covering burma and southeast asia
Wednesday, December 12, 2018


By The Irrawaddy Thursday, January 1, 1998

(Page 26 of 27)

Pyi Sone were named vice chairmen.

Shan independence fight taken overseas

Shan ethnic group leaders in Burma are seeking support from overseas Shans to intensify their campaign against Rangoon for an independent Shan state.

A leading member of a Shan ethnic group told the Bangkok Post that it was very likely that Shan people in Burma and other countries would join forces as a big nationalist movement to seek independence from Rangoon. According to the source, the son of a Shan prince, Chao Sua Hom who is now residing in Australia, recently set up a Shan nationalist movement called the Shan Democratic Union.

Junta in new reshuffle

The SPDC reshuffled eight ministers in the first cabinet changes since Nov.15. Only Foreign Minister Ohn Gyaw appears to have maintained the same cabinet position. Portfolios including finance, national planning, energy, and education have been changed, continuing the biggest shake-up in the regime in nine years, designed to spur the military state towards economic development.

Kyat plunge worries dealers

Burma’s currency, the kyat, fell to a record low against the US dollar, prompting fears among some currency dealers that the government would blame them for it and punish them.

The kyat was trading at 314 to the dollar in the “gray” market, marking the first time the kyat has fallen to 300 against the dollar.

The official exchange rate is about six kyats to a dollar, but that is used mainly for state enterprises.

Otherwise, money is changed through grey market dealers, who follow market forces, and government exchange counters, which at times attempt to control or influence the rate. Some Burmese businessmen, however, have said that the drop in value of the Thai baht has hit the kyat because there is so much cross-border trade between the two countries.

Analysts in Bangkok have frequently cited Burma’s high defence and weapons expenditures, and the mismanagement of the economy, as the main reasons behind the kyat’s decline.

UN envoy to Burma to push for free polls

SPDC chairman Than Shwe met with UN General Secretary Kofi Annan during the informal Asean summit where the two reportedly discussed Burma’s move towards democratisation. Annan also announced that a UN envoy will travel to Burma in January to press Burma for free and fair elections.

“The meeting went very well,” Annan said.

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