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BurmaNet News: December 19, 1996

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

The BurmaNet News:  December 19, 1996
Issue # 595

Noted in Passing: 

		...800,000 Burmese are forced to work without pay 
		or against their will, contributing around a tenth of the 			country's
economic output - International Confederation of 			Free Trade Unions


December 18, 1996

         BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuter) - The European Commission called
Wednesday for special trade benefits for Burma to be scrapped
following an investigation into the use of forced labor by the
military regime in Rangoon.
         The decision is a blow to Rangoon's pride, but will have
little effect on its wallet. Burmese industrial exports to
European Union countries totaled just $30 million in 1995, and
special low tariffs saved it no more than $365,000, the
Commission estimates.
         ``It is symbolic,'' said one Commission official. ``But the
symbolism is vitally important to SLORC.''
         SLORC, the State Law and Order Restoration Council which
governs Burma, came under fire again earlier this week when the
EU issued a statement condeming police brutality while
dispersing recent student demonstrations in Rangoon.
         The symbolism may be important in an international context,
too, as this was the first case to draw a direct link between
trade and abuse of basic workers' rights, an issue which greatly
excercised a meeting of world trade ministers last week.
         Developing countries are concerned that linking the two
issues will open a back door for protectionists wanting to keep
products made by low-paid workers out of their home markets.
         Under European law, however, trade benefits which are
unilaterally granted to developing countries to encourage
economic growth can be suspended if beneficiaries are shown to
force people to work against their will or without pay.
         The Commission's recommendation will likely be approved by
EU finance ministers in January.
         Investigators spent a year pouring through thousands of pages
of personal accounts and hearing testimony from people who say
they have been made to work as virtual slaves, often on
infrastructure and hotel projects which SLORC hopes will bring
in much-needed foreign exchange.
         According to the International Confederation of Free Trade
Unions (ICFTU), which launched the complaint, 800,000 Burmese
are forced to work without pay or against their will,
contributing around a tenth of the country's economic output.


December 18, 1996

THAI businesses are keen to see Asean accept Burma as a new
member next year, to promote regional economic cooperation 
and ensure that the nation proceeds with predictable business regulations.

Despite ongoing  political pressure from western countries, Thai
economists at a seminar organised by the Export Promotion
Department, said Burma was a potential gateway for Thailand to
the emerging markets of China and India. 
Wisan Bupaves, adviser, Thailand Development and Research
Institute, said Thailand must support Burma's entry into Asean as
soon as possible. In addition, the government should proceed with
economic cooperation with Burma through regional cooperation,
such as Western Seaboard and Greater Mekong Economic Development

Wisan said foreign investors have tapped only 10 per cent of the
Burmese market, leaving a tremendous opportunity for Thailand.

Achaka Brimble, director, Foreign Affairs Division of the Board
of Trade of Thailand, said Burma was one of the new emerging
countries which the BTT perceives as being a potential site for Thai investors.

U Thinn Maung, director, Directorate of Investment and Company
Administration, Office of the Myanmar Investment Commission,
Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, said
Burma had been liberalising its economic system. Burma allows 100
per cent foreign ownership, making joint ventures unnecessary.

U Tinn Maung said the political situation in Burma was also
quite stable, even though the situation was frequently portrayed
in a negative light by the press. He said Burma was confident it
would graduate from having observer status to being a full member
of Asean next year. Now, Burma is on the waiting list, along with
Cambodia and Laos.

We prepared for our entry into Asean by improving our regulations.

"The total invested in Burma has increased greatly, from US 600
million (Btl5 billion) in 1995 to $1.2 billion in the first eight
months of the year. Thailand's investment is about $960 million," he said.

Wisan said in the past, Thailand was late in seizing available
opportunities in Indochina. Asean had already seized the market.

"Not only do we wish to invest in Burma and bring its raw
materials and natural resources to Thailand, but we should also
transfer technology to the country in order to support it," he added.

He suggested Thailand help Burma by reducing tariffs and giving
the country tax concessions under the generalised system of
preferences. For those who wish to enter the market, the Thai
government should offer them special business concessions,
possibly similar to those given to Asean Free Trade Area members.

Vichat Mektrakarn, managing director of Myanmar Nouveau Co, said
the political situation in Burma was only a short-term crisis and
will not negatively affect foreign investors.

He said regulations in Burma are better than those of other
countries in the region. However, the private sector requires the
government to provide information about investing in Burma and
finding sources of capital. The government should not only
promote large enterprises, but also small and medium sized companies.

Srivat Suwan, Ministerial Counsellor (Commercial), said
agriculture, tourism, fisheries and mines were industries with
potential in Burma. It can also be Thailand's gateway to other
Indochinese countries as well as India and China.


December 18, 1996 (Thailand Times)

MANILA: Burma does not need to democratize to join the
Association of south East Asian Nations (ASEAN, Philippine
President Fidel Ramos said late Monday.

"When the five founding members came in, no one was asked "Are
you a democracy? Do you have a constitutional system?," Ramos
said in a television talk show.

"It's not for us to impose our system on other countries," he added.

Ramos said the requirement for Asean membership were accession to
a treaty of amity and cooperation, and agreement to join the
Asean Free Trade Area which takes effect in 2003.

His remarks come amid a military crackdown in Burma on members of
the opposition National League for Democracy led by Nobel peace
prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

Human rights activists and Western countries, led by the United
states have been urging Asean to hold off on admitting Burma as a
member because of human rights violations and the military
junta's refusal to allow democracy.

At an informal summit in Jakarta last month, leaders agreed to
allow Burma, Laos and Cambodia to join the Asean simultaneously
but a date has yet to be specified.

Ramos and other Asean leaders said the three countries could join
before the turn of the century.

Asean was founded in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Other members are Brunei
and Vietnam.


December 14, 1996

   	Is the Association of Southeast Nations at last recognizing that
	there is more to effective regional development than paying lip
	service to combined responsibility?
	Under the policy of constructive engagement, the Southeast Asian
	states had wanted Burma as a full member by next year. Hurried
	efforts to bring Burma, Cambodia and Laos into the fold imply some
	ASEAN leaders are desperate to strengthen the organization through
	weight of numbers in the face of outside interest in the region's 	development.
	Common sense has now prevailed. Delaying Burma's entry, ASEAN
	has acknowledged that welcoming a pariah state into its midst would
	do nothing for its international credibility and that the
	engagement policy has not worked.
	In the process, the leaders have left the strongest advocate on
	Burma's behalf, Dr. Mahathir of Malaysia, to reinforce _ in the
	words of a former Australian prime minister _ his recalcitrance
	with his claim that the Burma of today is not the Burma of many
	years ago. In light of the United Nations charges last month that
	the Rangoon regime had suppressed opposition, used forced labor to
	build the economy, tortured prisoners, abused women and conducted
	summary executions, Dr. Mahathir's support does him no credit.


December 18, 1996

JAKARTA: Indonesian students picketed the Burmese embassy here
yesterday to protest against the repression of students and 
pro-democracy activists in Burma.       

The 22  demonstrators also called on the  Association of South
East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to  review a decision taken last month
to allow Rangoon to join the regional grouping as a full  member.

The students, from the pro-democracy youth group Pijar Indonesia,
submitted a statement entitled "Halt Repression, Return
Democracy" to embassy officials.

The paper called for the release of political prisoners and for
Rangoon to hold free elections and for businessmen and travellers
to shun trade and tourism in Burma.


December 19, 1996

The Central Floating Hotel in Rangoon, Burma, is celebrating its official
grand opening to coincide with Visit Myanmar Year.

The hotel, which has been opened since 1994, recently commenced full operations.

Docked permanently at the Wahdan Jetty, the 133-room ship-turned-hotel has a
beautiful riverside location and caters to the leisure market.

Hotels and Tourism general Kyaw Ba and Thai ambassador Poksak Nilubol
presided over the opening ceremony.

The Central Group of Hotels director of marketing, Supatra Chirathivat, said
the hotel's unique style and riverside location would attract tourists from
around the world.

The hotel is focusing its marketing efforts at Thai, Singaporean and other
Asian businessmen, but has also reported a lot of interest from Italian tour

The hotel hopes the launch of the visit Myanmar promotion with bring more
tourists to the country despite internal political conflict. For the past
two years, tourist traffic has been slow due to uncertainty about the
domestic situation.

Aiming at a modest 50% occupancy rate for 1997, the hotel operator is
optimistic that Thai Airways International will increase the number of
flights to Rangoon to two daily by April, brining in more Thai visitors.

The Central Floating Hotel has both local and Thai staff and its restaurant,
the Golden Pagoda, serves Thai and international food. Thai residents say it
offers the best Thai food in town.

The hotel believes many Thais will visit Burma this year because tour
packages are affordable and the journey is relatively short. As well, many
Thais are interested in Burma's history and historical monuments. Others
enjoy shopping for affordable jewllery and handicrafts.

The Central Group plans to enter cooperation talks with Orient Express and
is already working with Air Mandalay. The former has air links to Hat Yai,
Surat Thani and Chiang Mai and the latter flies from Chiang Mai to Burma.

Close cooperation with the airlines to develop special tour packages will
further the group's business interests in the future when it plans to build
more hotels in other destinations in Burma. (BP)


December 14, 1996
By Swaraj Thapa
New Delhi, Dec. 14: Encouraged by the trade response on 
the Indo-Burma border after the opening of the Moreh-
Tamu transit point last year, the government has decided to 
open another point at Champa in Mizoram connecting Rih 
on the Burmese side by next year.

Home ministry sources said the issue  was discussed with 
the Burma deputy-minister for home affairs, Colonel Tin 
Hlaing, who led a five-member delegation to New Delhi a 
fortnight ago.

Officials said with the opening of the Moreh-Tamu route, 
both countries had recognised the potential for enhanced  trade ties.

Much of Burma's trade relations so far has been with China. 
Last year alone over $ 500 million worth of Chinese goods 
found their way to Burma.
However, since the barriers between India and Burma were 
thrown open in May 1995, the quantum of trade 
locally, between the two countries through the Moreh-Tamu 
road alone has crossed Rs 26 crores with plastic goods, 
handicrafts and handloom being sent across by India and 
pulses and timber coming from Burma.

'In the next two years we expect to cross Rs 100 croes from 
this point alone. The second at Champa-Rih is also expected 
to do equally well," said an official.

Keen interest has also been shown by the Mizoram 
government which has already cleared a project for the 
construction of a bridge between Champa and Rih and are 
now in the process of inviting tenders for its construction.
To further boost ties, India has also agreed to construct a 
road from Tamu to Kleymo in south Burma.

The 168-km stretch is expected to cost around Rs 90 
crores and will be constructed by the border Roads Organization


December 18, 1996 (abridged)

During the past 8 odd years, the SLORC has alienated
all sections of people in Burma. The SLORC has not only
invited condemnation from the United Nations and the
international community, it has also lost all domestic
political base. Further, the massive militarisation of
the country has led to a stagnant and regressive
economy. The SLORC has been trying to generate some
growth in the economy with the help of certain
multinational companies but even that attempt has
failed. But the military junta needs foreign currency,
particularly dollars, in order to keep up its supply of
arms and ammunition so that it can continue to rule
with brutal repression. Crippled by a stagnant economy,
the SLORC has taken recourse to the criminal and
inhuman option of promoting opium cultivation,
processing and exporting heroine. One of the convenient
route the SLORC has found is to push huge quantities of
heroin into Northeast India through which the dangerous
drug reaches the Indian metropolitan cities of Bombay
and Delhi. While a sizable amount of the heroin pushed
into Indian though the Northeast ultimately finds its
destination in the international market, yet a
substantial quantity finds its consumers in India
itself, giving rise to the Menace of drug addiction and
associated hazards among the youths in North-East and
the urban centers of India. The following is a brief
and sketchy account of how SLORC has actively promoted
trafficking in heroin after it illegally seized power in 1988.

In 1989, the SLORC arrived at a cease-fire agreement
with Wa and Kokant, the two major ethnic groups engaged
in large scale opium cultivation and heroin processing
and marketing in Shan State in Burma, one of the major
locations within the infamous Golden Triangle.
According to this cease-fire agreement, the SLORC
allowed the two ethnic groups (Wa and Kokant) to freely
trade in narcotics, with some understanding about
sharing the booty between the two parties. More than
half of the produce of this area is transported to
Mandalay, a major transit point in Burma, from where
the fatal drug is smuggled to Singapore via Rangoon and
to India, Bangladesh and Nepal through Kalay-Tamu, two
small Burmese towns on the Indian border. Under the
cease-fire agreement, the cars and other vehicles used
by Wa and Kokant dealers for transporting heroin are
marked with "Peace Symbol" (the Burmese mythological
lion). No check point in Burma is authorized to check
the cars marked with such a Peace Symbol. Reportedly,
even the cars of high ranking Burmese Army Officers are
used for transporting huge quantities of heroin.

It is clear from the above that the SLORC has not only
given a free hand to the Wa and Kokant drug barons, but
the SLORC is itself directly involved in this inhuman
enterprise. To give just one example, in 1994, some
Narcotics Enforcement Officers caught a Kokant car
loaded with 20 Kgs of heroin in La-show in Shan State.
Immediately, no less than a big gun like Mr. Khin
Nyunt, the Chief of Military Intelligence Service
(officially named as Directorate of Defence Service of
Intelligence, DDSI) and Secretary of SLORC intervened
and got the car released without any record of harm.

More and more evidence is coming to light to prove the
direct hand of SLORC officers in drug peddling. Major
Khin Maung Soe, the Local Army Commander of Light
Infantry Regiment-89 (posted in Indian border area
during 89-91), Captain Than Htay Aung (91-92), Sergeant
Major Hla Nyo and Sergeant Thein Zaw of the DDSI-17
have been directly involved in the carriage and
smuggling of heroin into India and importing large
quantities of Phensydile, into Burma. Major Khin
Maung Soe is reported to have gained 12 million Kyats
from heroin smuggling in just one year. Virtually all
petty and large scale smugglers of heroin of Tamu have
to pay a bribe of an amount ranging from 5000 to 15000
Kyats per month to the Narcotic Drug Enforcement
Department, the Burmese Army Officials, DDSI-17,
Immigration and Police Officials. The amount paid to
each department/official varies, the highest of course
goes to the Army Officials.

It may by pointed out that opium grown in Burma
constitutes 60% of the total world production and 80%
of the opium production of Asia. Though the actual
increase in opium production is not known, it has by
now become common knowledge that opium production and
heroine smuggling has sky rocketed after the SLORC take over.

After the opening of the Indo-Burma Trade Treaty, the
drug barons felt encouraged to exploit the North-East
Indian route for smuggling heroine. In 1992-93, Wa and
Kokant drug Mafia leaders visited Tamu to establish
contacts and exploit the opportunity for their ulterior
motives. They had found a new and very convenient route
for smuggling heroine through North-East India through
to Chittagong, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bombay and Delhi. Now
huge quantities of heroin could by smuggled to these
places which would further be taken to their final
destinations in Europe and America. Thus, while before
the SLORC take over, only 3% of the Burmese heroin
export was through North-East India, now it has reached
a height of 12%. Because of these Large Scale
convenient smuggling, the price of heroin has also been
lowered. Entry of heroin in North-East India from Burma
are; Lungdung, Sarchhip and Champhai in Mizoram;
Behiang, New Somtal, Moreh, Kasom Khullen Kultuk and
Tijsom in Manipur; Noklak in Nagaland; and Vijaynagar
in Arunachal Pradesh. Among these places, Moreh and New
Somtal are considered to be the major routes. Till
1992, the price of heroine was 3.5 lakh Indian Rupees
per Kilo-gram. Now it has come down to 1.5 lakh for
local products and 3.00 lakh for high quality heroine
from Mandalay. There are also other detail about this
very highly organized drug trafficking. The heroine
packets smuggled through North-East India bear the
trade mark of "Lion and Glove" or "555". Earlier most
of the heroine came in 1 kg packets, but now some
quantity is smuggled in smaller packets of 1/3 Kg,
obviously for sale in the local North-East India market.

The following table showing the area under opium
cultivation, heroin production and heroin export from
1987 to 1995 clearly indicates how this organized drug
Mafia at the center of the Golden Triangle got a big
boost after the illegal military take over of the country.

Year Area under Opium    Total Heroin   Total Heroin
     Cultivation         Production     Export (in
     (in Hectares)  (in Metric Tones)  Metric tons)
1987    92,300            53                  51
1988   103,200            68                  66
1989   142,742           128                 123.5
1990   150,742           180                 174.5
1991   161,012           185                 181.5
1992   153,700           180                 179.5
1993   165,800           190                 186.5
1994   175,200           195                 191.00
1995   150,000           175                 170.00

It may be pointed out that the comparatively 
lower production in 1995 may be due to the SLORC's war
with the greatest drug baron, Khun Sa. But it seems
there has been a truce between the drug Mafia forces
and the SLORC after a report that Khun Sa paid 400
million dollars to SLORC for his safety. Khun Sa
presently lives in a house adjacent to that of General
Ne Win, on the same beach of Inya Lake near Rangoon University.

>From the above a number of points are clear. Firstly,
the direct involvement of the military regime in drug
production, drug processing and heroine smuggling is
without any shred of doubt. Secondly, the SLORC is not
only politically bankrupt, it is also economically
bankrupt. And to make money somehow to purchase arms
and ammunition which is used to crush the democratic
movement, the military junta has embarked on this
dangerous trafficking in heroin. Thirdly, the opening
of the Indo-Burma Trade Treaty has given greater scope
to the SLORC and the drug barons to push heroin through
North-East India to the final destinations in the West.
No actual bilateral trade worth the name has developed
between India and Burma. By entering into this Trade
Treaty, India has opened the gate for drug traffickers
which may be one of the reasons for the increase in
drug addiction in North-East India in recent years. It
is high time that we not only regional threat but a
threat of international dimensions, but also take
concrete steps to totally stop it. It is an appeal to
all conscientious citizens in North-East India, in
India in general and the Government of India that
urgent and immediate steps be taken to stop SLORC from
this international crime.

Information Bureau
All Burma Students League


December 13, 1996 (The New Light of Myanmar)

Mr. J. Dennis Hastert and other members of the House of Representatives of
the United States, here on a visit as the guests of Vice Chairman of the
State Law and Order Restoration Council General Maung Aye, arrived Tavoy Airport
by special Tatmadaw [Defense Services] aircraft yesterday morning. They were
accompanied by Minister for Energy U Khin Maung Thein, Charge d'Affaires ai
[ad interim] of the US Embassy Mr. Kent Wiedemann and officials of the
Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Energy. 

The guests, also accompanied by Brig-Gen Zaw Tun of Dawei Station, left the
airport by helicopter and arrived Kanbauk Base Camp of Yadana Natural Gas
Project of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise in the afternoon.  They were
welcomed at the base camp by MOGE [Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise] Managing
Director U Kyaw Nyein, General Manager Mr. H. Madeo of Total Myanmar
Exploration and Production Co. Ltd. of France, Managing Director Mr. L.
Morris of Texaco Exploration Myanmar Inc. of the US and
employees of the camp. 
In the meeting hall of the camp, Minister U Khin Maung Thein spoke. Managing
Director U Kyaw Nyein briefed them on offshore oil and gas exploration and
drilling and progress of work, Mr. L. Morris on Yetagun Natural Gas Project
and Mr. H. Madeo on Yadana Natural Gas Project, with charts and maps. They
replied to the questions of the guests. The guests, together with Minister U
Khin Maung Thein, left by helicopter along the onshore Yadana natural gas
pipeline axis from the beach near Maminseik Village and had an aerial view
of the pipelines and installation of new
pipes and clearing the pipeline axis, pipeline installation camps, unloading
pipes from foreign vessels at Heinze Wharf and the sites in Nat Eindaung
area near Myanmar-Thai border where survey camps for gas sales will be built. 

They went to Eindayaza Village in the area of Yadana Natural Gas Project and
observed the village primary school built by the project, poultry and cattle
farms set up by the project for the villagers and the village clinic. The
project personnel conducted them round the village.  The guests returned to
Kanbauk Base Camp and left Dawei by special Tatmadaw aircraft and arrived
back Yangon in the evening. 

In the evening, Minister U Khin Maung Thein hosted dinner in their honour at
Strand Hotel. Minister for Science and Technology U Thaung, Attorney General
U Tha Tun and Charge d'Affaires ai of US Embassy Mr. Kent Wiedemann also
attended the dinner.