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BurmaNet News: December 18, 1996

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

The BurmaNet News:  December 18, 1996
Issue # 594

Noted in Passing: 

		Big international corporations are immersed in politics, 			whether they
would like us to think so or not....Unocal is 			funding the SLORC. They are
involved in politics. - Dr. 			Thaung Htun, Rep. for UN Affairs, NCGUB (see:


December 16, 1996

Politics should not be an issue for international 
corporations, says a spokesman for the
California-based energy company Unocal, the single 
largest American investor in the
Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar. He was replying 
to suggestions that Unocal pull out of Myanmar. 
Business executives, as they like to point out, 
are not social workers. But at times a government 
is so repressive and a company's support of it so 
significant that its presence cannot help but be 
political. South Africa under apartheid was such a
country. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is another, 
and Unocal should not be doing business there.

For sheer nastiness, few governments can compete with 
Myanmar's. It winks at heroin trafficking. It forces 
its citizens to provide slave labor to build bridges 
and railroads. In 1990 the Government lost elections, 
then imprisoned and harassed activists of the victorious 
party, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Last week the 
Government confined her to her house, detained more of 
her colleagues and shut down secondary schools to stop 
student protests. She has called for sanctions on her country.

Myanmar, which has hard-currency reserves that can sustain 
the country for less than three weeks, is vulnerable. 
Hence the importance of Unocal's 28 percent interest in a
pipeline that will pump gas from an off-shore field through 
Myanmar to Thailand. The French company Total will build 
the pipeline, and the Thai and Myanmar Government energy 
companies also have stakes. Texaco and Arco also recently 
signed deals to drill nearby.

As of last year, Unocal had paid the Government $6.6 
million in signing bonuses. Such fees are normal, but 
what is not normal was the bailout Unocal gave Myanmar 
in November. The company provided $7 million worth of 
fertilizer on credit to be paid back when the pipeline 
is running - a small but important lifeline for the Government.

Unocal may also be indirectly making profits from reprehensible 
labor practices. The railroad that will transport Government troops 
to protect the pipeline was built by thousands of forced laborers. 
Human rights groups have charged that the Government relocated 
villages around the pipeline and used forced labor to clear the land. 
Unocal denies those charges. The government has not yet permitted 
an independent investigation.

Unocal is spending $1.6 million to build projects such as schools, 
animal-breeding farms and a hospital, and has brought 12 doctors 
to the area. These projects are welcome, but their good does not 
outweigh the harm of Unocal's support for a government that does 
not do them on its own.

Unocal argues that an Asian company would simply pick up its share 
of the project if it pulled out. That is plausible, and underscores 
the need for the United States to do more to lobby Japan and the 
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has said it will 
admit Myanmar.

But even this does not justify Unocal's continued engagement with 
Myanmar's Government. Other American corporations, including 
Macy's and a Disney clothing subsidiary, have already pulled out, 
responding to publicity and laws approved by Massachusetts and 
eight cities that bar contracts with companies doing business in 
Myanmar. Congress has passed a law banning new investment if the 
crackdown intensifies, but the Clinton Administration has not yet 
invoked it.

The $200 million in annual revenues expected to flow to Myanmar's 
Government when the pipeline is running will dwarf the benefits 
produced by other American investments. The pipeline's importance, 
and Unocal's apparent willingness to help sustain the Government, 
undercut the argument that constructive engagement can change the 
policies of the Burmese leadership. Unocal may make a handsome
profit in Myanmar, but it cannot claim it is bringing change to this 
blighted nation.


December 17, 1996 (abridged)

WASHINGTON (Reuter) - The United States is protesting to Burma's military
government over the arrest of nearly 200 protesters and continuing
restrictions on opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"We believe that as many as 187 students and demonstrators were detained
late last week in the wake of the demonstrations and we have strongly
protested this to the Burmese authorities," State Department spokesman
Nicholas Burns said Monday.

"We have also protested the continuing restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi,"
Burns told reporters.

"We once again strongly urge the Burmnese government to guarantee the
students can demonstrate as well as others, and we believe that the
government officials should open a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi," Burns said.


December 17, 1996

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- Burma's military government said Tuesday that
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is a traitor conspiring with
Western governments, and will be destroyed. 

``Looking back at history, all traitors who tried to challenge or oppose the
(Burmese) military are doomed to face failure and destruction,'' said an
article in the state-run press. 

Press commentaries, usually written by high-ranking intelligence officers
using pen names, have called Suu Kyi a traitor before. But this commentary
appeared to go a step further by speaking of ``destruction.'' 

Threats by the military aren't taken lightly by the Burmese opposition. Suu
Kyi's motorcade was attacked Nov. 9 by a mob that witnesses said was
organized and paid by the government. 

The government has denied the charge. 

The military has been blaming Suu Kyi, who leads Burma's democracy movement,
and her political party for last week's student demonstrations. The military
has confined Suu Kyi to her home since the protests began. 

The students, who took to the streets of Rangoon and Mandalay in the largest
show of civil dissent since the democracy uprising of 1988, denied any links
to Suu Kyi or her party, although some of their goals were the same. 

The students seek an end to police brutality, the right to form a students
union and more civil liberties. Some called for democracy in Burma, which has
been ruled by military regimes since 1962. 

``Suu Kyi and her colleagues are instigating unrest in order to create
anarchy in the country,'' Tuesday's commentary said. ``Their main interest is
to achieve awards and assistance from the neocolonialists.'' 


December 20, 1996
by Sangwon Suh and Dominic Faulder, Bangkok

Student protests and an economic crisis have raised tension in Yangon to the
highest levels since the demonstrations of 1988

Yangon was on edge last week. On Dec 2, some 2,000 students gathered on the
campus of the Yangon Institute of Technology to protest against an earlier
incident in which three of their peers had been roughed up by police. They
called for a public admission from the authorities of police brutality, and
demanded the right to from student unions.

The rally eventually moved to the streets; the students sang, chanted
slogans and held aloft portraits of nationalist heron Aung San, father of
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as they marched toward the sacred
Shwedagon Pagoda. There, the police moved in, arresting more than 600 (by
official accounts all were later released). It was by far the largest
demonstration seen in Yangon since 1988, when virtually the entire
population took to the streets to put an end to decades of economically
disastrous military-backed rule.

Apparently fearing Suu Kyi might take advantage of the current disturbances,
the authorities swiftly blockaded the Nobel laureate's home, putting her
under de facto house arrest. Suu Kyi condemned the government's action and
expressed sympathy for the protesters, but maintained that her National
League for Democracy (NLD) had nothing to do with the rally. The students
themselves denied any political motive behind their protests. The element of
politics, however, was not entirely absent, as their placards called for
freedom, justice and fair government.

Another major demonstration was held on Dec 6, when several hundred students
congregated as a busy intersection near Yangon University. Riot police
cordoned off the area and used water cannons and batons to disperse the
crowd early next morning - but not before ordinary citizens revealed where
their sympathies lay by stoning the police. Tension remained high as the
authorities blocked off major roads and closed down universities and
secondary schools. But this failed to deter the students, who continued to
take to the streets in hit-and-run fashion.

The unrest comes at an inopportune moment - the country is experiencing its
worst economic crisis since the ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc) took power in 1988. To its credit, Slorc has shown a measure
of restraint in dealing with the protesters. Although clearly edgy, they
have not resorted to anything more than club-wielding riot police - in stark
contrast to the events of 1988, when security forces fired into the crowds,
killing an estimated 3,000 people over a six-week period. This time,
injuries have mostly been bruises.

Slorc's self-described "soft" response may be connected to a realization
that it needs to improve its disastrous international image, especially if
it wants to kick-start the country's moribund economy. To burnish its image,
Slorc has taken to convening monthly press conferences. It also launched the
Visit Myanmar Year on Nov 18, splashing out $300,000 for the opening ceremony.

According to Tourism Minister Lt-Gen Kyaw Ba (whose previous experience
includes shooting at Kachin insurgents as a northern commander),Visit
Myanmar Year is expected to attract 220,000 foreign tourists and bring in
some $100 million. In the first six months of this year, nearly 51,000
tourists visited Myanmar by air, almost twice as many as in the same period
in 1995. "As you have seen with your own eyes, we don't have any problems,"
he told Asiaweek shortly before the recent spate of disturbances. "But we
have some destructive elements urging tourists not to come. This is not a big
problem. It can be solved."

One such "destructive element" is, of course, Suu Kyi. "Our opinion is that
this whole Visit Myanmar Year is intended solely to build up Slorc's image,
and we cannot support it," she told Asiaweek. "The preparation of tourist
site and the beautifying of certain places for the benefit of tourists have
resulted in the suffering of a lot of people." ironically, though, Suu Kyi
might be one of Myanmar's biggest foreign draws; her weekend speeches used
to attract significant numbers of admiring foreigners. The speeches have
since been stopped by Slorc.

But tourist dollars may not be enough to pull Myanmar out of its financial
straits. According to the International Monetary Fund, the country's foreign
exchange reserves have slipped to $183 million - the lowest since 1988. The
trade gap meanwhile widened in fiscal 1995-96, with rice exports down by
almost two-thirds and the value of imports more than double that of exports.
Inflation, which has been exacerbated by domestic energy demand outstripping
supply, is expected to exceed 30% overall for 1996, with increased food
prices also providing a source of discontent.

Meanwhile, the garment industry, which is regarded as one of the country's
biggest money earns - despite the fact that it does not appear in official
figures - looks set to take a hit from consumer led boycotts in the West.

Another problem area is the pipeline that links the Yadana gas filed with a
Thai power plant in Ratchaburi. This joint venture with Thai, US and French
oil firms will bring in annual revenue of $400 million from royalties and
taxes. But the gas will not start flowing until July 1998, and the
break-even point for the project will not be reached until early in the next
century. Therefore, the pipeline is currently a net drain: the Myanmar Oil
and Gas Enterprise has so far paid out $50 million of the $150 million to
cover its 15% stake in the billion dollars project, and the most expensive
phase is yet to come.

Despite its difficulties, Myanmar is probably not on the verge of the
economic collapse. The official figures do not take into account hidden
investments and revenues, including those from the drug trade. But the
military leaders are obviously feeling the pinch from being a pariah state
and are moving to open up their country a little, if on their own terms.

The silver lining is that this may by enough to let the genie out of the
bottle - even small economic growth will raise domestic expectations, while
tourism will bring the country under greater international scrutiny. In
Yangon at least, the generals will find it increasingly difficult to fall
back to the crude suppression tactics of the past.


December 13,1996

Julaporn Euarukskul, is a lecturer in political science at Thammasat University.

At the recent informal Asean summit in Jakarta, it was decided that Laos,
Cambodia and Burma would be admitted simultaneously to the regional
grouping. However, no specific time frame has been given.

What are the likely consequences that will result from Asean's expansion? A
few points are worth considering.

Since formation in 1967, Asean members have been able to maintain relatively
good relations and, to a certain extent, they have also succeeded in
coordinating their respective foreign policies. As a result, there appears
to be a degree of political solidarity among member states, an internal
unity which has enabled Asean to become a major player in regional and
international affairs.

Asean's image of solidarity has largely been due to the manner in which
member states conduct business with each other - through the so-called
"consultation and consensus" approach.

In theory, member states come to the table, as equals, prepared to respect
each other's interests and viewpoints. In practice, however, they have
frequently been obliged to set aside potentially divisive issues or water
down collective decisions in order to appease a dissenting minority.

Occasionally, internal conflicts have also been resolved by announcing
decisions without adopting the legislative machinery necessary for
implementation. In short, the pace of Asean's development has often been
dictated by the organisation's most conservative members.

How long new members states will take to adjust to this political process is
difficult to say. In the short term, however, it is safe to assume that
consensus policymaking in Asean will be more difficult to achieve than it
was in the past, since the new member states will bring their own unique
regional perspectives to the negotiating table.

Economic cooperation

Generally speaking, economic cooperation among member states has been
exceedingly limited. Although Asean is economically one of the most dynamic
regions in the world today, the economic growth of member countries has been
largely due to individual performance, and not due to cooperation.

Asean member states continue to openly compete among themselves and the
implementation of various cooperative schemes has, in some instances, been
badly undermined by mutual suspicions that one party was seeking to benefit
at the expense of the rest.

Although Afta appears to be a major improvement over previous Asean schemes,
there is little guarantee that it will reduce intra-Asean economic rivalry
in the future.

In fact, such competition is likely to intensify as member states compete
for footholds in emerging Asian markets. With the formation of Asean 10, the
organisation will, for the first time, be faced with a situation where
member states will belong either to the "have" or "have not" group.

In this context, it is possible to envision a number of obstacles blocking
regional economic cooperation, with the new members being required to make
the biggest sacrifice.

While Vietnam will probably be able to catch up economically with other
Asean members due to its large labour force and dynamic economy, it will
take more time for Laos, Cambodia and Burma to do the same.

Structural changes

Assuming the enlargement of Asean occurs, the development will accelerate
the need for structural changes in the regional organisation's current
administrative process. In the past, the need for consensus-decision making
hindered its efficiency. But with more members, Asean may eventually find it
necessary to adopt a majority-rule approach, or run the risk of being unable
to move forward on even the most trivial of matters.

At the same time, it might also need to adopt a more formal mechanism for
managing disputes between member states. A protocol for dispute settlement,
aimed at legally resolving economic conflicts, was signed last month.
However, this may prove insufficient.

Regional stability ultimately depends on national stability, and while some
countries have undergone the process of democratisation in recent years,
most cannot be described as unreservedly democratic.

Politics in Bernard Crick's sense of "a process in which diverging interests
are acknowledged, conciliated, and ultimately afforded a share in power in
proportion to their relative importance within the community as a whole" is
generally not an accepted practice.

Political parties and mass organisations have seldom been given room to
develop; opposition movements, whether formal or otherwise, have faced
considerable repression. Moreover, most Asean countries have failed to
institutionalise a democratic process of leadership transition.

In some countries, authoritarian measures have ensured that the ruling elite
will never lose power, while in others, Thailand in particular, the
military's direct intervention in politics cannot be ruled out.

Economic disparities in the region are likely to be another source of
instability. Rapid economic growth has resulted in a wider gap between the
urban rich and the rural poor, with the bulk of the population left at the
bottom. This ash caused a number of social problems and contributed to
unbalanced political development.

So far, no adequate measures have been devised to promote a more equitable
distribution of development's gains. As a result, there has been constant
social unrest in many countries in the region.

If such domestic problems were to reach a crisis stage in any member state,
it is likely to undermine the effectiveness, solidarity and cooperative
spirit shared by Asean member states as a group.

For this reason, the inclusion of Burma, which is ruled by a junta known as
the State Law and Order Restoration Council (Slorc), into Asean would appear
to be an unwise move.

First, it would damage Asean's international standing. It is wishful
thinking to assume, as some Asean leaders have claimed, that Burma will
adhere to Asean principles and norms.

And although Asean has claimed that its constructive engagement policy has
prompted Slorc to improve its human rights record, the military govenrment
continues to brutually suppress the pro-democracy movement.

Second, while economic factors seem to be a major factor in considering
Burma's application for membership, Burma's entry into Asean will have no
immediate impact on the country's economic relations with its neighbours for
the foreseeable future.

The level of economic development in Burma is insufficient to allow the
country to join Asean's economic cooperation, in particular Afta. Nor would
the entry of Burma open new markets to Asean countries, as most member
states are already trading with Burma anyway.

As Asean would appear to gain little politically and economically from Burma
becoming a member, the question remains how the organisation will deal with
the consequences of Burma's membership, particularly at a time when the
issue of East Timor has already tarnished its reputation. Perhaps the time
has come for Asean to take up the banner of human rights. (TN)


December 12, 1996 (Rangoon TV, Myanamr Network)

Senior General Than Shwe, patron of the Union Solidarity and Development
Association [USDA], chairman of the State Law and Order Restoration
Council [SLORC], and commander in chief of the Defense Services, delivered
an address at the seventh USDA executive management course graduation
ceremony held at 0900 this morning in the Union Hall of the Central Public
Relations Corps in Hmawbi. [passage omitted on attendees] 
Addressing the ceremony, Sr. Gen. Than Shwe called today--which marks the
successful conclusion of the seventh USDA executive management course--a day
for replenishing the quality of the USDA. He said while addressing the trainees
from townships throughout the nation on this significant occasion that he
would like to deliver a few words of guidance that are important for the
association and the nation. 

He said the first point is to endeavor to constantly uphold the
association's five objectives [nondisintegration of the union;
nondisintegration of national solidarity; perpetuation of sovereignty;
strengthening of the patriotic
spirit for the promotion and vitalization of national prestige; the
emergence of a peaceful, prosperous, modernunion]. [passage omitted on
explanation of objectives] 

He explained that the fourth objective, which is to strengthen the patriotic
spirit for the promotion and vitalization of national prestige, should be
regarded as a
national task that needs to be implemented continuously. He said if this
objective is not fully implemented, there will be more foreign stooge axe
handles in Myanmar [Burma], and the country will gradually revert to
servitude in accordance with the wishes of the neoimperialists. He said the
four people's desires [oppose those relying on external elements, acting as
stooges, holding negative views; oppose those trying to jeopardize the
stability of the State and progress of the nation; opppose foreign nations
interfering in internal affairs of the state; crush all internal and
external destructive elements as the common enemy], should, therefore, be
propagated extensively. [passage omitted] 

He explained that the fifth objective, which is related to the fourth
political objective politically, is to build a modern nation --a goal for
the trainees. A modern nation must have peace, tranquility, and development.
omitted]  He said currently there is peace, tranquility, and security in the
country, as the second political objective of establishing national
solidarity is being implemented. [passage omitted] Therefore, the trainees
here should be aware that success is beginning to be achieved in
constructing the country as a modern nation. At a time when success is
beginning to be achieved, it will be necessary to maintain revolutionary
vigilance, as there is likely to be internal
and external subversion. He said because there are millions of students
among the 5 million USDA members, he would like to urge students who are
members, as well as those who have not joined, to remain diligent in their
studies to improve their education. [passage omitted] 

Sr. Gen. Than Shwe explained that the state is making a huge investment in
education. He said the peaceful pursuit of education must, therefore, be
maintained constantly, and it will be necesary for all parents, teachers,
and students to maintain vigilance in order to prevent those holding
negative views, destructive elements, and imperialist stooges from entering
the education sector in order to use students to obtain political power.
Only then will there be progress in efforts to build the peaceful,
prosperous, developed, and modern nation which is desired by all.  If,
however, stability, peace, and tranquility are
ruined due to the failure of some politicians to observe ethics and to their
lack of wisdom, we will face delay, disruptions, and the destruction of the
program to build a modern nation as in the maxim: The oar breaks while the
boat is in a race. He said he was urging the association and the general
public to prevent such a development with vigilance and wisdom. 

He said the USDA membership has now reached 5 million, with the children of
the general public who have faith in our association applying and joining
the association. He said a membership analysis shows that students constitute 49
percent, workers 13 percent, peasants 22 percent, and intelligentsia and
business entrepreneurs 16 percent.
[passage omitted] 
In conclusion, he urged the trainees to successfully apply the lessons they
have learned at the executive management course to their daily lives and to
continue their studies. It will be necessary for them to carry out
organizational work in order to create positive results for the association,
as well as for their respective regions and the nation.


December 12, 1996 (New Light of Myanmar) (abridged)

Vice Chairman of State Law and Order Restoration Council
[SLORC] and Deputy Commander in Chief of Defence Services
Commander in Chief (Army) General Maung Aye and wife Daw Mya
Mya San hosted a dinner for members of the House of
Representatives of the United States of America, currently
here at the invitation of General Maung Aye, at Zeya Thiri
Beikman Dec 9 evening. 

With Mr J. Dennis Hastert, leader of the US delegation, Representatives Mr
Bill Paxon, Mr Tom DeLay, Mrs Deborah Pryce and delegation members and
Charge d'Affaires ai [ad interim] of US Embassy Mr Kent M. Wiedemann
attended the dinner. 

Yesterday morning, the US guests left here for Mandalay by special Tatmadaw
aircraft.  They were welcomed at Mandalay Airport by Chairman of
Mandalay Division Law and Order Restoration Council Central
Command Commander Maj. Gen. Ye Myint and officials. 

They later visited Mandalay Hill and Myanansangyaw Shwenandaw [Palace] and
observed development works in the city. 

Commander Maj. Gen. Ye Myint hosted a lunch for the guests at Pyaygyimon
Barge.  Afterwards they visited Maha Muni Yokeshindawmyat Buddha Image and
bought souvenirs at Yadanapura Cooperatives Shop. 

In the afternoon, they flew on to Bagan [Pagan]-Nyaung-u by Tatmadaw special
aircraft.  On arrival at Bagan-Nyaung-u Airport, they were welcomed by Magwe
Division Law and Order Restoration Council Colonel Thein Nyunt and officials. 
They visited U Ba Nyein Lacquerware Shop where they bought Myanmar [Burmese]
traditional lacquerwares as souvenirs. 

Later they visited Lawkananda Pagoda and took in some good views of Bagan at
sunset.  In the evening, Minister for Science and Technology U Thaung
entertained them to dinner at River View Restaurant.  This morning, the
guests left Bagan and arrived back here by special Tatmadaw aircraft at 9.30
At 11 am, accompanied by Minister U Thaung, the guests visited Myanmar
[Burma] Gems Museum on Kaba Aye Road.  Judge Advocate General Brig. Gen.
Than Oo, Director of Procurement Brig. Gen. Win Hlaing of the Ministry of
Defence and Managing Director of Myanmar Gems Enterprise U Khin Oo welcomed
them and conducted round in the museum.  The guests left here for Singapore
by SilkAir in the afternoon.  They were seen off at Yangon International
Airport by Minister U Thaung and officials. 


December 10, 1996

Your December 8th article about the Total/Unocal/SLORC gas pipeline 
through Burma was extremely one-sided in its portrayal of Unocal as 
a humanitarian corporate good-guy. This is far from the truth. 
Unocal stands to make billions from the pipeline over the ensuing 
years. By its very nature, the deal is immersed in politics, contrary 
to Unocal's statements. 

Unocal is wrong when it says "they are simply oilmen_and should not 
be held accountable for the behavior of their host country." It is 
this claim, based not on reality, but fantasy, that has attempted to 
cover the stink of corporations while they wipe out lives, cultures 
and the environment in other, less industrialized countries. At 
this very moment weapons purchased with money from US investments 
are being used to squash pro-democracy demonstrators.

Missing from your report were any comments by those opposed to the 
project. The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma 
(NCGUB) is made up of elected representatives of the 1990 general 
elections, democratically chosen by the people of Burma. After the 
National League for Democracy, led by Aung SanSuu Kyi, won more 
than 82% of the seats in Parliament, the State Law and Order 
Restoration Council (SLORC) refused to yield power.

The SLORC uses forced labor, torture and rape to get what it wants, 
kills dissenters at will and has created a country where the citizens 
are in constant fear. Opposition brings quick reprisal. The only 
reason Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is still alive is that she has become 
an international figure. Others who have opposed the SLORC are not 
so fortunate.

Because of Unocal's refusal to abide by the demands of the elected 
government, the SLORC stands to reap billions from its part in the 
pipeline deal. None of this income will help the people of Burma, 
since the SLORC spends almost half of its budget on weapons, while 
spending less than 20% on social programs. The government is at war 
with no one except its own people.

Unocal is also not being responsible to its shareholders, since any 
contracts made during the reign of the illegitimate military government 
will need to be reviewed by the democratic government when it regains 
control. Since the social and environmental impacts of the pipeline 
are enormous, it is likely that the project will not continue in its 
current form. The pipeline has already had a devastating impact on 
Burma's rainforests, and future impacts on marine life are certain. 
Unocal is being loose with its shareholders' money.

SLORC-guided tours for journalists do not include visits with any 
opposed to the project, such as those forced into labor for roads 
and other infrastructure and those who were forcefully relocated 
and/or fled to Thailand as refugees. Showpieces such as a few 
schoolhouses are far outweighed by the impact the pipeline will have 
on the countryside and its people, and are crumbs compared to the 
billions Unocal stands to make.

Big international corporations are immersed in politics, whether they 
would like us to think so or not. Simply claiming that "politics 
should not be an issue" for them does not make the truth go away.
Unocal is funding the SLORC. They are involved in politics.

Unocal has chosen to deal with thugs and hide behind false statements 
of non-interference.

The people of Burma who elected Aung San Suu Kyi's party to lead the 
country know better. The democratically-elected Prime Minister has 
called for companies to cease investments in Burma until democracy 
is restored. If Unocal was truly apolitical, it would abide by the 
wishes of the Burmese people and do just that.


Dr. Thaung Htun, Representative for UN Affairs
National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma


December 16, 1996
by Moe Gyo

Three regrettable, but politically significant events have recently
occurred in Indonesia, Malaysia and Burma.  These events may be unimportant
for those outside the region of South East Asia, but they are significant
for the Burmese people who are pursuing the path of establishing genuine
democracy in Burma.  In this context, these events should be observed very

On the 27 July, 1996, the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Indonesia
(PDI), which at the time were occupied by the supporters of popularly
elected party leader, Megawati Sukarnoputri, came under attack by hoodlums,
organised and supported by the ruling GOLKA party and the Indonesian
military.  This government-sponsored rampage resulted in an outburst of
public anger, followed by riots and bloodshed.  To the amazement of all
impartial observers, 124 supporters of Megawati were charged with waging
battle, and inciting the riots, whereas the true initiators - the
government-backed hoodlums were neither disciplined nor charged.

On the 9 November, 1996, a gathering of international and Malaysia human
rights activists, including Australian journalists, attending the Asia
Pacific Conference on East Timor, were attacked by thugs and goons who were
members of the Malaysia Action Front, the youth wing of the ruling United
Malay National Organisation (UMNO).  It is obvious that the Malaysia
government has secretly given its approval to disrupt the peaceful
non-violent conference, with violent acts of thuggery.  Although the police
witnessed this uncivilised behaviour, it took no action against those
unruly thugs who gate-crashed the conference.  They preferred to detained
those innocent participants who were peacefully attending the conference.

On that same day, on the 9 November, 1996, a car carrying Daw Aung San Suu
Kyi and members of the National League for Democracy were violently
attacked by thugs and goons, who belonged to the SLORC-supported Union
Solidarity and Development Association (USDA).  While this anarchic incident
was occurring right in front of many law enforcement personnel, no measures
were taken to halt their thuggish behaviour.

These three ugly incidents can only be described as acts of
government-sponsored political terrorism.  The use of political terrorism
is not new in the region of South East Asia.  In Thailand, government
-inspired vigilante groups murdered many leftist students in 1976, and in
Indonesia, the Permuda Pancasila youth organisation has been used to break
up political protests.  The recent three events expose the commonly accepted
culture of the ruling elites, and clearly sends a message that there will be
no tolerance for those who hold different views, and openly discuss and
share their views with other like-minded people.  With the use of force by such
institutionalised gangsters, dissidents can now expect to be terrorised,
marginalised and finally silenced.  The free world media that exposed the
acts of government-sponsored terrorism, can now expect to be branded
"CONGENITAL LIARS".  The ruling elites of a majority of South East Asian
nations show no appreciation for the values of freedom of expression,
peaceful exchanging of ideas and views, compromise and seeking consensus
with its own subjects.

What Burma urgently needs is a transition from dictatorship to democracy,
and this should take place by way of a peaceful tripartite dialogue between
SLORC, the NLD and the ethnic parties.  It should be noted that Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi was attacked by hoodlums shortly after the departure of the
ASEAN Secretary-General Ajit Singh from Burma.  It cannot be denied that
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are actively engaging the ruthless
Burmese generals, and are actively lobbying other ASEAN nations to accept
SLORC, as a full member, even though SLORC is an illegitimate regime.  For
all these reasons the Burmese people should seriously consider whether

The founding father of modern Singapore once stated that democracy is not
essential, but discipline is important.  He neglected to specify, who
should be disciplined and who should be exempted from disciplinary measures.
Singapore is famous for showing no mercy to drug traffickers and drug
abusers, but it is now openly embracing and cooperating with the infamous
drug baron of Burma, Lo Hsing Han and his family.  The government of
Singapore has publicly endorsed the military, as the only institution in
Burma which can bring stability and development to Burma, whilst turning a
blind-eye to the SLORC generals' active involvement in the drug
trade and the money laundering business.  This cynical behaviour exposes
another important ASEAN culture which is that, as long as there is profit,
the ruling elites are ready to embrace anyone, even if it they are
internationally renown criminals.  Because of this moral and ethical
bankruptcy, the Burmese people should also consider whether they   "NEED TO

However disappointing the attitudes and performances of the governments of
ASEAN are, we should not abandon their policy of "CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT". 

This policy of engagement, which is being currently exercised by these
governments, is now limited to only procuring immediate benefit to these
authoritative persons in control of such governments, and should be
expanded.  The Burmese people should also take every opportunity to engage
constructively with the people of ASEAN nations, who sympathise with our
struggle for democracy and uphold the principles of fairness, freedom and
equality.  The national leader General Aung San and her daughter Daw Aung
San Suu Kyi have repeatedly urged the citizens of Burma to take keen
interest in, and to participate actively in the political process of the
nation.  The time is now arriving for the Burmese people not to only take
interest in domestic politics, but also to be aware of their neighbouring
ASEAN countries.


December 13, 1996 (Students and Youth Congress of Burma) 

We have held the Students and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB) meeting today.
The meeting was attended by : 
Ko Myat Thu (President of the ABSL),  
Ko Aung Wa (President of the AKSYU),  
Ko Aung Dun (President of the CSU),  
Ko Kyaw Kyaw (General Secretary of AASYC), 
Ko Aung Thu Nyein (General Secretary of ABSDF), 
Ko Pyi Aye (Co-ordinator from AASYC), 
Ko Thara (Gen.Secretary of the CSU), 
Ko Soe Myint (Gen. Secretary of the ABSL) and 
Ko Maung Maung Soe (C.C. Member -Foreign Affairs, ABSL)
Ko Zaw Zaw (ABSDF) 

The meeting decided the following matters : 
1)   The SYCB Conference in 1997  
As the situation in Thailand is not favorable to hold the SYCB Conference in
1997, we have decided that SYCB Conference to be held in India in 1997.
The SYCB (India) will take responsibility to organize this conference. It
will be held before March 1997. The proposals for the expenses of the
meeting will be prepared by the coordinators from both sides of India and
Thailand. The venue for the conference has not yet been decided and has to
be finalized by the SYCB (India). 
2) World-wide Demonstration organized by SYCB 
To extend the solidarity and support to the students demonstration in Burma
and to strengthen the pro-democracy movement, the SYCB has decided to hold
the world-wide demonstrations on December 20, 1996. The demonstrations will
be held simultaneously in India, Thailand, Australia, Norway, Canada,
Germany, Japan and the U.S.A. The SYCB will call upon Burma Support Groups
and those organizations affiliated around the world to cooperate in this
campaign. The SYCB will also urge the BBC, VOA, DVB and other radio stations to
spread the news about the campaign before starting the WWD.  
The SYCB calls upon the member organizations to organize the rallies and
demonstrations in their respective countries.  
In India, a public rally of Burmese democratic forces will be held nearby
the SLORC embassy on 20th December under the banner of SYCB. The SYCB
will issue a Statement for the Global Campaign.  

3.   To co-ordinate more effectively between SYCB (Thailand) and (India) in
the future 
     SYCB will take up the following policies : 
(a)  To pressurize ASEAN's Constructive Engagement Policy not to be
effective (to organize more campaigns in the countries of ASEAN) 

(b)  To lobby more effectively the Indian Government not to continue to
pursue the present policy (similar with ASEAN's Constructive Engagement)
towards SLORC, 

(c)  SYCB will organize an "International Seminar on Burma" at the same time
when SYCB holds its Conference in March 1997, 

(d)  Each SYCB member takes up separate responsibility to lobby various
sections of the people in their respected countries, For example, a SYCB
member will take responsibility for lobbying NGOs while another SYCB member
will take responsibility for lobbying political parties in India, etc...