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BurmaNet News: May 22, 2001

______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
         May 22, 2001   Issue # 1810
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

*AP: Reports-- Religions Clash in Myanmar

MONEY _______
*Japan Times: Labor leader urges Japan not to resume Myanmar aid 
*Mizzima: Construction works handed over to private companies in Burma
*AP: Myanmar, Singapore To Hold Economic Talks This Week
*Los Angeles Times: Unocal's Shareholders Reject Two Resolutions on 
*The Orange County Register: Unocal dealings decried 

*BBC: Burma hit by Indian rebels

*The Nation: Three join Shan 'party' 
*Mizzima: India builds friendship bridge with Burma

*Daily News (Thailand): [Summary of editorial calling for hard line 
Burma policy]
*The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Insincere Siam ( Thailand )

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

AP: Reports-- Religions Clash in Myanmar

Tuesday May 22 3:43 AM ET 

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - A curfew has been imposed in a northern town of 
Myanmar where simmering tensions between Buddhist and Muslim residents 
erupted into rioting last week, travelers said Tuesday. 

Members of the two communities in Toungoo town attacked each other with 
sticks and stones, while several mosques were set on fire, said a Yangon 
resident who returned from Toungoo on Monday. 

A Muslim resident of Toungoo who fled to neighboring Thailand told The 
Associated Press in the Thai border town of Mae Hong Sot that Buddhist 
monks and laymen killed four Muslims, including a 60-year-old woman. 

The resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Buddhists 
set fire to about 140 Muslim houses and 14 mosques, eight of which were 

Telephone lines to the town were disconnected, and the account could not 
independently confirmed. A terse Myanmar government statement said 
``some clashes took place ... after a brawl started between some locals 
last week.'' 

A curfew has been imposed, and the ``situation is under control and 
contained. An official investigation is in progress,'' the statement 
said, without elaborating. 
Muslims comprise 3.9 percent of Myanmar's 51 million people, while 
Buddhists form nearly 89 percent. Myanmar's military junta allows 
freedom of worship to all faiths, but clashes between people of 
different religions are not uncommon. 

Toungoo, a trading town known for its betel nut crop, is on the highway 
to Myanmar's second largest city, Mandalay, and is 155 miles north of 
the capital, Yangon. 



Japan Times: Labor leader urges Japan not to resume Myanmar aid 

May 22, 2001

More than 3 million people have been forced into slave labor under the 
military government in Myanmar, according to a Myanmarese labor leader 
visiting Japan. 
Maung Maung, secretary general of the outlawed Federation of Trade 
Unions-Burma, said that Japan should not resume official development 
assistance to Myanmar, saying that such assistance will strengthen the 

Maung Maung, 48, said that since the junta came to power in the late 
1980s, the economy has deteriorated because of sanctions placed on the 

With the national budget under pressure, the proportion devoted to 
military expenditure has expanded to nearly 50 percent, he said. 

Due to the lack of money, the military government has been forcing 
farmers to build dams, roads and military facilities without pay. 

Poverty and famine are subsequently becoming serious problems in rural 
areas, as farmers are unable to attend to their fields. 

According to Maung Maung, foreign aid is being funneled to the military 
and Japan will be unable to clearly monitor what its aid is used for. 

European countries and the International Labor Organization have voiced 
concerns over the use of forced labor in Myanmar and have toughened 
their sanctions on the military government. 

Tokyo is considering resuming aid to Myanmar, following the beginning in 
October of talks between the military and prodemocracy leader Aung San 
Suu Kyi. 
Japan suspended assistance to Myanmar in 1988 when the junta took power. 


Mizzima: Construction works handed over to private companies in Burma

Rangoon, May 19, 2001 

The constriction works, which were undertaken by the Ministry of 
Construction till recently such as Yangon-Mandalay Highway, Pyi-Mandalay 
Highway and Magwe airport constriction project, have been handed over to 
private companies in Burma since April. The seven private companies 
including Asia World, Dagon International Ltd., Olympic and Shwe Than 
Lwin have received the contracts from the government for the 
construction works.  

The Asia World company (whose Managing Director is son of former Opium 
Kingpin Lo Hsing Han) has started its project of constructing the Magwe 
airport in western part of Burma since the beginning of April. Most of 
these private companies have dubious background. For example, the 
Olympic Company is linked to Kokang group, which has a cease-fire 
agreement with the military government. Its managing director is ethnic 
Kokang U Eike Htun.  
Mizzima has learnt that the authorities did not make any official 
announcement in giving out tenders to these companies. Only when these 
companies advertise for job vacancies for such and such work, the people 
came to know about the construction works being handed over to the 
private companies.  

Many road and building construction projects under the Ministry of 
Construction, except the bridge projects, have been incomplete and 
stopped due to the lack of financial support from the government. Parts 
of Pegu-Mandalay Highway, Pyi-Mandalay road and Pegu-Thathon road are 
gradually deteriorated and the government does not have funds to repair 
and maintain these roads.  
Many of the construction works of all the fourteen divisions under the 
Ministry of Construction, except Pegu-Hantharwadi Palace project being 
done by the construction division (14), are run just as a show-off.  

?The government does not sanction budget for the maintenance of highways 
in the townships. The people of the townships themselves have to do 
maintenance of these highways with their tax money. But again, TPDC 
(Township Peace and Development Council)?s allocated money is not enough 
even for the salaries of the engineers and thus the authorities collect 
money to patch the roads?, said an assistant engineer from the Ministry 
of Construction in Rangoon.  

With the handover of these construction projects to the private 
companies, some people hopes that it will partly solve the country?s 
grave unemployment problem. However, many engineers are worried that 
there will be no job assurance and stability in the private companies in 
Burma where rights of workers are not guaranteed even in public sector. 
Moreover, job advertisements in the daily newspapers show that private 
companies want only the engineers who have experience of seven or more 
years for their projects.    


AP: Myanmar, Singapore To Hold Economic Talks This Week

Tuesday May 22, 3:52 PM

SINGAPORE (AP)--The top economics minister from Myanmar's military 
regime will hold talks with Singapore's trade minister this week, the 
Singapore government said Tuesday.  

Wealthy Singapore is Myanmar's largest foreign investor. In 2000, 
Singapore had US$1.51 billion invested in the country - 21% of the total 
investment in the Myanmar.  
Brig. Gen. David Abel, a Myanmar government minister, will meet 
Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister George Yeo in Singapore Friday 
for the fourth Joint Ministerial Working Committee between the nations, 
the government said in a statement.  
The first such meeting was held in 1996 and has led to projects in 
agriculture, tourism development, transportation and trade development, 
the statement said, adding that more than 1,000 Myanmar officials 
participated in the joint programs.  
Asian companies have continued to invest in Myanmar despite calls from 
human rights groups to boycott the country to protest against its human 
rights record.  
Myanmar is also known as Burma.


Los Angeles Times: Unocal's Shareholders Reject Two Resolutions on 

Tuesday, May 22, 2001 

 Energy: Measures sought to pressure the company to abandon a venture in 
country criticized for human rights abuses. 

By DOUG YOUNG, Reuters

    Two resolutions aimed at pressuring oil exploration company Unocal 
Corp. to abandon its natural gas venture in Myanmar--whose military 
government has been criticized for human rights abuses--were defeated 
Monday at Unocal's annual shareholder meeting. 

     A resolution that would have required Unocal to adopt a code of 
conduct discouraging business involvement in countries that used forced 
labor received about 22% of the vote, preliminary results show.       
The second resolution, which would have tied executive compensation to 
the company's ethical and social performance, did even worse and 
received just 15.4% of the vote. 

     The board of El Segundo-based Unocal had recommended against 
passage of both resolutions, saying they were unnecessary because 
similar policies already were in place. 

     The California Public Employees' Retirement System, or CalPERS--the 
nation's largest pension fund--voted in favor of both resolutions. 
CalPERS, which is known for lobbying for improvements in corporate 
governance, holds 1.5 million Unocal shares. 
     The meeting was conducted in a Unocal auditorium in Brea while 40 
protesters, many of them Burmese, demonstrated outside. 

     "They're fully aware of what the brutal military regime is doing," 
said Heidi Quante, coordinator of Unocal Campaign, a group seeking to 
educate Unocal shareholders about the company's activities in Myanmar. 
"We're arguing that the cost of doing business there isn't worth the 

     Quante said the group she leads has been joined this year by a 
number of labor groups, including the AFL-CIO, which also had a 
representative at the meeting. 
     As shareholder activism has increased this year, a number of Unocal 
board members have met individually with concerned stakeholders, Unocal 
spokesman Barry Lane said. He also defended the company's actions in 

     "Go look at the region where the [natural gas] pipeline is," he 
said. "The standard of living is significantly higher there. There's 
been an increase in population there because of the opportunities. If 
you had more Western involvement, you'd see a much broader impact on the 
Burmese people." 

     Unocal has been dogged by protests for six years because of its 
involvement in the Yadana natural gas project off the Myanmar coast. 
Human rights groups allege that the Myanmar military used forced labor 
in constructing a pipeline that connects the gas field to Thailand.  


The Orange County Register: Unocal dealings decried 

Protestors allege human-rights violations in Burma over pipeline; 
company denies involvement. 

May 22, 2001


BREA -- Protesters wrapped in chains and carrying bullhorns demonstrated 
outside Unocal Corp. headquarters Monday in a continuing effort to 
persuade the company to stop doing business in Burma. 
About 50 protesters -- including labor unionists and Burmese nationals 
-- marched on the street corners near Unocal headquarters, banging on 
tambourines and shouting "Unocal, out of Burma!"

"Their participation there does nothing good for the Burmese people," 
said Kolatt Myatt Kyaw, 34, a protester from Los Angeles and a Burmese 

It's at least the fifth year protesters have appeared at Unocal's annual 
shareholders meeting to protest the company's investment in the Yadana 
Field natural-gas pipeline in Burma, also known as Myanmar. 
Reports from human-rights groups inside Burma have indicated numerous 
human- rights violations committed by Burma's government in conjunction 
with the pipeline project, including forcible relocation of residents 
and use of slave labor, activists said.

"There's no evidence to suggest that Unocal is responsible for any of 
that," said company spokesman Barry Lane. 

"Economic and social change cannot be brought about without engaging in 
that country."

Inside the meeting, Unocal shareholders rejected two resolutions related 
to the pipeline. 

A resolution that called upon Unocal to adopt and enforce a workplace 
human-rights code failed with 22 percent of the vote; it needed 51 
percent to pass.

Another resolution linking executive salaries to the company's ethical 
and social performance failed with 15 percent of the vote. 
Still, some activists were optimistic.

"With that many shareholders in support, management can't ignore us any 
longer," said Kenneth Zinn, national director of the International 
Federation of Chemical Energy Mine & General Workers Union.  


BBC: Burma hit by Indian rebels

Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK 

By Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta 

At least 50 Burmese soldiers are said to have been killed in heavy 
fighting with separatist Indian rebels inside Burma.  

Two rebel groups say they have beaten back a Burmese military offensive 
on their bases along a remote frontier region.  

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and the United 
Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) rebel groups say the fighting broke out 
earlier this month in the upper Sagaing division of north-western Burma. 

Both these Indian rebel groups and some of their allies from the 
country's north-eastern region have maintained bases in the region for 
more than three decades.  

But earlier this month they were faced with a Burmese military offensive 
backed up by Indian forces.  

An Ulfa spokesman told the BBC that the rebels had also suffered some 
casualties but was unable to say how many.  

Rangoon's move 

It is not yet clear if Burma, which has played down the offensive from 
the very beginning, has reacted to the outcome.  

Indian military officials say they have not been informed by the Burmese 
on whether the operation has been discontinued.  

But they are still deploying large numbers of troops on the Indian side 
of the border anticipating that the rebels, if further pressed, may 
break up into small groups to sneak back into Indian territory.  

This is the second time in the past 15 years that the Burmese have tried 
to dislodge the north-east Indian rebels from upper Sagaing, a hilly 
area so remote that maintaining logistics, particularly with the onset 
of the monsoon, is a real challenge.  
India and Burma have improved their bilateral relations in the past two 
years, particularly in the sphere of combating separatist movements 
along their lengthy border.

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL___________________

The Nation: Three join Shan 'party' 

May 22, 2001

Rangoon fumes as television couple, singer take part in National Day 
celebrations for Burmese rebel group 

Three thai celebrities could find themselves in trouble for joining Shan 
rebels in celebrating their National Day yesterday. 

The three, Noppol Komarachoon, Preeyanuch Panpradab and Surachai 
Chantimathorn, were invited along with other foreigners and journalists 
by Shan State Army (SSA) leader Colonel Yawd Serk to attend the lively 
ceremony, in which about 5,000 rebel troops participated at Loi Tai Lang 
in Shan State. 

Loi Tai Lang is over the border from Ban Pang Mapha in Mae Hong Son 
province. Smaller ceremonies were held in 12 other bases on the 
Thai-Burmese border. 
Actor turned TV producer Noppol and his actress girlfriend Preeyanuch 
planned to shoot a new TV series, using Shan locations, after their 
success with "Keb Phaen Din" ("Preserve Our Land") which Noppol produced 
and directed and Preeyanuch scripted. 
The series, broadcast last year on military-run television Channel 7, 
depicted the struggle and suffering of another ethnic Burmese insurgent 
group, presumably the Karen. Surachai, veteran songwriter and musician, 
wrote the score and sang a song for the series, showing sympathy for the 
minority struggle. 

A guerrilla officer confirmed to the Associated Press yesterday that 
Surachai had performed his nationalist song for the troops. 

Another singer, Yuenyong Opakul, who had recorded a song in support of 
the Shans' struggle, did not attend the ceremony but sent 50 cases of 
beer, said a Shan officer who did not wish to be identified. 

Thai immigration officers said yesterday the three would face arrest and 
a Bt2,000 fine for illegally leaving Thailand and their films would be 

Sources close to the celebrities said they expected them to return to 
Thailand today. 
The Shans' celebration of Resistance Day normally attracts a small group 
of foreign media, but this year's, the 43rd, was deliberately enlivened 
to boost morale. 
The minority group is among a few armed ethnic rebel groups still 
resisting Burmese rule. 

Reports that the three attended the ceremony further infuriated Rangoon, 
which has been accusing Thailand over the last three months of 
supporting the Shan rebels. 
Thai Immigration Police feared the three celebrities might face arrest 
by Burmese authorities or be caught in the fighting amid intelligence 
reports that Burmese troops planned to launch a major offensive against 
the Shan rebels to coincide with their national day. 

But heavy downpours yesterday turned out to be a blessing for the rebels 
since the bad weather discouraged the planned attacks by Burmese troops 
supported by Wa rebels.  


Mizzima: India builds friendship bridge with Burma 

Aizawl, May 22, 2001 
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com) 

India has already started its work to construct a bridge at Indo-Burma 
border to felicitate the trade between Mizoram State of India and Chin 
State of Burma. The Bridge is to cross the Tio River, which borders Zo 
Khuttha village in Mizoram and Rih village in Chin State. The agreement 
to build the bridge was signed by both authorities last month in Mizoram 

According to the agreement signed on 25th April, India will provide all 
the financial, skills and material assistance to construct the bridge. 
The Chief Minister of Mizoram Mr. Zoramthanga said foundation for the 
bridge was laid recently and the construction works are going on.  

India has also agreed to build a motor road connecting the Indian border 
to Tittim -Kalaymyo in Sagaing Division in Burma. The 
Haimual-Tittim-Kalaymyo road is estimated 120-km long.  

India had already built the 165-km long Tamu-Kalaymyo-Kalewa road in 
Sagaing Division of Burma at the cost of Rupees 100 crores. The road, 
built for three years, connects northern Burma with India's national 
highway 39, which terminates at Moreh in Manipur State of India.  

India and Burma are currently operating its border trade mainly through 
Tamu-Moreh route. However, the two countries are making efforts to open 
additional trade routes and one of them is Rih-Zo Khuttha. Moreover, 
another northeastern state of India, Nagaland, had also identified four 
trade centers on international border to boost two-way trade with Burma. 





Daily News (Thailand): [Summary of editorial calling for hard line Burma 

May 22, 2001

[Summary translation of Thai language editorial]  Foreign News editor 
TRAIRAT SUNTHONPRAPHAT condemns the Burma's continual hostility against 
Thailand, and urges Thailand to employ tougher policy toward Burma as 
equal retaliation. Thai politicians and military personnel must also 
stop doing business with the Burmese junta government while Thai 
academics must stop thinking of Burma in positive way. Burma will never 
change from current situation to the better or developed democratic 
country. The editor feels sorry that the world community and the United 
States do not take adequate, vigorous/strenuous action on Burma issue. 
It is probably because they are not directly affected by the situation 
there. If Burma was Columbia, the US may have already staged certain 
military operation toward this country.


The New light of Myanmar (SPDC): Insincere Siam ( Thailand )

Tuesday, 22 May, 2001

Unexpectedly, I have read a news report featured in the 11 May issue of 
New Strait Times daily which was sent to me by my friend in Malaysia 
through the fax. The news report said " Thai police yesterday arrested 
two army sergeants with more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition, land mines 
and grenades that they said were being sent to an insurgent group in 
Indonesia. The soldiers were driving two pickup trucks in southern 
Songkhala province when they were stopped by the police who were acting 
on a tip-off. A search of the trucks exposed the ammunition, 16 kg of 
TNT explosives, 60 grenades and 48 land mines, packed in wooden boxes". 

Oh goodness! It is clear that it is an act of interference in the 
internal affairs of a country. The act of providing arms and ammunition 
to insurgents in Indonesia was caught red-handed. It is no doubt an act 
of interference in the internal affairs of a neighbouring nation. 

 The shameless perpetration to provide arms and ammunition to insurgents 
in Indonesia to distrub its internal stability was exposed. Such 
shameless tactics are being applied on Myanmar too. 

In the O-7 hill incident which occurred in February 2001, innocent 
people were killed and injured due to the heavy weapons shells fired by 
the Thai army on Tachilek. Similarly, during the Pachee outpost 
conflict, SURA opium trafficking insurgents were put in the front as 
dummies and the Thai army gave heavy weapons barrage from the rear. 
Searchlights were projected at the outpost from the Thai military base 
during the conflict. When the Myanmar Tatmadaw retaliated, the Thai army 
shouted stating that as if the Tatmadaw's heavy weapons rounds landed 
inside Thai territory. It fired about 30 heavy weapons projectiles on 
the Myanmar side with the excuse that they were "warning shots". 

The Thai army never admits its sins. It is obvious that it is always 
scheming wicked plans against our nation. The Myanmar Tatmadaw never 
intrudes on any neighbour's territory and yields to any intrusion or 

 I went to Golden Triangle area together with my family during a visit 
to my relatives in Tachilek in the last week of December 2000. The area 
was crowded with stalls selling souvenirs such as clothing, shoulder 
bags and hats. The fare of a boat ride on the Mekong river was five 
bahts per person. A wooden signboard bearing the words " Golden 
Triangle" with the painting of a poppy plant on it could be found there. 
>From the signboard, we could view the Golden Triangle Hotel of Myanmar 
and the Nagayon Pagoda. We saw about ten children wearing traditional 
costumes of Lahu and Lishaw near the signboard in the territory of the 
other country. It cost five bahts for a visitor to have a souvenir 
photograph taken together with one of them in front of the signboard. 
During the visit, I found tourists having photographs taken together 
with the children. When the foreigners asked " Where is poppy 
cultivated?" a finger was pointed to Myanmar side. Goodness! It is the 
proof how wicked the Thais are.

Recently, our nation filed complaints against intrusion on our 
territory. We did so in accord with the procedures. Myanmar also filed a 
complaint against the matter concerning the setting up of Thai military 
camps on Myanmar territory at Loi Lan region. But the Thai officials 
ignored our complaints. And despite their words, stating that it was not 
a problem between the two nations, but a misunderstanding at the border; 
an approach had to be sought; however they were not in a position to 
find a solution. Instead, they moved ahead. 

Concerning the border problem, a special task force was formed at 
Myanmar-Siam (Thailand) border and training was given to its members. It 
is known that members of a special task force from the United States 
gave training to the members; and that Thailand bought helicopters, arms 
and ammunition worth about four billion baht to combat drugs. But 
Thailand, while praising the internationally known drug trafficker Ywet 
Sit group as the freedom fighter of Shan State, is calling the Myanmar 
Tatmadaw and the ethnic people of Myanmar, who have already discarded 
drug business and are engaging in large-scale farming business for 
region development, " drug dealers" . Thailand's intention is clear 
whether it is heading towards eliminating of narcotic drugs or 
materializing its scheme to control Myanmar under orders of its master. 

 On 6, 7 and 8 May, while local militia took control of Ywet Sit 
insurgent camp to clear the area, the Thai army gave heavy weapons 
supporting fire to the Ywet Sit insurgents. 
When Myanmar filed complaints against Thai aerial intrusion and attack 
on Myanmar territory at Wawle, Thebawbo and Kyaukket in Kayin State on 9 
May and near Lwehsansaw village in Mongkin region on 10 May, Thailand 
made brazen lies. 

 Till now, the Myanmar Tatmadaw is exercising with great care in view of 
the friendly relations between the two nations. It has given warnings 
and reacted as required in an appropriate manner. It has to retaliate 
the intrusion and aggression as necessary. But if Myanmar repulses the 
intrusion and the aggression, Thailand and its masters will exaggerate 
the matter and will shout that Myanmar's drug problem has led to 
regional instability. In reality, it is Thailand that is trying to cause 
regional instability. When the attempts to provide arms to insurgents of 
Indonesia and the current border problem are assessed, the answer is 
clear that the one that is trying to destroy ASEAN unity and to turn the 
stable ASEAN region into a battlefield is Thailand. 
The ones who are mainly suffering from the Thai army's acts are the 
people of Thailand. The conditions of the Thai people at the border area 
are deteriorating. Thai merchants find their business in a downturn. The 
persons who are conducting business with loans are facing a suicidal 
condition. It is required for the Thai people to try to find an answer 
to and the real culprit of the problem. Because of the current 
incidents, the countries in the region have acknowledged Thailand as " 
Insincere Siam". 

Author: Pho Khwa


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