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Date: Wed, 7 Feb 1996 17:36:11 +0000
Subject: From Western Border
X-Mailer: Pegasus Mail for Windows (v2.10) & WPEGWAF v0.7
Organization: Forum for Democracy and Human Rights
The Asian Age: Burma readies for tourist rush, but facilities still poor
7 February, 1996
Pagan ( Burma ), Feb. 6: Burma is sprucing up its tourist sites for Visit Myanmar Year, but infra-structure is still lagging behind its rivals and Rangoon may have trouble reaching its target of 200,000 visitors next year.
According to a joke doing the rounds of foreign residents here, Burma's ideal tourist is one who flies into Rangoon, takes a suite at the Strand Hotel, spends $500 and flies out again the next day.
But the country has a lot to offer: from Rangoon's landmark Shwedagon pagoda to the bustle of Mandalay, the 11th -13th century temples in Pagan and the picturesque floating villages on Inle lake in the Shan State. It also has substandard hotels, serious transportation problems, an antiquated rail and road network and inadequate air links, and officials who are uncomfortable with undisciplined foreign tourists. "As long as people stay on the tourist circuit, they will come away happy. Those who get off the beaten track to try to get to know the "Real Burma" will find their experience is less happy," a tourism professional commented. He was speaking after a group of 12 British and American tourists were forced to cut short a bicycle tour of the country because of a mix-up between Rangoon authorities and those in the provinces over authorizations.
Pagan is the country's premier tourist destination, where more than 2,000 stupas, temples and monasteries, some carefully restored and other just heaps of masonry, dot the vast plain along the bank of the Irrawaddy river.
Hotels and guest houses have sprung up in recent months, but for 1996 the Pagan City Development Board says it can offer just 1,533 rooms, and many of them in an inferior category. Mr. Philip Paris, a Singapore-based businessman who is about to begin construction of a 200- room luxury hotels with a soft-opening target in mid- 1997, said he is confident the situation will improve rapidly. With the Oriental hoping to open a 100-room hotel, also on the river, a little earlier, Pagan will have no more than 1,000 rooms of a comfortable international standard by the end of the next year, Mr. Paris said.
Tourism and Hotels minister Kyaw Ba, maintained in a recent speech that income from tourism- related businesses had a "multiplier effect on the citizens of nation". (AFP)
The Asian Age: Burma outlines terms for Khun Sa's surrender
Rangoon, Feb. 6 : Burmese authorities have set three conditions for the formal surrender of reputed drug warlord Khun Sa, that it be unconditional, that he halt all drug-related activities and promise to obey the law, an official source said recently.
The conditions were given to Khun Sa after he relayed his offer to surrender through a Burmese Army divisional commander, the source said.
Khun Sa's Mong Tai Army ruled eastern Shan State for many years, during which h is said to have financed the ethnic Shan minority's fight for independence by trafficking in heroin.
Shan State is a part of the so-called "golden triangle" along with Northern Thailand and Western Laos. The source rejected as " total rubbish" the international news reports that the military government in Rangoon had accepted 10 demands by Khun Sa, including total amnesty.
Authorities turned down a US request that he be extradited, and have not specified any potential prosecution of the warlord, should the demand be met. Khun Sa's offer to surrender may have been the only option available to him given the huge military onslaught he faced, the source speculated. The warlord was denied refuge by Thailand and faced a two-pronged attack by their Burmese military and the ethnic Wa minority, who were looking to expand their zone of influence.
The source reasoned that Khun Sa's only way out was to accept the government `s surrender terms.
Khun Sa and the MTA initially surrendered to Burmese authorities in a series of ceremonies in Shan State in early January, but his current whereabouts are unknown.
Militaries in here regard the surrender of Khun Sa and the MTA as an unprecedented achievement for the Burmese Army, and say it averted a bloody conflict that could have lasted another five years with heavy losses on both sides. (AFP)
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