Peaceful Burma (ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းျမန္မာ)平和なビルマ

Peaceful Burma (ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းျမန္မာ)平和なビルマ






“ညီၫြတ္ေရးဆုိတာ ဘာလဲ နားလည္ဖုိ႔လုိတယ္။ ဒီေတာ့ကာ ဒီအပုိဒ္ ဒီ၀ါက်မွာ ညီၫြတ္ေရးဆုိတဲ့အေၾကာင္းကုိ သ႐ုပ္ေဖာ္ျပ ထားတယ္။ တူညီေသာအက်ဳိး၊ တူညီေသာအလုပ္၊ တူညီေသာ ရည္ရြယ္ခ်က္ရွိရမယ္။ က်ေနာ္တုိ႔ ညီၫြတ္ေရးဆုိတာ ဘာအတြက္ ညီၫြတ္ရမွာလဲ။ ဘယ္လုိရည္ရြယ္ခ်က္နဲ႔ ညီၫြတ္ရမွာလဲ။ ရည္ရြယ္ခ်က္ဆုိတာ ရွိရမယ္။

“မတရားမႈတခုမွာ သင္ဟာ ၾကားေနတယ္ဆုိရင္… သင္ဟာ ဖိႏွိပ္သူဘက္က လုိက္ဖုိ႔ ေရြးခ်ယ္လုိက္တာနဲ႔ အတူတူဘဲ”

“If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen to side with the oppressor.”
ေတာင္အာဖရိကက ႏိုဘယ္လ္ဆုရွင္ ဘုန္းေတာ္ၾကီး ဒက္စ္မြန္တူးတူး


Ban’s visit may not have achieved any visible outcome, but the people of Burma will remember what he promised: "I have come to show the unequivocal shared commitment of the United Nations to the people of Myanmar. I am here today to say: Myanmar – you are not alone."


Without participation of Aung San Suu Kyi, without her being able to campaign freely, and without her NLD party [being able] to establish party offices all throughout the provinces, this [2010] election may not be regarded as credible and legitimate. ­
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Where there's political will, there is a way

စစ္မွန္တဲ့ခိုင္မာတဲ့နိုင္ငံေရးခံယူခ်က္ရိွရင္ႀကိဳးစားမႈရိွရင္ နိုင္ငံေရးအေျဖ
Burmese Translation-Phone Hlaing-fwubc

Friday, September 9, 2011

News & Articles on Burma -Thursday, 08 September, 2011-UZL

News & Articles on Burma
Thursday, 08 September, 2011
Nearly 30 Burmese soldiers killed in six days in Kachin State
Mongla satisfied with Kengtung meet
Govt Talks with Wa, Mongla Group Conclude
DKBA to Accelerate Military Tactics
Toys for the boys in Myanmar
Big Sucking Sound in Burma (Myanmar) is China's Resource Grab
Myanmar weighs change in exchange rate
UN should not wait and see Burma’s reform without time-bound
Nobel Laureates Urge Clinton to Support Burma CoI
Media Are Like Red Ants, Says Kyaw Hsan

Kachin News Group
Nearly 30 Burmese soldiers killed in six days in Kachin State

Nearly 30 Burmese government soldiers were killed during six days of fighting with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in Kachin State, according to KIA officers.

The death toll was counted from Sept. 1 to 6, a KIA officer in 3rd Brigade, Manmaw (Bhamo) District, told the Kachin News Group.

The skirmishes between government troops and the KIA happened mainly n the region east of the Irrawaddy River, in N’Mawk Township, Dawhpumyang sub-township, Waingmaw Township.

There were no KIA casualties, KIA officers said.

The ceasefire negotiation between the two delegates has been stopped since the new Burmese government led by Ex-general Thein Sein publicly denounced the KIA and its political wing Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) as “insurgent or terrorist” at its first press conference in Naypyitaw on August 12.
Mongla satisfied with Kengtung meet
Thursday, 08 September 2011 19:06 Hseng Khio Fah

National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) aka Mongla group says the meeting held between its delegates and the government’s representatives yesterday is promising, according to sources from the group.
The two sides met in the capital of Shan State East, Kengtung, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. following Naypyitaw’s 28 August invitation letter to Mongla for peace talks, said a source close to Mongla.

Mongla sent over 10 members led by Vice Chairman Hsan Per and its general secretary Sao Hsengla while the Burmese side was led by Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) general secretary U Aung Thaung and U Thein Zaw, Chairman of the Lower House National Races and Internal Peacekeeping Committee

A new 5 point proposal was presented by the government representatives. They are:

No hostilities between the two sides
To reopen liaison offices on both side
To maintain Mongla’s autonomous status
To inform each other in advance if one side is entering the other side’s territory carrying arms
To form a joint liaison committee as soon as possible

“No response has been given to them [the government] yet as we still have to discuss among us,” a source said. “Nevertheless, U Thein zaw suggested forming a joint liaison committee as soon as possible to fulfill each other’s need.”

Mongla’s counter proposal to the government was for the Burma Army to pull out from its controlled area. “Like us, U Thein Zaw said he also has to inform Naypyitaw about our request,” said an officer from the group. “However, their proposal looks acceptable this time. So we think the prospects are good.”

Mongla is reportedly holding a central committee meeting today to consider the 5 point proposal.

Mongla’s ally the United Wa State Army (UWSA) that met the same delegation from the government on the previous day at the same location, reportedly received a similar proposal.

These are the first formal meetings between Naypyitaw and the Wa-Mongla alliance since April 2010.
Govt Talks with Wa, Mongla Group Conclude
By WAI MOE Thursday, September 8, 2011

Two prominent members of Burma's ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) completed talks this week with officials of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and an allied group aimed at preventing a breakdown of decades-old ceasefire agreements.

Acting as liaisons for President Thein Sein, the two USDP leaders—ex-Col Aung Thaung and ex Brig-Gen Thein Zaw—urged the UWSA and its ally, the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), to avoid raising any subjects that could lead to disagreement with the government.

Representatives of the UWSA and the NDAA (also known as the Mongla group) met with the government liaisons in Kengtung, Shan State, on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, for the first talks between the government and the two pro-China ceasefire groups since another ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) broke down in June.

According to sources close to the two groups, Aung Thaung and Thein Zaw made four proposals: reopening liaison offices for both sides; maintaining ceasefire agreements signed in 1989; reporting in advance if ethnic troops cross into government-controlled areas; and avoiding topics likely to lead to disagreement, while focusing on issues where agreement is possible.

They also offered to resend government health workers and teachers to areas under the control of the UWSA and NDAA, after these workers were called back by Naypyidaw in July 2010 amid rising tensions.

Former key minister Aung Thaung is currently the chairman of the Lower House’s banking and financial development sub-committee, while Thein Zaw is the chairman of the Lower House’s ethnic affairs and peace task force sub-committee.

“During the meeting, U Aung Thaung spoke before U Thein Zaw,” said a UWSA source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Neither the UWSA nor the NDAA responded immediately to their proposals. Both groups have to discuss them with their leadership.”

The source added that even the issue of allowing government staffers to return to ethnic-controlled areas has to be considered carefully, as it was the government's unilateral decision to withdraw them after the ethnic groups refused to accede to Naypyidaw's Border Guard Force (BGF) scheme, which would have put the two armed groups under Burmese military command.

The UWSA delegation was led by Bao You Liang, brother of Wa leader Bao Youxiang, and also included other senior members of the group, such as Zhou Guang, of the UWSA's foreign relations department, and Le Zuliang, of the group's information center.

The NDAA delegation was led by Htain Linn, son of the group's leader, Sai Linn.

According to ethnic sources, before their meetings with Aung Thaung and Thein Zaw in Kengtung, Wa and Mongla officials met with Chinese officials in Panghsang and Mongla to discuss the ongoing tension between the ethnic armed groups and the Burmese regime over the BGF.

Chinese leaders have repeatedly raised their concerns over instability in Burma’s ethnic areas along the Sino-Burmese border during meetings with their Burmese counterparts, most recently during Thein Sein’s trip to Beijing in late May.

At the time, Chinese President Hu Jintao reportedly told Thein Sein to resolve Burma’s ethnic affairs peacefully, particularly with the Wa and the Mongla.

Meanwhile, the situation in Kachin State, where government troops have been clashing with the KIA since June, remains tense.

Earlier this month, Ohn Myint, the minister of cooperation, traveled to Myitkyina for talks with the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), the political wing of the KIA. However, sources in the Kachin State capital said Ohn Myint, who formerly served as the commander of the Northern Regional Command, failed to meet the KIO leaders.

The source added that there was also some disagreement between Ohn Myint and Maj-Gen Zeyar Aung, the current regional commander, over how to deal with the KIO.

As efforts to broker a new ceasefire agreement continue, state-run newspapers are carrying daily reports attacking the KIA. On Tuesday, the state media reported that one person was killed and another injured in Waingmaw Township, allegedly by a landmine planted by the KIA.
DKBA to Accelerate Military Tactics
By SAW YAN NAING Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), an ethnic Karen armed militia, has reorganized its military strategy to speed up future activities, said DKBA sources.

“We held a planning meeting to organize our troops for more effective military tactics. We established two military groups, named Klo Htoo Wah and Klo Htoo Lah—one in the south and one in the north of our area,” said Maj San Aung of the DKBA.

Col Kyaw Thet is assigned to lead the Klo Htoo Wah tactical group and Col Kyaw Bi Koh is assigned to lead Klo Htoo Lah, said San Aung. The DKBA also named Klo Htoo Baw as their headquarters in southern Karen State.

Brig-Gen Saw Lah Pwe will be the commander of the entire DKBA, according to San Aung. On Nov. 8, one day after Burma's election, Saw Lah Pwe led DKBA Brigade 5 in resisting attacks by government troops after Brigade 5 briefly took control of some government buildings in Myawaddy.

The DKBA intends to cooperate on military matters with the Karen National Union (KNU) and it's military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), another ethnic armed group that the DKBA broke away from in 1995. At the time, the DKBA signed a ceasefire agreement with the government, but the KNU/KNLA did not.

Htee Moo, a Karen social worker who is close to the DKBA, said that the DKBA top commanders reorganized their military tactics because more troops from the government's Karen Border Guard Force have deserted to join the DKBA.

“The DKBA will increase fighting alongside its mother organization, the KNU, against the Burmese government troops,” said Htee Moo.

The DKBA is estimated to have more than 1,000 fighters and the KNLA is estimated to have about 4,000 troops.

Currently, fighting occurs almost every day in Karen State, said Htee Moo. Karen observers said that fighting in Karen State between government troops and Karen rebel groups will intensify in the future.

The DKBA earlier changed its military tactics to target urban areas where government offices and buildings are located, rather than fighting in the jungle.
FORBES: 9/08/2011 @ 3:00AM
Big Sucking Sound in Burma (Myanmar) is China's Resource Grab
Simon Montlake, Forbes Staff

Foreigners have long coveted Burma’s ample energy resources. Under British colonial rule, the Glasgow-based Burmah Oil Company (BOC) drilled in central Burma, built an oil refinery in Rangoon and reinvested its profits in Persia via the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, the forerunner to British Petroleum. The BOC was forced to divest its assets in Burma (Myanmar) after a coup in 1962 by General Ne Win.

Today it is Chinese companies that are building pipelines across Burma to funnel natural gas from Burmese waters, and imported crude oil arriving in tankers, to southwest China. The oil pipeline, due for completion by 2013, could eventually supply as much as 10% of China’s oil imports, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. South Korea’s Daewoo International is developing the offshore gas field, with China National Petroleum Company as the sole buyer. China also plans to build a $20 billion railway along the same route, Burma’s government said on Aug 29.

While the pipelines have drawn complaints from land-right activists, a far bigger row is brewing at a Chinese-owned hydropower dam in northern Burma. Under a 2007 agreement, China Power Investment Corp. wants to build seven large dams in Kachin State that can supply power to neighboring Yunnan Province. The main contractor is China Gezhouba Group Corp. The largest dam is under construction at Myitsone, where two rivers meet and spawn the Irrawaddy River, Burma’s main waterway that empties into the Indian Ocean. When completed, say anti-dam campaigners, it would create a reservoir the size of New York City capable of generating up to 6,000MW of power. Transmission lines will supply electricity to energy-hungry Yunnan Province.

Taken as a whole, the seven dams represent a $20 billion bet on stability in Kachin State, which is wedged between China and India. Since June, the area has seen an upsurge in fighting between Burmese troops and the armed wing of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). The fighting has forced a halt to some Chinese-funded infrastructure projects, including smaller dams, though engineering work has since resumed at Myitsone, according to exiled Burmese media reports.

The Chinese dams are deeply unpopular with ethnic Kachin, who cite environmental, cultural and safety concerns. In April 2010, a series of bombs were detonated at the project site of Myitsone. In March, the KIO wrote to Beijing to register its objections and warn of the consequences of increased militarization on its turf. “The KIO would not be responsible for the Civil War if the War broke out because of this Hydro Power Plant Project and the Dam construction,” the letter said.

Aung San Suu Kyi recently added her voice to the debate, calling on all parties to review the project and to prioritize the conservation of the Irrawaddy. She highlighted the risk of building a reservoir near an earthquake fault line and said that over 12,000 people had already been displaced. Her intervention has galvanized opponents to the project, who also seized on a leaked copy of a 2009 assessment by Chinese and Burmese experts commissioned by CPI Corp. The report, which wasn’t made public at the time, warned of “serious social and environmental problems” along the Irrawaddy, which irrigates Burma’s main rice-growing areas. Its authors advised that it would be better to build the dam further upstream than at the confluence site.

The controversy has stung Burma’s new, semi-civilian government. On Aug 12, in a rare press conference, Information Minister Kyaw Hsan, a retired general and notorious hardliner, teared up when asked about the future of the project. In a rambling reply, he complained that the previous junta had tried its best under difficult conditions and was pressured by U.S. sanctions. The room went silent, said a Burmese reporter. “They were real tears, his nose was red,” he says.

A legal challenge could be next. Pawk Ja, a Kachin activist who unsuccessfully ran for parliament last November, says she wants to sue CPI Corp on behalf of villagers displaced by the dam. A former goldmine owner, she became an activist after Yuzana Company seized 200,000 acres of land in her township for a tapioca plantation. Last year, a local court accepted her class-action lawsuit against the company for failing to pay adequate compensation, but the case was later thrown out. She says CIP will be next. “This is our national heritage,” she says.
Myanmar weighs change in exchange rate
Plan prompted by rise in kyat's value against the US dollar, which is threatening exports and hitting farmers.
The government of Myanmar is planning to change the country's official exchange rate for the first time in almost four decades.

The country's currency, the kyat, is soaring in value against the US dollar, threatening exports.

Economists believe that huge inflows of foreign cash for infrastructure projects, high oil and gas prices, and a mass sell-off of government assets are combining to drive the kyat up.

Farmers, who constitute almost 70 per cent of the country’s economy, are being hit very hard.

Al Jazeera's special correspondent reports from Yangon. Because of Myanmar's restrictions on media, we are not naming her.
Nobel Laureates Urge Clinton to Support Burma CoI
By LALIT K JHA Thursday, September 8, 2011

WASHINGTON — Five prominent women Nobel laureates urged US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday to support the establishment of a United Nations Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.

In an open letter, the five Nobel laureates—Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Wangari Maathai—called on Clinton to “publicly and unequivocally support” the establishment of a CoI during the upcoming UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in September.

The letter also urged the US to work with “all relevant governments” to include language in a UNGA resolution calling on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish a CoI into “possible war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious human rights abuses and report back to the General Assembly at its next session.”

There was no immediate reaction from the State Department, but it is understood that the Obama administration is working closely with its international partners in this regard in New York. So far, as many as 16 countries have signed on in support of the CoI, first recommended by UN rights envoy to Burma Tomás Ojea Quintana last year.

“Your favorable vote—and leadership in gaining support—is needed to reach majority,” the Nobel laureates said, adding that they hoped Clinton would take a stand that could put Burma's rulers on the long road to accountability and demonstrate that crimes against humanity and war crimes are not tolerated.

“A resolution calling for a Commission of Inquiry would lend tremendous support to the people of Burma who have been toiling for so long for an end to the injustice in their country, and be a most powerful deterrent against such acts being repeated by others, elsewhere, time and again,” they said.

In their letter, they also noted that despite elections last year and promises by Naypyidaw to institute democratic reforms, the newly installed government continues to perpetrate mass human rights abuses.

“Women have been particularly affected, with the state breaking a ceasefire and launching military offensives in northern Shan and Kachin [states],” they wrote.

“The military regime commits serious crimes against the ethnic populations with complete impunity. Dozens of women have been raped since January 2011, and refugees noted that government soldiers declared they were ordered to do so, adding to previous evidence of sexual violence as a weapon of war within Burma,” they said.
UN should not wait and see Burma’s reform without time-bound
By Zin Linn Sep 08, 2011 1:51AM UTC

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the emergence of new so-called civilian government through controversial November elections and the release of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma gave the country a chance to “embark on the path of progress”, according to AFP News.

In the report, dated August 5 but released Wednesday by the United Nations office in Yangon, Ban said promises from new President Thein Sein, a former general, to carry out political and economic reforms were constructive. But he urged “timely implementation”, stressing that the country continued to suffer from “serious, deep-seated and long-standing” human rights, political and economic problems.

“Whether the new government has the capacity, willingness and support to deliver on its reform agenda remains to be seen,” he said.

Ban said the continued detention of political prisoners, who are estimated to number over 2,000 in the country, “remains of deepest concern” to the United Nations.

An essential primary step in a national reconciliation procedure is to free unconditionally all 2,000 political prisoners. Government’s denial of their existence means it has no real aim towards democracy.

Release of political prisoners is an important part of trust-building between the military-backed government, democratic forces, and ethnic societies.

With the aim of improvement towards true and proper national reconciliation and democratic transition, people throughout Burma must trust in the course of action. As long as prisoners of conscience continue in prison or continue detention for articulation of their political beliefs, the people will have no confidence in any political practice performed by the Thein Sein government.

“The detention of all remaining political prisoners will continue to overshadow and undermine any confidence in the government’s efforts,” UN Secretary General said.

According to Ban, Burma’s Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has recently met with President Thein Sein and done her first political tour outside of Yangon, should be allowed to carry on her activities without hindrance.

“Any restrictions on her movements or threats to her security would cause serious concern and send the wrong signal,” Ban warned.

The junta-made 2008 Constitution is a barrier to national reconciliation and democratic transition since it fortifies military ruling, denies ethnic nationalities’ basic rights, and ignores human rights. It also prohibits existing political prisoners from involvement in elections by reason of their arbitrary imprisonment.

In state-run media, the Thein Sein government repeatedly condemns the offer of National Reconciliation forum raised by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and some prominent ethnic leaders as an unnecessary approach.

The worst is that Burmese government stubbornly used to say there are no political prisoners in their prisons. The nation risks a return of nationwide armed conflict due to denial of a true federal union in the 2008 Constitution drawn by the previous military junta. The military seems to be at the helm as usual in the new nominal civil government. Although the governmental composition has been transformed, all the top jobs are in the hands of the former military generals. In such a situation, most observers believe that civil war with the ethnic armed groups will not be stopped easily.

Burma government representatives to various UN meetings continue to turn down any human rights abuses, in direct challenge to the information reported by the international human rights watch groups.

Even the newly formed government commission has been under skepticism and many dare not advocate that it has ability to address human rights abuses in line with the laws. With ongoing bad human rights records, the country will not have a chance to “embark on the path of progress”.

A United Nations commission of inquiry should be set up to address Burma’s human rights violence. The UN Secretary General should not give more time to the Burmese government which repeatedly promises to start reforms in line with the UN’s successive annual decisions for two decades. It will be unwise for Mr. Ban to wait and see Thein Sein government’s reform agenda without timeframe.
ASIA TIMES: Sep 8, 2011
Toys for the boys in Myanmar
By Bertil Lintner

CHIANG MAI - The isolated light-brown spots can be seen even on Google Earth. They are indicative of big, new buildings that have been carved out of densely forested jungle areas across the Myanmar heartland, with some dots seen in the hills east of the central city of Mandalay.

Most of them are for security reasons located in sparsely populated areas, but in the modern digital world not even Myanmar can keep the location of its new military installations secret.

Myanmar has embarked on a massive expansion of its military and military capabilities since the country was shaken by a nationwide pro-democracy uprising that almost toppled the regime in 1988. But this expansion appears to have been haphazard, with an emphasis on creating a loyal officer corps that the regime can depend on for its survival rather than building a professional fighting force.

Recent defectors from the Myanmar military say that the number of infantry battalions and other military units have been increased dramatically since 1988, but most of these are understaffed and the foot soldiers are often forcibly recruited, poorly paid and badly motivated.

Several sources with access to information from inside the Myanmar military say that the stated strength of the country's armed forces, often given by Western analysts as between 300,000-400,000 men, is grossly exaggerated. Some sources put the actual figure at less than half that number and because the central authorities have had ceasefire agreements with almost all of the country's ethnic rebel armies for two decades or more, the troops, and even most of the officers, lack combat experience.

Prior to the 1988 uprising and the ceasefire agreements with the rebels, the Myanmar military was known as a poorly equipped but ruthlessly efficient light-infantry force. Soldiers fought in yearly operations against insurgents in extremely difficult terrain, making it a tough, battle-hardened army with few equivalents in modern Asia.

"Now, the soldiers are doing nothing. They have new uniforms and better guns, the officers have more money to spend than anyone could dream of in the old days. They have new cars, new golf clubs, mistresses, everything - except professionalism," says a disgruntled former Myanmar army officer who requested anonymity. Meanwhile, the morale among the rank-and-file is reported to be low while desertion rates are high.

Consequently, recent military campaigns against ethnic Kachin and Shan rebels in the country's north and northeast have been disasters. Even after months of fighting, the government's troops have failed to occupy a single major camp run by the Shan State Army (SSA) in the heart of Shan State, while in the north the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) recently gave the military a bloody nose when it tried to dislodge the rebels from their strongholds near the Chinese border.

To make up for the lack of combat experience - and to keep the officers happy with new equipment - the Myanmar government first embarked on a massive procurement campaign in 1989. Throughout the 1990s, an estimated US$1.4 billion of military and military-related equipment was bought from China, including anti-aircraft guns, surface-to-air missiles, aircraft, naval vessels, armored personnel carriers, trucks and other military vehicles, artillery pieces and rocket launchers. Additional weaponry and military hardware were procured from other military partners such as Russia, Singapore, Ukraine, North Korea, and, at one stage, Pakistan, Portugal, Poland and the former Yugoslavia.

Homegrown defense
Recent years, however, have seen a rapid expansion of the number of homegrown defense industries, witnessed in the new clearings in the jungles throughout the country. Before the 1988 uprising, the country had no more than half a dozen such factories.

Today, there are more than 20 military factories apart from the research facilities where new weaponry, including missiles, are being developed. The Myanmar military is also known to be carrying out nuclear research, although even former Myanmar army major Sai Thein Win, the whistleblower who fled the country last year, says that the project is unlikely to produce a usable atomic weapon.

"When the German-made machinery arrived from Singapore, I asked my commander who was going to operate it. 'You are,' he said. He had never before worked in a defense factory, and I - and I was trained in Russia - could see that this equipment was not suitable for the purpose for which it had been obtained. The nuclear program is nothing but a pipedream," Sai Thein Win told Asia Times Online in a recent interview.

Known by the acronym ka pa sa after the initials of the Myanmar name for "the Directorate of Defense Industries", the early factories were located exclusively around the old capital Yangon, on the western bank of the Irrawaddy River near the town of Pyay, or Prome, and near Magwe further to the north. According to analyst Andrew Selth, an Australian expert on the Myanmar military: "Before 1988 these factories could produce automatic rifles and light machine-guns, light mortars, grenades, anti-personnel mines and ammunition."

Myanmar's attempts to develop its own defense industries began in the early 1950s when a small factory was set up to produce bullets and copies of an Italian 9mm TZ45 submachine gun, known as the "Ne Win Sten" after the army commander at that time and later the country's first military ruler.

Selth states in a monograph about Myanmar's arms industries, published in 1997 by the Australian National University: "The Burmese [Myanmar] arms industry was given a major boost in 1957, when the state-owned West German company Fritz Werner GmbH agreed to build a factory in Rangoon [Yangon] with Heckler and Koch to produce Gewehr 3 [G3] automatic rifles. Finance was provided on favorable terms by the West German government."

All such West German assistance was supposed to be halted after the 1988 uprising was drenched in blood, resulting in international condemnation of Myanmar's military regime. But an internal audit report for the West German company, dated March 31, 1990, reveals that "raw materials imported from abroad are recorded in the stock ledger, but delivered directly to Myanma Heavy Industries for custody and use by them in production of goods on the JVC's [Joint Venture Company] behalf." The report, compiled by Fritz Werner's accountants from the U Hla Tun Group, goes on to mention Ministry of Heavy Industries production sites at Yangon, Sinde and Nyaungchitauk at Padaung near Pyay, and Malun near Minhla - or exactly the locations of Myanmar's then most important defense industries.

Fritz Werner is still active in Myanmar, but, according to Sai Thein Win and other sources, it is doubtful whether it is still actively involved in producing military equipment, although in 1984 it became the first foreign company to enter into a joint-venture agreement with Myanmar's Heavy Industries Corporation, which produces weapons for the country's armed forces.

The old Gewehr series - G2, G3 and G4 - has been replaced by other, indigenously produced infantry weapons which are lighter and more suitable for Myanmar's tropical climate. Called MA 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 - after "Myanmar Army" - they are based on Chinese designs and resemble modern versions of the Soviet-era Kalashnikov and the old Makarov pistol. The new MA series is produced at ka pa sa 1 near Yangon's Inya Lake, while the more advanced ka pa sa 2 in Malun produces mortars and artillery pieces and also has a shooting range built by Singapore to test the effectiveness of the weapons.

Brothers in arms
Missile research and development is carried out at the newly built ka pa sa 10 at Konegyi village in Minhla, where experts from North Korea and possibly also China and Russia are reportedly active. Myanmar is said to be interested in producing a North Korean-designed, Scud-type Hwasong 6 missile. But it is still an open question how close Myanmar is to producing a functioning missile. North Korean ships, however, continue to arrive frequently in Myanmar's ports, carrying what is described as "general goods" that are often destined for Myanmar's defense industries.

The production capability of the old mortar and shell factory ka pa sa 3 at Sinde, Padaung, has been surpassed by the new ka pa sa 12, set up in 1996. It now produces 60mm, 81mm, 105mm and 120mm mortar shells in a complex that sprawls over more than 16,000 acres (6,500 hectares) south of Sakhangyi village in Thayetmyo township, Magway Region.

According to Myanmar military insiders, machinery for ka pa sa 12 was imported from the Czech Republic and installed with help of experts from that country. Ka pa sa 12 uses modern electronic control equipment and is now considered one of the most advanced in Myanmar.

The most reliable factory for the production of small arms is ka pa sa 11 in Taikkyi township, Bago Region. It manufactures parts for the new MA-series of light infantry weapons, and machinery for the facility was reportedly obtained from South Korea's Daewoo company.

A more mysterious industrial complex is at Sidoktaya near Magway Region's border with Rakhine State. Designated as ka pa sa 20, 100,000 acres have been cleared for the facility and Google Earth imagery shows a helicopter landing pad and unusually long buildings.

It is staffed by 400 soldiers, military engineers and officers, many of them Russian-trained in nuclear physics, leading to speculation that it could be one of several locations in Myanmar where nuclear-related research is being carried out. Close to ka pa sa 20 is a new hydroelectric power station to provide a steady source of electricity to the top-secret facility.

Ka pa sa 8 in Sinbaungweh township, Magway Region, produces parts for tanks, ka pa sa 9 in Padaung, Bago Region, makes bullets for the MA-series of weapons, and ka pa sa 7 in Pyay makes sea mines and produces and repairs armored vehicles. Ka pa sa 6, also near Padaung, produces various kinds of ammunition and was reportedly built by Chinese experts. Ka pa sa 13 near Letpan village in Magway Region makes mines and parts for artillery.

Defectors such as Sai Thein Win, the only one willing to be interviewed by name by Asia Times Online, question the efficacy of these new arms factories. According to him, the fact that they are scattered all over the country and are, as he puts it, situated "in the middle of nowhere" (they can be seen with a even cursory look at Google Earth), makes it extremely difficult to coordinate production.

"Raw materials and parts have to be sent across the country, from one facility to another, and one factory doesn't know what another is doing. The outcome is that many of these new weapons are basically useless," claims Sai Thein Win.

Myanmar's newly recruited infantry may lack combat experience, and the quality of the weapons produced in its defense industries may be of poor quality due to bad coordination between the various ka pa sas. But it is clear that the Myanmar regime is in no hurry to change its priorities, as defense spending still accounts for as much as 50% of the central government's budget.

Regime survival has always been the main prerogative of Myanmar's generals and thus a loyal and well-supplied officer corps is still of utmost importance, regardless of their weakness on the battlefield.

Bertil Lintner is a former correspondent with the Far Eastern Economic Review and author of several books on Burma/Myanmar. He is currently a writer with Asia-Pacific Media Services.
Media Are Like Red Ants, Says Kyaw Hsan
By KO HTWE Thursday, September 8, 2011

In response to a parliamentary proposal regarding freedom of the media, Minister of Information Kyaw Hsan said on Wednesday it would bring “more disadvantages than advantages,” before he went on to astonish MPs with a half-hour recital from the Buddhist tales of the Jataka.

Speaking at the second session of the Lower House in Naypyidaw in response to a proposal by MP Thein Nyunt of Thingangyun Constituency in Rangoon that laws be enacted to protect the right of freely expressing and publishing opinions in the media, Kyaw Hsan said, “If press freedom is to be granted with a set of rules protecting the rights of freedom, there would be more disadvantages than advantages.”

According to state-run newspaper The New Light of Myanmar, he continued: “But if opinions are allowed to be expressed within a necessary framework, it would bring advantages to the nation.”

In a speech that observers said rambled on uninterrupted for nearly half an hour, Kyaw Hsan eulogized and patronized MPs, and recounted long passages from the ancient Hindic text of “550 Jataka Tales” and, in particular, the fable of the elephant king Saddan.

In the tale, the king offered flowers to his queen, but the flowers attracted red ants, which bit the queen, Kyaw Hsan told parliamentarians.

“What this means is that although the king wished to give flowers—representing media freedom—to his queen, the red ants, which are like the media, came down from the tree and bit her, causing much instability in the kingdom,” a Lower House MP explained to The Irrawaddy.

Eventually, the speaker of the Lower House Shwe Mann intervened, stating that Kyaw Hsan had exceeded his time limit, and that there were more matters to discuss.

Kyaw Hsan caused a stir in Burma last month when he broke down in tears at a press conference when talking about the danger to the Irrawaddy River caused by the Myitsone dam project.

Supposedly close to hardline Vice-president Tin Aung Myint Oo, Kyaw Hsan has allegedly used his position as minister of information to previously censor Shwe Mann's speeches in state publications. He also stands accused of altering the remarks made in parliament by MPs when issuing parliamentary press releases for publication in the state media.

The fact that parliamentary rules require MPs' proposals to be submitted to the house speaker at least 15 days in advance of the session is a hindrance to the parliamentarians' ability to raise sensitive issues, said an observer.

While state media reports on the machinations of parliament, such as questions raised and answered, proposals discussed and bills submitted and approved, it does not report on sensitive or controversial issues such as the fact that Burma will run a deficit of about 2.2 trillion kyat (US $3.2 billion) in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, he said.

In addition, the state censorship board does not allow these types of issues to be reported in private journals, he added.

Burma's second parliamentary session convened in Naypyidaw on Aug. 22. Under Burma's 2008 Constitution, 110 seats in the Lower House of the Union Parliament, 56 in the Upper House and 222 in the State and Regional Parliaments are reserved for military appointees selected by the country's armed forces chief.