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BurmaNet News: December 9, 1996

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

The BurmaNet News:  December 9, 1996
Issue # 587


December 6, 1996

Friday, Students from RIT (Rangoon Institute of Technology) and
Dagon university started to assemble this morning and marched to
the Thamai intersection. All the workers from Thamai Textile
factory and citizens cheered the students on. All the main roads
leading to Rangoon main university campus have been blocked by Slorc
military personel.

All the students and citizens are nearly 10,000 now, said the
diplomats in Rangoon.=20

At the moment, all the demonstrators are gathering at Hle Tan
intersection. Their demands have become more political than the demands two
days ago, said the witnesses in Rangoon.

Three days ago, U Tin Oo, vice-chairman of the NLD was
investigated for two hours by the military intelligence at his residence.

On Thursday, more than 500 NLD members and political activists
went to U Tin Oo's compound to celebrate National Day because all
access to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's residence was blocked by the
Slorc security personel. Finally, Slorc soldiers and riot police
came to U Tin Oo's house and warned them to disperse immediately.

Friday morning, foreign Oil companies in Rangoon have had
interviews with local people who want to work with the oil companies and
will start their business in March or April, said residents in Rangoon.

Since the 6th of December, there are more than 500 students and
activists have been arrested by the Slorc military intelligence.
Some are the NLD members of Rangoon division.

More than 50 of the NLD members are still detained in the Slorc
military intelligence detention centers since the 6th of December. The
following are the list of detained NLD members in Rangoon division.

1. Cher Ttaik (m)-San Chaung township member of the NLD,
2. Khin Mar Cho (f)-San Chaunf township member of the NLD,
3. Thida Myint (f)- San Chauhg township member of the NLD,
4. Ma Cho (f)- San Chaung township member of the NLD,
5. Kyi Kyi Win (f)- Kyi Myin Daing township member of the NLD,
6. Mya Shwe (m)- San Chaung township member of the NLD,
7. Tin Aye (m)- South Okkalapa township member of the NLD,
8. Nyi Nyi Naing (m)- Taung Okkalapa township member of the NLD,
9. U Kyaw (m) Insein township member of the NLD,
10. Khaing Ko (m)-Insein township member of theNLD,
11. Khin Maung Oo (m)- North Okkalapa township member of teh NLD.

This afternoon, round about 12:30 or 1:00 pm, the Slorc security
personals have started to use tear gas and fired one shot in the
air against the demonstrators in Rangoon, said the witnesses in Rangoon.

Three days ago, an police officer from No.(8) Police station of Mandalay,
upper Burma, was shot death by an officer from Wa cease-fire group.

On 4th December, the Buddhist monks from Mandalay have announced
that "All Buddhist Monk Union" was re-established in Mandalay. =20


December 7, 1996
Rangoon, Dec. 6: Burma's military authorities deployed armed=20
riot police again on the streets of Rangoon on Friday as=20
university students prepared to hold a new wave of protests.
Armed riot police holding tin shields blocked a main road on the=20
edge of town as about 100 university students prepared to make=20
their way to a meeting point about two kms away where they=20
were to hold a protest. Some 40 red-helmeted riot police=20
blocked the road, while another 100 sat in the back of three=20
nearby trucks with batons ready for trouble.
Students told AFP they were planning to take part in a=20
demonstration to demand the right to form a union and the=20
release of student prisoners.
They added that a meeting had taken place at the Rangoon=20
Institute of Technology on Thursday in which students had=20
discussed the formation of a union. Student unions have been=20
banned by the authorities.
It was not immediately clear if students from other faculties=20
were going to take part in the protest, planned at the site where=20
one of the most daring student protests since 1988 had taken=20
place on Monday.
More than 600 students were picked up following the sit-down=20
protests but were later released. The authorities at the same=20
time also blocked access to the home of opposition leader Aung=20
San Suu Kyi for two days.
Students said on Friday that they also wanted to extract an=20
official explanation from the military authorities on the fate of=20
policemen accused of involvement in the beating up of students=20
in October. The beatings, for which the authorities said the=20
officers involved had been adequately punished, sparked street=20
protests which took many analysts by surprise, given the brutal=20
crackdown against student protesters in 1988. Faced with a wall=20
of riot police Friday, most of the students dispersed, apparently=20
looking for new means to access the protest site, but several=20
managed to sneak through the road block aboard a public bus.=20


December 6, 1996 (abridged)

     Faced with the largest antigovernment protest since the junta
seized power in 1988, it shut down some roads near a junction in
front of Yangon University, where the gathering was held, and
appeared ready to suppress the rally.
     At about 2 p.m., students of the Yangon Institute of Technology
began a demonstration at their campus 10 kilometers north of Yangon,
following similar marches Monday and Tuesday when 600 student
demonstrators were detained.
     Students of Yangon University tried to join in, but the junta
sent in more than 1,000 armed police and troops to block the roads,
leading to dispersal of the marchers.
     After the demonstrators scattered, soldiers, policemen and some
water-spraying vehicles remained in the city, but students of the two
universities continued sporadic protests before linking up for the
street rally at night.
     Hoisting a picture of Gen. Aung San, founder of Myanmar and
father of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, students delivered
one speech after another at the gathering, criticizing the junta.
     The students are pressing the government to allow them to set up
self-governing councils.  Such councils have been banned since 1962.


December 8, 1996
RANGOON - The Burmese junta broke up an overnight student rally with water
cannons and batons early yesterday and carted away some 300 anti-govemment
The crackdown was the second this week in which military
authorities have forcibly broke up demonstrations by
college students protesting against alleged police brutality and
calling for student self-rule.
Up to 1,000 students took part in the protest, which began on
Friday afternoon but continued long into the night as riot police
circled in on the demonstrators and armed troops stood by in case of troubl=
At 3 am yesterday military and police forces rushed the remaining
gathering of some 150 protesting students, who had been sitting
at the centre of a junction near the University of Rangoon, and
blasted them with fire hoses before taking them away from the
usually busy intersection.
The demonstration was the third spearheaded by engineering
students from the Rangoon Institute of Technology (RIT) since
October and the second this week.
The protests, stemming from the police beating three students in
a dispute with a food-stall owner, mark the boldest dissent seen
in years against the military authorities, who have ruled
Burma since 1962.
The latest crowd swelled to more than 2,000 people, including
onlookers, but the protests have not ignited the streets of
Rangoon in the kind of mass protest seen before troops gunned
down hundreds of demonstrators in 1988.

Some 300 others staged a  separate rally on a street nearby and=20
were  believed to have been rounded up by  the military as well.=20

A government spokesman, who was not identified, told Reuters
yesterday afternoon that most of the 264 students
and sympathisers held after the early morning crackdown have
already been released.

"Most of those held in the 3 am operation were  released by this
early afternoon and I would expect all of them to be freed by the
end of the day," the spokesman said. He did not give details of
how many people had been freed.=20
He said the government is still checking the identities of those
held at the Kyatkasan ground, a former horse racing course, in
central Rangoon.

Before troops and police moved in early yesterday, the students
were warned to disperse so authorities could sort out the=20
"political agitators" from the protesters, witnesses said. Fire
engines shot water cannons for about 20 minutes and police chased
some students who tried to escape, witnesses said.

Some students were clubbed and injured by batons as they were put
into three vehicles believed to be heading for the maximum
security Insein Prison in suburban Rangoon, they added.

A number of onlookers sided with the students and stoned the
troops. A Japanese journalist of the biggest Japanese daily
Yomiuri Shimbun was beaten in the melee while some students,
especially those holding university flags, were stoned and
injured by security forces.
Shigefumi Takasuka, a 39 year-old correspondent stationed in
Bangkok, sustained unspecified injuries after being beaten by
several soldiers and police officers  in the head and stomach.
Takasuka was turned over to the Slorc's intelligence division
despite repeatedly explaining he was a reporter.
He was released early yesterday after more than two hours of questioning.

Authorities told the Yomiuri Shimbum the incident took place
because military and security  troops could not understand a
journalist's reporting activities on the spot".

On Friday, the students said the protests were non-political and
that they had had no contact with opposition leader Aung San
Suu Kyi or her National League for Democracy (NLD).

The students' main demands have been the creation of an
independent student council and disclosure of police brutality,
but political demands for freedom and human rights have seeped
in, mirroring the campaign led by Suu Kyi.
The NLD leader, winner of the 1991 Nobel Pea=9C Prize, has voiced
support and said the students share her opposition to injustice.
But she has denied the regime's claims their actions are
orchestrated by her party.

The regime has been wary of any link-up.
Despite the detentions, Rangoon appeared calm yesterday with most
residents waking up unaware of the pre-dawn crackdown. But
truckloads of armed security forces and fire engines kept watch
at several intersections near the university and the RIT about
six kilometres away. Witnesses said a government helicopter at
one point kept vigil over the troubled Institute which was shut
for nearly two years following the 1988 uprisings.

Monday's demonstration ended at dawn on Tuesday, when police
detained more than 600 protesters who refused to disperse in
central Rangoon. They were later released.

Police have blocked roads leading to Suu Kyi's home since Tuesday reflectin=
fears in the government she may be drawn into the protests.


December 4, 1996 (abridged)

QUESTION: Two questions on Burma. It's looks as if Aung San Suu Kyi has
been restricted to her home, if she's not under house arrest. There's
been a crackdown on the protesters. Any reaction from the United States?=20

MR. BURNS: We understand that Aung San Suu Kyi is not under house
arrest, though the SLORC officials asked her to stay at her home earlier
this week when they were busy trying to disrupt the student demonstrations
in the
streets of Rangoon. They said this was for her safety, but I don't believe
that and I imagine you don't either.=20

We understand that she does have plans to leave her home tomorrow. We
understand the Burmese authorities have said she is free to do so. That
is positive. She ought to be free to travel in and around Rangoon and,
indeed, throughout the country.=20

We're concerned that the SLORC continues to place undue limitations on
the freedom of movement of the National League of Democracy and
specifically of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.=20

QUESTION: Any reaction to ASEAN's move to admit Burma as a member?=20

MR. BURNS: This is a decision taken by ASEAN. ASEAN takes its own
decisions, obviously.
The United States has expressed to individual ASEAN members, as recently
as the meetings in Manila two weeks ago as well as to ASEAN
collectively, that we don't believe that Burma is ready for full
membership in ASEAN. But the United States, of course, must respect the
wishes of the ASEAN members. We'll continue to work with ASEAN in our
post-ministerial dialogue every year and throughout the year. But we do
have our own views on Burma. Those views have not changed.=20

The Burmese Government has done nothing to help us change those views.
It continues to repress its own people. We're looking for some concrete
actions, not only by countries in the West, but countries in the Far
East that would help to convince the Burmese Government that it cannot
repudiate the wishes of its own people and not pay some kind of penalty.=20

That's why you've seen the United States take some measures to try to
heighten the pressure on the Burmese Government.=20


December 5, 1996

"The  imposition  of  sanctions  on  the  SLORC  regime  is the next logica=
step if Australia is to give real support to the Burmese democracy movement=
led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi", the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Laurie Brereton, said today following a meeting of the National Security an=
Trade Committee of the Federal Labor Caucus.

"The continuing revelations of abuses of human rights in Burma leave=20
absolutely no doubt that the military junta in Rangoon is beyond the pale. =
Nor can one ignore Burma's status as the world's leading producer of heroin=
and opium.  The undeniable barbarity and corruption of the SLORC and its=20
continued failure to make progress toward international standards of human=
rights and democratic principles deserve the emphatic condemnation of the=
Australian Government - in word and in deed."

Mr Brereton noted that the former Labor Government had adopted a policy of=
neither encouraging nor discouraging trade with Burma while the actions of =
SLORC were assessed against a series of human rights benchmarks identified =
the then Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans, at the 1994 ASEAN Post Ministerial=
Conference.  On 10 July 1995 Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house
arrest, but no significant progress has been made in meeting other benchmar=
ks. =20
Instead the SLORC has embarked on a renewed crackdown the Burmese democracy
movement and Aung San Suu Kyi's movements and actions are now subject to
increasing constraint.

"In June this year the Australian Senate, in language proposed by Labor,=20
called on the Australian government to put the SLORC on notice that economi=
sanctions must be placed on the agenda if civil and political rights are no=
restored in Burma.  Since that time Labor has continued to monitor the=20
situation in Burma with growing concern.  Last month's attack on Aung San
Suu Kyi by supporters of the  military regime and the suppression of renewe=
student protests leave no doubt that the SLORC is unlikely to engage in=20
serious dialogue with the democracy movement or take real steps toward the=
restoration of civil and political rights unless it is confronted with=20
intensified international pressure."

"The Australian Government has a clear choice - either it can demonstrate=
leadership or do nothing while the situation in Burma deteriorated further.=

To this end, the Labor Opposition calls on the Howard Government to -

* suspend the issue of visas for  visits by Burmese officials and other=20
persons associated with the SLORC, exceptions should apply only to embassy=
personnel with others being determined case by case by the Minister for=20
Foreign Affairs on the basis of Australia's national interest;

* actively discourage Australian citizens from visiting Burma;

* actively discourage Australian trade with Burma, including closure of the=
Austrade office in Rangoon; withdrawal from circulation of the DFAT Country=
Economic Brief on Burma; and active discouragement of Australian companies=
from doing business in Burma and, with the exception of work already in=20
progress, a ban on new investment in Burma;

* intensify diplomatic efforts to bring international pressure to bear on t=
SLORC and to work actively against the interests of the SLORC in all=20
appropriate international forums: and

* put the SLORC on notice that diplomatic relations will be downgraded in t=
event of  further deterioration of the situation in Burma.

Mr Brereton noted that up until now Foreign Minister Downer and Trade
Minister  Fisher have indicated that the Government is not prepared to
impose economic sanctions on Burma.

"It may well be the case that unilateral sanctions by Australia will have o=
a limited direct impact on the economic interests of the SLORC, What Mr
Downer and Mr fischer fail to understand, however, is the powerful politica=
message sanctions would  send, not only to the SLORC but to the internation=
community - in particular the United States, the European Union and the=20
nations of  ASEAN.  This reality is clearly recognized by Aung San Suu Kyi
who has stated that sanctions can have a positive effect."

"The SLORC, like the south African government at the time of apartheid, mus=
be treated as a pariah regime.  Without the sanctions applied to South Afri=
Nelson Mandela would  still  be in prison.  The question for the Howard=20
Government is whether, in the absence of any real movement towards democrac=
in Burma, the SLORC are the sort of people decent Australians should have a=
trading partners.  Now  is  the time for the Howard Government to heed Aung
San Suu Kyi's call for the imposition of sanctions on the SLORC.  If it doe=
not, its professed commitment to human rights and democratic principles wil=
be left exposed as little more that empty  rhetoric."


December 6, 1996

HONG KONG - Senior US State Department official Winston Lord yesterday
chided Burma's military rulers for cracking down on student demonstrators
and said Rangoon should be kept at arm's length by the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Lord, speaking in Hong Kong after a two-day visit, said, "We continue to be
unhappy with the repression in Burma, we've made that very clear. We think
in any society, citizens should have the right to peacefully demonstrate an=
express their views and that's what they've been doing."

Meanwhile, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from confinement
at her Rangoon home yesterday and promptly called for her country to be
excluded form Asean.

She was permitted by the ruling military junta, the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (Slorc), to attend a private wedding reception at a
restaurant, two days after her confinement. In a phone interview, she also
urged Asean not to grant Burma full membership as long as it is ruled by th=
Slorc. "I think Asean countries are right to wait and see when it will be
right for Burma to be a member of the organisation," she said. Hundreds of
students on Monday launched the most defiant protest in Burma since the
military seized power in 1988, by marching through Rangoon demanding
students' rights, before they were forced into trucks by riot police.

Al 609 demonstrators, including 487 students and 122 non-students, were
released on Tuesday after an identity check, according to an aide to Suu
Kyi. (TN)

December 6, 1996

BURMA should be allowed to become part of the Association of Southeast Asia=
Nations (Asean) next year along with Cambodia and Laos, and Rangoon's human
rights recorded should be separated from trade and economic issues, United
States Congressman Jay Kim said on Wednesday.

Kim, a Californian Republican, said he and the majority of his party member=
disagree with sanctions against Burma and dismissed the notion that his
party's position on the human rights issue is more restrictive than the
Democrats. The congressman, who is on a Asean fact-finding mission, was
speaking at a roundtable discussion at the US Information Service programme
room on Wireless Road.

"Let Burma learn from Thailand's (political) experience," Kim said. "It's
better than trying to reject and alienate them. I believe Burma is trying,"
he said. Moreover, Kim dismissed attempts by some Republican congressmen to
pass legislation calling for economic sanctions against Burma and added tha=
such a stand only reflected a few party members.

Kim also suggested Thailand should take a leading role in helping Burma
become more democratic and applauded its human rights record, as well as
Bangkok's active participation in the suppression of drug trafficking.

Kim, who is the only Asian-American congressman in the Republican Party,
said he will make a proposal to the United nations that it pay more
attention to Burma's drug problem, and implied that the international body
is slacking in its effort to suppress narcotics.

"Its representatives fly all over the world and sent troops everywhere. Wha=
about Burma?" Kim asked. "I will ask for a (UN) resolution demanding the
organisation takes action," he said. On the issues of weapon procurement,
the congressman dismissed the suggestion that high defence spending in the
region could lead to an arms race.

According to a recent report by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy=
Southeast Asia spent more than US$9 billion (Bt225 billion) on weapons in
1995, or 22 per cent of world sales for that year, thus, taking over from
the Middle East as the world's third-largest weapons market after the US an=
Europe. (TN)


December 12, 1996 (abridged)
By John McBeth in Jakarta

For those wrestling with the single burning issue of the end-November Asean
summit in Jakarta-the admission of Burma into the organisation-the agonizin=
isn't over.

In a classic Asean, manoeuvre, the seven Southeast Asian leaders at the
summit emerged from six hours of talks to announce that Burma as well as th=
two less-controversial applicants for membership, Laos and Cambodia, would =
admitted "simultaneously."

The actual timing  would be decided "in due time." Why simultaneously?
"Togetherness is one of our qualities," grinned Indonesian Foreign Minister
Ali Alatas.

The togetherness may have been under some strain in Jakarta because of
disagreement on delaying Burma's entry until 1998. In the end, says Jusuf
Wanandi of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta,
Indonesia and Malaysia prevailed over the reservations of the Philippines
and Thailand, which want to proceed more slowly.

"My reading is the three countries will be accepted next year," Wanandi
says. That will be at next July's Asean foreign ministers' meeting in Kuala
Lumpur - the 30 anniversary of Asean's founding.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad likes anniversaries and dislikes
Western pressure, the two things that have made him an active proponent of
Burma's entry in 1997.

Indonesia's President Suharto is also sensitive to critical voices from the
West, but for reasons which have more to do with human rights and East
Timor. "Indonesia adheres to the principle of noninterference in internal
affairs," says Wanandi. Therefore, he says, it wouldn't look kindly on
outside pressure on Burma.

Philippine President Fidel Ramos, the man who was expected to take the most
anti-Burma stance, said there was only one voice at the summit, "and that
voice was articulated by Indonesia."

That was fine by Rangoon's men in Jakarta. "Asean is  forum where there
shouldn't be any interference in internal affair," said Burmese Foreign
Minister U Ohn Gyaw. "There was no suggestion or advice that 'if you want t=
join Asean, you should do this or that."

Asean officials confirmed that Burma has submitted nothing new to sweeten
its membership application. But Wanandi, for one, wants to see a committee
of Burmese and Asean officials work out a board "road map" covering economi=
and political issues.

And, hinting that year-long delay in membership may still be on the cards, =
Thai official says the deterioration in  Burma's internal situation is
troubling. In Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia "we see progress and we don't see
them backtracking," he notes, "but Burma seems to be rolling back down the

Only last July, Wanandi and the directors of the region's five other
think-tanks sent a confidential memo to Asean foreign ministers saying they
supported Burma's eventual entry into the organisation.

But they were worried that it could undermine the grouping's international
credentials image. "We believe it is important that Asean members send clea=
diplomatic signals, in accordance  with the Asean way, that there is an
urgent need to demonstrate Myanmar's reasonableness as a prospective member
of the association," the memo said.

While a single Asean time zone was left to the next century, the leaders di=
break new ground in opening up the prospect of regional cooperation in
combating crime.

Ramos dropped a broard hint that Burma's opium fields has been a point of
discussion by disclosing that Burmese leader Than Shwe, who was in Jakarta,
had briefed his Asean counterparts on Rangoon's progress in reaching a
"degree of reconciliation" with 16 different insurgent groups, many of them
engaged in poppy cultivation.

The Asean leaders also decided they needed a vision for the future. They
charged their ministers with the task of formulating a package of new ideas=
among them an Asian Investment Area, for the early part of the 21st Century=
Mahathir put it succinctly: "We must have a vision, we must have a target.
We should work towards something we think Asean should be in 2020.

In the short term, however, the regional grouping has the more immediate
problem of figuring out how to absorb its most problematic neighbour withou=
finding itself in the position of having to defend its excesses in the cour=
of international opinion. Nothing the unsmiling Burmese said or did in
Jakarta gave any cause for celebration. (FEER)


December 6, 1996 (The Nation)

THE Burmese government is preparing to forcibly move out Karen living near
Tavoy to make way for an industrial estate which will be linked with
Thailand's Western Seaboard project centred in Kanchanaburi a border source
said recently.

A tin mine operator in Kanchanaburi's Thong Pha Phum district, opposite
Tavoy in Burma, said border patrol police recently warned that miners must
get ready to move out because the Burmese government will attack the Karen
community in the upcoming dry season.

According to the source, there are 14 Karen villages in Tavoy near the
Thai-Burma border. They are the last Karen in Tavoy because the rest have
already been done away with, the tin miner said.

Chayo, a Karen hunter in Kanchanaburi's Hyau Khayaeng sub-district, said he
does not want the development project to occur in Burma because it will
cause the Karen community to collapse. The Karen hunter, who migrated from
Burma long ago, added that the Karen were attacked four years ago in order
to make way for the Yadana Pipeline Project, but the disaster was never

Tavoy is located on the Andaman coast in southern Burma, about 70 kilometre=
from the Thai border at the Bong Ti checkpoint in Kanachanaburi. The Burmes=
government, with the help of some Thai investors, hope to build a Bt2
billion Tavoy Deep Seaport along with a 1,000 rai industrial estate that
will be linked with Thailand's Western Seaboard project by a "land bridge"
from Tavoy to Kanchanaburi.

The Tavoy Industrial Estate is planned for processing agricultural goods,
manufacturing wood furniture, and producing energy.


December 6, 1996
Ralph Bachoe
Unless the Karen National Union can reply to the Burmese military
regime's request that the stalled peace talks resume as quickly
as possible, a major offensive against Karen bases seems imminent.

"Slorc will definitely launch a major offensive soon if we
totally reject their demands and not give them an answer to
resume peace talks at the earliest date," said KNU President
Saw General Bo Mya on Wednesday.

The fourth round of talks between the two sides ended in a
stalemate. It was held in the Mon capital of Moulmein from
November 21 to November 23.

The KNU delegation was led by Gen Saw Tamla Baw. The Slorc was
represented by Col Kyaw Win, deputy director of the Military
Intelligence Service. Said Gen Bo Mya: "The outcome of
the latest talks was basically the same as the third meeting."
Slorc is insisting that the KNU enter the "legal fold" and
renounce its armed struggle.
The Karen delegation rejected the demands outright and said that
it would have to hold discussions with other members of the group
before it could meet again with Slorc.

Slorc captured Manerplaw and Kawmoora, major KNU bases, during
the January dry season offensive two years ago. Gen Bo Mya insisted that
business and national development is not a problem, but that can only be
achieved after a ceasefire is in place.

Only after that the political issue, should be tackled.

Commenting on the new government in Thailand led by Gen Chavalit
Yongchaiyudh, Bo Mya said it would have no negative Impact on the
KNU and the democratic forces.


December 6, 1996
By Grant McCool=20

    NEW YORK (Reuter) - Mickey Mouse, who has delighted youngsters for
decades, is now facing tough questions from children over alleged abuses of
workers who make Disney clothes and toys.=20

    Although the Walt Disney Co. said the charges were either unsubstantiat=
or dated, a labor rights group was starting a week-long campaign Saturday t=
highlight Disney business in countries with questionable human rights recor=

    The New York-based National Labor Committee (NLC) said it planned
picketing, marches, leaflet distribution and protests at Disney stores in
several major U.S. and Canadian cities until Dec. 14. The so-called ``Disne=
Week of International Action'' was scheduled for a time of year when the
company's popular products are much in demand as gifts.=20

    The group also scheduled screenings of a documentary film it had
commissioned called ``Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti'' about the life of poor
workers in the troubled Caribbean nation.=20

    Disney, in a written response Friday to questions about alleged abuses =
Haiti and Burma and children's letters, said its policies were being follow=
in Haiti and the only subcontractor in Burma had stopped placing orders the=
last June.=20

    An 11-year-old girl wrote Disney CEO Michael Eisner from her school in =
middle-class Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City, after her class read a=
article in ``Time for Kids'' about child labor.=20

    ``Does your company really use child labor?'' she asked. ``I hope that
the answer is no because if you do use child labor, you will lose a lot of
customers -- including myself.''=20

    The company said it was responding to such letters and provided an
example of one sent to a child Nov. 27 by communications director Chuck

    ``I want you to know that we would never permit children to work on
Disney products,'' it said in part. ``All companies that make our products
must sign a contract which says that they do not and will not use child
labor. If any factory anywhere ever tried to allow it, we would stop it rig=

    On Nov. 26, the Burbank, Calif. entertainment giant, which has business
interests in almost every country in the world, stood up to China and
declared that it would go ahead with next year's release of ``Kundun'', a
film about the early life of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leade=

    In an unusual warning, Beijing -- ever-sensitive about Tibet -- had tol=
Disney that its ambitious business plans in China were at risk over the fil=
which is being made by renowned director Martin Scorcese.=20

    The Dalai Lama fled to India with many of his followers in 1959 after
years of resisting China's control of the Himalayan region. Human rights
advocates have for years condemned the communist government's policy toward
Tibet as repressive.=20

    NLC executive director Charles Kernaghan alleged that wages as low as 3=
cents an hour for workers at a factory in Haiti making two-piece ``101
Dalmatians'' garments forced them to live in hovels without water and made
them virtual indentured servants because they were always in debt.=20

    ``Family values are left behind for films and movies but real family
values that people should be paid a living wage so people can send their ki=
to school are left behind,'' he said in an interview.=20

    Disney said in reply that the median wage for workers who make
Disney-licensed goods was ``well above the Haitian minimum wage''.=20

    Disney is known globally for its wholesome Mickey Mouse image and child
and family-oriented theme parks. Its film ''Beauty and the Beast'' was the
first animated movie ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best
Picture. Disney's most successful film was 1994's ``The Lion King''. Its
current hit, ''101 Dalmatians'' pulled in more than $45 million last week, =
record for the Thanksgiving Day holiday period.=20

    Kernaghan had asked Disney to pull out of manufacturing goods in Burma,
where the military government controls the economy and has suppressed the
political opposition.=20

    Kernaghan testified to Congress earlier this year, bringing to attentio=
the sweatshop conditions in which clothes carrying the name of TV personali=
Kathie Lee Gifford were manufactured by a Wal-Mart sub-contractor.=20

    In the ensuing controversy, Gifford joined the forces working toward
improving conditions and wages and a White House panel was established to
study the issue of labor abuses in factories making goods for U.S. companie=


December 4, 1996 (Malaysia)

Kuala Lumpur -- Myanmar [Burma] will undertake the necessary financial
reforms to conform with the market-oriented system as well as to encourage
foreign direct investments (FDI).=20

Myanmar National Planning and Economic Development Ministry deputy director
U Kyaw Zaw said the reforms would include enacting new laws, abolishing or
replacing redundant laws, amending rules and regulations as well as
reforming the financial, banking and taxation systems. U Kyaw said that
since the country adopted market oriented economic system in 1988 until the
end of October this year, 21 domestic private banks were already granted
licenses for operations, of which five had been allowed to deal in foreign
exchange transactions.  "In addition, a total of 44 foreign banks have been
issued licences to open representative offices under the provision of
banking and financial institutions laws," he said.=20

U Kyaw said this at the 3rd Myanmar business conference here. The two-day
conference, which was opened by the Myanmar ambassador to Malaysia, U Sein
Lwin, was organised by Foreign Business Centre Sdn Bhd [company limited] an=
FBC [expansion unknown] Pte Ltd of Singapore. Some 45 Malaysian
businessmen are participating in the conference. U Kyaw said Myanmar starte=
to open its doors to foreign investors to participate actively in exploitin=
natural resources and enhancing mutually beneficial economic cooperation
when it promulgated the Foreign Investment Law (FIL) on November 30, 1988.=

"As a result of the FIL, from 1988 up to October this year, 218 projects
have already been approved, amounting to a total FDI of US$5.040 billion (R=
[Malaysian ringgit] 12.6 billion)," he said.=20

U Kyaw said the total FDI were represented by 21 countries investing in ten
industry groups, such as agriculture, livestock, energy, fishery, forestry,
manufacturing, communications, hotels and tourism. "Malaysia's FDI in
Myanmar has also been quite satisfactory," he said, adding that up to the
end of October this year, Malaysia had pledged investments totalling
US$446.27 million (RM1.115 billion) in 16 projects, making it the fifth
largest investor after Singapore, Britain, Thailand and France.=20


Decemebr 7, 1996
Teerawat Khumtita
Chaing Rai

Rangoon is expected to secure a 300-million-baht loan to build a
500-million-baht road linking Tachilek with Kengtung.

Under a draft contract agreed in talks in Mae Sai on Wednesday,
Myanmar Foreign Exim Bank will be guarantor and Rangoon must
repay the loan at 1.5-percent interest to Krung Thai Bank within 20 years.

Rangoon will also be required to award the construction contract
to a Thai firm, buy Thai materials and machinery and hire Thai
labour for certain tasks.

The Burmese side at the talks was led by Tin Swe,
director-general of the Public Works Department, and Lt-Col Khin
Saw, governor of Kengtung, and the Thai side by Wicharn
Chaiyanant, governor of Chiang Rai.

Mr Wicharn said Bangkok and Rangoon are expected to sign a
contract early next year.=20