covering burma and southeast asia
Sunday, December 16, 2018


By The Irrawaddy APRIL, 2000 - VOLUME 8 NO.4/5

(Page 2 of 2)

Min Swe, Chief of Staff (Air), and other high level officials including the commander of Military Intelligence Unit 19, Colonel Thet Lwin, were present at the meetings.

At the meeting, officials decided that Navy base #58 would increase its fighting capacity and be moved to Bya Date Kyee Island, where a new airport and maintenance service center will be built by Chinese Air Force engineers cooperating with their Burmese counterpart. The cost will be US$ 5 million.

Also, a site on Shwe Kyun Aur Bay, northeast of Bya Date Kyee Island, was chosen for an army repair and maintenance base. The cost is US$2.2 million. Construction on both projects will begin in June.

 Mini Mart Diplomacy

Burma’s democracy activists are finding it easier to bump into Burmese officials overseas than to meet with them across the negotiating table. This was the case in Jakarta recently, where activists and embassy officials met by chance in a scene that speaks volumes about the political deadlock in their homeland.

As Indonesia opens up, more and more Burmese activists in Bangkok are going to Jakarta to attend seminars and conferences. Many have met high-ranking Indonesian officials. “We meet Golkar people, Wahid, everyone,” said one prominent activist in exile. Seldom do they have such access to Burmese officials.

Recently, however, a group of activists met a Burmese couple in a mini market in Jakarta. A stunned-looking husband grabbed his wife and quickly left without returning the other side’s warm greetings. Later it was discovered that the couple was none other than the Burmese ambassador and his wife. “He didn’t want to talk to us,” said the Burmese activist who met Ambassador U Nyi Nyi Thant.

Rangoon officials based in Indonesia are clearly not comfortable with such close encounters, and appear to be applying pressure on Jakarta to restrict the number of dissidents entering the country. Ironically, it was easier for Burmese exiles to enter Indonesia when Southeast Asia’s largest country was also under a military dictatorship. These days, visa-seeking Burmese in Bangkok complain of arrogance and “different treatment” from embassy officials, as Jakarta tries to respond to Rangoon’s concerns.[Top]

Schools Slowly Re-opening

After unrest prompted the closing of technical colleges in February, schools across Burma are slowly and quietly opening their doors again. In Yezin, Pyinmana, the Agriculture, Forestry, and Veternarian institutes were opened earlier this May. Sources report that all universities across Burma would be re-opened on July 15.

The government is dealing with this cautiously and has called professors and teachers to attend meetings about security issues. Analysts attribute this move as a response to Japanese pressure to open schools.

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