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BurmaNet News:November 7, 1006

"Appropriate Information Technologies, Practical Strategies" 

The BurmaNet News: November 7, 1996
Issue #563


November 5, 1996
by Francois Casanier.
Digipresse, Paris.

The military junta in Burma which named itself SLORC (State Law & Order
Restoration Council) is confronted, since its advent in 1988, to tremendous cash
problems, due mainly to increased defense spending.
The need for hard currency has led SLORC to develop what has become
the country's main export - in value : heroin, and to monopolize the income of
this trade.
This fact is documented in numerous public reports, including one by the
U.S. State department. Satellite pictures show the explosion of poppy
cultivation in areas directly controlled by the Burmese army. It is also
recalled that Burma, despite the increasing part of the Afghanistan-Pakistan
bloc, remains the first producer and exporter of heroin, providing over 50% of
the known global illicit production. Burma-watchers consider that since 1992
the heroin trade accounts for 50 to 70% of the cash flow into the country.
However, these documents do not mention the financial narco-network set up
by the regime in Rangoon. Such as MOGE (Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise).
Digipresse takes here the opportunity to fill in this gap.


Burma's national company MOGE (Myanmar Oil & Gas Enterprise) has been for 4
years the main channel for laundering the revenues of heroin produced and
exported under the control of the Burmese army.
The main lines of this financial scheme, judged "unsophisticated", are
familiar since several months to anti-narcotic specialists. 
The need to set up a money laundering system for the revenues of heroin
became imperative in 1992, after the publication in the Far Eastern Economic
Review, never denied, of the first precise accusations connecting Burma's
military regime with the funding of massive purchases of arms by the sale of
huge amounts of heroin.
These attacks, by chance, coincided with the signing of the contract, MOGE
was concluding with the French company TOTAL, together with the payment to
MOGE of an inclusive and immediate installment of U.S $ 15 million for the
data concerning the gas field. This transfer made possible a first money
laundering scheme, "at the layering stage", rather primitive but sufficient
to ease the fears of a provider all too aware of the risk: Poland's Nobel Peace
laureate Lech Walesa. Polish officials stick to their explanation: 24
second-hand military helicopters and the pilots' training were Paid for "with
Total's money" they say, although this contract was 4 times worth the amount
acknowledged by the French oil company.
Despite the fact that MOGE has no assets besides the limited installments of
its foreign partners, and makes no profit, and that the Burmese state never
had the capacity to allocate any currency credit to MOGE, the accounts of
this Burmese State Company in a Singapore bank have seen, since the
signature of the contract with Total, later joined by the American company
UNOCAL, the transfer of hundreds of millions of U.S $.


These bank operations in Singapore proved to be so peculiar that they
caught the eye of an international control organization: the money put in, the
amounts and its many different origins, including many credit transfers from
northern Thailand, raised curiosity. Many originated in huge cash deposits in
banks of the Northern Thailand city of Mae Sai. 
This border town is only a bridge away from the Burmese city of Tachilek,
which has an airport. It turns Mae Sai into the only Thai city that is
accessible by Burmese domestic flights, just walking, as Burmese and Thai
citizens are allowed to freely cross-over for a one-day trip.
This most convenient channel was used for over a year - from early 1993
to the end of 1994, until the press revealed the bizarre ballet of SLORC's cash
carriers - Burmese officers flying in from Rangoon with parcels of bank notes to
deposit in the local Thai banks of Mae Sai. The majority of these funds came
from the heroin trade: they were either "donations" from the drug runners in
Burma to their military protectors, or their share of operations in which they
were associated. Other credit transfers have been less easy to identify, but
they too resulted from the heroin trade by criminal organizations given
protection, and bases, in Burma, necessary for a secure supply.
The cash flow out of MOGE's bank accounts looks insane: they have
contributed, with no relation to the company's economy, to a variety of funding
operations, including the purchase of military hardware from Poland and
Portugal, the cost of running Burmese Embassies in Europe, and the creation of
in-between funding companies, many in Singapore, that invest into Burma's
emerging private sector...
The team of high-ranking Burmese army officers who rule the country
most brutally, not too familiar with the subtleties of finance, were not aware
of the "defaults " of such a funding, when it is not integrated into a whole and
impenetrable network of transfers in fiscal paradises where total bank secrecy
proves efficient...


In January 1996, the reintegration into Burma's national community, without
any court proceedings, of Khun Sa, until then described as the world's
leading "independent" heroin producer, enraged the United States.

U.S. authorities, according to sources who have access to the file on the
financial ties between Khun Sa and the SLORC, put pressure on the junta,
which obliged the Burmese generals to slow down an important network of
narcotic funds. This decrease of the narco-cash flow has caused, in a
"non-neglectable proportion" according to the same sources, the incapacity
last August to pay U.S $ 27.3 million to the Japanese firm Mitsui for its
oil supply to Rangoon. Other Burmese state institutions are, for the same
reasons, bankrupt.


"French oil company Total is the main support of the military regime in
Burma", declared Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize who heads the
democratic opposition in an interview to the French daily Le Monde on July
20. Since then, the management of TOTAL can hardly conceal its embarrassment
and its contradictions when referring to its financial relations with MOGE.
In Le Monde of July 21-22, M. Daniel Valot, who heads the exploration
Production, said about the Yadana gasfield: "we are currently investing  U.S
$ 1 billion, into this project, and the Burmese part  (MOGE ndlr)
participates in 5%" of it". But in truth this participation is fictitious.
According to an interview granted by TOTAL's management to a delegation of
the FIDH (Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme), MOGE
cannot pay its part -about U.S $ 150 million-  and should do it later with
its share of the gas in exchange...Early 1996, when asked by the Paris-based OGD
(Observatoire Geopolitique des Drogues), M. Daniel, who is in charge of
TOTAL's communication, answered in a fax  : "we deal in hydrocarbons, your
business is drugs, so we have no reason to answer you"....
A lack of transparency which can only feed suspicions: how can the top
executives of the French company ignore, after 4 years of close
collaboration with their Burmese partner, that MOGE is SLORC's main
laundering machine ?


Since this year, the western partners of SLORC have been alarmed by the
regime's vulnerability due to its too visible links with drug trafficking.
So they have put up a strategy to diversify the regime's apparent sources of
income. It is in such context that was concocted the "1996-97 visit Myanmar
year" campaign, with the support, for its launching, of France's ambassador
in Rangoon.
Early this year, M. Pottier inspired the national daily newspaper Le Figaro
with a series of articles that praised the "new look" of the Burmese
generals, who "set the country on the right path to economic liberalism". In
an interview to the French news agency AFP, he also encouraged French
Economic operators to "prefer Burma to Vietnam", despite the latter's ties
with the French-speaking world.
The crowning of these face-lifting maneuvers occurred at the end of March in
Paris, during the World Tourism Fair. General Kyaw Ba, Burma's Minister
for Tourism, attended as guest of honor, invited under the instigation of M.
Pottier. The organizers of this show, together with the President of the
Association of Professional Journalists for Tourism, and with the director of
ASIA, the main French tour agency operating in Burma, awarded the Gulliver
prize of cultural discovery to a program in Burma.
A distinction created in 1996, just by necessity. And which is the only one ever
given to SLORC.

This document is the result of a 4-year network investigation. It has proved
successful, among other things, in spotting an influential lobby promoting
SLORC's interests abroad, which makes France the first investor in Burma.

More details are available on call via e-mail or fax @  DIGIPRESSE.

*International Narcotics Control Strategy Report , U.S department of State,
Bureau for International Narcotics and Law enforcement Affairs, 1994,95,96


November 7, 1996

RANGOON - Burma's military government has removed barricades blocking access
to the road past democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's house after five days
of closure  at Suu Kyi's house said yesterday.

The government set up roadblocks on Saturday to stop democracy supporters
from attending a regular weekend speech at Suu Kyi's home on University
Avenue. Suu Kyi's telephone also has been out of order the past few days,
with the line apparently cut.

The ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council has said that Suu Kyi's
weekend speeches are illegal unless they are held inside her compound. It
has prevented her from holding them since September by blocking access to
University Avenue. (TN)


November 6, 1996
Rangoon, AP

All 12 people detained during a brief street demonstration Sunday have been
released, official sources said yesterday.

The 12 were detained when they refused to obey an order to disperse from a
road junction near the home of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

They were among about 200 people who witnesses said were demanding that
police release two people allegedly arrested at another street gathering
earlier that day.

Both crowds had gathered in apparent hopes that Suu Kyi would come to
address them.

Asked about the arrests, Lt Col Hla Min of military intelligence said
yesterday that "only 12 persons were detained in Sunday evening's commotion
and all of them have been released after questioning Monday evening." (BP)


November 6, 1996

SINGAPORE - Singapore's main opposition party challenged the authorities
yesterday to telecast without censorship a controversial Australian
documentary alleging commercial links between the government and a purported
Burmese drug lord.

This will "let Singaporeans see for themselves who is right and who is
wrong", Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party
(SDP), said in an open letter.

The documentary, aired on Oct 12 by the Australian television station
Special Broadcasting Service, referred to an investment by the cash-rich
Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) in the so-called Myanmar Fund.

Myanmar is the official name given to Burma by the ruling Burmese military

The television program, first highlighted by Chee last Thursday, said that
the fund had stakes in companies owned by Steven Law, a Burmese national,
who is alleged to be involved in the drug trade with his father Lo Hsing Han.

Lo reportedly received privileges from Burma's military junta to smuggle
heroin out of Burma, the SDP letter said.

A Singapore government statement over the weekend said that the TV program
had insinuated that through the Myanmar Fund, the government was secretly
collaborating with major drug producers and traffickers in Burma to help
them launder drug money. Government leaders, led by Prime Minster Goh Chok
Tong, dismissed the allegations as "preposterous".

A government statement said that GIC's investment in the Myanmar Fund was
open and above board and that the fund's stakes in the two hotels and one
company identified by the program were straightforward investments in bona
fide commercial projects.

Goh had said: "We are against drug trafficking and we certainly do not
condone any association with drug trafficking. The integrity of the
Singapore government should never be in doubt. We prize that asset very much."

Government leaders also accused Chee of ganging up with foreigners to smear
Singapore's image. Chee said yesterday that to settle the issue "once and
for all" the government should telecast without censorship the documentary
and "let Singaporeans see for themselves who is right." (TN)


November 6, 1996

U Tin Maung Win, the vice-president of the Democratic Alliance of Burma and
a member of the National Council of the Union of Burma presidium addressed
the Alternative ASEAN Conference in Bangkok from October 29-30.

I would to begin my comments with an acknowledgment of thanks to those
activists in ASEAN states who have spoken out in support of the struggle for
democracy in Burma. The fact that we are meeting here today is a measure of
your success. On behalf of the Burmese people and National Council of the
Union of Burma, I thank you and am truly grateful for your contributions to
our efforts.

I would like to highlight our strategy to make democracy in Burma a reality.
We all share the vision of ASEAN as that of a community of young democracies
joining together to attain mutual support and economic development.

However, the current reality is far short of our vision, and "constructive
engagement" starkly reminds us of this gap between the vision of tomorrow
and the realities of today.

It is important to accurately access the current situation that exists
within Burma and ASEAN before we can turn this vision into reality - to see
and correct some of the misconceptions and distortions to realize the truth
and the self deceptions.

The whole premise behind ASEAN's reluctance and belief is its refusal to
condemn the region of terror imposed upon the Burmese people by the military
dictatorship. "ASEAN does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of

Yet, when Singapore provides arms to Burma, which are used to kill innocent
civilians, that is not defined as "interference". When NGOs speak out and
provide assistance to the hundreds of thousands of Burmese who are fleeing
genocide by the military junta, ASEAN defines this as "interference". And
when tens of thousands of Burmese are forcibly relocated to settle in
parched fields to make way for tourist related business, ASEAN does not
define this as "interference" but calls it "good business".

To ASEAN, human rights and democracy are non-existent where the Burmese
populace is concerned, not to mention the economic development of that
country. Their concern and priority is simple: Business at whatever cost.

The truth is "constructive engagement" is neither constructive nor does it
benefit the people. All it does is stifle Burma's capacity for long term
economic development. It is merely a "fig leaf" to camouflage the devious
activities of the  regional Mafia supported by authoritarian rulers.

By understanding the deceptive "packaging" of the constructive engagement
policy, we can then clearly see the role the generals in Rangoon play in
this ASEAN arena.

For example, ASEAN is like a gang of thieves who have taken over our home
and property, then put up a "For Sale" sign in the yard while we are locked
in the basement. When everything is sold, they jump on their motorbikes and
leave town. What is disgusting is, the buyer of our house and belongings is
aware of our plight.

Slorc is an outlawed regime (by their own submission) which has seized
control of Burma, enslaved its people, and placed the country's resources on
the market for sale to international investors. The proceeds from this "fire
sale" go directly into the pockets of the generals and their families.

Today, Slorc is almost totally dependent upon ASEAN for its international

Our role is to encourage ASEAN governments to adopt policies supportive of
democratic reform in Burma.

We should make clear the distinction between people of ASEAN and the
policies of the elite which control their governments. There are indications
that some ASEAN governments are becoming sensitive to this gap between the
values of their citizens and the greed-based policies of "constructive
engagement". We should explain our efforts to reach all the  citizens of
ASEAN states to inform them about the deception of this policy.

To identity those companies and individuals who by investing in Burma are
profiting from the  suffering of Burmese people, and to determine
appropriate actions to encourage adoption of a policy of "constructive

ASEAN investors need to be reminded of the risks associated with Slorc at
this critical time in the struggle for liberation against tyranny. Investors
who are supporting Slorc are in a position to reap enormous profits if Slorc
is victorious over our people. At the same time, they risk losing their
investments entirely and possible investment opportunities in a new
democratic Burma of tomorrow.

The political defiance strategy adopted by the Burmese pro-democracy
movement in its internal struggle has proven to be effective. It is
progressively weakening Slorc sources of power.

At he same time, it remains non-violent and stands clearly on the moral high
ground by seeking only a transition to civilian democratic government in
accordance with the results of the 1990 elections. It does not seek revenge
against Slorc leaders, nor does it want to destroy the Burmese army.

It wants to change the system of government that corrupts those who serve it.
These objectives and the non-violent strategy employed to achieve our goal
have contributed to the growing support we have received from certain member
countries of ASEAN: Thailand and the Philippines.

To reinforce the political defiance strategy, we need to:
- Counter the attempts by Slorc to isolate the National League for Democracy
from the public.

This can be achieved by more aggression on the part of members of the NLD
and members of the NLD (Liberated Area) to demonstrate that they can
function without being dependent upon the party headquarters in Rangoon.
Importantly, our supporters in ASEAN should continue to bear in mind our
struggle for democracy.

-Keep the Burmese public better informed of the activities, policies and
announcements of the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB) and the
worldwide democratic movement made up of Burmese expatriates.

The NCUB is a single organization which represents all nationalities and
Burmese against Slorc.

The international strategy to expose SLORC's systematic corruption,
brutality and anti-democratic policies has been enormously successful in
documenting the illegitimacy of the regime.

Some ASEAN leaders have become quite uncomfortable of late in openly
supporting Slorc due to these exposures. This strategy has also resulted in
creating a precedent - setting condemnation and sanctions which are the
foundations for even stronger international actions. We need the
international community to accelerate these successful programs.

Priority for this international effort should be:

-To deny Slorc multinational funding for infrastructure development
projects. Funding should be provided only when a "true" civilian government
is installed.

- To seek increased funding to support the activities of Burmese
pro-democracy organizations within and without Burma.

- To ask our supporters in the United States to rally round the members of
the Congress who are insisting  that the administration implement sanctions
against Burma as authorities by the last Congress.

- To ask members of the press to visit the Karen national Union (KNU) and
Karenni National Progressive Party areas along the border to document the
atrocities committed by Slorc against these people, especially now that a
major offensive is under way.

Slorc is facing serious economic problems. Inflation is rampant. Production
of rice has hit nearly rock bottom.

If the economic statistics recently published by the US Embassy in Rangoon
are correct, Slorc is bankrupt and has depleted its foreign exchange
reserves. All these problems can only lead to further political instability.

Internationally, hardly a week goes by without some government or
organization, or the news media in Thailand, condemning Slorc for its brutal
oppressive policies against its people and their elected leaders.

Internally, the political defiance movement continues to strengthen in spite
of SLORC's attempts to crush it.

The carefully constructed "cease-fire" arrangements with many of the ethnic
groups are proving to be very fragile, with discontent becoming clearly
evident between the leaders who agreed to a cease-fire and the people who
continue to suffer from continuous violations of the agreements.

There is growing resentment within the rank and file of the Burmese military
carrying out the extermination campaigns ordered by the generals in Rangoon.

And, of course, there is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, whose courage and defiance
against the generals has placed the junta in a dilemma whether to silence
her or not without feeling the wrath and condemnation of the international

It is important, however, that we accelerate the pace on all fronts to
isolate the regime from its sources of power and to visibly strengthen those
organizations directly confronting Slorc inside Burma.

In conclusion, I believe the current multi-dimensional strategy adopted by
the Burmese pro-democracy movement and supported by the international
community and some member countries of ASEAN is very encouraging.

Slorc is feeling the impact of this.

We have spent too long fighting on the terms set by our opponent. Now, we
have adopted a sound strategy and have the ingredients to carry out a
successful non-violent struggle.

This is the time to act quickly. Failure to do so will leave our nation in
chains for another generation. 


November 6, 1996 (abridged)

Burma will remain a thorny issue between the US and ASEAN in the expected
second term of Bill Clinton as US president, according to Pranee Thiparat,
director of the American Studies Program at Chulalongkorn University.

Their different approaches - America's advocacy of democracy and human
rights versus ASEAN's "constructive engagement" towards the ruling junta -
are a major source of conflict, but they are manageable due to mutual
respect and interests, she said.

"There will not be severe conflicts (on the Burma issue) between Thailand and
ASEAN on one hand and the United States on the other if the US adheres to
its policy of non-intervention," she said.

"The US will pressure its own agenda - as it barred Burmese military
officers from entry into America and issued local legislation- to ban trade,
but the US will never force ASEAN to follow suit or abandon the constructive
engagement policy."

The WTO will be the forum for addressing trade disputes, and ASEAN and other
developing Asian counties will challenge America on trade-related social
clauses, she said.

"The problem is how serious America is linking trade with human rights,
labor standards and corruption due to America's (comparative) disadvantage
with other countries who enjoy cheaper labor."

Foreign policy may not have been a major campaign issue for the  Democrats
or Republicans as they were more concerned with domestic issues, she said.

What is important for Thailand and other Asian countries is whether the new
US administration will form a "strong" team that is keen on Asian matters
and wants to learn from different cultures and values. (BP)


November 7, 1996
Wassana Nanuam

Burma has reiterated its desire to become a member of the association of
Southeast Asian Nations and wants Thailand to give its wholehearted support.

Army Chief Chestha Thanajaro, who led a delegation on a two-day visit to
Burma, said Burmese Prime Minister and Supreme Commander Than Shwe told him
yesterday that he wanted Thais to know that Burma was neither socialist nor
communist but a democracy.

Burma, like other Asean countries, had a free trade policy. This meant there
should be no problem with Burma becoming an Asean member, Gen Chestha quoted
Gen Than Shwe as saying.

Gen Chestha said during his visit Burmese leaders, including Gen Maung Aye,
deputy chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc), and
Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, first secretary of Slorc, told him they wanted to solve
existing problems between the two countries. This would aid mutual economic

Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt said border problems, including the delay in the opening
of the Thai-Burmese friendship bridge at Mae Sot, Tak, could be solved. He
said he would discuss these matters with Gen Than Shwe and Gen Maung Aye.

Gen Chestha said he wanted Burma to release about 200 Thai fishermen
detained there.

In turn Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt had asked Gen Chestha to persuade two minority
groups, the Karen National Union and the Karenni National Progressive Party,
to hold truce talks with the Burmese government.

He thanked Thailand for having invested in several projects in Burma
including a deep-sea port at Tavoy and a container depot at Moulmein. 


November 5, 1996 (The Sydney Morning Herald)

LIKE its predecessor, the Howard Government rejects the idea of sanctions
against the State Law and Order Restoration Council regime in Burma. The
Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Fischer, restated the Government's opposition to
sanctions at the weekend during a stopover in Singapore on his way to India.
He was far from convincing, and so raised again questions about the
soundness of Australian policy in this area.

Mr Fischer said, among other things, that economic sanctions would not be
practical against the SLORC regime because of the peculiar geography of
Burma. "It has huge borders with so many countries, including the booming
trade route through Mandalay into southern China, quite apart from its
coastal openings," he said. Mr Fischer is right about the porous nature of
Burma's borders. But he is wrong to conclude from that economic
sanctions will be futile. Economic sanctions do not only, or even mainly,
consist of the stock in trade of smugglers. They also include much larger
and more vital economic items, such as investment capital and technology,
both of which Burma badly needs.

In the past few weeks other sanctions have been applied. First the United
States and then the European Union banned high-level government contacts and
applied visa restrictions to senior officials of the SLORC and their
families and senior military and security officials. These sanctions
tentatively have been credited with causing the SLORC to ease its
restrictions on the Burmese democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, in recent
days. Judgment on this must be reserved. But the Burmese authorities'
relatively benign treatment of Ms Suu Kyi's supporters as they gathered to
hear her in the streets near her house at the weekend has been seen by some
diplomats as evidence of a softening in the SLORC as a result of the limited
US and European sanctions so far applied.

Australia's unwillingness to press for sanctions against the SLORC is in
line with the policies of most countries in the region. The member countries
of the Association of South-East Asian Nations have adopted a policy of
maintaining good relations with the SLORC while delaying its admission to
ASEAN membership. There is much to be said for Australia's being in step
with its regional neighbors. But it should not let that determine its
actions. Many of the reasons inclining various countries in the region to
adopt a soft approach to the SLORC are not especially honorable. And it is
not as if geographical proximity - which weighs heavily in Australia's
complicated relationship with, for example, Indonesia - requires Australia
to make special allowances for Burma.

The previous government used to reject sanctions on the grounds that
whenever they had been applied against Burma they had been spectacularly
unsuccessful. Yet it might just as well be said that sanctions - that is,
real sanctions, meant to bite - ought to be tried simply because the
predominant policy of recent years of maintaining normal, open relations
with the SLORC has not worked. More compelling, however, is the call of Ms
Suu Kyi for sanctions. She insists - as Nelson Mandela did in the old South
Africa - that sanctions will not add to the hardship of ordinary people, but
will help break the will of their oppressors. The SLORC has an appalling
record of brutality towards its own people. It is still scared, dangerous
and unwilling to permit any significant move towards democracy. It needs to
be pushed. The United States and Europe recognize this, and so should


November 7, 1996
Don Ross

Air Mandalay has secured a concession from Burma's intransigent immigration
department to offer visas on arrival to all of its passengers.

The airline flies from Chiang Mai and Phuket to Rangoon and serves all the
main destinations in Burma.

Unfortunately it's not a clear-cut visa on arrival. Immigration still
insists that visitors pay the US$10 fee and supply details such as name,
passport number and nationality to the airline at the time of booking. The
airline forwards information to Rangoon three days prior to the flight. On
arrival at Rangoon, passengers are issued a visa valid for 28 days.

Passengers normally apply for a visa through a travel agency to avoid
queuing at the embassy. The fee is still $10 and the Bangkok embassy claims
it turns visa applications around in two days.

Travel agents who deal with Burma tell me the Rangoon government is toying
with the idea of a true visa on arrival by the end of the year. They say
such a move is long overdue, if the country wants to salvage its Visit
Myanmar Year forecasts.

"They are talking about attracting 300,000 more tourists because of the
Visit Myanmar Promotion," said one agent. "In my opinion a token visa on
arrival, limited to one airline with just two routes outside the country,
shouldn't be taken seriously. It's a cosmetic gesture.

"We would be happy if all airlines were given the same facility or the
country opted for a real visa on arrival for all tourists and business

The author is editor of Travel Trade Report. 


November 5, 1996 (South East Business world - Philippines)
By Al R. Dizon.

In the beginning there were humans. They lived among themselves, and created
work for themselves as they needed to find food for their sustenance. With
their primitive tools and weapons they roamed the deserts, braved the
forests in search of food for their families and communities.

Several thousand years later, some of the humans found they were more
skillful at hunting than the others. Yet, many more showed greater skills at
combat, farming and governance. Many others revealed great skills at
weaving, fishing and farming.

Soon, every hand was occupied with a particular skill and everyone was
working to satisfy the needs of a wider group, and not just his family.
Thus, they created work for each other.

Family boundaries extended to tribes, and tribes widened to became nations -
with a functional social organization at each level. Today, we call these
social organizations government: some paternal, some democratic, some
tolerant, and some downright repulsive in their oppressiveness.

Eventually, groups of humans found they could do much more work and produce
more useful products more efficiently if they banded together, pool their
resources and talents, and make use of the abundant pool of human resources.
So the first corporations were born.

Eventually, many other groups decided they could do the same thing, and
thus, many other corporations were born, employing hundreds of millions of
human beings. Soon, these corporations found that they could work among
themselves and cooperate towards creating a global economy.
But something strange happened. As business became bigger, humans began to
be pushed aside as the most important factor of production. Land, which is
unperishable, along with capital, which meant money, began to be considered
as the most important factors of production.
Consequently, more efforts were channeled towards free trade, and protecting
factors of production (capital and land) from the adversities of the
business world. Human resource was neglected, as corporations looked for
cheaper labor and more efficient ways of production, so that their capital
and land are used more efficiently.

Along the way, many humans were trampled upon. Some corporations just
couldn't abate their greed as they used these factors of production like a
master would a slave. Many of these humans are languishing with
unrealistically low wages, and are being accommodated in dwellings unfit for

In many cases, it was the government that trampled upon the people. In
several countries, the government deprived people their basic civil rights,
let alone their human rights. They ignored their people's will, engaged in
ethnic cleansing, etc. It seems that many humans, in the form of their
governments, have lost their sense of humanity.

On the other side of the coin, executives who consistently produce the best
profits are given disproportionately high salaries, compared with the
machinist who risked his life to produce a gleaming car out of a pile of
twisted metal.

To exacerbate the situation for humans, populations are aging faster: a
situation that could backfire on corporations because as their workforce
ages beyond a certain limit, its productivity also declines.
This is the dilemma for us today. How should corporations address the human
resource problems of good working conditions and more equitable wages? How
should nations manage its human resource, so labor is adequately protected
alongside land and capital? How can they do this without undermining their
countries' competitiveness?
How can we restore decency in the face of all the abuses against humans by
fellow humans?

In the beginning were humans. Today there are still humans. But while the
humans of old were carefree and imbued with a sense of mission for their
respective families and communities, our generation of humans are bleeding
from the vagaries of the modern world.

>From farms to cities, from camps to minefields, offices and sweatshops,
humans are struggling for survival, so that the generation after them could
also survive. Each one bears a certain degree of prejudice against the
other. Tagalogs vs Bikolanos. Filipinos vs Singaporeans. Islam vs Buddhism.
Australian Greeks vs Australian Croats.

It is not too late for governments to look at the situation and identify the
problems besetting human resources, and finally do something about it. The
plight of the abused and marginalized ought to be addressed, to ensure a
better future for the human race.

For in the beginning were humans. We wouldn't want to be extinct like
dinosaurs. There must be a way of ensuring this.
Surely, one way of ensuring awareness of what's happening to the human race
is what we can do to the oppressive regime in Myanmar.
It is indeed surprising that God-fearing Christians and Muslims could
tolerate the marginalization of such gentle people - the brethren of U
Thant, Ne Win and Aung San Suu Kyi - by power hungry, despotic and
unprincipled wolves in generals clothing.

I do not oppose Myanmar's entry to the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) per se. What I oppose is the entry of Myanmar that is led by
the hungry wolves of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).
Nothing else can be more demeaning for us than ASEAN's mission be diluted by
the blood of the victims of that despotic government.

Myanmar's entry, with SLORC at the helm, would be a disgrace to the good
name of ASEAN - a big injustice to the monumental efforts of outstanding
ASEAN statesmen as Adam Malik, Carlos P. Romulo (and son Roberto Romulo), S.
Rajaratnam and S. Dhanabalan.
There's a foolhardy argument by some ASEAN statesmen nowadays: they say we
must admit Myanmar so that ASEAN can exert influence over it. This is
flawed. First, ASEAN countries do not tolerate interference by foreigners in
each country's affairs. Second, you do not put a wolf in the middle of
chickens. Chickens will never influence a wolf. The wolf will eat them. One
by one.


November 6, 1996
Sumapart Kasem

Thailand and Burma yesterday agreed not to transport armed personnel by boat
in the Moei River to ensure security along the border and prevent weapon and
goods smuggling.

The agreement was reached at a meeting of the 15th Local Thai-Burmese Border
Committee (TBC) in Myawaddy opposite Mae Sot district.

Chairman of the Thai TBC Col Suwit Maenmuen said the measure was aimed to
control and suppress the Karen National Union (KNU), the Democratic Karen
Buddhist Army (DKBA), illegal loggers and smugglers.

Burmese representatives led by Lt Col Kyaw Hlaing have authorised Thai
officials to take legal action against any Burmese vessel carrying armed
personnel passing the river and requested Thailand to do the same.

Both sides are required to inform each other about use of long-tail boats
for patrol in advance to prevent misunderstanding and conflict between the
two countries, according to the agreement.

Thailand and Burma also reached an understanding over the conflict on the
construction of a 1.8-metre-long concrete wall in Tambon Sailuad of Mae Sot
district after TBC participants inspected the construction site.

Earlier at the meeting, Burmese authorities accused Thailand's Public Works
Department of having caused erosion to the Moei river bank on the Burmese
side by taking sand from the river base to build the wall.

Department officials told Burmese representatives that Thailand did not mean
to encroach on Burmese territory and the department would return sand to the
river after completing the ground work. (BP)