July 2005


July 27: In a statement issued on 27 July, Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) urged the country’s ruling junta to implement its pledge for reconciliation and democratization. “State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) said that it had decided to relinquish its turn to be the Chair of ASEAN in 2006 because it would want to focus its attention on the ongoing national reconciliation and democratization process,” the statement says. “NLD believes that with the present situation, the implementation of national reconciliation and democratization and economic developments are genuinely and truly essential for the country.”
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The fact is best illustrated by one of my favorite comic strips where the king, speaking from on top of the tower of his castle, announces, “I see a land of milk and honey,” and one of the peasants, who are of course on the ground, turns to his neighbor and groans, “The view must be different up there.”
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Beijing: CNOOC Ltd. is trying to decide between raising its bid for US oil company Unocal Corp. to as much as US $20 billion (€15.4 billion) or drop it entirely due to political obstacles in Washington, newspapers reported Friday.
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Vientiane: The Asia-Pacific region’s main security forum called on Myanmar’s military junta on Friday to speed up its planned transition to multi-party rule, saying it was concerned about the lack of democratic reform.
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Vientiane: Asian foreign ministers said Friday the West’s policy of isolating Myanmar was not working, and their own backdoor diplomacy was more effective in persuading the military state to reform.
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Vientiane: Foreign ministers wrapped up Asia’s main security forum Friday with a pledge to step up intelligence sharing on terrorism, which they called a threat to the “peace, order and security” of the region.
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Vientiane: The pressure is not off military-ruled Myanmar after it agreed to forego the chairmanship of Southeast Asia’s ASEAN group, bending to US and EU demands, Thailand’s foreign minister said here Friday.
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July 28: A top Chinese diplomat’s decision to back out of a regional security meeting in Laos in favor of a visit to Rangoon came only a day after the military-ruled Burma backed out of an opportunity to assume the chair of Asean in 2006.
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The issue of Burma’s scheduled chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2006 has preoccupied the member governments, in the face of international pressure to force Rangoon to stand down
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July 26 – August 1: The first of US$35.6 million in approved grants from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is expected to begin flowing into Myanmar in September under a process that will see a major expansion of healthcare resources.
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When it comes to the key regional cooperative frameworks to which Thailand belongs, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) immediately come to mind. Less familiar is the BIMST-EC, which brings together seven member countries: the original five members, Bangladesh, India, Burma, Sri Lanka and Thailand and Bhutan and Nepal, which joined the grouping more recently. On July 30-31, the leaders of BIMST-EC will meet in Bangkok for their first summit to provide political impetus to and to set the future direction for the cooperative initiatives under the grouping. It is therefore timely to take a look at how BIMST-EC came about and what it has achieved so far.
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Bangkok: Senior officials from China and five Southeast Asian nations
gathered in the Thai capital Wednesday to thrash out a new framework for fighting human trafficking in the region.
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Jakarta: Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda said on Wednesday the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Hanoi, Vietnam will be held in October as scheduled, despite the Myanmar issue. “My impression is that the ASEM will be held in October as scheduled. I believe that ASEM participants, both from Asia and Europe, are aware of the importance of dialogs through ASEM and will not rule out ASEM merely because of the Myanmar issue,” he said.
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India and Burma yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which New Delhi will make available a Line of Credit (LoC) of 56.358 million US dollars (Rs 265 crore) for strengthening rail system in the neighbouring country.
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About 80 pro-democracy activists held a noisy demonstration outside the Oriental City shopping centre in Colindale to protest against an exhibition promoting the country of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
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The Hmong aren’t the only refugees from Thailand who are showing up to register for classes in St. Paul public schools.
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The long saga of failed sanction regimes against Cuba, Haiti and Iraq – where sanctions gravely worsened an already bad situation – should give pause to the US and European political establishments. The US Congress recently voted overwhelmingly for a one-year extension to economic sanctions against Myanmar (Burma). In this context, sanctions are mainly a symbolic stand for justice. But they are not symbolic in their effects. They are economically destructive and only occasionally politically productive.
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July 27: 1) The American Museum of Natural History (which is located in Central Park, New York) has planned an expensive trip to Burma from October 10-26th, 2004. This is in direct defiance of Burma’s democracy movement led by 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, whom has called for a boycott of all travel to Burma. (more…)

The Burmese government’s decision to forgo the Asean chairmanship in 2006 means millions of US dollars invested in developing and beautifying Rangoon may go to waste.
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July 25: Karen Internally Displaced Persons wonder when they will be able to go home
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