Written by U Ne Oo on 1998-02-02
Renewed Pressures are Needed on Burma
Since the time Burmese military junta changed its name in November 1997 and, particularly, after the visit of Assistant Secretary-General Mr de Soto to Rangoon, there has not been any sis not been any sign of the SPDC/SLORC moving towards reconciliation and dialogue with the opposition NLD. On a positive note, there is no indication of SPDC/SLORC stepping-up pressure on the civilian opposition recently. Nonetheless, practically doing nothing on the part of SPDC/SLORC towards reconciliation must be considered as a delaying tactic. The international community, therefore, should exert more pressure on SPDC/SLORC.
Because the SPDC/SLORC is now in a more politically insecured position, the pressures exerted on itures exerted on it by international community will force Burma into the dangerous phase. It therefore, on our part, is important to properly inform SPDC/SLORC about the measures that may be taken as well as of the possible consequences to that measures.
Urging pressure from the government of Japan
As we can see from Burma Economic Data, the SPDC/SLORC foreign exchange reserve are very low. SPDC/SLORC, since mid-1996, have only enough FE for import of 1.2 months (total FE of 3.5 month amou of 3.5 month amount is usually considered safe level). This appears to be as a result of the collapse of government's rice export programme (1-million tonnes in 1994/95, down to 400,000 tonnes in 95/96 and fewer than 200,000 tonnes in 1996/97). SPDC/SLORC also fail to reach its target of 500,000 tourists in VMY-1996: only 37% (184,281 tourists) turned up till June 1997. In order to solve its problem of depleating FE, SPDC/SLORC resorted to exporting more Fish & fish-products. Recent price hike on fish and shrimp in Rangoon seems toRangoon seems to be the result (see EIU reports).
The Japanese Government has suspended ODA to Burma since 1988. Especially last year, Japan has not been failing to push SPDC/SLORC towards dialogue and reconciliation with opposition. Sources reported in June 1997 the Japanese envoy, Hiroshi Hirabayashi, made clear to SLORC that Japan would not resume lending to Burma until a dialogue had begun. Again in August 1997, Japan's foreign state secretary, Masahiko Komura, said that Japan will froze all aid (appears to except humanis to except humanitarian relief aid) to Burma including funds for $212 million airport extension and will not resume lending to Burma. [So far as the Japanese government is concerned, it appears to be doing what it can to help Burma situation. However, our Burma democracy campaigners don't seems to have much influence on any other Japanese academics or business concerns.]
Nevertheless, the Government of Japan has given consession (debt relief program) of $17 million last year **. We can ask the Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimister Ryutaro Hashimoto to cancel the debt relief program to Burma.[** nb: it is not sure whether this $17 million may include all payments for principal+interest to Japan because Burma owe $3.1bn to Japan. Total payment may have to be higher.]
Another action that the Japanese Government can take concerns with some of Japan's companies. Last July, the Mitsui company had agreed to guarantee a $150m loan to Burmese government, to be channelled through the Bank of Tokyo. Mitsui has contract with Burmese government to supply oil to to supply oil to Burma. The other two corporations which supply oil to Burma are Marubeni of Japan and the Petroleum Authority of Thailand(PTT). We can urge those companies, through their respective governments, not to give credit to the SPDC/SLORC.
We must also step up our efforts to take other necessary measures in due course of time.
With best regards, U Ne Oo.
2/2/98: A Letter to Senior General Than Shwe
Dr U Ne Oo
18 Shannon Place
Adelaide SA 5000
Adelaide SA 5000
February 2, 1998.
Senior General Than Shwe
State Peace and Development Council
c/o Ministry of Defence
Signal Pagoda Road
Dear General Than Shwe
Re: The interim government in Burma
I am writing to the Chairman of State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) regarding with teh interim administration in Burma. I respectfully appeal you to take further steps to form a Burma interim administration consisting of your council, SPDC, as an Executive Branch and the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) as an official law making body. First appropriate step in this direction is your council, SPDC, and Central Executive Committee of NLD to jointly announce the formation of an interim administration.
I should also like to remind you and your council about the United Nations General Assembly Resolution no.52/137 of 12 December 1997. In accordance with this U.N.resolution, your council, SPDC, has n with this U.N.resolution, your council, SPDC, has no right to make laws in Burma, and various orders and decrees made by your previous council, SLORC, have no force of law in Burma. The only way to solve this problem is, as I have suggested, your council, SPDC, jointly with the NLD party to form an interim administration.
Please also note that following measures will be taken by the international community if your council fails to work jointly with the National League for Democracy:
1. we will further block your council's access to various internation various international banks and creditors, especially from Japan. The Government of Japan will cancel its debt-relief program to Burma.
2. the representative of your council at the United Nations may be expelled.
I am also very concerned about continuing detention of political prisoners and, especially, about your council's preventing visit to Burma of U.N. Human Rights Special Rapporteur, Mr Rajsoomer Lallah.
Sd. U Ne Oo.
9/2/98: Letter to the Prime Minister HashimotoPrime Minister Hashimoto
February 9, 1998.
Mr Ryutaro Hashimoto
Prime Minister of Japan
Office of the Prime Minister
1-6 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100, Japan.
[FAX: (+81-3)3581-3883 or 3581-2361]
Dear Prime Minister:
re: Japan's economic assistance to Burma and political dialogue.
I am a Burmese national currently residing in Australia. I firstly should like to express my sincere thanks to you for sending a special envoy, Mr Hiroshi HIrabayashi, to Burma last HIrabayashi, to Burma last June to encourage reconciliation and political dialogues in Burma. I also thank the Government of Japan for arranging the visit to Burma of State Secretary Mr Masahiko Koumura in August 1997.
I support the Government of Japan's position regarding with reconciliation and political dialogues in Burma; and fully support your government to continue suspending official development assistance(ODA) to Burma until such objectives are achieved. In this connection, I enclosed my report regarding with reconciliation with reconciliation in Burma.
With this letter, I appeal Mr Prime Minister and Government of Japan to make further economic and political action on the military government of Burma. Firstly, I appeal the Government of Japan to immediately cancel the debt-relief grants to Burma. Secondly, I appeal the Government of Japan to discourage Japanese private corporations, such as Mitsui and Marubeni, acting as as the guarantors of Burmese military government on seeking loans and fundings. It was reported last July that the Mitsui, whiat the Mitsui, which has a contract to supply oil to Burma, had agreed to guarantee a $150 million loan to Burmese military government, to be channelled through the Bank of Tokyo.
There may have been concerns by some members of parliament of Japan about the potential impact on Burmese rice-farmers as a result of restricting oil supply to Burma. I should like to assure that such restriction on oil supply will have no impact on the Burmese rice-farmers who employ only the traditional methods of farming -- i.e. Burmese farmers doBurmese farmers do not use machinery in their farming.
In closing, I thank Mr Prime Minister for your kind attention to these matters.
Yours respectfully and sincerely
Sd. U Ne Oo.
[Please also send a copy to Japanese Embassy in your country.
In Australia, the address for Japanese Embassy is:
Embassy of Japan
112 Empire Circuit
Yarralumla ACT 2600
16/02/98: Letter to President Kim Dae-Jung<>>
President Kim Dae-Jung
c/- Forum of Democratic Leaders
Ayrung Building, Suite 501
506-20 Chang Chun-dong
Dear President Kim Dae Jung:
I firstly should like to congratulate you for your success and as the new president of South Korea. You are a global symbol of Asian struggle for democracy and, have truly been an inspiration to democracy campaigners throughout this region. Your election success of last December in no doubt serf last December in no doubt serves as a morale booster to our movement for democracy in Burma. We wish you every success in serving your country and also furthering the causes of democratic Korean society.
I am writing to you in regarding with South Korean companies that are currently operating in Burma. A recent report from news media (Asiaweek, 6 February 1998) indicated that some Korean businesses may have been involved in billing-out the debts of Burmese military junta. I appeal you to discourage the South Korean companies acting as companies acting as guarantors of Burmese military government in seeking loans and funds from international banks. In this connection, I enclosed my report and related communications for your information.
We are also aware that some South Korean businesses, such as Daewoo corporation, have recently scaled down current operation in Burma for commercial reason. I appeal Mr President to encourage all South Korean companies in Burma to keep scale down their operation. I, however, do not advocate these Korean companies to be totallmpanies to be totally withdrawn from Burma. When we achieve reconciliation and democracy, these companies from South Korea will be much more openly welcomed in Burma.
In closing, I thank you for your kind attention to these matters.
Yours respectfully and sincerely
Sd. U Ne Oo.
ASIASEEK, 6 FEBRUARY 1998: FRONTLINES
KEEPING TIGHT REINS ON BURMESE OFFICIALS
When Myanmar's former dictator Ne Win visited his old friend President Suharto in September, he was reportedly told that then Buredly told that then Burmese commerce minister Tun Kyi had been involved in arranging a large delivery of fuel from Pertamina, Indonesia's national oil company, and that payment had not been received. Within weeks of Ne Win's return to Yangon, Tun Kyi was sacked and is currently in detention pending the outcome of investigations into his activities. Which activities are not exactly known. Several members of his family and friends were also indicted. Last week, his daughter Kyi Kyi Than and her husband Khin Maung Zaw fled to Thailand with nd with their children to escape persecution. A well-known Yangon nightclub, Mr.Guitar, run by Tun Kyi's daughter-in-law was also shut down.
Myanmar does have some oil of its own -- fields around Magway supply about 10,000 barrels a day, and are still under development. Deputy energy minister Tin Tun -- who by the way, denies that Myanmar bought the disputed oil from Indonesia or that bills were left unpaid -- says the country needs only 20,000 barrels daily right now; industry sources say it is more like 30,000. Ei,000. Either way, where does the money to buy the extra fuel come from? One of the junta's main trading partner, South Korea, recently stepped in to help Yangon settle the outstanding bill with Jakarta. But given Seoul's own problems, that is unlikely to happen again. Meanwhile, the junta is taking no chances: as part of government-wide corruption crackdown, top bureaucrats and ministers, especially in the commerce sector, are under tight observation.