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BurmaNet News: May 5, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         May 5, 2001   Issue # 1799
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*Japan Times: Myanmar's Shan State: a complex tragedy

MONEY _______
*Burma Courier: U.S. Sanctions 'Toughen' Backbone of Industrialists

*Bangkok Post: Thaksin Pins Hope on Talks--Troops reinforced as MPs urge 

*Burma Courier: Unwanted Attention Showered on Mayflower Bank

*The Nation: Thaksin Says He'll Visit Burma by next Month
*Bangkok Post: Monument Plan 'Must Not Lead Tension'

*Burma Courier: Sein Win:  "It Is High Time to Let the People Know"
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Plots and conspiracies  
*Shan-EU News: Prime Minister Thaksin's Attempt to Find a Balance in His 
Policy towards Burma

*Images Asia: Writer / Researcher Volunteer with Environmentalist 
Perspective Sought
*Info Birmanie: Correction to Burma Calendar of Events

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

Japan Times: Myanmar's Shan State: a complex tragedy

Special to The Japan Times

THAI-MYANMAR BORDER -- Mae Sai is the end of the road in northern 
Thailand. This is not to suggest that the lackluster town is 
undeveloped: It does a roaring trade in gemstones (both real and fake), 
tourist trinkets, snacks and all kinds of contraband. It's literal. The 
main street, Pahonyotin, runs north until it reaches the Sai River. 
Across that waterway, which forms part of the border between Thailand 
and Myanmar's Shan State, is a "Friendship" bridge leading to the 
Myanmar town of Tachilek.Not everyone in the area has used the bridge to 
cross the border. Some 300,000 Shans have found other ways to cross into 
Thailand -- and have never gone back. While some were seeking better 
economic opportunities, many were fleeing any number of human-rights 
abuses in their homeland, as well as the fighting that has become 
endemic there. 
"In Thailand, we Shans are like a can of worms," said one undocumented 
woman. "Open the can and we can spread everywhere without too much 
trouble."She had a point. There is an ethnic affinity between Thais and 
Myanmar's Shans, who are called Thai Yai in the Thai language. However, 
the huge, continuing influx is putting a strain on that traditional 
ability to blend in. Thailand wants most of the new arrivals to go back 
home by August. And the most recent border crisis has only made the 
overall situation worse. In early February, the Myanmar Army, or 
Tatmadaw, seized a Thai military border post at Ban Pang Noon, some 50 
km west of Mae Sai. Several Thais were taken prisoner. In strictly 
military terms it made sense. The Tatmadaw wanted to surround and 
capture nearby Doi Kaw Wan, a stronghold of its fierce enemy, the Shan 
State Army. 

However, Association of Southeast Asian Nations members are not supposed 
to be in the business of seizing each other's territories. An armed 
force, identified as Thai by local media, quickly evicted the intruders, 
much to the satisfaction of an enraged Thai public. 

Tension mounted when the Tatmadaw shelled Mae Sai on Feb. 11, killing 
three Thais and injuring others. Thai light tanks were positioned near 
the bridge, now gated shut, with their turrets pointed north. The border 
was closed, but accusations flew across. Thai Third Army commander, Gen. 
Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, was quoted as suggesting that his Myanmar 
military counterparts "deserve the firing squad" for their actions. 
Friendship had its limits. 

All this occurred during a changeover in the Thai government. 
Interestingly, the incoming leaders, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra 
and especially his choice for defense minister, retired general and 
ex-Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, were seen, with good reason, as 
being more amenable than their predecessors to working with Myanmar's 
military rulers.Some observers thought Myanmar was simply pushing the 
envelope, testing the new government's mettle. Others noted that Thai 
border policy is not so unified, with regional army commands, 
intelligence bodies, local politicians and business interests all 
possessing some degree of autonomy. Perhaps the Tatmadaw was trying to 
get Bangkok to curb that autonomy to Myanmar's benefit. There are, for 
instance, disputes over borders and over Yangon's claims that the Thais 
support the Myanmar junta's armed enemies, something that Thailand 

Whatever the reason, the strife that spilled across the border and 
attracted international attention in February was nothing new. Myanmar's 
political, economic and social problems are legion, and in Shan State, 
the largest geographical subdivision, they are and have been truly 
dazzling in their complexity. 

Within the state, Shans make up just over half the population. Myanmars, 
Chinese, Wa, Kachin, Palaung, Lahu, Akha, Pa-O and other groups also 
live there. A kaleidoscope of armed militias, their political wings and 
other political and social organizations jostle for space and 
allegiance. Motives run the full gamut from idealistic ethnic activism 
to naked opportunism. And a booming narcotics trade with substantial 
cross-border tentacles fuels its own wars in the region and defies 
attempts at description. For baffled outside observers, much depends on 
the frame of reference chosen.The central question is, and has long 
been, the power relationship prevailing between central Myanmar 
governments and outlying ethnic areas. 

As for the Shan region, it was once more united, but by the 16th century 
it had split into several dozen statelets. These were ruled by 
"saophas," hereditary princes who, while often bickering among 
themselves, generally offered no more than nominal allegiance to 
Myanmar's kings.Britain's colonial overlords had responsibility for both 
the Shan principalities and Myanmar-majority areas but maintained an 
administrative distinction. The saophas and their territories were 
included in the "Frontier Areas" while central Myanmar was managed as 
"Ministerial Burma."The end of British rule and the coming of 
independence brought matters to a head. In negotiations conducted in 
February 1947 at Panglong in Shan State, representatives from the 
Frontier Areas -- including Shans, Chins and Kachins (but not Karens) -- 
reached an agreement with Aung San, the Myanmar independence leader. 

In return for a unified state, ethnic minority areas covered by the 
agreement would continue to enjoy internal autonomy. That same year, the 
new constitution for the Union of Burma stipulated that two states, Shan 
and Karenni, had the right of secession after 10 years.But instead of 
achieving concord, independent Myanmar descended into civil war. What's 
more, an invasion of Shan State by Chinese Kuomintang forces retreating 
from Mao Zedong's armies added more fuel to the fire. The KMT needed 
funds and supplies. Much came clandestinely from America and Taiwan, 
more from the revived and expanding opium trade.To counter the KMT and 
other opponents in Shan State, Yangon boosted its military presence 
there and whittled away at local autonomy. It also refused to 
countenance any plebiscite on secession, despite the constitution. In 
1962, Sao Shwe Thaike, an ethnic Shan and former saopha who had been 
Burma's first president, tried to initiate discussions about a more 
equitable federal union. In response, the Myanmar military seized power 
and scrapped the constitution. Sao Shwe Thaike died in prison under 
circumstances not yet fully explained. Rising Shan discontent found a 
voice in an emerging nationalism that, despite decades of factionalism 
and other problems, survives today. 

Aside from the Tatmadaw, there are three influential political groups 
and three Shan armies in the state. Half are "above ground" in the sense 
that they operate with Yangon's acquiescence. One, the Shan 
Nationalities League for Democracy, is composed of MPs elected in the 
1990 elections that were won by Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD. The SNLD won the 
most seats in Shan State and is in the unique position of being able to 
talk to different sides in Myanmar's political impasse. With Yangon 
watching, though, it has had to be more circumspect in recent years. 
Not legal in Myanmar, the Shan Democratic Union is a political 
organization formed in 1996 by emigre Shans. It includes highly 
respected figures from the nationalist struggles of the '60s and '70s. 
Chao Tzang Yawnghwe, a son of Sao Shwe Thaike, is an important adviser. 
The SDU's position is that Shan State already has theoretical 
independence and that any acceptable future union depends upon a 
referendum and on reviving "the spirit of Panglong." 

Two of the three armed Shan groups are also in the "legal fold," to use 
a term favored by Yangon. These are the northern and central wings of 
the Shan State Army, which are effectively separate groups with 
different histories, existing under the same umbrella. The southern wing 
requested a similar ceasefire with Yangon but was ignored. 
The Shan State Army (South) has a political component called the 
Restoration Council for Shan State. Although a Shan group, it hopes 
other minorities in the state will join it on a basis of equality. At an 
interview, Aung Mart, the council's vice chairman, said that their goal 
was "to establish Shan State as an independent nation and not as part of 
a federal union." Stated objectives include "prosperity, peace, 
establishing a democratic system and combating drugs." 

The drug question is a pressing one. While opium is still grown in the 
Shan hills, transported to border refineries and processed into heroin, 
methamphetamine production has skyrocketed by comparison. Known in the 
area as "yaa baa" (madness drug), this variant of speed is both cheap to 
buy and simple to make. Easily transportable, it is causing a profound 
social crisis in Thailand. Senior Thai officials have repeatedly 
threatened drastic action against drug traffickers. 

Myanmar's state-controlled media like to pin the label of "drug dealers" 
on the SSA (South), citing its officers' previous allegiance to opium 
warlord Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army. How much merit there is to the 
allegation, like so much about the drug trade, is not clear. Yet, it 
must be added, persistent questions have been raised about Tatmadaw 
officers' involvement in, and certain benefit from, that trade. The SSA 
(South) has attacked and destroyed several narcotics refineries in the 
region and insists it is committed to eradicating the scourge. This has 
earned it the quiet approval of some Thai military commanders. Speaking 
at Doi Kaw Wan, Colonel Yawd Serk, RCSS chairman and SSA (South) leader, 
asserted: "We are not being used by the Thais to do this. It is what we 
should do and is our group's antidrug policy. Drugs are not just 
Thailand's problem or one for the Thai Yai [Shan] but a global one." 

With the KMT armies long gone and Khun Sa in supposed retirement in 
Yangon, the largest, though hardly the only, narcotics power in Shan 
State is now the United Wa State Army. Originally, ethnic Wa were used 
as foot soldiers by Myanmar's communists. When that party imploded in 
1989 mutinies, the USWA came into being and quickly agreed to a 
ceasefire arrangement and de facto alliance with the Tatmadaw. The Wa 
army is large and powerful, with over 20,000 well-equipped soldiers. 
Described by the U.S. State Department as "the world's biggest armed 
narcotics trafficking organization," it does not lack for funding. 

The Tatmadaw's consistent point of view is that strong central 
government and state unity are the prime objectives. Independence -- or 
even significant autonomy -- for ethnic minority states is anathema. The 
means justify the ends even if they include savagery and concordats with 

In Shan State, human rights are very often replaced by human wrongs. 
Between 1996 and 1998, some 1,500 villages were uprooted and over 
300,000 villagers in central Shan State were forcibly relocated by the 
Tatmadaw to what might be termed "strategic hamlets." Empty areas were 
declared "free-fire zones." That meant if you stayed, you died. The 
ostensible purpose was to deprive the Shan State Army of supporters, 
recruits, supplies and a staging area, but the net effect was immense 
privation and brutalization. Myanmar soldiers wreaked havoc with 
numerous extrajudicial killings, rapes and systematic extortion. 
Concentrated populations also provided a very convenient source of 
forced labor. Thousands fled to Thailand.After their ceasefire deal with 
the USWA, the Tatmadaw encouraged the Wa Army to attack Khun Sa's forces 
in southern Shan State with the inducement of "you fight for the land, 
and you'll get it." After Khun Sa's surrender, the Wa asked for and 
received two township sections, Mong Hsat and Mong Ton, north of the 
Thai border. Since October 1999, over 150,000 Wa have moved south from 
their homeland in the northern Wa Hills. A similar number are expected 
in further planned migration phases. At Mong Hsat, according to the Shan 
Herald Agency for News, a border news agency, "some of the migrants 
moved to open land, while others, maybe military people, took over 
people's houses. Some people were paid, but others were chased out at 

Refugees continue to cross the border. Since March 27, over 600 Shan and 
Akha villagers have arrived in Thailand from just east of Mong Hsat. "We 
hope we are not driven back in a hurry, because we won't be able to go 
back to our old homes and farms," one refugee said. "They have been 
taken over by the Wa." 

Decades of discord in Shan State have not produced any enduring 
solutions. Endless cycles of violence, factionalism and repression have 
seen to that.

Richard Humphries teaches at Kanda University of International Studies 
in Chiba. 

The Japan Times: Apr. 30, 2001


Burma Courier: U.S. Sanctions 'Toughen' Backbone of Industrialists

Based on an article by Kamarul Yunis in the New Straits Times:  Updated 
to May 3

MANDALAY - Business in Myanmar continues to prosper despite the US 
imposing sanction two years ago, according to Mandalay Chamber of 
Commerce and Industry vice chairman Aung Win Khaing.

He recently told a visiting delegation of Malaysian journalists that 
business interests are not perturbed over U.S. economic sanctions. "They 
were in no way affected by the sanctions as they have alternatives to 
boost their economic activities, mainly using local resources, 
especially wood and agriculture products, as well as cheap labour."

Aung Win Khaing, who is chairman of Hi-Tech Forest Industries Co Ltd and 
MCI Mandalay Cement Industries, said the sanctions had to some extent 
strengthened the spirit of local entrepreneurs to work hard. "Last year, 
three American senators met me, wanting to know the impact of the 
sanction on the Myanmar people. I told them that we are not feeling the 
pinch.  Our exports now go to the Third World countries instead of the 
Americans. They are the ones who will suffer."

One thing Myanmar definitely does not need to export these days is any 
home-made cement.   $US 125 million worth of cement has to be brought 
into the country annually to feed domestic demand and the industry has 
yet to attract any large-scale foreign investors.  Plans announced in 
the heady days of 1997 to expand the industry through foreign investment 
have come to nought.

This week Malaysia's Kedah Cement announced in a statement to the Kuala 
Lumpur Stock Exchange that it's subsidiary, Kedah Cement (Myanmar) Ltd, 
had ceased to exist, after being struck off the register of companies in 
the British Virgin Islands.  No explanation was offered except that the 
company had lain dormant since incorporation in 1997.

Ambitious plans to develop a cement factory in Kyaikmaraw township in 
Mon state that would produce a million tons of cement annually have 
never gotten off the ground.  The plant, a joint-venture between a 
military investment company, the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, and 
PT Seman Cibinong of Indonesia, had an impressive sod-turning ceremony 
in Pyadaung in December 1997 but that was the end of it.  According to 
reports, a prominent member of the Suharto family was linked to the 
controling company in Indonesia. 
Meanwhile, the military junta has had to try to make up the huge cement 
deficit in the country by building a new plant in the Kyaukse area and 
adding a large expansion to its Myaing-galay plant in Karen state.   
Both projects are still a year away from completion.  UMEHL has also 
announced plans to construct a plant in the Kyaukse area.

U.S. investment sanctions imposed in 1997 appear to have had a reverse 
effect on the country's trade with Myanmar, which has quadrupled over a 
four year period.  Last year the U.S. become Myanmar's second largest 
import partner.


Bangkok Post: Thaksin Pins Hope on Talks--Troops reinforced as MPs urge 


Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pins hopes of settling conflicts with 
Burma on a planned visit to Rangoon.
Mr Thaksin said he was confident disputes would be solved amicably. 
"There shouldn't be any problem. Wait until I pay a visit to Burma which 
could be later this month or early next month," he said.

As Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai visited Rangoon this week, 
Burma accused Thailand of supporting anti-Rangoon rebels.

Mr Thaksin said the talks between Mr Surakiart and Burmese leaders went 
well and both sides were frank about their concerns. He said Thailand 
and Burma would have to "talk things out" and take action over 
trafficking problems.

Meanwhile, the army has told troops to reinforce the Thai-Burmese border 
and given them the green light to retaliate to cross-border attacks. 
Lt-Gen Phitsanu Urailert, the Supreme Command's civilian affairs chief, 
said the Naresuan and Pha Muang task forces had been told to step up 
Relations remain tense following an assault by pro-Rangoon troops this 
week in which three Thai civilians were killed.

Lt-Gen Phitsanu said the situation was under control and officials were 
trying their best to maintain good relations.

Spokesman Col Somkuan Saengphattaranet said the army commander has told 
the Third Army to continue its drive
against drugs.

"The commander has given a clear message about trafficking. The 
government will take care of diplomatic problems," he said.

Col Somkuan denied any conflict between the defence minister and the 
Third Army commander, saying the army always followed government policy. 

In the wake of the cross-border attack, commander Lt-Gen Wattanachai 
Chaimuenwong called for a tough response while minister Chavalit 
Yongchaiyudh pleaded for patience.
Interior Minister Purachai Piemsomboon yesterday issued a general 
warning to proceed carefully with Burma.

"We are neighbours. It will cause trouble for both sides if we are 
always fighting. It's useless to fight each other," he said.
Gen Chavalit denied any conflict and said disputes should be solved with 
patience and understanding.

"Nobody wants to make foes of their neighbours. When something happens, 
we talk straightforwardly," he said.

Kraisak Choonhavan, head of the Senate foreign affairs committee, also 
downplayed conflict between the defence minister and the commander. 
"It happens all the time in a situation like this. While the army has to 
protect sovereignty, the government has to maintain good relations."


Burma Courier: Unwanted Attention Showered on Mayflower Bank

Based on news from NLM and the Financial Times:  Updated to May 5, 2001 
MYITKYINA - A small private bank in Burma that has been the object of 
some unwanted attention in the southeast Asian financial press this week 
got a 'boost' in the Kachin state capital on Friday.

According to a national media report on Saturday, Commander of Northern 
Command Maj-Gen Kyaw Win, Deputy Commander Brig-Gen San Tun, Secretary 
of Kachin State Peace and Development Council Lt-Col Myint Thein, 
Commandant of Myitkyina Air Force Base Brig-Gen Bo Kyi, civil and 
military officers, heads of department and officials, as well as 
entrepreneurs of the Traders' Association, Forest Entrepreneurs 
Association and guests, all showed up at a ceremony and dinner in the 
Myitkyina city hall to hear Executive Director U Win Naing and Managing 
Director U Khin Maung of the Mayflower Bank explain the modern banking 
services of their institution.

Under the headline, "Burma tribe takes over bank", a news story in 
Singapore 's Financial Times on Tuesday, reported that the 21-branch 
Mayflower bank and its subsidiaries, including a large share in a major 
GSM phone project and lucrative gem mining concessions, were "ailing" 
and had been taken over by the United Wa State Army.  Identifying the 
UWSA as "the world's biggest gang of armed drug traffickers", byliner 
William Barnes said that Wa chief Pao Yu Chang had recently taken over 
control of the Burmese national carrier, Yangon Airways, also under the 
Mayflower umbrella.  Barnes didn't name his sources but did cite a "drug 
analyst" who told him that "drug traffickers have taken over more and 
more of the legitimate economy [in Burma].

Up until recently, the Mayflower group, which also includes a trading, 
shipping, timber and antinomy mining interests, has been under the 
control of U Kyaw Win, who made his money in the timber trade in the 
Tachilek area and is reputed to be close to General Maung Aye of the 
ruling military council.

Another subsidiary of the Mayflower group was also named as the money 
behind the prospective coal-fired power plant in Tachilek that caught 
national attention in Thailand recently when trucks carrying the 
machinery needed to set up the generating station were prevented from 
crossing the northern Thai border.

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

The Nation: Thaksin Says He'll Visit Burma by next Month

Saturday, May 5, 2001

Diplomatic overtures reach highest level as tensions simmer 
The Nation

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra yesterday said he plans to visit Burma 
by early next month at the latest to patch up diplomatic bonds frayed by 
stepped-up border clashes and vicious tit-for-tat allegations of 
interference in internal affairs and drug trafficking.

Thaksin downplayed the worsening discord, assuring the public that 
friction between the two neighbours will be smoothed over when he makes 
the visit. The premier, who had already extended an olive branch to the 
military government in Rangoon even before he took office, will be the 
first to visit Burma in more than three years.

Bilateral relations are at their lowest ebb in years following 
cross-border shelling over two months ago. Since then, frequent 
flare-ups have increased tension along the border. Month-long fighting 
between Shan rebels and Burmese troops has often spilled over into 
Thailand, drawing Thai forces into the crossfire.

But after the lack of progress by Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai 
on his visit this week, few believe Thaksin will have much success in 
thawing the frosty relations.

On the first day of Surakiart's two-day visit, Burma publicly accused 
Thailand of extending military support to the Shan
rebels and planting illegal drugs at a Burmese military outpost after it 
was overrun by the Shan State Army (SSA) in order to discredit the 
The Thai government lacks a cohesive approach to the border crisis. The 
Third Army commander has demanded a strong stance against any form of 
foreign intrusion. But Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a 
self-proclaimed long-time friend of the junta, has called for a toning 
down of rhetoric and military reactions, saying that any drastic move 
would prolong reconciliation.

Third Army commander Lt General Wattanachai Chaimuanwong has vowed to 
avenge the recent attack by the pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist 
Army (DKBA) on a Thai village that resulted in the death of three Thais. 

He suggested that Rangoon had given the DKBA the green light to attack 
the Thai village just as Surakiart was making his official visit. Others 
see the episode as testimony that the junta has no intention of 
containing the illicit activities of its allies, be they 
drug-trafficking by the Wa army or cross-border forays by the DKBA.

"Rangoon is aware that we are split at the top and they're taking 
advantage of the situation," one senior Thai Foreign Ministry officer 
said. "They're sitting back and watching Thai politicians shoot 
themselves in the foot as they rush to cut deals in order to appease the 
general public," he said. 

The Chuan administration infuriated Rangoon by breaking ranks with Asean 
members in refusing to support Burma when the International Labour 
Organisation condemned the country for practising forced labour. 
Officials said Chuan had also riled the junta by not paying a reciprocal 
visit following a high-profile trip by its members to

Meanwhile at the border, the Phop Phra district chief yesterday ordered 
the closure of four temporary crossings in Tak
province out of fear that the DKBA would repeat their attack on local 
residents two days before. Thai troops have been despatched to the area 
to secure the border and prevent a reoccurrence.

Also yesterday a Burmese battalion attacked a Karen National Union 
position across from Tak's Mae Lamat district, forcing scores of Burmese 
villagers to seek refuge across the border into Thailand.


Bangkok Post: Monument Plan 'Must Not Lead Tension'

Saturday, May 5, 2001

A monument to a great king should be raised to honour his contribution 
to the nation, and not for the purpose of confronting any country, 
Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said yesterday.

Local people had the right to erect such monuments, but the army and 
other authorities should take care not to take any action that could 
cause tension between Thailand and any of its neighbours, he said. 

His comments follow a recent disclosure by the Third Army chief that the 
army and Chiang Rai people were planning to build a monument of King 
Naresuan the Great at a border spot opposite Burma's Tachilek town. 
The monument of the king who in 1590 regained independence for 
Ayutthaya, the ancient Thai capital, would face that of Burma's King 
Bayinnaung, the conqueror of Ayutthaya in 1569, in Tachilek.

The monument would be built at Wat Doi Wow, Mae Sai district, at an 
estimated cost of 40 million baht, said Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong, 
the Third Army chief.

Mr Surakiart said it was up to the locals to decide how and where to 
raise such a monument, but the objective should be to pay homage to the 
great king rather than to confront any other nation. He also said verbal 
exchanges between the Thai and Burmese military, if allowed to continue, 
would not help efforts to boost bilateral ties.

Thailand would not tolerate any violation of its sovereignty. However, 
the ultimate goal was to preserve peace and every agency should strive 
for that, he said.


Burma Courier: Sein Win:  "It Is High Time to Let the People Know"

May 5, 2001

Edited excerpts from a media conference with journalists by the junta 
foreign minister, U Win Aung, in Rangoon on Monday and comments on his 
remarks by Prime Minister Sein Win of the National Coalition Government 
(in exile), broadcast over DVB Radio in Oslo


On the dialogue with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi

WIN AUNG:  "It has not stalled. . The internal process is our business, 
our own process. And we are not playing games ... it is not a public 
relations stunt.  This is for the sake of the people of Myanmar. .  This 
is not a process where you can start a countdown. It is a process that 
is timeless. . But we hope that this process, which is very much complex 
and delicate, should be left confidential.  The freedom of the country 
very much depends on this."

SEIN WIN:   "We welcome [U Win Aung's] remarks because the talks are 
very important for the country.  We believe that they should and must 
continue. . [However,] if they genuinely feel that the talks are for the 
good of the country, they should issue an
internal report and inform the public.  So far the SPDC's information 
service -- newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV stations -- has not been 
instrumental in announcing the talks to the public. I do not see that as 
a good sign. If they are true and honest, it is high time to let the 
people know."


On the release of political prisoners and other human rights concerns: 
WIN AUNG:  "We are reviewing (prisoners) every month and we will 
consider it and do
whatever we can."

SEIN WIN:  "There are about 300 political prisoners whose release dates 
are overdue. Only 20 among them have been released.  There are no 
reasons whatsoever for them to keep the political prisoners in jail.  
The remark that the SPDC will gradually release the
political prisoners is not genuine, because once the talks have started 
why should the political prisoners remain in jail.  It is time to 
release the political prisoners.

"No matter how difficult the talks may be, I believe that forced labour, 
human rights abuses and restriction of social freedom should not 
continue to exist anymore because they are not related to the talks.  
They need to get rid of all these which are not
relevant in a civilized society. ... If they continue with the abuses, 
the talks will be just talks, while the people continue to suffer and 
the country degenerates. It is time to stop such acts."


The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Plots and conspiracies  

Thursday, 3 May, 2001 

As a friend invited me to a Press meet which was held at the Tatmadaw 
Guest  House on Inya Road, I attended it on 25 April.  

At the Press meet, General Staff Officer (Grade-1) of the Directorate of 
 Defence Services Intelligence Lt-Col San Pwint explained to us about 
the  engagement at Pachee outpost.  

When I left the Press meet, I was overwhelmed with much discontentment,  
dissatisfaction and displeasure. SURA opium smuggling insurgents and 
Thai  troops used force in attacking the Pachee military outpost of the 
Myanmar  Tatmadaw which was guarded by only about 20 soldiers for 
territorial security  and national defence. Our outpost and the Thai 
military base was only 50  yards from each other. There were relations 
and contacts between the two  military camps in the past. Thus, it is 
obvious that a few men under the name  of SURA, and Thai troops in the 
rear had attacked the outpost.  

SURA opium smuggling insurgents and Thai troops arrived at the Thai 
military  base on three trucks. At about 1.15 am on 22 April, heavy 
weapons and small  arms were fired on Myanmar outpost from the Thai 
military base. Later, about  200 attackers approached Pachee outpost 
from the Thai base. During the  attack, searchlights from the Thai 
military base were projected on Myanmar  outpost. The Thai military base 
also gave supporting heavy weapons and small  arms fire. Six Myanmar 
soldiers fell in the battle and the remaining Myanmar  troops had to 
withdraw from the outpost due to inequality in manpower and  firepower.  

I was wondering " Why they did so?" Thailand and Myanmar were friends 
and  good neighbours. Besides, both are ASEAN member nations. They had 
extended  love and goodwill between them. They also helped each other in 
times of  emergency.  

But now, it has become different. Thailand intruded into our territory 
and  interfered in our internal affairs. During the similar attacks on 
Tachilek  Township, O-7 hillock camp, Lwemasok camp and Lwetaw camp in 
February, SURA  insurgents were placed in the forefront and Thai troops 
were giving  supporting fire form the rear.  
The Tatmadaw in view of maintaining the amity between the two armed 
forces,  only filed repeated complaints on the Thai troops' intrusion 
through the  proper channel.  

Myanmar has never intruded into any country. Myanmar has always 
maintained  her amicable relations with her neighbours. The nation has 
always adhered to  and practised the independent and active foreign 
policy. It always adheres to  the five principles of the Peaceful 
Coexistence with a view to maintaining  amicable relations with other 
nations especially her neighbours.  

The nation always lives in accord with the five principles of the 
Peaceful  Co-existence, which are, mutual respect for territorial 
integrity and  sovereignty; non-aggression; non-interference in one 
another's affairs;  equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful 

The intrusion and involvement of the Thai army in Pachee incident is  
self-evident. There are many such incidents in the past also. In the E-7 
 hillock incident near Tachilek, innocent civilians died and were 
wounded in  the random heavy weapons and small arms fire launched from 
Thai side.  

The Thai intrusion on Myanmar territory occurred not only at present.  
Thirty-four Thai military camps were stationed at Lwelan region at the 
border  - nine Thai military camps on the borderline and 25 inside 
Myanmar territory.  Thais were ignoring the repeated complaints made by 
Myanmar at border  committee meetings concerning the matter. 

The worst is the frabications and plots of Thai media. The 23 April 2001 
 issue of The Bangkok Post daily reported that when about 200 men of 
Ywet Sit  group overran a Myanmar Tatmadaw outpost, they seized seven 
bodies of Myanmar  soldiers and 170,000 stimulant pills.  

Similarly, The Nation daily also reported that seven Myanmar soldiers 
were  found dead and 150,000 stimulant pills were seized. The Thai ITV 
also quoted  Ywet Sit as saying that when his troops captured a Myanmar 
military outpost,  they seized seven bodies of Myanmar soldiers and 
nearly 200,000 stimulant  pills. 

The Thai TV and media are floating fabrications in favour of Ywet Sit 
group,  which is launching armed opposition against the Myanmar 
Tatmadaw, as there  are connections between the Thai army and Ywet Sit 
group. It is an undeniable  fact that the Thai army gave powerful 
supporting fire when Ywet Sit group  attacked the Tatmadaw camps as 
there are mutual agreements between the two to  raise lackeys. "Who is 
raising whom as a lackey? and who is supporting  whom?"will be known 
best by the country itself.  

The country is doing so in order to gain self-benefits and thus, it also 
 doesn't know where its good-neighbourly codes of conduct are. Recently, 
the  ITV of Thailand showed the ammunition which it said were seized by 
Ywet Sit's  men during their attack on the Tatmadaw outpost. 

Not long ago, it broadcast a news report saying that as if narcotic 
drugs  were being produced at Mongyun region in Myanmar territory. It is 
so clear  that the Thai army has an ulterior motive in launching attacks 
on Myanmar  territory and floating fabrications that narcotic drugs were 
seized in  Myanmar military outposts and that the drugs were being 
produced in Myanmar  territory. The real intruder is the Thai army. 
It is an undeniable fact that the chemicals used in refining narcotic 
drugs  are being manufactured and trafficked in Thai territory. It can 
be seen  clearly that the acts of Thailand are against the 
good-neighbourly practices  and they are being conducted in accord with 
its schemes. It is the national  task of the entire Myanmars to join 
hands with the Tatmadaw in warding off  the danger.  

Author : Pho Khwa 


Shan-EU News: Prime Minister Thaksin's Attempt to Find a Balance in His 
Policy towards Burma

5 May 2001


Thaksin's Forthcoming Visit & Policy Implementation towards Burma 

By: Sarng Mai

Thaksin Shinawatra has braced himself with various problems in his 
country's relationship with Burma since day-one of his premiership. 

Elected on popular promises that include being tough on narcotics 
problem, decisive on economic measures and a cabinet consisting of only 
the clean and competent, he has been in conflict with himself in his 
policy towards Burma. He has made it public even before he was sworn in 
that he wanted to visit Burma, blaming his predecessor Chuan Leephai for 
not vising Burma and for not doing enough to promote ties between the 
two nations. 

Thaksin soon came under strong criticism for his executive-like approach 
towards Thai-Burmese problems. No doubt, there must be a school of 
thought in Thai Rak Thai Party who thinks differently from the Democrats 
on the issues. They certainly find, the New Aspiration party leader Gen. 
Chavalit as a formidable ally. However, the Thai politics has long been 
changed unrecognizable since Gen. Chavalit was forced out of office in 
1997. Visiting Burma now requires more than a premier's judgment; it is 
almost a national decision. The fact that the Thai Rak Thai has no 
experience and formidable foreign policy thinkers make things even 

The public mood, the Royal Army's position on the Thai-Burma 
relationship and also probably some camps within the Thai Rak Thai who 
favour a cautious move towards Burma might have pressured the Prime 
Minister Thaksin to show that he is indeed a tough guy on narcotics 

The Burmese Junta must have been aware of the personnel in the Thai 
political establishment they would have to deal with. It was not an 
incident that they chose to launch an offensive against SSA near Maesai 
knowing that Thaksin was about to be sworn in. The Burmese attack, 
critics say, was to test the new Royal Thai government on its policy 
towards Burma. This time, though, the same tactic by the Junta has not 
produced the expected result. T

here are at least three factors involved. First of all, Burma has become 
less attractive to Thai businessmen albeit a few still have their eyes 
on the land of dictators. The second factor is the composition of the 
Thai government itself. Unlike the past, the present administration is 
led by a very strong party who can get a good deal done at anytime from 
its partners . The Chat Thai and the New Aspiration parties have to 
compete among themselves, and they know neither of them alone can bring 
the government down. The opposition Democrats are concerned with their 
homework more than attacking the powerful Thai Rak Thai. They are 
modernizing their party with an eye on the next general election. 

The last but equally important factor is the nation can no longer ignore 
the social problems brought about by Ya-ba. The Army has taken a crucial 
role in its war against Ya-ba which is now identified as a top national 
security issue. Theoretically, one would venture to think that the 
successor of Lt. Gen. Wattanachai cannot do less, given that the problem 
of Ya-ba would go on at the existing level. 

For Burma though, drug money is the only reliable income for both micro 
and macro economy. The present economic set-up is dominated by the 
former or the present drug barons who have enriched the powerful 
regional commanders of the so-called Tatmadaw (Junta's armed forces) and 
their subordinates. With the current status quo arrangement between the 
Junta and the ceasefire groups, narcotics is now only a back-burner 
issue for the Burmese military regime and  no longer a military threat 
as it used to be. For some, drug problem in Burma could never be solved 
due to the lack of political will on the part of the Junta. In part, the 
absence of democracy also contributes the narcotic issue to remain as it 

A balance is required between the new forward thinking group within the 
Thai political establishment, involving elements of both government and 
opposition, and the old guard who prefer no less than personal diplomacy 
and good business opportunities above all else.

Against this backdrop, the forthcoming trip of the Prime Minister to 
Burma  can be  an extremely risky one. There is no guarantee that he 
will not get a cold reception like his foreign minister. Lt. Gen. 
Wattanachai has been discredited by the Junta when he could not get the 
border open following the Kengtung talk. The Thai public then saw his 
effort as a failure. The Prime Minister cannot afford to  be seen that 
way. More than that, the Junta will be able to claim political credit 
for the Thai will be seen as begging for normalization   when the Prime 
Minister decides to make a visit to accomplish what his foreign minister 
has just failed to achieve. 

While the international interest is much focused on Burma for the 
on-going talks between NLD and the Junta, no Thai Prime Minister should 
be making any trip, if it is not going to influence the situation in any 
positive way; much less, if the visit has nothing to do with the talk. 
For such a trip will not merit political gains and international 
recognition as an influential regional player. A balance is yet to be 
found for the youthful and executive type prime minister. 


Images Asia: Writer / Researcher Volunteer with Environmentalist 
Perspective Sought 

The Environment Desk of Images Asia, a Thai / multi-cultural NGO based 
in the city of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, is seeking someone to 
work with us to complete a dictionary of environmental terms in easily 
understandable English, and to help address a variety of Burma-related 
environmental issues.  On completion, the dictionary will be distributed 
freely to numerous NGOÆs, activists and schools. It is intended to meet 
a clear need expressed by many people who are faced on one hand by 
serious environmental problems, and on the other by struggling to 
acquire enough of the difficult English that is often used by those 
dealing with (and those creating) the problems. The ôEnvironment Wordsö 
dictionary draft is currently 325 A4 pages of single spaced, 10 point 
font with more than 25 additional pages of illustrations and appendices. 
Half of the dictionary has been edited and one part has been finished to 
the point of being ready for final proof-reading. However substantial 
additional work is required to finish the processes of 1st and 2nd 
editing and the revision of some awkward terms. Further work is also 
needed to define additional terms (identified as having been omitted in 
the cross-referencing process), to incorporate editorsÆ and proof 
readersÆ recommendations, and to standardise the formatting. The work 
will require careful familiarisation with the draft and the guidelines, 
and checking of the accuracy and simplicity of the definitions in 
consultation with others involved in the production of the dictionary. 
We have colleagues who will take care of layout and proofreading, but 
the editing and finalising of the text requires at least one other 
(preferably two) skilful and dedicated worker(s). The project requires 
people with:
       The ability, focus and will to persevere until the final draft is 
in the print shop (estimated at 6 to 8 months from mid-April) ╖    
   Good insights regarding communicating with those who do not speak 
English as a first (or even 4th) language, and who have limited 
systematic basic education. ╖       An excellent grasp of the 
English language.

       A good memory and a consistent and systematic way of working to 
ensure balance and uniformity within the document. ╖       A 
considerate, tolerant, honest and co-operative approach towards working 
with diverse people in a somewhat chaotic environment. 

       Willingness and motivation to help out with other parts of our 
large but diverse and interesting workload. The Environment Desk has a 
limited budget to cover the basic living, local travel, visa and working 
costs of one volunteer, although we are in need of two. We are 
considering additional fundraising to cover costs associated with other 
projects and for an editor. We regret that we cannot meet some peopleÆs 
salary or 'benefit' expectations, but believe that the pleasant, lively 
and inexpensive living and working environment, combined with the 
interesting and meaningful nature of the work will be attractive to some 
good people. Maybe it is youà.  We have an informal affirmative action 
policy towards qualified indigenous peoples and women.  Sincere 
applicants are invited to contact Steve at:  Ph: (66) (53) 406 155 
Email:  <edesk@xxxxxxxxxxxx>    

Postal address:  P.O.Box 2, Prasingha Post Office, Chiang Mai 50200, 
Thailand For some further information you might like to refer to: 


Info Birmanie: Correction to Burma Calendar of Events

The next shareholder meeting of TOTAL will be held on Thursday, May 17th 
10 A:M at the Palais des Congres, PARIS rather than on May 17 as stated 
in the Burma Calendar of Events published in BurmaNet on May 3.


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