[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

BurmaNet News: May 18, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         May 18, 2001   Issue # 1806
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*The Straits Times: Myanmar's 'lost generation?

MONEY _______
*AP: Myanmar opposition group urges sanctions on military junta  
*The Washington Times: KLD & Co. delists Wal-Mart
*Reuters: S.Korea Hyundai to sell $170 mln gas oil to Myanmar

*AP: Indian separatist group says it killed 50 Myanmar soldiers  
*AFP: Junta to defend Wa region from 'deliberate intrusion' by Thai 
*IRNA: India, Myanmar carrying out joint operations                 

*Bangkok Post: Demarcation row delays pact on drugs

*AP: Last Mogul emperor's grave evoking new passions in Myanmar  
*AP: Report: Thai police rescue chained prostitutes from Myanmar  



__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

The Straits Times: Myanmar's 'lost generation?

May 18, 2001.
Frequent university closures have left students with dented dreams,a low 
motivation for learning and an attraction for nothing but the good life  
By Edward Tang 

MORE than a decade of disrupted education services in Myanmar has given 
rise to a generation of young people who have lost the desire to learn 
and who seek instant gratification. 
Until recently, nearly all universities and some high schools in the 
country were closed after major student protests against the government 
in 1996. Before then, universities had been shut for extended periods 
after another major student uprising in 1988. 
The enforced school holidays has dented the dreams of many young people. 

The most severely affected in this 'lost generation' are those in their 
early 30s. Many of them were undergraduates when military troops cracked 
down on the student democracy movement in 1988. 

Last year, the government reopened most of the universities but 
restricted the student population at Yangon University - the hotbed of 
dissent - to those studying for honours and masters degrees. 

All other undergraduates have to travel about 40 km to the nearest 
universities on the outskirts of the capital, an apparent move by the 
government to prevent students from networking. 

Since the reopening of universities, a number of older students have 
returned to the classroom to make up for lost time, but others have 
stayed out, either feeling too old or having lost the capacity to learn. 

According to a local journalist, the major impact of the closure of 
universities is that the value of education has been diminished in the 
eyes of Myanmar's younger generations. 

'Many young people now dream of making money, doing business, but they 
do not have the educational grounding to understand what it involves,' 
he said. 

'They have lost the desire to learn. All they want is a good life.' 

One manifestation of this penchant for instant gratification is the 
explosion of nightlife in Yangon, a recent phenomenon in this 
tightly-controlled city. 

There are at least a dozen pubs and discos that cater to foreign and 
local clientele. 
At the basement disco of the five-star Hotel Equatorial, girls as young 
as 15 years dance in the crowd. 

Before the night is over, they will have been picked up by a client 
looking for paid sex. The price for a night - 10,000 kyat (S$27). 

Prostitution is illegal in Myanmar. The police carry out regular raids 
on establishments that flout the law, but this has not deterred the 
night entertainment business from expanding.  

The longer-term implication of the 13-year educational hiatus is a 
shortage of skilled manpower in the country such as engineers and 

A crumbling economy adds to the problem. Few families can afford to send 
their children to local universities, not to mention an overseas 

According to a study, only one-third of one million children who enter 
primary schools annually will finish four years of education. 

Employers here also have difficulties in hiring competent staff.  

With all these problems, analysts warn that Myanmar could be headed for 
an educational crisis.


AP: Myanmar opposition group urges sanctions on military junta  

May 18, 2001

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ A Myanmar opposition group called on 
governments Friday to stop giving help to Myanmar's military junta, and 
praised the United States for focusing attention on human rights 
violations in that country.   The appeal by the National Council of the 
Union of Burma was in response to a recent announcement that Japan was 
considering giving a dlrs 24 million aid package to Myanmar to help 
repair a hydroelectric dam and power project.   

The Washington-based council is a coalition of exiled political and 
ethnic minority groups opposed to the military government of Myanmar, 
also known as Burma. It claims to be Myanmar's government-in-exile.   
The Japanese ``aid is not going to alleviate the suffering of the 
peoples of Burma, who have lost all their human rights under the 
repressive rule of the Burmese military authorities,'' the NCUB said in 
a statement received here.   ``On the other hand, it would be like an 
incentive for the military regime to heap more repression on the peoples 
of Burma,'' it said.   The statement also welcomed U.S. Secretary of 
State Colin Powell's comments, criticizing the Japanese aid package 
offer.   In his testimony at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Powell said it 
was inappropriate for the Japanese government to deal with the military 
rulers of Myanmar, and that the aid package was ``not a proper 
investment ... at this time.''   Describing Powell's comments as ``most 
far-sighted and correct,'' the NCUB statement said ``we would like to 
call upon all governments in the world to cease the giving of 
assistance'' to the junta.''  

 It also urged the governments ``to maintain sanctions against the ... 
military clique.''   Myanmar's military government has been harshly 
criticized by human rights groups and Western countries for its refusal 
to hand over power to the National League for Democracy party of Nobel 
laureate Aung San Suu Kyi after it won general elections in 1990.   
Japan says the aid package offer was to encourage the regime to continue 
talks with Suu Kyi that began in secret in October and remain shrouded 
in mystery.   A final decision on the aid is expected by the end of the 
year, after a team of Japanese experts evaluate the extent of repairs 
needed at the Baluchaung power plant, which supplies the capital Yangon 
and the second-largest city Mandalay.   If it comes through, the aid 
would be the most significant foreign grant to Myanmar since the regime 
took power in 1988 after a bloody crackdown against a democracy 
uprising. Since then, donors have only allowed a trickle of humanitarian 


Reuters: S.Korea Hyundai to sell $170 mln gas oil to Myanmar

Thursday May 17, 10:55 AM

SEOUL, May 17 (Reuters) - South Korea's Hyundai Corp <11760.KS> has 
signed a contract to provide about $170 million worth of Singaporean gas 
oil to Myanmar Petrochemical Enterprise, a company official said on 

"We will provide 4.50 million barrels of Singaporean gas oil to 
Myanmar," the company official told Reuters.  

The gas oil is scheduled to be provided by March 2002 to be used as 
fuels for automotive diesel engines, power generation and plant 
operation, he said. Hyundai used to provide domestic gas oil to Myanmar 
but the firm has decided to replace it with Singaporean origin to reduce 
shipping time and costs.  

Last year Hyundai provided three million barrels or $130 million worth 
of domestic gas oil to Myanmar.  

Shares of Hyundai rose 25 to 1,780 won by 0243 GMT. 


The Washington Times: KLD & Co. delists Wal-Mart

May 16, 2001

     The nation's leading index for "socially responsible" investing has 
booted Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, from its ranks because of 
the company's dealings with a repressive military regime in Burma and 
purchases from sweatshop factories in China and Central America. 

     In a report released yesterday, New York-based KLD & Co., which 
compiles the Domini 400 Social Index, concluded that Wal-Mart's 
activities no longer meshed with the index's goal of promoting 
investment in companies that help improve labor standards overseas.

     "We've been looking at them for years," KLD President Peter Kinder 
said. "It was not a quick decision, but we had to make it."

     The move prompted at least one mutual fund to sell its Wal-Mart 
holdings, and a group of investors who follow the teachings of the Roman 
Catholic Church may follow suit.

     Wal-Mart, of Bentonville, Ark., said it respected KLD's decision 
but insisted that it is working to ameliorate sweatshop conditions in 
the factories from which it buys its products.

     "Wal-Mart makes every effort to do business only with suppliers 
that do business legally and ethically," spokesman Bill Wertz said.

     Mr. Wertz said Wal-Mart, which posted sales of $191 billion last 
year, conducts 200 factory inspections each week to monitor its vendors' 

     The Domini 400 is a stock index analogous to the S&P 500 but whose 
members KLD determines on the basis of whether the 400 companies adhere 
to socially responsible principles. Those include, for example, avoiding 
gun manufacturers and tobacco companies.

     Several mutual funds use the Domini 400 to make investments, 
including New York-based Domini Social Investments Ltd., which manages 
the $1.4 billion Domini Social Equity Fund that is based on the Domini 
index. As a result of the change, which took effect Feb. 1, the firm 
dumped $60 million in Wal-Mart stock.

     Sigward Moser, president of Domini Social Investments, said the 
firm tried to discuss the issues with Wal-Mart before it was removed 
from the index, but the company was "very unresponsive."

     The $40 million Catholic Values Investment Trust, which invests in 
companies that do business consistent with "core Catholic values," also 
will review its investments in Wal-Mart as a result of the KLD decision, 
said its director, Walter Miller.

     The decision is a blow to Wal-Mart, which had cultivated a 
reputation among socially responsible investment firms as being an 
industry leader in areas such as employee relations and community 

     Wal-Mart had been part of the Domini 400 since the index's 
inception in May 1990.
     "The report is a real embarrassment to Wal-Mart, though it won't be 
a big hit on its stock," said Simon Billeness, a senior analyst with 
Boston-based Trillium Asset Management. "But it will make it much less 
likely that we own the stock."

     Trillium invests about $600 million for clients on the basis of 
socially responsible criteria and does not hold Wal-Mart in its 
portfolio, Mr. Billeness said.

     In its report, KLD said Wal-Mart has not followed other retailers 
in agreeing not to buy from Burma, which is under a strict U.S. trade 
and investment embargo aimed at forcing the repressive military junta 
that governs the country to relinquish power.

     KLD also said that Wal-Mart lied about its contracts with a 
sweatshop in China and that it refused to help independent observers 
gain access to its suppliers' factories in Central America.

     Wal-Mart did not respond to the individual charges.

     Charlie Kernaghan, director of the New York-based National Labor 
Committee, a labor rights advocacy group, said Wal-Mart's focus on the 
bottom line has driven it to ignore labor conditions overseas.

     "In any country, if you find the worst factories, you'll find 
Wal-Mart," Mr. Kernaghan said.

     In recent years, socially responsible investing has gained favor as 
mutual funds based in the principle have demonstrated they can deliver 
returns comparable to traditional investors.

     The Domini Social Equity Fund, for example, has had a 19 percent 
annual return to investors over the last 10 years. That performance 
barely outpaced funds based on the S&P 500, which delivered a 17 percent 
return, though Domini lagged behind the S&P last year.

     Wal-Mart's stock closed yesterday at $51.76, up 11 cents, on the 
New York Stock Exchange.


AP: Indian separatist group says it killed 50 Myanmar soldiers  

May 18, 2001

GAUHATI, India (AP) _ An Indian separatist guerrilla group operating out 
of bases in Myanmar said Friday it repelled a Myanmar army attack and 
killed 50 soldiers in less than two weeks.   ``Since Wednesday, the area 
is again under our control,'' Kitovi Zhimomi, general secretary of the 
banned National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang Group), said 
when reached by telephone at his base in India's northeastern state of 
Nagaland.   Zhimomi said three rebels also were killed in the fighting 
that began on May 6. There was no immediate comment by the Myanmar 
military junta.   The gun battle was fought in northwest Myanmar, across 
the Mon and Tuensang districts of India's northeastern state of 

Nearly 900 Myanmar nationals have fled their villages in the battle zone 
and taken refuge in the adjoining Indian territory in Nagaland, state 
police chief Lokhe Sema said.   The Indian and Myanmar governments are 
providing food and relief to the civilians, Sema said.   The NSCN, 
fighting for an independent Nagaland state, split in 1988 into two 
factions _ NSCN (Isac-Muivah) and the NSCN (Khaplang).   The NSCN 
(Isac-Muviah) group has signed a cease-fire agreement with India and is 
holding peace talks with the government for a solution to the Naga 
insurgency.   The rival group, the NSCN (Khaplang) too has signed a 
truce accord with the Indian government, but it has yet to begin peace 

Meanwhile, the Indian Army has denied local newspaper reports that it 
has launched a joint offensive with the Myanmar army against the NSCN 
(Khaplang) separatists.   The Indian army has no role in the fighting in 
the Myanmar territory, an Indian Army officer said on condition of 
anonymity.   India and Myanmar exchanged high-level visits in recent 
months. External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singhs trip to Myanmar was 
followed by the visit of a high-level Myanmar military delegation to 


AFP: Junta to defend Wa region from 'deliberate intrusion' by Thai 

YANGON, May 17 (AFP) - The Myanmar junta said Thursday its forces would 
fight side-by-side with an ethnic Wa army accused by Thailand and the 
United States of involvement in the international drugs trade. A senior 
junta spokesman said government forces would use their fire-power to 
defend Wa territory along the border and accused Thailand of raising 
tensions with "deliberate intrusions". 

"If these deliberate intrusions at the border become direct threats to 
either the Wa territory or Myanmar soil, we are ready to counter them," 
said deputy military intelligence chief Brigadier-General Kyaw Win. "I 
can say for certain that whoever has any intention of intruding directly 
into Wa territory or violate Myanmar soil will find us fighting 
side-by-side." The strongly worded statement came at the start of annual 
Thai-US military exercises focusing on the law enforcement and drugs 
interdiction tasks of Thailand's Third Army, based on the Myanmar 
border. The exercise, codenamed Cobra Gold, involves Thai and US troops 
as well as Singaporean officers. It also follows efforts by Thailand to 
downplay recent border tensions ahead of a planned visit to Yangon by 
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra aimed at normalising relations. 
Accusations over illicit drugs and skirmishing among ethnic militias 
along the rugged border earlier this year touched off a bitter row 
between the countries, which are historical enemies. 

In February, fighting between the United Wa State Army with close ties 
to Yangon and the rival Shan State Army, which reputedly has the backing 
of the Thai military, prompted the first clash in years between the two 
national armies. Since then, the uneasy neighbors have traded barbs over 
who is responsible for heroin and methamphetamine factories that 
flourish along the ill-defined mountainous border. Much of Thailand's 
ire is directed at the Myanmar town of Mong Yawn, in Wa territory near 
the border, which officials say is home to a multitude of drugs 
factories flooding Thailand with cheap methamphetamines. "To say that 
Mong Yawn was built on drug money is totally wrong," said the Myanmar 
spokesman Thursday. He said the Wa made their money from legitimate gem, 
jade and ore mining ventures.


IRNA: India, Myanmar carrying out joint operations                       

New Delhi, May 18,IRNA -- Indian and Myanmarese security forces are   
carrying out joint operations against some rebel groups in NE border.    
                According to PTI, informed sources said last night that 
these operations along areas in the Indian northeastern (N-E) border 
were    not targeted against any major militant faction.              
India and Myanmar have an agreement to cooperate in combating militancy 
in the region.


Bangkok Post: Demarcation row delays pact on drugs

May 18, 2001.

Soldiers still on alert at troubled frontiers
Wassana Nanuam

The agreement that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is supposed to sign 
with Burma on the border and drugs has hit a snag. 

Officials are trying to draw up a memorandum of understanding on 
Thai-Burmese co-operation. A dispute over demarcation of border posts is 
holding it up, said Supreme Commander Sampao Chusri. 

The MoU is to be signed by either Mr Thaksin or Foreign Minister 
Surakiart Sathirathai with his Burmese counterpart on a yet-to-be-fixed 

Gen Sampao said Burma wanted the MoU to define the border in detail, but 
the Thai side disagreed. 	

Burma wanted to adhere to its map, which would put Thailand at a 
disadvantage, while the Thai side wanted to use satellite and aerial 
photos and modern techniques in demarcation, he said. 

The border dispute at Doi Lang in Chiang Mai's Mae Ai district should be 
settled first through government-level talks, he said. 

The Thai military had proposed that Thailand and Burma jointly survey 
the area. 
Burma has not replied to the proposal although Burmese ambassador Win 
Aung has met Mr Surakiart. 

Gen Sampao said he had also proposed Thai and Burmese troops jointly 
patrol Doi Lang. 

He once raised the idea with Gen Maung Aye, the Burmese army chief, who 
disagreed, he said. 

Defence Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh had agreed to work with the 
Foreign Ministry and Burmese leaders on demarcation talks, he said. 

Meanwhile, Thai soldiers along the border in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai 
have been told to stay on alert, especially on Doi Lang, as tensions 
mount. "Thai and Burmese soldiers who used to stay together on Doi Lang 
in a friendly atmosphere have become hostile towards each other. We have 
to be very careful with every move," said Col Narongchai Kaewkla, 
commander of the 121st Cavalry Battalion

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

AP: Last Mogul emperor's grave evoking new passions in Myanmar  

May 18, 2001

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ After he died in exile in British captivity, the 
last Mogul emperor of India was buried and forgotten as a footnote in 
history.   Nearly 140 years later, Bahadur Shah Zafar is stirring new 
passions.   Since the discovery of his grave in 1991 in a quiet, leafy 
part of Yangon, the foreign king has been worshipped as a ``pir,'' or 
saint, by Myanmar's Muslims as well as people of other faiths.   The 
tomb has also become the focus of a diplomatic tussle between India and 
Pakistan, with both trying to assert themselves as the rightful 
inheritors of the emperor's legacy. Pakistan, carved out of India as a 
homeland for Muslims when British colonial rule ended in 1947, maintains 
Zafar was a Muslim emperor rather than an Indian emperor.   

``Who was this man called Zafar? He was a Mogul Muslim king who ruled 
India,'' Pakistan Embassy diplomat Sahebzada Khan said.   But to the 
caretakers of Zafar's mausoleum, he was simply a saint, a poet-scholar 
and a symbol of communal harmony.   ``He was not only a king but also a 
saint. Even Buddhists, Hindus and Christians come here to seek his 
blessings,'' said Abdul Rahim, a member of the committee that manages 
the mausoleum.   He said 20 to 25 people visit his tomb every day and 
sit at its foot to meditate, believing that wishes made there are 
fulfilled.   Zafar's aura of holiness is due to his reputation as a 
scholar of Sufism, an ascetic movement within Islam. The folklore and 
the mystery surrounding his long-lost grave has added to the mysticism.  

During his time, Zafar was one of the foremost poets of the Urdu 
language and an accomplished calligrapher. His poems, or ghazals, are 
still popular in India and Pakistan, the two countries that together 
formed the Mogul empire that was established in 1526. It ended when 
Zafar was dethroned by the British in 1858.   He died four years later 
at age 87 after penning his own epitaph in the form of a ``ghazal,'' a 
bitter lament against the British for leaving him to die in a foreign 
land:   How unlucky Zafar is! 

 For his burial, 

 he couldn't get even two yards of earth 
 in my beloved country. 

 Born to a Muslim father and a Hindu mother, Zafar succeeded to the 
throne in 1837 but only as a figurehead. India was really controlled by 
the British East India Company.   When Muslim and Hindu soldiers of the 
East India Company revolted in May 1857, Zafar became a rallying point 
for what some now call India's first independence war. The mutineers 
proclaimed Zafar the true emperor of India. But the rebellion was 
crushed and Zafar was exiled for life to Myanmar, or Burma as it was 
known.   In Rangoon (now called Yangon), Zafar was kept in a shed 
attached to the bungalow of a junior British officer. 

He died on Nov. 7, 1862, and his grave was deliberately concealed to 
prevent it from becoming a focus of nationalist sentiments.   According 
to a 19th century account of the burial, Zafar's jailer wrote this about 
the grave: ``By the time the fence is worn out, the grass will have 
again covered the spot and no vestige will remain to distinguish where 
the last of great Mughals (sic) rests.''   Later, Zafar's wife Zeenat 
Mahal and granddaughter Raunaq Zamani Begum were buried at the site; by 
then no sign of Zafar's grave remained. Eventually, mausoleums were 
built at the site for Zafar and his family. But the emperor's grave was 
not found until 1991 during the digging for the foundation of a memorial 
hall paid for by India.   

Today, the mausoleum includes the hall and a room containing the tombs 
of the wife and granddaughter. A stairway leads to an underground 
chamber containing Zafar's tomb covered by a green satin cloth.   As 
part of tradition, every visiting dignitary from secular India has paid 
respects at Zafar's tomb _ including former Prime Ministers Indira 
Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi _ and India has succeeded in lobbying the 
Myanmar government to prevent Pakistan from playing a role in the upkeep 
of the mausoleum.   Earlier this month, when Gen. Pervez Musharraf 
became the first Pakistani head of state to visit Myanmar in 16 years, 
he also paid his respects at Zafar's mausoleum and promised to donate 
dlrs 50,000 for building another hall.   Khan, the Pakistani diplomat, 
pointedly said that Musharraf's visit had been to the tomb of a great 
Muslim ruler, not an Indian ruler.   ``If our Indian friends perceive it 
as going to an Indian emperor's grave, it is their shortsightedness,'' 
he said.  2001-05-17 Thu 23:45 


AP: Report: Thai police rescue chained prostitutes from Myanmar  

May 17 2001

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ Police on Thursday raided a house where 40 
women from Myanmar were working as prostitutes and found several chained 
by their ankles to keep them from running away, a Thai television 
station reported.   Six Thai men at the three-story house in northern 
Bangkok were arrested on charges of illegal detention, forcing women to 
be prostitutes, and sheltering illegal immigrants, reported the ITV 
network. The head of the operation was being sought.   Television 
pictures of the police raid showed at least four women with chains 
around their ankles.   ``We were stunned by what we saw,'' Police Col. 
Sophon Phisuthiwong, who led the raid, told ITV. ``Some of them had been 
chained for several days because they refused to work.''   Police, who 
acted on a tip-off from neighbors, said the women were sent out to 
hotels and massage parlors. It was unclear if they were escorted when 
they were sent out.   Sophon said the women had no identification, but 
told police investigators they had been brought from Myanmar, also known 
as Burma. 

Traffickers in human beings often take away their identification in 
order to make it more difficult for them to escape.   The report said 
that some of the women, who were aged 18-23, entered the prostitution 
business intentionally, but others had been tricked.   Thailand has a 
huge sex industry, often employing women from poorer neighboring 
countries.   There are estimated to be as many as 1 million illegal 
immigrants from Myanmar and other neighboring countries working in 
Thailand, mostly at low-paying or dangerous jobs shunned by Thais.



The BurmaNet News is an Internet newspaper providing comprehensive 
coverage of news and opinion on Burma  (Myanmar) from around the world.  
If you see something on Burma, you can bring it to our attention by 
emailing it to strider@xxxxxxx

To automatically subscribe to Burma's only free daily newspaper in 
English, send an email to:

To subscribe to The BurmaNet News in Burmese, send an email to:


You can also contact BurmaNet by fax:

(US) +1(413)604-9008

(Japan) +81 (3) 4512-8143


Burma News Summaries available by email or the web

There are three Burma news digest services available via either email or 
the web.

Burma News Update
Frequency: Biweekly
Availability: By fax or the web.
Viewable online at 
Cost: Free
Published by: Open Society Institute, Burma Project

The Burma Courier 
Frequency: Weekly 
Availability: E-mail, fax or post.  To subscribe or unsubscribe by email 
Viewable on line at: http://www.egroups.com/group/BurmaCourier
Cost: Free
Note: News sources are cited at the beginning of an article. 
Interpretive comments and background
details are often added.

Burma Today
Frequency: Weekly
Availability: E-mail
Viewable online at http://www.worldviewrights.org/pdburma/today.html
To subscribe, write to pdburma@xxxxxxxxx
Cost: Free
Published by: PD Burma (The International Network of Political Leaders 
Promoting Democracy in Burma)


EASY UNSUBSCRIBE click here: http://igc.topica.com/u/?b1dbSX.b1CGhI
Or send an email To: burmanet-unsubscribe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
This email was sent to: reg.burma@xxxxxxxxxx

T O P I C A -- Register now to manage your mail!