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Views on the Indian papers

The Asian Age: 26 Dec. '96 - New Delhi OPPOSITION, JUNTA DRAWING UNWITTING
TOURISTS IN ROW By Patrick McDowell Rangoon, Dec. 25: Sightseers at one of
Rangoon's gilded temples during the December high tourism season are
training their cameras on something else, tanks deployed to quell the
biggest street unrest in years. Foreign visitors have become unwitting
actors in Burma's political conflicts. Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu
Kyi wants them to stay away and deny legitimacy to the military regime she
says used forced labour to beautiful tourist attractions. The government,
meanwhile, has launched a multi-million dollar campaign inviting
foreigners to spend hard currency and see just how much Burma, also known
as Myanmar, has changed since thousands were gunned down in pro-democracy
street protests in 1988. What they have seen, however, isn't the kind of
publicity official visit Myanmar year opened to $300,000 of fanfare and
ceremonies.  Just two weeks later, hundreds of university students staged
a series of protests, demanding an independent students union and more
civil liberties. Holiday makers bound for Burma stared at airport
television screens and fretted over news of sit-ins and marches being
broken up with water cannons and charging riot police. Hotels reported
cancellations and embassies fielded phone calls from worried travellers.
In the end, however, few visitors said they had much reason to write home
worried postcards. "We saw the tanks, and that takes you back a bit," said
New Zealand law student Tim, 24 as he watched twilight flicker off the
gold-leafed spire of the Shwedagon pagoda, Rangoon's holiest shrine, with
a friend. "But I was in the Middle East a few year ago, and there were a
lot more soldiers and tension in Jerusalem than here," he said. "If there
is a problem, we're out on the first plane," he added.  The ruling State
Law & Order Restoration Council quelled the unrest in a week.  Campuses
were shut down, students from the provinces sent home and alleged
agitators hunted. In a show of force, tanks took position in central
Rangoon outside the Sule pagoda, the Shwedagon's smaller cousin. Tourists
strained to snap a frame including the armoured vehicles & a nearby statue
of pig-tailed page boy, the visit Myanmar Year mascot. But most visitors
are unlikely to fond trouble. The regime maintains a tight lid on
discontent, and visitors aren't welcome everywhere. More than half the
country, ethnic conflict and opium cultivation zones, for example, are
Rangoon: Burmese Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was spending a quite
Christmas with friends and relatives at her home, which she has not been
able to leave since earlier this month. Aung San Suu Kyi, like most
Burmese, is a Buddhist, but there is one Christian currently staying in
the compound, "and we celebrate (Christmas) for him," a source close to
the pro-democracy leader said. Her British husband, Michael Aris, and two
sons were unable to get permission to visit her, said the source, reached
by telephone at the compound.  Roadblocks remained in place on the road
leading the house, although elsewhere in Rangoon traffic was back to
normal. Authorities clamped down after large-scale student protests in
November and December, when classes were suspended at universities and
secondary schools. A National League for Democracy leader said 64 party
members had been arrested following student protests. (AFP) MORE THAI
TEENAGERS FALLING PREY TO DRUGS Bangkok, Dec. 25: Thailand, once famous
for its role in the flow of heroin from the golden Triangle, is
experiencing soaring drug addiction and juvenile crime as a result of
rocketing amphetamine use, expects say. Drug addiction rates for youths
aged between 15 and 25 especially for amphetamines have seen severe
increases in the past few years, said Pinyo Thongchai, an official from
the Office of Narcotics Board Control. "The average age of drug addicts
goes down every year," Pinyo said. "Meanwhile, the number of addicts has
increased by more than 200 per cent in the past two years." A 1993 survey
by the Thailand Development Research Institute said that some 72,000
students across the country were addicted to drugs. He said a large part
of the problem was that more and more students were turning to
amphetamines since heroin had become so expensive. While heroin princes
have been going up particularly with the surrender last year of opium
drug-lord Khun Sa across the border on Burma a parallel inflow of
amphetamines and precursor chemicals has driven "speed"  prices down.
Making matters even worse, Pinyo added, was the spectre of AIDS and the
resulting fear of contracting the human immuno-deficiency virus from dirty
needles. (AFP)