(1) Burmese Delegation Submits
food inadequate in
(5) Bomb scare mounts security cover
urged to reopen
(7) Convention rep: 'No law in
(1) Burmese Delegation Submits
land-acquisition report and arrangement design for the
Nazamul Huda, according to the Daily Azadi, a local Bengali newspaper.
The Financial Taskforce of Burma submitted the report and design to
the Technical Taskforce of Bangladesh in a meeting at the
Communications Ministry here yesterday.
Burma Construction Ministry managing director U Han Zaw led the
visiting five-member financial task force, including the Financial
Taskforce of Burma, Construction Ministry public works director U Kywe
Wa and Finance and Revenue Ministry budget department director U Soe
In the meeting, they especially discussed speedy implementation of the
project to connect
meeting also discussed the prospect of getting financial assistance
from some donor countries and international financial institutions,
including the Asia Development Bank (ADB) and
According to sources, construction of the 153-kilometer Ramu-Gundom-
Taungbro-Bawli Bazar-Kyauktaw road alignment of the project would be
done in two phases involving Tk 933.46 crore.
In the first phase, the
km. Taungbro-Bawli Bazar road, two big bridges and 90 culverts in
Engineers and contractors
bridges. The Construction Ministry of Burma will provide all other
110-km. Bawli Bazar-Kyauktaw road, the second phase of the work. This
part of the road costs Tk 770.26 crore.
Assistance will also be
countries in implementing the second phase.
Work on the 23 km. Ramu-Gundom road in
will also be done with the
amounting to Tk 163.39 crore.
Additional Chief Engineer of
Mian, Chief Engineer Faizur Rahman, Communications Secretary Md.
Shafiqul Islam and senior engineers of the department were present at
The two taskforces will discuss the technical and financial aspects of
the project in the next two days.
Singapore Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong's trip to
voice his government's stand on the Burmese military government taking
up the rotation chairmanship of the South East Asian Nations (Asean)
regional grouping, said a senior politician in
Prime Minister Lee will meet Burma Prime Minister Soe Win and call on
Senior Gen. Than Shwe on Wednesday in
day trip, which includes visits to
"Primarily, his [Lee's] visit will highlight bilateral relations
issues, but looking at the recent criticisms that
on the military junta of
said U Win Naing, a veteran
Burmese politician in
He further said that
interference policy regarding the internal affairs of its member
states. But lately, as some Asean nations expressed frustration over
its stand on
Prior to Lee's visit,
sluggish political reform in
Ministry spokesperson as saying "Some hard messages may very well have
to be put across, because what happens in
Asean as a whole."
among the business community while the political circle is closely
observing the change of events, said U Win Naing.
Thoroughly put off by the rejection of the ethnic nationalities'
federal union proposals by
to reactivate the long dormant total
"The Yawnghwe brothers have been misleading us for so long," a
grizzled exile growled to S.H.A.N. yesterday, referring to Chao Tzang
(who died last year) and Harn Yawnghwe, founders of the National
Reconciliation Program that has steadfastly advocated tripartite
dialogue and, through it, a federal democracy for
handled things in the right way."
According to an insider report on a top secret meeting held in
an "interim Shan State Government" and "defeat the Marns (Burmese
military) without bloodshed."
for a separate sovereign entity, does not present much of a problem to
the group. "Our friends in
stay neutral," said the source.
So, when will the
replied the source, "but I cannot say exactly when. We still need to
hold at least another round of meetings before we can set the wheels
Other Shan activists, though viewing the said report as another
exercise in futility, saw it as a natural outcome of the string of
arrests made on Feb. 8-9. "Federalism has become a bad name," said a
prominent exiled Shan in Chiangmai. "To the junta, it is interpreted
as secession in disguise, while to the radicals, it is continued
slavery under the Burmans in another form."
Another Shan who had worked closely with Chao Tzang and Harn
lamented, "I don't see how we can stem this rising tide of separatist
Hkun Htun Oo, whose party won
the most seats in
elections, and nine others are being tried for treason inside the
notorious "Insane" (Insein)
resulted in strained relations between
His aunt by marriage, Austrian-born Sao Thusandi of the former
princely Hsipaw House, who wrote
the widely-read Twilight over
in which sh e recounted the mysterious disappearance of her husband,
Prince Sao Kya Seng after he was detained by the military in 1962, has
of federalism, the country is heading towards a breakup, an
eventuality the Burmese military has been claiming to prevent,
according to the Democratic Voice of Burma March 20.
(4) Prisoners' food
Akyab, March 29
Prisoners in the police detention center at Akyab do not receive
enough food every day from the police department because of a lack of
financial support by the authorities, according to a former prisoner
recently released from the Akyab police detention center.
As the food and water in the police detention center is inadequate,
the prisoners have to get food and water from outside the jail by
offering bribes to the police officers. "In the police detention
center of Akyab there is not enough food and water for prisoners.
Therefore we had to get food and water from outside. My family has to
give 500 Burmese kyat to police officers for food and 200 kyat for a
bath whenever they bring food and water for me," he explained.
The police serve a single plate of food to prisoners at a time, but it
is not enough for the prisoners. They are only served food two times a
day in all the jails of
there were 49 prisoners, along with me, but the police did not bring
enough food for us. Sometimes they only brought 19 plates of rice to
us," he said.
Most prisoners from the rural areas are suffering the most, in
terrible pain because of lack of adequate food in the jails, and they
do not have relatives in Akyab to make up for it. Prisoner numbers in
the Buthi Daung and Maung Daw police detention centers are quite large
and food is always needed for the many prisoners. Some police wives
often ask for leftover food from police families for the prisoners,
said a prisoner's relative from Maungdaw.
According to a police source, about 20 kyat is allotted for a
prisoner's food per day, not even enough to buy an egg.
(5) Bomb scare mounts security cover in
Mizzima news (www.mizzima.com)
hotels on the government's "fascist" revolution day sent authorities
scurrying for extra vigilance in Burma's capital yesterday.
An anonymous phone call made to the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel threatened
simultaneous bomb blasts in
situation, hotel authorities took precautionary measures and extended
duty hours of employees overnight.
The military government marked March 27 as Armed forces Day while
dissidents continued to observe it as the Fascist Revolution Day.
With the recovery of a bomb
two days ago in the
to remain closed for two days March 26-27.
(6) Kalam urged to reopen
Surajit Khaund / Mizzima News
Guwahati: Pursuing reaching the
bilateral relations, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs
Bijay Krishna Handique has submitted a memorandum to President APJ
to reopen the famous
Handique called on the Indian president and sought his intervention to
reopen the 1,040-mile transnational road, originating from Ledo in
Handique emphasised early steps on clearing the route to help explore
Constructed during World War
side to pass through
percent of this stretch has been repaired with the active initiative
been demanding repairing the rest of the road.
In 1998, seven states in
because of a growing insurgency problem in the region.
The road runs through areas dominated by major militant groups such as
the United National Liberation Front Of Asom (ULFA) and National
Council of Nagalim-Issac Muiva
However, in view of recent progress in Indo-Burma relations, the
Indian government is understood to have re-thought the proposal. The
Indian Commerce Ministry has already completed its feasibility study
on the road in
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Indian Chamber of Commerce
(ICC) and Indo-Myanmar Traders Union, have been requesting the Home
for early clearance.
Meanwhile, the India Customs department has already taken steps to set
up a customs point at
(7) Convention rep: 'No law in
"There is no law in
mouths," sighed a delegate from
plus people ordered to attend the National Convention, as he prepared
to return from his weekly outlet in
Naunghnapin, 40 kilometers away:
"The Wa tried on the preceding Friday (March 18) to recapitulate on
what they had proposed during the last round (May 17-
he related, without going into detail," but they were barred from
doing so, resulting in some tensions."
"So were the Karenni (Nationalities People Liberation Front) people,"
added another delegate.
The delegates from ceasefire groups, who had previously proposed a
federal structure for future
conveners that further attempts to discuss their demands would come to
nothing. "The best you can expect is some rewording in the preamble
and perhaps, in the appendices, if there are any," they were
reportedly told, "because the main text of the constitution has
already been drafted."
"I don't want to attend it anymore," said the first delegate. "What's
the use of it if you are not allowed to say what you believe is in the
interests of the people. But I have to, because I don't want to get
The other delegate also questioned the whole point of holding the
convention to lay down guidelines for the constitution if
rulers are not ready to listen to the participants, let alone consider
their ideas. "That's the disciplined-flourishing democracy for you,"
he concluded. "It means nothing other than a chameleon democracy."
The _expression chameleon (Pok-thin-nyo) in Burmese gives a sense
totally different from that in English. Whereas in the latter, it
means '"vacillator" or "shifter'," in the former, it stands
for "yesman'," as
the chameleon is commonly known in
With regards to the adjournment of the National Convention, the
delegates confirmed it would be before the annual water festival April
13-16, though the exact date has yet to be announced. "They never
bother to tell us when it will stop or start again," grumbled a
delegate, as he hurried off for Nyaunghnapin.
By our Special Correspondent
Developments have raised an alarm from affected people in delta areas,
besides NGOs and tourism operators. "Help us! Save our lives," cried a
man based in the
tide eroded land areas to contaminate the farms.
resulting in near destruction of the country's enormous mangrove area
and its unique ecosystem.
Invaded by steadily encroaching fisheries and illegal logging of
species, mangrove areas in the country's coastal region, especially in
the 35,138-kilometer Irrawadday (Ayeyarwaddy) division, have received
the most awesome blow to be depleted 80 percent over the past seven
Gifted with natural environmental resources, the 1,200-odd miles of
a vast pool of genetic material for marine life and varieties of
abundant coastal inhabitants.
Among those varieties of resources are mangrove areas and their eco-
system, very unique and significant for their international attraction
as well as building a sustainable eco-system. But recent years are
witness to the inscrutable destruction of the mangrove eco-system
which could have been utilized for a healthy local economy. Known as
filthy wetland by local people, mangrove areas had been a happy
hunting ground for thatch (Nypa frutican) for house covering, firewood
and charcoal for the last seven decades.
"That's mainly because of mounting demand for charcoal from the
increased population in the stretched-out urban centers. The situation
was worsened by the shortage in local electricity supply and the
global fuel crisis in the 1970s," said a Rangoon-based non-
governmental organization. "The problem became more complicated in the
1980s when degraded forest areas were put into paddy fields under a
local food-sufficiency scheme," he said.
Myaung Mya and Mawlamying Gyun townships and the upper parts of
Bogale, which fall under the division, were defensive against brackish
water to remain high in paddy yield. But the yield declined by 50
percent in six year after townships like Lupputa came up in the
depleted forest areas in the lower delta.
"Yield per acre dropped 50 percent to 25 baskets, due to extrusion of
salt water from below," the official said. "The development has led
farmers to reclaim new farm lands in the nearby mangrove forests to
save their income," he said. Reusing discarded farm areas was also
found to be unproductive, even about 20 years afterwards, he said.
The development raised an alarm from affected people in the delta
areas besides the NGOs and tourism operators. "Help us! Save our
lives," cried a man based in the
sea water and tide eroded land areas to contaminate the farms.
Pointing out to the sea a mile away from what is now the beach, a
community leader said some parts of his village area, where he used to
play in childhood, was now under sea water. "In the next
years, a land area on the outskirts, which accommodates a monastery
and a pagoda, will also meet the same fate," the 44-year-old village
A senior executive of a Rangoon-based NGO, which has been approached
to restore mangrove forests around the hamlets and surrounding area,
said about 10 more villages were desperately in need of mangrove
"There is a good response from the community, which is becoming well
aware of the importance of mangrove forests, and is increasingly
appreciating reforestation through community participation. We are
seeking funds to help them out," the official said.
Tied up with Action for Mangrove Reforestation (ACTMANG) and David
Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), the NGO had so far restored more
than 600 hectres of mangrove forests in seven villages in the
cooperation with the Tokyo-based ACTMANG, he claimed.
"The second cycle of the project is involved in restoring 550 hectres
in another seven villages in Bogale with a plan to complete it by
2008," the official said.
The delta was once a refuge to armed insurgents, which was why the
Forest Department could not control the area. With the government
becoming well aware of the situation in the 1990s, action was taken
against illegal felling in the delta. "But the action came too late.
Illegal loggers turned to the mangroves in the Taninthari and Rakhine
(Arakan) coastal regions, leaving the delta denuded of trees," he said.
"These are time-valued forest areas in the coastal regions and can be
saved," the official said. The country has already had the know-how to
reforest degraded mangrove areas with fast-growing species such as
Kambala (Sonneratia apetala), Thamegyi (Avicennia officinalis)and
Thamebyu (Avicennia marina).The Rangoon-based NGO has also called for
the Forest Department to enthusiastically cooperate with it in
restoration and conservation of forests.
"Just authority is not enough to conserve natural resources. Community
participation and NGOs' persuasive activities are essential. Also,
mangrove-related eco-tourism can not be promoted without the mutual
reinforcement that the NGOs and local community provide", he said.
But, looking at the way
natural resources are utilized in
evident that the interests of a limited businesses are calling the
shots over that of local communities and the national economy.
The recent extension of aquaculture along the coastal line has also
dealt a severe blow to the natural mangrove forests. It has resulted
in a decreased supply of aquatic species like fish and has also
damaged other coastal resources including coral reefs and sea grass.
"Local communities are well aware of their daily catch of fish
declining due to the rate of depletion of mangrove areas nearby," the
official said. "Moreover, mangrove forests act as a natural barrier to
floods and storms, protecting people in the coastal regions," he said,
citing the example of
tsunami last December because of mangrove forests.
To a question, he said
Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary and the Ngwesaung beach resort had
potential for promoting ideal eco-tourism. "The government is expected
to come up with a sound land use policy, which is crucial to balance
development and conservation," the official said.
Regretting that the rich
mangrove ecosystem in
misutilized, a young businessman attributed the reasons to low budget
and institutional constraints. "There are weaknesses in the process of
development and promotion of eco-tourism projects. Awareness about
environmental issues is high although not as developed as it should
have been," said the 35-year-old man with a business focusing on
developing this niche market, viable in the long run.
With proper rules and regulations, plus entrepreneurship, utilizing
the mangrove ecosystem can still mean a healthy economy, he said,
encouraging entrepreneurs not to wait and see who would take risks
initially and to go ahead with their visions.
Burma News International is a network of nine exiled media groups
such as Mizzima News, Shan Herald Agency for News, Kao Wao News Group,
Khonumthung News Group, Narinjara News, Kaladan Press Network,
Independent Mon News Agency, Karenni Information
Network Group and Network Media Group.
Contact: Duty Editor
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