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BurmaNet News: May 20, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         May 20, 2001   Issue # 1808
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

NOTED IN PASSING:  'I can say for certain that whoever has any intention 
of intruding directly into Wa territory or violating Myanmar (Burma) 
soil will find us fighting side-by-side.

Brigadier-General Kyaw Win, Burma's deputy military intelligence chief 
vowing to defend the drug trafficking UWSA and implicitly noting the 
difference between ?Wa territory? and ?Burmese soil.?  See Bangkok Post: 
Dangerous escalations 

*The Straits Times (Singapore) Myanmar allows domestic Intranet access 
*Irrawaddy: Curfews Declared after Riots Erupt in Two Cities
*MSNBC online: Tourists face tough times is Myanmar

MONEY _______
*Shan Herald Agency for News:  Kyat falls again to an all-time low
*Mizzima: Burma: Financial crisis and foreign assistance
*Bangkok Post: Rangoon to Honolulu? No problem
*Xinhua: Myanmar Able to Face World Economic Changes: Leader

*Chicago Tribune: U.S., China take sides in border skirmish
*Bangkok Post: Dangerous escalations 

*AP: China PM Pledges To Help In Golden Triangle War On Drugs
*Bangkok Post: Former policeman held with 1.1 million amphetamine pills

*Burma Courier: Junta Planning Minister Escapes Arrest in Brussels
*Bangkok Post: Illegal logging and drugs worry border people most
*Shan Herald Agency for News Thai Superstar meets Shan leader

*The Times (London): 'Travelers Should Boycott Burma'
*Bangkok Post: Hitting Criminals in the Pocketbooks
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): The attitude of ILO

*Xinhua: Yunnan Beats Myanmar in Volleyball Friendly

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


The Straits Times (Singapore) Myanmar allows domestic Intranet access 

 May 20, 2001.

YANGON - Myanmar's deprived Internet users - 2,000 government-approved 
people who have been limited to using e-mail and barred from the World 
Wide Web - came a step closer to joining the cyber bandwagon when they 
were permitted access to a domestic Intranet.  

Myanmar has one of the most restrictive Internet policies in Asia, with 
more restrictions than such tightly-controlled communist nations as 
Vietnam and Laos.  
The government's Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications is the country's 
only Internet Service Provider. Aside from some government ministries 
and 11 information technology companies, no one in Myanmar has had 
anything more than e-mail.  
However, a notice mailed on Friday to e-mail subscribers said they would 
be able to access 'Myanmar Intranet services' operated by a local 
private company at a cost of US$3 (S$5.40) per hour.  

The websites operated by Bagan Cybertech are local commercial websites. 
There are six websites under the category e-shopping, one under 
e-banking, four under e-reservation and one under e-media.  

'There are very few web pages to visit, but for Myanmar users who have 
no Internet access, it is a start,' said Mr Kyaw Thura, a 27-year-old 
computer enthusiast.  
The country's military government is sensitive to the large number of 
websites and news groups operated overseas by exiled dissidents and 
foreign supporters of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.  

In January last year, regulations were issued forbidding the posting of 
political writings on the Internet.  

Prohibitions included publishing anything that is 'detrimental' to 
Myanmar or 'directly or indirectly detrimental to the current policies 
and secret security affairs of the government'.  

In the most draconian measure, unauthorised ownership of a fax modem or 
setting up a computer network without the telecom ministry's approval 
could result in a jail term of seven to 15 years and a fine.--AP 


Irrawaddy: Curfews Declared after Riots Erupt in Two Cities

By Min Zin


May 18, 2001 
RANGOON - The ruling military junta has ordered a curfew in two major 
cities after anti-Muslim riots that broke out on May 15 spread from 
Toungoo to Taunggyi, according to inside sources.

Unconfirmed reports say that on May 15, a gang destroyed shops and 
restaurants in owned by Muslims in downtown Toungoo.   The motive for 
the attack has not been clarified.  "The shopowners responded with 
furious anger and caused several injuries. At least four or five monks 
were hospitalized," a resident of Toungoo stated.  Later, a larger mob 
joined with local monks to assault other Muslim centres in the city. 
According to one report, a Buddhist monk was killed on the first day of 
the clashes.

Trains that regularly stop in Toungoo have been instructed to pass 
through the station without stopping, since the riots began.  Motorized 
traffic through Toungoo, considered the half-way point on the main 
highway between Rangoon and Mandalay, has been diverted around the city 
since the incidents took place.  "We had to go around the outside of the 
city, instead of passing through downtown," said one traveler from 
Mandalay.  Unconfirmed reports say the violence has spread to the Shan 
state capital of Taunggyi, which has a history of anti-Muslims riots.

State-controlled media have not released any news about the incidents.


MSNBC online: Tourists face tough times is Myanmar 
Chronic political instability, poor infrastructure create barriers      
Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar remains one of the less discovered travel 
destinations in Asia. Pro-democracy leaders call for a tourism boycott, 
claiming travel dollars line the pockets of the ruling generals. By 
Angela Takats

YANGON, May 20 ?  Shimmering golden above the city of Yangon is the 
Shwedagon Pagoda, the most popular tourist attraction in Myanmar. Monks 
draped in red robes chant in front of Buddha statues, worshippers light 
incense, and tourists stand awed by the majesty of the main stupa 
shrine, which towers 325 feet and is said to be plated in almost nine 
tons of gold.  

BUT DESPITE the beauty of this and other sites, Myanmar is one of Asia?s 
least-known travel destinations.  The military government has tried hard 
to promote Myanmar but tourists are not flocking in, partly because of 
chronic political instability and partly because the country just 
doesn?t have the infrastructure. 

Pro-democracy opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San 
Suu Kyi, who opposes the government and has been kept under house arrest 
in the capital Yangon on and off for more than six of the past 12 years, 
says tourists should not visit. 
She says tourist dollars bolster the military, who have ruled the 
country formerly known as Burma since 1962, and help keep the generals 
in power. 

Tourists, Suu Kyi says, should wait until Myanmar is a democracy before 
they come.        

Most pro-democracy activists agree, saying just as foreign companies 
should be discouraged from investing in the country, so too should 
Two British-based groups, Tourism Concern and the Burma Campaign UK, 
have even called for a boycott of the popular Lonely Planet travel 
guides, because Lonely Planet has refused to bow to calls to stop 
printing its book on Myanmar. 
Lonely Planet?s founders say they believe tourism to the country will 
improve the situation there, while a boycott will simply prolong its 
isolation, making it easier for the military to hold on to power. 

Some budget travelers, visiting despite the boycott calls, say their 
money doesn?t help the government.  ?When you are on really big group 
tourism then it?s...organized by state-owned companies and the money 
ends up in the state,? said Thomas Bosch from the Netherlands. 

?If you spend your money really locally and you are coming here as a 
backpacker and you use local transport and hire locals then the money is 
really being spent locally ? and not going to the government.? 

?If you come as a backpacker, you can (exchange) ideas with the 
people...and that?s always a good thing,? Bosch said. 

While the government?s coffers would certainly benefit from increased 
tourism, many ordinary people in Myanmar, where the average annual per 
capita income is less than $300 U.S. dollars, say they too would stand 
to gain if more people visited. 
Sam Kokweng, from Malaysia, said the lack of development was an 
essential part of Myanmar?s charm.   

?What appeals to me is actually going to parts of Asia that are going to 
be developed really soon, and to catch it as it?s about to develop, and 
to see the people as they really are, before commercialism sets in,? he 
said. ?That?s really it I think.? 
But the lack of development that so charms adventure-hungry backpackers 
hampers a more mainstream tourist industry.     

Some hotels have been built to international standards in recent years 
in Yangon and the second city Mandalay, but facilities elsewhere are 
woefully inadequate. 
Myanmar?s domestic air system has a bad safety record, its roads are 
poor and its rail system is rickety. Other hassles are odd foreign 
exchange procedures for tourists and the need to get a visa in advance. 

Tourist arrivals in Myanmar are falling far short of the government?s 
target of 500,000 a year. Official figures show 234,900 visited last 
year, a drop of 9.3 percent from 1999. 
By contrast neighboring Thailand, a country with culture and geography 
similar to Myanmar, got 9.5 million tourists last year and billions of 
tourist dollars.        


Myanmar?s director general of tourism, Khin Maung Latt, plays down the 
impact of the anti-government campaign in discouraging tourists. 
Infrastructure is the problem, he says. 

He also blames a shortage of direct flights into the country and the 
difficulty in getting visas. 

?I don?t believe (it?s) because of that campaign,? he said. 

?It?s because of the lack of infrastructure and some of the airlines,? 
he told reporters during a recent conference in Yangon. ?We don?t have 
many direct ... long-haul flights ?that?s the constraint for us.? 


Shan Herald Agency for News:  Kyat falls again to an all-time low

May 20, 2001

In spite of the baht falling against the dollar, the Burmese currency 
has  failed to make any headway with that of its neighbor, reported 
Moengzay  from the Thai border town of Maesai in Chiangrai Province. 

The exchange rate that was B 7 per hundred Kyat last month dropped to B  
5.50 on 8 May and down to B 5.20 yesterday. "It's only a matter of days  
when it will become B 5.00," sources told S.H.A.N.

According to unconfirmed reports circulating, some of the Burmese  
denominations are due to be demonetized soon. Some others, however, say  
2-new denominations: K. 5,000 and K. 10,000 are just waiting for an  
auspicious day to begin their circuit.

The rage for the baht started when family members and relatives of the  
junta's top officials in Rangoon, Mandalay and Taunggyi began buying and 
 stocking gold and American dollars last month, they said.

According to one gem merchant from Taunggyi who arrived at the border 
last  week, he had to pay for his telephone bills in dollars after the 
officials  concerned refused to accept his Kyats.


Mizzima: Burma: Financial crisis and foreign assistance 

By Win Htein, May 20, 2001 
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com) 

Last week, Burma's beleaguered kyat currency fell to 900-kyat per dollar 
as a new record low in the recent history while the official rate 
remains 6-kyat to the dollar.  
The kyat has been gradually sliding in exchange with the foreign 
currency since the military came into power thirteen years ago. Last 
month, the exchange rate was 500-kyat per dollar. In the beginning of 
this year, it was 350-kyat. At the time when the military seized power 
in 1988, the exchange rate was 70-kyat to the US dollar.  
So, one wonders why the Burmese currency has plunged so badly! A 
spokesman of the military junta recently blamed some money dealers in 
the country for the kyat slide. "These unscrupulous people are 
circulating groundless rumors to fan panic so that they can cash in on 
the situation", he said. Some dozens currency-dealers were jailed after 
his comment.  

A source in Rangoon said that people have lost confidence on kyat 
currency. "It is because of the rumors that the government will announce 
deflation soon", said a journalist who works for a business magazine in 

There are also reports that the military-own company (U Pi limited) had 
lost 2-million dollars in competition with private companies and thus 
the junta decided to buy dollars in open market in any rate.  

"They needed dollars immediately as a credit before the Asia Development 
Bank (ADB) and Least Developed Countries (LDC) annual meetings. So that 
they can get resumption of loans from the ADB and the World Bank or the 
Last month, the ADB, in its annual report of Outlook for 2001, had 
warned that the Burmese junta needs to implement immediate economic 
reforms and suggested to change the official exchange rate of 6-kyat per 

It said that at the end of March 2000, "the country?s gross foreign 
exchange reserves were only about $ 240-million- less than two months of 
exports".  According to a Washington-based think tank, Cato Institute, 
Myanmar is number 122 of 123 countries which have freedom of economy in 

The United Nations Human Development report has ranked Myanmar as 125 
out of the 174 countries in the world that are the least developed.  

However, the regime has its own statistics. The State Peace and 
Development Council (SPDC) claimed that GDP of the country is growing 12 
percent every year. ?The government constructed the dams, bridges, roads 
and all basis infrastructures in the whole country. So the Myanmar is 
now progressing like never before," said Gen Than Shwe, head of the 
regime, in his recent visit to central Burma.  

"This inflation will bite the civil servants whose salaries were just 
promoted 5-times recently. Last month, a teacher's salary is 10,000 kyat 
or 20-$ while one dollar is equal to 500-kyat. But now his salary is 
only 10-$ with the current exchange rate" said a government servant in 
Many Burma observers believe that the root of this currency crisis is 
based on the international sanctions and on-going Thai-Burma border 
After the fighting broke out between the Thai and the Burmese troops in 
the northern border in February, the SPDC ordered to ban all Thai goods 
and to close border-bridges.  

Since then, the border-trade is broken and the Burmese face shortage of 
Thai food. The price is now higher and the inflation is wider. The 
exchange rate in border is now 16-kyat per 1 Thai Bhat currency from 8 
Bhat in early this year.  

Although the junta is trying to substitute the shortage of Thai goods 
with the Chinese goods, it is not successful. The border-trade with 
China is also not working now because of fallen kyat. Now, the kyat is 
declined to 90-kyat per 1 Chinese Yen from 60-kyat in January.  
"The junta copied many things form China, but not an economic policy," 
said a trader in Sweli (China-Burma border) who had served several years 
for the Communist Party of Burma. "China is opening for a real free 
market. But in Burma, the generals do just lip service and nepotistic 

According to a 'White Paper' of junta's foreign ministry, the 
border-trade is the main business to go against the US-led international 
trade sanctions on the regime. The 5-pages paper dated 2nd December last 
year said, "The ILO and UN's economic and social affairs committee will 
sanction us soon due to the exiled groups which are lobbying on human 
right records and force labor in the country". 
However, the ILO and UN are now on holding their procedures on Burma. 
This is because the junta started having 'Secret Talks' with opposition 
leader Aung San Suu Kyi in last October. But the EU Council and US 
government decided to continue their trade sanctions on Burma, as they 
don?t see any real progress.  

Meanwhile, the Japanese government has decided to give 28-million dollar 
to junta as a reward for talking with opposition leader while the ASEAN 
countries protested against the ILO's decision to punish the junta for 
the use of forced labor.  

In this situation, is there any way for the junta to come out of the 
financial crisis?  
Last week, the junta's finance minister U Khin Maung Thein appealed to 
ADB, in annual meeting at Hawaii, to lift the 1986 aid embargo saying 
that his country is on the road to reforms.  

However, he did not get positive response from ADB. "We are still 
monitoring the political situation in Burma", ADB President replied. He 
did not say when and how the ADB plans to resume aid to Burma.  

Currently, the junta's economic planning minister U Soe Tha is trying in 
a similar way at the Least Developed Countries (LDC) annual meeting in 
Brussels to erase the country?s 6-billion dollar debt.  

"This is impossible. Because they must do something before they come 
here. This includes reforming economic policies and progress on the 
country?s human right situation," commented Dr Zaw Oo, a 
Washington-based economic researcher who is attending the LDC meeting.  

"Without changing the policy, there is no way to solve the current 
financial crisis. Without changing the system of government, there is no 
hope for external aid", he added.  

Win Htein is a correspondent for Democratic Voice of Burma.  


Bangkok Post: Rangoon to Honolulu? No problem

"The Insider" column,
May 15, 2001

Those attending the recent Asian Development Bank yakfest that wrapped 
up last Saturday were no doubt delighted that the organisers had chosen 
Honolulu as this year's venue over, say, some grimy industrial 
metropolis in China. 
But eyebrows have been raised about some of the people who made it to 
the party, given that the event took place on US soil. 

An observer who scrutinised the guest list was surprised to note that 
the Burmese delegation included the chairman and two directors of 
Myanmar Universal Bank-one of the largest of what passes for private 
financial institutions in a country where a functioning market economy 
is an abstract concept. 

Sources on the border have implicated the bank not just in laundering 
illicitly gained cash but in the financing of amphetamine laboratories. 
In Rangoon, Myanmar Universal is widely believed to be owned by Wei 
Hsueh-gang, who has been indicted on drug-trafficking charges in both 
Thailand and New York. 

Wei currently has a $2-million price on his head from the US Department 
of Justice. (When our informant visited the Burmese Registrar of 
Companies in an effort to obtain the bank's registration details, he was 
told that he would need written clearance from both the commerce and 
information ministries before he would be allowed to peruse any 

MUB's rather youthful chairman, who we trust enjoyed a pleasant trip to 
sunny Hawaii, currently goes by the Burman name U Tin Sein. He's an 
ethnic Chinese from Shan State, is believed to be 33 years old and 
apparently speaks only halting Burmese (though his grasp of the Chinese 
and Shan languages is probably fluent). Little else is known about him. 

Officials of the US embassy in Rangoon might be forgiven for being a 
little embarrassed that they processed visas for representatives of a 
bank probably owned by a fugitive from American law and definitely 
involved in drug trafficking. After all, Bill Clinton signed a 
proclamation in 1996 barring admission to "persons who formulate or 
implement policies that are impeding the transition to democracy in 
Burma, or who benefit from such policies". 

It's difficult to imagine many people in Burma who benefit from 
government policies than Wei Hsueh-gang or the other crony 
businessmen-bankers at the meeting. Others in the delegation included U 
Thein Tun (once known as "Mr Pepsi") of the Tun Foundation Bank, and 
Aung Ko Win, apparently a former school teacher from Shan State who 
emerged from nowhere in the early 1990s to found and chair the Kanbawza 

Readers might remember a brouhaha at the ADB conference in Chiang Mai 
last year when the Burma delegation included senior management of two 
other banks believed owned by suspected (as against indicted) drug 


Xinhua: Myanmar Able to Face World Economic Changes: Leader

2001.05.20 11:28:17  

YANGON, May 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Myanmar will be able to face  challenges 
in the light of many changes in the world economy after the 1997 Asian 
economic crisis, Myanmar leader Lieutenant-General  Khin Nyunt said 
Saturday evening. 

Speaking at a ceremony here of presentation of master  certificates in 
business administration to the graduates, Khin  Nyunt, First Secretary 
of the Myanmar State Peace and Development  Council, expressed the 
belief that "being rich in national  resources and highly-qualified 
human resources, Myanmar will be  able to face any kind of challenges."  

According to The New Light of Myanmar on Sunday, Khin Nyunt  also 
expected that this year, difficulties can be overcome in  Asian nations 
due to their strong economic infrastructures and  favorable economic 
foundations, although the world economy shows a trend of slowing down. 

He pointed out that in the international trade sector and  establishment 
of industries, comparative advantage, which was  previously regarded as 
important, has been replaced by the amount  of benefits gained and the 
condition of the market. He called for  observation of the flow of 
international monetary investment. 

Khin Nyunt stressed the need to take into account the long-term economic 
benefits and the interest of the nation although priority should be 
given to benefits in doing business. If those, who pay  priority only to 
short-term interests, are greater in number, the  entire economic system 
can be affected, the Myanmar leader warned.


Chicago Tribune: U.S., China take sides in border skirmish 

Thais, Myanmar feud over region used by traffickers 
By Uli Schmetzer - Tribune foreign correspondent 
May 19, 2001 

BANGKOK -- Some 5,000 American troops are moving into northern Thailand 
not far from the Chinese border this weekend as part of long-scheduled 
Cobra Gold 2001 military exercises being staged at a time when Thailand 
and Myanmar are trading angry diplomatic missives and live artillery 

Among the troops are about 20 instructors from the U.S. 1st Special 
Forces Group who will stay behind after the maneuvers to train Thai 
commandos in anti-guerrilla warfare. 
Thailand and Myanmar, formerly Burma, have been at loggerheads for weeks 
over the disputed Doi Lang border area, a longtime stronghold of drug 
warlords whose heroin refineries and amphetamine laboratories have 
flourished for years with the knowledge of key military officers and 
officials on both sides of the border.
Periodic hostilities over control of drug trafficking are no novelty. 
But this time the United States and China are playing key roles on 
opposite sides, just weeks after the U.S. spy plane incident strained 

Navy Adm. Dennis Blair, chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, confirmed 
this week at a press briefing that Washington has sent Special Forces 
guerrilla warfare specialists to act as "instructors" for a Thai 
commando unit known as Task Force 399. Thai military officials said 
there initially would be 20 U.S. instructors but more could arrive. 

The same Thai sources said Task Force 399 and the U.S. instructors will 
be stationed at Mae Rim Village just north of Chiang Mai, a garrison 
town on the edge of the infamous Golden Triangle, the poppy-growing zone 
on the Myanmar, Laos and Thailand borders. 
The highly mobile unit of about 100 men will use two U.S.-donated Black 
Hawk assault helicopters to chase and neutralize drug smugglers along 
the Golden Triangle, operating less than 100 miles from Chinese border 
Their main enemy on the other side of the border will be the United Wa 
State Army, an ethnic force loyal to the Myanmar military junta. The 
U.S. State Department has identified the Wa as major drug producers. 

Western intelligence sources say China is the principal supplier of arms 
and expertise for the Wa and the Myanmar armed forces. 

Tribe moves south

More than a year ago the Chinese persuaded the ethnic Wa, the most 
powerful and most militant of the hillside tribes, to move their people, 
their army and their drug laboratories from the Myanmar-China border in 
the north to Myanmar's border with Thailand at Doi Lang in the south. 

"It was a cunning move. By sending the Wa away from their own border, 
the Chinese dramatically reduced drug trafficking into China, which had 
become a major problem for their own population. Sending the Wa to the 
Thai border meant dumping the problem on the Thais and their Western 
allies," said a narcotics expert who requested anonymity. 

Asian intelligence sources said Beijing supplied the Wa with 
sophisticated weapons and money in exchange for Wa help in constructing 
a network of roads through Myanmar from China. 

The road system would give Beijing access to seaports and naval bases on 
the Myanmar coast, an access the Chinese have coveted for years. 

In a blunt warning, Myanmar's ruling military junta announced this 
weekend it was ready "to fight side by side" with the Wa. 

"If intrusions at the border become direct threats to either Wa 
territory or Burmese soil, we are ready to counter them," said Brig. 
Gen. Kyan Win, deputy director of Myanmar's military intelligence. 

At the same time, Win praised China for "offering material and 
technology to develop the border area." 

Thai intelligence sources say the Wa have been given sophisticated 
Chinese-made HN-5N surface-to-air missiles capable of knocking out 
low-flying airplanes and helicopters. On the other side, the U.S. has 
supplied Thai forces with the latest night-vision, radar and digital 
mapping equipment. 

A warrior tribe, the Wa are known for their do-or-die fighting spirit. 
With an estimated 15,000 armed members, the Wa are no pushover for any 
conventional army in the rough terrain of their native habitat. 

As U.S. forces prepared this week for the annual two-week Cobra Gold 
Thai-U.S. exercises, the largest in Asia this year, the Pentagon left no 
doubt which side it supports in the looming Thailand-Myanmar drug war. 

"As a military man, I support Thailand," Adm. Blair said. Blair was in 
Thailand to oversee the maneuvers, which also include Singaporean 
officers this year. Both China and Vietnam declined to attend as 
observers this year. 
Warning for Thailand

Myanmar has warned the Thais that calling in American "specialists" over 
the escalating border dispute is perilous to regional peace. 

In a blunt diplomatic note this week, the junta demanded the Thai 
military withdraw from 35 border outposts that Yangon claims are within 
its own territory. Bangkok has ignored the demand. 

Blair said the U.S. Special Forces instructors and two U.S. Black Hawk 
helicopters had joined Thai Special Forces in the troubled north to 
"teach skills needed to patrol the border." 

The Americans are working closely with Thailand's 3rd Army, a force 
largely untainted by military involvement in the narcotics trade. 

Although the maneuvers are publicized as an anti-narcotics campaign, 
some Western diplomats say the extensive military mobilization and 
American participation also are aimed at containing growing Chinese 
influence in the region. 
Narcotics experts blame Beijing for precipitating the current tension by 
urging the Wa to go south. 

These observers fear the escalating border incidents, with casualties on 
both sides, have the potential to explode into a conflict drawing China 
and the U.S. into a confrontation. 
The military government in Yangon, formerly the Burmese capital of 
Rangoon, made a deal with the Wa in 1989. Diplomats say that in return 
for allowing their poppy-growing and heroin refineries, the Wa would 
have autonomy in their region and police tracts of border areas against 
armed incursions by the Shan people, an ethnic group allied with 

The Shan have been fighting Myanmar troops for years.

The Shan also control parts of the border on behalf of their Thai 
neighbors. Myanmar claims the Thais, who long have shown a preference 
for making deals rather than fighting, are allowing the Shan to run 
their own narcotics trade along the border. 
The focus of the current trouble is a 20-square-mile border region known 
as Doi Lang near Thailand's northern city, Chiang Mai. Doi Lang 
virtually straddles the border. This makes it a perfect smuggling post 
for drug trafficking. 

Narcotics laboratories on the Myanmar side import chemicals and export 
heroin and amphetamines through Thailand. 

In yet another attempt to crack down on drug peddling, especially in 
schools where up to 35 percent of students have tested positive for 
amphetamines, the Thais on April 18 executed four narcotics dealers by 
firing squad in Bangkok and televised their final hour. 

The Thais say the Wa settlement of Mong Yawn, which has schools, 
hospitals, stores and bars, has only one industry--laboratories that 
refine opium into heroin or fabricate amphetamines with imported 

The settlement is just 15 miles inside Myanmar, opposite the booming 
Thai border town of Chiang Mai and less than an hour by road from the 
headquarters of Task Force 399. 

Drug lord

The man who founded Mong Yawn was Wei Xue-Gang, a Chinese-born drug 
lord. He was indicted by a New York court in 1993 for drug trafficking 
and is on a State Department list of the most wanted drug lords. 

Soon after Wei changed from producing drugs to laundering drug money, 
the Wa negotiated a contract with the United Nations. In exchange for 
giving up growing poppies, the Wa would receive UN financing for 
alternative crops. 
Drug experts say the irresistible lure of vast profits from drugs makes 
any such deal shaky and difficult to police. 

Aware the UN would check to see if the poppy crop had been replaced, the 
Wa thought of a lucrative alternative: The mass production of 
amphetamines, known as Yaa Baa in Thailand and "Ice" in its crystalline 
form in the West. 

The amphetamine industry, based at clandestine Wa laboratories that 
produce the designer drug with imported chemicals, flooded Asia with an 
estimated 800 million pills last year. Revenue from this new narcotic 
windfall provides an estimated $250 million annual profit, far more than 
what the UN could offer. 

Unlike opium, which is refined into heroin, the pills have rarely found 
their way to the United States, one reason why the sudden military 
crackdown with U.S. help is believed to be more a strategic rather than 
a narcotics-based decision. 
Tour of rice warehouses

The current trouble started after the UN suspended its alternate crop 
aid to the Wa, who then began a campaign to prove they had reformed and 
were no longer the scourge of the Golden Triangle. 

This week, in one of those many guided tours by which drug lords 
periodically try to prove they are bona fide tribal leaders with no 
interest in drugs, the Wa invited media and UN officials to visit Mong 

Their visit was to ascertain that the amphetamine laboratories 
identified by the Thai military were in fact rice storage warehouses. 

As expected, the visitors saw plenty of rice and no amphetamines in the 
"Come back anytime," a beaming tour guide told the visitors, without 
mentioning that laboratories can be relocated rapidly.


Bangkok Post: Dangerous escalations 

May 20, 2001.

BORDER TENSIONS: Thai-Burmese border tensions have already spilled over 
into sporadic shelling resulting in deaths on both sides. But if Burma 
still won't clean up its drugs act and stick to its own territory, all 
that may soon seem like child's play compared with what's to come Surath 

'I can say for certain that whoever has any intention of intruding 
directly into Wa territory or violating Myanmar (Burma) soil will find 
us fighting side-by-side." The blunt statement, delivered by a senior 
Burmese government spokesman on Thursday, reflects the depth of bad 
feeling that lies under the ongoing border conflict between Thailand and 

It apparently is prompted by the start of the annual Thai-US military 
exercises, codenamed Cobra Gold. Normally the exercises are held in 
coastal areas, but this year they are being held against the backdrop of 
drug suppression activities of the Thai Third Army, which is based near 
the Burmese border. 

The strongly worded statement from Brigadier-General Kyaw Win, Burma's 
deputy military intelligence chief, comes on the heels of a prior 
escalation in the war of words coming out of Rangoon. Last Sunday, May 
13, Thai Army Commander-in-Chief Surayud Chulanond delivered a shocked 
protest after reading a statement by the Rangoon military junta, which 
said that Thai troops must be withdrawn from the rugged terrain of Doi 
Lang in the northern Thai province of Chiang Mai. 

Part of the letter reads, "If the Thais won't withdraw, they will be 
forced to retreat by Burmese forces."The Burmese assertion surprised 
Thai army top brass. Third Army Regional Commander Lt-Gen Wattanachai 
Chaimuenwong had recently returned from Burma with an overall favourable 
impression of his meetings. But some analysts are not surprised by the 
unpredictable Burmese attitude, "because drug money is involved and 
because, like Thailand, the Burmese see national sovereignty as the No.1 
priority."Another analyst expressed grave concerns about the situation, 
fearing that northern Thailand could be the stage for a confrontation of 
global proportions, with America backing the Thais and China backing the 


The sporadic exchange of mortar fire these days on the border is a vivid 
testimony to souring relations, in the midst of what were generally 
improving relations. 
Less than two months ago, on April 2-4, Lt-Gen Wattanachai, in his 
capacity as head of the Thai delegation to the Regional Border Committee 
meeting in the Burmese town of Kengtung, talked about Burma with a big 
smile on his face, because of the attitude of cooperation he found from 
the Burmese side. The three-day meeting was designed to enrich relations 
and drug suppression efforts between the two countries. 

By the time the Thai delegation departed Kengtung, they had secured an 
agreement that Thai and Burmese military representatives would meet 
regularly and Burma would help to annihilate drug factories in its 
territory along the border. Lt-Gen Wattanachai was quoted at that time 
as saying: "They (the Burmese military leaders) say that they are ready 
to help Thailand destroy border drug factories." Rangoon has lately been 
preoccupied in an effort to convince the world that it is not involved 
in drug producing and trafficking in its own backyard. "Unbiased 
reporters" were invited to inspect the Wa border township of Mong Yawn, 
to confirm that its construction and development was not funded by drug 
money from the United Wa State Army (UWSA), but with a special budget 
from Rangoon. 


But, in the eyes of the world, and particularly the United States, the 
Burmese authorities need to do much more to be convincing when they talk 
about drug suppression operations along the border. 

An annual US State Department report issued on March 1 has continued to 
brand Burma as the world's second-largest source of opium, the raw 
material for heroin, after Afghanistan. The UWSA is also considered by 
US narcotic authorities to be the biggest drug trafficker in the Golden 

For decades, Burmese drugs, including heroin and methamphetamines, have 
flooded markets in neighbouring countries, threatening their stability. 

The Thai Farmers Bank Research Centre reported that up to 400 million 
methamphetamine pills manufactured in Burma ended up on the streets of 
Thailand last year. 

Thai drug suppression authorities say that the UWSA runs an estimated 55 
illegal laboratories along the northern border, which are capable of 
producing 600 million pills a year. 

Because of the scale of the drug influx over the Burmese border, and the 
devastating effect on some segments of the population, anti-drug 
operations have become a national security issue in Thailand. 

And, if the Burmese government is not actually supporting and 
controlling drug production, it is widely believed that they are 
sanctioning and profitting from it. According to a senior US anti-drug 
official, drug traffickers and their families are among the leading 
investors in major infrastructure projects in Burma. "They are allowed 
to launder money with impunity through banks controlled by the military 
junta," the official claimed. 

Ending the drug trade in Burma will never be easy because of the role it 
plays in internal politics and economic development. The Burmese 
military is known to have used drug warlords as a counterweight to 
anti-government ethnic insurgents. In exchange, they are allowed to 
carry out the drug business as they please. 
Rangoon has succeeded in securing alliances with minority groups, 
including the UWSA, considered by Thailand to be the major 
methamphetamine producer along the border. The partnership has allegedly 
filled government coffers with money and provided manpower and weapons. 
The Wa, who have long waged war in the jungle, are familiar with the 
rugged areas which are the strongholds of insurgent groups. 


The UWSA was formed in 1989 shortly after the fall of the Communist 
Party of Burma (CPB). The Burmese regime quickly signed a ceasefire 
agreement with them for fear they would arm other rebel groups. The Wa's 
weapons are supplied by China, according to Thai and foreign military 

Soon afterwards, the Wa expanded its drug network from their main 
stronghold in Panghsang, on the Sino-Burmese border, to areas adjacent 
to the northern Thai provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. In fact, it 
was the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), successor to the 
Burmese State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), that encouraged 
the UWSA to move from their homelands on the Sino-Burmese border, and 
head south to eastern Shan state, opposite 
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. 

Thai authorities are convinced that the Wa's Mong Yawn community, close 
to the Thai border opposite Chiang Mai, was developed with drug money. 
Drugs are moved south and goods are moved north. 


Apart from a source of income and military assistance, the Wa have 
proved useful to Rangoon in their campaign to eradicate ethnic Shan. The 
Wa were encouraged to move their civilians south as well, in so doing 
encroaching on Shan territory. 
The Burmese military junta and Wa have joined hands in fighting against 
Shan ethnic rebels led by Col Yawd Serk, once a partner in crime of 
notorious drug warlord Khun Sa. 

Yawd Serk currently commands the Shan State Army (SSA), after having 
split with Khun Sa in 1995. 

The conflict recently spilled into Thailand when Burmese troops, in 
pursuit of SSA forces, crossed the Thai border in Chiang Rai and 
occupied Ban Pang Noon camp in Mae Fah Luang district. 

The mountain ridge base offered clear visibility for Burma to shell the 
rival Shan army. 
After Bangkok's demand for the withdrawal of Burmese troops fell on deaf 
ears, the fighting erupted two days later, on February 11, at Ban Pang 
Noon. Two Thai troops were killed and five injured, while sources 
reported that Burma sustained many casualties. 

At one point during the clash, Burma opened fire on Thai villages in 
Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district, killing two civilians and damaging 
several houses. 
Thai military forces responded by shelling Phuteng Nayong, killing 
several Burmese troops. 

Col Yawd Serk's base at Doi Tai Liang, which has been occupied by the 
SSA for more than half a decade, is a strategic defensive position as 
well as potentially an area for major drug trafficking. 

Drug barons, including Wei Hseuh Kang of the UWSA, have long wanted to 
take control of the area to develop this potential. 

Wei, the most notorious drug trafficker in the Golden Triangle, is one 
of three brothers who have dealt in narcotics for decades. 

Despite their vast network that stretches beyond Mong Yawn to Mong Toom, 
Mong Mon, and Mong Sad, the Wa fear that the Shan will block their 
routes to the south and prevent access into the Thai checkpoint towns of 
Mai Sai and Mae Fah Luang in Chiang Rai, and San Ma Khet and San Ton Du 
in Chiang Mai. Taking control of Col Yawd Serk's Shan stronghold would 
enable the Wa to expand its trafficking route to the South. 


Wei Hseuh Kang was born in Yunnan province in southern China. His family 
fled to the Shan State of Burma after the communist victory in 1949. 
They later settled in Vingngun in the Wa region. 

When the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang's power faded in Burma, the 
brothers allied themselves with Khun Sa, leader of the Shan United Army 
(SUA) in 1975, though Khun Sa was still in jail. 

Soon they became well-versed in the drug trade and politics of the Shan 
State, and advanced to powerful positions in the SUA. However, after 
Khun Sa was released from jail by the Burmese government, he had Wei 
Hsueh Kang arrested and fired his two brothers from their positions. 

Convinced that it was time to switch alliances, Wei Hsueh Kang soon 
escaped and later began to work with the Wa along the Thai border to 
develop their drug network. When the CPB was defeated, ethnic groups in 
the area formed their own political groups. The Wa formed the United Wa 
State Party (UWSP) and United Wa State Army (UWSA), in which the Wei 
brothers took an active role. 

The Wa agreed to cooperate with the Burmese military to defeat Khun Sa, 
in exchange for autonomy. After Khun Sa surrendered in 1996, Wei Hsueh 
Kang became a member of the administration committee of the UWSP. 

In addition, the Wei family is in control of Mong Yawn. Under their 
supervision, it is estimated that several billion baht has been spent on 
projects to build up the town, including a dam to supply water and 
electricity, a new hospital, housing units and comfortable hotels. 

Intelligence reports reveal that Rangoon and Wei Hseuh Kang have a 
secret agreement that allows the latter to continue freely with its drug 
production and trafficking until 2007. 

The contract also permits the Wa warlord to retain control over the drug 
businesses of other minority groups, provided that they share profits 
and pay taxes to the Burmese military regime, say the reports. The 
secret deal between Rangoon and the Wa has upset a certain faction 
within the ruling SPDC who feared the agreement would tarnish its 
country's image even further. Against the backdrop of uncertainty in 
Rangoon, fighting erupted on the Thai-Burmese border. 

Reacting to the Burmese demand that Thai troops vacate Doi Lang, Lt-Gen 
Wattanachai of the Third Thai Army said simply, in his normal tone of 
voice, "If Burma insists that Doi Lang belongs to them and attempts to 
use force to push our troops back....then this could mean war."He made 
it clear that the Thai army will never retreat from the disputed area. 

Thailand and Burma have long contested ownership of the 32 square 
kilometres of land on Doi (mountain) Lang. Thailand claims it is a part 
of Chiang Rai's Mae Ai district. The Burmese military junta say that it 
is deep inside Burma.
Earlier this month, a unit of pro-Rangoon Wa soldiers captured Hua Lone 
Hill, about 400 metres into Thai soil. The Third Army knew that the 
outlaw fighters had taken the hill only to protect their large drug 
production plants and trafficking routes within the area. Several days 
of counter-attacks by the Third Army drove the jungle fighters away. 
Since then the sporadic shelling from Burmese Army mortars has broken 
out over the disputed areas of Doi Lang. The mortar shells sometimes 
land in villages and cause damage. 

Doi Lang was once a military base for drug warlord Khun Sa, whose Muang 
Tai Army was defeated by the UWSA in 1981. Burma subsequently reinforced 
its troops stationed on the mountain, drawing strong protests from the 
Thai army, which has traditionally also deployed its troops there. In 
some areas Thai army outposts are located just a few hundred metres from 
Burmese stations. In last week's letter of protest, Burma claimed that 
26 Thai positions on Doi Lang were encroaching on Burmese territory. 
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had been expected to sign a memorandum 
of understanding on drug suppression on a scheduled trip to Rangoon some 
time next month. 

Amid the recent confusion, a source simply says the premier's schedule 
has yet to be finalised. 

As the mortar rounds fly from both sides, it seems that everyone has 
forgotten the friendly talks held in Kengtung last month. And the 
tension can only be expected to mount during the ongoing Cobra Gold 
exercises, which began last Tuesday and last until May 29.


AP: China PM Pledges To Help In Golden Triangle War On Drugs

Sunday May 20, 12:51 PM

BANGKOK (AP)--Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji pledged China's support 
for a war on drugs in the so-called Golden Triangle and offered help to 
Thailand's vital agricultural sector, Thai officials said Saturday 

Zhu is on a four-day visit to Thailand, intent on strengthening already 
close economic and political bilateral ties and boosting regional 

Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai told reporters that Zhu 
offered to host a drug summit for leaders of Thailand, China, Myanmar 
and Laos.  

During talks with his Thai counterpart, Thaksin Shinawatra, Zhu also 
said China would buy at least 200,000 tons of rice and up to 600,000 
tons of rubber from Thailand this year, the foreign minister said.  

The first drug conference by the four prime ministers will be held in 
Kunming, capital of China's southern province of Yunnan. A date wasn't 
immediately announced.  
The countries are on the frontlines of a war against narcotics 
trafficking out of the Golden Triangle, one of the world's largest 
sources of illicit narcotics.  
China also plans to support Thailand's attempts at Asian cooperation to 
stabilize international agricultural prices. Thailand is the world's 
largest exporter of rice and rubber, and any significant drop in prices 
of these commodities can have a devastating effect on Thai farmers.  

The Chinese side reiterated plans to invest $1 billion to produce paper 
from eucalyptus plantations in Thailand that will be exported to China.
The project has drawn fire from Thai environmentalists, who cite 
degradation of soil and a history of clearing often more biodiverse land 
for forest plantations.  
Zhu was scheduled to travel to the seaside resort of Hua Hin on Monday 
to meet Thailand's constitutional monarch Bhumibol Adjulaydej, whose 
family has forged strong links with China.  

Queen Sirikit and two of her daughters have visited China in the recent 
past. Crown Princess Sirindhorn is a keen Mandarin linguist and student 
of Chinese culture.  
Relations between Thailand and China have strengthened in recent years, 
especially in the economics area.  

China is now Thailand's fourth-largest trading partner, with bilateral 
trade in 2000 soaring 51% above the previous year.  

Investment and tourism between the two countries have also increased.  
However, Thai economists warn of possible problems. Cheap Chinese goods 
are flowing into the country in greater volumes, knocking out local 
China's export machine also could harm Thailand in key markets for Thai 
exports such as the U.S. and the European Community, while foreign 
investors may well opt for China rather than Thailand when deciding 
where to park their funds. 


Bangkok Post: Former policeman held with 1.1 million amphetamine pills

 May 20, 2001.

Suspect hired by Red Wa to make delivery
Theerawat Khamthita

A former police sergeant-major was arrested in Mae Chan district 
yesterday for allegedly trafficking in 1.1 million methamphetamine 

The drugs were found in a Honda car driven by Pol Sgt-Maj Banleng or 
Thanapol Inthakhan, 42, along with 40kg of ephedrine which could be used 
to produce 1.6 million methamphetamine pills. 

Pol Sgt-Maj Banleng told Mae Chan police, who stopped him at a 
checkpoint, that the Red Wa, an ethnic minority force across the 
Thai-Burmese border, would pay four million baht for his freedom. 

The police took the offer as they hoped to make more arrests. 

Pol Sgt-Maj Banleng led a police team to a point on the Sai river in Mae 
Sai district, opposite Burma, where he phoned the Red Wa and asked them 
to bring him four million baht. 
They waited for three hours but no one came.

The police then took Pol Sgt-Maj Banleng back to Mae Chan and charged 
him with possessing illicit drugs with intent to sell. 

The suspect confessed he had been hired by the Red Wa, a major drug 
producer, to deliver the tablets to a customer in Chiang Rai for 400,000 

He claimed it was the first time he had acted as a courier, but police 
were not convinced. 

Background checks revealed Pol Sgt-Maj Banleng was transferred from Mae 
Sai to Mae Hong Son in 1997 on suspicion that he was involved in drug 
He resigned from the police force after he was moved to Payao province 
in 1999.

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

Burma Courier: Junta Planning Minister Escapes Arrest in Brussels

Issue of May 13 - 19, 2001 
Thalif Deen of Terra Viva (with additions from U Soe Tha's speech): May 
18, 2001

BRUSSELS -- A behind-the-scenes attempt to obtain a magistrate's warrant 
to arrest the head of the Burmese delegation attending a United Nations 
conference here failed at the eleventh hour due to a "technical hitch", 
a Burma activist group said Friday.

Action Birmanie, a Brussels-based NGO, sought the warrant to arrest U 
Soe Tha, the Burmese junta's minister of National Planning and Economic 
Development, as soon as he set foot on Belgian soil last week.  Gregor 
Chappelle, a lawyer acting for Action Birmanie, said that a technical 
hitch had prevented the group from obtaining the arrest warrant from a 
local magistrate.  "We don't want to say anything beyond that because we 
are going try again and we want to make sure don't fail the second time 
around," he said.

U Soe Tha was named in the warrant for arrest on charges of "crimes 
against humanity".  Although not personally accused of the alleged war 
crimes, he was said to be implictly involved because of his position as 
a member of the Burmese government.

Belgium has a three-year old statute on the books which permits the 
arrest of an individual accused of crimes against humanity, if he or she 
happens to be on Belgian soil. The trial could proceed in a local court 
of law, Chappelle said.

At a press conference Thursday, Glenys Kinnock, a member of the European 
Parliament, challenged the right of the Burmese delegation to 
participate in the UN's Lesser Developed Countries (LDC) conference.  
"We can understand the legality of granting visas under UN charter 
obligations," she said, "But Burma also has pressing and unfulfilled 
obligations on human rights, good governance and democracy."

Kinnock said the European Union had to send a clear message that the 
military leaders are not the legitimate rulers of Burma. "Until 
democracy is restored, we should not have any dealings with Burmese 
military rulers.  We want them to leave immediately after the 
conference.  There is no question of shopping at Harrods in London."

The planning minister's speech to the LDC conference was hardly worth 
all the messy business of risking arrest.  Burma had achieved an annual 
GDP growth rate of 8.4% over the last five year and had even reached 
double-digit growth in 1999 and 2000, he claimed. Inflation had declined 
from 20% in 1996 reduced to -1.6% in 2000, and exports had increased at 
an average annual growth rate of 13.1 percent during the last five 
years, he said.

The only cloud on the rose-coloured horizon was "the tightening of 
certain international restrictions upon Myanmar" which had resulted in 
"a perceptible slowdown in foreign capital inflow" starting in 1997, but 
even that had begun to turn around in 2000, the minister noted. 
U Soe Tha did find it necessary to point out that Overseas Development 
Assistance (ODA) levels to Myanmar are "much lower than those provided 
to other economies in transition in the [southeast Asia] region. For 
example in 1997, ODA per capita provided to three neighbouring countries 
of Myanmar were about US$ 14 to 82 while in Myanmar it was only $1."

Nevertheless, the minister concluded, there was room for encouragement. 
"Should there be no restrictions imposed on Myanmar, we believe that 
Myanmar will be able to graduate from Lesser Developed Countries list 
within this decade".


Bangkok Post: Illegal logging and drugs worry border people most

 May 20, 2001.

Supamart Kasem

Illegal logging and drug trafficking are the major causes of concern for 
residents along the Burmese border, Lt-Gen Wattanachai Chaimuenwong said 
The Third Army commander said illegal wood was being supplied to more 
than 100 sawmills along the border. 

Some 60% of the sawmills were foreign-owned.

Those benefiting from the illegal businesses were mostly military 
personnel on the Burmese side of the border. 

"When these people have a conflict of interest, they fight, thus 
affecting people's livelihoods," he said. 

Pro-Rangoon Democratic Karen Buddhist Army soldiers attacked a 
government outpost at Ban Muen Ruechai, Phop Phra district, early this 
month because their methamphetamine deliveries were blocked by Thai 
soldiers, Lt-Gen Wattanachai said. Three civilians were killed in the 

Thai troops earlier seized more than 10 million speed pills smuggled 
into the area by DKBA soldiers. 

The Third Army commander yesterday accompanied Gen Surayud Chulanont, 
the army chief, on a tour of military and police units in Mae Sot, Mae 
Ramat, Phop Phra and Tha Song Yang districts. 


Shan Herald Agency for News Thai Superstar meets Shan leader

17 May 2001

No: 05 - 09

One of the Thai-language newspaper disclosed recently of the meeting  
between Thailand's famous pop singer and the Shan State Army leader  
Yawdserk on its latest issue.

The Nation Weekend, 14-20 May, featuring Yuenyong Opharkul, 47, better  
known as Add Carabao, in Shan army uniform, with Shan State Army's Col.  
Yawdserk on its cover, also carries an article by the singer former 
himself  on Page 10.

He said he arrived at the Shan camp, across Fang District, Chiangmai  
Province, on 4 May, 2-days after the battle of Pakhee where Shans were  
reported to have seized nearly 200,000 amphetamine tablets. 
"It was only a morale boosting visit and an informal meeting between a  
former fighter from the (defunct) People's Liberation Army of Thailand 
and  Chao Yawdserk, the top leader of the Shan resistance army," he 
He commented to S.H.A.N. four days later that during his days as a 
fighter  against the then military dominated government in Bangkok, the 
greatest  need was to cultivate and preserve one's ideology. "But in a 
national  independence struggle, you need a hero to keep you going 
through hell and  water," he said.

"I'm sure Chao Yawdserk fits that role."

Add Carabao has been one of Thailand's most popular singers since he 
made  his first major hit with the song, "Made in Thailand" during the 
early  1980s. Throughout the years he also wrote songs lauding the 
struggles of  Shans, Karens and Aung San Suu Kyi.


The Times (London): 'Travelers Should Boycott Burma'

Burmese people want freedom from a brutal regime, not tourists, argues 
European MEP Glenys Kinnock   Wednesday, May. 9, 2001 

On March 19 this year TIME Asia published a Travel Watch article on the 
debate raging on travel to Burma. Glenys Kinnock, a member of the 
European Parliament, has long argued against travel to the military-run 
country. This is her response to TIME's "Burmese Daze: Should We Boycott 
or Go?"  Holidays, of course, should be about fun and relaxation. But 
how many of us have ever questioned our right to travel and enjoy total 
freedom of movement? Probably not many.  

And yet this is a very real issue -- you could say it's a matter of life 
and death -- for those in a certain country who are asking us to make an 
ethical decision to stay away at present. They're not some radical, 
out-of-touch extremists; in fact, they form a democratically elected 
party that won 82% of the seats in a parliament that has never been 
allowed to convene. These people have made very clear policy decisions, 
specifically asking foreign visitors to stay away, until the brutal 
military junta that rules the country allows them to take up their 
rightful place in government. The country is Burma. And the party that 
has pleaded with tourists not to visit their country is the National 
League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel 
Peace Prize.  

Recent evidence given to the United Nation's International Labour 
Organisation (ILO) estimates that around 8 million men, women and 
children are forced to labor on construction projects, including those 
linked to tourism, every year. Hundreds of thousands of Burmese people 
have been forcibly relocated from their homes over the last few years in 
order to develop the country's infrastructure, much of which was created 
in order to boost tourism. In light of this evidence the ILO adopted a 
resolution last year, which called on its members to review their 
relations with Burma.  
In spite of these horrors, though, many in the media and the travel 
industry have consistently argued for tourism to Burma to continue -- 
often arguing that it benefits Burmese people. In fact, only the tiniest 
minority of Burma's 48 million people are even touched by tourism. 
Around 75% make their living from agriculture; of the remaining 25% only 
a small percentage comes into contact with tourists. So whilst you may 
be able to give a few dollars to benefit someone working in the tourism 
industry, the scales don't quite balance when tourism is simultaneously 
helping to prop up a regime that keeps 48 million people in the most 
desperate poverty.  

In a country that has measured the opinions of its people only once in 
the last 41 years, and even then chose to disregard them, there is 
little to guide us as to what ordinary Burmese people really feel about 
tourism. Wild claims from some in the industry that the "overwhelming 
majority" want tourism are pure fantasy. The fact is the NLD is the only 
party mandated to represent the interests of Burma's people -- and 
theirs is a voice that continues to draw the support and respect of 
people both inside and outside the country, despite a vicious campaign 
of persecution by the regime to silence it.  
I have been fortunate enough to meet Suu Kyi, after travelling into the 
country under the cover of a tourist visa obtained in Bangkok. Her 
courage and heroism is breathtaking, and her grace, composure and 
dignity affected me deeply. She is a remarkable woman, with sharp 
political insight, a fierce determination to bring about freedom in 
Burma, and a strong and phenomenal sense of calm given the personal 
suffering she endures and the extreme pressure she is under. She and the 
NLD are trying to work out nonviolent strategies to oust a regime that 
has few competitors in terms of its horrific human rights record.  

One night, after meeting Suu Kyi, I found a scrap of paper on my pillow 
in my hotel room in Rangoon. It was inscribed with her name -- nothing 
more -- and was presumably put there by a brave hotel worker trying to 
communicate support for the pro-democracy leader. That simple act took 
infinite courage.  

Burmese people want freedom from a tyrannical and brutal regime -- one 
engaged in killings, rape, genocide and the perpetration of relentless 
misery. I remain convinced that we must respond to this terrible human 
suffering. We have a duty and a responsibility to call for political 
action and for the isolation of the regime.  

Suu Kyi has asked a simple thing of the international community. She 
hasn't asked for us to be courageous; she hasn't asked for money; she 
hasn't asked for military help. She's asked for sanctions so that the 
junta will be starved out of existence. I believe the international 
community should impose sanctions, but there is also something that 
ordinary citizens can do: we can impose our own sanctions and not go on 
holiday to Burma.  

As Suu Kyi has said: "Sometimes breadth of vision dictates that travel 
be curbed in the interests of justice and humanity".


Bangkok Post: Hitting Criminals in the Pocketbooks

 Sunday, May 20, 2001


There has always been great debate about how to approach the fight 
against dangerous and illegal drugs. There are advocates of taking the 
fight to the drug traffickers, to cut the supply. Others favour 
education and rehabilitation, to cut the demand. Within each of these 
general approaches there are other choices. Addicts can be forced or 
convinced into rehab programmes, for example. Free societies often 
debate how much power authorities should have in their attempts to 
finger, track and catch drug makers and smugglers.

One action against drug traffickers is almost without controversy. In 
retrospect, one wonders why governments and anti-narcotics agents took 
so long to target the wallets of the drug smugglers and sellers. The 
illicit drug trade is conducted wholly for the obscenely huge profits. 
Take away the profit motive, and the trafficker can-and will-no longer 
sell drugs. 

Take away his profits and you also can punish him.

The battle against money laundering has been exceptionally slow to take 
hold, even in the countries most at risk. The United States remains the 
centre of the money laundering business, with even US banks reluctant to 
help in an important national struggle. In the past two years, Thailand 
has joined the fight against money laundering. In the past year, it has 
become a major partner in the effort.

There was no shortage of skeptics when the Anti Money Laundering Office 
was set up. It was slow getting to work. We know now that this was 
mainly because of the careful vetting of the secretary-general, Pol Gen 
Wasana Permlap, his assistants and the AMLO staff.

Contrary to early fears of the cynical, the AMLO has got quickly down to 
work. In February, agents made their first 
important seizure, arresting a drug courier and seizing the 35 million 
baht he had. A "cold hit" at an expressway toll plaza further 
boosted both the reputation and morale of the AMLO. The office has more 
than 50 cases under scrutiny.

Authorities freely admit this is barely a start. It is also no secret 
that drug traffickers still move in polite company including-if credible 
reports are true-around and even in Parliament. But the Thai example and 
enthusiasm have set a snowball running downhill.

The European Union announced last week it will open its regional 
anti-money laundering office in Bangkok, next month. Seven 
countries-Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China and 
Vietnam-are already in line for training by the EU experts. The US 
Embassy held four-day seminar on the problem last week in Bangkok, and 
75 law enforcement officials from 16 nations attended.

The knock-on effect in the region has reached even further. Amazingly, 
Burma, whose dictatorship has welcomed money launderers with open arms, 
was forced to announce it will write a law to ban the practice. 
The country was shamed into it, as the host of an anti-drugs conference. 
This is a watershed of sorts. Rangoon not only welcomes laundered drug 
money as foreign investment, it provides amnesty, shelter and honour to 
the drug lords and their money-washing agents.

Burma claims it will write and enforce a law that is line with the 
international legal system. That leaves little room to manoeuvre. Drug 
barons like Lo Hsing-han, the hotel investor, will have to be attended 
to under such a law. The rich, international fugitive Khun Sa will also 
be affected.

In short, the law against money laundering is a good idea by itself. 
Attacking drug traffickers through their pocketbooks can wipe out their 
trade and their ilk.

But properly employed, the battle to remove profits from the drug trade 
is valuable in other ways, some of them unforeseen. Who would have 
imagined that Burma could be shamed into taking at least token action 
against its richest criminals? 


The New Light of Myanmar (SPDC): The attitude of ILO

Friday, 18 May, 2001

(Continued from 17-5-2001)

When the Labour Department team asked local elders and people of the two 
villages whether they knew the Order 1/99 of the Ministry of Home 
Affairs or not, it was found that these people knew very well about it. 
They understood that the people have the right to make complaints if any 
government organization summon them for forced labour.  The government 
departments also understand the fact. No government department will 
commit acts that may stir up a hornet's nest. 

When the team summoned all the villagers including aged persons and 
children and asked them whether they were forced to work at the corn 
field of the local battalion, the answer they heard was totally 
different from the accusation of the International Labour Organization. 

  The villagers heartily told the team members that as the local 
battalion paid a daily wage of K 150 per person to villagers who worked 
in the field during cultivation, weeding and harvesting seasons, the 
local people who were skilled in farming worked there; and that in 
addition to the daily wage of K 150 per person, the employer (the local 
battalion) offered a free dish for every lunch and tea in the afternoon 
daily to its farm workers. 

  They also said that the working time was not from dawn to dusk and not 
without intervals; that the first shift was three hours from 8 am to 11 
am; that the afternoon shift was three hours from 1 pm to 4 pm; that the 
daily working time was only six hours; that as a recreation plan, the 
workers were offered free video shows in the evenings; and that at the 
free video shows the aged persons and children could be seen in the 
front rows although they did not work in the corn field. This is the 
real story. 

It was not because of the wrong information sent by the satellite, but 
because of its acceptance of the slanderous accusations of the 
tricksters and flatterers as true, the ILO did not know the harmonious 
and beneficial relations between the villagers and the local battalion 
and echoed the fabrications in a swaggering manner. It is known that 
which of the gangs and fellows have the habit of doing such tricks and 
lies. In this incident, the ILO became totally blind and deaf for it 
wholly put its trust and reliance on its servants. 

The ILO has lost all its reputation and glories as it has to follow the 
plots of liars and tricksters much instead of doing the right thing 
concerning the labour affairs of Myanmar. Here, I would like to show an 
area where the ILO may win back good reputation if it has the goodwill 
to solve the problem which requires a practical solution. 

As Cynthia Maung, a female doctor and a twister who is illegally staying 
in Maesot in Thailand, using the town as the base to earn her living and 
springboard to promote her position, had the ability to foresee the 
opportunities, she, in an effort to outwit the Thai authorities and to 
extend her sources of revenue, held a seminar on the health of her 
minions who were residing in the surrounding areas of Maesot under the 
name " refugees". The seminar was held at a makeshift hut in the remote 
Maehtawle in October 2000. 

A paper which was presented at the seminar said that the monthly salary 
of the labourers who were working at the production businesses near 
Maesot in Thailand unprotected by workers' rights or any laws was less 
than half the amount of the lowest official monthly salary in Thailand; 
and that in accord with the official monthly salary rates prescribed by 
the Thai government, all the illegal labourers working in Thailand were 
under labour exploitation. 

  The paper also stated that the illegal workers' labouring time was 12 
hours a day; when demands were high, the workers at a wool factory had 
to work day and night for three consecutive days; and that the employers 
(Thais) were so wicked that they gave water which was mixed with 
stimulant drugs (amphetamine) to the workers as a tonic. 
It then stated that there was no first aid for occupational hazards and 
that the workers had never heard of the word " first aid"; that the 
workers could not enjoy any medical or maternity leave; that in accord 
with the hygienic guideline, the standard of the food given to the 
workers at the factories was very low; that the illegal workers" 
shelters were worse than the shelters at a pig farm; and that their 
shelters had no ventilation or clean water supply. 

  Acting as real saviours, the Thais have lured the illegal immigrants 
and minions under the name of asylum seekers into their country and gave 
shelters to them; but in reality the Thais accepted them with every 
intention of exploiting them. And anyone who wishes to know more 
precisely about the events should contact Dr Cynthia Maung who is 
well-versed in the social graces. As I have already shown the ILO 
saviours not only the tip but also the whole iceberg, we will have to 
wait and see the Organization's attitude towards the workers who are 
facing extreme exploitation in Thailand. 


Author :U Kappiya Kangaung


Xinhua: Yunnan Beats Myanmar in Volleyball Friendly
YANGON, May 19 (Xinhua) -- China's Yunnan provincial women's team beat 
Myanmar selected women's team 3-0 in a second friendly volleyball match 
at the National Indoor Stadium here Saturday evening. The Yunnan team, 
with an average age of 21 and height of 1.79 meters, won the match 
decisively against the Myanmar team, which has an average age of 23 and 
height of 1.7 meters, with the set scores of 25-15,25-16 and 25-10. 

The Myanmar selected women's team's coach U Tint Lwin told Xinhua after 
the match that "we got many experiences from these two friendly matches 
with the Yunnan team." "After these two friendly matches, the Myanmar 
team will jointly do 3-day training with the Yunnan team so as to learn 
good technique and training procedure from them," he disclosed. The 
Yunnan team defeated the Myanmar selected women's team 3-0 in the first 
friendly volleyball match on the same venue here on Thursday, scoring 
25-11, 25-16 and 25-15. Under the cultural exchange program between 
China and Myanmar, a 14-member Yunnan team, comprising 10 sportswomen, 
arrived here on Wednesday to play two friendly matches with the Myanmar 
selected women's team. In October 1993, a Yunnan provincial women's team 
visited Myanmar and played three friendly matches with the Myanmar 
selected women's volleyball team and the Yunnan team won all the three 


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