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BurmaNet News December 30, 1996

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

The BurmaNet News:  December 30, 1996
Issue #601

December 29, 1996  Agencies

Junta bans free movement citing security concerns after bombings

Rangoon - Burma's military government yesterday showed no sign of relaxing
restrictin on the movements of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as it 
said bombing incidents in Rangoon this week required its vigilence and 

A military spokesman said he could not say when the government will ease
its requirement that the Noble Peace Laureate seek advance military permission
to leave her lakeside residence in central Rangoon.

Two bombs exploded at a Buddhist site in a northern Rangoon suburb on 
Wednesday, killing five people and wounding 17.  Asked when the military 
would allow Suu Kyi free movement, the spokesman said, "Under the current
situation, it is very hard to say.  WE still have to be extra careful."

The ruling State Law and Order REstoration Council (Slorc) on Friday 
allowed Suu Kyi to leave her house for the first time in three weeks
for a visit to the tomb of her mother Daw Khin Kyi at a cemetary on the
eighth anniversary of her death.  Tin Oo, deputy leader of Suu Kyi's 
National League for Democracy (NLD), said she and NLD members held a 
15 minute Buddhist prayer service at the tomb.

He added that the visit early on Friday did not mark a change in the 
restrictions on her movment.  "She is still not free to go out," he 
said by telephone from Rangoon, noting that blockades on the approaches
to her residential compound remain in place.  Her house is technically 
still closed, but for this particular occasion she was allowed to go out,"
he said.

The authorities provied security arrangements for the passage of her 
car on the roads to the shrine, which is located close to the towering
Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma's most famous religious edifice.  Suu Kyi was 
able to invite relatives and monks for Buddhist ceremonies at her 
house after the visit to the shrine, but all the invitees had to be 
screened by the authorities before they were allowed in, Tin Oo said.

Since Dec 3, the Slorc has restricted Suu Kyi's movement after nearly
2000 university students took to the streets at the start of a series of 
the biggest anti-government demonstrations seen in Rangoon since 1988.
Students across Rangoon demonstrated for the right to establish a 
union and for the release of detainees, in a show of defiance that the
Slorc accused various opposition groups, including the NLD, of fomenting.
The NLD categorically denied the charge.

Tin Oo said Suu Kyi had no specific plans to leave her compound next 
week as she did not like to ask for what she regarded as her legal right
to freedom of movement.

Suu Kyi and the student protesters have denied any political links but the 
government has accused some NLD members, exiled students and outlawed 
Burmese communists of instigating the protests.

The government had blamed this week's bomb blasts on the exiled All Burma
Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the rebel Karen National Union (KNU).
Both the exiled student and ethnic Karen insurgent organizations have 
denied the Slorc's accusations.  The students, in a show of defiance, 
instead claimed that the ruling junta planted the bombs itself to create 
a pretext for a fresh crackdown against dissent.

Meanwhile, the Slorc yesterday announced the postponement of a second 
marathon race following the bombing, in an apparent bid to head off 
feared unrest.  

The scheduled Jan 5 race in Mandalay, Burma's second-largest city, was
postponed indefinitely, state-run newspapers reported.  The announcement
came a day after the seventh annual Rangoon marathon was postponed for
the second time in two weeks.

No reason was given in either case, but both cities were the site of 
student protests earlier this month, the largest street protests since  the
army killed thousands of people to crush a pro-democracy uprising in 1988.

The postponement follows the explosion at the Kaba Aye Pagoda and the 
man-made Maha Pasana Cave currently housing the 2500 year-old Sacred 
Tooth Relic, which is on loan from China, Burma's biggest ally and 
arms supplier.  

Security has been stepped up atthe Chinese Embassy and at the ambassador's 
residence since the blast.  Buddhist monks paid respect to the relic on 
Friday, newspapers said, and held a ceremony in memory of those killed.


December 28, 1996

EXILED Burmese students and Karen guerrillas have strongly denied
the Burmese junta's allegations that they were responsible for
the Christmas bombing at a famous Buddhist shrine, which killed
five and injured 17.

While the Karen National Union (KNU) said it did not know who was
behind the violence, the All Burma Students' Democratic Front
(ABSDF) has accused the ruling regime of organising the two explosions 
as an excuse to renew its crackdown on the  democracy movement.

In an interview yesterday, an ABSDF leader said his movement
believed the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) planted the
bombs themselves in order to discredit the democratic opposition.

Aung Naing Oo also accused the Slorc of bombing Burmese embassies
in Bangkok and Tokyo  in the early 1990s and putting the blame on
political dissidents.

"The Burmese pro-democracy movement  is gaining momentum, and any
political organisation with common sense would not do such a
thing as that kind of terrorism will just rebound on them," he said.

He quoted information received from inside Burma which backed up
his claim that even the Burmese in the capital of Rangoon
believed the military regime was behind the  Wednesday night
bombings at the KabaAye Pagoda and the man-made Maha Pasana Cave,
about 12 kilometres north of the capital. 
"The ABSDF wishes to make it known that despite the Slorc's
claim, we played no role whatsoever in this despicable act. As an
organisation which is struggling to achieve peace, human rights
and democracy, we deplore the loss of innocent civilian lives,"
the student group said in a statement released  yesterday.
Commenting on the same Slorc allegation, a senior KNU leader told
The Nation yesterday that he did not understand why a government
information sheet is blaming his group for the time bombs.

He said it was not clear who in the Slorc made such a remark, and
that his group might seek clarification of the accusation.

The Burmese authorities should not level such blame on the KNU,
which is pursuing peace negotiations with the Slorc, he added.
Fifteen armed ethnic groups agreed to a ceasefire with the Slorc
in 1989; the KNU is the last group to follow suit.

The Karen leader, who asked not to be identified, said he does
not think the bombing would affect the ongoing Slorc-KNU talks.
The two sides have yet to work out the date of the next round of meetings.
Aung Naing Oo said he believed the S1orc's move to blame the
student and Karen movements would give it "a legitimate excuse"
to start new crackdowns on political activists.

The explosions took place only a few days after the Slorc's
clampdown on university students' protests.

A government information sheet cited intelligence reports which
claimed the ABSDF and KNU "have concocted a plan to destabilise
the peaceful situation prevailing in the country by terrorist activities".

"It was also discovered that these terrorists also intended to
destroy the Sacred Tooth Relic, with the intent to create a
diplomatic row between the People's Republic of China and the
Union of Myanmar [Burma]," it added.

The ABSDF rejected the accusation, pointing out that it and other
democratic forces are "actively  seeking to develop a
relationship with China, and we therefore would not conduct any
activities which would be detrimental to this aim".


December 28, 1996

Dear Friends:
As ISBDA has received several requests for information about 
the "SLORC's Time Bomb in Tokyo' case, I decided to post a series of 
press reports on the regime's bomb plantation tactics at own home. In 
fact, as most Burmese know, this is not a new imposture of Burmese 
military regime. It is being used since 1970s. But, I posted the old 
press cuttings in a belief that these worth repeating at this moment if 
history tends to teach  better understanding of current issues.

                         Sincerely yours,
                                                     Kyaw Tint

                          MYANMAR  EMBASSY  BOMB  MADE  OF  C4
                          (Mainichi Daily News, November 15, 1989)

       A time bomb planted at the Myanmar Embassy in Tokyo was identified 
Tuesday as a powerful plastic explosive known as "C4" used by military 
forces, and terrorists, around the world.
       An embassy official called police after finding the strange object 
on the first floor of the embassy building in Shinagawa-ku Monday morning.
       Shaped and even smelling like a bar of soap, the explosive weighed 
600 grams, powerful enough to blow up three jumbo jets, police said. The 
square object measured 10 by 10 by 6.6 centimeters.
       The explosive device was fitted with  a percussion cap connected 
to an alarm clock and a 9-volt battery. It was wrapped in a Myanmar
newspaper and a black plastic bag, and planted at the embassy in a box,
police said.
        The same type of explosive was used in an attempt to assassinate 
former South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan in 1983 when he visited 
Yangon (formerly Rangoon), the capital of Myanmar, police added.

                      (Mainichi Daily News, February 10, 1990)

          A counselor from the Myanmar Embassy in Tokyo asked by police 
for cooperation in connection with a time bomb placed in the embassy 
grounds last November has told the Foreign Ministry he is to return home 
on next Thursday, it was learned Friday. 
          The 48-year-old counselor told police he had been out jogging 
when he found the bomb in a black plastic bag at the door of the 
ambassador's  residence in the embassy compound in the morning on Nov. 
13, police said. 
          The counselor threw the bag into vacant land near the embassy, but
it did not explode as the timing device in the bomb broke on impact, police
          Police interviewed the counselor several times immediately  after
the incident.
          Police later learned that the time bomb was made of powerful  
plastic bomb for military use, called "Composition 4."
          Police also learned that the plastic bomb was not made in Japan 
and that the detonator was  a product of a Southeast Asian country.
          As a result of intensive investigations, police had requested 
the counselor to give a further explanation on the case in late January. 
          But the embassy rejected the request, claiming diplomatic 
immunity, police sources said. 
           Police suspect the time bomb case might reflect the 
complicated political situation in Myanmar under the current military 
regime, the sources said.

                           (Mainichi Daily News, February 17, 1990)

   A Myanmar diplomat who was asked to cooperate with police questioning 
here in connection with his discovery of a time bomb in the Myanmar 
Embassy in Tokyo last year left for home Thursday morning. 
   U Tun Ngwe, a counselor at the Myanmar, reported he had found a time 
bomb within the embassy compound in Tokyo's Shinagawa-ku on Nov. 13 last 
   He was asked by the Metropolitan Police Department to appear for 
questioning to help the police inquiries into the incident, but refused 
to do so, citing diplomatic immunity.
      The envoy's return home forced police to virtually end their 
investigation into the incident.
       Police said they regarded U Tun Ngwe as a key person in the 
incident, as no other embassy staff member saw the time bomb, made of 
plastic explosive for military use called Composition 4, before he found  it.
       Police said they also believed no other persons could have entered 
the embassy compound  from outside. 
       They said the bomb was made from different components from those 
used by the Japan's Self Defense Forces and its electric detonator was a 
product of Southeast Asia.


December 27, 1996

We hereby state that SLORC is the only terrorist group and has full
responsibility for the terrorist action of the planting a
five-people-killed-bomb in Kaba Aye Pagoda in Rangoon to create
misunderstanding among the exile students and Republic of China.

SLORC refers to self-named State Law and Order Restoration Council, which
killed thousands of peaceful demonstrators in 1988.

After the second bomb blasted, the SLORC's high ranking officials called
Chinese officials to inspect the areas of the  bombs explosions in the
pagoda. At the same time, security guards were increased near the Chinese
Embassy, Chinese offices, and Chinese ambassador resident in Rangoon. Such
inappropriate and unnecessary actions taken by the SLORC itself is just
fabricating a mastery  between Republic of China and Burmese pro-democracy
forces. Historically, the SLORC has misled a policy of divide and rule among
equal rights ethnic activists, pro-democracy forces, and international human
rights supporters. 

Similarly, the SLORC's agents planted tow bombs and exploded in its embassy
in Bangkok, Thailand. Once again, the similar bomb explored in the SLORC's
embassy in Tokyo, Japan. Both Thai police and Japanese police acknowledged
that that kinds of  bombs could make by only Burma's military technologists.
The SLORC as a matter of the fact that brought into being students in exile
as terrorists that the SLORC was intentionally separating from international
pro-democracy sympathizers. But the SLORC failed its terrorists campaigns in
international and now tries the terrorist actions inside Burma.  For these
reasons, the SLORC once planted a bomb and explored under a billboard near
the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon.

We hereby state that we are the first generation of non-violent advocates
who are struggling restoration of democracy and human rights in Burma by all
means of  peaceful solutions.

However, if the SLORC does not solve the political problems by the means of
politics, no one can certain whether more violent will be occurred.
Otherwise, the SLORC  is the only lead of under its policy of violent
actions to direct Burma into political turmoil.

We hereby call the SLORC to hold dialogue with democratic forces, led by Daw
Aung San Suu Kyi, and ethnic leaders as soon as possible. 

Democratic Burmese Students Organization (DBSO-USA)
More information Contact to DBSO (301)984-6271


December 28, 1996

Note from K. Tint: The following is a "Not Visit Yet Myanmar" poem recently
published in a  popular Burmese magazine. Since the expression "Visit
Myanmar Year" was left out in the Burmese original, the poem was not ripped
out by the dreadful Press Scrutiny Board of Burma. 

                       A RED LIGHT
              (for "Visit Myanmar Year")

          Don't come yet, my dear.
          There are clouds of mosquitoes 
          everywhere here in Rangoon.

          Think twice, my dear.
          Buses are so crowded 
          all the time here in Rangoon.

          Be cautious,  my dear.
          Otherwise "water"* will flow 
          everytime you jaywalk here in Rangoon.

          Don't order yet, my dear.
          That simple dish of greens 
          is over 30 bucks.

                     (Maung Ko Yu)
* "Water" is a modern Burmese expression for money.
"Pouring water" means bribing authorities to facilitate any transaction.  
(Kyaw Tint: translator)


(Translated from the Burmese Original)
December 21, 1996
from zni@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

To the Monks, the Working People, Blue and White Collar Workers, Defense
Services Personnel and Traders:

In 1988, our students, the monks and the people sacrificed many of their
lives to make their voices heard all over the country. The Burma Socialist
Program Party (BSPP) which had ruled the country for 26 years then made some
cosmetic changes.  But these changes only allowed the State Law and Order
Restoration Council (SLORC) to become a government.

In the eight years between 1988 and 1996, SLORC members have illegally
accumulated a vast amount of wealth by selling off (Burma's) natural
resources, including the (country's rain) forests, to the countries that are
sympathetic to them.  Meanwhile, the murderous SLORC generals continue to
rule the country with their iron fist rule. They are committing heinous
crimes against the people, all being carried out in the name of the
development of our country and the people as the bearers of the cost for our
country's  "progress".

Additionally, it is our people who have to bear the brunt of the suffereings
caused by the SLORC's failure to cooperate with the international community.
The world knows that the SLORC emulate the tyrannical behaviors
characteristic of their predeccessor, the old Burma Socialist Program Party
(BSPP); they are murdering brutally Buddhist monks and civilians and they
remain in power only through brute force.

Governments with blood in their hands are never a success.  This has been
proven by the fact that the lives of the people plunged to the lowest during
the reign of the BSPP government. The other glaring cases in point are the
governments headed by Romani's Ceaucescu, South Korea's Noh Taw-Woo and
Bangladesh's Ershad.

Beginning from December 3, 1996 (as published) our Students Union organized
and staged protests in a disciplined manner against the injustices and the
oppression by the SLORC.  With all due respect, WE, the young, ask you the
following questions:

1) Are you going to collaborate, as henchmen, with the SLORC in ruthlessly
exploiting our monks and our people?

2) Are you going to embrace resignation and defeatist attitude while using
your own survival as an excuse? Are you willing to continue to live an
already fear-driven life and to be uncaring and apathetic victim?

3) Are you going to join our Students Union in demanding justice and freedom
from the SLORC and work for the creation of the government already elected
by you, the monks and the people, which can exist in harmony with the
international community.

Dear Friend, what is your answer?

Students Union (Provisional)
December 21, 1996


December 27, 1996  by Zaw Win Maung

TOKYO, Dec. 27 (Kyodo)- ''The end of the year is a time
for assessing past events and preparing for the future. It is a time for us
to decide that we should resolve the problems of our country through
political rather than military means.'' 

Thus concludes a yearlong series of a weekly ''Letter from Burma'' penned by
one of the most celebrated pro-democracy leaders in Asia, Nobel peace
laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. 

For the past year, the Mainichi Daily News, an English-language newspaper in
Japan, and its parent vernacular Mainichi Shimbun have published a weekly
column by the vocal dissenter the Myanmar's ruling military junta has sought
to muffle -- on and off -- over the past seven years. 

In her last letter, published Dec. 9, Suu Kyi looked back on a year marked
by Myanmar's bid to open itself up to the world as well as by political
tension and student unrest. 

''Politics is about people and I have sought to bring out the human face of
our political struggle,'' Suu Kyi wrote in her last open letter as she
described her motive in contributing the series that led to Mainichi Shimbun
winning this year's Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association award
in the editorial division. 

The ''Letter from Burma'' series, an idea born shortly after Suu Kyi was
released in July last year after six years of house arrest, is primarily the
brainchild of one man, Hiroshi Nagai, a former Mainichi foreign
correspondent and now a professor of international relations at Shizuoka
Eiwa College. 

''Many journalists rushed to Myanmar to cover what Aung San Suu Kyi had to
say after the junta unexpectedly freed her after six years of house arrest
but I wanted to know more about the political, social and cultural
background of Myanmar,'' Nagai said. 

Nagai said two months after her release he asked Suu Kyi in Yangon if she
would do a yearlong a series of essays. 

''She showed a very keen interest in my project right from the start. She
was willing to write but she said the one big problem was shortage of time.
She asked me to give her a few days to think and two days later consented to
undertake the weekly column,'' Nagai said. 

Many Japanese journalists are reporting from Myanmar, but the presentation
is cast in terms of ''a fight between the angel and the devil'' and is too
superficial, Nagai said. 

''Japan has a stereotype theory that developing countries like Myanmar need
a strong leadership. As these countries have no traditional democracy and
are economically underdeveloped, the Japanese think economic development
should precede democratization,'' he said. 

''What I wanted to present to the Japanese public was from the Myanmar
people's point of view, not from the Japanese point of view.'' 

Nagai's project has proved a huge success, reaching well beyond Japanese

According to Nagai, news media around the world have picked up Suu Kyi's
letters. At present, more than 10 newspapers are running the ''Letter from
Burma'' series while others are running the articles on a spot basis. 

Nagai said the first foreign media to reproduce the series was the Nation,
an English-language newspaper in Thailand, which began to publish the essays
last spring. Then followed Universal Press Syndicate, a major news syndicate
in the United States. 

A weekly magazine in Thailand has also reproduced the essays in the Thai

Some wire services also picked up the letters, which as Suu Kyi says, in her
final instalment, detail the multifaceted social and economic issues in
Myanmar under the military government. 

The letters are also read on the Internet, where they have been posted by
her sympathizers. 

Suu Kyi's essays may have spread around the world but Nagai said he has no
idea whether they have been reproduced in Myanmar since the letters
sometimes contain blunt criticism of the military junta. 

Nagai said Suu Kyi's manuscripts were sent by facsimile from Yangon but
communications are not always easy. 

The manuscripts were sent by from the fax machine of James Leander Nichols,
a Myanmar citizen, Nagai said. 

Nichols, who served as an honorary consul for Scandinavian countries, died
after being jailed for possession and use of an unregistered facsimile machine. 

Nagai said he is not sure of the extent of the column's impact on overseas
Myanmarese but added he has had inquiries from Myanmar expatriates in Europe
who want to put it into European languages. 

However, judging from the letters from Japanese readers, Nagai said, they
have come to know more about both Suu Kyi and Myanmar. 

A Japanese compilation of the ''Letter from Burma'' series in book form hit
the bookstands on Christmas eve. A Burmese edition will come out in January
while an English edition, arranged by Michael Aris, Suu Kyi's husband, is
expected in early spring. 


December 28, 1996  (abridged)

A majority of Thai businessmen  surveyed remain keen on investing
in military-ruled Burma, despite political conflicts and other
problems there, a Thai research group said yesterday. 
The Thai Farmers Research Centre said 54.2 percent of Thai
investors questioned had expressed strong interest in doing
business in Burma, while only 25 percent were reluctant to invest
under current political conditions.

Thai Farmers Research said that while many investors surveyed
were not bothered by the military dictatorship, they found the
existence of corruption in the controlled Burmese market, a
confusing foreign exchange system and a lack of credible official
data to be major disincentives.

Most Thai investors already in the Burmese market are engaged in
the services sector. 


December 27, 1996

 BANGKOK - Burma is ready to join the  Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) as its tariff  structure is in line with the group's trade 
liberalisation  programme, a government official said on Friday.

    Theingi Tin, a senior official in the Office of the Myanmar  Investment
Commission, said about 60 percent of Burmese tariffs  were in a 0-5 percent
range targeted under ASEAN's free trade agreement (AFTA).

    Burma is seeking to gain full ASEAN membership along with Laos and
Cambodia next year. ASEAN groups Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

    Theingi Tin told Reuters major student street protests in  Rangoon early
this month had not dampened the enthusiasm of  wouldbe investors.

    "I can assure you that there are absolutely no problems,"  she said.

    The official told a trade and investment seminar that the ruling State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) was  determined to attract foreign

    "A significant move towards a more open economy has been started.
Myanmar will continue to take necessary actions to  encourage foreign direct
investment," she told Thai and foreign  business executives.

    SLORC, which took power in 1988 after crushing mass  pro-democracy
protests that left thousands dead or in jail, has  since the late 1980s
issued laws inviting foreign firms to set  up wholly owned businesses or
joint ventures in Burma.

    The ruling military regime has faced sustained international  criticism
for its policies on human rights and opposition toward activities by Nobel
peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Theingi Tin said total foreign investment in Burma amounted  to $5.27
billion at end-November, of which $1.17 billion came  from Singapore, $1.01
billion from Britain and $960 million from  Thailand.  REUTER


December 28, 1996

INVESTMENTS in Burma are on the rise due to opportunities in
agricultural-based industries, cement manufacturing plants and
consumer products, Theingi Tin, director of the Burmese regime's
Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, says.

Tin said the agricultural-based industries, including the
manufacture of agricultural products, fertilisers and pesticides,
are the first priority of the Burmese regime to promote foreign investment.

The second priority is cement manufacturing facilities, which are
essential for the country's infrastructure development. The
Burmese regime is putting the emphasis on the improvement of
basic infrastructure facilities, including local roads, railways,
airports and port facilities, claimed Tin.

The manufacture of consumer products was the third priority for
the promotion of foreign investment, he said.

According to Tin, several foreign businessmen have shown an
interest in investing in these projects, including Thais. The
influx of foreign investment is aimed at boosting Burma's GDP
growth by 6 per cent in the next five years, he said.

As of Nov 30, there were 226 foreign projects in Burma worth
US$5.27 billion (Bt132 billion). Manufacturing projects were
worth $1.07 billion; 41 mining projects, $496.9 million; 38 hotel
and tourism projects, $731.2 million; and 31 oil and gas projects
worth $1.49 billion, according to figures from Burmese

The three major investors in the country are Singapore with
investments valued at $1.17 billion; Thailand, with $960 million;
and the UK with $1.01 billion.

Investments from Thailand focus mainly on the manufacturing
sector with a total value of $572 million, followed by the
fisheries sector worth $156.5 million.

The largest investment is by Italian-Thai Development for a
project for production and marketing of cement and electricity
worth $521 million.

Thai investments in Burma are mainly in agricultural, fisheries,
mining, hotel and tourism, industrial estate, manufacturing and
transport sectors.

A good way to do business with the Burmese regime is under the
Foreign Investment Law which encourages foreign investment on an
export-oriented basis with taxation privileges, Tin said. As a
neighbouring country, Thailand gets benefits from Burma for
exports to China and India, he said.

In the 1994/1995 fiscal year,  Burma claimed export and import
values of 5. billion kyats and 8.33 billion kyats respectively,
but as the difference between the official and unofficial
exchange rate is so high these figures have little meaning. 
Asean countries are the main trading partners. The main import
products for Burma are cap ital goods and consumer products.
According to Tin, the Burmese regime ha set an objective to
concentrate on the progress of many industrial sectors in a
attempt to drive and develop the country.

Chatchai Boonyarat, FTI's secretary general, said Thai investors
should invest and trade in consumer products which have high
demand. The main obstacle is road transport to main markets, he said.

The Thai government should provide technical support for
construction of transport facilities to boost bilateral trade
between Thailand and Burma, he suggested.


December 28, 1996

A GROUP of human rights organisations yesterday called upon the
Thai government to help restore peace and democracy in Burma
which is suffering from widespread violence and protests.

As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(Asean), Thailand should take an active role in assisting Burma,
said Somchai Homlaor, secretary-general of the Asian Forum for
Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia).

Burma, along with Laos and Cambodia, now has observer status in
Asean, which now includes Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines,
Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.

Somchai and representatives from other  non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) concerned with human rights, raised the
issue during a meeting with Foreign Minister Prachuab Chaiyasan.

"We discussed how Thailand could take part in restoring democracy
and human rights in Burma. Despite the fact that Burma is an
observer of Asean, it [the ruling State Law and Order Restoration
Council (Slorc)] has increased its suppression of the people and
political opposition. There is an increasing trend towards
protests and violence in the country," Somchai said.

Two bombs exploded on Thursday at a pagoda in Rangoon, killing
five people and injuring numerous others.

The explosions followed a series of clampdowns by the Slorc on
student protests and the country's pro-democracy party. Members
of the National League for Democracy have been arrested and party
leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained in her house for the
past three weeks.

Somchai said Thailand could help Burma because it had itself
experienced unrest and protests a number of times in the 1970s.
"The minister told us that he didn't want to see Burma suffer
from the same unrest that Thailand had. However, the government
and NGOs sometimes adopt different strategies although  they have
the same objective of seeing peace in Burma," Somchai said.

The foreign minister and NGO representatives also discussed the
Thai position on foreign NGOs establishing offices in Thailand,
Somchai said. He quoted Pra chuab as saying that the government
valued the work of NGOs and would like to see more discussions
between both  parties to find solutions to problems.


December 28, 1996

The Thai foreign ministry issued an action plan on Thursday aimed at
bolstering ties with the countries of South-east Asia and supporting Thai
business interests abroad.

In a written statement distributed in English by the ministry's information
department, Thailand pledged to "expand every aspect" of relations with its
neighbours, and particularly those on its borders.

The statement focused on immediate neighbours Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos,
outlining a series of economic development programmes to help boost their

It made clear there would be no change in Thailand's policy of constructive
engagement in Myanmar, despite US-led calls for isolation of the military
regime, assailed for human rights violations.

Thailand would "abide by the principle of non-interference in domestic
affairs and support higher living standards for the people of Myanmar by 
means of economic development, to ensure continued peace and security in the

The statement underscored the use of diplomacy to support Thai business
abroad, resolve outstanding trade and investment issues, attract foreign
investors and promote exports and tourism.

To this end, the ministry would develop economic expertise among its
personnel through training and seminars. -- AFP


December 28, 1996

The Petroleum Authority of Thailand issued a press release 
yesterday claiming ownership of a 5000 tonne shipment of diesel
oil which was confiscated on Tuesday because authorities suspected
it was being smuggled into the country.

The Bt 42 million shipment was bought from the Sumitomo Co in Singapore
and heading to Burma under a package purchase contract which included 
transportation and insuranc costs, the document said.

Marine police intercepted the 6000 tonne Si Sa Ket, the vessel carrying
the oik, 25 nautical miles off the coast of Phang Nga's Thai Muang district.
Central Investigation Bureau Commissioner Pol. Lt Gen Atthaphol Chaemsuwan
noticed that the location was far off the international maritime route to Burma.