Junta demands money for cyclone fund from local firms

Unable to cope or unwilling to help from resources in its exchequer, the Burmese military junta has created and is demanding money for a special fund for the survivors of Cyclone Nargis in Irrawaddy River Delta in Southern Burma from all local business firms in Kachin State, Northern Burma, local sources said.

The funds are being demanded by the junta's Kachin State's Peace and Development Council (Pa-Ya-Ka). The amount of funding is dependent on the size of the business firms. The exercise in on for over a week, businessmen in Myitkyina Township in Kachin State told KNG.

A firm owned by an ethnic Kachin businessman, the Sea Sun Stars Company in Myitkyina has been asked to shell out 100 million Kyats (est. US $ 89,286) as donation by the Pa-Ya-Ka, company officials said.

The company chairman, Mr. Hka Mai Tang told KNG, "We will donate nearly 100 million Kyats and have already handed over part of the total amount."

In league with Chinese businessmen, Sea Sun Stars is one of the biggest gold mining companies in Kachin State. The company's gold mines are mainly situated in Hukawng Valley and upper Mali Hka River.

Moreover, the cyclone fund is being collected not only from residents of Myitkyina through house to house visits but also from all religious organizations' from its headquarters by way of official letters by the administrators of the junta's Township and Village Peace and Development Council, said local residents and Christian pastors.

The office of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) in Myitkyina also donated 100,000 Kyats (est. US $ 89) to the Township Peace and Development Council (TPDC), a KBC pastor said.

In Kachin State, all donations are being received at the Pa-Ya-Ka office but it is not clear whether the authorities have sent all the fund or part of it directly to the cyclone affected areas, locals and businessmen told KNG.

Local people and businessmen do not fully trust the authorities who are collecting emergency funds from them for victims of the cyclone, local sources said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations General Secretary Mr. Ban Ki-moon during his visit to Burma and a meeting with junta's supremo Senior General Than Shwe was promised on Friday (May 23) that all aid workers would be allowed in to help cyclone victims.

According to United Nations humanitarian aid officials, the country's former capital Rangoon (Yangon) and rice-growing Irrawaddy Delta where about 134,000 people perished or are missing, over 2.5 million survivors are living in wretched conditions without proper help.