AP – Myanmar democracy leader Suu Kyi’s son given visa

AP – Myanmar halts 9 magazines that sold Suu Kyi covers
EarthTimes – Myanmar supreme court rules against restoring NLD’s party status
INO News – Myanmar’s Supreme Court Refuses To Restore Legitimacy To Main Opposition Party
UPI – HRW calls for more pressure on Myanmar
The Financial Times – New pressure can oust Burma’s generals
VOA News – Little Hope Seen for Burma’s Economy
AsiaOne – ?Aung San Suu Kyi invited to pick up Europe rights prize
Daily Telegraph – Aung San Suu Kyi to make emotional trip to greet son for first time in a decade
Calcutta News – N.Korea engaged in secret operations in Myanmar: London Varsity scholar
Calcutta News – ‘India should check Chinese influence in Myanmar’
The Nation – PTT sees Tavoy in Burma as expansion option
The Nation – EDITORIAL: Nuclear threats are designed to reap rewards
The Nation – Burma set for economic resurgence?
ABS-CBNNEWS.com – Aquino speaks to Myanmar’s Suu Kyi
Thailandnews.net – MP to raise question of Burmese refugees on Thailand border
Economic Times – China, Myanmar plan high-speed rail link
AsiaOne – Tragic Chen Shui-bian is a martyr in his own mind
IRC – IRC responds to renewed refugee crisis on the Thailand-Myanmar border
CSM – Why India offers tepid response to Burma’s release of Suu Kyi
Asian Tribune – Investigate abuses, reject election and support Aung San Suu Kyi, urges AIPMC
E-Pao.net – Rice from Myanmar yet to reach Imphal
The Irrawaddy – No Change as Junta Clamps Down on Suu Kyi News
The Irrawaddy – Suu Kyi Starts Networking
The Irrawaddy – Grandmothers Who Help Suu Kyi
The Irrawaddy – Suu Kyi Faces Challenges in Supporting Second Panglong Conference
The Irrawaddy – Clinton Sends Personal Letter to Suu Kyi
Mizzima News – North command tells KIO to close liaison offices
Myanmar democracy leader Suu Kyi’s son given visa
43 mins ago

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be allowed to see her son for the first time in 10 years after the country’s ruling junta granted him a visa, her lawyer said Monday.Kim Aris, 33, lives in Britain and has repeatedly been denied visas since his last visit in December 2000. Suu Kyi has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years and was unwilling to leave her homeland even when free for fear she would not be let back in to continue her political struggle. The 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate was released from her latest house arrest term on Nov. 13.

Nyan Win, a lawyer for Suu Kyi, said that Aris was expected to fly to Yangon from Bangkok on Tuesday morning. He said she would meet him at the airport, and at some point soon take him to the city’s famous Shwedagon pagoda, a cultural and religious landmark.

“I am very, very happy to finally see him,” Nyan Win quoted Suu Kyi saying. “I haven’t seen him for years.” She spoke by phone with him soon after her Nov. 13 release from 7 1/2 years of continuous detention.

Myanmar’s junta tightly controls Suu Kyi’s movements because it sees her calls for democracy as a threat to its rule.

Suu Kyi, who won the 1991 Nobel Peace prize for her dedication to the nonviolent struggle for democracy, was first arrested in 1989 when Kim was 11 and his older brother Alexander was 16.

In an interview last week with The Associated Press, Suu Kyi acknowledged that her years of political work had been difficult for her family.

“I knew there would be problems,” she said of her mid-life decision to go into politics. “If you make the choice you have to be prepared to accept the consequences.”

Suu Kyi, who was largely raised overseas, married the British academic Michael Aris and initially raised their two sons, Kim and Alexander, in England. But in 1988, she returned home to take care of her ailing mother as mass demonstrations were breaking out against military rule. She was quickly thrust into a leadership role, mainly because she was the daughter of Aung San, the country’s martyred founding father.

Elder son Alexander accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on his mother’s behalf in 1991 — while she was serving an earlier term of house arrest — and reportedly lives in the United States.

Michael Aris died of prostate cancer in 1999 at age 53, after having been denied visas to see his wife for the three years leading up to his death. Suu Kyi has never met her two grandchildren.

The British Embassy in Thailand, which has been facilitating Kim Aris’ trip, said that his visit to Myanmar will be strictly a private one, and he doesn’t intend to discuss politics.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a 1990 election but was barred from taking power. The junta held another election this month, but it was boycotted by her party, who charged that it was being held under unfair and undemocratic conditions.

In a sign of how sensitive the military is to Suu Kyi’s popularity, government censors suspended eight magazines after they prominently published news and photos about her release.

An editor of one publication said the Press Scrutiny board cited the size of a supplementary section about her as a violation of regulations.

The privately owned local magazines that were suspended had printed photos of Suu Kyi in supplementary inserts which were used as wraparound covers when the issues were put on sale. Daily and electronic media in Myanmar are monopolized by the state, and private publications must submit their material to the censorship board.

The Weekly Eleven news — a publication that was not suspended — reported that the suspensions varied from one to two weeks for the eight publications.

Myanmar halts 9 magazines that sold Suu Kyi covers
Mon Nov 22, 3:44 am ET

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) – Government censors in military-ruled Myanmar have ordered nine magazines to suspend publication for not following regulations.The magazine Weekly Eleven reports in its latest issue that the Press Scrutiny board did not say how the privately owned local magazines violated regulations.

However, all nine printed photos of recently released pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in inserts that were used as wraparound covers when the magazines were on sale.

Suu Kyi was released from house arrest Nov. 13 after 7 1/2 years of continuous detention. Her political movement won elections in 1990, but the military did not allow it to take power.

EarthTimes – Myanmar supreme court rules against restoring NLD’s party status
Posted : Mon, 22 Nov 2010 14:02:29 GMT

Yangon – Myanmar’s Supreme Court on Monday rejected a case submitted by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to restore the legal status of her party, sources said.On November 18, in one of her first political moves after being freed from seven years of house arrest, Suu Kyi and legal advisers to her National League for Democracy (NLD) petitioned the Supreme Court to restore the NLD’s status as a political party.

“The Supreme Court has rejected the case,” said a senior official in Naypyitaw, Myanmar’s capital, where the supreme court is based.

The NLD lost its status in May after refusing to register for the November 7 general election, the first in more than 20 years.

The party boycotted the election to protest a law that would have required it to drop Suu Kyi as a member if it wanted to be put on the ballot.

The NLD had won the previous national election in 1990, by a landslide but was blocked from assuming power by the military.

New registration rules for this month’s elections barred parties with members who were serving sentences from court convictions. Suu Kyi was under house detention until November 13.

Many Western critics consider the November 7 polls as a sham used by the junta to legitimize its hold on power.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party, a junta proxy, won 77 per cent of the contested seats in the three chambers of parliament.

The party has been accused of tampering with advance ballots, and bribing or intimidating voters.

News of the election has been overshadowed by the release of the 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate, who has spent 15 of the past 20 years under house arrest.

INO News – Myanmar’s Supreme Court Refuses To Restore Legitimacy To Main Opposition Party
3 hours ago

(RTTNews) – Myanmar’s Supreme Court has rejected freed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s petition to restore legitimacy to the country’s disbanded main Opposition party.A few days after her release from seven years’ house detention on November 13, the Nobel Peace Laureate and National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Nyan Win filed a suit in the apex court seeking legal intervention for restoring its status as a political party.

Reports quoting a senior official in Naypyitaw, the military government’s capital, said the Supreme Court rejected the case.

Suu Kyi was freed within hours of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the political arm of the junta, ensuring victory in the election in which both she and her party were denied participation.

NLD had decided in March not to register for the country’s first polls in two decades because of “unjust” electoral laws.
Registering for election would have forced it to expel Suu Kyi and recognize the junta’s Constitution.

NLD was denied power despite winning a landslide victory in the 1990 general elections, as the junta refused to recognize the results.

Western countries condemned the conduct of the election, with the United States alleging that the electoral process was “severely flawed, precluded an inclusive, level playing field, and repressed fundamental freedoms.”

HRW calls for more pressure on Myanmar
Published: Nov. 22, 2010 at 4:48 PM NEW YORK, Nov. 22 (UPI) — The United Nations should establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the human rights record in Myanmar, Human Rights Watch said.Myanmar released pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest Nov. 13, days after the country had its first general election in nearly two decades.

The international community said the election was a sham, telling Myanmar it could do more to address concerns about the 2,000 political prisoners behind bars in the country.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday that called on the military junta to “release all other prisoners.”

Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said the U.N. General Assembly could have done more to pressure Myanmar.

She said the world body should have included in the Myanmar resolution a recommendation for a international panel to look into human rights violations by the military junta.

“The U.N. system should act without delay to establish an international commission of inquiry,” she said.

The Financial Times – New pressure can oust Burma’s generals
By Amartya Sen
Published: November 21 2010 22:10 | Last updated: November 21 2010 22:10

It is difficult for me to talk about Burma without a deep sense of nostalgia. My earliest memories are all there; I grew up in Mandalay, between the ages of three and six. But the magically beautiful country I remember from my early years has now been in the grip of a supremely despotic military rule for almost half a century, with collapsing institutions, arbitrary imprisonment, widespread torture, and terrorised minority communities. The situation has remained terrible for so long that there is now a kind of defeatism that makes frustrated well-wishers eager to be thrilled by little mercies. So while Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from unjust confinement is a great moment for celebration, it is also a time to think clearly about what the world can do to help her cause.What can the world do? Many analysts of Burmese affairs have called for an international commission of enquiry, possibly led by the United Nations. The case for this is strong, especially after the manipulated elections. There are, however, immediate measures that can also be taken to put pressure on the regime.

First, the existing framework of sanctions and embargoes has to be reshaped. General sanctions that hurt the Burmese people, such as restrictions on garment exports, can be replaced by those that isolate the rulers by targeting their own favourite activities. At the top of the list must clearly be an embargo on arms and armaments of all kinds. There is also a strong case for sanctions on the commodities – from minerals and gems to oil and gas – that yield huge profits to the regime. Travel bans on the personnel running the regime, or those closely associated with it, can be effectively pursued. Financial restrictions on large transactions that come from businesses in which the military rulers are directly or indirectly involved would help too.

Neighbouring countries have a special responsibility. The Chinese government is the regime’s most important supporter, providing extensive business connections (not just in oil and gas) and political patronage. Visitors tell me Mandalay is now largely a Chinese-run city, with most of the good premises and new constructions being occupied by Chinese businessmen. But China is not alone: criticisms can be made of the supportive policies of both India and Thailand. These countries should realise a change of course is not only morally important, but also in their long-term interests. The tyrants will, sooner or later, fall. However, the memory of betrayal of the Burmese people will last much longer. The intensity of anti-Americanism that is one of the most potent forces in Latin America today – related to past US support of brutal dictators – points to something that Burma’s neighbours should want to avoid.

Yet a global strategy that goes beyond the neighbourhood is also needed. Several western countries have strong business relations with Burma, for example in oil. But as yet neither the European Union, nor the US, nor indeed Switzerland, Australia or Canada, has used the power of financial sanctions against the regime. Western countries are sharp on rhetoric in denouncing Burma’s rulers. But given they do not do what is entirely within their power to do, it is harder to persuade China, India and Thailand to do the right thing as well.

Finally, we have to start thinking about how a post-military government should deal with the culprits of the past, both because that will be an important issue in a non-defeatist scenario, and because it is part of the considerations that make the present-day rulers decide what they can reasonably expect if they yield. Here there is something to learn from the intellectual leadership of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, about not threatening bloody revenge but opting for the sagacity of offering safety in exchange for remorse. Even butchers have to find a “way out” if they are not to go on fighting – and tyrannising – to the bitter end.

Towards the end of March 1999, I received a phone call from an old friend: Michael Aris, the husband of Aung San Suu Kyi. I knew then that he was extremely ill with prostate cancer. Michael told me, as he had done many times earlier, that the one focus of his life was to help Ms Suu Kyi, and to work for Burma’s freedom. He did not want to die, but he hoped others would continue to focus on what can be done. I received a call only a few days later that Michael had died; it was also his birthday. So Michael Aris is no longer with us, but the need for the focus he championed is now particularly strong. In Burma’s recent election we witnessed what Vaclav Havel has described as “a mockery of free expression in which people vote in fear and without hope.” But with determination and wisdom, the tyrants can be made to withdraw, and Burma’s people may be free once more.

The writer, who received the 1998 Nobel Prize in economics, teaches economics and philosophy at Harvard University.

VOA News – Little Hope Seen for Burma’s Economy
Ron Corben | Bangkok 22 November 2010

Burma, one of the poorest nations in East Asia, may be entering a new phase of development after recent elections and the release of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from detention. Regional political analysts fear little will change for most in the country.Economic forecast

Burma’s central bank governor recently gave the World Bank a rosy picture of the country’s economy, saying it would grow about 12 percent this year, driven by exports of natural gas and farm produce.

The Asian Development Bank, however, forecasts a more limited expansion in 2010 of 5 percent.

Experts on Burma, however, say neither assessment would do much to improve the lives of most Burmese.

Poverty and despair

Alison Vicary, an economist from Australia’s Macquarie University, says Burma faces widespread difficulties.

“Oh I’d say it was a mess,” Vicary said.  “The continued kind of reports that we’ve had … that people have of difficulty of putting food on the table. I think that kind of captures it. Anecdotally I would say that things are gradually just across time, actually getting worse and worse for ordinary people.”

Burma is one of Asia’s poorest countries, and there are estimates that nearly a third of the population lives in extreme poverty.

Burdensome Taxation

A Macquarie University study found Burma’s taxation system was onerous, often included forced labor, the forced purchasing of goods and confiscation of land. Poor road and port infrastructure also hampers development.

Hopes have risen among some economists and regional analysts that elections held November 7th, the first in 20 years, may lead to more openness in the economy, which the military government dominates.

But Debbie Stothard, the spokeswoman for the rights group the Alternative ASEAN Network, expects little change.

“It’s a crisis situation for many parts of rural Burma where people are actually unable to grow food to feed themselves because of land confiscation, because of over-taxation by the authorities and just simply the lack of opportunities,” Stothard said. “Most people felt very cynical and unhappy about the Burmese elections. The elections brought more taxes.”

Corruption rampant

Burma’s government is considered highly corrupt. And many governments, including the United States, have imposed economic sanctions on the government because of its human rights abuses.

But that has not stopped some foreign investors. Thailand is Burma’s leading investor, particularly in natural gas and oil.

China also is major investor and trade partner, especially in the energy sector.

Burma’s other main exports are timber and precious stones, which draw investors from Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and India.

Bertil Lintner, an author who has written extensively about Burma, says despite the investment, the economy remains weak because of government mismanagement.

“There is virtually no capital investment in the country, there’s no investment in manufacturing or anything that could really produce substantial economic growth,” Lintner said.

Over the past year, the government sold off millions of dollars of assets, including ports and transportation systems, to businesses and military officers close to the top leaders.

Stothard at the Alternative ASEAN Network says that likely added the people’s burdens.

“It’s actually concentrating ownership of the main economic opportunities of the country,” Stothard added. “So that’s going to mean for most people in Burma prices will increase and their opportunities to make money will decrease.”

Economic and political reform

But some Burma experts say the sales could dilute the military’s economic power and help create an entrepreneurial class.

The government’s decision to free opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from years of detention this month has opened discussion about whether economic sanctions should be eased. Aung San Suu Kyi has indicated she is considering the idea, after years of endorsing sanctions.

Critics say that as long as countries such as China and India ignore sanctions, they only impoverish ordinary people and enrich the leadership.

But author Lintner says the sanctions need to stay until the military makes more reforms.

“Sanctions would not be removed without any concessions on the part of the government,” said Lintner. “That was the whole purpose of introducing sanctions in the first place. Now unless there are some significant changes in the present policies of the regime, I cannot see that she would advocate the removal of sanctions. Sanctions are there for a purpose – that is the political pressure point.”

Uncertainty looms large
Because of the uncertainties over how the newly elected government will handle the economy, and over sanctions, potential investors are expected remain wary of Burma. And, Burma scholars say, it is likely the country will continue to lag behind in a region that has powered ahead economically.

AsiaOne – ?Aung San Suu Kyi invited to pick up Europe rights prize
AFP Tue, Nov 23, 2010 STRASBOURG, FRANCE – The European Parliament on Monday invited Myanmar’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to come pick up a rights prize she was awarded by the assembly in 1990.The parliament’s president Jerzy Buzek opened a plenary session welcoming her recent release from house arrest and noted she had been one of the first recipients two decades ago of its prestigious Sakharov Prize, also awarded to the likes of Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan.

“Unfortunately she could not pick it up personally 20 years ago so I invite her to come to a parliament plenary,” he said.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, was also on the agenda of talks by European Union foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, but the EU’s diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton said “caution” was the watchword among member states.

“It’s essential that all remaining political detainees be set free,” she told a Brussels news conference. “We took a cautious approach to the situation as it currently stands.”

Daily Telegraph – Aung San Suu Kyi to make emotional trip to greet son for first time in a decade
The youngest son of Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been granted a visa to visit the democracy campaigner the first time in a decade.
By Ian MacKinnon in Bangkok 12:40PM GMT 22 Nov 2010

Kim Aris, 33, had lingered in Bangkok, the Thai capital for more than three weeks unsure whether the military regime would grant his application to be reunited with his mother.But Nyan Win, Mrs Suu Kyi’s lawyer, said the Burmese authorities had finally acceded to the request of Mr Aris – who lives in Britain – more than a week after she was freed from seven years’ detention.

The lawyer said Mr Aris would try to fly to Rangoon later in the day or first thing on Tuesday where he would be met by Ms Suu Kyi, 65, at Rangoon’s airport.During her periods of detention spread over 15 of the past 21 years Ms Suu Kyi was mostly cut off from the world and had little contact with Mr Aris or his older brother Alexander, and has never met her grandchildren.

But Kim Aris conducted a telephone conversation with his mother within hours of her release from detention at her lakeside villa on November 13, a call described as “emotional” by a British diplomat.

Ms Suu Kyi, the daughter of Burma’s independence leader General Aung San, travelled from Oxford in 1988 to care for her dying mother and became caught up in the pro-democracy protests that swept the country and left an estimated 3,000 dead.

She was arrested the following year and even though her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, now dissolved, won the 1990 election by a landslide the junta ignored the vote and held on to power.

Ms Suu Kyi’s enduring struggle for Burma cost her dearly. When her husband the British academic Michael Aris, who died in 1999, was in the last stages of cancer the regime refused him a visa to see her.

Calcutta News – N.Korea engaged in secret operations in Myanmar: London Varsity scholar
Calcutta News.Net
Monday 22nd November, 2010 (ANI) A renowned London University scholar on Myanmar has confirmed that “North Korea is present in Myanmar and is engaged in work not open to public”.Dr. Marie-Carine Lall, a senior lecturer at the University of London, was responding to a question on reports about North Korea helping the Myanmar regime in nuclear activities, after delivering a talk on Myanmar at Observer Research Foundation here today.

Dr. Marie Lall said while the North Korean presence is confirmed, she does not think Myanmar regime was into constructing nuclear reactors or weapons.

“Myanmar is rich enough to buy nuclear weapons. If it wants, it can buy from open market,” she said, adding “it (Myanmar) has a long way to go” (if it wants to build nuclear weapons”).

Criticising US President Barack Obama’s policy on Myanmar, the South Asia specialist said the policy of sanctions and non-engagements had been a failure, failing to make any impact on the military dictatorship regime while it has made the poor people poorer and increased their sufferings.

“There had been no impact at all on the regime,” while it had helped China increase its influence, she said.

Dr. Marie Lall suggested that India should continue its engagement with Myanmar, and in fact broadbase it by engaging with all stake-holders, including new and old political parties, ethnic and religious groups and the NGOs.

Saying that Myanmar is keen to balance its policy towards India and China, she asked the Government to take pro-active steps in time to check Chinese influence.

Describing Aung San Suu Kyi, the former National League for Democracy leader who was released recently by the military regime, as a “liability” in political terms, Dr. Marie Lall said the elections and the process for new governments have created “a power vacuum for 90 days with zero budget” during which nobody knows whom to approach – “which institution, which ministry or which official”.

She did not see any future for Suu Kyi unless she changes her policy towards other parties and ethnic and religious groups and try for reconciliation.

Mr. Bhaskar Mitra, a former Indian ambassador to Myanmar, suggested that more and more private companies should come forward to join business ventures in Myanmar, especially in the oil and gas sector.

Calcutta News – ‘India should check Chinese influence in Myanmar’
Calcutta News.Net
Monday 22nd November, 2010 (IANS) Myanmar is covertly developing nuclear weapons with the aid of North Korea and India should take proactive steps to check China’s influence in the energy-rich southeast Asian country, a British scholar said Monday.‘North Korea is present in Myanmar and is engaged in work not open to the public,’ Marie-Carine Lall, an expert on South Asia and Myanmar at the University of London, said while responding, at a discussion here, to a question on reports about North Korea helping the Myanmar regime in its nuclear activities.

Lall said the North Korean involvement is not confirmed, but indicated that the Myanmar regime was into constructing nuclear reactors or weapons.

‘Myanmar is rich enough to buy nuclear weapons. If it wants, it can buy from the open market,’ she said at a discussion on the situation in Myanmar at the Observer Research Foundation.

‘It (Myanmar) has a long way to go’ (if it wants to build nuclear weapons’), she added.

Criticising US President Barack Obama’s policy on Myanmar, she said the policy of sanctions had failed to make any impact on the military regime while it has made the poor people poorer and increased their sufferings.

‘There had been no impact at all on the regime,’ while it had helped China increase its influence, she said.

Lall suggested that India should continue its engagement with Myanmar, and in fact broad-base it by engaging with all stake-holders, including new and old political parties, ethnic and religious groups and NGOs.

Saying that Myanmar is keen to balance its policy towards India and China, she asked the Indian government to take pro-active steps in time to check Chinese influence.

Lall’s criticism of the US sanctions-led approach to Myanmar comes days after Obama criticized India for not speaking out for democracy and freedom in the southeast Asian country.

India has, however, advocated reconciliation and reforms in Myanmar and has been opposed to sanctions as this results in much hardship for the common people.

‘The fact is that the situation in Myanmar today is very very complex. And India has sought to engage the leadership of that country and in the process also convey our views and opinions that we are in favour of inclusive political change,’ Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said in an interview.

‘We would favour reconciliation between all the different groups in the country, we would like peace, we would like development, we would like progress in Myanmar,’ she added.

The Nation – PTT sees Tavoy in Burma as expansion option
Published on November 23, 2010

PTT sees the deep-sea port planned for Tavoy on Burma’s southern coast as an opportunity for expanding its petrochemical and refining businesses in the long term, replacing the current facility on the Southern Seaboard.President and CEO Prasert Bunsumpun yesterday said ideas for domestic expansion of the businesses had encountered legal problems and resistance from the local community, factors which had led PTT to seek a new facility for investment expansion. The deep-sea port in Tavoy, also known as Dawei, is one option being eyed by the group, he said.

“However, the company considers any investment in Tavoy should be long-term projects expected to take at least 10 years to develop,” he said, adding that such a move could replace the group’s Southern Seaboard investment.

He stressed that the Thai government should strongly support the investment of Thai firms in Tavoy, otherwise the chances of landing investment projects would not be high.Prasert said Tavoy had the advantage of its relative proximity to Thailand, as well as having some Thai residents in the area. The port is seen as suitable for both deep-sea development and an industrial estate.He added that the establishment of the Asean Economics Community in 2015 would also support plant relocation in the region.

“The priority for investment expansion is domestic, but the Mat Ta Phut case is a barrier to business expansion, while Southern Seaboard development has been opposed by the local community. We have no choice for investment, therefore, and we might seek new locations overseas, with Burma one option available to us,” he said.However, the Tavoy plan is not included in PTT’s five-year investment plan, for which the company has set a budget of more than Bt1 trillion.Bowon Vongsinu-dom, president and CEO of PTT Aromatics and Refining (PTTAR), said investment expansion in the Map Ta Phut area of Rayong could take at least four to five years to complete, due to the need to comply with Article 67 (2) of the Constitution, which requires upstream and midstream petrochemical projects to conduct environmental and health impact assessments.While PTTAR therefore also needs to seek a new location for investment, it has no interest in Tavoy until the Burmese government has a clear policy of welcoming foreign investment without interference, he said.

Bowon added that PTTAR also required the Burmese to build a natural-gas pipeline connecting Tavoy, as well as ensuring enough crude oil could be accessed to meet the requirements of refineries or petrochemical plants. If Tavoy has no infrastructure relating to natural gas or crude oil, PTTAR considers the projects would not be developed there as the planned industrial estate and deep-sea port might not attract foreign investment.

The Nation – EDITORIAL: Nuclear threats are designed to reap rewards
Published on November 23, 2010

North Korea is adept at manipulating a concerned world into providing desperately needed economic aidThe message is clear from Pyongyang: We are building nuclear bombs. What can you do about it? It is a classic negotiating game that North Korea has been perfecting for decades. First, you tell your enemies what you are capable of or intend to do. Second, you act in irrational ways to raise the level of fear throughout the world. Third, you are ready to negotiate only when there are big incentives on offer. This formula has been deployed over and over again. It works every time, especially with the Americans and the United Nations agencies.

Despite all of its foreign policy enthusiasm, the Obama administration seems to be quite naive when it comes to dealing with the world?s most notorious rouge regime. President Barack Obama cannot be aggressive and talk tough like his predecessor, George W Bush. He has the Nobel Peace Prize behind him, therefore he has to sound reasonable when talking to the North Koreans. Pyongyang is quite happy to exploit Obama?s soft side.

One of the most dangerous consequences of this situation is that Pyongyang?s nuclear brinksmanship will be emulated worldwide by other belligerent states that aspire to possess weapons of mass destruction. Within the region, Burma is one recipient of North Korean nuclear technology, even though a UN-sanctioned embargo is still in place. Again, the international community needs to be clearly reminded of the desire by these rogue states to possess nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang has deliberately revealed to Siegfired Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a new and sophisticated plant for enriching uranium, which increases its nuclear capability. It is a good strategy for North Korea because the hermit kingdom wants to send a strong signal to the US that it is ready for a new round of negotiations involving higher rewards. Obviously, some things have changed or gone wrong inside the country in recent months. North Korea?s hush-hush leadership change-over and its worsening economic conditions could be major reasons for the new move. The newly anointed leader-in-waiting, Kim Jong-un, has appeared in public in the past few months, and has received worldwide publicity. But he has not created any positive impression.

The new revelation will immediately pressure the other members of the Six-Party Talks ? the US, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea ? to move quickly to stop North Korea?s further advancement of its uranium enrichment programme. They should learn from Japan?s experience. When Kim Jong-il surprisingly announced to the visiting former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2002 that North Korea had indeed abducted Japanese citizens, Koizumi thought that Kim would tell him the truth and release all the abductees.

As it turned out, the revelation was simply a negotiating tactic to obtain new economic commitments from Japan. Currently, the Japanese government continues to follow up on the case but without any progress.

Due to its strategic location on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea has a great advantage in being able to manipulate and destabilise global security and the East Asian strategic environment. Sad but true, despite North Korea?s despicable behaviour and its tough-talk on the nuclear issue, no country wants to see this isolated regime collapse anytime soon because it would create huge immediate problems for South Korea and China, and would affect the overall stability of Northeast Asia, if not the whole region.

As such, North Korea is effectively holding the world as its hostage. Ironically, all parties concerned continue to encourage Pyongyang to do just that.

The Nation – Burma set for economic resurgence?
By Nophakhun Limsamarnphun, Sasithorn Ongdee
Published on November 22, 2010 New era of development may be dawning in Burma as Asean Economic Community loomsBurma’s military leaders have high hopes that last Sunday’s general election, the first in two decades, and the release of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, will usher in a new period of national development.

For years, the West has boycotted the Burmese junta and imposed economic sanctions in a bid to pressure the Southeast Asian nation to return to a system of democratic governance.

Until recently, the junta did not budge, but resorted to work privately with just a few Asian nations which were more sympathetic to Burma’s situation than the West. Yet time for such a strategy appears to be running out and Burma has no better choice than to open its doors wider to the world after decades of isolation.

Regionally, the country could soon take its turn to be chair of the 10-nation Asean, which is advancing to become a powerful economic grouping of nearly 600 million consumers.
Asean groups together Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma.

The Asean Economic Community (AEC), which will pave the way for a single market with zero import tariffs and easier cross-border investment, will be fully effective in 2015.

In this context, one of Burma’s pet mega-projects is to develop a deep-sea port and industrial estate complex in the coastal city of Tavoy (or Dawei). This huge scheme will involve an estimated US$8.6 billion investment under a long-term concession granted to Thailand’s largest construction firm Italian-Thai Development.

Given that Burma remains the weakest link within Asean due to its political situation, a successful start of this mega-port would be a blessing, not only for Burma but the entire grouping amid increased global economic uncertainty.

As a group, Asean is a key player on the world stage with a combined GDP of $1.8 trillion this year, making it the world’s ninth largest and Asia’s third largest economy. In terms of people, Asean accounts for 8.8 per cent of the global population.

Burma, a country comparable to Thailand in terms of the size of both population and area, is no less vital than other Asean countries.

For example, the Greater mekong Sub-region (GMS) development framework would not be complete and effective without Burma.

GMS has gained regional prominence in recent years largely because China, now the world’s second largest economy, started to explore alternative shipping routes for its vast exports and to spur the development of its landlocked western areas.

These vast areas could be opened up by GMS’s railroads and inland roads via the proposed Tavoy deepsea port. Besides Burma and Thailand, GMS also includes Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

In addition to China, Japan also has keen interests in the GMS, where energy and other natural resources are still abundant and so too is low-cost labour. In this context, Burma’s Tavoy deepsea port and industrial estate complex will figure prominently in the eyes of Chinese, Japanese and other international investors.

For Thailand, the government has been supportive of the Tavoy mega-project in view of the Asean spirit, even though some analysts suggest there should be more government effort to push for implementation of Thailand’s southern seaboard development scheme.

Yet the Tavoy mega-project could also be seen as a strategic interest in favour of Thailand at a time when Map Ta Phut industrial area and deepsea port have become congested and overly polluted. For example, heavy industries such as petrochemicals and steel in Thailand could further expand their operations in the neighbouring country.

The Tavoy project is located about 160 kilometres west of the Thai province of Kanchanaburi and 350km from Bangkok. Besides the deepsea port, there will be supporting infrastructure such as transmission lines, railroads, eight-lane roads (four-lane roads at the initial stage) and gas pipelines, to be built across the border into Thailand. The cost of building infrastructure alone is estimated to be $2 billion.

More importantly, once the Tavoy deepsea port and supporting infrastructure is up and running, the entire lower region of Indochina will benefit because there will be a new gateway called the “Southern Economic Corridor”.

This will facilitate trade flow with comprehensive transport logistics, covering the south of Burma, the lower middle of Thailand, and south of Cambodia towards southern Vietnam.
Shippers will be able to use the new port as a gateway for freight between countries in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea via the Andaman Sea, instead of having to go through the Strait of Malacca, to the Indian Ocean towards the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

ABS-CBNNEWS.com – Aquino speaks to Myanmar’s Suu Kyi
Agence France-Presse
Posted at 11/22/2010 8:23 PM | Updated as of 11/22/2010 8:24 PM

MANILA – Philippine President Benigno Aquino III spoke to Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday, a little over a week after her release from seven years under house arrest, a presidential spokesman said.Ricky Carandang said details of the telephone conversation would be revealed later.

The Philippines had been the most outspoken among Southeast Asian nations in calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and for greater freedoms in Myanmar.

Manila’s posture was a departure from the policy of non-interference usually observed by member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which includes the Philippines and Myanmar.

While the Philippines had initially welcomed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, it had also said the Myanmar government needed to take “more substantive steps toward democratization.”

In March, the Philippines said that the Myanmar elections would be a “complete farce” unless Aung San Suu Kyi was freed and her party allowed to participate.

Thailandnews.net – MP to raise question of Burmese refugees on Thailand border
Published Date: 22 November 2010

A SCOTTISH MP is raising the plight of Burmese refugees at Westminster, amid fears for their safety and reports of military rape on the sensitive border area with Thailand.Fiona O’Donnell, MP for East Lothian, is concerned about the human rights of the tens of thousands of people who flooded into the Burmese enclave of Mae Sot, Thailand, after violence broke out in the wake of the elections.

Amid the euphoria of the release over of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, Ms O’Donnell is concerned that the Burmese border community is not forgotten.

This weekend, the MP met Say Hei, a headteacher from Mae Sot, who is in Scotland on a cultural and educational exchange visit, to hear first-hand accounts about the lives of Burmese refugees in Thailand – and atrocities committed by the military regime in Burma. She hopes to ask a question in the House of Commons about the situation this week.

“Despite the conciliatory words from Aung San Suu Kyi following her release from house arrest, the potential for conflict in Burma never seems far away,” said Ms O’Donnell.

“I have heard that the Burmese people living in camps along the border are the only refugees who don’t want to return home. That is an indication of the scale of the problem and the abuses of human rights in Burma.”

Edinburgh-born Lisa Houston who works in Mae Sot as an administrative assistant for CDC school and the Mae Tao clinic, which coordinated aid relief, has been in touch with Say Hei while she has been on the exchange visit with Campie Primary School in Musselburgh, East Lothian.

Ms Houston said: “The situation here is very bad. People fled from their homes in Burma in fear of their lives and although the fighting has stopped and the Thai authorities are telling people to go back, the people are frightened as they believe the fighting will begin again.

“Many people are going into hiding on the Thai side of the river because they are too terrified to return. There are pregnant women and women with young babies who are hiding along the river. We have heard stories of military rape. We are trying to get food to everyone, but this is difficult. Many Burmese people here are taking strangers into their own homes to help.”

Ms O’Donnell met Say Hei before she flew home this weekend. The MP said: “I will do every-thing I can to get this raised in the House of Commons. We must do all we can to help these people.”

Labour MP Malcolm Wicks has already questioned Department For International Development Minister Alan Duncan on humanitarian aid on the Thai/Burma border and there was a short discussion on Burma in the House of Lords.

Over the last two weeks, an estimated 30,000 have crossed the border into Mae Sot.

About 200,000 Burmese live in Mae Sot, and the community has grown since the uprising of 1988 forced the first to flee Burma into temporary camps, some of which have now become permanent.

22 Nov, 2010, 12.55PM IST,IANS
Economic Times – China, Myanmar plan high-speed rail link

BEIJING: China and Myanmar will soon hold discussions on a high-speed rail link between the two countries that is expected to boost trade and economic development in the region, a media report said on Monday.The rail link, covering 1,920 km, will connect China’s Kunming city, the capital of Yunnan province, with Myanmar’s largest city Yangon.

The talks will begin in about two months, said Wang Mengshu, a rail expert with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The trains will run at a speed of 170-200 kmph once the link is completed, he added.

Wang, who is also a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, has been involved in high-speed rail projects in China.

A high-speed rail connection between southwestern China and Cambodia is also under discussion, Wang told China Daily in an interview.

An exploratory survey for another route that would link Yunnan and Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is under way.

The three new rail connections being discussed, along with another linking China and Vietnam, will form a network that is likely to be completed within 10 years, Wang said.

“The project, which aims to boost cooperation between China and Southeast Asian nations, will greatly enhance the economic development of China’s western regions,” said Wang.

A national rail plan will see the network extended to 120,000 km by the end of 2020 and to 170,000 km by the end of the 2030, Wang said.

After its completion, 60 per cent of the country’s railways will be located in western China.

A spokesman of the railway ministry said a detailed construction plan to link Southeast Asian nations is not yet been finalised, but confirmed that the ministry has set up working groups with these countries.

Piamsak Milintachinda, Thailand’s ambassador to China, earlier said that a Chinese ministerial team went to Thailand in August to gauge the investment environment for a high-speed railway, as well as a rail network connecting Thailand, China and other Southeast Asian countries.

A proposed 240-km high-speed railway in Thailand, estimated to cost about $25.6 billion and first such line in that country, will connect Bangkok with Rayong, the industrial base in the east of the country.

Thailand has long intended to upgrade its network and learn from China’s experience in “operating a high-speed rail system”, the ambassador said.

Chinese experts believe that China has the technical ability to carry out the project, but other considerations may come into play.

“There is no technological barrier to building high-speed railways to Southeast Asian countries but China needs to take profitability into account,” said Ji Jialun, a professor with Beijing Jiaotong University.

Chinese companies are upgrading technology to keep up with innovation and growth in the high-speed rail industry and are well positioned to benefit from increased interest in high-speed rail routes.

China’s high-speed trains have clocked speeds as high as 416.6 kmph, according to Zhao Xiaogang, chairman of the China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corp, the largest listed railway equipment maker in China.

“Europe, the US, Russia, India, Brazil and the Middle East are all mulling over plans to develop high-speed railways, indicating a boom in the industry globally,” Zhao added.

AsiaOne – Tragic Chen Shui-bian is a martyr in his own mind
Mon, Nov 22, 2010
The China Post/Asia News Network

After years of detention in her home in Myanmar, democracy activist icon Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released from house arrest last week, in a development that brought cheer to everyone in the free world and renewed hope for those still trapped under the rule of Yangon’s military junta.The Nobel Peace Prize winner has dedicated her entire life to fighting for human rights and freedom for her countrymen, despite the unimaginable risk to her own safety, and bore the years of her imprisonment with characteristic resolve and dignity.

Meanwhile, in Taiwan, another political figure is in prison.

Former President Chen Shui-ban resides in a detention center, waiting to formally begin his 19-year jail term for corruption charges after the Supreme Court upheld an earlier court’s verdict that he was guilty of taking bribes involving huge sums of money from business groups during his time as the nation’s president between 2000 and 2008.

Chen has exhausted almost every legal avenue to appeal the charges against him.

Court after court has ruled that he is guilty, yet he maintains that the judicial process was a sham, and he has been framed by the ruling Kuomintang and China’s communist government, as punishment for his combative stance towards the mainland during his time as president.

In the latest bizarre twist to the saga, Chen reportedly told a friend that he is the victim of “political persecution,” and apparently compared himself to Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid campaigner who spent 27 years in jail for challenging the brutal, racist apartheid regime, before being released and becoming his country’s first democratically elected president.

Chen’s likening of himself to the great Mandela, one of the most noble and revered figures of our times, is absurd and narcissistic. Furthermore, it is offensive and disrespectful to the legacies of true political martyrs – particularly in a week in which Suu Kyi is preparing to risk everything, all over again, as she sets about renewing her opposition to the generals who hold her country in their iron grip.

Chen was a man of great charisma, who once inspired millions, but his grand promises were ultimately sacrificed to greed, and he has now lost even the support of most of his former political allies.

His disgrace has provoked justified anger and condemnation, but there is a sad, Shakespearean coda to the drama.

His wife, Wu Shu-jen, is also to be jailed for her involvement in the same web of corruption. In rapidly failing health, she visited her husband earlier this week for what may be the final time, and many in Taiwan were touched by the scenes.

Despite the Chen family’s flagrant disregard for the trust of the nation, it would be a hard-hearted person indeed who would not feel some measure of sympathy as the personal cost of the former first couple’s failings became so clearly manifest.

Chen is a tragic, lonely figure, and all he has left is a determination to create the narrative of his own life story in defiance of the facts.

Despite the South African apartheid government’s claims to legitimacy during Mandela’s imprisonment, and Myanmar’s indignant and determined suppression of Suu Kyi, the world at large saw both acts as nothing short of political persecution.

If what Chen claims is true – that Beijing’s shadowy forces and the Ma Ying-jeou administration have colluded to engineer his downfall – are we also to believe that independent international bodies such as the United Nations and Amnesty International, who have never once questioned the legitimacy of the charges against him, are part of the same conspiracy?

Now that would be a story indeed.

International Rescue Committee (press release)
IRC responds to renewed refugee crisis on the Thailand-Myanmar border Mae Sot, Thailand 22 Nov 2010 – The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is taking part in a coordinated humanitarian effort to offer assistance to an estimated 20,000 people who fled to Thailand in the wake of post-election violence in Myanmar. The IRC is providing health services and distributing emergency supplies to the displaced.“We are very concerned about the well being of the people who remain displaced by the fighting,” said Shane Scanlon, the IRC’s deputy director in Thailand who is overseeing the relief effort. “They lack access to basic services and security and the IRC is working closely with local organizations and the health ministry here in Thailand to address their most pressing needs.”

After fighting broke out between government troops and an ethnic rebel group in eastern Myanmar following national elections on November 7, tens of thousands of people fled across the notoriously porous border into Thailand where they found temporary shelter. Although most of those who fled have now returned to Myanmar, formerly Burma, thousands of refugees are living in churches, mosques and with relatives on the Thai side of the border, and the situation remains volatile.

Minority groups in border regions of Myanmar have been fighting against government control since the country’s independence from Britain in 1948, in one of the world’s longest-running insurgencies. Although the elections were Myanmar’s first in 20 years, some armed factions are unwilling to accept a new constitution and attempts to bring them under Burmese army command.

During the past two weeks, the IRC began distributing milk, clothing, blankets, soap, towels and other items to hundreds of refugees in Tak Province near the Myanmar border. In the coming days, the IRC will distribute anti-malaria medications, antibiotics and vitamins. Many of the refugees are suffering from a variety of injuries and medical problems. IRC doctors are accompanying a mobile health team from the Mae Tao clinic to treat the sick and ailing. An IRC team has also been assessing the refugees’ overall medical needs and relaying the information to Thai health authorities.

Meanwhile, the IRC is monitoring the situation on the border and preparing for the possibility that an escalation in the fighting will result in more refugees crossing into Thailand, the IRC’s Scanlon said.

The Christian Science Monitor – Why India offers tepid response to Burma’s release of Suu Kyi
In its relationship with Burma (Myanmar), India is caught between its commitment to principles of democracy and its desire to counter China’s rising power in the region.
By Simon Montlake, Correspondent / November 22, 2010
New Delhi, India

On his recent visit here, President Obama lustily praised Indians for their democratic ways. But he also wagged his finger at India’s cozy ties with military-ruled Burma (Myanmar), telling lawmakers “that with increased power comes increased responsibility” to speak out on human rights and democracy.“As the world’s two largest democracies, we must also never forget that the price of our own freedom is standing up for the freedom of others. Indians know this, for it is the story of your nation,” Obama said.

Many Indians were, to put it mildly, unimpressed. They point out that the story of their nation – and its relations with its eastern neighbor – is also shaped by the same geopolitics that brought Obama to India, namely a fear of Chinese domination of Asia. As long as China seeks to extend its reach into Burma, so India will engage with Burma, whoever holds the levers of power.

In addition, India covets Burma’s energy resources and wants to secure a lawless, nearly 1,000-mile land border that abuts northeast India, where ethnic-based insurgent groups have operated for decades on both sides of the border. In recent years, Burma has stepped up cooperation against Indian-based insurgents, say security analysts.

These calculations explain India’s muted reaction to the Nov. 13 release of Burma’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who elicited praise from Obama and other Western leaders.

While the same leaders condemned Burma’s recent elections as an undemocratic sham, India has sided with Asian countries in welcoming them as a step forward. It goes out of its way to avoid direct criticism of the junta, whose supreme leader, General Than Shwe, was here in July.

Realpolitik trumps principle

India’s distance from Ms. Suu Kyi is a 180-degree turn from its previous stance. Until the early 1990s, it openly backed the opposition led by Suu Kyi, who attended college in India in the 1960s and later drew on Gandhi’s principles of nonviolent struggle. But Indian leaders feared being shut out of Burma, which was courting China and other East Asian countries, and switched sides.

Such realpolitik stirs regret among Indian intellectuals who identify with Suu Kyi’s struggle and advocate a more principled foreign policy that befits the world’s largest democracy.

They recoiled in horror at India’s tepid response to Burma’s violent suppression in 2007 of monk-led protests against fuel prices. Bloody images of the crackdown resonated in India, the birthplace of Buddhism.

But the public rebuke delivered by Obama, and carried live on television, didn’t strengthen the hand of idealists, says Sumit Ganguly, a political scientist at Indiana University and a visiting fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in Delhi. “Because he said it in parliament, it actually had the opposite effect” of stirring debate, he says.

Moreover, Indian politicians are irked by US military aid to Pakistan, its nuclear-armed rival, and to repressive countries like Saudi Arabia, which exports its fundamentalist brand of Islam to South Asia. Just as the US insists on putting security first in aiding such regimes, so India must put its scruples aside in dealing with Burma, they argue.

“India’s government cannot be blamed for deciding that its national interests in Burma are more important than standing up for democracy there,” wrote Shashi Tharoor, a former diplomat and lawmaker, in a newspaper column.

‘Taken over by China’

These interests include cracking down on separatist insurgents in northeast India, who have used Burma as a sanctuary to launch attacks. Security analysts say the insurgents are mostly bandits without political goals, but still present a security threat and are a drag on development in a backward region. Earlier this month, 23 people died in attacks blamed on the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has fought since the 1980s.

Cooperation between India and Burma has begun to eliminate sanctuary for these groups. On his state visit in July, Than Shwe signed an extradition treaty with India in order to return captured insurgents to stand trial. Burma also seeks Indian cooperation in rooting out Burma-based insurgent groups that cross the border.

But India’s overriding interest in Burma is checking China’s power play in the affairs of a strategic neighbor. “We’ve already literally allowed the whole country to be taken over by China. This is far more problematic in the long run than dealing with a few insurgent groups,” says Ajai Sahni, director of the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a research centre in Delhi.

Indian diplomats argue that quiet diplomacy can be more effective in Burma than Western outrage. They also point out that India gives political asylum to Burmese dissidents, including those who fled after the 2007 uprising.

Among the refugees is Soe Myint, a student activist who now runs Mizzima, a Burma-oriented news website. His arrival in India made news: In 1990, he hijacked a Thai Airways flight to Burma’s capital, Rangoon, and diverted it to Calcutta in order to get publicity for Burma’s opposition movement. Granted asylum in India, he remains hopeful that political pressure can be brought to bear on Burma, even though he recognizes that India has other priorities.

“India’s national interest should include the restoration of democracy and the strong support for democratic forces in Burma,” he says.

Investigate abuses, reject election and support Aung San Suu Kyi, urges AIPMC
Tue, 2010-11-23 02:07 — editor
Jakarta, 23 November, (Asiantribune.com): The release of Aung San Suu Kyi offers new hope for Myanmar. But her release does not solve any of the fundamental problems in the country. The world must continue to work for the freedom of the people of Myanmar, a statement released AIPMC revealed.The AIPMC media statement released in Jakarta on 15 November further pointed out that another 2,200 political prisoners remain behind bars. Last week’s election reignited ethnic tensions and triggered fresh fighting along the Thai-Myanmar border. Any return to fighting increases the risk of fresh human rights abuses primarily targeting the country’s ethnic nationalities and of new waves of refugees being forced to leave their homes for safety.

The statement went on to state that, “ ASEAN and its member states must now urgently pressure Myanmar to guarantee Aung San Suu Kyi’s security, freedom of movement and freedom of expression, release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally and cease attacks on civilians.

“ASEAN also needs to support a proposal by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar to establish a Commission of Inquiry under UN auspices to look into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Myanmar, and to take practical steps towards its realization.

“The recent election was an ugly display of power by the regime in Myanmar. The election was marred by massive fraud and will not bring about a democratic government that will seek the sustainable development of the country. The international community – ASEAN and the UN – must now prepare itself to reject the election. The UN should eventually step in and organize a new election in Myanmar.

“ASEAN has urged Myanmar to work with ASEAN and the UN. But ASEAN needs to turn these words into action. The credibility of the organization is already plummeting over its response to the election. ASEAN and the UN must now extend their full support to Aung San Suu Kyi and pressure Myanmar so that the long-sought after tripartite dialogue between the military regime, the pro-democracy movement under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the ethnic groups can finally come about.

On Thailand:

“The Royal Thai government and the Thai people have for long shown their generosity and provided shelter and assistance to refugees fleeing fighting and abuses in Myanmar. The AIPMC joins the call of local civil society in Thailand for the Royal Thai Government to continue to allow people who are fleeing fighting inside Myanmar and who are afraid to return due to the unsafe conditions, to remain in temporary shelters in Thai territory.

“Local and international organizations acted quickly in their response to the most recent crisis along the border between the two countries. The AIPMC joins local civil society in Thailand in appealing to the Royal Thai Government to continue to allow the UN and international humanitarian organizations to access and provide essential assistance to temporary refugees on Thai soil as well as internally displaced persons near the Thai border inside Myanmar and to urge these organizations to work closely with local community-based groups in providing assistance to civilians fleeing conflict.

On Indonesia:

“Having experienced under 30 years military dictatorship, the Indonesian has committed to eliminate all forms of authoritarianism. AIPMC feels regret with the statement of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Marty Natalegawa which descend from the determination on bringing the issue on election in the ASEAN Summit.

“AIPMC Indonesian National Caucus therefore urges the Government of Indonesia to take firmer position on the agenda of restoring democracy and eliminating human rights violation in Myanmar. AIPMC urges the Indonesian government, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the ministry should take the opportunity for being the next chairman of ASEAN in 2011 to give significant leadership in the region. This chairmanship should be considered as opportunity to evaluate Myanmar’s commitment to uphold ASEAN Charter and its membership into the ASEAN. Indonesia should stop being fooled by the non-credible cosmetic election and the abusing of universal principle of non-interference for maintaining more than 2200 political prisoners, attacking the civilian and eliminating the basic freedom of the people.

E-Pao.net – Rice from Myanmar yet to reach Imphal
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Newmai News Network

Imphal, November 22 2010: The proposed attempt to import 30,000 metric tonnes (MT) of rice by Manipur Government from Myanmar since the 68-day economic blockade jointly called by All Naga Students’ Association Manipur (ANSAM) and United Naga Council (UNC) this year has not been able to materialize as yet.The permission to import 30,000 MT of rice from Myanmar following scarcity in essential commodities in the State due to prolonged economic blockade is still awaited from the Director General of Foreign Trade, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, said a source.

It is worth a painful recollection that during the 68-day economic blockade called by the Naga bodies, prices of essential commodities have gone astronomically high in the State with the Government not in a position to procure rice from PDS.

This necessitated import of rice from neighboring Myanmar the permit of which is still pending with the concerned ministries and authorities.

Surprisingly tough, with the lifting of the economic blockade by the Naga bodies now 4 months passed, the people of Manipur is still reeling under the after-effect.

This despite the fact that the Department of Commerce and Industries, Government of Manipur, has taken up the initiative to increase the volume of trade at Moreh border town to facilitate trade deficit.

Initiatives has also been taken up to expedite the creation of facilities such as Trade Centre, stay facility and trade information centre, warehouse, weight bridge, Integrated Check Post (ICP) etc.

The Irrawaddy – No Change as Junta Clamps Down on Suu Kyi News
By WAI MOE Monday, November 22, 2010The Burmese censorship board, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division under the Ministry of Information, suspended nine private journals on Sunday for publishing news of Aung San Suu Kyi that did not follow their guidelines.

The censorship board also banned news about Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), in Burma’s press.

The censorship suspended publication of the top sports journal, First Eleven and the Hot News journal for two weeks while other journals such as 7 Days News, The Voice, Venus News, Pyithu Khit, Myanmar Post, The Snap Shot and Myanmar Newsweek were suspended for only one week.

The censorship board, headed by ex-Maj Tint Swe, said the suspensions were given for use of photos and reporting that exceeded the prescribed limits of one picture and one report that must not be on the front page.

The two-week suspensions were for putting in information that it had not approved, while one week suspensions were given to journals covering the Suu Kyi news with an extra full-page report, some using more than one photo in their most recent editions.

Distributors across the country put the extra page at the front to attract readers, leading to editions being rapidly sold out, according to a journal distributor in Mandalay, who added that Suu Kyi’s popularity was undiminished.

Other journals were also given serious warnings but not suspensions.

“The censorship board called emergency meetings with journal editors on Thursday and Friday. Thursday’s meeting was mainly with First Eleven’s officials while Friday’s was with other journals,” said an official with the Ministry of Information who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Though Friday’s meeting lasted three hours, it was less a meeting than a berating,” he added.

At the meeting, Tint Swe reportedly told editors he did not want the journals to cut Suu Kyi news totally, but he warned that “great editors” must be careful.

According to journalists and officials with the Ministry of Information, Tint Swe also commented that while journals were not very willing to print articles about government policy, they wrote about Suu Kyi “quite emotionally,” adding that the press should not forget that the Tatmadaw (Burma’s armed forces) government still rules the country.

Those who hoped for more liberties including greater press freedom in the post-election period have had their hopes dashed with the banning of reporting about Suu Kyi, who was released  after 15 years of detention on Nov.13.

The recent suspensions were not the work of Tint Swe, however, who was said to be having a better relationship with private media after he became the censorship chief. The order came from Information Minister ex Brig-Gen Kyaw Hsan or other higher military officials in Naypyidaw, sources said.

“U Tint Swe was under pressure following the Burmese media coverage on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, so he had to call meetings with the press and scold them, echoing his superiors,” said  a source from the Ministry of Information.

“The [journal] suspensions mean they [the junta] don’t want the country to see how much the people are cheering the news of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and they are jealous,” said an editor with a private journal in Rangoon.

“We can see they are up to their old tricks when they had HIV/AIDS patients evicted from a shelter in South Dagon Township after a visit from the lady [Suu Kyi],” he said.

Asked by a journalist at a press conference at NLD headquarters on Nov. 14 what she would say if she learned that news reporting on her had been banned, Suu Kyi said that it would show that nothing had changed after the election.

The Irrawaddy – Suu Kyi Starts Networking
By HTET AUNG Monday, November 22, 2010

The technological progress of communications and the passionate support of Burma’s young people have been the two factors that Aung San Suu Kyi has identified as either “a surprise” or as a source of encouragement in her struggle for democracy in the country.In her first political speech on Nov. 14, Suu Kyi effectively took the two ingredients and formed a recipe she called “a network of people” that would bring about democratic change.

Boundless with energy since her release just over a week ago, the 65-year-old Nobel laureate was scheduled to meet on Monday a group of the National League for Democracy (NLD)’s youth members from various parts of the country.

Since the 1988 military coup, Burma’s democratic struggle has consistently been able to garner the support and attention of people inside the country and around the world due to a dual recipe of Suu Kyi’s leadership and the active participation of Burmese students and youths.

Many young people who were not even born at the time of the democratic uprising in 1988 have finally been able to hear what Suu Kyi has to say. For many teenagers in Burma, Suu Kyi’s struggle has been a folktale their parents told around the dinner table. Not until now have they been able to see the woman behind the legend.

Former NLD youth leaders Moe Zaw Oo and Khin Htun—one in exile and the other inside Burma—who once worked closely with Suu Kyi, said they welcomed her idea of forming a network of supporters, but at the same time urged her to be cautious and avoid some mistakes of the past in dealing with the youths.

“Regarding the youth network within the NLD, one thing that happened repeatedly in the past and should be noted this time round is that there has been a conflict of roles between Daw Suu’s security and the youth leaders’ political duties since 1988,” said Moe Zaw Oo, who worked closely with Suu Kyi during the 1988–89 era.

Moe Zaw Oo spent eight years in prison and is now in exile as the joint secretary of the NLD (Liberated Area) based in Thailand.

There have been times when some young people in Burma have misunderstood Suu Kyi’s mission, have failed to clasp her values of honesty and political integrity, and have often regarded her 15-year house arrest as a sacrifice and not as a personal choice.

At the same time, the military junta has never wanted to see a united force between Suu Kyi’s leadership and the youths, and never allowed such a united force to be formed.

“The junta knows that the support of Burma’s youth is the NLD’s driving force. And that worries them,” said Moe Zaw Oo. “The generals worry they will become strong under Daw Suu’s leadership and try to topple them. That’s why every effort of the NLD to mobilize its youth force is always followed by a junta campaign of repression.”

Before her release, Suu Kyi expressed an interest in communicating with young people via Twitter. After her release, she said in an interview with the BBC that she would apply for Internet access in her home.

“There are already several online networks such as Facebook that are popular among teenagers and students,” said Moe Zaw Oo. “What Daw Suu needs to do is just surf the wave.”

However, what challenges will lie ahead if Suu Kyi decides to speed up her efforts to bring about democratic change using the youth of the country as her engine, and technological communications to lubricate the wheels of change?

“Apart from participating in politics, young people in Burma are allowed by the junta to do anything they wish,” said Khin Htun, previously a youth leader in the NLD who worked with Suu Kyi in the 2000s. “But the junta has constantly tried to sterilize the political momentum of each generation.”

“However,” he continued, “there are two main reasons why so many young people welcomed Daw Suu’s release. First, the general social crisis in the country affects them as well. And second, thanks to their access to the Internet and telecommunications, young people are more aware of the ever-changing situation in the world.”

Of course, one historical problem that both the old and the young party members face is the generation gap.

Even middle-aged Khin Htun had to confront this issue; last year he fielded his resignation along with another 109 NLD youth members in protest at the party leadership’s intransigence.

Moe Zaw Oo pointed to three major issues that separate the old and the new political generations.

The first key issue, he said, is the generation gap in the party’s political arena. The NLD has always been run by septua- and octogenarians who have never had any social or political connection to the party’s youth membership or leaders. They only met and began working together after the formation of the NLD.

While the youth members often failed to appreciate the wisdom and experience of the old guard, the elderly leaders were out of touch with the lifestyles and tastes of the new generation.

The second issue is that the youth members have less experience in working under a collective leadership and in carrying out their political activities in the manner of consensus.

This issue should be addressed, said Moe Zaw Oo, because the 1988 generation students and youths, who are now middle-aged, must be able to take over the reins from the elders in due course.

The third issue, he said, is a limited knowledge of the use of conflict resolution in tackling differences of opinion.

Moe Zaw Oo said he hoped that when Suu Kyi used the term “network,” it could indicate a change from the vertical hierarchy within the party toward a more “horizontal” approach—one that could  reduce the misunderstandings between the old and young political generations.

Looking back a couple of years to the devastation of Cyclone Nargis, Burma’s youth activists have dramatically expanded their interests into the social framework that involves cyclone victims and humanitarian aid groups. This is a far cry from a bygone era when most of the youth members focused only on political affairs.

In her first public speech last week, Suu Kyi said that the word “politics” means helping the well-being of the people. She said everything that goes toward the development of the country can’t be divided from politics.

“Our people must learn what politics are, and they should be in a position to teach us, as well,” said Suu Kyi in her speech to thousands of jubilant supporters in front of the NLD headquarters. “We have to learn from each other.”

Nevertheless, this time when Suu Kyi works with the youth activists, she has to think not only about bringing about a democratic change for Burma, but also in raising a new generation of voices that will carry the cause forward.

The Irrawaddy – Grandmothers Who Help Suu Kyi
By KYI WAI Monday, November 22, 2010

RANGOON—”No matter how much I’d be paid, I will not sell or rent the building to someone else as long as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi needs it,” said Daw Nu, 80, who is the landlord for the headquarters building of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Rangoon.“I was offered a very good price, and, of course, it came alone with some intimidation,” she said. “But I can’t sell it because of my late husband’s promise that we would not let anyone else use the building as long as Daw Suu needs it. We just want to help her anyway we can.”

According to Daw Nu, Tun Kyaing, her late husband, rented Aung San Suu Kyi the building to use as an NLD office facility in 1989. Originally, the NLD headquarters was located near Suu Kyi’s residence on University Avenue.

However, during 1989, the landlord for the original headquarters was pressurized by the regime, and the NLD was forced to move. When Suu Kyi met Tun Kyaing, the headquarters was moved to its current location on Shwegondaing Road.

Daw Chaw, Daw Nu’s daughter, said that when his father passed away, her family duty was firm.

“My father’s wish was crystal clear, to let her use the building for her work, and he told us repeatedly to honor that promise,” Daw Chaw said.

After the Dapayin attack on Suu Kyi’s motorcade in 2003, Chaw, 60, was arrested and interrogated about her role in leasing the office building. She said her family has been under constant pressure by the regime to withdraw the lease.

“At that time, I told them that the lease was signed by my father so he is only one who can terminate it,” she said.

A member of NLD central executive committee said that the organization values the family’s longtime support.

“The building could sell for a good price, but they never think of selling it even though they are not in good shape economically,” he said. “And they resist any kind of intimidation.”

Soon after her release, Suu Kyi visited with Daw Nu and Daw Chaw in their home.

“We were so happy to see her as free as a bird,” Daw Chaw said. “We will do whatever we can do for her.”
Daw Nu and Daw Chaw are among many elderly female pro-democracy supporters who try to aid Suu Kyi in their own way.

Another example is grandmother Daw Hla Kyi: “When Suu Kyi was in Insein Prison, I went there everyday to wish her good luck.” she said.

Daw Hla Kyi, in her 70s, was among the large crowd that gathered at NLD headquarters on Nov. 16, the day Suu Kyi spoke to her supporters, on the second day of her release from house arrest.

When Suu Kyi came out of the office to give her speech, she saw Daw Hla Kyi in the crowd and took hold of her arm.

Suu Kyi said, “Mom, how have you been doing?”

“I cried,” Daw Hla Kyi said. “I so glad she recognized me.”

Daw Hla Kyi said she had known Suu Kyi’s parents, Daw Khin Kyi and Gen Aung San.

Gen Aung San was a frugal person both as a young activist and as a national leader, she said, and he had his own backyard garden to provide daily provisions for the family.

“Aung San Suu Kyi’s mother usually prepared bean and fish-paste with their meals,” said Daw Hla Kyi. “They never ate luxury food. They lived like ordinary Burmese people. Gen Aung San himself used the lowest quality rice and used vegetables from his garden, the same as most poor people. Suu is just like her parents. She inherited all of her parents’ charm.”

Since 1988, Daw Hla Kyi said two printing shops she was connected with were sealed because of their support for Suu Kyi.

“They (the regime) shut down our business, because we supported Suu. But we are not scared. Maybe we are hungry, but we must keep supporting Suu because I know she is working for the country,” said Daw Hla Kyi.

“I’ve asked my son to see me in prison, if I am arrested,” she said. “We go to the NLD headquarters separately to make sure we are not both arrested at the same time, and we have someone to come to see us if he or I are arrested.”

The Irrawaddy – Suu Kyi Faces Challenges in Supporting Second Panglong Conference
By KO HTWE Monday, November 22, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi will face many challenges following her agreement to lead ethnic leaders in organizing a second Panglong conference, say politicians who met with her in Rangoon on Saturday.In the meeting of veteran politicians, Pu Cin Sian Thang, a spokesman for the United Nationalities Alliance, gave Suu Kyi a copy of the Kale Declaration, which was signed by 109 ethnic leaders and politicians calling for a federal system based on equality and democracy to be established through a second Panglong conference. He said ethnic leaders believe she is the best person to lead a second Panglong type conference.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy, Pu Cin Sian Thang said that ethnic leaders and the public trust Suu Kyi. He said backing such a conference would be a big challenge that carries real risks for her, including detention by the junta.

The Panglong conference was held in Panglong Township in southern Shan State on February 12, 1947. The agreement was  signed by ethnic Shan, Chin and Kachin leaders and Burma’s independence hero, Gen Aung San, and it was an important step in leading to Burma’s independence from Britain.

He said that at the first Panglong Conference, they were opposed by the British but now the opposition is the military government.

In addition, the Kale Declaration said that the recently completed election would not lead to national reconciliation because it is based on the flawed 2008 Constitution. It also called for an end to dictatorship, respect for human rights and democracy for the people.

“We could face serious obstacles if the military junta misunderstands the declaration’s call to end dictatorship,” said Pu Cin Sian Thang.  “I believed she has accepted this duty for the sake of the country’s future, even though there are many dangers she could face. It shows how much she is willing to sacrifice for us. The Panglong spirit means equality for all ethnic groups.”

Many Mon, Arakan and Karen ethnic leaders who did not take part in the Panglong Conference signed the Kale Declaration and most ethnic cased-fire groups and armed ethnic groups now support a second Panglong conference, say observers.

Speaking on Saturday at the meeting,  Suu Kyi said fostering a Panglong spirit is important for the next generation, and she asked for people’s help, according to observers.

“It is not an end in itself to call for a second Panglong type conference. We have to make it a reality after such a conference,” Suu Kyi reportedly told politicians during the meeting.

Suu Kyi, in her first speech in front of the headquarters of the National League for Democracy  only two days after her release from house arrest, said, “A second Panglong conference addressing the concerns of the 21st century is needed for national reconciliation.”

Ethnic leaders involved in the Panglong Conference said that the 1947 Constitution failed to guarantee equal rights, autonomy and self-determination as agreed to at the conference. That was one of the factors that led some ethnic groups to launch military operations against the central government.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, veteran journalist and politician Thar Ban, the acting chairman of the Arakan League for Democracy which won 11 seats in western Arakan State in the 1990 election, said that for the sake of the country all ethnic groups will cooperate with Suu Kyi. Organizing such a conference would take time, he said.

The Irrawaddy – Clinton Sends Personal Letter to Suu Kyi
By LALIT K JHA Monday, November 22, 2010

WASHINGTON—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a personal letter early last week to Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to a State Department spokesman, though he would not divulge the details of the message.“She [Clinton] has sent a personal letter to Aung San Suu Kyi in recent days. We’ve had direct discussions with her and our chargé in Burma,” spokesman P J Crowley told reporters on Friday.

Although he declined to divulge the details of the letter, Crowley said the US foreign secretary may soon call Aung San Suu Kyi.

“I would anticipate that at some point she [Clinton] may well reach out to Aung San Suu Kyi,” Crowley said as he expressed his disappointment that some of Burma’s neighbors, including China and India, on Thursday had voted against a UN resolution on Burma that expressed concern over the military junta’s human rights record.

“[The US] will continue to talk to other countries in the region, particularly countries that have relationships with Burma, and with the government there. And we believe there needs to be a strong, unified, firm message that there needs to be change in Burma,” Crowley said.

“The election that just happened is not part of the change that we think is necessary. We didn’t see that as legitimate. We don’t think that Aung San Suu Kyi should have been detained in any event. But now that she has been released, she should maintain the right to communicate if she sees fit, to meet with her advisors as she sees fit, reconstitute her party as she sees fit,” he said.

“We place a special responsibility on the government of Burma to guarantee her safety as she goes about these steps, which we think are critical to Burma’s future. Ultimately, Burma has to change,” Crowley asserted.

“It has to have greater political space. It has to have a meaningful dialogue with other ethnic groups. That’s the only way that Burma’s going to be able to move away from its current isolation. But this is a conversation that we have had with China, with India, with other countries, and we will continue that conversation,” said the State Department official.

Meanwhile, Burmese in the US have started an online petition campaign urging UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to ensure Suu Kyi’s safety and security. The petition urged Ban to pay Suu Kyi an official visit at the earliest opportunity to ascertain her immediate needs.

Ban has also been urged to issue a public statement pledging the power of his office to diligently monitor her safety and security, and to ensure that she is permitted to continue her work without interference from the country’s authorities.

North command tells KIO to close liaison offices
Monday, 22 November 2010 23:32 PhanidaChiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese Army’s Northern Command has ordered the Kachin Independence Organisation to close its 16-year-old liaison offices, a liaison officer says.

After the ceasefire agreement was reached between the regime and the KIO in 1994, the latter opened 22 liaison offices in Kachin and Shan States with consent of the former at which policy matters were discussed.

Military Affairs Security officer Lieutenant Colonel Thet Pone from the command’s base in Kachin State capital Myitkyina last week called the ethnic Kachin armed ceasefire group’s main liaison office in the city and told its staff to close all such offices in Kachin and Shan states, the KIO liaison officer told Mizzima.

“Closing the liaison offices suggests we don’t need to deal with them [junta officials or military] any more. So we shall close them all. It suggests the junta has withdrawn from the ceasefire agreement reached between us,” the KIO officer said.

“After the ceasefire, we set up a liaison office at each battalion headed by an officer at the rank of battalion commander … we’d had incidents in which we arrested each other so we opened these offices to deal with such problems. Now the election has been conducted and they [the military] have to transfer power to a new government. So I think they [the KIO] withdraw all these offices lest they are exposed to the new military regime,” he said.

Prior to establishment of the offices, there were also firefights between the two sides, the liaison officer added.

The KIO at a central committee meeting on Saturday resolved to close the nine offices in Kachin State and two in Shan State. Instructions had already been passed to the offices to close, a KIO spokesman said.

The Kachin ethnic group rejected junta demands to bring its Kachin Independence Army (KIA) under Burmese Army control within its Border Guard Force (BGF) and it had yet to meet recently appointed Northern Command chief Brigadier General Zeyar Aung, so all lines of communication were being closed off.

Reached for comment on the Kachin situation, Karen National Union (KNU) joint general secretary Major Hla Ngwe said the junta’s order to close the liaison offices increased the chances of war breaking out between the two.

“Its meaning is so clear. They [the junta, can] take the pre-emptive move of launching war at any time of their choice. Even before this order, they had raided KIO outposts and arrested KIA members. Moreover they built up their troops in KIO-controlled areas throughout this period. This suggests growing tension between them and events could even lead to the breakout of renewed hostilities. We’ve had such precedents … before so we gathered and discussed all eventualities,” Hla Ngwe said.

The KNU is a part of six-member alliance called the Committee for the Emergence of Federal Union that includes the KIO.

Under the alliance agreement, if one member was attacked by the military regime, all other members would co-operate by escalating fighting in areas under their control, even though they would be unable to send reinforcements directly to the initial conflict zone, he said.

Other alliance members are the Shan State Army North, Karenni Nationality Progressive Party, New Mon State Party and Chin National Front. The bloc’s chairman is KIO vice-chairman Major General En Ban La.

Local sources said the regime had built up a 1,000-strong force near the Kasone region in areas controlled by KIA Brigade 2 east of Namti in Mogaung Township, since last week.

The KIO has been under increasing military pressure to adopt the BGF proposal in the past few months, with travel and weapons bans imposed on members.

The Tanai Township Peace and Development Council had pressed the KIO last month to seek alternative premises for its liaison office in Tanai before this month.


* The views expressed by authors in the articles are their own, but not necessarily reflect the policy standpoint of BURMA DIGEST editorial team.

* News are collected by http://burmadigest.info


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