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______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
______________ www.burmanet.org _______________

August 4, 2000

Issue # 1589

The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:


*Inside Burma
















__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________


 Mainichi Daily News, August 3, 2000

  Thursday, August 3, 2000

In the First World, they're being de-commissioned, blown up. The fact 
that they do more harm than good is no longer just conjecture. Big 
dams are obsolete. They're uncool. They're undemocratic. ? Indian 
author Arundhati Roy.

BY RICHARD HUMPHRIES, Contributing Writer

  Harn Yawnghwe was just 13 when the soldiers came to his house. It 
was Rangoon, March 2, 1962, and Gen. Ne Win had just launched the 
coup that would begin military rule --- which continues to this day. 
Harn's brother Myee was killed in cold blood but it was their father 
the soldiers had come for it. That man, Sao Shwe Thaike, had been 
sapha (prince) of Yawnghwe, a Shan state principality. More 
importantly, he had also been independent Burma's first president. 
Eight months later he died in jail under mysterious circumstances.

  Harn and his surviving family members had to flee their homeland. 
Nonetheless, he remains deeply committed to Burma and all its 
peoples. Today, Harn Yawnghwe live s in Brussels and is program 
director for Euro-Burma Office, an EU-funded prodemocracy 

  On May 30, Harn accompanied Dr. Thaung Htun, the prodemocracy 
movement's U.N. representative, to Tokyo to visit Japanese government 
officials. Their purpose was to express their deep concern about 
Japanese aid and investment, which they felt was benefitting Burma's 
military clique and not its long-suffering peoples.

  At a subsequent professional dinner in Tokyo with correspondents 
and embassy officials, Harn emphasized one particular project. "We 
believe there is a plan to dam the Salween River," he said. "The 
Salween is one of the last river left in its natural state. The 
Japanese government is involved in the sense that the Electric Power 
and Development Corp., Ltd. (EPDC), which is 67 percent owned by the 
Ministry of Finance, has done a feasibility study for this dam."

  The Salween is a 2,400-kilometer-lomg waterway that begins life in 
China's Tibetan plateau, and travels through Burma before entering 
the Gulf of Martaban near Moulmein. It is the last major Southeast 
Asian river that is free-flowing and it drains some 320,000 square 
kilometers of the land. 

  The project dam site is at Ta Sarng, a river crossing in southern 
Shan state, some 80 kilometers north from Thai border. As Burma is 
ruled by an unpopular and surreally brutal dictatorship, and Shan 
state is, if anything, turbulent, it would want to seem at first 
glance unusual that foreign governments and companies would want to 
become involved in at all. 

  Greed is paramount but regional politics and the role of 
environmental activism have played some role. In the developed world, 
with a few exceptions, large dam building has declined. There has 
been more transparency and debate about hypothetical projects and 
sometimes even ridicule ("a boondoggle visible from Mars") has been 
enough to stifle the more absurd notions. Dam builders have shifted 
their attention to the developing world.

  Even there, resistance has flared. Attempts in the 1980s to build a 
dam at Nam Choan on Thailand's river Kwai were eventually defeated, 
despite official sanction, by vehement public opposition. Thai 
authorities then looked to that countryÆs neighbors where, it was 
thought, the rulers would be less discerning and public opinion more 
easily manipulated or ignored. Thailand wanted more electricity for 
its industries as well as diverted water to fill its reservoirs and 
flush out its river.


  For years potential builders and founders have eyed the Salween the 
same way hungry wolves might gaze upon a stray lamb, frolicking in a 
distant meadow. Various Thai, German and Japanese concerns have 
carried a series of feasibility studies since 1979. The recently 
completed ERDC one is only the latest but, it is believed, the 
definitive one that will lead to final design and construction. In 
this sense the term feasibility can be taken to mean not whether but 

  On its English Internet site, the EPDC announced that it "will give 
great respect to the natural environment and regional communities and 
strive to construct and operate power generation facilities in a 
manner that harmonizes with the natural environment and communities. 
Boilerplate statements such as those can ring hollow. When asked if 
the EPDC had spoken with him or with local communities in Shan State, 
Harn was emphatic. "No, we've had no contact. We believe they only 
talk with the SPDC (Burmese junta). There's been no discussion with 
the local population. Nothing." 

  A response was sought from the EPDC but it was not able to provide 
a comment as of the time of the story going to print.

  As for the company's communications with the people at the dam 
site, not just the EPDC but of all companies involved there seem to 
avoid the locals. According to monitoring groups such as Salween 
Watch, the Shan Herald Agency for News, and TERRA (Towards Ecological 
Recovery and Regional Alliance), a Thai environmental nongovernmental 
organization, some 400 to 500 Burmese troops are along the Salween 
ôprotectö those companies involved in preparatory work on the dam.  

  The main company involved is Thai, the GMS public Power Co. Ltd. It 
hopes to sell the electricity to EGAT, the Electricity Generating 
Authority of Thailand. GMS is part of Thailand's MDX group of 
companies and has been involved in dam projects in Laos, Cambodia, 
and in China's Yunnan province. The plan for the Salween is thought 
to call for a concrete-faced rockfill dam, 188 meters in height. That 
would make it mainland Southeast Asia's highest dam. A 230-kilometer 
long reservoir would flood an area of at least 640 square kilometers. 
It would store about one-third of the Salween's annual flow.

  The logistics of such a project would be immense, as would the 
cost, at least 3 billion dollars by one estimate. By no means does 
GMS have the financial wherewithal to undertake the project. It is 
effectively bankrupt, but no without influential friends on its board 
and abroad. Rumors abound of funding interests from Japanese sources, 
perhaps via a third country, but they are as yet unconfirmed.

  Proponents of big dams will of course point to their benefits. It 
can't be denied that dams supply a significant amount of the world's 
present energy needs --- 20 percent by some accounts. Large dams 
typically generate far more electricity than nuclear or coal-fired 
plants. Dams can also be used to regulate river flow, divert that 
flow elsewhere, manage water demand, and by dampening rapids they can 
assist navigation. 

  But, like the pawn taken without sufficient forethought in a chess 
match, disadvantages have proved overwhelming with the passage of 
time. Frequent cost overruns detract from energy savings and 
sedimentation can ruin efficiency. Worse, tens of millions of people 
worldwide, very often helpless indigenous minorities, have been 
forced off their lands.
  The Salween project would be no different. Ethnic conflict still 
ranges in Shan state and an estimated 300,000 Shan have been forcibly 
displacement is also occurring in the dam site/ projected reservoir 
area. "What typically happens is that you're given three days notice 
to leave and if you are found in that area after three days, you are 
shot," explained Harn. 

 Ironically, some members of those regional communities have managed 
to escape the terror by rafting down the Salween to exile. One Shan 
man reported to human rights monitors that, "I saw drilling machines 
on both sides of the bank and some were sucking water and drilling. 
Three machines on each bank." Should the reservoir be built he, and 
thousands others, would likely have no homes to dream of returning to.


  In tropical area, dams can increase the outbreak of deadly disease. 
Shan state already lies within an endemic malarial zone. Areas of 
stagnant water along the edges of the reservoir would be an ideal 
breeding ground. And, according to TERRA, other ecological disasters 
would ensue. 

  "The fishes of the Salween River Basin have evolved in a riverine 
system. If the river were transformed into a reservoir, most of these 
fish species would be extirpated by the reservoir, as will many of 
the fish species living downstream of the dam due to the ecological 
impacts of altered water flow and the poor quality of water released 
from the reservoir."

  Building the dam itself would probably add to Burma's appalling 
human right's record. Large infrastructure projects have typically 
involved the massive use of forced labor. Complicity does not end 
with the junta though, and prodemocracy groups are well aware of 
this. "We would caution the Japanese government for its involvement 
here,"Harn says. "If the dam is ever built, you can be very sure 
forced labor would be used."

  When Arundhati Roy made her quote on big dam, she was speaking 
about the furor surrounding India's Sardar Sarovar dam project. 
Public displeasure over that project was so vehement that even the 
Japanese government got cold feet, withdrawing from funding part of 
it in 1900. Opponents of the Salween project hope that Japan will 
again see the light and not play any further role in helping to build 
the dam.

  There may be a further incentive for companies and governments to 
rethink investing Burma, as Dr. Thaung Htun has pointed out. "Yes, we 
clearly say the Burmese regime is illegitimate. They have no 
authority to manage the resources of the country. Based on this we 
clearly mention that all contracts which have been done with the 
military government will be reviewed by the next democratic 

(Richard Humphries is a free-lance journalist living in Japan and 
regular Asia Focus contributor)



Friday, August 4 1:21 AM SGT 

YANGON, Aug 3 (AFP) - Myanmar's military junta on Thursday rejected a 
US Commission's criticism of the state of religious freedom allowed 
by the Yangon regime. 

The reaction came in a press release from the foreign ministry to the 
recommendation on July 28 by the US Commission on International 
Religious Freedom that this predominantly Buddhist nation of nearly 
50 million be designated as a "country of particular concern (CPC)." 

"The US Commission's characterization of the ... country as a land 
lacking in religious freedom is a misrepresentation of the highest 
degree and the Myanmar government completely refutes the allegation," 
the foreign ministry statement said. 

"Even though nearly 90 per cent of the population are devout 
Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others are free to 
practice their faith without let or hindrance," it said adding 
religious tolerance was a "recognized hallmark of Myanmar society." 

"The people and government of Myanmar attach great importance to 
promoting harmony among religious in the country and are proud of 
their achivement," the press release said. 
Pagodas, churches, and Hindu temples coexisted peacefully side by 
side in cities and towns across the country, it noted. 

"The government works closely with leaders of different religious and 
strives to ensure that harmony is maintained," it said. 

"To allege otherwise, as the US Commission on International Religious 
Freedom does, is to turn a blind eye to reality." 

The State Department report, however, found that "the Burmese 
(Myanmar) government ... coercively promotes Buddhism over other 
religions and violates the religious rights of people in some 
minority areas," Larry Goodrich, spokesman for the US Commission on 
Religious Freedom, told AFP. 

The inclusion of Myanmar on a list of the world's religious 
persecutors was corroborated in the department's annual human rights 
report, he said. 

"The Commission's review of the evidence indicates that sadly, 
nothing has changed and that Burma (Myanmar) should again be listed 
as a country of particular concern, subject to sanction under the 
International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.  

"The Burmese junta's commitment to religious freedom and tolerance is 
as phony as its so-called commitment to democracy," he said. 



July 2000

On July, 10,2000, SPDC authorities arrested a Muslim and fined him 
50,000 Kyats, in Pa-an township, Karen state for simply reporting  an 
offence by neighbours.

The Muslim known as U Mohammad (40 years) informed the authorities 
led by Bo Myint, a DKBA officer,  that the cattle of neighbours had 
destroyed his cultivation field and caused him  great loss. 

The SPDC officers said that the Muslim  should not disturb the 
officers on duty with such a small matter.

___________________________ REGIONAL ___________________________


August 3, 2000.


WHILE Myanmar remains shunned by the West, the country's two giant 
neighbours, India and China, are jockeying for influence in Yangon. 
Since the beginning of the year, India's army chief, General Ved 
Prakash Malik, has made two trips to Myanmar and his Myanmar 
counterpart, General Maung Aye, has visited both India and China.  

These top-level exchanges have highlighted Myanmar's importance in 
the strategic competition between Beijing and New Delhi.  

China enjoys a considerable head start in the race to woo Yangon's 
military leaders.  
Since 1988, Myanmar has become China's closest ally in South-east 
Asia, a major recipient of Chinese military hardware and a potential 
springboard for projecting Chinese military power in the region.  

During General Maung Aye's trip to Beijing in June to mark 50 years 
of diplomatic ties, his host, Chinese Vice-President Hu Jintao, noted 
that strengthening Sino-Myanmar relations was ""an important part of 
China's diplomacy concerning its surrounding areas''.  
The alliance has alarmed India, which in recent years has shifted its 
strategy away from supporting Myanmar's opposition movement towards 
cementing ties with the junta. New Delhi has offered Myanmar 
favourable trade relations and cooperation against ethnic insurgents 
along the 

Indo-Myanmar frontier.  

India also appears to be exploiting a rift between General Maung Aye 
and the head of Myanmar's powerful military-intelligence service, 
Lieutenant-General Khin Nyunt, viewed as far more pro-Chinese than 
the army chief.  

New Delhi has engaged in a charm offensive to encourage General Maung 
Aye to take a more independent foreign-policy stance.  

Intelligence analysts say that China's economic, political and 
military influence in the country has already become so strong that 
it would be hard for Yangon to reorientate its foreign policy 
radically. But the demise of Myanmar's older generation of military 
leaders could present opportunities for India to woo Myanmar away 
from China.  


MYANMAR emerged as a key Chinese ally on August 6, 1988, when the two 
countries signed an agreement establishing official trade across the 
common border -- hitherto-isolated Myanmar's first such agreement 
with a neighbour. Significantly, the signing took place while Myanmar 
was in turmoil.  

Two days later, millions of people across the country took to the 
streets to demand an end to army rule and a restoration of the 
democracy the country enjoyed prior to the first military coup in 

China was eager to find a trading outlet to the Indian Ocean for its 
landlocked inland provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan, via Myanmar. The 
Myanmar rail-heads of Myitkyina and Lashio in north-eastern Myanmar, 
as well as the Irrawaddy River, were potential conduits. But the 
relevant border areas were at the time controlled by the insurgent 
Communist Party of Burma (CPB), which China had supported 

The CPB's grip weakened in 1989, when the party's hill-tribe rank-and-
file mutinied against the ageing, Maoist and mainly Myanmar party 
leadership. Subsequently, the CPB split along ethnic lines into four 
regional armies, all of which then signed cease-fire agreements with 
the government.  

By 1990, trade between the two countries was flourishing and Myanmar 
had become China's principal political and military ally in South-
east Asia. China poured arms into Myanmar to shore up the military 


THE isolation and condemnation experienced by both countries in the 
wake of the Yangon massacre of 1988 and the violent suppression of 
the Tiananmen Square protests the following year helped to draw them 
closer together.  

But China's calculations were also strategic. Close to the key 
shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean and South-east Asia, Myanmar could 
help China to extend its military reach into a region of vital 
importance to Asian economies. The bulk of Japan's Middle East oil 
imports, for example, pass through the area. China also wanted to 
check India's growing strategic influence.  
By late 1991, Chinese experts were helping to upgrade Myanmar's 
infrastructure, including its badly-maintained roads and railways. 
Chinese military advisers also arrived that year, the first foreign 
military personnel to be stationed in Myanmar since the 1950s.  

Myanmar was becoming a de facto Chinese client state. 

Ironically, shrewd diplomacy and flourishing bilateral trade had 
accomplished for China what the insurgent CPB had failed to achieve.  

One of China's motives for arming Myanmar was to help safeguard the 
new trade routes through its potentially volatile neighbour.  

Intelligence sources estimate the total value of Chinese arms 
deliveries to Myanmar in the 1990s at $1 billion to 2 billion, with 
most of them acquired at a discount or through barter deals or 
interest-free loans.  

Military hardware delivered by China included: 

a.. 100 Type 69II medium-battle tanks and more than 100 Type 63 light 
tanks (of which only around 60 are thought to be serviceable);  

b.. 250 Type 85 armoured personnel carriers, multiple-launch rocket 
systems, howitzers, anti-aircraft guns, HN-5 surface-to-air missiles, 
mortars, assault rifles, recoilless guns, rocket-propelled grenade 
launchers and heavy trucks;  

c.. Chengdu F-7M Airguard jet fighters, FT-7 jet trainers, A-5M 
ground-attack aircraft and SAC Y-8D transport aircraft; and  

d.. Hainan-class patrol boats, Houxin-class guided-missile fast-
attack craft, minesweepers and small gunboats.  In the past year, 
China has also delivered 12 Karakoram-8 trainers/ground-attack 
aircraft, which are produced in a joint venture with Pakistan. The 
latest batch arrived in January.  


INDIA has been concerned particularly by Chinese support for the 
upgrading of Myanmar's naval 

These include at least four electronic listening posts along the Bay 
of Bengal and in the Andaman Sea: Man-aung, Hainggyi, Zadetkyi island 
and the strategically-important Coco Islands just north of India's 
Andaman Islands.  

Although China's presence in the Bay of Bengal is limited currently 
to instructors and technicians, the new radar equipment is Chinese-
made and operated probably, at least in part, by Chinese technicians, 
enabling Beijing's intelligence agencies to monitor this sensitive 
maritime region.  
China and Myanmar have pledged to share intelligence of potential use 
to both countries.  

In May 1998, the outspoken Indian defence minister, Mr George 
Fernandes, caused an uproar by accusing Beijing of helping Myanmar to 
install surveillance and communications equipment on the Coco 

Myanmar and China denied the accusations, but New Delhi's concerns 
were well-founded.  
In August 1993, Indian coastguards caught three boats ""fishing'' 
close to the Andamans, where last year the Indian navy established a 
new Far Eastern Naval Command in a move viewed as an attempt to 
counter Chinese influence in Myanmar.  

The trawlers were flying Myanmar flags, but the crew of 55 was 
Chinese. There was no fishing equipment on board -- only radio-
communication and depth-sounding equipment. The Chinese embassy in 
New Delhi intervened and the crew was released.  

At the time, the incident was buried discreetly in the Defence 
Ministry's files in New Delhi. But when China's designs became 
obvious, the more hawkish government that came to power in India in 
1996 began to pay closer attention to developments in Sino-Myanmar 


AT FIRST, India had tried to counter China's influence in Myanmar by 
supporting the country's pro-democracy forces. But around 1993, India 
began to re-evaluate this strategy, concerned that it had only served 
to push Yangon closer to Beijing.  

During his two-day visit to Myanmar in January this year, General 
Malik discussed plans for curbing insurgent groups based in Myanmar 
that have been active in north-eastern India.  
General Maung Aye then went to the north-eastern Indian town of 
Shillong -- an unusual visit by a foreign leader to a provincial 
capital -- where he held talks with senior officials from the Indian 
trade, energy, defence, home and foreign-affairs ministries. After 
this exchange, India began to provide military support equipment to 

Most of the uniforms used by Myanmar troops along the common border 
now come from India. New Delhi is also reported to have leased 
helicopters to the country's army. General Malik paid a follow-up 
visit to Yangon in July.  

The success of this new strategy appears to have been reflected in 
the outcome of General Maung Aye's trip to China in June. The trip 
was aimed partly at finalising plans for a trade route between China 
and Myanmar.  

Intelligence sources in Myanmar say that the idea was to use a fleet 
of barges to transport goods from Bhamo on the Irrawaddy river, close 
to the Chinese border, to Minhla, some 1,000 km down-river. From 
Minhla, a road is being built across the Arakan Yoma mountain range, 
running via An to Kyaukpyu on the coast. Kyaukpyu has been chosen as 
the site for a new deepwater port.  

But it now seems certain that although General Maung Aye agreed to 
strengthen trade relations, he did not permit the degree of Chinese 
access to the trade route for which Beijing had hoped. Details of the 
agreement reached in Beijing remain sketchy.  

During General Maung Aye's earlier talks with General Malik, however, 
India urged caution and it appears that General Maung Aye paid heed. 
Myanmar's military government is caught in a dilemma. When no other 
country was prepared to support or trade with Yangon, it had to 
accept Chinese aid.  

But what began as a modest trade agreement has developed into heavy 
political and military dependence.  

Moreover, tens of thousands of illegal Chinese immigrants have moved 
across the border over the past ten years and taken over local 
businesses in northern Myanmar, causing friction with the local 

General Maung Aye, a staunch Myanmar nationalist, is said to be more 
concerned about these demographic changes than defence and trade 
agreements with China.  
Major political changes in Myanmar are unlikely as long as its two 
most important leaders are still alive. Ageing strongman Ne Win, who 
established army rule in Yangon in 1962, is still regarded as 
the ""Godfather'' of the Myanmar military establishment.  

General Than Shwe, 67, is the present chairman of the junta. But 
General Ne Win turned 89 in May, and General Than Shwe's health is 
deteriorating rapidly. In May this year, Than Shwe wrote a letter to 
the junta recommending his own retirement.  

Without General Ne Win pulling strings from behind the scenes, and 
with General Than Shwe no longer junta chairman, observers believe 
that the rivalry between General Maung Aye and intelligence-service 
chief Khin Nyunt, could turn into an open power struggle.  

Given their opposing opinions on foreign policy, the outcome of that 
struggle could also determine Myanmar's place in the context of 
broader regional security 



July 30, 2000

Dhaka, July 29: Bangladeshi traders have kept border trade with Burma 
through the Teknaf route virtually suspended for a week now, 
protesting a new order issued by Bangladesh Rifles, traders said.

Only small quantities of perishable goods are being traded now, they 
said. Under the new order, traders have to produce copies of an 
export declaration given by the Burma Customs Department and an 
export license given by the Department of Border Trade at the check 
post during transportation of goods.

The traders termed it "harassment" and an "encroachment" on customs 
authorities' turf by the BDR and demanded uninterrupted 
transportation of goods after completion of customs formalities at 
Teknaf. They said the chairman of the Bangladesh-Myanmar Business 
Promotion Council, Rashed Moksud Khan, sent a letter to the Commerce 
Ministry yesterday seeking its intervention in resolving the deadlock 
by withdrawing the BDR order.

(India Abroad News Service)

__________________ INTERNATIONAL __________________
A journalist's work -- reading newspapers, magazines and e-mail -- is 
never done.  Have mercy on us, Burmese

August 1, 2000,

Web posted at 5:00 p.m. Hong Kong time, 5:00 a.m. EDT 

Journalists occupy a very privileged position in the workforce. They 
are paid to sit around the office reading newspapers. Such seeming 
indolence might earn others a rebuke, even dismissal. But journalists 
can bury themselves in the morning paper and honestly claim to be at 
work. And it actually is work. No journalist can survive without 
print media. This is our ground zero. I think it was Einstein who 
said that great minds should not be clogged with thousands of trivial 
bits of information; these just get in the way of the business of big 
thinking. Journalists, as we all know, have lesser minds. Like 
magpies, they peck around for new ideas and snippets of information 
to feather the nest of their own first-hand reporting.  

Thailand is home to the largest print media in Southeast Asia. Not by 
coincidence, it has one of the biggest press corps in Asia. Five 
daily English-language newspapers are printed in Bangkok (if one 
includes the Asian Wall Street Journal and the International Herald 
Tribune). Multi-linguists can pit themselves against a dozen or so 
Thai-language dailies, five Chinese and a few Japanese offerings. 
Suddenly just "reading the paper" here begins to look like pretty 
hard work. It is.  

Then there are all the magazines, and now we're into the realm of a 
full-time occupation. And that's only the half of it. If I don't shut 
my office door at lunchtime, an avalanche of paper will crash 
through. Like any other journalist, I am a soft target for mountains 
of faxes and press releases, 95% of which I could do without. I keep 
a shredder next to my door to methodically destroy anything that is 
irrelevant to my particular interests. This destructive rite of 
meditation gives me the satisfaction of attending to everything sent 
to me, immediately.  

In executive jargon, we are talking "information overload," or more 
accurately, non-information overload. With so much printed material 
around, just keeping up requires overtime. But nobody is going to pay 
journalists for this if they haven't done a stroke of "real" work -- 
which, of course, simply adds to somebody else's information 
overload. Watching television or listening to the radio is passive. 
We simply consume what we are fed or switch off. Contrary to 
appearances, reading is highly active; a process of continuous 
searching and selecting. Exhausting. "Journalist Killed by Paper." It 
can only be a matter of time.  

Now Comes E-Mail

Technology has only made the problem worse. An enormous amount of 
material now piles in as e-mail that has to be sifted to sort the 
junk from the jewels from the jokes. Some of my editors in Hong Kong 
are so overloaded that I'm lucky to get a one-word response to a 
carefully crafted story suggestion. "Tnx" or "No" or "Never." They 
must be suffering too.
The growth in junk e-mail is phenomenal. Press releases come as 
tarted up attachments that can take forever to download through 
Bangkok's mildewed lines. One of the worst offenders in recent years 
was the ill-fated satellite communications company Iridium. It sent 
out an animated color release that took over 15 minutes to emboss 
itself on my hard disk. After receiving it for the third time, I was 
borderline ballistic. Accumulated junk like that can have my mailbox 
stuffed and bouncing important messages within days if I am on 
assignment in a remote area.  

The United Nations and governments are not always much better than 
the worst PR agencies. The cruelest agencies spam every journalist in 
town with platitudinous speeches and unwanted reports. The correct 
etiquette with anything lengthy is to send a brief synopsis with 
information on where the full text can be downloaded. But I dare not 
strike myself from many mailing lists for fear of missing that one 
little thing I actually did want to know. The shame of not knowing 
about something is a much more terrifying prospect than having a 
nervous breakdown from trying to know too much. Einstein would not 
have approved. 

Save Us >From Burma.

Some of the worst non-informative e-mail offenders are Burmese. What 
these good people would get up to if the Internet was not effectively 
banned in their country is anybody's guess. In their absence, the 
government and Burmese in exile wage a war of e-mail attrition that 
spams everybody who signs up for the online version of the less-than-
luminary New Light of Myanmar. The government pumps out a steady 
barrage of non-information that only serves to confirm how little 
progress is being made.  

Its latest propaganda offerings are excruciatingly jingoistic verses -
- each a serious violation of people's literary rights -- extolling 
the greatness of Myanmar, now arguably the sickest man in Asean. The 
opposition in exile responds with the same old criticisms. It's hard 
to believe they could ever share a country. Occasionally, the two 
fall to mutual abuse over something utterly nonsensical -- like who 
is the more patriotic -- and four-letter words fly in cyberspace. If 
there can't be some moderated, intelligent dialogue over the 
Internet, what hope is there face-to-face in Yangon? Very little, it 

If this sounds harsh, compare it to Cambodia which is served by some 
superb web sites and internet archives. A highlight of my day is 
receiving a digest of important articles collated by a non-government 
organization. There may only be two or three items, but they are 
invariably relevant, informative and intelligently selected. This is 
a real public service.  

Sadly, a very decent online weekly newspaper, the Burma Courier, 
recently shut up shop. The eternally fractious Burmese who remain 
would do well to take a look at their non-information overload 
problem, particularly on the Internet. Journalists are paid to read 
everything they can -- and the overload downside is an occupational 
hazard. People with real jobs don't have the time. They'd be fired. 



Aug 3, 2000.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP)  Myanmar telecommunications engineers were 
trying Thursday to restore the military government's Web site after 
hackers shut it down, a military intelligence officer said.  

An officer of the Directorate of Defense Services Intelligence said 
myanmar.com was closed down by hackers Wednesday, but declined to 
elaborate. He spoke on customary condition of anonymity.  

The Web site gives the military regime's side in a propaganda war 
dominated by overseas supporters of the democratic opposition led by 
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won general elections in 
1990 but was not allowed to take power.  
It also gives information in English, French and Japanese to visitors 
to Myanmar, also known as Burma.  

Only government ministries and some business organizations in Myanmar 
have access to the Web, and just a few hundred domestic users have e-
mail. The government keeps tight control on all media. 



31 Jul 2000

It's Burma in Sweden 

Sweden says it will continue to call Burma "Burma", instead of 
Myanmar, despite a rebuke by the country's military rulers. 

Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was reacting to an incident at the close 
of an Asean meeting in Bangkok over the weekend.

At that meeting, her Burmese counterpart Win Aung publicly corrected 
a reference she had made to "Burma," saying there was no such 
But Ms Lindh say she was making a conscious political point, since it 
was the military junta that had changed the country's name to Myanmar 
in 1989..and not a democratic government.

Sweden takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union in 

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS _______________


Friday, August 4, 2000. 

YANGON (AP)--Burmese kyat currency hit a two-year low Friday in black 
market trading, dealers said.  The exchange rate in Rangoon slipped 
to 385 kyat to the U.S. dollar from MMK382 the previous day, it's 
lowest point since August 1998.  
The kyat has slipped from 320 kyat since the start of the year for a 
combination of reasons, dealers said.  

A sudden drop came after government servants were given a fivefold 
pay raise in March, a weakness compounded more recently by a decline 
in the value of the baht currency in Thailand.  
A commentary in the state-run Kyemon newspaper Friday also noted that 
there were false rumors circulating that new high denomination kyat 
banknotes were to be issued.  

It warned politicians and businessmen against spreading rumors about 
the economy to manipulate commodity prices, which have remained 

There are only ten licensed foreign currency traders in Rangoon. Most 
deals are done on the black market which offers a better rate.  

The official fixed exchange rate of MMK6 to the dollar is disregarded 
in day-to-day transactions.  


YANGON (Aug. 4) XINHUA - Myanmar received 861.75 million U. S. 
dollars from customs duties in the fiscal year 1999-2000, which ended 
in March, a drop of 0.1percent from the previous year, according to 
the latest figures released by the country's Central Statistical 
The main source of Myanmar's customs duties income comes from import 
through normal trade and border trade. 

Of the customs duties income obtained in 1999-2000, that from import 
through normal trade amounted to 746.38 million dollars, accounting 
for 86.6 percent of the total, while that from import through border 
trade was 114.5 million dollars, representing 13.28 percent. 
In recent years, Myanmar made relatively large adjustments to the 
rate of customs duties. One of these is that to promote the 
development of its agriculture, the Myanmar government exempted 
import duties on agricultural implements, pesticide, improved 
varieties and fertilizer. 

Myanmar mainly trades with Singapore, China, Thailand, Japan, 
Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea, having border trade with China, 
Thailand, India and Bangladesh.



July 31- August  6 ,2000                         
Myanmar's first international weekly Journal
Volume 2, No.22

THE Myanmar Economic Corporation has entered the high tech field as 
part of its expansion and diversification program. A sizeable player 
in heavy industry and trading it has now opened the Cybermec 
Information Technology Centre last week in the heart of Yangon with 
the goal of assembling and selling quality computer hardware and 

The company is counting on the potential of the computer hardware 
market, which is expected to grow substantially with the increased 
use of high-tech equipment by both businesses and individuals in the 

The company sold more than 400 computers by the end of its one-week 
sales promotion period, excluding those to be bought under the one-
year hire purchase system made through the Innwa Bank. MEC imports 
all its hardware components from the Eastern Metro Company of 
Malaysia and assembles the computers at its workshop. 

It employs degree and masters graduates in disciplines including 
physics and electronics, plus diploma holders who have received 
training from Malaysian and local experts. Staff numbers are 
currently being increased in anticipation of the business' 
expansion.Their showroom and sales centre are in Merchant Street and 
it claims its prices are extremely competitive.

A Cybermec Explora with Xcel-2000 Motherboard, Celeron 500 MHz 
processor, 32 MB RAM, Seagate 10.2 GB Hard Disk and 14" Monitor sells 
for K170,000. Its Performa (PIII 667MHz) with PC Partner 133 MHz 
Motherboard, 64MB RAM, Seagate 10.2 GB Hard Disk and 15" Monitor 
retails for K273,000. Its Achiever (PIII 667MHz) and Seagate 13.2 GB 
Hard Disk retails for K420,000. A 17" monitor comes with the 

"We can produce 70-80 computers per day under one shift and we have 
enough staff for three shifts," said Lt-Col Tin Maung Win, general 
manager of MEC.The company had other market advantages over its 
competitors, he said.

"Quality computer parts and other hardware are imported from Malaysia 
on a large scale," he added.

"Computers are assembled by our own technicians."We also have high-
tech equipment and skilled staff for quality control."Therefore, our 
computers can be competitive in both quality and prices."  MEC offers 
limited warranty on its machines, plus after-sales service. 

"We give a one-year warranty for both parts and service unless 
otherwise damage is caused by the user.

"A machine can be fixed immediately if it requires only minor repairs 
and if the machine has got a major problem, like the breakdown of the 
motherboard, it can get fixed within two days." 

The company does not offer discounts to clients who want to bulk buy 
but, for organisations which would like to have such services as 
intranet and networking, it is ready to provide them free of charge. 



3 August, 2000

With Burma's pro-democracy movement in shambles, it's amazing that 
activists like Brian Joseph insist on sticking with an approach that 
has been such a complete failure [Junta, Not Suu Kyi, Bars the 
Progress, the 5th column, June 22]. Aung San Suu Kyi and her party 
have got virtually everything they've asked for  diplomatic support, 
economic sanctions, boycotts, United Nations resolutions, extensive 
media coverage -- yet none of it has worked.

The only result has been more tension and a political backlash. The 
National League for Democracy has been marginalized, the reformers in 
the government have been undermined, the United States and Britain 
have lost almost all their influence on the regime and the country 
appears headed back into isolation.

Clearly, Suu Kyi and her supporters vastly overestimated the impact 
of world opinion and foreign investment on a regime that has survived 
for a decades without either. They have waged a moral crusade with 
symbolic gestures, rather than developing a pragmatic strategy for 
change. And now, having dug themselves into a hole, all they can 
think to do is to keep digging deeper. No wonder the world is looking 
for a more productive approach. 

Stephen Brookes



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