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______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
        An on-line newspaper covering Burma 
_________August 19, 2000   Issue # 1600__________

*Kyodo: Retired Burmese Politician Urges Junta, Democracy Camp To 
Alter Stance
*DVB: Deputy transport minister dismissed over late arrival of Buddha 
*Reuters: Myanmar court dismisses appeal by Briton
*Karenni News Agency: Fighting, human rights violations in Karenni
*New Light of Myanmar: MPT Launches mobile cellular in Mogok
*New Light of Myanmar: Minister meets LDP official 

*Malaysiakini: Former refugee backs HRW report [ Rohingya 
*AP: Weightlifters expected to give best performances for Myanmar 
Olympic team
*AP: Two dead, 59 sick from diarrhea at Thai-Myanmar border
*AP: Thailand arrests 417 Myanmar migrants in factory raids 

*Myanmar's kyat stabilises after fall to record low
*AFP: Myanmar to promote North American tourism 
The BurmaNet News is viewable online at:

__________________ INSIDE BURMA ____________________

Kyodo News Service: Retired Burmese Politician Urges Junta, Pro-
Democracy Camp To Alter Stance

["News Focus" by Sein Win: "Junta, Pro-Democracy Camp Urged to Alter 
[FBIS Transcribed Text] 

Yangon [Rangoon], Aug. 16 Kyodo -- A retired Myanmar [Burma] 
politician has called on both the military government and the 
opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) to abandon their rigid 
stances and alter their strategies for a breakthrough in the 
political stagnation to suit the changing situations at home and 

The octogenarian politician, who asked to remain anonymous, told 
Kyodo News that 12 years have passed since the two sides went into 
conflict, but the political deadlock remains unchanged, stagnating 
economic progress and causing hardship among the people. US-led 
international pressure and sanctions against the country are 
persisting, even though the United States is trying to reconcile with 
one-time arch-enemies such as Vietnam and North Korea, he said. He 
was referring to the July 13 agreement between the US and Vietnam for 
normalizing bilateral trade relations and the ongoing high-level 
talks between Washington and Pyongyang for normalizing diplomatic 

To catch up with the trend, the once-influential politician 
said, "Both the government and the opposition should begin soul-
searching their real positions and change their strategies." "On the 
part of the opposition it is foolish and futile to expect a public 
uprising like in 1988 to topple the government. The present situation 
in the country is not like the one 12 years ago," he said. A 
nationwide anti-government campaign toppled the government of the now 
defunct Burma Socialist Program Party in 1988. The military 
eventually took power in September that year, cracking down on the 
democracy movement and leaving an estimated 1,000 people dead. The 
opposition should be aware of the "reality" that the military 
government "will surely suppress any unrest by force, and that it 
will further tarnish the image of the country while the military will 
continue to remain in power and the NLD will not obtain the 
government power," he said. 

The retired politician also urged NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi to drop 
her call for a "blanket stoppage" of foreign investment and foreign 
aid. There is resentment, particularly among those who suffered from 
the closures of foreign-owned factories, he said, adding Suu Kyi 
should specify and separate out foreign aid and investment that will 
actually benefit the military. The politician also criticized outside 
pressure groups against the military government. "Sanctions, 
pressures and a blockade of foreign aid will not bend the military," 
he said. "Instead, it will only prolong the military stay in power 
and misery among the people." 

The senior politician blamed the military government for suspending 
the National Convention in March 1996, which was aimed at drafting a 
new Constitution, following a boycott of the convention by NLD 
delegates in November 1995. "The constitutional process should 
continue," the senior politician said, "Emergence of a multiparty 
Constitution will enhance the image of the country and promote 
international confidence in Myanmar." 

He called for early elections under the new Constitution, saying 
those will permit former armed rebels, who returned to the legal fold 
of the government, to participate and will facilitate a smooth 
political solution. Suu Kyi should prepare her party for the next 
elections, he also said. "It will be futile to insist on honoring the 
1990 election results...only about one-third of the 485 members 
elected in 1990 elections now remain valid." In May, Myanmar's 
central election commission announced only 169 deputies still retain 
their parliamentary status. The rest have either died, resigned or 
fled abroad, causing their parliamentary status to be revoked. The 
NLD won 392 seats in a landslide victory in the polls, but the 
military junta has refused to convene the legislature arguing the 
government must first write a Constitution. 

"The government was also foolish to stop the ongoing Constitutional 
process," the politician said. "The government must be pragmatic and 
decisive in dealing with political matters," he said. He added the 
deadlock will be solved only when all parties concerned, including 
the outside supporters of the NLD, realized their own positions and 
change their stances. 

[Description of Source: Tokyo Kyodo News Service 

DVB: Deputy transport minister dismissed over late arrival of Buddha

 BBC Summary of World Broadcasts
August 18, 2000

DVB: Deputy transport minister dismissed over late arrival of Buddha 

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, Oslo, in Burmese 1245 gmt 15 Aug 00

Text of report by Burmese opposition radio on 15th August

DVB [Democratic Voice of Burma] has learned that the deputy minister 
some engineers from the Ministry of Transport have been dismissed for 
failure to convey on time an alabaster Buddha image from Sakyin Hill 
in Madaya, Mandalay Division, to Insein in Rangoon Division by 0816 
[local time] on 24th July. SPDC [State Peace and Development Council] 
Secretary-1 Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt attended the ceremony to convey the 
image and the event was broadcast live on the television. However, 
the alabaster image was not conveyed on time and the ceremony was 
held for the second time. When the image was still not conveyed, the 
live broadcast was called off.

The alabaster buddha image was conveyed to its site only at 1430. The 
has learned that Deputy Minister U Pe Than and some engineers have 
been dismissed in connection with this matter. A ceremony to install 
the image, Lawkachantha Abaya Labhamuni Buddha, was held on 6th 
August in Gyogon, Insein. The Buddha image weighs 500 tons and is 37 
feet high.

Arrangements were made to carve the Buddha image out of this 
alabaster, which is the biggest rock in the world.

DVB has learned that another rock, which is even bigger, has been 
discovered at Sakyin Hill. However, Transport Ministry personnel are 
concerned that if the rock is transported
they have to neglect their office work and one mistake would bring 
about their dismissal.


Reuters: Myanmar court dismisses appeal by Briton

YANGON, Aug 19 (Reuters) - A court in Myanmar has dismissed another 
appeal to pardon British-Australian activist James Mawdsley, 
sentenced to 17 years in jail in 1999 for distributing anti-
government leaflets, his lawyer said on Saturday. 

 ``I've just heard Mandalay High Court on August 15 dismissed the 
appeal for pardon I made for Mr Mawdsley,'' U Kyi Win told Reuters. 

 ``It was the second time within two months that we tried to ask for 
pardon. The first appeal was made at Tachileck District Court on June 
15 and it was turned down on the same day.'' 

 Asked about further action, he said: ``It depends on the client and 
on the British embassy. I still have to wait until I hear from 

 Myanmar officials have said there is little chance of clemency for 
Mawdsley, as he had already been pardoned twice after earlier 

 Mawdsley was arrested for the third time in Myanmar with anti-
government leaflets in Tachileck, a city on the Thai-Myanmar border, 
on August 31, 1999. 

 He was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment on September 1, 1999. 

 A British embassy official said the embassy was in regular contact 
with Mawdsley.


Karenni News Agency: Fighting, human rights violations in Karenni


17 August 2000

On 5.8.2000, there was a fight at Law Jar village, Huay Pon Long 
Village and in B-P 9 area on 5/8, 6/8 and 8/8 2000 respectively.  
SPDC troops suffered four killed and 18 wounded in the incidents.

On 6.8.2000, LIB No. (421) of SPDC entered Law Jar village in Pruso 
Township, No. (1) district of Karenni, and arrested the headman 
(named was not available) and secretary named Ko Reh. Ko Reh was 
tortured to death in the village while the headman was taking to 
Pruso police station where he was detained for one day. On 8.8.2000 
he was released after being questioned.


New Light of Myanmar: MPT Launches mobile cellular in Mogok

YANGON, 17 Aug - Myanma Posts and Telecommunications launched CDMA 
mobile cellular phone system in Mogok on 14 August, enabling people 
from Mogok and Kyatpyin to make direct internal and external dialing 

One radio station each was installed in Mogok and Kyatpyin; and each 
station can operate 500 CDMA lines at a time. Both stations are 
connected with new Loilem-Kyenitaung-Dawnankyitaung microwave link 
which is joined with main exchange in Mandalay via Loilem microwave 
station. Loilem microwave station is located on Mandalay-Lashio 
microwave link. MPT spent US $ 450,000 and over K 10.8 million in 
setting up the CDMA mobile cellular phone system in Mogok, the gem 
land in Mandalay Division, and over US $ 500,000 and K 17.19 million 
in installing new Loilem-Mogok digital-wave link. 

Minister for Communications, Posts and Telegraphs Brig-Gen Win Tin 
gave a speech at the opening ceremony held in Mogok at 8 am the same 
day. Commandeer of No 2 Mobile Tactical Operations Command Lt- Col 
Thein Hlaing, officials of MPT, and Daimaru Co and Fujitsu Co of 
Japan, and local elders were also present. The minister presented 
gifts to MPT staff who had taken part in the project. Engineers of 
MPT explained sending of facts and data through CDMA system. The next 
day, the minister left Mogok distributed in Mogok and Mandalay where 
he inspected installation of phone lines in Pyigyitagun Township and 
its industrial zone. At No1 Industrial Zone, minister observed 
installation of a 4000 line capacity auto exchange. Officials 
explained plans to extend the phone lines. 


New Light of Myanmar: Minister meets LDP official 

YANGON, 18 Aug-Minister for Progress of Border Areas and National 
Races and Development Affairs Col Thein Nyunt met Director General Mr 
Tomomitsu Iwakura of Policy Research Council of Liberal Democratic 
Party of Japan at his office this afternoon. They discussed matters 
related to the project to extend 3,000 acres of buckwheat in Kokang 
region which is included in the programme to develop border areas and 
national races and root out poppy cultivation in the areas. Also 
present at the call were Director-General Col Than Swe of the 
Progress of Border Areas and National Races Department and officials

___________________ REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL____________________

Malaysiakini: Former refugee backs HRW report [on Rohingya 
mistreatment in Malaysia]


August 18, 2000

Ajinder Kaur

6.25pm, FRI: A former Burmese Rohingya refugee in Malaysia today 
backed the recently released Human Rights Watch report alleging that 
the country treated the Rohingya Muslims in a "shameful manner" 
(Malaysia's treatment of Rohingya refugees 'getting worse', Aug 1).

Mohamad Sayed Mohamad Yunus, who was in Malaysia for eight years, 
refuted claims by the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim) that 
some of the allegations in the report were inaccurate.

In a handwritten statement to malaysiakini this morning, Mohamad 
Sayed, who is now residing in Sydney, Australia, alleged that the 
Malaysian authorities considered the Muslim Rohingyas as illegal 

"These are displaced refugees," he said. "But they are often caught 
by the police and other government authorities and sent to the 
detention camps."

Mohamed Sayed said he was detained in the Semenyih, Lenggeng and 
Langkap illegal immigrant camps on three separate occasions, despite 
having protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR).

"I was in the Semenyih camp from 1997 to 1998," he said. 

He added that while he was there, riots broke out between the 
Acehnese and the police and a number of the inmates were reportedly 

"The camp authorities immediately deported all of the Acehnese, 
Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Pakistanis, Thais, and Indians, but the 
Rohingyas including myself were sent to the Lenggeng camp in Negeri 
Sembilan," Mohamed Sayed said.

He added that they were left without shelter and water for more than 
10 days when they arrived in the Lenggeng camp.

"The camp authorities kept beating us," said Mohamed Sayed. 

He added that while he was in the camp, the police sent a few of them 
to the border of Thailand because they were sick with malaria, 
chicken pox, skin infection and tuberculosis.

"In April 1998, about 16 people died in the camp," he said. Despite 
this, the Burmese Embassy refused to see the detainees.

'In fairness to all'

Abim president Ahmad Azam Abdul Rahman in a press statement early 
this month said that it was unfair for the New York-based Human 
Rights Watch to level a general accusation against the Malaysian 
government "of mistreating Rohingyas in the country".

He added that many of the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia who have no 
proper identification documents except for those given by local 
Muslim organisations, including Abim, were treated fairly well by the 
police and other authorities.

"In fairness to all, the government has to treat all illegal 
immigrants equal. In most cases, deportations are carried out due to 
mischiefs committed by illegal immigrants which necessitate harsh 
police action," Ahmad said.

Instead, Abim lambasted the UNHCR in Malaysia for the problem 
of "refugees", saying that it had discriminated the Rohingyas by 
refusing to recognise them as refugees.

There are currently 25,000 Burmese in the country, 10,000 of whom are 
Muslim Rohingya refugees.

Mohamad Sayed said that he was arrested in his Kuala Lumpur house by 
the police "without any reason" in 1999 despite being classified as a 
UN refugee.

"I told the police that I am a Burmese Rohingya refugee protected by 
the UNHCR. The police told me that they were arresting me under the 
Internal Security Act. They kept me in the Dang Wangi lock-up without 
any access for a week before sending me to Langkap camp in Teluk 
Intan (Perak)," he said.

On hearing his detention, the Burma Solidarity Group Malaysia (BGSM), 
an NGO which supports Burmese refugees, informed the UNHCR office. 

"But UNHCR did not answer. The BGSM helped me to eventually get 
resettlement in Australia," Mohamad Sayed said.

'No mistreatment'

According to a self-exiled Rohingya, Sami-ullah, who is also Abim's 
Muslim Minority Affairs executive secretary, the UNHCR only 
recognised five families and five individuals as refugees.

He added that neither the government, police nor Abim itself had 
mistreated the Rohingyas.

"The police only acted against the refugees when they misbehaved," he 
said when contacted by malaysiakini today.

He, however, admitted that he could not comment on the ill-treatment 
of the Rohingya detainees in police lock-ups or detention camps 
because "I have never been in these camps".

"But I know that the camp authorities do not detain the Rohingyas for 
too long. They are sent to the Malaysian-Thai border to leave the 
country," he said.

Sami-ullah added that he has personally written to the HRW in 
response to the report.

"I told them that the report could not do anything for us in 
Malaysia. It would only anger the Malaysian government who will 
subsequently send us to Thailand and back to Burma where we will be 
killed," Sami-ullah said.

The 78-page HRW report which was released on Aug 1 charged that 
Malaysia's treatment of thousands of Burmese refugees is "bad and 
getting worse". 

It said that exiles were denied legal recognition as refugees, their 
children often were not permitted to attend school, were denied 
health care and live in a constant risk of arrest. 

Unlike the majority of Burmese who are Buddhists, Rohingyas are 
Muslims mostly from the western state of Arakan.

A UNHCR official told malaysiakini that its representative in 
Malaysia, Shinji Kubo, would not be available for comment until 


AP: Weightlifters expected to give best performances for Myanmar 
Olympic team

August 18, 2000

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Myanmar's small contingent to the Olympics in 
Sydney says its best performances will likely come from three women 

 Myanmar, also known as Burma, is sending seven athletes and four 
officials to next month's games. The country has never won an Olympic 

 The athletes, including six women, will compete in track and field, 
archery, women's weightlifting and swimming, Kyaw Oo of the Sports 
and Physical Education Department said Wednesday. 

 ``We are sending a small but hopeful group of athletes to Sydney. 
Myanmar lays high hopes on the three-member women weightlifting 
team,'' he said. 

 The three _ Kathy Win, Swe Swe Win and Khin Moe Nwe _ have notched 
some fine performances in international competition. 

 Khin Moe Nwe won her first medal at the 1997 world championships, 
the official said. 
 Swe Swe Win broke her own record in the 87.5-kilogram snatch and the 
110-kilogram clean and jerk at the 1998 Asian Games, he added, while 
Kathy Win broke a national record at the 1999 world championships in 
Greece when she hoisted 85 kilograms. 

 Myanmar first entered the Olympic scene at the 1936 games in Berlin 
when a Myanmar athlete was included on the British Empire's India 

 The impoverished Southeast Asian nation has never excelled in 
international competition. 


AP: Two dead, 59 sick from diarrhea at Thai-Myanmar border 

MAE SOT, Thailand (AP) Thai medics have been flown to a remote ethnic 
Karen community near the Myanmar border after a diarrhea epidemic 
killed two villagers and sickened 59 people, officials said Friday. 

 Five other villages in Umphang district of Tak province, about 300 
kilometers (190 miles) northwest of Bangkok, are at risk from the 
epidemic, which was caused by unclean drinking water, a district 
official said. 

 Lt. Gen. Vattanachai Chaimuangwong, commander of the Third Army, 
said a military helicopter carried doctors and health workers to the 
worst hit village of Mae Jan Tha on Wednesday and ferried sick people 
to a hospital. 

 It lies 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the border with Myanmar, also 
known as Burma. Two people in the village, populated by ethnic Karen 
animists, had died and two more were in a serious condition, the 
district official said. 


AP: Thailand arrests 417 Myanmar migrants in factory raids 

MAE SOT, Thailand (AP) 
 Thai authorities arrested 417 migrant workers from Myanmar in dawn 
raids Thursday on garment factories in northern Thailand, the deputy 
national immigration chief said. 

 Some 200 border patrol police raided 19 factories in Mae Sot 
district, 370 kilometers (230 miles) northwest of Bangkok, near the 
Myanmar border. The arrests were made at three factories. 
 The other 16 factories were found closed, leading to suspicions the 
owners were tipped off, said 
Maj. Gen. Chanwud Watcharapoot, who led the operation. 

 He said all the arrested migrants would be deported to Myanmar after 
details about them were recorded by Thai authorities. 

 Police also arrested three Thai factory managers and would take 
action against them under Thai law, said Chanwud, without 

 Since late last year, Thailand has deported tens of thousands of the 
estimated one million migrant workers from its poorer neighbors _ 
Cambodia, Laos and especially Myanmar, also known as Burma. Many have 
sneaked back to Thailand. 

 Paniti Tanpati, chairman of the Tak province chamber of commerce 
based in Mae Sot, said he would meet Wednesday in Bangkok with Thai 
Deputy Prime Minister Korn Dabbarangsi to ask the government to let 
local businessmen hire more Myanmar laborers. 

 At the moment, just 3,000 migrants are authorized to work in Tak in 
construction and farming, he said. Many more are thought to work in 
the province illegally. 

 Numbers staying in Tak have in the past been estimated at more than 
100,000. Many are thought to stay in hiding making it difficult to 
establish a reliable figure. 

 Thai businessmen value the migrants as a cheap source of labor, 
working for around 70 baht (dlrs 1.75) per day or less, compared with 
the minimum wage for Thais of 162 baht 

_______________ ECONOMY AND BUSINESS ________________

Myanmar's kyat stabilises after fall to record low

YANGON, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Myanmar's beleaguered kyat currency has 
stabilised and edged higher against the dollar on the black market 
after diving to record lows in recent weeks amid spiralling 
inflation, currency dealers said on Wednesday. 

 ``The kyat stopped falling after hitting a floor of 395 to the 
dollar last week and is trading at 385/390 at the moment,'' one 
dealer said. 

 The kyat's fall to its weakest ever levels against the dollar was 
sparked mainly by sharply rising prices of imports and luxury goods, 
the weakening of the Thai baht and by panic buying of some 
commodities as a hedge against inflation. 

 Before this month's slide, the previous record low was 384 to the 
dollar in August 1998. The official rate is six kyat to the dollar. 

 A commentary in the Myanmar-language Kyemon newspaper earlier this 
month warned against ``unscrupulous speculation'' and said the 
authorities would take action to bring prices under control. 

 Newspapers in Myanmar are regarded as official mouthpieces of the 

 The Myanmar government increased the salaries of civil servants by 
five to eight times in April to bring them more into line with 
spiralling prices, but the move helped fuel inflation, estimated at 
around 30 percent a year. 

 Prices of common consumer goods have not risen too steeply, 
residents say, due to measures taken by the authorities, including 
the opening of five tax-free markets in Yangon. 
 But prices of gold, cars and other imported items have risen 
sharply. Analysts say there was strong demand for these items as a 
way of guarding against inflation and the weakening kyat. 
 Prices of low-market reconditioned vans and cars more than doubled 
in the last three months. Myanmar authorities imposed strict 
regulations on cars in late 1997, virtually stopping the flow of 
passenger cars into the country. 

 Car prices eased last week after the authorities took action to try 
to reduce demand, locals said. 
 Regulations were introduced obliging car buyers to declare the 
source of the money used for the purchase, and enforcing the payment 
of all taxes when car licenses were renewed. 

 Myanmar's economy remains tightly controlled despite the 
introduction of some market reforms in 1988 after 26 years of central 
planning. The economy is commodity-based and relies heavily on the 
export of rice, pulses and prawns. 


AFP: Myanmar to promote North American tourism 

BANGKOK, Aug 18 (AFP) - Myanmar has launched a campaign to promote 
itself as an outbound tourist destination for travelers from North 
America, despite US sanctions on the Yangon regime. 

 Yangon's Ministry of Hotels and Tourism last week appointed an 
agent, to promote Myanmar in North America. 

 "The agreement is expected to increase the visibility of Myanmar as 
a tourist destination to major operators in the USA and Canada," the 
Myanmar Times said. 

 "I believe that this appointment will give us great exposure and 
will help us to gradually get more North American arrivals," said 
Arbind Shrestha, general manager of Yangon's Traders Hotel, in the 

 As part of the Myanmar promotion, Aeroground will organize trips to 
Myanmar for tourism operators and travel writers in North America, 
represent Myanmar at travel industry expositions and provide 
ticketing services. 

 Tourism promotion in Myanmar had previously focused on the European 
market, leaving the North American market relatively untapped. 

 But several travel operators in Bangkok said that no amount of 
promotion would make Myanmar, which has become a pariah destination 
to some in North America, popular in the US and Canada. 

 Global hotel chain Best Western, Pepsi-Co, Eastman Kodak and other 
US corporations have pulled out of Myanmar following vociferous 
campaigns from activists determined to isolate the junta. 

 Myanmar faces a range of international sanctions and punitive 
measures imposed by foreign governments critical of its human rights 
performance and refusal to hand over power to Aung San Suu Kyi, whose 
National League for Democracy won an overwhelming election victory in 
 The tourism industry is one of Myanmar's few sources of foreign 

 Aeroground is a major marketing and sales corporation based in San 



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