Norway ‘funding abuse’ in Burma_Report “Broken-Ethics”


Norway’s state-owned pension fund is investing in companies that continue to do highly controversial business in Burma, according to a damning report released today.

The Washington DC and Thailand-based EarthRights International (ERI) says in the report that there is “a high likelihood that the Fund is contributing to grave unethical actions in Burma through its holdings in the Fund”.

The Norwegian pension fund is a sovereign wealth fund founded on the country’s North Sea oil wealth. It is estimated to be worth some $US500 billion and holds the largest number of stocks and shares in Europe, owning approximately one percent of global equity markets.

Its size means that it has channelled approximately $US4.5 billion into companies doing business in Burma, which includes “a cumulative $US450 million invested in companies participating in the controversial Shwe gas and oil transport pipeline project” to China, according to the report.

As of December last year, investments worth $50 million were concentrated in three companies who owned the majority of the Shwe project, off- and onshore: South Korea’s Daewoo International, GAIL of India Ltd., and Korea Gas Corp.

On top of this, the Fund had a $US244 million stake in POSCO, which owns the majority of Daewoo, and approximately $US12 million invested in Hyundai Heavy Industries, which is a construction subcontractor on the project.

Furthermore, around $US90 million is invested in PetroChina and $US58 million invested in Kunlun Energy Co Ltd., the distributors in the project. It also holds a $US168 million stake in Transocean Inc, the Swiss-American drilling company implicated in BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster, which has also been used for offshore in Burmese waters.

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From Tee Man

More than 3,000 teak logs seized in sting operation

CHIANG MAI: Authorities have confiscated more than 3,000 teak logs estimated to be worth more than 200 million baht and believed to have been smuggled into Thailand from Burma.

A security force led by the Department of Special Investigation seized more than 3,000 teak logs worth about 200 million baht in Chiang Mai. The logs are alleged to have been smuggled into Thailand from Burma through nearby Mae Hong Son. CHEEWIN SATTHA

A joint operation between the Department of Special Investigation, Customs Department and Royal Forestry Department raided two sawmills owned by Suksawat Group Co yesterday and seized the logs.

The operation was carried out following a complaint from Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga that a company had imported teak wood illegally from Burma through Mae Hong Son.

DSI deputy chief Narat Savetnant alleged Anton Co had falsely declared the confiscated logs to the Customs Office in Mae Hong Son as sawn timber using 57 documents that claimed the imports had been approved by Burmese officials.

The import documents were later found to be counterfeit, Mr Narat said.

The crackdown has raised questions over whether local officials responsible for approving the import of the confiscated wood were aware of the company’s activities.

No charges have been made against officials but they will face an inquiry to determine if they had anything to do with the illegal wood imports and whether they should take responsibility, Mr Narat said.

The DSI unit which investigates special criminal cases in the North has been looking into the case since February. It had learned by September that Anton Co had imported sawn teak from Burma under suspicious circumstances.

The company owner was charged by the DSI with violating regulations on the import of sawn timber.

Anton Co said last month it was considering suing the Forestry Department for refusing to renew its licence to transport teak logs from Burma through Salawin National Park in Mae Hong Son.

Phichet Lertlum-umphaiwong, the company’s deputy managing director, said its permission to transport teak expired a month ago and the department had refused to renew it, even though it had previously been renewed on a yearly basis.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti claimed at the time that the company did not have an export licence from Burma and no source-of-origin documents to prove where the logs came from. Anton Co insisted legal documents were issued by Myanmar Timber Enterprise, the government-owned corporation and sole extractor of timber in Burma.


Min Ko Naing in Poor Health as Temperatures Drop

ရွမ္းျပည္နယ္ က်ိဳင္းတံုေထာင္မွာ ရွိေနတဲ့ ေထာင္ဒဏ္ ၆၅ ႏွစ္ ခ်ခံထားရတဲ့ ကိုမင္းကိုႏိုင္ကို အစ္မျဖစ္သူ ေဒၚၾကည္ၾကည္ညြန္႔က ေထာင္ဝင္စာ သြားေတြ႔ခဲ့ပါတယ္။ ေအာက္တိုဘာလ အေစာပိုင္း သတင္းမ်ားအရ ကိုမင္းကိုႏိုင္သည္ က်ီးေပါင္းတက္ေရာဂါ ခံစားေနရၿပီး အကိုက္အခဲ ေပ်ာက္ေဆးမ်ား ပို႔ေပးေနရသည္ဟု သိရသည္။ ေထာင္ဝင္စာ သြားေတြ႔တဲ့ သတင္းအေသးစိတ္ကို ဒီမွာဖတ္ပါ။ (ဓာတ္ပံု – ဧရာဝတီ)

Min Ko Naing, a well-known activist and leader of the 88 Generation Student group, is in greater pain due to cold temperatures in Kengtung, where he is serving a 65-year prison sentence in a remote township in eastern Shan State that is one of the coldest places in the country at this time of year.

Suffering from osteoporosis, a disease weakening the bones that is exacerbated by poor diet and lack of exercise, he is experiencing pains in his arms, hands and legs.