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Independence Weekly

by admin last modified 2005-06-05 04:01


Independence Weekly, No 57, 17 - 23 August 2003


The World
7 August

Arnold Schwarzenegger, non-native American, runs for governor in California. In Thailand, non-native are still regarded as pests. Extreme measures are required to keep these pests of the country, says a Bangkok Post reader on 18 August. (S.H.A.N.)

16 August
Idi Amin, former Ugandan dictator, blamed for murder of 300,000 people, dies in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)

19 August

UN headquarters in Baghadad bombed, killing at least 17 and wounding dozens. UN special envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello is among those feared lost. (Bangkok Post)

International Relations
30 July

American sanctions opposed by Communist Party of Burma in its statement issued today. (Kao Wao) 

We're not likely to see Burma booted out soon _ but it's now a realistic threat. 
Editorial, FEER, 31 July 2003

18 August
Visiting Gen Maung Aye meets Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of Central Military Commission. (XNA)

Gen Maung Aye will be seeking China's help in solving Burma's economic woes, say analysts. He is chairman of National Industrial Development Committee, National Agricultural and Economic Development Committee and the National Trade Committee that oversees cross-border trade. (Irrawaddy)

20 August
State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan, a former foreign minister, tells visiting Maung Aye China disagrees with sanctions. (Reuters/AFP)

21 August
WHO lauds Burma for distributing condoms through AIDS program funded by UN trust fund. Rangoon has identified 45,968 people with HIV. WHO estimates are much higher. (AP)

22 August
China hopes Burma's "ethnic groups will live in harmony", says Beijing statement on Gen Maung Aye's final day in the country. 

Thai-Burma Relations
14 August

Representatives of non-Burman groups are not sure if the Thai roadmap initiative is meant to buy or waste time. It seems the idea was to help Rangoon weather international pressure. (Bangkok Post)

According to an informed participant, Aung San Suu Kyi vowed not to go back to any dialogue with the junta. (The Nation) Thailand is officially putting Burma's problem on its agenda, says a Shan analyst. Before this, there was no policy commitment. The change is to be welcomed. (S.H.A.N.)

15 August
Burma Border Consortium (BBC), a Thai-based NGO, has stopped giving rations to opposition offices in Maesod. It will provide support only to people inside the camps, says a recent email. (Irrawaddy)

19 August
Labor minister Suwat Liptapanlop says all registered alien workers, except 12,000 in jobs like petrol station attendants and beauty parlor workers, will continue working in Thailand for another year. Many at the seminar say the new policy is impractical and unlikely to help tackle the problem of alien labor. For instance, few will be able to pay 50,000 baht per head for Burmese passports. Also few will want to return to Burma to seek citizenship verification in order to reapply for work here. (Bangkok Post)

National Catholic Commission on Migration, a Bangkok-based religious organization that has been helping Burmese migrants, raided. A Burmese woman, Nyo Nyo Lwin, 21, arrested and deported to Myawaddy. (Mizzima)

21 August
FM Surakiart Sathirathai asks Rangoon for "intensive cooperation" against drugs. Thailand's concern will be voiced at the Regional Border Committee meeting held 22-23 August also. (Bangkok Post)

23 August
Third Army soldier arrest 4 Thai men on charges of hiring 238 illegal Burmese workers in Tak's Mae Ramat District. The Burmese will be deported. (Bangkok Post)

Politics
3 July

USDA offices nation-wide have been ordered by Gen Than Shwe to close on 29 June. (DVB / LB)

26 July
4 ministers sacked today: 
1 Aung Thaung - Industry #1 Ministry
2. Aung Phone - Forestry Ministry
3. Maj Gen Nyunt Tin - Agriculture / Irrigation Ministry
4. unidentified

Aung Thaung also held the office of General Secretary in USDA. (BBC/ LB)

3 August

Lt-Gen Soe Win, Burma's #4 man, narrowly escapes assassination attempt when a bomb explodes near the site where the ribbon cutting at the Homalin airport inauguration ceremony is taking place. One student killed and another wounded seriously. Officers from the engineering battalion involved in the construction are being detained by MI #17. (DVB)

4 August
Kyaw Kyaw Naing, Magwe Division's Thanbyin Minthami Library president, writes to Kyemon, one of the military's organs, to closely scrutinize feature articles in the interests of national reconciliation. (DVB)

7 August
20 MPs dismissed from NLD sends open letter to Gen Than Shwe demanding to form an interim government made up of selected persons from the military, CRPP and ceasefire groups. (DVB)

12 August
Six policemen detained by monks at Kyauksri monastery, Paukkhaung township, Pegu Division, after they try to arrest visiting monks. The army takes over and order the temple close for five days. (DVB)

16 August
NMSP chairman Nai Htin leaves for Rangoon to hold talks with Gen Khin Nyunt for the release of 2 of its members detained on 17 July. 

20 August
Three-day joint meeting of NCGUB ends. Agrees to produce a political roadmap. (S.H.A.N.)

Shans
11 August

Khun Toon Oo, Shan elected leader, says he still needs to learn further details about the "Thai" roadmap before he can give a definite opinion. (DVB)

Shan girls count as the prettiest in Burma. (Der Spiegel)

20 August
Shan ceasefire representatives say they are leaving Rangoon, because Gen Khin Nyunt has informed them of his in availability. 'He sounds really leftout after Gen Maung Aye went to China (on 17 August) without him', says one source. (S.H.A.N.)

22 August
Two Burmese language dailies, Myanma Alin and Kyemon, has cut their circulation to 30% each since 8 August due to paper shortage. (NMG) 

Economic / Business
14 August

US sanctions hit Maesod. Compared to previous months, Thailand exported B. 315 million in commodities to Burma in July instead of more than B. 400 million during normal times. It also was able to import only B. 30 million in goods from Burma instead of 80 million. (Irrawaddy)

15 August
The US sanctions welcomed by people in general. Economic assistance, under the present rule, does not reach the civil population, says (Sunthorn Sripanngern), General Secretary of Mon Unity League. (Kao Wao)

18 August
Foreign organizations engaged public health and environmental protection are unable to fund their projects. Life saving medicines imported from abroad have risen by 300% while other medicines by 25% in the last week. 

The euro alternative might also last long, because EU has also expressed anger over Suu Kyi. 

The currency that shot up from 900 kyat to the dollar to 1,100 has settled back to 1,030 this week. 

Shadow currency dealings in future may merit an official blind-eye. The exports will drop while imports will rise. 

But the issue is political not economic. The solution is to meet Bush head on and settle matters. (AFP)

US Treasury says it will allow otherwise banned money transfers from the US into Burma provided the funds are intended to support conduct of diplomatic or consular activities. The sanctions are to kick in 28 August, one month after Bush signed the sanctions act. (AFP)

19 August
Burma is facing a problem for settling accounts which it had signed MOU with Bangladesh for account trade in March, due to dollar crisis. (Kaladan)

20 August
Burma's Foreign Ministry advises diplomats to open euro accounts at Burma's Foreign Trade Bank to facilitate their operations. Briefing is given by Deputy FM Khin Maung Win. 

21 August
Foreign visitors no longer have to exchange US $ 200 upon arriving at Burmese airports as usual for Foreign Exchange Certificates, that have been in use since 1993. As a result, one FEC currently buys only 590 kyat. (Irrawaddy) 

22 August
Yunnan Trade Fair, 26-30 August, has officially invited 7 ceasefire groups based in Shan and Kachin states. (Irrawaddy)

Two foreign companies, advertising giant WPP that has a Rangoon-based subsidiary, Bates Myanmar, and Melbourne-based Intrepid Travel, are leaving Burma. 

Environment
16 August

China will lend Rangoon $ 200 million for 790 megawatt Ye-ywa hydro electric power project, 50 km southeast of Mandalay. Construction began last year. (AP)

19 August
International meeting on dam-affected people to be held in Sri Saket, 28 November - 3 December. (S.H.A.N.)

21 July
Coal-fired power plant is being constructed in Tikyit (Hikip), Panglawng Township. 20.7 million tons of coal can be produced from the area. Electricity generated will be supplied to the main power distribution system. (New Light of Myanmar)

1 August
4 power stations in Kengtawng, Mongnai, Namzarng and Loilem will be constructed and supply power to Mongnai, Langkher, Mongpan, Namzarng, Loilem, Mongpawn and Taunggyi from Kengtawng Hydropower plant. (New Light of Myanamr)

20 August
Lt-Gen Tin Aye visits coal extraction site in Hsintaung, Lashio Township and another in Nahlyan at the exit of Lashio. (New Light of Myanmar)

Human Rights
30 June

Arakan State's Buthidaung Township orders five villages to plant (rice) seedlings along the roadsides, 92 seedlings per family, which they were forced to purchase. The project gets in the way with farmer's work in their own fields. (Kaladan) 

Drugs
4 August

American special forces coming across evidence of Afghan drug trade are ignoring them. Defense Department doesn't want them to be sidetracked from their main goal: to capture and kill terrorists. (Time)

18 August
PM Thaksin plans to declare Thailand drug-free on 2 December, but Pittaya Jinawat, director Northern Narcotics Control Office, says victory will be really about reduction in the level of addiction. Since the crackdown, netting hauls of several millions of pills have become uncommon. (Borneo Bulletin Online)

Another official, Janya Sramajcha, noted that out of 3 million users, only 300,000 (10%) had submitted themselves to the authorities. (S.H.A.N.)

20 August
Thai police seizes 500,000 pills, 5 AK-47 assault rifles and 9 dead after a fight with UWSA intruders in Chiangmai's Mae Ai District just 1 km from the border. "If Burma has no time (to deal with Wa), we'll do it for them," says PM Thaksin. (Bangkok Post) The pill plant is 20 km from the Thai border, he says. (The Nation)

21 August
Pol-Col Hkam Aung says several groups operate in the area, not only the UWSA, but Thailand focuses solely on the Wa activities. (Irrawaddy) Thai charge d'affaires Opas Chantarasap also made known of Burma's displeasure over Thaksin's remark, "not conducive to friendly relations." (New Light of Myanmar)

A friendly country should not allow its people to produce drugs to destroy the future of young people in another country. That's not a good friendly neighbor. 
PM Thaksin Shinawatra, 21 August, Bangkok Post

22 August
The Border Patrol Police has been ordered to close the border to smugglers according to Pol-Col Peeraphan Prempooti. (VOA) BPP officer says he has yet to receive the order. (S.H.A.N.)

23 August
PM Thaksin says Rangoon has arrested "a Wa boss of Kokang tribe", quoting to Gen Khin Nyunt. Third Army commander, Lt-Gen Picharmet Muangmanee, who is meeting Burmese generals Myint Aung and Khin Zaw, receives confirmation from his counterparts. No name has been given, however. (Bangkok Post)

War
4 August

800 civil servants from Mudon township are being forced to buy uniforms worth 2,950 kyat each suit and attend one-month long State Defense Force training. Trainees are taught how to use small arms weapons, how to defend American invasion and (identify) destructive elements. (Kao Wao) 

14 August
Rangoon purchased 100 Gimlet SA missiles from Russia in 2001. (Jane's Defense Weekly) 

17 August
Gen Maung Aye leaves for Beijing on a six-day trip. His last visit was in June 2000. (AP) he is accompanied by 31 members including lieutenant generals Soe Win and Shwe Mann. (AFP)

22 August
People in Minbya, Arakan State, ordered to pay 150 kyat per household for sling-shots and shields. They are to be used against possible American invaion. (Rakkhapura News)