis.
"We are in negotiations to finalise a network of bilateral swaps and
re-purchase agreements to help make countries more robust to external
shocks," said Takatoshi Ito, a top Japanese financial official.
Both Japan and Singapore are pursuing a blitz of bilateral pacts,
maintaining they do not erode multilateral efforts.
Hopes of a thaw in ASEAN-E.U. strains over Myanmar have been dashed by
the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) unpredented decision last
week to call for harsh economic sanctions against Myanmar for failing to
comply with a global treaty on eradicating forced labour.
Myanmar's admission into ASEAN in July 1997 strained ties with the West.
The United States and European Union cited its poor human rights record
and failure to acknowledge the election win of the National League for
Democracy in 1990.
An ASEAN-E.U. meeting scheduled for Laos in December 11-12, which would
have marked an easing of tensions, appears likely to be postponed after
several European countries said they would not send their foreign
ministers in the aftermath of the ILO's decision to impose the sanctions
on November 30.
Overall cooperation between ASEAN and the E.U. had been shelved for the
past three years over ASEAN's insistence that Myanmar be allowed to
participate in ASEAN-E.U. functions.
Thailand refused to join ASEAN's defence of Myanmar in Geneva with more
than 1 million illegal workers fleeing over the border. Japan joined the
ASEAN countries arguing that the ILO should give Myanmar more time to
enforce legislative measures to stop forced labour.
While Myanmar has sought to minimise the impact of the ILO's decision by
pointing out individual countries are not obliged to comply, analysts
said new sanctions in addition to those already imposed by the E.U. and
U.S. could be very damaging for the marginalised regime.
Associated Press: Board member says she won't go to Burma
By MARCY GORDON, Associated Press Writer
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.
A member of Palm Beach County's canvassing board surprised her
colleagues with a reminder about her planned vacation to Burma starting
Wednesday, then said she would try to reschedule it.
Carol Roberts' announcement Tuesday left county authorities worried that
the ongoing recount of the county's presidential vote would have to be
put on hold. They immediately announced plans to designate a possible
replacement - just in case.
"She says she's not going any place unless she breaks her leg. She will
be here until the job is completed," chairman Burt Aaronson told the
county commission after speaking to Roberts.
Roberts, a Democratic member of the canvassing commission who received
threats after advocating a full hand recount, was supposed to leave
Wednesday for a three-week vacation with her family. She e-mailed fellow
commission members telling them she was trying to change her plans.
By law, all three members of the canvassing board must be present to
validate ballots that are called into question and to certify the
election results. Her designated replacement would be Warren Newell, a
Republican on the county commission.
Counters were getting time off for Thanksgiving, with hand counting
ending at 5 p.m. Wednesday and resuming Sunday at 7 a.m. The canvassing
board will meet Friday and Saturday.
Roberts, 64, has been a vocal proponent of ensuring each vote is
Republicans demanded she step down from the canvassing board after
alleging she poked, twisted and manipulated ballots during a sample
recount of four precincts. She refused, saying she had been fair and
Roberts has acknowledged making a donation to Gore's campaign, but said
she did no work for him and claims she was criticized by fellow
Democrats for her lack of involvement.
Agence France Presse: Armed Myanmar prisoners emerge from Thai jail with
November 22, 2000, Wednesday 11:22 AM, Eastern Time
Nov 22 (AFP) - Eight armed Myanmar prisoners holding a Thai jail
governor and six of his staff hostage have broken through the prison
gates and driven outside the compound in a pick-up truck, police said
Provincial police chief Major General Surasri Sunthornsarathoon said
negotiators were now trying to win the release of the hostages, two of
whom have been shot and injured.
"The driver of the car is holding a hand grenade and the prison chief is
sitting on his lap," he told AFP.
"Inside the cabin, another convict is holding a gun," he added.
Witnesses at the scene said sharpshooters had taken up their places on
top of vans parked around the entrance to the jail in Samut Sakhon
provincial jail, which lies about 36 kilometres (22 miles) from Bangkok.
The hostage-takers have demanded that the governor, who has been shot in
the hand, and his deputy travel with them to a border town and ensure
their safe passage to Myanmar.
Corrections Department director general Siva Saengmanee told reporters
that apart from governor Somwong Sirivej, the hostages included five
warders and a prison teacher, who has also been wounded.
A huge security presence involving about 500 commandos and well-armed
uniformed and plainclothes police has been laid out around the jail.
Television footage earlier showed one of the gunmen parading a terrified
hostage in front of the cameras, as a media contingent of about 200
reporters and crews gathered outside the compound.
Witnesses said gunshots had been heard from the compound since the
hostage drama began mid-morning.
The Corrections Department said the gunmen were not political prisoners,
but were all facing criminal charges, including drugs offences. Their
cases were still being heard through the courts
Agence France Presse: India and Myanmar to step up counter-insurgency
November 22, 2000, Wednesday 11:22 AM, Eastern Time
NEW DELHI, Nov 22
India and Myanmar said Wednesday they had agreed to step up joint
efforts to counter the threat of separatist insurgency along their
"The two sides agreed to take steps to ensure peace and tranquility
along the India-Myanmar border," said a joint statement released after a
week-long visit by General Maung Aye -- number two in Myanmar's military
The general's visit had stirred up some controversy because India is
also sympathetic to Myanmar's pro-democracy movement led by Aung San Suu
Indian and Myanmar troops have been cooperating in fighting insurgency
in India's northeastern states.
Earlier this year, they carried out a joint operation in which five
militant camps in Myanmar belonging to the Nationalist Socialist Council
of Nagaland were destroyed.
The joint statement said both countries had also agreed to take steps to
"give content to cross border cooperation which would directly benefit
populations living on both sides."
Economic and commerical relations would also be stepped up, it added.
During a meeting with Indian industrialists in New Delhi, Maung Aye
encouraged businesses to invest in Myanmar's agriculture, fisheries,
pearl cultivation and mining sectors.
Tourism, infrastructure and energy were also identified as areas which
had "immense potential."
_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________
Myanmar Times: YKK unzips its US$63m high rise apartments
November 13-19, 2000
A US$63 million twin tower apartment block officially commissioned into
service in the capital last week has high expectations for a strong
tenancy rate but will face a lean, tough market in its quest for monthly
rentals of between US$1000 and US$6000.The Golden Hill Tower serviced
apartments off Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Bahan township, contains 106
apartments in each of its two 20-storey buildings. One of the towers is
ready for occupancy.
Located on prime, elevated land overlooking Lake Kandawgyi and across to
the Shwedagon Pagoda, it is close to the city centre and other urban
facilities.Mitsui Corporation, a giant Japanese construction firm, built
the facility under contract from Singapore YKK Development Ltd ? the
well known zip manufacturer cum property developer. It has taken Mitsui
three years to complete the construction of the luxury apartment
blocks.The twin towers are the sixth high-rise, serviced residential
development in Yangon, but will rank as the most upmarket.The complex
was built on land leased for 30 years under a build-operate-transfer
basis from the Myanma Port Authority.
Despite its high rental rate, apartment manager U Ko Ko Naing said his
group was hopeful of luring clientele from other apartment complexes.And
he said they were optimistic of ?changes in the future? to boost
percentage occupancy levels. Newcomers to Yangon would be suitably
impressed by the development, he said.?Some people have expressed
concern at our prices,? said another Golden Hill executive, ?but we can
sell better than our competitors and we offer higher standards.? The
apartments vary in size from one to four-bedrooms and contain quality
imported furnishings from some of Japan?s best known designers.
One-bedroom apartments start around US$1000, depending on floor
location, while penthouses with spectacular views command upwards of
?The location, especially the view of Shwedagon pagoda, westernised
interiors and superb facilities make this a fascinating place to live,?
said an expatriate businessman who recently moved into a Golden Hill
apartment. Some of the facilities available to tenants include swimming
pools, tennis courts, a gym, BBQ area, cafés and restaurants. Full
housekeeping and dry cleaning services are part of the marketing
pitch.?The trend in Yangon is changing,? said the Golden Hill executive,
who declined to be named.?Before diplomatic personnel and the business
community from abroad chose to live in residential homes, but as
apartments are more convenient and safer many are now choosing to live
in serviced apartments.?
The opening of the second tower, meanwhile, will be delayed until
occupancy levels in the first block are up.?Only if there is good
occupancy rate at the tower will we consider moving on the next,? said U
Ko Ko Naing. He said the estate?s managers were optimistic of achieving
a 45 per cent occupancy rate within a year.The opening of the 106 new
apartments takes the number of serviced residential rooms in Yangon to
about 500. The Sakura serviced apartment block has the highest occupancy
Myanmar Times: Forum floats ideas to lure more Japanese investment
November 13-19, 2000
THE third joint meeting of the Japan-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and
Industry Business Cooperation Committees has explored means by which
Myanmar could create an environment to lure prospective Japanese
investors to the country.?This is the era when investors choose
countries, rather than the other way round,? said Mr Masao Kawai,
executive vice president of Japan External Trade Organisation
(JETRO).Japanese investment in Myanmar as registered with the Myanmar
Investment Commission (MIC) has reached US$23.3 billion in 22 separate
business investments, ranking Japan ninth among countries with financial
Since 1998, in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, Japanese
investment here has stagnated.?In my opinion, the improvement of the
business environment is indispensable for attracting more investment
from Japan as well as other foreign countries,? said Mr Kawai.U Wai
Phyo, a young local entrepreneur, told the meeting that Myanmar was
blessed with abundant and hardworking human resources, as well as being
rich in agricultural, forestry, fishery and mineral resources that were
regarded as holding great potential for future economic development.?The
combination of Japan?s technology and investment and Myanmar resources
will produce fruitful outcomes for both countries,? he said.
Shigeki Ura, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Yangon, told
Myanmar Times: ?Yet, the first important thing is to improve
infrastructure, such as electric power, telecommunication and
harbours.?For instance, compulsorily keeping your own power generators
for the continuance of power supply places a big burden on both local
and foreign industrialists.? ?Though Myanmar has political and social
stability, it has yet to show that Myanmar is an attractive destination
for investment.?Rather than just waiting, it should make trade and
investment policies more favourable.?
Many Japanese business missions have visited Myanmar to explore business
and investment opportunities here.?Both sides have positively accepted
the fact that the private sector is the key factor for economic growth
and development under a market-oriented system, while the government
sector functions as a stimulator and facilitator in the process of
transforming to the system,? said U Win Myint, president of the Union of
Myanmar Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI).
Amnesty International: Myanmar - Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD colleagues -
two months in detention
Nov. 22, 2000
Two months after their dramatic arrest at Yangon train station, Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi and nine other National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders
are still held under house arrest and should be released immediately,
Amnesty International said today.
"The international community should step up pressure on the Myanmar
government to release these prisoners of conscience without delay.
Detaining people to silence them is completely unacceptable," the
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and eight NLD Central Executive Committee members
are held under de facto house arrest, and retired General U Tin Oo, the
NLD vice-chairman, is detained at Yemon government guesthouse 30 miles
north of the capital Yangon. All 10 of these leaders are prisoners of
conscience, arrested solely for their peaceful political opposition
In addition Amnesty International has obtained the names of 80 NLD
members and supporters who are detained at Insein Prison, Myanmar's
largest jail. They were arrested on 21 September when they had gone to
greet Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at the Yangon central station. There are
fears for their health, as torture of political prisoners is common in
On 21 September Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Tin Oo attempted to travel by
train to Mandalay to visit NLD colleagues. The authorities blocked them
from doing so in the early hours of 22 September, and forcibly removed
them from the station. The UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for
Myanmar, Mr Razali Ismail, was able to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
twice, at her house, during his visit to the country in October.
Last weekend the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC, Myanmar's
military government) announced that she would be able to appear in court
to respond to a suit filed by her brother about ownership of their
mother's home in Yangon. The SPDC also reportedly stated that U Tin Oo
had been allowed to attend the funeral of a family member. However to
Amnesty International's knowledge, they are still being held under
virtual house arrest and cannot communicate or travel freely.
Bangkok Post: Editorial-- Burma's insincere attitude on drugs
Nov. 19, 2000
For the second time in six months, the United Nations is sponsoring a
conference against drugs in the centre of the main drug trafficking in
Southeast Asia. The United States and several other countries are
boycotting this largely futile meeting of regional policemen. Burmese
organisers claim this shows that certain countries - translation: the
United States - refuse to co-operate with Burma in its efforts to fight
the drug trade. If it were not so serious, it would be funny.
Even the reason for the second meeting of law-enforcement chiefs is
unclear. The meeting of Asean police chiefs in Rangoon last May produced
no discernible positive results. On the contrary, the it seemed
distasteful to force the top law-enforcement officers to meet in the
home town of Khun Sa, Lo Hsing-han and other infamous, free drug
dealers. Officials argued that the chiefs could make personal contacts
that would serve all countries later on.
Perhaps this is true. But even last May, it seemed somewhat unsavoury.
In many minds, correctly, Burma and drug trafficking are linked. The
country produces more opium and heroin than any other in the region. Its
illicit drug factories are churning out hundreds of millions of
methamphetamines and similar stimulants. Burma's leading drug
traffickers all have direct links to the leaders of the ruling military
Thailand, India and Laos all have declared drug trafficking from Burma
to be a major threat to their national security. Chinese leaders, who
ironically are close to the Burmese dictators, have stated that drugs
threaten both the health and the national security of southern Chinese,
particularly in Yunnan. The World Health Organisation recently pointed
out that use of drugs from Burma has caused and spread the major part of
the ruinous and tragic Aids epidemics in South and Southeast Asia.
Against all of this, Interpol and the UN Drug Control Programme took
their 24th conference of Asia-Pacific law enforcement chiefs to Rangoon.
Perhaps they like the availability of hotels, caused by a world-wide
tourist boycott. Perhaps they think it was Burma's turn. Many would call
their choice a bad idea, and in bad taste.
Burmese officials, not known for their humility, went immediately on the
offensive. Col Tin Hlaing, the junta officer who doubles as interior
minister, blasted "some responsible countries" for boycotting the
meeting. He made it clear he meant, especially, the United States. The
Americans, he went on, were insincere in anti-drug co-operation. In
their long fight against drug trafficking the Americans have been
accused of many things - too much violence, pressuring allies too hard,
giving too much aid, and focussing on supply rather than demand. Failing
to fight drug trafficking is a new charge against the US. It is also
ridiculous on the face of it.
The Americans boycotted the Rangoon conference, again, to protest the
Burmese failure to take action against their own drug traffickers. It is
unproductive in the extreme to argue that the Americans will not assist
the anti-drug effort when Rangoon allows its home-grown traffickers to
walk free in Rangoon, invest in government-backed projects, and run
private, drug-dealing fiefdoms, like the United Wa State Army in the
The United Nations should think more seriously about putting its
conferences in such cities as Rangoon. The fight over the site made it
impossible for any progress at the meetings. But the main problem is
Burma itself. The attack on the US is a laughable effort to divert
attention from the drug traffickers who live and prosper in that
country. The continuing, growing addiction of Thai youths is the daily
proof that Burma will not co-operate on fighting drug trafficking.
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