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BurmaNet News: November 27, 2000
- Subject: BurmaNet News: November 27, 2000
- From: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 06:28:00
______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
________November 27, 2000 Issue # 1669__________
NOTED IN PASSING
?The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind...
You're packing a suitcase for a place
None of us has been
A place that has to be believed
To be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird
In an open cage
Who will only fly
Only fly for freedom?
>From the lyrics to U2's ?Walk On? dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi on their
new album ?All That You Can?t Leave Behind,? which has just been banned
See Wall of Sound: U2's Album Banned in Burma and U2: Walk On.
INSIDE BURMA _______
*The New York Times: How to Commit the Perfect Dictatorship
*Agence France Presse: Aung San Suu Kyi's legal team launches defence in
*Wall of Sound: U2's Album Banned in Burma
*Bangkok Post: Tiger Cup, Politics and Money-- Defeat isn't newsworthy
for Burmese media
*DVB: Burmese military officer arrested in possession of counterfeit US
*Agence France Presse: Myanmar sentences two Singaporeans drug
traffickers to death
*DVB: Punishment for Workers Deported from Thailand
*Agence France Presse: Myanmar should be isolated until abuses stop:
*Channel NewsAsia: NGO's and activists debate ASEAN's role
*The Jakarta Post: Abdurrahman speaks about non-interference
*Agence France Presse: Violence on Thai-Myanmar border must be
*The Nation (Thailand): Cheap Burmese labour 'essential'
*Press Trust of India: India asks civilians to leave area of Burmese
*The Washington Post: A Rebuke to Forced Labor
*U2: Walk On
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:
__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________
The New York Times: How to Commit the Perfect Dictatorship
November 26, 2000, Sunday, Late Edition - Final
By BLAINE HARDEN
THE Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma may not be a perfect
dictatorship, but it's as close to perfection as is humanly (or perhaps
inhumanly) possible at the beginning of the 21st century.
Myanmar is more insulated from outside pressure than North Korea because
it can almost always feed its own people. It attracts far less
international criticism than Iraq because it is not so anvil-headed as
to invade its neighbors or go to war with a superpower. And it's much
less likely than China to be destabilized from within by the growing
pains of high-tech prosperity. That's because it allows almost none of
its citizens to prosper and the Internet is against the law.
There are a number of useful, if ugly, lessons to be learned by
examining four decades of repression in Myanmar -- a reign of fear,
poverty and isolation that, so far, shows no signs of coming to an end.
Outstanding achievement in the field of dictatorial misrule demands more
than merely a willingness to commit murder to stay in power. This isn't
to suggest that the generals who run Myanmar shy away from murder. Their
troops killed at least several hundred pro-democracy demonstrators in
1988. According to the State Department, soldiers have since executed
people unwilling or unable to work in forced labor gangs.
What separates the Burmese generals from lesser (and in many cases,
former or dead) dictators is their thoroughness and creativity.
"They have effectively destroyed civil society," said Robert Helvey, a
retired United States Army colonel who since 1992 has run training
seminars in nonviolent resistance along the Thai-Myanmar border.
"Burmese society has been atomized. People cannot come together for any
purpose because all the organizations have been destroyed."
Whether it's being a Boy Scout or allowing a foreigner into your home,
sending an unauthorized e-mail or gathering outdoors in groups larger
than five, it is illegal in Myanmar and punishable by a long prison
Yet the generals are exceptionally flexible when it helps them hang onto
power or attract foreign currency into the country's anemic economy.
They have made a series of sovereignty-sharing deals with armed ethnic
minority groups on the country's borders. These cease-fires have ended
decades of war and freed the regime to focus its repressive talents --
and most of its 400,000 troops -- on the unarmed majority.
Since making all this carefully calculated peace, the generals have
welcomed investment capital from ethnic minority groups that specialize
in the sale of heroin and amphetamines. Many of the buildings erected in
the country in recent years have been built with laundered drug money,
according to the American embassy there.
The proven fragility of authoritarian leaders -- most recently in
Serbia, but going back to the henchmen of apartheid in South Africa and
to Eastern Europe's Communist bosses -- suggests that even the most
repressive governments are vulnerable to mass democratic opposition.
"In general, the rule of thumb is the more brutal, the more brittle,"
said Dr. Peter Ackerman, an expert on nonviolent resistance and the
principal content advisor to "A Force More Powerful," a recent PBS
series on the triumphs of nonviolence in the 20th century.
But that rule of thumb doesn't seem to matter in Myanmar, at least for
moment. "You have to distribute resistance to all strata of society and
the Burmese people have not yet figured out a way to do this," Dr.
Ackerman said. "Nonviolent resistance is a strategy that doesn't always
work. I think the Burmese dictatorship is doing a good job at doing a
For purposes of comparison, it's worth noting that the failed regime of
Slobodan Milosevic did a bad job at doing a bad job. In the run-up to
the October election that Mr. Milosevic lost and then failed to steal,
his regime seem to fall asleep at the dictatorial switch. It allowed
opposition groups to organize and distribute literature in the smallest
towns and villages in Serbia.
IN a display of half-hearted authoritarianism that would never pass
muster in Myanmar, Mr. Milosevic ignored the power of the Internet to
mobilize his opponents. He tolerated independent media outlets in the
Serbian capital and in many other cities. He allowed foreign journalists
to roam all over, sniffing out news that filtered back into Serbia via
the Internet and independent news media.
Burmese generals know better. If they don't control it, they ban it. And
the foreign press is kept out (unless they sneak in as tourists, as I
The generals in Myanmar have perfected a style of governance that limits
information, sows distrust and prevents private misery from snowballing
into mass political action. "The individual who walks out of his house
in Burma in the morning is confronted with the overpowering control of
the state," said Mr. Helvey, who periodically trains Burmese to go back
inside their country and try to organize nonviolent action against the
government. "People do not have a place to go to talk to each other
because they know that there are informers everywhere."
The country, of course, has an immensely popular, articulate and
internationally acclaimed opposition leader. But that leader, Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi, a winner of the Noble Peace Prize, is under house arrest,
as she has been for more than 6 of the past 12 years. Nearly all the
leaders of her opposition party are also locked up.
Locking up "the lady," as she is widely known in Myanmar, has all but
paralyzed serious opposition to the generals, according to Mr. Helvey,
who served as military attache in the 1980's at the American Embassy in
Myanmar. Some of his current pro-democracy work is funded by the Albert
Einstein Foundation, a Boston-based nonprofit group that supports
nonviolent activism around the world. "Politics in Burma have always
been personalized and Aung San Suu Kyi is the symbol of the entire
pro-democracy movement," said Mr. Helvey. "Without her, the movement has
not demonstrated the ability to take on a strategic struggle."
The dictators in Myanmar are also geographically lucky. Positioned
between China and India, two huge and antagonistic neighbors, the regime
has been able to play on their mutual suspicions to acquire cheap arms
and make favorable trade deals.
More than anything else, though, it seems to be single-mindedness that
allows the generals to remain at the top of their game.
In the mid-1990's, they flirted with the Chinese model of combining
openness to technology and foreign investment with continued political
repression. That experiment, though, gave substantial economic power to
people who had no loyalty to the regime.
"The generals decided, 'Uh-oh, we can't tolerate this,' " said Mr.
Helvey. "They seem to be going back to isolation. They aren't trying to
have it both ways."
In the past two years, the military has taken over scores of profitable
foreign-owned companies and hundreds of businessmen have fled the
country. In a perfect dictatorship, things are getting back to normal.
Agence France Presse: Aung San Suu Kyi's legal team launches defence in
November 27, 2000, Monday 11:27 AM, Eastern Time
Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's legal team Monday launched a
defence against a property suit filed by her brother Aung San Oo who is
claiming half ownership of her Yangon home.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been held under house arrest by the military
government for the past two months, did not appear at the Yangon
Divisional Court last Tuesday for the first hearing into the suit.
Judge U Soe Thein made a ruling then that as neither the opposition
leader -- who had been given leave to appear by the junta -- nor her
lawyers were present the case would proceed without their involvement.
However, four lawyers including the Nobel peace laureate's main
representative U Tun Tin sought Monday to overturn the decision.
They objected to the decision to begin "ex parte" proceedings, saying
the defence team was in the process of being prepared when the first
hearing was held.
It is believed the lawyer handling the defence case for Aung San Suu
Kyi, U Kyi Win, arrived at the court last Tuesday but missed the
beginning of the session.
Aung San Oo's lawyers indicated Monday they would not fight the move to
repeal the decision.
"We have no objections to removing the ex parte status if they want to
go ahead and defend the case," U Han Toe, the legal representative in
Myanmar for US-based businessman Aung San Oo, told AFP.
After a hearing which lasted less than 20 minutes, judge U Soe Thein
said he would he hand down a decision on whether to scrap the ex parte
status on December 4, when a date for the next hearing will also be set.
Journalists representing the foreign media were not allowed to enter the
court room but were permitted to listen to the proceedings at the rear
Aung San Oo filed the suit over the property, which belonged to their
late mother Khin Kyi, just before a deadline on registering property
claims expired on the 12th anniversary of her death.
The Burma Lawyers' Council, a Thailand-based exile group, has said the
case clears the way for the ruling State Peace and Development Council
(SPDC) to evict Suu Kyi from the house and cripple her National League
for Democracy (NLD).
As a US citizen, Aung San Oo would be forced to hand his half of the
property over to Myanmar's military government if he won the suit.
"This would open the way for the SPDC to take over Khin Kyi's house ...
where Suu Kyi is living and where the NLD's head office is based," it
said in an opinion piece published in Bangkok's The Nation newspaper
over the weekend.
"This would fulfil part of what many accept as the SPDC's plan to
eliminate the NLD by the end of the year."
While not overtly political, Aung San Oo is much less critical of the
regime than his sister, and the two are not close.
It is believed that before her death Khin Kyi expressed the wish that
the house be equally shared between the two children, and that if it
were sold the proceeds should be donated to charity.
U Han Toe has said his client wanted to stake his claim over the
property so he could donate his half-share in line with his mother's
The timing of the lawsuit is a double blow for the opposition leader,
coming soon after the owner of the NLD's Yangon headquarters gave notice
to the high-profile tenants.
The order was temporarily withdrawn in late October because party
officials were unable to pass the eviction letter on to their leaders
due to the house arrest restrictions.
Wall of Sound: U2's Album Banned in Burma
Nov. 24, 2000
U2's new album, All That You Can't Leave Behind, was banned in Burma
because of a song dedicated to pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi, who is under house arrest for her activities.
Democratic Voice of Burma correspondent Myint Maung Maung told British
music magazine NME, "The album was banned because it includes a song,
'Walk On,' dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi and the democracy movement in
The rockers also have a page on their Web site, U2.com, calling
attention to the political situation in Burma, where they say 8 million
people have been consigned to forced labor and half a million people are
the target of ethnic cleansing campaigns.
Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has spent six of the past 11
years under house arrest and was placed under arrest again last month by
the military government.
The activist's struggle was brought to U2's attention when the band
members and Kyi were awarded the Honorary Freedom of Dublin award last
spring. At the ceremony, where Kyi's son received the award on her
behalf, Bono said he was "really proud" to be linked with her.
The band members, traveling the world to promote the new album, could
not be reached for comment on the ban, but in an interview yesterday in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, lead singer Bono said his passion for social
justice was rooted in guilt.
"One thing I'm very sure about is that I am a spoiled rock star; I am
overpaid, overnourished, and overdressed," he told The Associated Press.
"And I'm sure the work that I do [for debt relief] at Jubilee 2000 and
the work the band has done for Amnesty International is some kind of
Catholic guilt, but it's working, so we'll continue with it."
Bangkok Post: Tiger Cup, Politics and Money-- Defeat isn't newsworthy
for Burmese media
November 24, 2000
Success was all the junta cared about in football's recent Tiger Cup. It
would have provided a distraction. Defeat was not an option.
The early exit of the Burmese national football side from Tiger Cup
competition in Thailand last week was a disappointment for fans, a
humiliation for the ruling junta, and a headache for local journalists
covering the team.
The result wasn't a surprise. Burma were drawn in the same group as
regional heavyweights Thailand and Indonesia. The team lost 1-3 to
Thailand in the opening match of the tournament and were then thrashed
0-5 by Indonesia to end their hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
But back home the local press was banned from reporting the drubbing.
Shortly after the Indonesia match, the official censorship board in
Rangoon quietly issued an order: "News about the Burmese national
football team must be written in constructive ways."
Faced with heavy-handed censorship, journalists working for local sports
journals simply avoided writing about the Tiger Cup matches. "We know we
could be shut down ," said an editor from one such journal.
The interesting thing is that the ruling junta, known as the State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC), had a hidden agenda at the Tiger Cup. It
secretly hoped the team would reach the semi-finals to boost national
Weeks before the tournament, Colonel Thaung Htike, the head of the
Burmese team, received the blessings of Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt in
Rangoon. Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, Burma's feared military intelligence chief
and secretary one of the SPDC, heads the Myanmar National Olympic
At the meeting, Col Thaung Htike and a senior trainer vowed that the
national side would make it to the semi-finals.
"If they could advance to the semi-finals, Burmese at home would be very
pleased," said a sports commentator in Rangoon. The generals hoped to
exploit this to divert the attention of the football-crazed population
away from the economic and political problems at home.
"Football fever" has again gripped Burma since 1996. Live broadcasts of
European matches are often shown on television. Sport journals have
mushroomed, and many local and foreign companies have begun to offer
handsome payments to football players and the national football team.
"People are crazy about football," said a football commentator in
The recent defeats in the Tiger Cup disappointed many football fans in
Burma when they heard the results on short-wave radio.
However, sports commentators and football players say the results should
have been expected. "It wasn't our fault," said one player who asked not
to be identified. "Our country has so many problems; sport is also in a
Shortly after losing the match to Indonesia, the Burmese football
players openly complained about the country's problems, sources said.
The Burma football federation was founded in 1947 and gained respect in
the 1960s when the national team was runner-up in the Asian Cup in
Teheran in 1968. "We didn't even think about the Thais as rivals at that
time ," said a senior trainer who travelled with the Burmese team to
After the defeat in Chiang Mai it seems there could be more bad news in
It is believed that the team's trainers and officials could be punished.
They recalled the recent case of their former boss, Major-General Win
Sein, which is still fresh in their minds.
The SPDC in 1996-7, then known as the State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc), created the Ministry of Sports and appointed Maj-Gen
Win Sein to head it. However, Maj-Gen Win Sein, hand-picked by Lt-Gen
Khin Nyunt, wasn't at the helm for long. The minister, also known as S.
Win Sein because he is an ethnic Karen, was given the position not
because he is a sports enthusiast but because he had done great works
for his boss in the past. Thus the ministerial post was a reward.
In 1999, during the SEA Games in Brunei, the Thais beat Burma 7-0.
Shortly after returning from the trip, Maj-Gen Win Sein, who took two of
his daughters to Brunei for shopping, was fired. In the same fashion as
in Chiang Mai, news of the failure in Brunei was heavily censored. Local
sports commentators were asked to write about football matches in Europe
and elsewhere, but not Brunei.
With little in the way of official funds but plenty of corruption and
favouritism, Burmese football has suffered a great deal. However, there
is some good news for the Burmese team.
"We no longer need to worry about the budget," said one high-ranking
official from the team. The national outfit is now being backed by
Burmese millionaire Aung Ko Win.
The businessman, who was little known in the early 1990s, is now one of
the richest men in Burma.
How the former schoolteacher became one of the country's leading bankers
is a mystery to most people in Burma. Not surprisingly though, his
success is tied to senior officers such as General Maung Aye,
vice-chairman of the SPDC. Aung Ko Win's wife, Nang Than Htwe, an ethnic
Shan, is a private tutor to the general's sons and daughter.
Up until 1988, Aung Ko Win, also known as "Saya Kyaung", was a
little-known schoolteacher. But after Gen Maung Aye became number two in
the ruling junta, Aung Ko Win was given lucrative business concessions
in Shan State.
During the initial stages of Burma's "market economy" in the late 80s,
he was in charge of purchasing goods at the Shan Yoma Shopping Centre in
Tachilek, opposite Mae Sai, owned by then eastern commander General
Maung Aye. With the blessings of this influential figure, Aung Ko Win
began his own business in the early 1990s.
He was granted an import licence for cement and also engaged in an
agriculture business. He is currently president of Myanmar Billion
Group, Nilayoma Co Ltd, East Yoma Co Ltd and Kanbawza Hospital in
Taunggyi, Shan State.
He also is head of Kanbawza Bank, which was established early this year,
and which now funds the national football side.
Aung Ko Win is reported to have contributed 50% of the bank's net
profits to the national football team. He also is reported to have
donated $2.85 million (124 million baht) to public projects such as the
renovation of the Shwedagon pagoda.
However, sources in Rangoon speculate that the money given to the
national football team is part of a money laundering scheme.
Be that as it may, for Burmese fans the defeats at the Tiger Cup were
heartbreaking. They got little help from sports critics, who were
effectively banned from commenting or reporting on the matches because
of the official censorship.
Ironically, the losses, according to some Burmese trainers and officials
including two military intelligence officers who accompanied the team,
were the fault of British coach David Booth. "He is very dictatorial.
Our kids were under pressure when they played Thailand and Indonesia," a
Burmese trainer said.
However, the trainer and officials seem to conveniently ignore the fact
that dictatorship is the only form of authority the players in the team
have ever known.
If the Burmese team are beaten easily in future matches, no one should
be surprised. But if they start defeating their rivals, it may be safe
to say that the winds of change have started blowing through Burma.
- Aung Zaw is the editor of Irrawaddy magazine.
DVB: Burmese military officer arrested in possession of counterfeit US
November 24, 2000, Friday
SOURCE: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 23 Nov 00
Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 23rd November
It has been learned that a SPDC State Peace and Development Council
military officer has been arrested for producing counterfeit US dollar
bills in Burma. DVB Democratic Voice of Burma correspondent Myint Maung
Maung filed this report.
Myint Maung Maung Members of the No. 7 Military Intelligence MI Unit,
acting on a tip-off, seized 80,000 counterfeit 100 US dollar bills from
the house of Lt-Col Shwe Myint, deputy director of auxiliary
communications and training school, on Pyidaungsu Yeiktha Road in
Rangoon on 19th November. The MI arrested Lt-Col Shwe Myint together
with U Ahmad Niden who were involved in producing the fake bills.
It has been learned that regarding the matter Information Minister
Maj-Gen Kyi Aung has ordered a total news blackout and prohibited the
news from being included in the TV, radio, and newspapers by calling
those responsible for news releases using the emergency telephone line
within three hours of the arrest.
It has also been learned that the fake US dollar notes produced at the
top secret SPDC centres are being used at the various border towns to
change into Thai Baht, Chinese Yuan, and India Rupee.
Agence France Presse: Myanmar sentences two Singaporeans drug
traffickers to death
November 24, 2000, Friday
BANGKOK, Nov 24
A Myanmar court has sentenced two Singaporeans to death for possessing
5.05 kilograms (11 pounds) of heroin, state-run television reported late
The seizure took place in October last year at Yangon's Mingladone
International airport by police and military intelligence agents, TV
The two men were charged under the narcotic drugs and psychotropic
substances law, the report said in a dispatch monitored here.
Myanmar is one of the world's biggest producers of heroin along with
Afghanistan and is accused of hosting hundreds of amphetamine factories
along its east and northeast region.
Copyright 2000 British Broadcasting Corporation
DVB: Punishment for Workers Deported from Thailand
November 25, 2000, Saturday
Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 24 Nov 00
Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 24th November
It has been learned that Burmese authorities from Kawthaung will accept
the arrested illegal Burmese workers who are deported from Ranong in
Thailand. The deported workers must pay a fine and if they are unable to
pay the fine they will be sentenced to one month jail with hard labour.
DVB Democratic Voice of Burma correspondent Myint Maung Maung filed this
Myint Maung Maung A meeting held at Kawthaung District Meeting Hall on
20th November has decided that Burmese nationals who have been jailed
for illegal entry into Thailand and deported back to the Thai-Burma
border will be kept at two temporary holding centres in Kawthaung and
Dawdaik Village. Once in Kawthaung they will be prosecuted under Section
13/1 of the Immigration Law for illegally crossing the border and must
pay a fine of 3,000 kyat Burmese currency unit . Those who are unable to
pay the fine will be sentenced to one month labour at the construction
site of Kawthaung-Tavoy border security road. The Kawthaung-Tavoy road
is being constructed with personnel from the regional development front,
Bawathit camp members prisoners , and local villagers including the
illegal workers sentenced to one-month labour.
According to the meeting resolution, the illegal Burmese workers sent
back from Ranong will be accepted from 22nd November and it is known
that Kawthaung authorities have officially informed the Ranong
Agence France Presse: Myanmar should be isolated until abuses stop:
November 27, 2000, Monday 11:27 AM, Eastern Time
HONG KONG, Nov 27
Governments should refrain from dialogue with Myanmar's repressive
military junta until it stops committing human rights abuses, an
activist group said Monday.
"Critical dialogue (on human rights) with Myanmar is very long on
dialogue and very short on critical. It only encourages brutal regimes,"
said Baroness Caroline Cox, president of the British-based Christian
"The situation in Myanmar is one of deep concern and deserves more
pressure from the international community.
"The strongest possible measures should be taken to ostracise Burma
(Myanmar) until it gets its act together," Cox told reporters in Hong
This should also include governments boycotting the upcoming meeting
between the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) because Myamnar was a member of the 10-nation group, she
However ASEAN leaders last week took a firm stand at their annual summit
to reject any dialogue with the EU if it excluded Myanmar.
The decision came amid concerns that an ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting in
Laos next month might not push through because the European grouping was
mainly sending junior officials.
Cox, who has just returned from a visit to the Thai-Myanmar border,
slammed the junta for the human rights abuses committed against the
Karen and Karenni ethnic minorities.
She recounted the tale of one heavily traumatized 11-year-old Karenni
girl now living in a Thai refugee camp who witnessed all the male
residents of her village being skinned alive by government troops.
Channel NewsAsia: NGO's and activists debate ASEAN's role
November 26, 2000 Sunday
A group of NGO's and activists gathered on Indonesia's Batam island on
Saturday to discuss what they think the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) and their dialogue partners should be doing.
The meetings on Batam brought together a diverse set of organisations
that came with different issues on their agendas.
The meeting in Batam is having a hard time coming up with a consensus on
issues, although participants are concerned about the pace and form of
Mark Beeson, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, in explaining why
the meeting was taking place, said, "You often get a parallel process of
propositions from NGO's (non-governmental organizations) civil society
who feel that perhaps their views are not being taken as seriously as
they might be."
Another participant is Dr Chua Beng Huat, National University of
He said, "We need to consider the social and human impact of
globalisation itself rather than keep talking about micro economic
And Smita Notosusanto from the Center for Electoral Reform, Indonesia,
added, "Many of those needs are not yet represented or not yet
accommodated by their governments, especially in countries such as
"We are still facing a lot political problems in Indonesia, and some of
these problems are rooted because the government and the parliament
still refuse to acknowledge most of the interest of the people in their
The Jakarta Post: Abdurrahman speaks about non-interference
November 27, 2000
BATAM, Riau (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid, addressing the inaugural
ASEAN People's Assembly, lauded the application of the principle of
non-interference in the region.
To a gathering of some 300 representatives of the 10 member states of
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the President
pointed out on Saturday that in his official capacity he has to strictly
abide by this principle which has served the group in good stead for so
While acknowledging the growing demands to review the principle and the
greater role of the non-state actors in the region, Abdurrahman argued
that different conditions in the respective member states sometimes did
not permit ideals held by one member country to foster in another.
Abdurrahman recounted that he was "very close" with jailed Malaysian
opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. However, ASEAN agreements do not permit
interference in the internal affairs of member countries.
"I'm very close with Anwar Ibrahim, but when I became president I told
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad: 'I will not interfere in the matters of
Malaysia'," he said.
"So when Anwar Ibrahim's wife came to Jakarta and requested to have
breakfast with me, I did that but afterwards I told the Malaysian
Ambassador that the breakfast was impossible for me to avoid but I would
not take any action to interfere".
"Sometimes it should also be remembered that progress, or let's say
reconciliation, in one part of ASEAN cannot be executed in another
ASEAN -- comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia,
Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- has in
recent years been under pressure to review or altogether drop its non-
interference policy given the alleged human rights violations occurring
in member states.
Among the most often cited examples by activists of political repression
is the jailing of Anwar Ibrahim and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San
Such issues were among the talking points of the three-day ASEAN
Organized by the ASEAN Institute for Strategic and International Studies
(ASEAN-ISIS), the Assembly, which began on Friday, aims to provide an
avenue where people of the region can express their aspirations in an
organization known to be a fraternity of government officials.
Abdurrahman remarked that he had personally informed the leader of
Myanmar, Than Shwe, that he would not agree to Suu Kyi's call to boycott
the country as that would probably do more direct damage than good.
Abdurrahman defended his stance by saying that different societies have
not "developed" at the same pace.
"So this policy of non-interference should be followed because we have
to understand the position in other societies ... this is important for
people in ASEAN to know."
"We have our principles, but we have to adapt those principles to the
development of each country as well as the development throughout
ASEAN," the President said.
"Sometimes we can aid our friends, but sometimes we have to bear with
While voicing his official position as President, Abdurrahman also
expressed some personal feelings. It was evident in the talk that he was
somewhat torn on the matter, as he kept citing "friends" in several
ASEAN countries who were being oppressed for their activities.
"Of course, as a democratic man I have to give sympathy to those who
work for human rights ... Its a long way to have a truly democratic
society," he said while citing a Chinese proverb that "a journey of a
thousand paces begins with one step".
Nevertheless, he stressed that any societal change within a country must
be launched and acted upon by the citizens of that country.
"As an individual I have my own views about Malaysia which I won't
present here as it would only wreck the relations between Indonesia and
Agence France Presse: Violence on Thai-Myanmar border must be addressed:
November 25, 2000, Saturday
DATELINE: SINGAPORE, Nov 25
Thailand said Saturday it was seeking a combined approach with Myanmar
to contain cross-border violence and end disputes over drug smuggling
before they spill over to affect bilateral ties as a whole.
Thai Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan said he raised the issues in talks
with his Myanmar counterpart Win Aung on the sidelines of the annual
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which ended here
"The issue of violence along the border needs to discussed and
cooperated on, and should be contained in the sense that neighbors will
always have issues of differences," Surin told reporters.
"Therefore, we should contain the differences, not allow them to spill
over to other issues, other dimensions of relations."
Early this month Thai authorities were forced to consider the evacuation
of 3,000 villagers on the Myanmar border because of fighting between
government and rebel troops.
There have also been clashes between Thai troops and Myanmar soldiers
who crossed into Thailand.
Surin said he and Win Aung also discussed drug trafficking and Myanmar
promised "full cooperation."
Thailand's military has estimated that 600 million amphetamine pills
flooded into the country last year across its 2,000-kilometer
(1,240-mile) porous border with Myanmar.
An estimated 600,000 Thai youths are hooked on methamphetamines.
The AIDS epidemic in Thailand has also been attributed in part to rising
intravenous drug use because of cheap heroin supplies, most of it said
to come from Myanmar.
Surin said he suggested a formal agreement with Myanmar similar to an
accord signed with China during an international drug congress in
Bangkok last month.
The China-Thailand memorandum of understanding seeks to improve ways of
combating the narcotics trade and agrees to station drug liaison
officers in each other's countries.
China borders the Golden Triangle, which covers parts of Thailand,
Myanmar and Laos and remains one of the world's largest sources of
illicit opium and heroin.
There are more than one million illegal Myanmar immigrants in Thailand.
The Thai government has previously warned they pose an increasingly
serious security threat.
The Nation (Thailand): Cheap Burmese labour 'essential'
November 25, 2000, Saturday
BY WICHIT CHAITRONG/The Nation
CHEAP labour from neighbouring countries was essential to the Thai
economy, according to a number of political leaders, despite the
concerns of many local people that immigrants compete for the same jobs.
Labourers from poorer countries like Burma were essential for Thai
industry to maintain its competitive position, said Dr Nimit
Nonthapantawart, from the New Aspiration Party (NAP)'s economic team.
It was natural, Nimit said, that economic migrants moved from
less-developed countries to richer nations. Currently people were
allowed to move from one market economy to another, he said, adding that
Thailand also exported labour to countries such as Taiwan and the Middle
If the NAP got into power it would not reduce the number of foreign
labourers, but encourage private companies to hire a mix of Thais and
expatriates. "However, I would not want to see factories employing an
exclusively foreign workforce," Nimit said.
Many Thai companies bordering Burma only employ foreign labour because
of the higher wages demanded by local staff. This has often led locals
to blame the Burmese for unemployment and created tension.
Negative feelings towards Thailand's neighbours are running particularly
high at present due to Wednesday's crisis, when Burmese prisoners took
Thai prison officials hostage in Samut Sakhon.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, deputy leader of the Democrat Party, echoed Nimit's
view and said the next government had to listen to the views of
business. He added that industry demanded cheap labour.
"We have to accept the reality that Thai workers do not want to do some
manual labour jobs," Abhisit said. But he added that there was a need to
crackdown on the problem of illegal immigrants.
The Democrat deputy leader said the labour issue was also complicated by
the precarious political situation with Thailand's neighbours.
Political leaders expressed their opinions on "Khom Chat Luk", the
Nation Channel's late-night discussion programme on Thursday night, as
part of their election campaigning.
Jaturon Chaisaeng, representing the Thai Rak Thai Party, admitted that
the question of foreign labour was a difficult one due to local
interests and legal and human rights issues.
He declined to answer whether his party would reduce the number of
foreign labourers, but said his party planned to restructure industry in
an attempt to move away from a cheap-labour-dependent culture to a
highly productive, higher skilled workforce by embracing technology.
Abhisit echoed this sentiment, saying the Democrats would develop
technology and aimed to improve industry's competitiveness within four
Goanpot Asvinvichit, representing Chat Pattana, said his party would
implement a "zoning" scheme for foreign labour.
Meanwhile, Sawat Horungruang, party-list candidate for Chat Thai,
suggested the Thai and Burmese governments discuss the issue. He added
that Thai businessmen should hire local staff and improve productivity
through other means.
Press Trust of India: India asks civilians to leave area of Burmese
SOURCE: PTI news agency, New Delhi, in English 1105 gmt 25 Nov 00
Text of report in English by Indian news agency PTI
Aizawl, 25th November: Government of the eastern Indian state Mizoram
Saturday 25th November asked 147 families in Zokhawthar village on the
Indo-Myanmar Burma border to vacate their homes within a month to
facilitate commencement of infrastructural work for border trade, state
commerce minister Aichhinga said here.
The residential buildings would be demolished and appropriate legal
action would be taken if they failed to comply with the deadline, the
The evicted families would be rehabilitated in nearby Phulmawi hill
area, he said.
Aichhinga said the federal Ministry of Commerce has sanctioned 20m
rupees for development of the border trade centre at Zokhawthar. Work
for the centre would soon be taken up by the Border Roads Organization
The Washington Post: A Rebuke to Forced Labor
November 26, 2000, Sunday, Final Edition
NOT IN 81 years had the International Labor Organization imposed such
sanctions; but Burma is a special case. The ILO, a United Nations arm in
which unions, businesses and governments participate, found that the
Asian nation also known as Myanmar has so flagrantly violated
international norms that sanctions had to be imposed. In particular, its
ruling generals were found guilty of encouraging forced and slave labor
in "a culture of fear."
Burma is a special case in part because its dictators cannot even
pretend to reflect the will of their people. In 1990, they permitted a
national election. A pro-democracy party headed by Aung San Suu Kyi,
daughter of Burma's hero of independence, won four out of five
parliamentary seats. But parliament never met; the generals refused to
accept the results. Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel peace prize in
1991, is under house arrest; most of her party colleagues are in prison.
The generals grow more corrupt while Burma grows ever poorer.
The ILO sanctions approved last week are, as AFL-CIO president John
Sweeney said, "only a starting point." Nations are "urged to halt any
aid, trade or relationship that helps Burmese leaders remain in power,"
he said. The United States already has imposed restrictions on
investment, but that hasn't stopped companies such as Unocal from
mounting major efforts in the country. Nor has it prevented trade, much
of which enriches only the generals.
Companies that do business in Burma now more than ever will have to
explain themselves. So will nations that sought to water down the ILO
action, including fellow autocracies like Malaysia and China and, more
surprisingly, democracies like India and Japan. Those nations, though,
found themselves very much in the minority, just as Burma finds itself
more isolated than ever.
_____________________ OTHER ______________________
U2: Walk On
[Lyrics from the track ?Walk On? which is dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi.
This track is also the source of the title of the band?s new album ?All
That You Can?t Leave Behind.? For more, go to the band?s website at
And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring...
And love is not the easy thing....
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can't leave behind
And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Walk on, walk on
What you got they can?t steal it
No they can?t even feel it
Walk on, walk on...
Stay safe tonight
You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom
Walk on, walk on
What you've got they can't deny it
Can?t sell it, can?t buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight
And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on
Home? hard to know what it is if you?ve never had one
Home? I can?t say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the hurt is
I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on
Leave it behind
You've got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you steal
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress up
All that you scheme?
Dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi
To download the song in MP3 format, go to:
Size= 6.3 megabytes
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