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

BurmaNet News: November 3, 1995 #26

Received: (from strider) by igc4.igc.apc.org (8.6.12/Revision: 1.16 ) id IAA24778; Sun, 5 Nov 1995 08:23:02 -0800
Date: Sun, 5 Nov 1995 08:23:02 -0800
Subject: BurmaNet News: November 3, 1995 #269

------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"
The BurmaNet News: September 3, 1995
Issue #269

Noted in Passing:
Yangoon Airways... will give access to the whole country bringing.. all 
the peoples and their unspoiled culture within the reach of every visitor 
from the East or the West. - Transport Minister Lt Gen. Thein Win


Produced with the support of the Burma Information Group (B.I.G)
and the Research Department of the ABSDF {MTZ}  

The BurmaNet News is an electronic newspaper covering Burma.
Articles from newspapers, magazines, newsletters, the wire
services and the Internet as well as original material are published.               

The BurmaNet News is e-mailed directly to subscribers and is
also distributed via the soc.culture.burma and seasia-l
mailing lists and is also available via the reg.burma
conference on the APC networks. For a free subscription to
the BurmaNet News, send an e-mail message to: majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxx   
In the body of the message, type "subscribe burmanet-l"
(without quotation marks) Letters to the editor, comments or
contributions of articles should be sent to the editor at: strider@xxxxxxxxxxx

Information about Burma is available via the WorldWideWeb at:

FreeBurmaWWW http://sunsite.unc.edu/freeburma/freeburma.html
[including back issues of the BurmaNet News as .txt files]
BurmaWeb:  http://www.uio.no/tormodl

Burma fonts: http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~lka/burmese-fonts/moe.html

Ethnologue Database(Myanmar):


 gopher csf.colorado.edu.

Look under the International Political Economy section, then
select Geographic Archive, then Asia, then Burma. 

BurmaNet regularly receives enquiries on a number of different 
topics related to Burma. If you have questions on any of the 
following subjects, please direct email to the following volunteer 
coordinators, who will either answer your question or try to put you 
in contact with someone who can:

Arakan/Rohingya/Burma     volunteer needed 
Bangladesh Border	
Campus activism: 	zni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Boycott campaigns: [Pepsi]   wcsbeau@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx     
Buddhism:                    Buddhist Relief Mission:  brelief@xxxxxxx
Chin history/culture:        plilian@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Fonts:                  		tom@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
History of Burma:            zni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Kachin history/culture:      74750.1267@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
Karen history/culture: 	Karen Historical Society: 102113.2571@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Mon history/culture:         [volunteer needed]
Naga history/culture: 	Wungram Shishak:  z954001@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Burma-India border            [volunteer needed]
Pali literature:            	 "Palmleaf":  c/o burmanet@xxxxxxxxxxx
Shan history/culture:        [volunteer needed]
Shareholder activism:       simon_billenness@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx   
Tourism campaigns:      	bagp@xxxxxxxxxx     "Attn. S.Sutcliffe"   
World Wide Web:              FreeBurma@xxxxxxxxx
Volunteering:           	christin@xxxxxxxxxx  

[Feel free to suggest more areas of coverage]


16 October, 1995

The Birth of the Alert Literature Club:
The Alert Literature Club (ALC) came into existence on 15th October, 1995
with the initiative and activer participation of literary democracy activists
on the Southern Burma border with Thailand. The ALC has laid down the 
following aims and objectives.

Aims of the ALC:
1. To oppose military dictatorship in Burma.
2. To encourage the development of democracy in Burma.

Objectives of the ALC:
1. To help provide moral encouragement for the people of Burma who
are still struggling against military dictatorship and for the development
of democracy.
2. To support the Burmese democracy movement through the use of political
3.  To help increase mutual understanding and respect and coordination and 
cooperation between all the democratic forces of Burma.

Policies of the ALC:
1.  While we share a commitment to the cessation of the military dictatorship and the
restoration of democracy in Burma, we are a group of independent, literature-loving 
individuals, and we do not represent any political organization.
2.  The ALC respects all democratic organizations and individuals and will always  
endeavor to keep lasting cordial relations with them.
3  The ALC will try to use literature (the ALERT publications) to alter the thinking
of any person or organization in Burma whose attitudes and work are antagonistic
to the ALC's aims.

Future Plans of the ALC:
1. To continue to publish and distribute the "ALERT PAPER" series.
2.  To print and publish "The Alert Annual Magazine" in 1996.
3.  To write, translate, and publish any book which fits clearly with the ALC's aims.
4.  To publish and distribute educational pamphlets, booklets, and bulletins for the
development of border refugees and internally displaced persons in Burma.
5.  To cooperate closely with all literacy groups and democracy forces inside and
outside Burma.

Criteria for the Selection of Manuscripts:
1.  Any contributions which the Editors' Board considers inconsistent with the 
principles laid down by the ALC will not be selected.
2.  However, if such contributions based on sensitive matters are considered by the 
Editorial Board as being constructive to the cause, they may be selected, and the Board 
will accept full responsibility for them.
3.  An author may be a member of a political organization, but his or her contributions
to the ALERT PAPER will not be considered as necessarily reflecting their organiation's
4.  The Editorial Board will give precedence to manuscripts which are of good quality, 
regardless of their length.
5.  Contributions from new writers are also very much welcomed.
6.  Writings which are clear and comprehensible to the grassroots population will be
especially appreciated.

Sructure of the ALC

Advisory Board:	
Mahn Aung Htay 		 (Independent Karen Historical Research Association)
U Myint Aung Soe  	(Alliance for Democratic Solidarity, Union of  Burma, [ADSB])
Dr. Kyaw Nyunt  		(People's Progressive Front [PPF])
U Yarn Aung 		(People's Defense Force [PDF])

ALERT PAPER Publication Committee
Chief Editor		Zaw Win Maung		(People's Progressive Front [PPF])
Consultant Editor		Mahn Htat Khaung    	 (Independent Karen Historical Research Association)
Editor (Burmese)		Shwe Thway		(Individual)
Editor (English)		Nai Aung Mon		(Project for Mon People Empowerment [PMPE])

Co-Editor (1)		Lu Maw			(People's Defense Force [PDF])
Co-Editor (2)		Aung Moe		(Democratic Party for New Society [DPNS])
Co-Editor (3)		Khaing Mar Kyaw Zaw	(Karen National Union [KNU])

Art/Design (1)		Maung Maung Oo	(People's Defense Force [PDF])
Art/Design (2)		Nai Win Ta Mot		(New Mon State Party [NMSP])
Art/Design (3)		Min Pauk Pauk		(Project for Mon People Empowerment [PMPE])
Information (1)		Phone Kyaw		(ABSDF, No. 102 Battalion)
Information (2)		Ba Khet			(Free Trade Union of Burma [FTUB])

Distribution (1)		Aye Maung		(Free Trade Union of Burma [FTUB])
Distribution (2)		Pyi Oat			(NLD-LA)

Invitation for Manuscripts:
The Alert PAPER Publication Committee is trying to publish the following ALERT 
Papers over the next year.

1.  The ALERT PAPER Vol. 3 (December, 1995) 
- to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first university student strike (1920) - 
universary diamond jubilee occasion
2. The ALERT PAPER Vol. 4 (February, 1996)
- to critically examine SLORC's "Visit Myanmar Year 1996"
3. The ALERT PAPER Vol. 5 (March 13, 1996) 
- to commemorate the 8th Burma Human Rights Day,  "Bo Phone Maw Day"
4. The ALERT Annual Magazine (8-8-96) 
- to commemorate the 8th Four-Eights (8-8-88) Great People's Movement

Any contribution, either in Burmese or English, to the above series is very much 
welcomed.  Also, letters of suggestion to the ALERT PAPERS will be greatly valued.  
Hence, the ALC would like to request all comrades and friends of Burma to write 
and send manuscripts to the ALERT PAPER.  The ALC would also like to ask all 
friends to distribute the information.

Sections in the ALERT PAPER:
Short Stories, Articles, Plays, Poems, and Essays
Cartoons and Caricatures
Personal Experiences and news reports (human rights, womens' rights, the environment)
General Section (revolutionary art, democracy postcards, songs, advertisements, etc.)

NOTE: The ALERT PAPER is published with the help of individual contributions 
and is distributed free of charge.  

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 42
		Sapan Mai
		Bangkok, 10200


31 October , 1995

Hit hard by reports of breaking up, the almost three-month old Banharn
government of Thailand has decided to turn into a drug fighter for a way out,
with special emphasis on amphetamines, a government source disclosed. Naturally,
the Shan armed groups, which include the Mong Tai Army and the United Wa State
Army, whose strongholds along the Thai border are reported to be producing
amphetamines are going to receive special attention, he said.

The Thai official, who requested his name not be revealed, told S.H.A.N. the
embattled government would not consider the Shan proposal in September to act as
a mediator between the Shans and the ruling Burmese junta for a negotiated
settlement of their problems. The reason, he said, was because of continued
suspicion by the Burmese of Thai motives especially with regard to the Shans.
Shans and Thais belong to the same ethnic stock known as Tais.

The tightening of the screw would begin in November, he added. "We are not
doing this to please either the Burmese or the Americans. It is to protect our
own people from your amphetamine invasion."


2 November 1995                   Rangoon, AFP

A THAI company yesterday signed a joint venture agreement here with state-run 
Mynamar Airways to provide domestic airline flights in Burma.

The agreement, signed by officials of Thailand's Krong Sombat Co Ltd, calls 
for the new airline, called for Yangoon Airways Ltd, to be operational within 
six months.

The new airlines will open more destinations in Burma they foreign visitors 
and mean they have three carriers to choose from. Transport Minister Thein Win 
said at the signing ceremony.

"Yangoon Airways, together with its predecessor Mandalay, will give access to 
the whole country bringing.. all the peoples and their unspoiled culture within the 
reach of every visitor from the East or the West," Lt Gen. Thein Win said.

Burma, officially called Myanmar, has designated 1996 "Visit Myanmar Year."

Yangoon Airways initially will fly two Fokker 50 aircraft to southern and northern 
destinations in Burma. (BP)


November 2, 1995

BORDER problems and the alleged murder of Burmese seamen are issues which
have blocked progress in the latest bilateral talks on resuming construction of the 
Thai-Burmese "friendship" bridge across the Moei River, said a Third Army Region 

Deputy Army Commander Gen. Chetha Thanajaro held the discussions with Burmese 
authorities in Mae Sot District, Tak province, on Monday. The talk on the bridge issue, 
which took place for the third time, reportedly failed to produced any concrete results.

The source said Burma is still dissatisfied with reclamation work on the Thai side, 
which has change the river currents, and the fact that 120 Thai stalls have not yet been 
removed from the bank.

The alleged murder of six Burmese seamen by Thai colleagues early Thai colleagues 
early in August was another factor hampering the talks, the sources said.

Third Army Region Commander Lt Gen. Thanom Wacharaphut said yesterday that 
the Burmese representatives at the talks were not empowered to make any decisions; 
therefore, Gen. Chetha would have to meet with Burmese authorities at a higher level 

"We will try to solve the issue as soon as possible but we also need co-operation 
from all parties concerned," Lt Gen. Thanom said.

Tak Deputy Governor Saneh Chalermphol confirmed that border problems have 
caused construction of the bridge, which the link Tak with Burma's Myawaddy, 
to be halted.

The Burmese Government ordered construction, which was nearly completed, 
halted on June 7 this year.

To stop soil on its side of the Moei River, Burma had earlier sunk stakes 
which changed the river currents and made them affect the Thai side. Thailand 
subsequently carried out reclamation work on its bank and sunk stakes which 
irritated Burma. (BP)

2 November 1995   Story By Ken Scoot

"ALTHOUGH Australia and New Zealand were fine in their ways, Burma was 
the best," my retired father wrote on his return to England earlier this year.

We had recently spent sometime together and one of the places we toured 
was Burma, a country I had been fortunate enough to visit both in 1985 and 1988.

Despite living under a bloody military dictatorship for six years, ordinary 
Burmese people seemed to be as resilient and generous in spirit as they were 
10 years ago. But there were changes - some good, some evident before we 
even arrived in Rangoon.

In Bangkok it took 15 minutes to apply for and receive our one-month Burmese 
visas (cost: 470 both). Myanmar International Airways, with its shiny new 
Boeing 737s, was at least consistent: exactly 40 minutes late both into and 
out of Rangoon.

On the taxi ride into the Burmese capital, the buildings were cleaner and 
freshly painted, boulevards wide and tree-lined with coloured curbstones 
and there were not too many cars around - but more than before.

There were new business centres like pyramids, iron-ribbed shopping malls 
rising at intersections, and bill broads for luxury apartments, Lucky Strike, 
Fosters, Daewoo and Apple computers.

And slogans-lots of slogans all over the country. Large white-on-red affairs 
with Orwellian messages such as "We Love Our Nation", and "Love Your Mother 
- Respect the Law".

Law or not, driving is still a lottery. Burma is a right-hand-drive country and 
- inscrutably - most car are right-hand-drives, including the giant Chinese-made 
FAW army trucks that loom menacingly over battalions of sinewy riskshaw peddlers.

(General Ne Win allegedly changed the country to right-hand-drive during the 
Burmese way to Socialism years after consulting his astrologer.)

There are many indicators of an economy not just poor, but skewed in ways 
that would make free-market economists fume. In Rangoon petrol costs six 
baht a gallon but car owners are rationed to (missing)  gallons per week. There are very 
few petrol stations up-country.  Fuel costs 46 baht a gallon on the black market, 
which is bigger than the official economy anyway.

Our upcountry fuel stop was at a family-run wooden guesthouse in a back street 
of Phu. Two sister with painted toenails and taut pink longyis expertly syphoned 
petrol into our minibus. Where other families kept pigs below their house, this 
family stored leaking petrol barrels. The menfolk sat on top of the upright cans, 
smoking green cheroots while the daughters worked.

In this semi-desert terrain, only the ubiquitous toddy palm tree does well, providing 
a sources of wooden furniture  and mat roofing, while its sweet milky fruit can be 
turned into alcohol or a laxative depending on preparation.

In the cool hills of eastern Mandalay near the old British hill station of Maymyo 
there were productive fields. Strawberries, onions, tomatoes, cabbages, apples, 
potatoes, coffee, silk, cotton and corn grow in "factories" - little more than 
co-operative allotments - to feed lowland demand.

In the Maymyo hills and in Western Shan state around the Inle lake, the Chinese 
border is still 240 kilometres to the east. But its massive and ominous presence is 
felt like a hovering rain cloud about the burst.

In the uplands Chinese culture asserts itself in the increasingly pallid facial feature 
of the hill folk, the stirred food, and in the imported goods in Kalaw, Taunggyi and 
Maymyo market.

Beyond Maymyo, exhaust-belching trucks heave logs to the Chinese border, returning 
with bicycles, beer, electrical goods, soap powder and medicines. As the imported 
consumer goods cost more than the exported raw commodities, Burma is always short 
of cash.

There were poignant reminders. At a lunch stop in blighted Magwe, young mothers 
with naked babies at their breasts fought over the few kyats notes we put into their 
bowls, then used the same bowls to feed their children the leftover of our soup.
Girls worked down the street sharing the same headscarf. We saw labourers 
equipped with baskets and brooms building roads. Our guides said the roadbuilders 
were paid 50 kyat (12 baht) a day.

The pleasures of local people tend to be simple upcountry: a one-kyat (25 satang) 
cheroot, a 240 kyat (57 baht) bottle of Mandalay rum with a label and bottle - 
but alas not the taste - like Jonnie Walker Red. The father north you go the cheaper 
beer becomes as it is smuggled in from China.

Everywhere the corporate influence of Thailand is pervasive. Burmese men spike 
their local rice whisky with Kratin Daeng energy drink. The smiling faces of Thai 
middles Bird and Siriam endorse Mekhong and Saengthip whiskies.   At the 
Yuzana supermarket in Rangoon, retailers sell small bottles of Singha beer for 
58 kyat (14 baht) - for a profit.

With the economy running on square wheels, mass tourism is being introduced as a 
last-ditch effort to spread real money around the country. The General wants package
tourists, not backpackers. Visit Myanmar Year 1996 constitutes a major U-turn for 
a military oligarchy conspicuously paranoid about national and cultural dissolution.

Should the tourists have clean consciences? Amnesty International reported in 
May that 50 cents of every tourist dollar spent in Burma goes directly to the junta. 
Well, that's 50 cents to the people too.

The impact of group tourism is beginning to change mystical Pagan, where broad 
roads are being built between the crumbling 12th-century monasteries. The Shwedagon 
temple now has bright fairly lights on it. Entrances to all the major monasteries have 
hawkers, albeit with an impressive range of bronze, lacquerware and sandalwood curios. 
Whispers of "Change money"? permeate the dusky corridors of the sacred chapels.

At the Shew Zan Daw temple, known for its sunset views, the driver of a 25 seater 
Marco Polo Reisen tour bus honked the horn while a European tourist on the top tier 
of the temple shouted down an order for another soda. At the top of the Sulamani 
temple, three Russian tourists with a Bangkok airport duty-free bag drank rum and 
Coke from tall glasses.

While the Burmese knelt to pray, foreigners knelt to get a better angle for their 
palmcorders. Sacrilege? Certainly, although a lot of Burmese apparently pray 
for lottery wins.

A new museum is being built in Pagan and there are rumours of a luxury hotel. 
The existing choice is fine: around 400 to 500 baht a night for a clean, carpeted 
twin room including breakfast, about par around the country. Burmese nationals 
get rooms for half price.

At Inle Lake, dinner with the "Four Sisters" is reason enough to go to Burma. Each 
evening a fishing family opens its wooden home on the lake's upper reaches. They 
serve chicken  and fish curries, mixed vegetables and popadoms to cross-legged guests 
sitting by candlelight in the Spartans living room.

While visitors feast from bowls that are never allowed to empty, the Four Sisters 
(actually three; one has married a German and lives in Europe) mingle with the 
six or so diners as the relatives look on, nodding and smiling.

It is difficult to know who is more wide-eyed, the hosts or the lucky guests. At 
the end the visitors leave whatever money they feel is appropriate. It's like a dream.

As is the lake, the market and temple at Phoung Daw Oo, midway down the 14 mile 
lake, is a living tapestry. The rich variety of hill-tribe ethnicity and natural products 
grown in Shan state meet in a collision of colours. It is cold in the mornings, with 
temperatures falling to a few degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, the counter at the Joy 
Hotel had a snorkel and mask for hire.

The British legacy is just as curious. At Maymyo the creaking 1904 Canada-Craig 
Hotel - a mock-Tudor affair now call the Thiri Mying - is run by an ex-Gurkha who 
organises a collection each evening so guests can enjoy a fire in the lobby.

The hotel only has 13 guest rooms. Yet at check-in no one was really sure if any were 
available. It took staff 20 minutes to find out from the piles of ledgers on the desk.

In the draughty dining room I asked a fellow tourist at a table if lunch was till 
being served. He replied; "Yes, but you have to order it." I found the waiter in 
a store room and ordered the tough roast beef lunch with watered-down Houses 
of Parliament brown sauce, washed down with warm Mandalay beer ("our beer is 
chilly in the winter"). The Candada-Craig is rightly a national institution.

All of Maymyo is an early 20th century period piece. Well-kept botanic gardens 
and horse-drawn carriages tell of the genteel pastimes of former British 
administrators. Today the superlative range of Shan artefacts, woodcarvings 
and tapestries at about half Chiang Mai prices is reason enough to visit. The 
main retailers are Muslim traders whose predecessors had migrated from what 
is now Bangladesh to set up business in the hills during British rule.

After three decades of near isolation, Burmese English is quirky, tending to 
the "so many mangoes hanging" variety. We were befriended by a Burmese 
women in Rangoon who did her best to organise our upcountry travel saying: 
"First I will do for you, later  I will do other things." We were in no position 
to smirk. She spoke fluent Japanese and we couldn't say a word in her native 

The cuisine in Burma isn't quite as engaging as the people. Despite wonderful 
ingredients, they tend to smother everything in oil. Some meals were glorious 
exceptions. The dinner at the Golden view Restaurant in Rangoon was fit for 
an ambassador and surpassed only by open-air culture show and view of the 
illuminated Shwedagon pagoda.

If you are debating whether to go to Burma, go. Go independently. Go respectfully, 
preferably as an independent traveller, not a package tourist. Go despite Slorc. 
The Burmese people at this stage seem to be grateful for contact and friendship 
with foreigners. Indeed, exposure to foreigners and a measure of tourism-generated 
wealth may yet have a civilising effect on the junta.

As outsider looking at Buddhist Burma we can only hope that the middle way
 of tolerance will again prevail. (BP)