Jul 23rd, 2012
By Thanaporn Promyamyai | AFP – 3 hrs ago
Myanmar’s president Sunday made his first official trip to Thailand since taking power in a visit likely to focus on economic ties between his reforming nation and its more affluent neighbour.
Thein Sein arrived in Bangkok for a three-day trip that will include talks with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday expected to cover development and infrastructure investment for impoverished Myanmar.
The visit marks “a significant milestone of Thai-Myanmar relations”, according to a statement from Thailand’s foreign ministry.
It is a chance to strengthen ties, “particularly those in support of Myanmar’s ongoing economic reform and development efforts for the benefits of both countries and the region as a whole”, it said.
Thailand has fostered long-standing economic ties with its neighbour and — along with China and other regional nations — became a key trading partner with Myanmar during years of isolation under junta rule.
But reforms under Thein Sein have triggered a dramatic thawing of relations with the West, which has begun to dismantle strict sanctions against the resource-rich country, amid hopes for a resurgence of its economy.
This month the United States gave the green light to US companies to invest in Myanmar including in oil and gas, in its broadest and most controversial easing yet of sanctions, as foreign firms eye potentially lucrative opportunities in the country’s energy sector.
Thein Sein, who took the presidency of the new quasi-civilian government last year, on Sunday inspected the Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Chonburi, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Bangkok, on Thailand’s Gulf Coast.
Doubts have emerged over a Thai-backed multi-billion-dollar deep-sea-port development in Dawei, on Myanmar’s southern Andaman coast, after Thein Sein’s government announced it was blocking a coal-fired plant that was to be built at the site.
Thein Sein will also meet representatives of Thai industry and agriculture during his trip, including the heads of energy giant Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) and industrial conglomerate Siam Cement.
Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific Chief Economist at IHS Global Insight, said Thailand was in a strong position to invest in tourism, healthcare and manufacturing in Myanmar and to assist the country in developing its crippled banking industry.
He said other nations would begin to grow their presence in the country but “it will still be China and Thailand that are very much in the lead because they have the connections and are on the ground already”.
Talks between Thein Sein and Yingluck are expected to include the fate of dozens of Thais arrested across the border and held on charges of land encroachment.
Thailand’s huge population of Myanmar migrants is also expected to be discussed, with Naypyidaw attempting to improve living conditions for its workers, who are often vulnerable to exploitation.
Thein Sein delayed a visit to Bangkok in late May that clashed with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s appearance at the World Economic Forum on East Asia held in Bangkok, in her first overseas excursion for over two decades.
Suu Kyi stole the show at the forum, urging “healthy scepticism” over Myanmar’s dramatic reforms, saying only the rule of law could cement recent political progress and foster clean investment.
The Myanmar leader again postponed the trip in early June.
Reuters – 10 hrs ago
GUWAHATI, India, Jul (Reuters) – A bus plunged into a gorge after landslides in India’s northeastern state of Mizoram, killing at least 18 people and injuring dozens, a police official said on Sunday.
The accident took place on Saturday near Keifang village, close to the border with Myanmar and more than 100 km (60 miles) from the state capital Aizwal, the official, L.R. Sailo, said.
“Seventeen people died on the spot and a 10-year boy died in the hospital,” Sailo said by telephone from Aizwal.
BUSINESS SECTOR WANTS PROTECTION GUARANTEES FROM THEIN SEIN
Published: 22/07/2012 at 01:53 AM
Newspaper section: News
Thailand needs to make full use of Myanmar President Thein Sein’s visit this week to clarify how his government will solidify a framework of economic cooperation and protection, business sources say.
Thein Sein arrives in Bangkok today by a special plane at Don Mueang airport.
He had twice postponed his planned trip to Thailand, once during the visit of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the end of May when she attended the World Economic Forum in Bangkok and had the full glare of the world media’s attention on her.
Thein Sein will visit Laem Chabang deepsea port in Chon Buri today. Tomorrow he will issue a joint press statement after meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
On Tuesday, he will visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha before returning home.
One issue the two leaders are likely discuss is the fate of the 92 Thais detained in Kawthaung Township, opposite Ranong, for encroaching on Myanmar soil. Some are accused of possessing arms and drug offences.
The Foreign Ministry says the two countries have reached agreements on cooperation in various fields and will sign a memorandum of understanding, although it gave no details.
While Myanmar has investment potential following democratic reforms, Thai investors want the government to take the opportunity of Thein Sein’s visit to clarify certain issues and pave the way for practical trade and investment promotion and protection.
“Generally, the sentiment in the Thai business sector is dubious, but like other foreign investors Thais are upbeat as major powers are knocking on the door there.
“We need official documents, including how investments will be protected, that explicitly cover things investors should have before venturing into an emerging market like Myanmar,” an industry source said.
The government needed to take the lead as it did in Vietnam where the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand was present before private companies gained a strong foothold, the source said.
Thailand was Myanmar’s second biggest trading partner (23.4%) at US$9.5 billion (290 billion baht) in 2011, after China where investment was valued at $20.3 billion (49.7%), according to the Chinese embassy in Myanmar.
Michael Montesano, a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, saw Thein Sein’s visit as a way for him to meet his obligations as an Asean partner by building a rapport with the Thai government and also a chance for him to remind Thailand that he is the leader of the state.
“Yet the concrete results of his visit to Thailand are largely up to Thailand. Thailand needs to remember that Myanmar today, unlike the old days, now has many willing partners [to do business with],” Mr Montesano said.
Other issues likely to be discussed during the visit include Thailand’s request to open four border checkpoints in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Kanchanaburi, Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai, the slow and overly expensive process of nationality verification that migrant workers face and issues pertaining to the $8.6 billion Dawei deepsea port.
The fate of the project remains in doubt following Nay Pyi Taw’s rejection of a coal-fired power plant in the area and the withdrawal of the Max Myanmar Group, a domestic partner in the Dawei project.
Myanmar communities in exile and international human rights organisations have demanded the Thai government also raise human rights issues with Thein Sein.
July 22, 2012 12:02 pm
Yangon – Myanmar President Thein Sein traveled Sunday to Thailand for an official visit to the second-largest investor in the former pariah state.
He initially planned to visit in May for the World Economic Forum, but canceled after learning that Myanmar democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi would also attend the event where she grabbed the spotlight.
On Sunday, Thein Sein was scheduled to visit Laem Chambang seaport in Chonburi, 100 kilometres south-east of Bangkok.
Laem Chabang is planned to be linked by road to the Dawei deep seaport on Myanmar’s south-eastern coast, an 8.6-billion-dollar project that Italian-Thai Development Company won a concession to build and operate.
Myanmar has been under nominal civilian rule since the November 2010 general election. The government is run by the pro-military Union Solidarity and Development Party, which is packed with former generals.
Thein Sein has initiated several political reforms since taking office in March 2011, most significantly allowing Suu Kyi to join mainstream politics as an elected member of parliament.
The reforms prompted the US and Europe to ease sanctions imposed on the country for two decades.
Sunday, 22 July 2012 By MCOT
BANGKOK, July 19 – Thailand is ready to welcome Myanmar President Thein Sein during his official visit to the country July 22-24 with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on development projects in Myanmar, covering the Dawei Special Economic Zone and related projects, expected to be signed during the leader’s visit.
Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul had previously discussed the matter with Myanmar ambassador to Thailand Tin Win on the occasion of the ambassador having taken his new post in Thailand, according to the Thai Foreign Ministry statement.
The discussion included cooperation with Myanmar to allow Thai officers of the Thai-Myanmar Township Border Committee (TBC) in the southern province of Ranong to visit Thai detainees in Myanmar’s prison at Victoria Point, also known as Koh Song. The Thai minister asked the ambassador to support cooperation by using the committee mechanism to resolve the problem.
Earlier this month Myanmar authorities apprehended 92 Thais for allegedly cutting down trees and clearing an area to plant para rubber trees and marijuana at Victoria Point. Those found not involved with weapons or growing marijuana would be charged with illegal entry.
Meanwhile, Mr Tin Win reported briefly on Myanmar’s reform progress to Mr Surapong, focusing on national reconciliation, democracy development, freedom for ethnic minorities, and market economy reform. The Thai official congratulated the Myanmar official on the progress, the ministry said, and supported it.
The Myanmar ambassador also thanked Thailand for its academic assistance to the country’s personnel development since 1992, and invited the Thai private sector to invest more in Myanmar, for Thailand is considered one of Myanmar’s important trading partners. Mr Surapong accordingly asked Mr Tin Win to help push the opening of more permanent border crossing points between the two nations for further economic benefit.
Regarding Myanmar workers in Thailand, the two countries have closely collaborated on regularising labour procedures. Five more nationality verification centres have been set up in Thailand. The workers passing through the nationality verification process will benefit from and be protected under Thai law.
Myanmar Ways of Conducting Business Is Changing.
July 22, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ — 6th Myanmar Business Conference concluded with officials assuring that Myanmar is changing for the better for foreign and local investors. The legal reform will change the way business is done in Myanmar in the future.
Mr William Tan, the organiser said “The way that Myanmar conducts business is changing to be in-line with the international practices. With all the “updating” of laws, business transaction will be transparent and fair practise will be adhering to. International competitions coming to Myanmar will help to reshape the way to do business in Myanmar”.
In concluding the conference, delegates/participants accord the speakers who are officials from various ministries with a standing ovation for their sincere and frank advice on the current stage of business opportunities in Myanmar and their efforts to shape Myanmar pro business policies.
Clarification on the Land use rights were discussed and foreign investors can leased land from government or private land owner for 50 years with extension of 10 years twice bringing the total lease to 70 years.
Myanmar plans to open its telecommunications sector to foreign investment, allowing international companies to form joint ventures with the government to build infrastructure and provide services in the nation.
All issues related to legal aspects of doing business with Myanmar were discussed and clarified.
Participants appreciate the running commentary provided by Mr William Tan in-between speakers delivering their papers were packed with experiences from his 17 years of working experience with Myanmar. Mr William tips on how to ensure that projects receive the attention of relevant officials and survive its course and to buying the genuine diamond at the right price in Yangon were refreshing.
The step-by-step guide and pitfalls were highlighted for foreign investor to minimise “learning curved”.
Participants were caution of their expectation that Myanmar legal system is currently “work-in-progress” but they have the opportunity to contribute their views and perhaps influence how the law can be finalised.
William Tan expressed hope that businessmen who are forward looking and willing to invest time and capital to have a presence in Myanmar will succeed better.
He added that, “Some participants have asked us to assist them in registering for a companies or rep office in Myanmar. Others have requested assistance to organise their business trip to Myanmar.”
The Myanmar Business Conference series succeeded again in matching participants’ business interests and the dynamics was experience with networking in possible multi-million dollars deals among them as they are all coming together with the common interests of doing business with Myanmar.
The 6th Myanmar Business Conference attracted reputable Myanmar companies’ participants seeking foreign expertise and capital. These participants brought with them projects and opportunities looking for foreign expertise, know-how and capital.
Mr William said, “We are working on a one-day seminar to share our experience of doing business with Myanmar in the past, present and the future. We will share our opinion as to how companies should position themselves and strategise to benefits from the expected influx of foreign investors.
There are a lot of opportunities and will remain so until you do something about it. The seminar will have a Myanmar lawyer/accountant to address the company formation, taxation and labour policies issues. The seminar is expected in August/September in Singapore.”
You may register your interest for the one-day seminar at firstname.lastname@example.org and more details will be forwarded to you when available.
FRC Conference will also be organising a Business Trip for participants to meet their counterparts and officials in Nay Pyi Taw soon. You may register your interest at email@example.com for more details.
Submitted by admin7 on 22 July 2012 – 1:18pm
By Mumtaz Alam Falahi, TwoCircles.net, New Delhi: Amidst spreading anger among Muslims in India over the killings of Muslims in Myanmar, the Embassy of Myanmar in New Delhi has come up with first official and detailed explanation about the violent clashes, its origin and the measures the Government of Myanmar has adopted to control the situation and provide relief to the victims.
According to Myanmar Ambassador Zin Yaw, what has happened recently in the Rakhine State of Myanmar was violent clashes and riots between Buddhists and Muslims in the state – it was not one-sided killing of Muslims by another group with the support of the state. According to Yaw, only 79 persons comprising members of both communities have been killed in the riots that started on 30th May 2012. He termed the photos of mass killings of Muslims as fake and described the reports as baseless accusations. He further said that the violent clashes began after the rape and murder of a Buddhist girl by three Muslims in Rakhine State on 28th May.
The ambassador has made this clarification in reply to a letter by Dr Tasleem Ahmed Rahmani, President, Muslim Political Council of India. Mr. Rahmani had written to the ambassador on 19th July seeking appointment for a meeting of Muslim leaders with the ambassador over the reported killings of Muslims in Myanmar.
“A delegation of Indian national Muslim Organizations of including Jamaat-e Islami Hind, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, Jamiat Ahle Hadees, Jamiat Ulama-e Hind, Muslim Political Council of India and others are anxious to meet you at the earliest possible convenience in the light the of the reports pouring in through all media sections regarding mass killings and persecution of Burmese Rhongya Muslims in Arakan region of Myanmar,” wrote Mr. Rahmani in the letter.
“Indian Muslims feel very upset over such reports. Before making any move to contact international human rights organizations and our own government, we feel it is imperative to have a first hand and direct version from you,” he had further said in the letter.
In response to the letter, the ambassador of Myanmar, Zin Yaw sent him a three-page letter on 20th July.
Main points of the letter of Myanmar ambassador
– On 28 May this year, a Rakhine Buddhist girl was raped and killed by three Muslims in Kyaukpyu district of Rakhine State. The perpetrators were arrested and put in police custody.
– On 30 May, 100 people including relatives of the girl and villagers came to the police station asking police to hand over the accused to them. Police refused and opened fire to disperse the mob.
– On 3 June in a town called Taunggup, a group of about 300 Rakhine Buddhists attacked 10 Muslim passengers on a bus travelling to Yangon. All 10 were killed on the spot. This led to violent clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims. The situation went out of control.
– Curfew was imposed by the State Government on 8 June 2012. However, clashes continued. State of Emergency was declared in Rakhine State by the Union Government on 10 June. Army was called in to control the situation. The situation is now back to normal completely.
–During the clashes, both Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims, 79 persons in total, were killed and many injured. It is totally untrue that hundreds or thousands have been killed and that those killed were Muslims. The deaths were caused by either group to each other, not by others. Houses and property worth millions of dollars were destroyed. Thousands of victims have become homeless.
– The government formed on 6 June 2012 an Investigation Committee headed by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs to investigate all aspects of the unfortunate incident and submit a report to the President.
– 30 Rakhine Buddhist suspects have already been detained so far.
– Relief camps, 72 in total, have been set up separately for Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims. Basic needs of food, clothing and medicines of the victims have been met by the government.
– In coordination with the government, UN agencies in the country, including UNHCR, UNFPA, WFP and UNOCHA, and INGOs have also been providing humanitarian assistance to the victims.
–Lt. Gen. Thein Htay, Union Minister for Border Affairs and for Myanmar Industrial Development, accompanied by Mr. Vijay Nambiar, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, officials from UN agencies, 15 Muslim leaders from Yangon visited Rakhine State recently
Full text of the letter of Myanmar ambassador
Dear Dr. T.A. Rahmani,
I would like to provide you the following information:-
On what happened:
On 28 May this year, a Rakhine Buddhist girl was raped and killed by three men near one of the villages in Kyaukpyu district of Rakhine State, which is bordering Bangladesh.
Through the investigation conducted by Kyaukpyu district police force, three persons, all Muslims, were exposed to be the perpetrators. They were put under protective custody in Kyaukpyu Jail on the morning of 30 May for fear of revenge from relatives of the deceased girl.
Relatives of the deceased girl and fellow villagers, about 100, went to the police station on the afternoon of 30 May and asked the police station to bring to them the three suspects.
The police officers, who are Buddhists, did not allow them to enter the station compound and rejected their claim by saying that action would be taken against the three suspects in accordance with the law. This testifies to respect for law and the rule of law in the country. Unsatisfied with the response from the police officers, the relatives and fellow villagers attempted to enter the police station which compelled the police officers to fire five shots to disperse them.
On 3 June in a town called Taunggup, a group of about 300 Rakhine Buddhists attacked 10 Muslim passengers on a bus travelling to Yangon. All 10 were killed on the spot. The news on killing of 10 Muslims spread to the immediate neighbourhood and Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists in the neighbourhood attacked each other. This communal violence spread quickly to other parts of Maungtaw and then to Buthidaung, Sittway and Yathedaung townships in the Rakhine State where Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims have been living since long. The situation went out of control.
Local authorities and police were unable to control the situation due to lack of man power and facilities. Curfew was imposed by the State Government on 8 June 2012 in the areas where clashes took place. However, clashes continued and even spread out and therefore, State of Emergency was declared in Rakhine State by the Union Government on 10 June. The Defence Services was called in to control the situation and to restore peace and law and order in the state. The situation is now back to normal completely.
During the unfortunate incident, both Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims, 79 persons in total, were killed and many injured. It is totally untrue that hundreds or thousands have been killed and that those killed were Muslims. The deaths were caused by either group to each other, not by others. Houses and property worth millions of dollars were destroyed. Thousands of victims have become homeless. Both Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims suffered as a result of the lawlessness of a few.
On what the government has done and been doing:
The government formed on 6 June 2012 an Investigation Committee headed by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs to investigate all aspects of the unfortunate incident and submit a report to the President.
Action will be taken in accordance with the law against all those, without any exception, who have committed crimes or agitated others to do so. 30 Rakhine Buddhist suspects have already been detained so far.
Relief camps, 72 in total, have been set up separately for Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims. Basic needs of food, clothing and medicines of the victims have been met by the government.
In coordination with the government, UN agencies in the country, including UNHCR, UNFPA, WFP and UNOCHA, and INGOs have also been providing humanitarian assistance to the victims.
Lt. Gen. Thein Htay, Union Minister for Border Affairs and for Myanmar Industrial Development, accompanied by Mr. Vijay Nambiar, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, officials from UN agencies in Yangon led by Resident Representatives of UN agencies in Myanmar Mr. Ashok Nigam, 15 Muslim leaders from Yangon and departmental officials, visited Rakhine State recently, during which arrangements made by the government for rehabilitation and long-term aids for livelihood for the victims and for the security and the rule of law in the region have been explained to the victims. Cash, foodstuff, school uniforms, exercise books and stationary worth hundreds of thousands of dollars have been given to victims of both groups.
The Speaker of the Lower House of Myanmar Parliament accompanied by MPs representing political parties also travelled to Rakhine State. Together with the Chief Minister of Rakhine State and his cabinet members they visited the relief camps in the state and observed relief, resettlement and rehabilitation measures for the victims. The MPs donated Kyats 12.93 million, their daily allowance for three days, Union Solidarity and Development Party Kyats 20 million and the State Assembly members Kyats 2 million, for the victims.
Comment of the Embassy:
The Embassy of Myanmar sincerely hopes that you be well aware that violent clashes take place sometimes not only between different religions but even between different sects of the same religion. Whenever such ugly things happen, not only those who start but also who have nothing to do with such things suffer. The Embassy firmly believes that regardless of what religion one professes, all must live together peacefully based on respect for each other and laws of the country in which we reside. The recent clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Muslims in the Rakhine State of our country are very unfortunate and the Embassy feels very sorry for all the victims without any reservation.
In Myanmar, Muslims are not only in Rakhine State but also elsewhere as those who profess other religions in the country. Buddhist pagodas and monasteries, Christian churches, Islamic mosques and Hindu temples exist side by side in many cities/towns/localities of the country. This can happen because of the deeply rooted religious tolerance in the country.
Fake photos or false information have been spread with an ill intention to agitate Muslims around the world by attempting to create the impression that Muslims are being discriminated or killed in Myanmar and that such acts are state sponsored. Such are unsubstantiated accusations. Please do not be misled by them.
I would like to request you to kindly share this information with your colleagues.
I wish you and your colleagues all the best.
With warm regards
July 21, 2012: Fighting continues in the tribal north. For the last decade, there have been ceasefire deals that tend to collapse into a period of heavy combat followed by another ceasefire. The Shan, Kachin, Wa and some smaller tribes maintain armed and organized militias which can delay, but not stop army movements in the sparsely populated north. The militias do prevent the government from maintaining regular control of the tribal north. This pattern has persisted since the 195os because of corruption and ethnic tension between the northern tribes and the more numerous lowlanders. About a third of 58 million Burmese belong to various minorities and most of them are in the rebellious tribes of the north. The current ceasefires in the north are still broken when the army moves troops around and tribal militiamen open fire because they suspect the soldiers are up to no good. The troops have, in the past, regularly entered villages and engaged in looting and rape. The tribes don’t forget this sort of thing.
Decades of Burmese broken promises makes negotiations difficult, but the tribes are anxious to get access to teachers and medical care, as well as trade with the south. So the peace negotiations regularly alternate with periods of violence. The lowland Burmese have never had control of the tribal uplands. In fact it was the British colonial troops that gained some control over there tribal areas, and then made them part of post-colonial Burma in 1947. Britain had taken control of Burma in 1885, ending a thousand years of independence. During that thousand years the lowland kingdoms did not control the tribal areas most of the time. The British policy up north was to keep the peace and not exercise a lot of control over. That suited the tribes, who retained a lot of autonomy and were able to trade with the more advanced (in terms of economy, education and so on) south. The British encouraged trade with the tribes and brought peace and prosperity for over half a century. After 1947, the lowland Burmese sought to impose the control of their corrupt government which was eager to exploit, and not help, the independent minded tribes. That led to over half a century of perpetual rebellion.
Ethnic and religious violence, that was particularly intense last month, continues in the northwest ( Rakhine State, the northwestern coast just south of Bangladesh) but at a reduced level. There have been several hundred casualties, most of them Moslem and thousands of buildings destroyed. This has displaced over 40,000 people. The Moslems and Buddhists have never gotten along and there’s always been some tension. Until recently, the military government suppressed any open talk of these tensions. But since the elections last year, there’s been more freedom of the press and that has included more public discussion by Buddhists about how much they dislike the Rohingyas.
Rakhine State has a population of 3.8 million, with about 800,000 of them Moslems, mostly Rohingyas. These are Benglais, or people from Bengal (now Bangladesh) who began migrating to Burma during the 19th century. At that time the British colonial government ran Bangladesh and Burma, and allowed this movement, even though the Buddhist Burmese opposed it. Britain recognized the problem too late, and the Bengali Moslems were still in Burma when Britain gave up its South Asian colonies after World War II (1939-45).
Bangladesh has refused to take these Moslems back as Bangladeshis, and the Rohingya have come to consider themselves a separate group. Burma never let the Rohingya become citizens, which helped stoke tensions between the Moslems and Buddhists. Bangladesh has long had too many people, and illegal migration to neighboring areas has been a growing problem. In the 1990s, an outbreak of violence led to over a quarter million Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh. Some 28,000 are in refugee camps in Bangladesh, another 200,000 live outside the camps in Bangladesh and some are in Thailand, where they are considered economic migrants, and thus illegal. This year Bangladesh changed its refugee policy and refused to accept any more Rohingya, considering the refugee camps an unfair burden caused by Burmese refusal to absorb the Rohingya in their territory. This has led to Burma creating heavily guarded camps for these displaced Rohingya. Aid workers call these camps prisons, but the Burmese want to limit the movement of Rohingya who consider themselves at war with Buddhists. No Hindus, Christians or Buddhists in this region have fond memories of Moslems, who have been around for over a thousand years as invaders and violent religious bigots. These memories are sustained by the current wave of Islamic terrorism around the world. The UN is trying to get Burma to absorb the Rohingya, but the Burmese believe that absorption is not practical and these Moslems must move to a Moslem country (preferably Bangladesh, where they came from.) The Burmese resent the UN interference and have arrested some aid workers who are helping the Rohingya.
As part of a deal with India, Burmese troops moved into areas near the Indian border where Indian rebels groups have long maintained camps. But none of the camps have been shut down yet. When the camps are shut down, India will respond with economic aid and investment deals.
China continues to expel tribal refugees (Kachin) from Burma. The Chinese do not want a lot of these refugees because their refugee camps tend to become bases for armed Kachin and smugglers.
July 10, 2012: The United States has lifted some of the economic sanctions imposed on Burma (because of its decades of military rule). The new elected government is showing signs of dismantling many aspects of the military dictatorship. That said, the new government is still full of retired generals. While these guys talk of changing their old dictatorial ways, the reforms are not coming quickly. The U.S. lifted some sanctions because the government replaced some hardline generals with some less hardline ones. The problem is that all these senior army officers stick together and the new democracy initiative is seen by many as an army scheme to get out from under all the sanctions and revive the economy while not threatening the wealth and power the army leaders have built up in the last half century. Burmese reformers are pressuring the retired generals to allow more change. This sometimes irritates the generals, like the growing tendency among Burmese to call their country Burma. The generals have insisted, for decades, that the country be called Myanmar. But because the generals were so hated, most Burmese saw “Myanmar” as another name for oppression and military dictatorship. Most Burmese prefer “Burma”, which harkens back to better times.
July 9, 2012: Police and soldiers raided a methamphetamine lab in Shan state, seizing $3.7 million worth of meth (in pill form) and raw materials. This included 73 kg (161 pounds) of the pills ready to be smuggled into China or Thailand. Heroin and meth production has increased in the last few years as a way for the tribes to raise money for weapons and other military supplies. The government has pledged to shut down drug production by 2014. That is unlikely to happen, but the police and soldiers can do a lot of damage.
July 4, 2012: In the south, along the Thailand border, police arrested 80 Thais and accused them of illegal logging. There’s a lot of this going on along the border, and those arrested belonged to a gang that apparently did not pay bribes to the right people. Police also seized bulldozers (for creating roads) and heavy trucks (to carry out the logs), as well as heavy duty saws.