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BurmaNet November 7, 1995

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------------------------ BurmaNet ------------------------
"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies"

The BurmaNet News: November 7, 1995
Issue #272

Noted in Passing:

	I would think that if Slorc falls, any company which has made a 
	contract with it should be aware that the democratic government 
	is not obliged to follow that contract. - US Congressman Dana 
	Rohrabacher (quoted in: BKK POST: 'HUMAN RIGHTS AND 


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November 5, 1995

As a journalist, I agree with Strider. There is a major story here: Ms 
Segal has swindled money from Peregrine and the Slorc, or both. Her 
cerdibility as a "letter writer" on any subject, or as a witness in 
Congress, is zero. What we need to know is why Peregrine fired her, and I 
do believe that Peregrine owes the press this information. Over the past 
years, there have been numerous rumours about Ms Segal and her 
involvement in Burma, which do not seem to be confined to shrimps. In a 
printed handout (of which I have got a copy) she states that Peregrine 
Myanmar (when she was the person in charge in Rangoon) had unique access 
to the army's pension funds. These "funds", as we all know, is a 
euphemism for laundered drug money. What does Peregrine have to say about 
this? We in the media are waiting for an answer, not just an apology. 
In their own interest, Peregrine should respond to this, rather than have 
to appear in court in Hongkong, where I believe they are registered. 

Bertil Lintner


3 November 1995

The Royal Thai Army is reported to have disbanded the Naresuan Force that had
been overseeing the border security with Burma, raising fears among the Shan
Resistance that the Thais may finally succumb to Rangoon's wishes.

Naresuan is the name of the Thai King who flourished in the late 16th century.
Taken hostage by King Bayinnaung of Pegu as a boy, he grew up in the Burmese
court. After Bayinnaung's death, he revolted and freed Siam from Burmese
domination. The date - 25 January 1593 - of his successful duel with the Burmese
crowned prince, whom he killed with his sword, is celebrated today as Thai Armed
Forces Day. 

In 1600, he supported the Shan prince Khamkainoi's struggle for independence from
Burma. Being attacked by the Burmese again in 1605, Khamkainoi called for
assistance from Naresuan, who promptly led a Legion into the Shan State.
Unhappily for both the Thais and the Shans, he caught a fever and died in
Mongharn, a Shan village in today's Mongton Township, opposite Chiangmai
Province of Thailand. A Stupa was built in his memory there, His death left the
Shans under Burmese power until 1882, when Shans united to overthrow the
Burmese yoke. As a result, Shans were free from Burma for 66 years until 1948,
when they decided to join hands together to form a union.

In 1960, after reports abounded about Naresuan's spirit protecting the Shan
Resistance, the stupa was demolished by the Burmese. Fragments of the bricks
from the stupa were brought to the Thai town of Muang-ngai in Chiangmai Province
by the aggrieved members of the members of the Resistance and were received by
His Majesty the King and the then Governor of Chiangmai, Nirandorn Chaiyanarm in
a ceremony on 25 January 1965. A new stupa was finished on 19 September 1970.
The late Shan leader, Gen Kornzarng, often visited the place during his trips to
Thailand. The border security henceforth, the reports says, shall be directly
relegated to the 4th Infantry Division of the Third Regional Army.


November 5, 1995     Reuter

Burma's Karen rebels, who have been battling the central 
government for autonomy for generations, called for unity among 
the Karen people while they negotiate with Rangoon to end their war.

The Karen National Union (KNU), said in a statement the 
opportunity for peace could be wasted if unity were lost. "This 
is the most important time for the KNU as we negotiate with the 
Slorc," the statement said.

The guerrillas have met representatives of the ruling State Law 
and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) several times this year, 
and another round of talks is due this month in the southeastern 
Burmese town of Pa-an, guerrilla sources said.

"We must be careful as we present our opinions to the Slorc and 
we appeal to all Karen people to remain united and not be misled. If we 
are not united we will surely lose this opportunity," the statement said.

The statement, published on Friday, was distributed among the 
70,000 Karen refugees living in camps along the Thai side of the 
Thai-Burmese frontier as well as inside Burma, a guerrilla source said.

A serious split developed in the KNU late last year when several 
hundred Buddhist fighters mutinied against their mostly-
Christian leaders and joined forces with the government army. 
The mutineers then assisted government forces in a successful 
assault on the KNU's headquarters at Manerplaw in southeastern 
Burma on the border with Thailand. (TN)


November 11, 1995

THE Karen National Union is ready to send a delegation to Rangoon
for peace talks with the State Law and Order Restoration Council
this month a Thai security officer in Mae Sot District of Tak said yesterday.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous, said KNU president
Gen Bo Mya wanted peace to be restored in Burma.

Meanwhile, the KNU distributed leaflets to Karen people in
refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border stating their
position and framework for the negotiations.

According to the leaflets, the KNU said it encouraged Karen
people to give their opinions about the talks.

Recently, a Rangoon delegation met KNU representatives at the
Thai-Burmese border for preparatory talks.

Peace talks were previously held between the two warring sides in
1949, 1960 and 1963 but all ended in failure.


November 5, 1995

The Burmese junta has enacted a new law to regulate the trade 
and export of precious stones. The "Myanmar [Burmese] Gemstone 
Law", introduced and signed by Mines Minister Lt Gen Kyaw Min, 
requires all gem traders to register before Nov 15 for tax exemption.

Those who fail to do so face prosecution. It is viewed as an 
amnesty to those who illegally possess precious gems, as many of 
the stones have been smuggled out through the border for sale overseas.

The new legislation also identified areas which will be granted 
for concession and the qualifications needed by private sector 
investors. It also stipulated the establishment of a state organ 
to assess and evaluate gems. (TN)


November 5, 1995
By Mya Maung, who is a Professor of Finance, School of Management, 
Boston College.

The latest illegal action of the Burmese generals to destroy the 
democracy movement was the denial by the Election Commission to 
reinstate Burma's focal point of democracy, Daw Aung San Suu 
Kyi, as the General Secretary of her party, the National League for 
Democracy (NLD) that won the 1990 multiparty election by a landslide.

To begin with, the expelling of Daw Suu Kyi from the roster of 
NLD's executives was made arbitrarily by the Election Commission 
back in 1990 after the arbitrary incarceration of the young woman in 
1989. The Election Commission itself is an illegal institution created 
by the Burmese generals to impose their will on the people of Burma.

There is no rule of law in Myanmar (the new name of Burma chosen 
by the illegitimate government) under the governance of the 
State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc) that has been 
ruling against wish of the Burmese people by not honouring the 
result 1990 multiparty democratic elections.

In order to understand this latest illegal action of not allowing Daw 
Suu Kyi to claim her rightful position of the General Secretary of 
NLD, one must understand the nature and functioning of both the 
domestic and international politics of Burma during the past five years.

Domestically, the Slorc made up of 21 Burmese generals has 
virtually decimated the NLD and its headquarters in central Burma by 
passing arbitrary orders and laws, arresting and sentencing to jail terms 
the leaders, elected candidates, and hundreds of NLD members.

Meanwhile, using its superior military power and armed forces 
equipped with modern weapons bought mostly from China, the main 
ethnic minority rebel groups, the Kachins, Karens and Mons, have 
been subdued and forced into entering "bilateral" ceasefire agreements.

Internationally, the most important factor that has helped the 
junta to legitimize its rule has been the willingness of nations 
from around the world to invest, trade, and establish economic 
ties with Burma.

Not only trade delegations from around the world but also high-
ranking government officials, including Chinese Prime Minister 
Li Peng and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, Thai Foreign Minister 
Prasong Soonsiri, Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, 
Vietnam's Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet and the UN officials and 
the US diplomats and representatives, have paid official visits 
to Burma between 1993 and 1995.

At the invitation of the ASEAN, Burma accepted and attended as a 
guest at the ministerial meeting in July 1994 and in July 1995 
hosted by Thailand and Brunei respectively. The ASEAN also 
extended the invitation to Burma to attend the forth coming 
Summit Meeting to highlight the de facto recognition of Slorc as 
the legitimate government of Burma.

On July 10, 1995, having established the so-called national 
peace by intimidation and military force, the junta surprisingly 
released Burma's most famous prisoner of conscience, the 1991 
Nobel Peace Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, from house arrest 
along with the two ex-chairmen of NLD, U Tin Oo and U Kyi Maung. 
Her release was surprising for several reasons. In January 1995, 
the junta bluntly stated that she would not be released.

The despite the UN and Western condemnation of her arbitrary 
incarceration and other human rights violations by the Slorc, 
diplomatic and trade delegations of nations from around the world 
have been establishing economic ties and investment projects in Burma.

The only thorn left on the side of the Burmese generals for 
gaining legitimacy was the incarceration of the 1991 Nobel Peace 
Laureate. Releasing her releases whatever international pressure [there
was] against the regime.

After the release, the ASEAN welcomed with open arms Burma's 
accession to the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation as a first 
step toward becoming a full-blown member of the ASEAN. Japan, 
the historical creditor and aid donor of Burma, has also shown 
eagerness of resuming official aid to Myanmar based upon this action.

It seems apparent that the ulterior motive of the Burmese junta 
in releasing the prisoners is to improve its international image 
to attract more foreign direct investments and recapture the 
suspended bilateral and multilateral aid since 1988 from the 
West, Japan, and International Organizations such as the Asian 
Development Bank, the World Bank, and the IF.

As Daw Suu Kyi aptly remarked after her release with respect to 
human rights conditions and democratization in Myanmar: "I have 
been released, that's all. Nothing else has changed under military rule."

Apparently, the US Senator McConnell and a few of his colleagues 
have heeded the statement made by the freed prisoner when he 
proposed his bill of economic sanctions against Myanmar as an 
Amendment No 2744 (Free Burma Act) to the Senate's 1996 Foreign 
Operations Appropriations Act, 1996.

It was temporarily approved by the US Senate on September 21, 
1995. But it immediately ran into trouble as the main opponent 
to the bill, Senator John McCain protested for a lack of debate 
and considerations of its impact on the most-favoured nation 
status of China, Thailand, and other ASEAN countries, causing 
McConnell to withdraw his bill.

The familiar US foreign policy of not imposing sanctions against 
a ruthless regime unless there is international support 
triumphed as McConnell's bill to free Burma was thrown out by 
the Senators and the spokesmen of the Clinton Administration, 
including Winston Lord and Kent Wiedmann, who opposed economic 
sanctions against Burma as "counterproductive."

Against this background, the highly confident and defiant 
Burmese military regime bluntly stated through its ambassador to 
Thailand that it saw no need to engage in any dialogue with Daw 
Suu Kyi on political reforms.

The justification for this position was made in light of its 
success in holding the National Convention to draw up the catch-
22 constitution that guarantees "a leading role for the Burmese 
army in the future politics and government of Myanmar."

The US foreign policy of engaging with the Slorc is also greatly 
influenced by its concern over the steadily increasing export of 
heroin of some 200 tons a year to the outside world and sixty 
per cent of which has been reported to find its way to the 
United States from the Golden Triangle of Burma.

Since 1994, the Burmese junta has been successful in using its 
highly publicized opium eradication programmes and military 
campaign against the Mong Tai Army of the infamous drug warlord, 
Khun Sa, to receive technical cooperation from the Drug 
Enforcement Agency (DEA) of the US government and financial 
support from the UN drug agencies.

Thus, the painful and protracted political impasse on 
democratization of Burma and the military stranglehold on power 
will continue with no immediate prospect for the imposition of 
economic sanctions against Myanmar by the United States or any 
other nations.

However, despite the SLORC's claim of phenomenal economic growth 
and rise in foreign direct investments, the economic plight of 
ordinary people has been continuing with no end in sight. Prices of basic 
necessities have been rising at a rate of three to four times higher than 
the grossly underestimated government report of only 30 per cent.

The Burmese economy has been under siege by black marketeering 
and shortages of basic necessities, including the main Burmese 
staple, rice, as well as cooking fuel, water supply and energy. 
In its August 1995 issue, the private Burmese economic journal, 
Myana Dana, reported that the price of top quality rice, Pawsun 
Mhway, rose above Kt 100 per pyi and the price of the lowest 
quality rice, Nga Sein, climbed to Kt80 per pyi.

However, in November 1995, the prices of these two quality rice 
dropped back down to Kt90 and Kt50 per pyi that are still far 
above their 1994 average prices to indicate a continuing 
worsening of living conditions for ordinary people.

The shortage of rice for domestic consumption has been 
occurring, despite the government report of phenomenal increase 
in the paddy and rice output and a forecast of 1 to 1.5 million 
tonnes of rice export to the drought-affected Indonesia in the 
forthcoming year of 1995/96.

The main cause of rice shortage for domestic consumption and 
escalating price has been the highly inefficient system of 
procurement of paddy and distribution of rice riddled with 
corruption and black marketeering. Notice also that rice export 
is monopolized by the state to earn foreign exchange.

>From all indications, the generals are not likely to concede to 
her political leadership nor are they willing to transfer power 
to the legitimate winners of the 1990 elections, the NLD candidates.

In the 1990 elections, the junta had already cleverly passed an 
arbitrary law by stipulating that those who enjoy the privilege 
from a foreign government will be allowed to be a political 
leader, directing at Suu Kyi's marriage to an Englishman, 
Michael Aris.

Thus, the domestic political impasse on democratization and 
marginalization of the most dangerous political foe to the 
Burmese junta will continue to succeed in deterring any serious 
international sanctions as human rights violations have taken a 
second seat to commercial interests of Asian and Western 
countries in dealing with Burma.

Future political turmoil, repression, and devastation are not 
completely out of the question in a land where there is no rule 
of law and no real economic growth for the people who live in 
terror and fear under the rule of the guns. (TN)


November 5, 1995

Former Third Army commander Gen Siri Thiwaphan plans to discuss 
with senior Burmese military officials three main issues which 
have strained relations between the two countries during a visit 
to Rangoon over the next three days.

The topics expected to be discussed are the opening of Thai-
Burmese border checkpoints, the construction of the Thai-Burmese 
Friendship Bridge over the Moei River and the row over the 
murder of Burmese fishermen in Ranong.

The discussions are aimed at paving the way for an official 
visit to Rangoon by Foreign Minister Kasem S. Kasemsri next 
weekend. Gen Siri, as chairman of the advisory board to the 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, flies out today to lead the 
ministry's first delegation to Rangoon under the current government.

The 20-member delegation includes officials and businessmen and 
will participate in a religious ceremony in Nakalaiku temple. 
Thai and Burmese businessmen will meet tomorrow and on Tuesday 
Gen Siri is expected to pay a courtesy call on top officials of 
the ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc).

They are SLORC's chairman Senior Gen Than Shwe, vice chairman 
Gen Maung Aye and the First Secretary-General and Military 
Intelligence chief Lt Gen Khin Nyunt. Gen Siri said: "I am going 
to sound out their views and exchange understanding, not to make 
any agreement."

And he expressed confidence that meeting with his old friends 
Gen Maung Aye and Lt Gen Khin Nyunt will help smooth the talks. 
The results of the meeting will be reported to M.R. Kasem who is 
due to visit Burma on November 12-13, he said.

Gen Siri and Gen Maung Aye worked closely together when the 
former was the Third Army commander and the latter Eastern Army 
commander in 1989-91. Burma closed its border with Thailand at 
Tak and Chiang Rai provinces in March alleging Thai support for 
ethnic rebels, while the Ranong border checkpoint was closed 
after the murder of at least five Burmese fishermen allegedly by 
Thai colleagues.

The construction of the bridge over the Moei River was also 
suspended in June for what Rangoon saw as Thailand's land 
encroachment onto a small island in the middle of the river. (BP)


November 5, 1995      By U Thaung

At the United Nations recently, Burma's Foreign Minister U Ohn 
Gyaw remarked: "A national convention has been convened to draft 
a new constitution which would be in harmony with present-day 
realities and reflect the aspirations of the entire nation."

Meanwhile, at home in Burma, the State Law and Order Restoration 
Council announced the adjournment of the National Convention 
meeting called last week. It's good that the National Convention 
meeting has been put off. It would be better if the National 
Convention meeting were abandoned.

But the best possible scenario would be for the Slorc to scrap 
altogether the idea of establishing a 25 per cent military 
dictatorship parliamentary system. It's a utopian constitution 
which has nothing to do with the realities of the nation and the 
aspirations of its people. It's impractical, unworkable, 
nonsensical, and unlikely ever to win popular acceptance.

The proposed constitution stipulates that to be eligible for the 
presidency, a candidate must have 20 year's residency and have 
not come under "foreign influences". That is ridiculous. Why don
't the Slorc just include in the draft what they really want to 
say, which is: "Any woman whose address happens to be 54, 
University Avenue, Rangoon, is automatically disqualified from 
ever attaining the presidency."

Since 1993, the national convention had to be postponed again 
and again because the army was not able to control the 
delegates_even though they were hand picked. Out of the 700 
delegates, only the military and civil service delegates sat 
quietly and remained in line with the army. The rest rebelled. 
Some delegates deserted, running into exile in places as far 
away as America and Australia.

Against the will of the army, the Lahus and the Was submitted a 
proposal at the convention to introduce a federal system with 
democratic rights. The Shans went further. They rejected the 25 
per cent military parliament. They demanded sovereign power to 
be vested in an elected legislature. The result? Repeated 
adjournments of the convention.

The concept of the military having a leadership role in politics 
is not to be found in any civilised country in the world today. 
The Burmese military leaders must learn to accept that an 
officer in the army, a railway engineer, an agricultural 
officer, a teacher, a lower division clerk - all are civil 
servants. None have the right to dictate to the government.

Working for the government in supposedly perilous fields, 
soldiers have been able to claim better benefits. The Burma Army 
did so when civil war raged in 1948.  In 1949, the Parliament of 
the Union of Burma granted generous increases in the pay and 
benefits of military personnel.

A captain's pay was increased from Ks 525-600 plus to Ks631-806 
allowance, while other government servants of the same rank_ 
Sub-Divisional Officer, Treasury Officer, Assistant Engineer_ 
were all working with a pay scale of Ks 350.

Since the 1962 military takeover, the military pay scale were 
raised at the will of the army, and benefits to military 
officers augmented. A law was passed giving generous 
contributions of civilian tax payers' money to any business 
invested in by military officers.

The greed of the Burmese military is like a man who drinks salt 
water. he gets no satisfaction; he just gets thirstier. Today 
military officers are the elite. They are a class that is second 
to none. Civilians, on the other hand, are a low class of 
people, ranked a hundred times lower than the military.

Out of this situation the military demand the right to a 25 per 
cent military parliamentary system. They want eternal hegemony. 
No way, the Burmese people will never embrace such a 
constitution.  Throughout history, the Burmese have battled for 
better constitutions.

They understand that a constitution is a contract between the 
ruling class and the working class. The people will never surrender 
25 per cent of their rights to the army just because the army is armed 
to their teeth for the purpose of overpowering the people.

The Burmese people have been fighting for better constitutions 
since colonial rule began. A decade after the 1897 annexation, 
the British established a small Legislative Council of nine members 
picked by the governor. This was rejected by the Burmese people.

As a result of reform, the legislature was enlarged from nine to 
seventeen, with two elected representatives in 1909. Although 
the two delegates were elected from the British Chamber of 
Commerce and Rangoon Traders Association, it was the beginning 
of a representative system for Burma.

The Burmese masses did not accept the system, and political 
movements started in 1908 in the form of religious reform. The 
Young Men's Buddhist Association began the struggle for 
political power to be placed in the hands of the people.

The December Boycott of 1920 was the first confrontation with 
the colonialists. The people won that showdown, and in 1923 the 
British had to submit a new constitution with a legislature of 
103 seats, of which 79 were filled by election.

Still unsatisfied, the people asked for more power, and in 1936 
a new constitution with 92 direct elected representation out of 
132 seats was achieved. Dissatisfied, the Burmese wanted 
complete political power and absolute freedom, and the struggle 
for sovereignty continued during the war.

The first chance for the Burmese to write their own constitution 
came during the Japanese occupation, that granted supposed 
sovereignty. It was a sham independence, but Burmese leaders 
were able to write the document freely:

(54) 7. (a) With a view to ensuring the stability of the State, 
the armed forces shall be outside politics.

It is interesting to learn that the Burmese leaders foresaw the 
mentality of army officers since 1943, and barred the Burmese 
military from politics.

When the 1947 constitution was written following the guidelines 
of U Aung San for the establishment of a new republic, the 
Burmese leaders drafted a true democratic system, with the power 
of the state deriving from the people:

Every Union citizen who has attained the age of majority has the 
right to stand for election to Parliament.

Any Union citizen who is eligible to be elected to the Union 
Parliament is qualified to be elected President.

It was not only people's rights that were defined. The 
constitution also fixed the limits of the army's authority:

97. (1) The right to raise and maintain military, naval and air 
forces is vested exclusively in the parliament.

The Burmese have been struggling for a truly representative rule 
throughout their history. They have foreseen the greed of the 
armed forces. And they say "no" to bogus constitutions, and "no" 
to a 25 per cent military parliament in Burma. (BP)


November 5, 1995  
Member of Asia-Pacific subcommittee in House of Representatives
The Republicans are deviled on the issue of imposing sanctions 
against the Burmese military government in Rangoon, while some 
Democrats are coordinating with those Republicans who are in 
favour of it.
Assistant Editor RALPH BACHOE spoke with a few of them during 
his recent visit to Capitol Hill.

RB: You have been out of the limelight for some time in regards to 
the Burmese situation. What have you been up to?

DR: I've been fairly active over the years. But there is only so 
much we can do from Washington. Obviously the United States 
government isn't going to arm an insurgency movement in Burma. 
It's limited to what the United States can do to give direct 
support to the students. What we really can do is basically make 
sure that our position is understood and that we don't give 
political or economic support to the dictatorship.

I am trying to make sure, over the years, that the students and 
the democratic resistance in Burma received recognition for 
their movement and that the dictatorship was recognised as a 
tyranny that don't represent the will of the people. What you 
can do is limited as long as you are not going to use guns or 
provide guns.

RB: Should the Republicans come to power, what would their stance be 
on Burma?

DR: I don't think there will be any changes. I think the Burmese 
issue is totally bipartisan. Bill Richardson and myself, Senator 
Moynihan and Mitch McConnell on our side. Sen McCain, Bill 
Archer, Nancy Johnson on the other side. It's Republicans and 

There's no party line on Burma. Just like there's no party line 
on dictatorship. I think the Burma issue goes to the core of 
what American policy is going to be toward dictatorship. And 
because it is clearly one of the most cruel dictatorships in the world.

What is American policy going to be, and what should it be, 
toward a dictatorship? We have another situation in China, for 
example. And now these things bring into conflict the political, 
which is your commitment to democracy and political freedom. And 
the economic, the desires of your people to make money. That's 
the way it is in China and that's the way it is in Burma. And it 
is a bipartisan thing because it crosses party lines.

RB: So you mean to say there is actually not very much the US can do 
about it?

DR: I think there is. I think the United States should be pro-active 
in supporting democratic movements. It doesn't mean we have to 
give them guns. But we could be providing communications 
equipment for people struggling against dictatorship. We could 
provide certain types of support in terms of financial and medical care.

If I'm calling the shots it would be totally different. I think 
human rights and democracy have to be very high on the priority 
list. But there are many Republicans who don't believe that. 
There are many Democrats who don't believe that.

There are some Republicans and some Democrats who believe that 
human rights should be a high priority and some other who don't. 
As far as I'm concerned we should be basically supporting a pro-
democratic activist foreign policy. And that would mean supporting 
the people in Burma with any means outside of providing guns.

RB: Now that McConnell's bill has been shot down what future plans 
do you have in mind to revive it?

DR: I am working on legislation to introduce a similar bill here in 
the House to Senator McConnell's over in the Senate, which will 
basically embargo any future investment by American companies in 
Burma. And the power of my bill will be aimed at future 
investment rather than trying to get the people who have already 
invested to get out.

Those deals [between Slorc and Texaco and Unocal] have already 
been made. People have put money into them. I don't think it's 
fair for us to change the rules in the middle of the game after 
Texaco and Unocal have already invested hundreds of millions of 

RB: While pressure groups have been putting the squeeze on companies 
like Texaco and Unocal, this is the first time I've heard of an 
American who is literally saying "let bygones be bygones" to 
companies already committed to business in Burma, and that there 
would be no more new-comers after this?

DR: My goal is not to punish the people who have already gone in, 
but for us to set a policy so that no one else would go in and 
do business with this dictatorship. And Texaco and Unocal have 
told me that the amount of money flowing from this investment to 
the dictatorship won't really start in any big way for another 
five years anyway, when the project is complete. That's when the 
money will really start flowing. Hopefully by then, the Slorc 
dictatorship would be just a bad memory. I am optimistic.

I think we do need a new consciousness among democratic peoples 
on this issue of exploitation of natural resources by these 
dictatorships. And in Laos for example, I'm working with the 
Royal Family which is now in exile to try to set up a foundation 
that would be aimed at protecting the rain forest in Southeast 
Asia, particularly in Laos,but it also applies to Burma.

And the fact is that the Royal Family is in exile and the communist 
dictatorship there now is just like the anti-Communist dictatorship in 
Burma, stealing their people blind. They are destroying their natural 
resources for their own profit and selling them at bargain basement prices.

So I am working with the Royal Family of Laos to see if we can 
set up a foundation whose goal would be to preserve those natural 
resources from exploitation by dictatorships, especially in Southeast Asia.

RB: Should Burma ever regain democracy in the near future, say if a 
person like Aung San Suu Kyi takes over, and the democratic 
forces start running the country again, what would the American 
government's reaction be should they negate all those contracts 
that have been signed with Slorc?

DR: My position is that any business that makes a contract with a 
dictatorship does so at its own risk. As far as I'm concerned, if Slorc falls, 
the democratic government should look very closely at the contracts that 
have been signed to make sure that they benefit the people of Burma.

One of the greatest tragedies we have in the world today is that 
we have dictatorships like that in Burma which are making 
contracts and selling the natural treasures of their country, 
the birthright of their people at bargain basement price to other countries.

It's all right for a democracy to sell its lumber for example if 
it is making a trade-off like helping to finance and education 
system, build roads and so on. But for a dictatorship simply to 
sell its natural resources like its great forests, its gems or even its oil 
or gas and then use the money basically to provide the military with 
the means to suppress the people, that is the greatest sin of all.

I would think that if Slorc falls, any company which has made a 
contract with it should be aware that the democratic government 
is not obliged to follow that contract.  And the ASEAN 
governments should back up the democratic government in that. 


November 6, 1995     Agence France-Presse

Singapore said yesterday that it was sending a 75-member business 
mission to Burma to explore new investment and trade opportunities.

The delegation, comprising business professionals from both the 
government and private sectors, will begin today the week-long 
visit sponsored by the Trade Development Board (TDB).

Private business organizations involved in the hotel, 
entertainment, exhibition, construction, engineering and public 
works industries and trading and financial services will be 
included in the mission, the TDB said.

Singapore is the second largest foreign investor in Burma after 
Britain. At the end of August its investment commitments in 
Burma totalled US$528 million in 31 projects.

Burma has sought more investments from Singapore, which has 
pursued a policy of "constructive engagement" with Rangoon's 
military regime and promoted business ties to encourage the 
country to open up to the world. (TN)


November 6, 1995

Traders and residents from Mae Sot have warned they might 
protest if the Government bows to pressure from Rangoon to 
dredge the channel in the Moei River which is closer to Thai territory.

Sources close to the disgruntled traders told the Bangkok Post 
they were not happy with the way in which the Thai authorities 
appeared to be bending towards the demands of their Burmese counterparts.

Rangoon has recently demanded that Thailand dredge the channel 
in the Moei River which demarcates the border between the two 
countries in addition to its two earlier demands: that Thailand 
dismantle a rock-heap embankment and 16 shophouses allegedly 
built on the river bank on the Thai side.

Rangoon has made it clear that any failure to heed all of its 
demands will result in a lack of cooperation regarding Thailand
's proposals to reopen the border in Mae Sot and Mae Sai of 
Chiang Rai and to resume construction of the Thai-Burmese 
Friendship Bridge in Mae Sot.

The Thai traders are concerned that dredging the river channel 
will force some 120 riverside stalls catering to tourists to be 
relocated and cause them to lose revenue, said the sources, adding 
the authorities have not yet found an alternative site for them.

The sources also pointed out that dredging the channel would 
change the natural characteristics of the border which constitutes 
a breach of the Thai-Burmese border treaty signed in 1868.

They further argued that the rock-heap embankment was conducted 
on the Thai side and would not cause any land erosion on the 
Burmese side, as claimed by Rangoon. (BP)