Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thai PTT to purchase gas from Zawtika Field

PTT to sign a new gas deal in the Zawtika Field in the Gulf of Martaban of Burma. Watchara Kannika, deputy spokesperson of Thai Government’s House said in a press conference on Tuesday that the Thai cabinet approved the proposal of the National Energy Policy Committee for the new gas deal. “The field in M9 block can produce 300 million cubic feet per day. Of that, 240 million cubic feet will be supplied to Thailand and 60 cubic feet used in Burma as price from this field. The price is the same as that of gas from Yadana and Yetagun fields,” he said, according to a report in Thai News Agency website. Thailand’s Energy Minister Wannarat Charnnukul said on Monday after he chaired a meeting of the National Energy Policy Committee, which endorsed a five-year supply plan. The demand is expected to increase to 5.142 billion cubic feet of gas per day by 2015. The MoU is worth more than US$1 billion (Bt33.29 billion) and will see a supply of gas for 25 to 30 years. Gas transmission from the field will start in 2013, Wannarat said.The gas deal with Burma by the Thai government has been urged for revision by activists since 2007 after PTT signed an exploratory agreement with the generals to look for gas in the M9 Block in the Gulf of Mataban.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

China and Burma signed sixteen MoUs

China and Burma signed sixteen MoUs including five agreements on development of trade, economy, transport infrastructures, technological cooperation and purchase of machinery; seven financial agreements, three agreements on hydro-electric power and one agreement on the energy sector and oil and natural gas pipeline. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) exclusive rights to build and operate the Myanmar-China Crude Oil Pipeline. The agreement gives CNPC controlled Southeast Crude Oil Pipeline Company, political assurance for the pipeline project. CNPC’s press release on Monday, the agreement signed in the presence of the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and Burmese Vice Senior General Maung Aye will allow the CNPC unit to enjoy rights including tax abatement, crude oil passage through Burma, customs clearance and road operations.“The agreement also stipulates that Myanmar [Burma] government shall ensure the company's ownership and exclusionary right to the pipeline and guarantee the safety of the pipeline,” said the release posted on the CNPC website on Monday.The CNPC has started building a crude oil port in Burma since October 31 as part of the 771-kilometre pipeline project aimed at cutting out the long detour that many Chinese oil tankers take through the congested Malacca Strait. The Myanmar-China Crude Oil Pipeline will start from Maday Island in Arakan state of western coast of Burma and run 771 kilometers through Arakan State, Magway division, Mandalay division and Shan State, and will finally enter Ruili of Yunnan Province in South Western China.Besides, Xi was also reported to have been assured by Burma’s military supremo Senior General Than Shwe of stability along the border. Burma will work with China to preserve peace and stability of the border areas, Than Shwe was quoted as saying in a statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website on Monday.Than Shwe added that he understands that China and Burma share a long joint border and maintaining peace and stability on the border is extremely important to both countries.Than Shwe’s pledges came in the backdrop of an armed conflict between government troops and ethnic Kokang rebels in August in Northern Shan State. The conflict drove over 30,000 refugees in to China. The exchange of high-level visits by China and Burma are not uncommon, Xi’s visit, which is part of his four-nation East Asian tour, is seen as significant as he has been largely tipped to be the successor of President Hu Jintao in 2012. “Choosing Burma as one of the four countries he is visiting is significant and it means China considers Burma an important ally,” Bo Bo Kyaw Nyien, a Thailand-based Burmese observer, told Mizzima. He added that the visit is an indication that China and Burma will not only continue but will strengthen their ties, and work out a strategy for border security, which is China’s main concern.

Burma buys Russian MiG-29Jets,Mi-35 Copters

‘Rosoboronexport’, Russia’s sole arms exporter, will begin delivering the fighter jets and helicopters in 2010,close to the Russia-Burma negotiation process, Nikolsky said the contract includes delivering 20 MiG-29 fighter jets worth Euro 400 million (US$ 570 million) and 8 to 10 Mi-35 attack helicopters worth Euro 50 million (US$ 71 million).Burma’s military junta, which has ruled the Southeast Asian nation for the past two decades, chose Russia’s MiG-29 Fulcrum-D carrier-based fighter jets over China's offer of its latest J-10 and FC-1 fighters. Russia and China, the two veto powers at the United Nations Security Council, are known to be the closest allies of Burma’s reclusive military junta. Despite sanctions by the West, United States and European Union, including an arms embargo, Russia and China had been supplying military hardware to the pariah state. Burma, 1990s, had purchased Chinese military aircraft worth about US $ 2 billion, the Vedomosti said in a report on Wednesday.Burma in 2001 bought 12 MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia but Nikolsky said the current contract is so far the largest between the two countries, and possibly “the most important in [Russia-Burma] bilateral relations.” He said other vital part of the Russia-Burma relations includes cooperation in peaceful use of nuclear energy. Russia in May 2007 announced building a 10-megawatt nuclear reactor with low enriched uranium consisting of less than 20 per cent uranium-235.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Burma SC to hear Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal

Judges at the Supreme Court after delibartions and arguments by lawyers on both sides, announced they would hear Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal against the 18-month suspended sentence. “The court will hear the appeal. Today’s session was attended by Daw Suu and her live-in colleagues Daw Win Ma Ma and her daughter. The prosecutors were also present,” Nyan Win, one of Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyers, told Mizzima. But the court has not set any date for the hearing, Nyan Win added. Lawyers of the Nobel Peace Laureate were optimistic about the court’s decision saying it is allowing them to legally argue in court. Amidst rumours of the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi circulating in Burma’s former capital Rangoon, the high court on Monday accepted an appeal by her lawyers regarding the sentence. Lawyers of the Burmese democracy icon argue that the district court cannot sentence Aung San Suu Kyi on the law based on the 1974 constitution, as the constitution is no longer valid. But prosecutors said, though the 1974 constitution is defunct, the district court’s verdict was legally binding as it is a statute made in 1975, which they said was a separate statute not attached to the 1974 constitution. The pro-democracy leader was given 18 months suspended sentenced by the court for ‘harbouring’ an American, John William Yettaw, who swam across a lake and entered her house in early May. Following the sentence, a defence team submitted an appeal to the divisional court, which, however, was rejected saying the district court’s decision was in keeping with the law. The defence team then submitted its appeal to the Supreme Court. As the 1974 constitution is defunct, the verdict of the district court, which draws its statute from the 1974 constitution, cannot be relevant. Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been kept under detention in various forms for the past 14 of 20 years, had written a letter to the junta’s military supremo Snr Gen Than Shwe, requesting a meeting with him to further discuss activities concerning lifting of western sanctions. Responding partially, Than Shwe allowed her to meet aging party leaders last week, though he has not yet responded to her requests of allowing her to have a meeting with her party – National League for Democracy – central executive committee members, and a face to face meeting with him. Lately, sources in Rangoon said, there have been widespread rumours of the possibilities of releasing Aung San Suu Kyi among political observers. Adding fuel to the speculations, sources said is the National League for Democracy renovating its old and shabby office in Rangoon’s West Shwe Gondine Street in Bahan Township. It has, led some to think that it could be to welcome party General Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi to sit at the office after she is released.Media agencies

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Concern for Burma by 442 Members of Parliament from 29 countries

BurmaInfo (Japan),People’s Forum on Burma,the U.S. Campaign for Burma Tokyo and Washington, DC Tokyo-based “BurmaInfo,” “People’s Forum on Burma,” and Washington, DC-based “U.S. Campaign for Burma” today welcome the call of 442 Members of Parliament (MPs) around the world to the United Nations Security Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity and other war crimes in Burma, as well as to impose a global arms embargo on Burma’s military regime. On the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 442 MPs and Congresspersons from 29 countries from Asia, Europe, North and South America, including Japan, United States, United Kingdom, France, India, Korea, Brazil, Maldives, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand, sent a letter to Members of the UN Security Council. The letter was initiated by two MPs from Japan, Hon. Azuma Konno and Hon. Tadashi Inuzuka, both members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. Although their governments have different Investigate Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes in Burma policies toward Burma, all the MPs are deeply concerned about the humanitarian conditions in Burma, also known as Myanmar, and collectively ask the Members of the Security Council to take action as it did for similar conditions in Rwanda and Darfur. Specifically, the MPs request the Security Council to pass a resolution to establish a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Burma and to impose a global arms embargo on Burma’s military regime. As Hon. Azuma Konno points out, “Such action is long overdue. Burma’s military regime has carried out brutal attacks on it own people for decades.” Indeed, through attacks on ethnic minority civilians, the regime has destroyed over 3,500 ethnic minority villages in eastern Burma since 1996. A recent report by Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic found compelling evidence that the military regime has been committing crimes against humanity in eastern Burma for well over a decade. “This letter demonstrates that the eyes of the world are on Burma and that we will call attention to the continued human rights violations perpetrated by the military regime. The destruction of villages and ethnic cleansing must stop. I am proud to stand with so many freely elected leaders from around the world to call for the regime to respect the rights of the people of Burma and to cease the senseless violence.” added Hon. Joseph Pitts, Member of U.S. House of Representatives. This appeal follows similar calls made earlier this year by fellow MPs from the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. On June 15, 2009, 55 Members of U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama, urging the President to encourage the UN Security Council to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate crimes against humanity in Burma. Further, 82 MPs from Canada made a similar request to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on October 9, 2009. Most recently, on November 26, 2009, an Early Day Motion was tabled at the British Parliament which has since been signed by 92 British MPs, calling on the British Government to urge the United Nations to establish a Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity being committed by the military regime in Burma.

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