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Subject: [theburmanetnews] BurmaNet News: August 19, 2000
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______________ THE BURMANET NEWS ______________
An on-line newspaper covering Burma
_________August 19, 2000 Issue # 1600__________
INSIDE BURMA _______
*Kyodo: Retired Burmese Politician Urges Junta, Democracy Camp To
*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
*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
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
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
Malaysiakini: Former refugee backs HRW report [on Rohingya
mistreatment in Malaysia]
August 18, 2000
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
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
"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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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