Wednesday, October 31, 2007

China increases fuel price by 8% from Nov. 1, 2007

China raised gasoline and diesel prices by 8 percent Thursday amid fuel shortages that oil companies blame on a lack of refining capacity due to price controls.

The National Development and
Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, announced Wednesday night that the prices of gasoline, diesel oil and aviation kerosene would be raised by 500 yuan ($68) per ton.

That translates into motorists paying 0.4 yuan or 0.46
yuan more per litre of gasoline or diesel.

The change was made to narrow the gap between soaring crude oil prices and state-set retail prices, the country's
main planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, said in a statement.

"To ensure the supply of domestic oil products and the promotion of energy conservation, the state decided to
properly increase the prices of oil products," the NDRC said. It said the price rise also would apply to aviation fuel.

Shortages of diesel and
gasoline have led to rationing over the past week, causing long lines at filling stations and disrupting trucking in key export areas.

Some customers and Chinese media accused oil companies of creating phony shortages to force Beijing to raise prices.

On Wednesday, a man was killed in a fight after he tried to cut in line for
gas in the central province of Henan, according to police.

Olympics ticket sales suspended

The sale of the second tranche of Olympic tickets was suspended last night after overwhelming demand caused chaos during the day: the booking system crashed, phone lines were jammed and serpentine queues formed at banks.

An official from the BOCOG
Ticketing Center said Tuesday night that the Games organizers had decided to temporarily halt domestic ticket sales to improve the technical plan and will announce new ticketing information on November 5.

In a statement, the organising committee apologised, saying the ticket centre had underestimated demand.

The first-come-first-serve scheme had 1.85 million tickets on sale through the booking website, a hotline and designated branches of Bank of China.

But demand was much higher than organizers anticipated: According to the Beijing Olympic Ticketing Center, the official ticketing website ( saw 8 million hits in the first hour starting 9 am, while the ticketing hotline received 3.8 million calls.

Only some 9,000 tickets were sold in two hours; and the ticketing center confirmed that successful orders will be valid.

A total of 7 million tickets are available for the Games, with about 75 percent reserved for domestic sale. The first 1.6 million tickets were allocated after a lottery earlier this year. The third phase - from April to August next year - will also sell tickets on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Drug warlord Khun Sa dies at 73

Drug warlord Khun Sa, variously described as among the world’s most wanted men and a great liberation fighter, has died in Rangoon, Burma at the age of 73.

Khuensai Jaiyen, a former secretary of Khun Sa who works with ethnic Shan minority guerrilla groups, said his former boss died in Burma’s largest city Rangoon on October 26, 2007 according to his relatives.

The cause of death was
not immediately known, but Khun Sa had long suffered from diabetes, partial paralysis and high blood pressure.

A Burmese official in Rangoon confirmed the death. He was cremated Tuesday morning, the official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The cause of death was not immediately known, but Khun Sa had long suffered from diabetes, partial paralysis and high blood pressure.

His body had been kept
since October 26 at a cemetery on the outskirts of Rangoon called Yay Way where the cremation took place, said a cemetery worker, who asked not to be named for the same reason.

hun Sa was born on Feb. 17, 1934, according to Bertil Lintner, a leading expert on Myanmar who interviewed him several times. His father was Chinese and his mother Shan; they lived in the northern Shan state. He changed his name from Chang Chi-fu, also spelled Chufu or Shee-fu, to his nom de guerre, Khun Sa, in the 1970s.

A historian of Southeast Asia, the late Michael
Leifer, described him as a “shiftless youth with a criminal disposition.”

Khun Sa had lived in seclusion in Rangoon since 1996, when he surrendered to the country’s ruling military junta who allowed him to run a string of businesses behind a veil of secrecy.

Khun Sa, portrayed
himself as a liberation fighter for the Shan, heading up the Shan United Army, later the Mong Tai Army, in Burma's northeastern Shan State.

Khun Sa, son of a Chinese father and a Shan mother, once was the leading drug lord in the so-called Golden Triangle where Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand meet.

At that time the USA offered a multi-million dollar award for his capture. Khun Sa claimed to be leading a liberation army on behalf of the oppressed ethnic Shan minority.

His father died when he
was young and his mother became the mistress of a local tax collector, according to Mr. Lintner. He received no formal education but had military training as a soldier with the Chinese Nationalists, who fled into Burma, which is now known as Myanmar, after the victory of Mao Zedong’s Communists in 1949.

He entered the
opium business in 1963, when the Burmese government authorized him and others to form militias allied with the central government as a way of outsourcing the job of fighting rebel groups. Within a year he broke his ties with the Burmese army and established an independent fief in the northernmost reaches of Burma, near the border with China.

His early career was marked by
failure. He challenged the dominance of the Nationalists in the Golden Triangle drug trade, but lost in battle. He was captured by the Burmese central government and imprisoned from 1969 to 1974.

Soon after his release, he rejoined his supporters in the northeast and set up a base in Baan Hin Taek, along the mountainous border near the Thai city of Chiang Rai. His drug network grew and soon came to dominate the Burmese heroin trade.

In the 1980s and 1990s much of the drugs that passed through his network were shipped to the United States. In 1990, the Drug Enforcement Administration calculated that 45 percent of all heroins that reached the United States came from the Golden Triangle. Historians have differed on his power.

He was illiterate and a
front-man for an organization dominated by ethnic Chinese from Yunnan Province that still operates. He was basically a country bumpkin. He was a peasant and never the brains behind the organization.

But Alfred McCoy, who chronicled the rise of the
Golden Triangle in “The Politics of Heroin,” described Mr. Khun Sa as “the only Shan warlord who ran a truly professional smuggling organization capable of transporting large quantities of opium,” and was “the first of the Golden Triangle warlords to be worthy of his media crown as ‘kingpin.’ ”

Khun Sa enjoyed cultivating that image. In an interview with the
now-defunct Bangkok World newspaper, he called himself the “King of the Golden Triangle.”

Embarrassed and under strong pressure from the United States, Thai authorities sought to banish Mr. Khun Sa from Thailand.

In 1980, the Thai prime
minister, Prem Tinsulanonda, ordered the air force to bomb his base but failed to dislodge him. In 1982 the Thai army led by Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyut, who was later to become prime minister, launched a large-scale assault. Mr. Khun Sa lost 130 men in the ensuing battle and retreated into Myanmar, where he continued to run his heroin business.

Little is known about his life in Yangon after his surrender to the Myanmar authorities. Mr. Kon Jern, the Shan commander, said Khun Sa was held under house arrest. Other reports have said he lived comfortably if not lavishly. He had three daughters and five sons, according to Mr. Lintner, all of them educated abroad.

At the height of his notoriety,
Khun Sa presided over a veritable narcotics kingdom, carved out of jungle valleys and complete with satellite television, schools and surface-to-air missiles in the drug-producing Golden Triangle region where Burma, Thailand and Laos meet.

But his surrender to the Burmese authorities in 1996 led to dramatic declines in cultivation of opium poppies in the Golden Triangle and foreshadowed the region’s eclipse. Although this year’s opium harvest in Myanmar increased by about 30 percent over last year, the Golden Triangle produces only 5 percent of the world’s opium, down from 70 percent three decades ago. Afghanistan is now the world’s largest producer.

At the height of his power, in the 1980s, he controlled an
estimated 70 percent of the country’s heroin business, which enabled him to finance an army of tens of thousands of soldiers and large-scale heroin laboratories.

For nearly four decades the charismatic warlord claimed to be fighting for autonomy for the Shan, one of
many ethnic minorities who have battled Burma’s central government for decades.

But narcotics agents around the world used terms like the “Prince of Death” to describe him and the United States offered a US $2 million reward for his arrest.

“They say I have horns and fangs. Actually, I am a king
without a crown,” he told this reporter who visited his remote headquarters of Ho Mong in 1990 after an 11-hour mule ride.

The wily operator sought a less hostile
environment in Thailand, setting up a hilltop base protected by his sizable Shan United Army. But when the Thais got too embarrassed by having a drug kingpin on their soil, he was driven out in 1982 and lodged himself in Ho Mong, an idyllic valley near the Thai frontier inside Burma.

There, the chain-smoking warlord entertained visitors with Taiwanese pop songs, grew orchids and strawberries, and directed a flow of heroin to addicts around the world. At one point, Washington estimated that up to 60 percent of the heroin in the United States was refined from opium in his area.

Khun Sa claimed he only used
the drug trade to finance his Shan struggle. Peter Bourne, an adviser to former US President Jimmy Carter, called him “one of the most impressive national leaders I have met.”

Khun Sa argued that only economic development in the impoverished Shan State, still one of the major sources of the world’s heroin, could stop opium growing and its smuggling to the “drug-crazed West.” “My people grow opium. And they are not doing it for fun. They do it because they need to buy rice to eat and clothes to wear,” he once said.

He carried out a one-way
correspondence with US presidents, offering to sell Washington the entire crop of opium in exchange for funds to implement his development plans for the Shan.

But in 1989, he was indicted for heroin trafficking by the US District Court in New York and his extradition to the United
States was requested.

Khun Sa continued to war with the central government and rival ethnic guerrilla groups like the Wa until 1996 when the junta, which had once threatened to hang him, offered him amnesty. He disbanded his Mong Tai Army of about 10,000 fighters and moved to Rangoon.

Although difficult to confirm, reports said he lived a life of luxury in a secluded compound, having been awarded concessions to operate a transport company and a ruby mine along with other businesses.

There was speculation that he was still involved in the narcotics
trade, which was largely taken over by his former enemies, the Wa.

24 China J-10s Sold To Iran, Big Challenge To US F-16

Russian news agency Novosti reported that Iran has signed a deal with China to purchase 24 J-10 fighter jets between 2008 and 2010. The jets were developed based on the technology of Israel's Lavi fighter jet, whose technology was sold to China against the wishes of the US.

Novosti stated that the
J-10 has a range of 2,940 kilometers, bringing it within range of Israel. Iran's current MiG-29 jets have a range of 2,100 kilometers.

A Russian
military expert, quoted by the agency, said that Iran plans to use the new aircraft as part of its defense of the Bushehr nuclear facility in the face of a possible attack.

The Israeli Lavi fighter jet was developed in the 1980s but the project was canceled following pressure from America, which feared that the new jet would compete with its F-16 in international markets. The US subsequently sold F-16s to Israel at reduced costs.

began developing the J-10 in 2004 and currently has 89 aircraft in active service. Novosti added that no response was given by the Prime Minister's office.

On October 25, 2007, China denied reports published in Russian and Israeli media stating it agreed to sell its home-designed J-10 fighter plane to Iran.

"It's not true, it is an irresponsible report," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told the International Herald Tribune. "China has not had talks with Iran on J-10 jets."

RIA Novosti first ran the story Tuesday, claiming it was a done deal. China purportedly agreed to sell two squadrons -- 24 fighters -- to the openly belligerent Islamic state. Russian news reports say the planes would be delivered next year, in a contract valued at $1 billion.

The J-10, also referred to as F-10, incorporates technology and components Israel provided to China, based on the now-defunct Lavi project, is a collaboration between Israel Aircraft Industries and US firms to develop an advanced multi-role aircraft, that was cancelled in the mid-1980s.

Experts tell The Jewish Bugle the J-10, considered roughly equivalent to the stalwart F-16, poses little risk of superiority over the advanced aircraft of the Israeli Air Force, but then again, that's not the immediate concern.

The sale of such high-profile arms to Iran would
signify a deepening relationship between the two countries, already economic partners due to Iran's status as an important oil supplier to China. That's a relationship Israel, and the US, would rather see experience a falling-out.

Analysts believe that "China will sell Iran the F-10"
deliberately is the false news and plugging proactive in blocking foreign arms dealers in the F-10 export plan ahead. Western media played up its "attack force" and foreign arms dealers’ worry that it is the F-10 to bring out; their impact will dominate the world arms market.

The F-10 is a high-performance fighter, longer than for the air and ground attack at the same times both capacities. F-10 shoulder with the aircraft are American F-16, Russia's MiG-29 and France's "gust" fighters, and so on. Comparatively, the F-10's ability to maneuver a better aerial combat is the outstanding advantage.

In the implementation of national air defense, air combat fighting, the army, navy and air attacks, and other joint task can have attained the performance.

International arms dealers generally
believe that, although China has no intention to export F-10's, but does not rule out future possibilities.

Technologically and materials wise, F-10 is fully domestic, exports will not be subject to external restrictions. Comparatively, the F-10 has the price advantage over the US advanced warplanes.

It is
estimated that from 2006 to 2015, global scale of the fighters and trainer aircraft for the more than 3,800-output, the total value of more than 1500 billion dollars.

Asia, Europe or Latin America and some countries may not be willing to consider cost-effective to choose the F-10 rather than the US or Russia's fighters.

Professionals’ estimates that if the F-10 exports for China to liberalize, the US F-16 market share cake will be at least hundreds of warplanes orders be lost. US will disrupt the operation of the arms trade through the international network.

Those high-performance China fighters may play a more independent role in the international community, rather than the baton around the US.

Concurrently, the reduce costs
by producing large number of fighters through exports permit China to explore the experiences like US military operations in the overseas. Out of the above concerns, the F-10 by far is the sensitive issue.

Evidently, the export of F-10 fighters will cause the US to create public opinion as a pressure release, such as "China to the state sponsors of terrorism and human rights record is poor national export of advanced weapons", thereby exercising strict control over the export-related goods and technology, is very to sophistical some countries to jointly implement certain sanctions on China to achieve the interests of US.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Farewell to Lim Goh Tong

Genting Group Bhd founder Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, who died last Tuesday, was laid to rest at the Gohtong Memorial Park here yesterday.

A 10,000-strong crowd accompanied Goh Tong's family members on his final journey from Gohtong Villa, which was a hive of activity from as early as 7am. About 5,000 representatives from various invited non-profit organisations, schools and employees of the Genting Group joined the procession.

These included Genting Group, Genting International, eGenting, Asiatic Land Development Sdn Bhd, Beautiful Gate, Utar, and SJK (C) Bukit Tinggi.The procession was led by several musical bands, a group of Taoist priests and Buddhist monks who played traditional Chinese musical instruments while chanting prayers.

The hearse displayed a large photo of the deceased, the frame decorated with white roses. Four of Goh Tong's grandsons carried a paper sedan chair, which according to Chinese custom, serves as transport for the soul of the deceased.

Goh Tong's three sons – Tee Keong, Kok Thay and Chee Wah – walked behind, their hands placed on the hearse. The other children and grandchildren, as well as relatives, followed closely behind.

Goh Tong's widow, Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua, 79, joined in the procession in a buggy. Hanif walked beside her buggy. Members of the public lined the road.

The hearse arrived at the Gohtong Memorial Park at 11.25am, where the family members briefly prayed, and proceeded to Genting Hotel after a short stop at Chin Swee Caves Temple. The rain and misty atmosphere did not prevent scores of Genting staff, who wore black armbands, and visitors from coming out to pay their respects to Goh Tong in front of the hotel.

The procession returned to the memorial park where the family gathered for a private burial at 1.18pm.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Knickers to the Burma Junta General

Activists seeking to pressure the Burmese regime are targeting the superstitions of its senior generals by asking for people around the world to send women's underwear to the junta.

In what may be a first, campaigners based in Thailand have called for supporters to "post, deliver or fling" the underwear to their nearest Burmese embassy. They believe the senior members of the junta – some known to be deeply superstitious – could be made to believe they will lose their authority should they come into contact with the lingerie.

"The Burma military regime is not only brutal but very superstitious. They believe that contact with a woman's panties or sarong can rob them of their power," says the website of the Lanna Action for Burma group, based in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand.

The group says that Burmese embassies have already received underwear from people in Thailand, Australia, Singapore and the UK.

One of the group's activists, Tomoko, said: "We want to raise awareness first, and we want to target officials, letting them know we are against them abusing their power. We are sending the generals panties as a symbol of putting their power down."

What result the underwear campaign will have is unclear. Burma's senior general, Than Shwe, is known to be very superstitious. When the regime decided to move its capital from Rangoon to a new location deep in the jungle at Naypidaw, the general sought the advice of a numerologist who told him that the most auspicious time for the move would be 6.37 in the morning.

As a result, the first convoy of government trucks left Rangoon at precisely that time.

News of the latest effort by activists to pressure the regime came as hundreds of Burmese riot police returned to the streets of Rangoon yesterday. The Buddhist Lent season was ending, allowing monks to move about again, and authorities feared they might spark off protests. – The Independent

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ASEAN urged:Stop passing the buck on Burma

October 25, 2007 - ASEAN-based activists have urged ASEAN to stop "passing the buck" on to China for the Burmese regime's failure to reform.

Dismissing ASEAN's claims that it lacks leverage to influence the Burmese junta members as a lie, the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (Altsean-Burma) claims that ASEAN countries have enough collective power to paralyze the SPDC Army within days.

"Burma relies on ASEAN countries - Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore - as its main sources of much-needed foreign exchange, fuel and financial services.

"If ASEAN were to exercise its considerable leverage to insist that the Burmese junta delivers genuine economic and political reforms, allies like China, India, and Russia will have to fall in line with their lead," insisted Altsean-Burma Coordinator Debbie Stothard. Ms Stothard was speaking in Manila, at the ASEAN People's Assembly.

"The regime is also afraid of the UN Security Council's power. Indonesia which will chair the Security Council next month should use all opportunities at its disposal to ensure that a genuine breakthrough happens in Burma," she said.

In a briefer released by Altsean-Burma today, the regional human rights group asserts that ASEAN countries must exercise their substantial influence on Burma military leaders to secure the delivery of genuine political and economic reforms, instead of using China as an excuse for inaction. The briefer reveals that:

* Burma relies on petrol and diesel supplies from Malaysia and Singapore to keep business running and military vehicles on the road. The military is the biggest consumer of fuel.

* Burma relies on trade with ASEAN for 51.3% of foreign exchange revenue, with gas sales to Thailand alone accounting for 48.4% in 2005/06.

* Burma relies on Thailand and Singapore as their biggest sources of new Foreign Direct Investment, constituting a total of 98.61% of FDI in the past 2 years.

* Burma relies on Singapore financial services to store and move the wealth that they drain away from Burma.

The briefer, available at, recommends an ASEAN freeze or even a slowdown on economic, material, and diplomatic support in order to shepherd the regime to political dialogue and the achievement of genuine reforms. Action should include a temporary freeze on large Burmese-held bank accounts and other financial assets in Singapore as part of a money-laundering review.

Ms Stothard urged ASEAN leaders to use its considerable economic leverage to pressure the regime to cease its witch hunt against monks, pro-democracy activists and ethnic communities and to commence genuine political dialogue. "Developments in the past few days prove that pressure works.

The regime is vulnerable. It faces financial shortages due to its own mismanagement and irresponsible spending in anticipation of future oil and gas revenue. The Army, which has been suffering from increasing desertions has been further demoralized by orders to kill monks during the recent crackdown.

"If ASEAN does not use pressure now, at this critical time, the Burmese junta will do its usual 'one step forward two steps back' dance at the ASEAN Summit in Singapore next month," concluded Ms Stothard.