In a secretly circulated document, Burma’s Central Bank in Naypyitaw has acknowledged that fake 500 kyat currency notes were circulating in the market and it has sent an eight-point guideline to all financial institutes to check for fake notes.

Junta tells financial institutes to check for fake kyat notes
New Delhi – In a secretly circulated document, Burma’s Central Bank in Naypyitaw has acknowledged that fake 500 kyat currency notes were circulating in the market and it has sent an eight-point guideline to all financial institutes to check for fake notes.

The document, a copy of which is in Mizzima’ possession, said a study in the wake of the seizure of fake 500 kyat notes in Nam Hkam township in Northern Shan State in November 2008 reveals that the fake notes are waxed and it is extra-smooth to the touch.

It says that the fake notes do not have the ‘Security Tread’ and there is inconsistency in the font type and sizes. The fake currency note has a yellowish tinge.

A source close to the Bank said the Financial Department of the Central Bank, which circulated the document, instructed all financial institutions including private banks to keep the above points in mind while checking for fake 500 Kyat notes.

But when contacted, a few banks in Rangoon said they had not received any instruction regarding counter-checking of fake 500 kyat notes.

The source, however, said the document is being kept a secret so as to avoid panic among the public. The authorities have warned that there should be no leak about the fake 500 kyats in circulation.

On the contrary, the source said, the government, in a bid to counter the fake 500 kyat notes, had considered printing more of 1000 Kyat notes but later backed off when it found out that printing 1000 kyat notes was expensive.

Senior UN Official Stresses the Importance of the Right Architecture as post-Nargis Recovery Moves

As the efforts to rebuild the communities in Myanmar affected by Cyclone Nargis move from emergency relief and early recovery stage towards medium-recovery, setting up the right framework is vitally important, the senior most United Nations official in the region says today.

9 February 2009 Press Release No.: G/05/2009


Burma’s ruling State Peace and Development Council, a group of generals, has consistently denied human rights abuses, describing reports to the contrary as “Western propaganda” and part of “American imperialism.”

RANGOON, BURMA (BosNewsLife)– Dozens of British legislators expressed concern Tuesday, February 10, over reports of massive church closures in Burma, seen as “the most significant crackdown” on Christian activity in the military-ruled Asian nation in years, an advocacy group told BosNewsLife.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide said 33 British parliamentarians signed a motion urging the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion and Belief, Asma Jilani Jahangir, to investigate violations of religious freedom in Burma, as “at least 100 churches” were closed in the capital Rangoon last month.

The Early Day Motion was proposed by John Bercow, who co-chairs of the All Parliamentary Group for Democracy in Burma, also known as Myanmar, CSW said. “The church closures mark the most significant crackdown on Christian activity in Burma in recent years, affecting as many as 80 per cent of churches in Rangoon,” said CSW, which has investigated the situation in Burma.

The group said some 50 pastors were forced by authorities to sign documents promising to stop holding church services, “under threat of prison for non-compliance.”

U.S. Firm For Burma Democracy

With a new president, the United States government is in a period of transition and the calls for change heard in the November election are being fulfilled in a number of areas. But there are other areas of continuity, and in Asia a prominent one is unwavering U.S. support for the aspirations of the Burmese people for a peaceful transition to democratic rule.

A special envoy from the United Nations was in Burma recently to press for political reform in a nation ruled by the military since 1962. The envoy, Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria, met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to discuss conditions there. After the meeting, they again called for the release of the estimated 2,000 political prisoners being held by the government.

Burma, sadly, is not a nation where change comes quickly. The military government has largely isolated the country to preserve its power, in a manner rivaled perhaps only by North Korea. So intent on maintaining control, the regime even initially resisted accepting international aid for the millions of people injured or dislocated by Cyclone Nargis.

The economic policies of the regime, intended largely to enrich the senior generals and their cronies, have had a devastating toll on Burma’s economy. Where once it was one of the most prosperous nations in Asia, now the majority of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.

The military government says it will hold multi-party elections next year as part of a so-called “road map to democracy.” But the generals have written a new constitution that seems to ensure the military will remain in power, no matter what the outcome of the voting.

Even with the change in administrations in Washington, the United States remains concerned about the situation in Burma and stands solidly with the Burmese people. It will also continue to press for the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

ASEAN plays key role to help Nargis cyclone’s victims (?)

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has played a leading role to cooperate with Burmese government and the world community in providing relief for recent Nargis cyclone’s victims.

ASEAN secretary-general Mr. Surin Pitsuwan (สุรินทร์ พิศสุวรรณ) and Mr. Bishow Tarajuli, the United Nations (UN) representative, held a joint news conference today (February 9) in regard to the preparation of the Tripartite Core Group (TCG ), consisting of ASEAN, Myanmar and UN, to provide relief for victims of the deadly Nargis cyclone which occurred during May 2 and 3, 2008, claiming 138,000 deaths and troubling 2.4 million victims.

Mr. Surin said TCG reported its works during the last nine months and its achievements. He also said the TCG plan covered three years of works with budget worth 691 million dollars.

When asked why Burmese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Kyaw Thu, in his capacity as TCG chairman, did not attend the news conference, Mr. Surin said he did not aware of it. But he said all factions wanted the best result to help the victims.

Who is Kyaw Thu?

Amid a series of as-yet unannounced reassignments in the top ranks of Burma’s military government, many political observers are paying close attention to the fate of former Deputy Foreign Minister Kyaw Thu, who gained prominence last year as the ruling junta’s liaison with the international community in the Cyclone Nargis relief effort.

Since last May, when Cyclone Nargis devastated much of the Irrawaddy delta, Kyaw Thu has served as the chairman of the Tripartite Core Group (TCG), consisting of representatives of the Burmese regime, the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Kyaw Thu, who is in his late 50s, is said to be close to Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, the junta’s second-most powerful figure. Like Maung Aye, he is a graduate of the elite Defense Services Academy (DSA).
His father, the noted scholar Dr Maung Maung, who briefly assumed the position of president at the height of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, published a book entitled “To my Soldier Son” in 1974, soon after Kyaw Thu graduated as a member of the DSA’s 13th Intake.

Former Deputy Foreign Minister Kyaw Thu. (Photo: AP)
Former military intelligence sources said that Kyaw Thu had a reputation for being forthright with his superiors.

In 1997, when he was commander of Light Infantry Division (LID) 22, based in Pa-an Township, Karen State, he got into an physical altercation with his boss Maj-Gen Myint Aung, then commander of the Southeast Regional Command.

According to the intelligence sources, Kyaw Thu’s straightforward manner made him a favorite of Maung Aye. Instead of being disciplined for insubordination for fighting with a superior officer, he was assigned to the foreign ministry.

His first overseas posting was as ambassador to South Africa. According to some former Rangoon-based Burmese diplomats, Kyaw Thu was suspected of corruption during his time in Pretoria from 1999 to 2002.

He was later assigned to head the Burmese embassy in Paris, but the French government refused to recognize his credentials because of his connection to LID 22, which has been linked to human rights abuses.

LID 22 was notorious for its role in the crackdown on peaceful protests in 1988, and has been accused of press-ganging civilians to construct roads used in the Burmese army’s campaign against ethnic Karen rebels.

Kyaw Thu became ambassador to India in 2003, but was called back to Rangoon in late 2004 to become deputy foreign minister following the purge of Prime Minister Gen Khin Nyunt.

Last year he gained an even higher profile when he was named chairman of the TCG, coordinating international relief operations in the cyclone-stricken Irrawaddy delta. Aid workers who met him described him as down-to-earth and cooperative.

Kyaw Thu continued to act as deputy foreign minister until last week, when he was named chairman of the Civil Service Selection and Training Board, an inactive post.

The move came as a surprise to many who had worked with him on Nargis-related projects.

“As far as I could tell, he was very effective in his foreign ministry role, serving in a professional and friendly manner,” said one aid worker.

Although Kyaw Thu attended a TCG meeting in Bangkok on Monday, he is expected to be replaced as chairman of the group in the near future.