Independence Weekly, No. 48 (15-22 June 2003)
New bases for US forces, called lily pads by some, are being sought out and expended in several parts of the world including Australia, Thailand, Singapore and Philippines. Deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, is the author of the plan called Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) that says military intervention should become a constant fixture of the new world order. (Asia Times)
Russia, China and India, Asean's dialogue partners say they will sign up the grouping's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), effectively a non-aggression pact, in order to counter growing US influence and assertiveness. Actual signing might be in October, when annual Asean summit is held in Bali. (News 24)
Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, fifth in the series, goes on sale. (Bangkok Post)
Fearing US air strike, Gen Than Shwe has ordered all the MiGs in the Burmese air force to be buried underground. He told his colleagues Burma was fifth on US hit list. (NEJ)
Asean breaks its tradition of non-interference by calling on Burma to quickly release Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters. FM Win Aung says it's the first time the group has commented on the internal affairs of its members. Singapore FM S. Jayakumar backs move saying the Suu Kyi situation is a reversal not only for Burma but for Asean as a whole. (The Nation) The Philippines and Singapore are the only members to speak out against the junta. (The Nation) But it has rejected calls for sanctions. (The Age)
Who's Win Aung?
A former low ranking military intelligence officer, he started out in international affairs as a foreign liaison officer for the strategic think tank DDSI. Appointed ambassador to Bonn in 1988, he was sent to London in 1995. He later replaced Ohn Gyaw as FM. He has written articles criticizing Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD, using the penname Sithu Nyein Aye. (The Nation)
Burma has agreed to Asean discussion of its domestic affairs, says spokesman MC Abad. (AP) Philippines FM Blas Ople saying Burma is sullying Asean reputation urges joint communiqu? to be sufficiently strong one. (AP) Ong Keng Yong, Asean secretary general, says Burma would flare up into 'another Yugoslavia, multiplied many times'. India will never allow any destabilization and China a deterioration there, he argues. Are we prepared to open the Pandora's box? he asks. (AFP)
Razali Ismail strong criticizes Asean for its lack of political will to change the status quo. Constructive engagement is an excuse, he says. (Malaysiakini)
EU strengthens sanctions by extending the visa ban to include families of ministers and senior army officers.(AFP) But there are still no bans on trade or investment (Irrawaddy)
Asean fails to arrive at a consensus on the Burma situation. Joint commuque due to be released 17 June. (The Nation)
Japan says if the current situation in Burma is not rectified, it will be difficult for "us' to continue "our" aid policy. (AFP)
You said when things return to normal, you will release Aung San Suu Kyi, but I will tell you that after you release Aung San Suu Kyi, please return the normalcy to the country.
Bill Graham, FM Canada, at Asean Regional Forum (ARF), 18 June
Japan, Burma's biggest donor, has threatened to withdraw its economic assistance while Canada hinted that it may consider punitive measures. (Bangkok Post)
Senator Mitch McConnell, backed by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Mathea Falco, Chair of Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on Burma, calls for downgrading of diplomatic relations by sending Burma's ambassador back to Rangoon. (BurmaNet)
Australian FM Alexander Downer denounces sanctions "Screaming and stamping feet" policy.
Burma: A Time for Change, published by New York-based Council of Foreign Relations Task Force calls for UN Security Council action on Burma. (AFP)
Win Aung grilled relentlessly by Asian Pacific ministers in Phnom Penh, but he is relaxed and unruffled. In response to Colin Powell's labeling of the regime as "brutal", he assures it is not true. (AFP)
We are not a brutal people. We have loving kindness for everybody. We are not a heartless people.
FM Win Aung, at Asean Regional Forum, 19 June
The principle (of non-interference) still stands. But no country from here on may claim absolute immunity from collegial scrutiny if certain policies or acts of commission or omission tend to put the whole organization in disrepute or undermine its credibility.
Blas Ople, FM Philippines, to FM Win Aung, 18 June, Sun Star
India's FM Yashawant Sinha has already written to his Burmese counterpart to release Aung San Suu Kyi, reports Hindustani Times. India's silence was due to the cooperation between the two to tackle insurgency and drugs along the border. (DPA)
China and India could well determine the pace of democratic change in Burma for more than Southeast Asian or western nations. China's Zhai Kun, a researcher at Beijing's China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, says the international community has over-evaluated China's influence on Burma. (SCMP)
The good thing is that they have broken their long standing rule of non-interference to discuss Burma's detention of Aung San Suu Kyi. Many have begun to realize the embarrassment Asean will suffer if Burma is still a military dictatorship by 2006. Mahathir has been particularly troubled by the prospect. But there is no way Asia could support an international economic boycott of Burma. What is needed is a dialogue on realistic options that might help process of change in Burma. (Bangkok Post)
Amnesty International reiterates calls to immediately and unconditionally release Aung San Suu Kyi. (Press Release)
Thailand should stop acting as a mouthpiece for the Burmese military junta, says Kraisak Choonhavan. As long as Bangkok insists on maintaining good relations with Rangoon, other Asean members will be reluctant to condemn it. (Bangkok Post)
Clash at Doi Saeng, Maehongson, leaves 2 Thai soldiers wounded. (Bangkok Post)
Army spokesman Col Somkuan Saengpattaranate says it has received a letter expressing regret over the 18 June incident. It was a misunderstanding, says the letter. (Bangkok Post)
Phamuang task force commander, Maj Gen Manas Paolitr says Burma Army will be dealt with a 'bottom up' procedure i.e. from local forces gradually upwards and not 'top down' procedure i.e. from higher command downwards as before. (Bangkok Post)
Burma and Thailand sign pact on migrant workers. Rangoon says the pact will help Burmese who are working or wish to work in Thailand obtain legal documentation. FM Surakiart says
Rangoon may benefit by collecting fee and screening applicants. It will also facilitate the repatriation of illegal workers. Laos and Cambodia have already signed similar agreements with Thailand. (The Nation) Work contracts will be limited to a maximum of 4 years. More than half of estimated 1 million from Burma are working illegally in Thailand. (Bangkok Post)
Gen Maung Aye is worried Gen Than Shwe is trying to resurrect Ne Win's practice of treating his young grandson as second only to him in many official occassions. He finds this totally unacceptable. (NEJ)
Brig Gen tells Kachin Independence Organization that had volunteered security for Suu Kyi on 19 May "to stop dating two lovers." (Mizzima News)
Razali says Gen Than Htoon, the escort, during his meeting with The Lady, was cowed by her. Describing the 30 May incident, she said she heard a commotion from behind when "they" tried to smash the windows of her car, but she was protected by her people and her 4 wheel drive was able to speed away despite stones thrown at her by assailants. What peace have I disturbed? She asked. Razali cautions against pursuing a policy of sanctions without a diplomatic effort to prevent outflanking the moderates by the hardliners. (Washington Post)
Aung San Suu Kyi will be freed soon, but he cannot give an exact date, says FM Win Aung at Phnom Penh. There are some assassins, he claims and "she is like our sister." (AP/Stuff)
Schools and universities open, the former after a two-week delay, citing SARS scare, and the latter after closing for two weeks. (Reuters)
Rangoon says it has released 46 detainees since 30 May violence and will allow ICRC to meet others still being held, except Aung San Suu Kyi. The official does ot reveal how many people are being detained. (AFP)
Aung San Suu Kyi is being held under section 10(a) of Burma's 1975 State Protection Act against destructive elements, according to Razali Ismail, thereby nullifying Rangoon's assertion that it was a protective custody. (Irrawaddy)
Detained Aung San Suu Kyi's 58th birthday marked by 20 NLD members, led by MP Win Myint, at the Shwedagon. (DPA)
It is also celebrated in many cities of the world, including Chiangmai, where 400 activists participate. (NMG)
Aung San Suu Kyi, on her birthday, is being held in Insein jail in a two-room hut still wearing her clothes in which she was arrested, says UK Foreign Office. (AP)
One of the greatest misfortunes is that the government rulers of Myanmar always wear a uniform.
FM Win Aung, quoted by AFP, 20 June
Sao Noan Oo of Lawkzawk, in reply to Baroness Cox, House of Lords, urges UK, in submitting Burma issue to the UN Secretary Council, to include submission of intense atrocities committed by the military against non-Burman populations, as well as initiating an intervention in Burma on humanitarian grounds. (Letter)
It's too late to revive the National Convention (that has been suspended since 1996), says Khun Toon Oo. Who's going to come anyway, he asks. Dialogue, an all-inclusinve one, should come first, he tells DVB.
The five party military alliance (ALP-CNF-KNPP-KNU-RCSS) vows to "make appropriate response" against Rangoon's "war of terror". (Statement)
Business / Economy
Latest commodity prices:
Pawhsan rice 10,50 kyat
E-mahta 9,400 kyat (DVB)
Advocats of sanctions charge only the military benefits from exports, but that is patently false, says David Steinberg. He urges the United States to develop a proactive policy on Burma instead of waiting for inevitable crises. (UHT)
Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) has targeted southwest China and Burma as principal export markets for its fuel products, but at present there is very little infrastructure development between the countries. (World Market Analysis)
UNHCR's Kristen Young says the basic standard for repatriation of a quarter million refugees, half of which are in camps and the other working illegally, is that there is respect for human rights on their return. Such conditions don't exist, claims she. (VOA)
The problem with getting an accurate story is that everyone who could speak the truth in Burma is under arrest.
A democracy advocate in Washington, Weekly Standard, 16 June
A US appeal court hears the case against Unocal in order to decide whether it can be sued for human rights abuses in Burma. (Neftegaz. RU)
Asean is pushing for a mission to the military-ruled Burma to meet Aung San Suu Kyi. It will be before the October leaders summit in Bali, according to Phillipines FM, Blas Ople. (Bangkok Post)
Kengtawng will be denuded of its teak forest by 2005 at the present speed of destruction, says a member of a logging company. Kengtawng is 100 miles southwest of Taunggyi. (S.H.A.N.)
UNODC says opium cultivation in the Golden Triangle has plummeted this year: 24% in Burma and 15% in Laos. It was cut by half in northern Shan State, but increased by 21% in the Wa region. Burma remains capable of producing 810 tonnes per year. It is a mistake to wait for political reforms before introducing anti-narcotics operations, says UNODC. (Bangkok Post)
A labor advocate claims some factory owners are giving their Burmese laborers methamphetamine to make them work longer hours. (Bangkok Post)
"Drug Free Asean 2015" goal is put in place today in Bangkok in the Asean and China Cooperative Operations in Response to Dangerous Drugs (Accord) action plan endorsed by member countries in 2000.
Production of speed, apart from Burma, has also emerged in Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Malaysia. Precursors come mainly from China and India. (Bangkok Post)
Burma, China, Laos, India and Thailand have agreed to cooperate on curbing chemical substance for drug production and crop substitution. Thailand will help Laos and Burma on crop substitution while India promises to help marketing of alternative products. Burma has pledged to wipe out drugs by 2004 and Laos by 2005. Further measures will be discussed on 22-25 July in Chiangrai. (Bangkok Post)
Heavy concentrations of troops opposite Loi Kawwan, between Burma's Monghsat and Thailand's Chiangrai. Border watchers put the prospects of fighting at 70%. (S.H.A.N.)
Tachilek has beefed up security with check points being formed to screen travelers and bar non-Tachilek residents from entering the town. Telephone lines were cut off earlier. (Bangkok Post)