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1200 Kyats H e t myanmar times No. 671: March 25 - 31, 2013 Heartbeat

1200 Kyats

H e



No. 671: March 25 - 31, 2013

Heartbeat of The Nation

Residents sit on a railway track watching buildings burn around a mosque in riot-hit Meiktila
Residents sit on a railway track
watching buildings burn around
a mosque in riot-hit Meiktila on
March 21. Pic: AFP

Meiktila erupts

Goldshop row escalates: at least 20 dead

By Sithu Lwin with AFP

AT least 20 people were killed in Mandalay Region’s Meiktila township last week following the outbreak of communal unrest between Muslims and Buddhists that was sparked by a dispute over a golden hairclip. By March 23 troops were patrolling the town’s streets and martial law was in place. A police officer told AFP news

agency on March 22 that at least 20 people had been killed. Meiktila township authorities say the unrest started on March 19 when a couple from nearby Pyun Kauk village visited a gold shop at about 10am to test the quality of the golden hairclip. Tests apparently revealed the item to be fake, which resulted in a fight between the husband and gold shop employees that left the husband with a head injury. However, the conflict quickly

escalated, a police officer said. “When the quarrel happened in the shop, people nearby quickly joined in and the gold shop as well as four other shops were destroyed,” the police officer said. “We don’t exactly know how much damage has been caused but we set up security teams at the market,” he said on March 19. News of the conflict spread quickly through social networking sites such as Facebook, with stories

circulating that the hairclip sellers were not a married couple but a grandmother and child. According to those reports the grandmother was killed and the grandchild hospitalised after being beaten by the shop’s owners. However, the police officer said the stories were false – and confirmed that the couple had laid charges against the shop’s owners. The National League for Democracy’s representative for Meiktila, U Win Htein, told AFP on

March 21 that at least 10 people had been killed in the riots, prompting international concern at the country’s worst communal unrest since a wave of Buddhist-Muslim clashes last year. Huge plumes of black smoke were seen rising above Meiktila on March 21 after buildings were set ablaze in a second day of fighting in the previously peaceful area, where a night-time curfew was imposed.

More page 4

set ablaze in a second day of fighting in the previously peaceful area, where a night-time


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

Myanmar’s missing digital bridge

MYANMAR’S beautiful script confuses the nation’s children and foreigners who try to learn it. It also confuses computers. As the digital revolution continues to overtake the world, the Myanmar script stubbornly resists going on-line. Accurate and easy optical character recognition (OCR) programs have existed for decades. These quickly scan and convert hard copy pages into searchable, digital documents. But not so for Myanmar. Although volunteers have been working on it, no accurate, reliable and user- friendly computer program exists to take printed Myanmar pages, read them and turn them into digital text. While Myanmar characters may be as pretty as a picture, computers only understand them as pictures. This means that when scanned Myanmar documents are put on-line, unless someone bothers to type in a pile of meta-tags, they cannot be found. M y a n m a r r e m a i n s disadvantaged by its lack of a simple, open source “digital bridge” OCR software program. Such a program would permit people anywhere to scan Myanmar language paper documents, and place them on line in a searchable format. It would also, in time, provide a large

enough documentary base

to enable online automatic

document translation into,

and out of, Myanmar to other languages.

It is especially important

that this program be free and open source. This missing

piece of digital infrastructure

is too important to become

a private, for profit or

government monopoly toll bridge. To encourage free sharing, especially of public

documents, this digital bridge needs to be open to all. Only

in this way can a thousand

scanners harness the genius

of the internet.

This program is not just for Myanmar’s online elite. Soon, as the mobile phone market takes off and as smart phones fall in price, internet penetration will increase exponentially. As more literate Myanmar citizens have internet access, this effort will greet them with more and useful information. For example, it can be difficult for people dealing with government offices to find the forms they need to get various licenses. Ministerial rules and instructions that should be in the public domain need to be set free. It is basic to good governance, and basic to 21 st century

business. For trade rules, it

is also required by ASEAN

and the WTO.

A foresighted group of

Myanmar programmers

has started to build the digital bridge to coax Myanmar’s script into this millennium.

Although this invisible handicap to Myanmar’s progress can be overcome quite cheaply, Myanmar

volunteers alone cannot

afford to finish the job. They have to eat. India has faced similar technical issues with Hindi and other Sanskrit- based scripts, and made real progress developing

open-source OCR conversion programs. Some may provide

a basis for a Myanmar

program. This South-South

knowledge exchange would

need to bring top Indian programmers to Myanmar

to help. This digital bridge

will not cost much but bring

a huge impact. Hopefully sooner than later, some donor will find the budget to get this done, which is likely to lead to an explosion of online Myanmar language information. For further information

c o n t a c t P a u l D o d d s (, Nance Cunningham (inkish@ or David Arnott (

Paul Dodds is a commercial lawyer, business regulatory policy advisor and historic

property developer. He has worked in Cambodia for most

of the past five years.

He has worked in Cambodia for most of the past five years. US scientist’s murder discredits

US scientist’s murder discredits Singapore

LAST week, Singapore’s Foreign Minister K Shanmugam dashed to Washington to try to staunch the spreading fallout from an espionage- linked tragedy involving the death of an American research scientist. It is a case reminiscent of the murder of a British businessman in Dalian

two years ago, which led

to the demise of Bo Xilai,

a member of China’s

ruling Politburo, and Bo’s vivacious wife, Gu Kailai.

Indeed, the Singapore calamity is even more

intriguing and its effects may threaten the republic’s ties with the United States and China, and may even cause

a funding shortfall in

Washington. As international

reportage has indicated, the story is complex

but rivetting, and is yet another sign of laxness, if not chronic ineptitude, by the Singapore authorities. Early last year, Dr Shane Todd, 32, expressed reservations about the work he was doing at Singapore’s Institute of Microelectronics, which receives US funding for developing secret military technology. Todd worried that his research involving gallium nitride, a semiconductor used in state-of-the-art satellite communications, was being accessed by Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, which

is viewed as a security

threat. Having alerted his family to these fears that his work might jeopardise US interests, he told IME that he intended to resign and made plans to depart last June. He had a job offer from Nuvotronics, an American research firm, and his colleagues said he was cheerful and relieved when his final work day at the Singapore institute

AsiAn Focus

his final work day at the Singapore institute A siAn F ocus I n D epth

In Depth


Roger Mitton

came around. His girlfriend, Shirley, was surprised when he did not call her the next day, so she went round to his trendy Tanjong Pagar

apartment. Oddly, the door was unlocked. She entered and found Todd hanging in the bathroom, dead. It looked like suicide but upon checking, it appeared more likely to be murder. After all, he’d been happy when last seen, there were

boxes packed for his return home, and he was doing his laundry.

It looked like suicide but upon checking, it appeared more likely to be murder. After all, he’d been happy when last seen.

It seemed an odd prelude to taking his life. Shirley and his family were sure that was not what had happened. And

they were later backed by US congressmen, forensic analysts and top researchers. All expressed surprise at what Chris Nelson, in his widely read Washington insider report, termed “an extraordinarily casual initial Singaporean police investigation”. Actually, it was no surprise to me. When I was Asiaweek’s correspondent in Singapore, our bureau in Raffles Place was

ransacked during the night of February 15, 1992. The police came, took photographs and a statement, gave me a number to call to inquire about the investigation, and then disappeared. Weeks later, when I called the number, an officer answered and said he had no record of what I was talking about. So the cockup in Todd’s case reflects a common pattern of the Singapore constabulary failing to conduct proper investigations, not dusting for fingerprints, and incorrectly describing crime scenes. They reported that Todd had drilled holes in his bathroom wall, bolted in a pulley from which he ran a strap around the toilet and tied it to his neck and then jumped off a chair. Unfortunately, as his family later discovered, there were no holes in the marble walls of the bathroom, no bolts or screws, and the toilet was not where the police had said it was. Suspecting a cover- up of Todd’s murder, particularly after they found a detachable hard drive with references to Huawei which the police had somehow overlooked, they contacted an American pathologist. His assessment was that Todd’s bruised knuckles and hands indicated he had fought an attacker and died by being throttled. There is more to this horrifying tale that is only now coming out and that is why Shanmugam scurried to Washington to meet US Attorney General Eric Holder and Senator Max Baucus from Todd’s state of Montana. But the damage is done and Singapore’s over-hyped reputation for efficacy and the rule of law has taken another bashing.

But the damage is done and Singapore’s over-hyped reputation for efficacy and the rule of law


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

Refugee camp blaze kills 45 Myanmar

BANGKOK – The toll from

a blaze that swept through a

camp in northern Thailand housing refugees from Myanmar has risen to 45, a

Thai official said on March


Dozens of people were injured in the fire, which broke out on March 22 at the Mae Surin camp in Mae Hong Son province, with women, children and the elderly believed to comprise most of the victims. Rescue workers were on the scene at the remote mountainous camp area, Mae Hong Son provincial governor Narumol Paravat told AFP by telephone. “The latest death toll we can confirm through military walkie-talkies is 45,” she said, adding the toll was likely to rise as rescue workers search the area. Authorities believe the fire was sparked by an

the area. Authorities believe the fire was sparked by an People stand amid the ruins of

People stand amid the ruins of burnt homes after a fire swept through a refugee camp in Mae Surin camp in Mnorthern Thailand on March 23. Pic: AFP

unattended cooking flame. A local district official said hot weather, combined with strong winds caused the fire to spread quickly among the thatched bamboo shelters. Police on March 23 said

about 400 temporary homes had been incinerated, while the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Bureau said a school, clinic and two food warehouses had also been destroyed.

The Thai government pledged an investigation into the fire at the camp, which houses about 3700 refugees. Ten camps strung out along the Thai-Myanmar

border house a total of about 130,000 people, who first began arriving in the


Many of the refugees have fled conflict zones in ethnic areas of Myanmar. Families often live cheek- by-jowl in simple bamboo- and-thatch dwellings. Many of the camp residents have been registered with the UN as refugees and a resettlement program has allowed tens of thousands to move to third countries. After a quasi-civilian government replaced the long-ruling junta in Myanmar two years ago, Thailand said it wanted to shut the border camps, raising concern among their residents. But so far the displaced residents have been allowed to stay and the Thai government has stressed that it will only send them back when it is safe. – AFP

Pilot water project planned for Yankin township

By Maria Danmark

YANGON’S aging water supply system is due for a major overhaul in a project spearheaded by a Danish consortium. Danish Water Services, VCS Danmark and Grontmij, met with Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) and local partner MY Associates from March

19 to 23 to work through the details of the project, which aims to bring

a reliable water supply to Yangon

residents and reduce leakage. Yangon is estimated to have a population between four and seven million people, but only 38 percent

of the population has running water, the project proposal from the Danish consortium states. Additionally, the level of non- revenue water (NRW) – water that

is lost due to leaking pipes before it

reaches the consumer – is estimated by YCDC officials at 35pc. However, it is more likely closer to 45-55pc and could be higher if the system was to be pressurised to international standards. The first phase of the overhaul project will be a feasibility study conducted in Yangon’s Yankin township, the pilot area. “Together with YCDC we have

created an organisation on how to develop the project,” the director of Danish Water Services, Carsten Moeller, told The Myanmar Times. “YCDC has put people at our disposal who have found out that Yankin township will be an interesting place to look at first because it roughly represents the city,” he said. The specific area within Yankin township has about 40,000 residents and 4000 connections to the water supply system. Less than half of

the residents have piped water into their homes. “In this area, we will examine how much leakage there is, find out how this system can be optimised and how we can reduce this water leakage,” said Hans-Martin Friis Moeller, Grontmij’s market and development director. The main objective is not to

immediately reduce the NRW level, but instead gather information to address potential projects for donors, he said. “We will survey the whole area and look at how a complete, modern water supply system should look in the area. Once we have done that, we have a demonstration area where we can show how the water supply can operate in a much better way using these strategies and

methods. This information can be used for other areas in Yangon,” Mr Friis Moeller said. From regional experience, Danish officials maintain that the level of NRW will be reduced considerably in the pilot area during the process of zoning, pipe registration and leakage detection. “It doesn’t mean that once we have finished the feasibility study that we will be done with all the repairs – only then we have all the studies and all assessments for the implementation to begin,” Mr Friis Moeller said. Once the study is complete, the goal in Yankin township is to reduce NRW level by 50pc and make a long term plan for reaching a cost effective leakage level. This first study is expected to be finished by the end of this year and then a new contract for the implementation project has to be signed. The Danish consortium said the implementation phase will not take more than a year. It added that if there are no complications, the pilot project in Yankin township would be finished during 2015. The goal for Yangon is to cut the leakage levels to 10-20pc. However, this will be a long term project. “It will probably take 30 years before Yangon city can realistically

reach this level. It’s a huge project. But it has been done in Phnom Penh and that project took about 10 years, which was impressive, so it is not impossible for a developing country to come down to that level,” the project manager at VCS Danmark, Henrik Juul, said. A water supply project in Phnom Penh was implemented from 1993 to 2006 and helped to supply 90pc of Phnom Penh’s residents with a reliable water supply. “It’s a really interesting example, because it shows that if the top political leadership, down to the water supply director, are determined to do this, then it can be done, and it can be done quickly, “said Mr Carsten Moeller. “So far, it has been a very good start here in Myanmar. We have been met with great interest and willingness. The will to do this is definitely here from both sides and this project will be a great reference for the Danish water sector, so we are very eager to succeed,” he said. Denmark has become one of the world leaders in water sector management. The area in Denmark managed by VCS Danmark has an NRW level of around 4.7pc, the company said. On average, the level of NRW in Denmark is around 7pc.

USDP moves to amend constitution

YANGON – Myanmar’s parliament took the first step last week towards the possible amendment of the constitution which was drafted under a military regime and bars Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency. T h e c o n s t i t u t i o n , ratified after a rigged 2008 referendum and widely seen as undemocratic, disqualifies presidential and vice-presidential candidates whose spouses or children are citizens of a foreign country. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s late husband, academic Michael Aris, was British, as are their two grown-up sons. The constitution also reserves a quarter of parliamentary seats for military personnel chosen by the armed forces chief. The review was proposed by U Aye Myint and U Thein Zaw, both former generals and senior members of the ruling, military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), said U Ohn Kyine, a member of Suu Kyi’s party. M i l i t a r y d e l e g a t e s also voted in favor of the proposal. “They seem to have realised that it’s essential to amend the present constitution for the country to build genuine democracy,” Ohn Kyine said. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) boycotted the general election but she and 42 colleagues won by- elections in April last year to take seats in parliament. She has made amending the constitution a priority. The review could lead to changes that would make it possible for Suu Kyi to become president after a 2015 general election that the NLD is expected to win. It might also decide the future role and political scope of the military. – Reuters

that the NLD is expected to win. It might also decide the future role and political
that the NLD is expected to win. It might also decide the future role and political


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

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Rakhine Commission’s report due March 31, four months late

Rakhine Commission’s report due March 31, four months late I n D epth with Ei Ei

In Depth

with Ei Ei Toe Lwin

AN investigation commission set up to probe outbreaks of communal violence in Rakhine State is going to submit its final report by the end of March, four months later than originally planned. Commission secretary and spokesperson Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing told The Myanmar Times last week that the commission has confirmed that it will submit its final report to the President’s Office by March 31. “We are editing the report but it is very long at about 50 pages,” Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing said. “We are paying close attention to accuracy of the report,” he said. The President’s Office announced the formation of the 27-member committee on August 17 last year. In addition to exposing the causes of the incidents that occurred in Rakhine State in May and June, the report was also supposed to make suggestions for what should be done in the future. It was supposed to be filed by November 16. The commission’s members

include leaders of the country’s four main religions, as well as politicians, civil society activists and journalists. However, the commission was not able to submit its final report and only filed an interim report to the President’s Office on November 17. The interim report was not made public and Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing said he was unsure if the finished report would be publicly available. “It depends on the President’s Office whether this report will be publicised. I think it will be impossible to publish it in state- run newspapers like has been done with other reports because it’s too long. “But I can’t really be sure how the report will be used.” However, he said the commission planned to hold a press conference to release a statement after submitting the report to President U Thein Sein. “We will provide information to the media concerning what we did in writing the report and what facts were included as soon as possible,” he added. Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing said the March 12 release of the report on the Letpadaung conflict between security forces and villagers in Monya showed that there is room to release such documents to the public. He

added that releasing the reports publicly was a good way to elicit feedback from the public and international community. He added that the commission expected considerable interest in its report both domestically and internationally. “It is not easy to make everyone be satisfied with the commission’s findings. Our duties are to investigate the issue and give recommendation based on our findings. “We have struggled to finish our tasks successfully amid a number of challenges,” Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing said. “We will give advice in the report that we believe to be in the best interest of the state and people, especially in terms or ensuring lasting peace in Rakhine State in the long term,” he said.

C o m m i s s i o n m e m b e r

Dr Aye Maung, who is also chairman of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party and an Amyotha Hluttaw representative, said he had not been been able to “fully

participate” in the commission’s activities.

“I haven’t read the final report

yet,” he said.

“I think the commission should

give advice as best as it can. Most importantly, the report must be an administrative

mechanism, and communities need to accept the report and be willing to implement its findings and recommendations. “Moreover, it is important t h a t t h e c o m m i s s i o n ’ s recommendations be possible to implement or the report will only be worth the paper it’s written on,” he said. Commission member Dr Hla Tun, secretary of Thanantara Dhammapalaka (Hindu) Association, said he was satisfied with the commission’s work. “I think the commission’s report must be fair for all,” he added. More than 200 people, both Buddhist and Muslim, lost their lives in outbreaks of communal violence that wracked Rakhine State between May and October, government data shows. More than 16,000 houses,

45 mosques, 14 monasteries and three schools were burnt or destroyed and more than 70,000 people remain in refugee camps. The government has tried to maintain peace and stability in the state, with the last outbreak of violence more than four months

ago, commission members said Rakhine State is still unstable.

“Section 144 [martial law and curfew] is still in force in Rakhine State,” said Dr Aye Maung.

From page 1

Meiktila erupts

Several mosques were reported to have been torched. The United States said it was “deeply

concerned” by the unrest, which according to police erupted on March 20 after an argument in a Muslim-owned gold shop intensified and caused about 200 people to fight in the streets.

U Win Htein said he had seen bodies at

the scene of fresh clashes on March 21. “More than 10 people were killed,” he told AFP from the town, which is his constituency seat. The unrest comes at a time of heightened tensions between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar. Communal conflict in Rakhine State left at least 180 people dead and more than 110,000 displaced last year, overshadowing international optimism about the country’s

widely praised political reforms since the end of military rule two years ago.

A senior US State Department official

told AFP that Ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell had raised concerns about the situation with top Myanmar government officials. “The embassy is also in touch with community leaders. We will continue to encourage public efforts to call for calm and foster dialogue, tolerance and mutual

respect,” the official said, asking not to be named. UN resident coordinator Ashok Nigam called for all parties involved “to exercise the utmost tolerance and restraint within their communities”.

A local resident, who asked not to be

named, said he had seen “many dead bodies”, adding: “The situation is getting worse. The police cannot control the people.” An AFP photographer saw three burned bodies and houses on fire. “We’re scared. We keep the women and children at a safer building close to the police station,” another local resident said.

Men look at a body of a person killed during rioting in Meiktila last week.
Men look at a
body of a person
killed during rioting
in Meiktila last
week. Pic: AFP

Police said several mosques were destroyed and a Buddhist monk was among two killed on March 20, but they did not give an updated toll for March 21. The local hospital said it had attended to five dead and 25 wounded. “Two died from burn injuries and the other three were killed because of wounds sustained from knives and sticks,” a hospital official said, asking not to be named. Ko Ko Gyi, a member of the 88 Generation political activist group, who travelled to Meiktila on March 20, said people from both communities were fleeing their homes for fear of being attacked. Myanmar’s Muslims – largely of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent – account for an estimated 4 percent of the 60 million population, although the country has not conducted a census in three decades. Muslims entered Buddhist-majority Myanmar en masse as indentured labourers from the Indian subcontinent during British colonial rule, which ended

in 1948, but despite their long history they have never been fully integrated. Sectarian unrest has occasionally broken out in the past in some areas across the country, with Rakhine State a flashpoint for the tensions. Since violence broke out there last year, thousands of Muslim Rohingya – including

a growing number of women and children

– have fled the conflict in rickety boats, many heading for Malaysia.

U Win Htein said there were around

30,000 Muslims in Meiktila out of a total population of around 80,000 but that no similar clashes had happened in his lifetime.

“I think it is a consequence of what

happened in Rakhine state last year,” he added. The UN Human Rights Council on March 21 passed a resolution calling on the Myanmar government to launch an independent investigation into reports of human rights violations, also lamenting “persisting inter-communal tensions”.


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

Generation Wave plans a new future

By Maria Danmark

PRO-DEMOCRACY youth group Generation Wave announced plans last week to restructure and rename itself the Generation Wave Institute. The group also announced a two-year plan to expand its political strategy at a press conference in Yangon on March 20. General director of Generation Wave Institute, Min Yan Naing, told The Myanmar Times that the group is taking further steps to becoming a legally registered organisation. “Our aim is to register as an organisation, because we don’t want to be an illegal organisation – but during the [registration] process I was told to promise that I wouldn’t work in politics. But that is impossible because all of our work is concerned with politics,” Min Yan Naing said. Since 2007, Generation Wave operated illegally from Mae Sot in Thailand, carrying out a number of high profile campaigns against the government inside Myanmar. The group was also made famous for illegally distributing Sylvester


Min Yan Naing (far right) speaks during a Generation Wave Institute press conference in Yangon
Min Yan Naing (far right) speaks
during a Generation Wave Institute
press conference in Yangon on
March 20. Pic: Aung Htay Hlaing

in unmarked packages in teashops, as well as bumper stickers that said “Change New Government” to satirise the slogan “Compressed Natural Gas”. Between 2007 and 2011, 30 of the movement’s members were imprisoned for unlawfully associating with an illegal organisation, but released as part of a mass presidential pardon in January 2012. Generation Wave moved

its operations back to Yangon in 2011 following the dissolution of Myanmar’s military regime. Even though the structure of the organisation will change, the goals of the organisation are still the same, Min Yan Naing said. “Our mission is to improve human rights leading towards development and democracy, encourage the younger generation to take part in the development

[of democracy] and raise awareness about certain topics, such as democracy and social development,” he said. To raise awareness about these goals, Generation Wave Institute is planning music and leafleting campaigns aimed at Myanmar’s youth. Generation Wave Institute also wants to expand its target demographic and has ended a previous

restriction barring entry for members over the age of 35. It announced that it will continue offering workshops, training and capacity building and will extend this to non- members. “We also want to support other organisations. Other organisations have contacted us and requested training because they lack experience. Most of our staff and volunteers have already attended human rights and

community training, so we can share our resources,” Min Yan Naing said. But with the election coming up in 2015, they also want to offer training to members of parliament. “We would like to give training to MPs and also the young generation in order to find those who are interested in becoming candidates for the election in 2015. At the moment, the question is who are going to be candidates in 2015? “We want to train [potential candidates] on how to make campaigns, what democracy and human rights are, and how to raise awareness in these areas,” he said. The specifics of the new plan are still unclear but Min Yan Naing said the institute would try to find collaborators who can help them gain more experience to hold training sessions for parliament members. Min Yan Naing says he is confident about Generation Wave Institute being registered, and maintains it is possible that the institute will receive it within the coming months. Min Yan Naing was one of the four people, together with the current MP Zayar Thaw, who founded Generation Wave the protests led by monks in 2007.

the four people, together with the current MP Zayar Thaw, who founded Generation Wave the protests


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

Yangon’s traffic raises tricky power sharing problem

By Kyaw Hsu Mon

SHOULD state and regional governments be given more power to solve local problems and stimulate local development? Has the union government over- centralised its authority? And how can the balance be righted between the centre and the states and regions? These are some of the questions that have started to arise as the country continues to tread the path towards greater democracy. The transfer of power to a civilian government brought a division of responsibilities between the central government and the state and regional authorities. Some observers are now questioning whether the states and regions have enough power, or enough funding, to do the job the central government wants them to do. Recently, the government of Yangon Region set up the City Public Transport Services Committee to solve the city’s traffic congestion and reduce the number of traffic violations. But some observers are wondering why the regional government’s existing ministries have not been given that job. U Kyaw, the Thingangyun representative of the Yangon Region hluttaw, said: “The Yangon region government doesn’t seem to have the authority that the former Yangon Region Council had to look at traffic problems. Why hasn’t the Yangon Region ministry of transport taken

on this responsibility? Why do we need a separate committee? There seems to be a weakness in the ministry in this region.” “We don’t know what the minister’s rights and responsibilities are, and we have not been able to get an answer to that question in the regional hluttaw,” he said, suggesting that over-centralisation of power in the union government might be the reason. However, U Zaw Aye Maung of the Yangon Region Rakhine ethnic affairs ministry said that while the ministries’ authority and responsibilities were weak, outside experts were also needed to resolve traffic congestion. “Chief Minister U Myint Swe set up this committee because the experts can devote more time to fact- gathering than the minister, but I think they should also have involved the hluttaw MPs too,” he said. U Zaw Aye Maung said the union government should concentrate on national-level matters, such as foreign affairs, and be prepared to grant more authority to the states and regions to carry out local policies. Returning to Myanmar after 20 years of absence, former student leader Moe Thee Zune said government staff had declined in quantity and quality while he was away. “Government staff need more training to boost their capacity. Departments should have more freedom of action, not just wait for orders from senior officials,” he said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (left) and the President U Thein Sein speak to the press
Prime Minister Julia Gillard (left) and
the President U Thein Sein speak
to the press at Parliament House in
Canberra on March 18. Pic: AFP

Australia promises aid during U Thein Sein visit

CANBERRA – President U Thein Sein last week became

Myanmar’s first head of state

to visit Australia since 1974,

winning aid and defense concessions as he reaps new

fruits of his liberalisation policies. As Myanmar approaches the second anniversary of

a quasi-civilian regime led by the ex-general taking

power, Canberra said it was increasing its support to recognise the reforms. “As a close neighbour, Australia will benefit from

a more open and prosperous

Myanmar that is fully integrated into the region,” said Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on March 18. “Australia’s commitment to expand its constructive engagement with Myanmar recognises the unprecedented process of change underway

there towards political freedom and the new opportunity this brings to

help promote the prosperity of Myanmar and its people.” While Canberra said its arms embargo would remain, it announced an easing of restrictions on defense cooperation including

humanitarian and disaster relief activities, as well as peacekeeping. It will also appoint a defense attaché to Myanmar and a trade commissioner. Gillard said A$20 million

(US$20.7 million) would be provided over two years for “strengthening democratic institutions, promoting human rights, improving economic governance and advancing the rule of law”. It will include funding for the Myanmar Human Rights Commission and a visit by Myanmar ministers to Australia to draw on the experience of mining experts. Mining is considered vital to the Asian nation’s future, but there are concerns about corruption, environmental safeguards and communities

being displaced. The trip is the latest example of U Thein Sein’s new-found globetrotting diplomacy that has seen him address the UN General Assembly, meet a host of European Union leaders and be feted at a number of international summits. President U Thein Sein said he was determined his country continue on its democratic path. “It is my sincere wish and aspiration that, like Australia, Myanmar will enjoy peace, democracy and prosperity,” he said. U Thein Sein added that he was in Australia not just to request support and assistance, but to explain the changes that have been

taking place. “I hope that you appreciate that what we are undertaking has no equal in modern times. This is not just a

but a

transition from military rule to democratic rule,” he said. “From 60 years of armed conflict to peace. And from centrally controlled and isolated economy to one that

simple transition

can end poverty and create real opportunities for all our people.” John Blaxland, a Myanmar expert at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said Canberra was keen to reward U Thein Sein, but also wanted to keep Myanmar onside as the next ASEAN chair. “The government wants to reward [him] for the work he has done, but it also partly Australia burnishing its regional credentials ahead of Myanmar becoming the next ASEAN chair,” he said. “ASEAN is a significant part of Australia’s security and trading outlook and it is good for Australia if ASEAN is stable and secure.” Myanmar is due to assume the Association of Southeast Asian Nations chairmanship from Brunei next year. A u s t r a l i a ’ s t r a d e commission Austrade said Myanmar is an emerging economy with extensive natural resources, a growing population and numerous opportunities for its companies. – AFP

economy with extensive natural resources, a growing population and numerous opportunities for its companies. – AFP
economy with extensive natural resources, a growing population and numerous opportunities for its companies. – AFP


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

Hluttaw finalises rules on foreign ownership of firms

YANGON – Myanmar’s parliament rejected a proposal to limit foreign ownership of businesses in certain sectors to 49 percent, voting to confirm a limit of 80pc set in January under a new investment law approved last November, official media said. The decision, taken on March 18, will cover investment in sectors deemed sensitive, including agriculture and businesses that could affect the environment, the Myanmar Ahlin daily reported on March 19. In other sectors, foreign firms will be able to set up ventures without the need for a local partner. The law was held up in the legislative process for much of last year, caught between a government eager to attract foreign investment, influential domestic tycoons trying to protect their monopolies and small businesses keen not to be shut out. Investors see huge opportunities in a country that was largely closed to foreign firms until President U Thein Sein took office in

March 2011 at the head of a quasi-civilian government, ending almost half a century of military rule. Among the changes under the new law, foreign investors can lease land from the government or from authorised private owners for up to 50 years, and the deal can be extended twice, for 10 years each time. The old law did not define lease periods but in practice contracts tended to cover 30- year terms, extendable for two periods of five years. Foreign firms may be entitled to a tax holiday for the first five years of operation and other forms of tax relief may be available depending on the investment, if deemed in the national interest. The old law allowed for a three-year holiday. The old law stressed export promotion but the new one states that output can be used for “both export promotion and import substitution”. I t s u p e r s e d e s a n investment law dating from November 1988. Foreign firms set up under the old law are now governed by the new legislation. – Reuters

Govt releases national telco license documents

By Stuart Deed

T H E g o v e r n m e n t

committee in charge of tendering two national


e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s


i c e n s e s

r e l e a s e d


document last week that will likely set off a flurry of negotiation between interested bidders in the coming week, a foreign law firm said on March 23. The Telecommunications

O p e r a t o r T e n d e r

Evaluation and Selection

C o m m i t t e e r e l e a s e d

the “Pre-qualification Questions and Answers” document on the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology’s website on March 21. VDB Loi, a specialised law and tax advisory firm

that has more than 60 transactional lawyers and tax advisers working in offices across Southeast

A s i a a n d i n c l u d i n g

Myanmar released an analysis of the document on March 22 pointing to a number of key clarifications the document makes for

potential bidders. VDB Loi partner Mr Edwin Vanderbruggen,

who helped to write the analysis, said the required experience component of

bids “is a hard and fast

rule”. “The committee will not be flexible on the operational requirements for the experienced operator [four million subscribers in one country, one million subscribers in a second

“Look at the practical side of this,” he said on March

23. “Tender envelopes will

be opened on April 4 and then published on April

11. In those six or seven

days they [the committee] is going to have to make all these evaluations. If the committee is not strict on its requirements they cannot get this done. “The committee wants to mechanically eliminate a whole group of interested

I think that everybody is now in a heightened state of activity.

country]. In the Q&A, the committee rejected to accept … secondary experience of one million subscribers in two countries,” the analysis states. Mr Vanderbruggen said it was likely that the

intention of rigidly sticking to the required experience component was a “practical” consideration to reduce the number of bidders in the pool.

parties and work with whoever is left,” he said. However, the Q&A also contains a few surprises, Mr Vanderbruggen said. “I was surprised to see the international gateway … [and] internet services announced as being part of the license because it wasn’t in the prequalification documents,” he said. VDB Loi’s analysis states:

“The license will include

network, ISP, international interconnection and gateway:

the committee confirmed that the license shall grant the holder the right – but put them under no obligation – to provide both fixed line and mobile services. The licensee will also have the ability to provide internet services. International gateways will also be allowed.” Another key clarification is that bids cannot be changed later or the bid will be immediately ruled out. “No changes to the consortium in midstream:

one cannot put in a bid alone if one was pre-qualified as part of a consortium. One cannot put in a bid with a consortium if one was pre- qualified as a member of another consortium,” the analysis said. Mr Vanderbruggen said the no change rule would lead to a rush of activity in the next 10 days. “I think that everybody is now in a heightened state of activity” as consortium partners rush to finalise deals, he said.

think that everybody is now in a heightened state of activity” as consortium partners rush to


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

Trademarks in the spotlight as brands arrive

By Tim McLaughlin

THE grainy photo appeared on the Burmese Memes Facebook page on January 24. It showed three workers standing on a second storey ledge, placing the familiar green mermaid

logo of coffee giant Starbucks on a shopfront window, with the caption announcing the chain’s supposed arrival in Yangon. The image was quickly shared

a few hundred times on Facebook and re-Tweeted, perhaps not the numbers needed to be considered going “viral”, but enough to be noticed in a city where there has been a recent series of notable foreign entries into the market. On social network sites the photo generated a range of comments, including excitement and scepticism at the global coffee chain’s purported arrival, to spats about Myanmar’s perceived Westernisation. But one reaction to the blatant trademark abuse from a Facebook user, posted after Starbucks confirmed that it was not opening

a store in Myanmar, was telling

in its simplicity: “But this is Myanmar. Who cares!” A Mickey Mouse-branded beer station makes for memorable souvenir photos for travellers, but raises legitimate concerns for companies wishing to protect their intellectually property in

Myanmar, where the enforce of trademark protection regulations remains lax. (A Walt Disney Company spokesperson said “Protection

of intellectual property rights is

a serious global issue and is of

paramount importance.”) “Companies that are not yet in the Myanmar market should still be considering proactive steps to

market should still be considering proactive steps to News of a Starbucks Coffee outlet opening in

News of a Starbucks Coffee outlet opening in Yangon created a buzz on Facebook in January but the signs were quickly taken after the US firm stated it was not coming to Myanmar yet. Pic: AFP

protect their trademarks given the state of intellectually property laws,” said Aaron Hutman, a lawyer with the American law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP who has written about Myanmar’s intellectual property laws. Foreign companies wishing to protect their trademarks must

first register them under the

country’s Registration Act of 1908. Trademarks are registered at the Yangon Registration Office of the Settlement and Land Records Department, after

which a cautionary notice must be published in a weekly or daily Myanmar newspaper. These notices are familiar to readers of newspapers such as The Myanmar Times, where a sharp rise in the number of registrations during the past six months has sometimes resulted hundreds of column centimetres devoted to the cautionary advertisements in each edition. The notices also include a statement that unauthorised use of or infringement of a trademark will be pursued through legal

channels. This can be done through either a criminal or civil case, said Yangon lawyer, U Min Sein. In the case of the fake Starbucks outlet the law was enforced and the offending signs were removed. But lawyers agree that the current IP laws need to be clarified and more strictly enforced. “This legal regime could benefit from greater clarity under a new law. Further, there have not been recent instances of trademark enforcement and foreign companies are looking for reassurances that trademark rights, once asserted,

would be enforced by Myanmar courts,” said Mr Hutman. The country’s copyright law, the Myanmar Copyright Act of 1914, does not recognise copyright from

other countries. It also does not provide for registering copyright from foreign countries within Myanmar.

A regulatory framework for

patents is essentially non-existent, with no system in place for patent protection.

A staff officer with the Directorate

of Trade at the Ministry of Commerce, U Shwe Zin Ko, wrote in the January 2012 issue of The Law Gazette, a publication of the

Law Society of Singapore, “… it is expected that IP laws would be promulgated soon…,” but this has yet to come to fruition.

A year later minimal safeguards

to protect IP were included in the new Foreign Investment Law; no further clarifications about IP laws were included in the implementing regulations made to the FIL at the end of January. Though there was talk of an IP bill being drafted in 2004, U Min Sein said that this, “was only a rumour” in a time when government transparency was minimal. In 2001, Myanmar became a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the United Nations agency responsible for the use and protection of intellectual property. But Myanmar remains only part of the basic structure, and has

failed to sign further treaties since joining.

U Min Sein agreed with Mr

Huntman’s assessment that there is a need for further laws, but said that there has been no movement on the issue due to the higher priority being given to other matters.

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Myanmar is inviting qualified candidates to

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Myanmar is inviting qualified candidates to apply for the following positions:

Sr. Title and level

1. Team Assistant (MCH) (LICA 2)

2. Programme Assistant (LICA 3)

Duty Station









For details please visit UNOPS website viewvacancy/VAListing.aspx and click on the post you are interested in applying for. All applications must be made through UNOPS E-recruitment system.

must be made through UNOPS E-recruitment system. Shwe Pyi Thar residents resist cemetery, crematorium plan

Shwe Pyi Thar residents resist cemetery, crematorium plan

RESIDENTS in Yangon’s Shwe Pyi Thar township said that they will continue to oppose the construction of an inter-faith cemetery and crematorium in the area around Kyu Chaung village. Shwe Pyi Thar residents held a press conference to raise their objections on March 12. “The crematorium is in the middle of five wards and it’s too close to the houses, and the area is not big enough for a cemetery,” said Ko Aung Gyi, a member of Htarwara Mitta Shin society group of Shwe Pyi Thar township. “We are worried that the smell and the ashes will reach the houses,” he said. In the old Kyu Chaung cemetery, there was a small section for Muslim burials. But Yangon City

Development Committee (YCDC) is turning the cemetery into an inter-faith space and allowing more Muslim burials more space than before, which some news outlets have suggested in the real root of the conflict. “We are not objecting to this because of religious matters but because the crematorium is too close to houses,” Ko Aung Gyi said. But he admitted that residents were also worried that the Muslim section of the cemetery would be a problem because most of the monasteries nearby are of Rakhine origin. “Some newspapers wrote that we are objecting to this because of the Muslim part and described it as a religious conflict,” said resident Daw Myo Myo Aye.

“We deny this. We are just objecting to the expansion of

the cemetery and the building

of a crematorium,” she said.

An unnamed resident from the nearby 11 th ward

said nearly everybody living near the site had until recently been unaware that

a crematorium was being

built because YCDC did not inform them. “We didn’t know what YCDC was building and the site was covered so we could not see inside,” he said. “We just knew that it was a government project. But later we realised that the building looks like a crematorium. And we also found that some articles in newspapers stating that YCDC is re-doing the Kyu Chaung cemetery,” he said. – Noe Noe Aung

that some articles in newspapers stating that YCDC is re-doing the Kyu Chaung cemetery,” he said.


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

UN calls on government to accelerate reform process

By Bill O’Toole

THE United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on March 21 calling on Myanmar’s government to “speed up reforms”, and tackle the rampant violence and corruption that continues to plague the country. The report, and several of the delegates involved, were quick to emphasise and praise the progress already made by the government. Ireland’s ambassador Gerard Corr, who represents the EU, said on the committee floor that the government has moved “towards political reform, democratisation

and national reconciliation, and an improvement in the human rights situation in

the country

[but] serious

challenges remain”. “Although the council recognised the progress on the ground it remained vigilant about continued abuses, particularly in Kachin State and against the Rohingya populations,” said a statement from HRC’s main office in Geneva. In particular, the council implored the government to find solutions to the

various ethnic tensions that continue to divide the country, a topic that has loomed particularly large in the last week and the government attempts

peace talks with the Kachin Independence Army and religious violence engulfed

M e i k t i l a i n c e n t r a l


The 47 member states

by the military against minority groups, and review all laws limiting

the freedom of speech and expression. The resolution also calls for more access and cooperation for the UN’s efforts in the country. “International attention should now focus on ensuring that the UN


the council passed the


able to open a fully

motion unanimously, and claimed to be carrying on the “mandate” of Un Special Reporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana, who visited displaced persons camps in Rakhine and Kachin states earlier this year. “While the process of

operational human rights office in the country. On November 19, 2012, on the eve of a visit to Yangon by US President Barack Obama President Thein Sein pledged to invite the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human

reform is continuing in the

Rights to establish an office

right direction, there are significant human rights


Myanmar,” it said. The President’s Office

shortcomings that remain

could not be reached

unaddressed, such as discrimination against the Rohingya in Rakhine State

for comment on the resolution, but Myanmar’s ambassador in Geneva,

and the ongoing human


Maung Wai was quick

rights violations in relation


voice his displeasure.

to the conflict in Kachin State,” Mr Quintana said

According to AFP news agency, U Maung Wai took

during the presentation of

the floor to decry the use

his most recent report on


“prescriptive language”

March 11. The resolution goes on

and “misleading words” in the resolution. He went

to call for the release of


to say that any reports

all remaining political


human rights abuses

prisoners, end human rights abuses carried out

should be treated only as “allegations”.

ACO plans to invest $700m in Myanmar

By Aung Shin

ACO Investment Group from the United States is planning to invest US$700 million in Myanmar, including $200 million for the Yangon International

Airport and $500 million for a telecommunication license, Bloomberg News reported on March 18. “In the Asian markets, if you’re looking for growth, we would rather look at Myanmar versus the saturated markets of Thailand or Indonesia,” said Hari Achuthan, a former Credit Suisse Group banker and co-founder of ACO Investment Group, told Bloomberg. U Win Swe Tun, deputy director general of the Department of Civil

Aviation under the Ministry

of Transportation told the Myanmar Times on March 20 that, “We called prequalification tenders for Yangon International Airport and 19 companies bid.” “We selected 11 companies and they have to bid again with full information and qualifications we mentioned in the tender.

“ACO is included in the list of 11 prequalified companies but the final winner will only be announced after the next round in the tender process,” he said. “The company will get long term operation of the airport with renovation investment, with the project starting in


ACO Investment Group also passed prequalification for the two national telecoms licenses that will be released by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. Prequalification was held in February. 7Day News journal reported on March 20 that ACO has to bid with another 10 companies the licenses. ACO also made an agreement with Mandalay Region government last month to develop solar energy farms generating 1000 megawatts (MW) of electricity in a $1.5 billion to $2 billion project in two years project, Bloomberg reported. The report added that ACO invested $500 million in solar farms and $250 million in wind farm projects in Vietnam. Dr Myint Kyu, Mandalay

Region’s Minister for Industry, said on March 22:

“We signed a memorandum of understanding with on February 9 for a solar power project. The total power generated will be 1000MW and it will be supplied to the national grid. The company is now starting physical surveys in Mandalay Region.” “The four steps of the project will be implemented in four places in Mandalay Region. Each step will generate 250MW. The project surveys are being done in Myingyan, Wuntwin, Kyaukse and Meiktila. “ACO will sign a power purchasing agreement with the union government after the survey,” he said. The US government has quickly eased sanctions against Myanmar in the past two years as Myanmar’s c i v i l i a n g o v e r n m e n t reforms. The two nations have enhanced political cooperation, trade and investment in that time, with the US Treasury Department issuing a general license allowing trade with four banks on February 24, including two owned by sanctioned individuals.

issuing a general license allowing trade with four banks on February 24, including two owned by


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

N ews March 25 - 31, 2013 10 the M yanMar t iMes Mandalay residents enjoy

Mandalay residents enjoy Thingyan festivities on12 th Street last year. Pic: Phyo Wai Kyaw

MCDC permits more than 40 stages


Thura U Shwe Man chairs USDP

PYITHU Hluttaw Speak- ers Thura U Shwe Mann took over the chairing of the Union Solidarity and Development Party from early January 2013, the party’s central secretary, Thura U Aung Ko, said on March 18. “At the moment, Thura U Shwe Mann, vice chairman


our party, is taking over


chair of the party,” Thura


Aung Ko said. “It means that President


Thein Sein will not ac-

tively take part in the par-

ty, which means he is not in

breach of the constitution,”

he added.

According to the sec-

tion 64 of the constitution,

if the president or the vice

presidents are members of

a political party, they shall

not take part in its party ac- tivities during their term of office from the day of their election. The selection of President U Thein Sein as USDP chair at the ruling party’s first assembly in Oc- tober last year led to criti- cism from other political parties and the media. – Win Ko Ko Latt

New dredges to arrive in June

By Phyo Wai Kyaw

MANDALAY’s municipal authorities are planning to make the city the hub of Thingyan celebrations this

year, an official told The Myanmar Times last week. The Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) official said interested parties will be allowed

to build pandals – stages equipped

with hoses that spray water on passersby – across the city during this year’s Thingyan festival, which runs from April 12 to 16. “We will allow people to build

pandals on main roads around Mandalay, in addition to around the moat and Kandawgyi before Thingyan,” the official said. “Our aim is to attract as many people as we can to the city for the festival and will provide water for pandals. We will no longer be requiring people to pay to build pandals too,” he said. A separate MCDC official said the

city will grant licenses for more than 40 pandals to be built for the upcoming festival. U Saw Htun Oo, an official in MCDC’s department of revenue, said pandals will mostly be built around the moat, as has traditionally been

the case, but permits for 10 stages have been granted at the Kandawgyi public recreation, which has been off-limits. U Saw Htun Oo said increased water supplies meant the city could afford for pandals to be set up in new areas. “We couldn’t allow any pandals at Kandawgyi because we couldn’t supply enough water in previous years. But we’re confident that we can deliver enough water for this year,” he said on March 19. He added that organisers must pay a security deposit of K500,000 for a pandal around the moat but

that fee would not be levied in other townships. “We will try to supply water for pandals in other townships,” U Saw Htun added. He said permits will be made available for 15 stages on 66 th Street on the eastern side of the moat; 16 pandals will be available along 26 th Street on the southern side; four permits will be issued for 80 th Street on the western edge; but no pandals will be allowed on the northern side. However, in recent years revellers have gathered at 12 th Street to play, despite the absence of pandals.

Final climate change report to be submitted soon

of pandals. Final climate change report to be submitted soon I n D epth with Aye

In Depth

with Aye Sapay Phyu

MYANMAR’S National

Adaptation Program of Action on climate change will be submitted to the Global Environment Facility soon,

a project coordinator said

recently. U Aung Win, project coordinator of the NAPA project, said that a draft of the report, which includes

priority projects to address immediate needs concerning the adverse effects of climate change, has been reviewed by the government and will be forwarded to GEF soon. The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH) under the Ministry of Transport is directly involved in steering the implementation of the

project. Conversely, Global Environment Facility is acting as UN Environment Program’s implementing agency. “After the final review, the

report will sent to GEF and implementation projects will be followed up using funds supplied by GEF in fields such as forestry, agriculture and early warning,” he said. The NAPA project, which started in March 2011, was developed based on the findings of the review of working groups and study papers on climate change, its impacts and adaptation. It also considered rural public assessments on climate change, variability, impacts and adaptation. Rural public assessments

were collected in Nyaung

S h w e ( S h a n S t a t e ) ,

Kyaukpadaung (Mandalay Region) a n d B o g a l e (Ayeyarwady Region) in July and August 2011. The project team invited public reviews of the first draft in February last year to support the main theme of

the project – finding projects that adapt to a changing climate. The draft highlights the impact of climate on Myanmar; the nation’s

v u l n e r a b i l i t i e s a n d adaptation strategies; NAPA’

s adaptation actions’; most

to figure out how to adjust

their agriculture production

to deal with more water, less

water, higher temperatures

and all the unpredictable weather,” she said. “It is supposed to help

communities and people build the capacity to help with their understanding

of climate change and the

impact. It also supposed to help in finding green energy solutions. “Those are the main purposes of climate change

finance,” she said late last month.

She said Myanmar could be

DREDGES worth more than US$42 million that will be used to clear wa- terways on the Ayeyar- wady and Chindwin rivers will arrive in June, said U Ko Ko Oo, deputy director general of the Department of Water Resources and Improvement of River Sys- tems said last week. He said the dredges were ordered from China’s Catic Beijing and will be used to clear obstacles on rivers. “The dredgers will use on the two main rivers – the Ay- eyarwady and Chindwin,” he said, adding he could not say exactly where they would be used. The dredges were ordered in December

2010 at a cost of about $42.2 million, he said.

U Htwe Myint, the man-

aging director of the depart- ment of marine equipment under DWRIR, said: “We have 10 dredges but some are more than 30 years old and do not work properly.” “We have maintained them well and repaired them when required but we still don’t have enough.” – Thiha Toe

Online law diploma

YANGON University of

– Thiha Toe Online law diploma YANGON University of vulnerable communities and in line to receive

vulnerable communities and


line to receive a minimum

Distance Education, under

socio-economic groups; and


US$7.12 million in GEF

the Ministry of Education,


funding, which covers the

will offer an online Diploma

Ms Liane Schalatek,

period from 2010 to 2014.


Law from April 1.

associate director of the Heinrich Boll Foundation (HBF) North America, who visited to Myanmar in last month, said that national

“That money is theoretically ready but the government must submit a proposal to access it,” she said. Ms Schalatek said

The program will be the first online course offered by the ministry, the state-run Myanmar Ahlin reported. Interested parties can



applications is March

planning documents are


y a n m a r n e e d s t o

apply at www.yudeonline.

important are necessary if Myanmar is to gain access to climate funds such as GEF. “Climate finance is supposed to help farmers

develop clear institutional responsibilities and cross department coordination mechanisms for future climate finance flows into the country. The diploma will take 10 months to complete and tuition fees are K30, 000 a subject. The deadline

25. – Yhoon Hnin


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

Health cost decrease spurs debate

Culture of paying extra money at public health outlets remains, say patients

By Shwe Yee Saw Myint

EMERGENCY departments and maternity units at government hospitals have reduced treatment charges because of a significant health budget increase, but costs remain high, with patients forced to pay room charges, give “presents” to doctors and even give fees to cleaners and gatekeepers. The charge reductions came into effect from January 1 but medical superintendents some large government hospitals in Yangon said they still cannot afford to remove charges completely. The reduction in costs largely stems from the funding increase for medicines, which previously patients had to pay for, under the 2012-13 budget. The budget for drug procurement has increased from K3 billion to K65.5 billion, while spending on accessories has risen from K1

billion to K95.74 billion, the Ministry of Health’s finance department confirmed. “We can reduce delivery charges this year from K50,000 to K5000 for surgical delivery and K25,000 to K2500 for a normal delivery,” said Dr Tin Nyo Nyo Latt, the medical superintendant at Yangon Central Women’s Hospital. However, when The Myanmar Times inquired about the cost of delivery at the hospital, it was told women should expect to pay “at least” K200,000 for delivery, room charges, medicine and food. Patients said that there had only been minimal reductions in overall treatment costs. Ko Thein Zin, a translator at a media company, said his mother was admitted to Insein Public Hospital with

a severe stomach pain on

January 25. She spent two weeks in a “cost-sharing” room and the family spent about K600,000 altogether on treatment and food. After surgery, patients or their family members are even handed an envelope in which they are supposed to put a “present” for the surgeon – K30,000 at a minimum. “We spent a lot of money to buy medicine and pay fees for operations, hospital staff and room charges. We had to pay K6000 a day for room fees and at least K1000 for [non-medical staff fees]. You can even see cleaners and gatekeepers asking for

Yangon General Hospital.Pic: Boothee
Yangon General Hospital.Pic: Boothee

money from patients,” he said. Ko Thein Zin said he understood why patients had to pay for treatment at public hospitals but hoped to see service improve to the same level as private hospitals. He said there was little alternative to paying for treatment at a public hospital. “The other option is to spend a lot of money at a private hospital and we can’t afford to do that,” Ko Thein Zin said. Ma Nge, who has been attending Yangon Women’s

was not big enough to give everybody free medicine or treatment. He also said it was unclear what would happen in the 2013-14 budget and whether the cost reductions would continue. “The less funding we have [from the government], the more we have to rely on cost sharing,” he said. The policy of cost sharing, whereby patients had to pay for medicine and anything above the most basic facilities, was introduced in 1990, following the end of socialist rule two years earlier.

You can even see cleaners and gatekeepers asking for money.

Hospital for the past three

months, said she had noticed

a drop in charges since

January 1, with the cost of some medicines falling by

half, but service charges had remained about the same. “Three months ago when

I was admitted to Yangon Women’s Hospital I had to

spend a lot of money on daily room charges, and also on medicines and ‘presents’ for the doctors,” said Ma Nge. “When I was admitted the hospital staff asked me if

I could afford to pay. They

said if I can they would arrange a room and all the necessary things. If not, I have to stay in a common room,” she said. Dr Than Htike, the medical superintendant at Yangon Children’s Hospital, said the increase in funding

Dr Tin Nyo Nyo Latt said 50 percent of income

generated under the cost- sharing scheme goes to the government, while the rest stays with the hospital. This policy remains in place, although Dr Phone Yaung

from the Health Department said the ministry plans to amend the policy soon to reduce costs for patients. Dr Zaw Min, a retired anaesthetist who spent 30 years in the state system, working at Yangon General

hospitals and North Okkalapa hospitals, said cost sharing was the only way for hospitals to cope with severe budget shortfalls. “This system was started in 1990 when the government lacked money to support public health. At that time, we didn’t know how much

money the government gave each public hospital or what the overall budget was. We just noticed that there was less support for medicine and other essential items,’’ he said. Under the policy, poor patients were supposed to still be able to receive free treatment. However, in practice few patients received genuinely free healthcare – only with a letter of recommendation from a hospital’s medical superintendent could they avoid the costs, he said. The low salaries for state doctors also prompted many to seek work in the growing private sector or ask patients directly for more money, he said. Further budget increases are also expected in 2013- 14, which should further reduce costs to patients in the state health system. However, Amyotha Hluttaw representative Dr Myat Nyarna Soe warned that rural communities were missing out on the benefits of the enlarged health budget because of the paucity of state health facilities. “Increasing the budget for public hospitals further still will not have a significant i m p a c t o n p r i m a r y healthcare in Myanmar because 70pc of people live in rural areas. The government needs to put more priority on rural healthcare because currently the state health system doesn’t really reach them,” he said.

Myanmar-Laos flights planned: airlines

By Zaw Win Than

LAO Airlines plans to offer flights to Myanmar in the coming peak s e a s o n , a c o m p a n y spokesperson said recently. Saleum Tayarath, director

of the airline’s commercial

department, said it planned to start Vientiane-Luang Prabang-Yangon services in

October. “We are in the process of forming an agreement with Myanmar Airways

I n t e r n a t i o n a l , a n d aim to launch a code- share arrangement at

a later stage,” he said.

He said the airline has also been talking to tour operators to develop packages between the two countries. Daw Aye Mra Tha, markeing

and commercial executive of MAI, said it’s possible that flights might go via Cambodia to Laos.

“We are discussing flights to Laos but our market surveys suggest it might be better to

fly via Cambodia instead of directly to Vientiane,” she said, adding that no decisions had been made as yet. Private carrier Lao Central Airlines also plans

to operate flights between Vientiane and Yangon, and Vientiane and Nay Pyi Taw in the near future. During a state visit by the President U Thein Sein to Laos in March last year, the two countries reached an agreement to reopen direct flights between Vientiane and either Yangon or Nay Pyi Taw to facilitate cooperation and boost tourism.

Amendments to Unlawful Associations Act proposed

By Shwe Yee Saw Myint

LOCAL non-government

organisations fear they may fall foul of a 100-year-old law banning contact with “unlawful associations”, despiteagovernmentproposal to create exceptions. Parliamentarians are also pushing for an amendment of the law.

association or assists its operations can be jailed or fined. But local NGOs are worried that they might unwittingly come under the scope of the act. Though the original law does not mention civil society organisations, the wording “associations stated in the act” could include non- government organisations,


Kyaw Naing Htay,

Pyithu representative for Indaw township in Sagaing Region, proposed an amendment to the act last week. It was then passed to the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on March 11, which will discuss the motion soon. The 1908 India Act lays down a two- to three-year prison sentence and fine for anyone found guilty of aiding and abetting members of an unlawful association. According to the state-run newspaper The Mirror on March 11, the government has proposed adding a section stating that a person or an organisation shall not be punished if they have to deal with an “unlawful association” in their daily routine or if they are forced

said Daw Nilar Myaing, director of the Local Resource Centre, a Myanmar NGO. “ B e f o r e t h e 1 9 8 8 Registration Law for Organisations of Political Parties is amended, the authorities should not pressure organisations that are not registered. I am also not sure how the Unlawful Associations Act will affect unregistered organisations such as civil society bodies in additional to the 1988 Registration Law,” said Daw Nilar Myaing. Many people have been jailed in Kachin State under the Unlawful Associations Act for being in contact with the Kachin Independence Army, said Daw Nilar Myaing. NGOs have decided to try

to, though the rest of the


show up the weak points

law will apparently remain


the government proposal

intact. “Our ethnic groups were

before it is voted into law by raising concerns related

refusing to negotiate with


this amended draft law.

the government because they were afraid this law would be applied to them,” said U Thein Nyunt, a representative of the Pyithu Hluttaw. The law defines an “unlawful association” as one that encourages or aids persons to commit acts of violence or intimidation or of which the members habitually commit such acts.

In particular they will seek clear definitions of its terms and articles, said Daw Nilar Myaing. When the law was first enacted in 1908, there were no NGOs and civil society organisations were not popular. The 1988 Registration Law also does not include NGOs and civil society in its titles and definitions. NGOs and civil

The president has the power to declare an association unlawful. Anyone who contributes, receives or solicits any contribution for the purpose of such an

society bodies will provide parliament with surveys showing their thoughts regarding the laws to better inform parliamentarians, she said.

MDY road deaths rising

By Than Naing Soe

TRAFFIC deaths and

accidents in Mandalay Region are rising, police say.

A Traffic Police Force

spokesperson said there were 13 fatalities and 66 injuries resulting from 42 accidents in February. This was an increase of 10 accidents and 44 injuries over January. More significantly, 17 more people have died on Mandalay’s roads in January and February this year than the same period in 2012, police statistics show.

Pyi Gyi Ta Gun township recorded the most fatalities, with Chan Mya Thar Si township the highest number of accidents, the statistics show.

Of the 74 accidents in January and February 2 0 1 3 , 5 5 i n v o l v e d

m o t o r c y c l e s . T h e s e collisions left 24 dead and 59 injured, while 19 motor vehicle accidents claimed 11 lives and 29 injured. Common causes identified by police included reckless driving, excessive speed, unskilled drivers and drunk driving. – Translated by Zar Zar Soe


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

NLD rep sued for negligence

By Sithu Lwin

A PYIN Oo Lwin woman filed

a civil lawsuit against U Kyaw

Thiha, National League for Democracy’s representative for the Pyithu Hluttaw, alleging negligence for failing to support a child she says he fathered with

her. The case will first be heard in the Pyin Oo Lwin District Court

on March 25.

Daw Khine Wutyay Thanda

Maung filed the lawsuit against

U Kyaw Thiha on March 11 in an

effort to make him admit that he fathered a child, now 14, and take responsibility for the boy’s future, Advocate of the High Court U Aye Thaung said. Daw Khine Wutyay Thanda Maung said U Kyaw Thiha has never taken any responsibility for the child and has consistently denied that he is the father. The Myanmar Times reported Daw Khine Wutyay Thanda Maung’s intention to file the lawsuit in issue 668, detailing an alleged affair more than a

decade ago.

Daw Khine Wutyay Thanda Maung with her son in Pyin Oo Lwin. Pic: Sithu Lwin
Daw Khine
Thanda Maung
with her son in
Pyin Oo Lwin.
Pic: Sithu Lwin

Before filing the lawsuit, Daw Khine Wutyay Thanda Maung sent letters of complaint to the Amyotha Hluttaw representative of Pwin Oo Lwin, the president, speakers of both houses of parliament and NLD chair Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Daw Khine Wutyay Thanda Maung also alleged that the child was taken by U Kyaw Thiha,

who promised to start looking after him – and relocated the child to the Pansakar boarding school in Mandalay. However, U Kyaw Thiha then asked the headmaster of that school to accept the child as an orphan, the lawsuit alleges. About six days before the lawsuit was filed, the child was brought back from the school

and returned to his mother. U Ko Gyi, a Pyin Oo Lwin resident who is assisting Daw Khine Wutyay Thanda Maung,

said: “The case is not aimed at recalling him [U Kyaw Thiha] as

a parliamentarian or remove him

from the party but to make him take care of the child’s future.” “He should take responsibility for this,” he said. However, U Kyaw Thiha said of

the lawsuit: “I have not received a subpoena. I was not acquainted with Daw Khine Wutyay Thanda Maung and was not on intimate terms with her.” “I paid money 10 years ago over this matter but not in person. It was not paid as alimony or damages but to make them leave me alone,” U Kyaw Thiha said. “They have no evidence at all and

I will respond with defamation charges.” U Kyaw Thiha won the

Pyithu Hluttaw seat for Pyin Oo Lwin in the 2012 by-elections, defeating Union Solidarity and Development Party candidate U Khin Maung Win by 20,000 votes.

Translated by Thit Lwin

President to aid MDY water issue

PRESIDENT U Thein Sein has given an

undertaking to help Mandalay deal with

a shortage of drinking water, Mandalay

Chief Minister U Ye Myint told the regional

assembly on March 14.

U Ye Myint said he received the undertaking

after raising the issue with the president at

a meeting of the financial commission on March 12.

U Ye Myint revealed the undertaking after

U Kyi Pe of Nahtogyo Constituency 1 told

the assembly that drought conditions were

affecting much of Mandalay Region because

of insufficient rain last year and in the first

three months this year. “Because of drought, 99 percent of the dams and ponds have dried up; it will be 100pc

soon,” U Kyi Pe said, adding that despite the efforts of the region government to relieve the situation, machinery was needed to drill deep wells.

U Than Htay of Nyaung Oo Constituency

asked at assembly, meeting on the first day of

its sixth session, if there was a plan to restore the old system that had distributed water pumped to the Nabutaw reservoir from the Ayeyarwady River, about five miles away.


U Aung Maung, said there was no plan to

restore the system and wells and ponds

would be dug.

Sithu Lwin, translated by Thit Lwin

Regional hluttaw told of four ‘unusual’ cases

By Sithu Lwin

THE Mandalay Region Attorney General’s Office last week submitted four “unusual” cases, which occurred between 2011

and March 2013, to the sixth sitting of the region’s parliament. The four cases include a monk who deserted a woman after becoming a layman;

a police officer who paid

hired killers to assassinate his second wife; three men who used illegal weapons to carjack a vehicle; and

a group of monks who

obstructed Department of Electric Power officials from

doing their jobs, including one monk who choked a female officer. The first case took place

in Singu township in June

2012 and involved U Nanda Marlar (aka U Tin Yi), who lived in Thuwunna Maydani monastery in Kyi-daung- pauk village. He formed a sexual relationship with Daw Win Thein, who lived in the same village, by telling her that he would marry her after he became a layman. However, when he became a layman he refused to marry Daw Win Thein, and was consequently found guilty of

cheating, Section 417 of the Penal Code – to seduce the woman. He was sentenced

to one year in prison with

hard labour. The second case involved

five defendants, including

U Than Soe, who were found

guilty of murder in 2011. Defendants U Than Soe, a

Police Lieutenant from the Narcotic Drug Task Force,

U Se Thein and U Hla Thin

were sentenced to death

for conspiracy to murder under Section 302 (1b)/ 109

of the Penal Code. U Maung

Myo, aka U Myo Win Tun, was also sentenced to death under Section 302(1b)/114 for aiding a murder, and U

Kalar, aka U Ye Naing Tun, was sentenced to death for murder. The death sentences were handed down in Mandalay District Court on November 30, 2012. In the third case, three defendants, including U Ko Gyi (aka U Myo) were accused of robbery and charged under Sections 392/170 and 468 of the Penal Code in 2011 at Mandalay

District Court Office. Each of the men were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for robbery, as well as six months for impersonating

public servants (Section 170 of Penal Code) and two years

for forgery (Section 468) respectively. All the men will serve their prison terms with hard labour. The judge handling the

case handed down the sentence on November 6,


The final case concerned an incident in Kyaukpadaung township on January 29 this year. Sayardaw U Kothalla and several other monks from Hna-kyat-khwe village obstructed Mandalay Region Minister for Electric Power, the head of the department of electricity as well as other officials from Myingyan district, from disconnecting power cables in the village. Sayardaw U Kothalla grabbed Daw Aye Aye Min,

head of Mandalay Region’s Department of Electricity, by the neck twice. Daw Aye Aye Min charged U

Kothalla under Sections 352/353 – common assault and assaulting a public servant. The Attorney General’s

Office said 31,945 cases were filed in Mandalay Region’s district and township law

courts from 2011 to March 2013. Of these, 1612 cases – six in district courts and 1606 in township courts – were withdrawn. – Translated by Thiri Min Htun

1612 cases – six in district courts and 1606 in township courts – were withdrawn. –


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

N ews March 25 - 31, 2013 14 the M yanMar t iMes Life on the
N ews March 25 - 31, 2013 14 the M yanMar t iMes Life on the

Life on the Circle Line

Yangon’s Circle Line train is a relic of a bygone era - but one that could be play a crucial line in revitalising the city’s woefully inadequate public transport network. The line connects far-flung parts of the city and the journey takes up to three hours on old, slow-moving carriages. Photos by Kaung Htet.

far-flung parts of the city and the journey takes up to three hours on old, slow-moving
far-flung parts of the city and the journey takes up to three hours on old, slow-moving
far-flung parts of the city and the journey takes up to three hours on old, slow-moving
far-flung parts of the city and the journey takes up to three hours on old, slow-moving


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

Myanmar aid flow may hinder, not help: experts

By Jo Biddle

WASHINGTON – Governments and agencies must be wary of drowning Myanmar with well-intentioned but ill-targeted aid, experts warned on March 14, admonishing the global community to “first do no harm”. As Myanmar approaches the second anniversary since a quasi- civilian regime led by ex-general U

Thein Sein took power, foreign aid is pouring in after surprising political, economic and democratic reforms. But there is “ample evidence

that the flow of foreign aid [

likely to be greater than Myanmar’s

capacity to absorb it”, said a new report commissioned by US economic consultants Nathan Associates. Myanmar “is undertaking a remarkable transition, it’s not an easy transition. And the outcome, I think, is highly uncertain”, said the report’s co-author Lex Rieffel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think-tank.



There ample evidence

that the flow of foreign

aid [


is likely to be

greater than Myanmar’s capacity to absorb it.

“Don’t think that everything’s going to go well,” he cautioned, noting that while the country needs help there should also be “sensitivity in recognising that not everything we might want to do is actually helpful.” The report gave the government “high marks” for its planning and management of the flood of foreign aid so far. But Myanmar officials have been swamped by requests for meetings from governments, NGOs and even movie stars as the country emerges from six decades of isolation. Such requests divert time and energy from challenges facing the country’s leadership as it grapples to shore up long neglected institutions, reach peace agreements with ethnic minorities and deal with deep-seated corruption. “We think one of the biggest problems is the incentives donors have,” said the second co-author, James Fox, a former senior economist

for the US Agency for International Development. “Every donor wants to make a difference,” he said, referring to it as the “MAD disease” in which each donor pushes its own programs. That can lead to chaotic aid distribution in which the agencies jealously fight for their own corner to pump up their image back home, while pushing programs sometimes unsuited to life in Myanmar. New Zealand, for instance, decided that 85 percent of its aid over the next five years would go toward dairy farming, even though that was a low priority for the government, the report said. Another key issue is upcoming polls, which give the Myanmar government a “political imperative”, said Georgetown University professor David Steinberg. “They have to demonstrate the effectiveness of aid before the 2015 elections,” he said. “Expectations are very high. Those who oppose the regime will use the lack of effectiveness against them.” Donors, apart from Japan and Singapore, have also been loathe to fund such activities as education abroad, or facilitating the return of the Myanmar diaspora, which could help boost the domestic talent pool. Some 70pc of the population is also rural and dependent on agriculture, but “the few steps taken by the government in this area fall well short” of what is needed to make the agriculture sector an engine of growth. However, Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Joseph Yun disagreed there was too much aid flowing into the country, saying “the burden now is on everyone to keep the momentum”. “I cannot think of any engagement that the Americans could provide that would not be useful. I think in every sense of the word more would do better. “This country which has suffered so much over the past 60 years deserves a better chance and it could be a huge success story,” Yun said. The US has been one of the main instigators of opening up Myanmar, lifting sanctions which had been imposed over the decades, and preparing for American businesses to move in and start investing. But the report highlighted there was a desperate need for English language teaching to improve communications between Myanmar and the outside world. – AFP

Democracy alliance aims to tackle two big parties

By Kyaw Hsu Mon

ETHNIC-BASED political groupings are to come together to challenge the dominance of the country’s two biggest parties. During the next few weeks the Democracy Alliance Group is likely to be swelled by new groups, U Khin Maung Swe, chairman of the National Democratic Force and group leader, told The Myanmar Times on March 12. The Democracy Alliance Group’s existing 11 parliamentary representatives worked together as early as the 2012 by-election.

The 11 represent ethnic-minority political parties: the Rakhine National Development Party, Shan National Democracy Party, Palon-Sawow Party, Chin National Party, Mon Regional Democracy Party and Kayan National Party. The National Democratic Force, Democratic Party (Myanmar), Democracy and Peace Party,

Unity and Peace Party and Union Democracy Party are now expected

to join the group. Of those, two are

Kayin and Shan parties based in those states. “We’ll meet before Thingyan to discuss membership. The leaders

of those parties have already approached me about the group’s activities,” said U Khin Maung Swe. The group is likely to build on the electoral experience gained during the by-election. “We were between two popular

parties at that time, so we helped each other. We’ll do the same in 2015,” said U Khin Maung Swe. U Thu Wai, the chairman of Democratic Party (Myanmar)

and a member of the group, said

it welcomed new members.

“New parties can learn about our activities before they join, to see if they share our aspirations.”

Volunteers assist at a leprosy mission recently. Pic: Supplied/ Christian Leprosy Mission
Volunteers assist at
a leprosy mission
recently. Pic: Supplied/
Christian Leprosy Mission

Leprosy mission aims to remove stigma

By Cherry Thein

THE Myanmar Christian Leprosy Mission wants to remove the stigma from leprosy and will launch an awareness-raising program next month, says its program secretary. U Saw Eh Htoo told The Myanmar Times that the program would be based in its 11 centres throughout the country, which are in Bago, Ayeyarwady, Magway and Yangon regions. The program will provide psycho-social support and spiritual encouragement, vocational training, tools or wheelchairs and education for children from leprosy-affected families. “We will visit nearby villages

to find new cases so that we can provide multidrug therapy treatment and save sufferers from deformity,” he said.

The mission says that despite


steady decline in the numbers


sufferers, a stigma still afflicts

leprosy victims. “We can’t even use the word ‘leprosy’ in our program, because then nobody would come,” he said, adding that people with deformities often face discrimination and exclusion from society. The program aims at removing the stigma that can persist even once they are cured, preventing sufferers from finding work and excluding their children from education. “Leprosy can affect any one of us, and society should cooperate

in helping to find new cases and overcome the disease.” The mission will help with school entrance fees, tuition and text books for students at various

educational levels.

Leprosy is curable and not highly infectious. In 2012, the mission estimated that there were

9496 sufferers in 2096 households, including 99 new cases. About 300,000 people in Myanmar have been treated for leprosy as part of the Myanmar National Leprosy Control Program, said Dr Mike Griffiths,

a disability consultant with NGO

the Leprosy Mission International (TLMI). The Ministry of Health says about 90 percent of leprosy cases are found in central Myanmar.

Mission International (TLMI). The Ministry of Health says about 90 percent of leprosy cases are found


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

On broadening participation in the peace process

Comment by Ashley South, Myanmar Peace Support Initiative

T HE peace process u n d e r w a y i n Myanmar is the best opportunity in

many decades to address the social, economic and political issues that have long structured state- society and armed conflict. However, there is a risk of growing alienation from the peace process, unless participation is deepened to include conflict-affected communities, civil society and political actors.

Opportunities and constraints The peace process represents the best opportunity in many decades to begin resolving Myanmar’s complex ethnic and state- society conflicts. Although serious concerns remain regarding the Tatmadaw’s willingness to support the peace agenda, particularly in Kachin and Shan states,

communities in many parts of the country are already experiencing the benefits of peace – particularly freedom of movement and reduction in human rights abuses. However, many communities still have serious concerns regarding the peace process, including the unregulated incursion of business interests – including natural resource extraction projects and land- grabbing – into previously inaccessible, conflict- affected areas. Concerns also relate to the exclusion thus far of most local actors from meaningful participation in the peace process. Some activities, such as pilot projects supported by the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI), have helped conflict-affected villagers express their concerns and aspirations for the future to the Myanmar government and Tatmadaw,

and non-state armed group (NSAG) authorities. Nevertheless, many civil society actors and political parties express growing resentment at being excluded from the peace process. This is perhaps inevitable. The first phases of the peace process have involved ceasefire negotiations between the armed actors: the Tatmadaw and armed groups. Such discussions are sensitive, and cannot readily be open to other stakeholders. However, recent meetings between the government and NSAGs (through the United Nationalities Federal Council) have seen a commitment to beginning necessary political talks. In the context of this broader peace process, all citizens of Myanmar are stakeholders – and have a right to be involved. There is little information in the public domain regarding the mechanisms for political talks proposed by the government and UNFC respectively, and as a result there is a widespread anxiety that the process may not be inclusive. This can be

problematic, and potentially lead to a backlash of popular discontent.

Ceasefires, past and present

A previous round of

ceasefires in Myanmar, in

the 1990s, created the space

within which civil society

networks could re-emerge

within and between ethnic nationality communities –

in government-controlled

areas, in the ceasefire zones, and among conflict-affected and displaced communities in the borderlands. As well

as their roles in building

“democracy from below”, civil society actors have been involved in service delivery in Myanmar for years. Indeed, during decades of militarised state suppression, the civil society sector inside Myanmar was largely restricted to the delivery of assistance, and local community development activities. In areas of armed conflict, civil society activities have included providing assistance to highly vulnerable communities. Over the past 18 months, the political narrative

Over the past 18 months, the political narrative regarding ethnic politics in Myanmar has shifted inside

regarding ethnic politics in Myanmar has shifted inside the country, as has much donor funding. Many border-based groups have responded creatively, building on their networks and forming alliances with counterparts inside the country, including urban- based actors. However,

some border-based groups remain uncomfortable with the pace of change and wary of business and political agendas associated with the peace process. Bothintheborderlandsand inside Myanmar, community based organisations have positioned themselves as representatives of conflict- affected communities. However, as the peace process moves forward, and access to conflict-affected areas becomes easier, it is possible to meet directly with vulnerable communities. It is important that those seeking to support the peace process, and assist vulnerable populations in conflict-affected areas, recognise that civil society speaks with many voices – and where possible engage directly with conflict- affected communities. A particular challenge lies in conceptualising the relationship between government structures and those of NSAGs, and related civil society actors. Many armed opposition groups, and CBOs working in partnership with them, have developed long- established, if chronically u n d e r - r e s o u r c e d , structures in the fields of education, health and local administration. Peace talks are yet to address how these non-state governance and service delivery regimes will relate to formal state structures, at the national level as well as the newly significant state level. For many displaced and other communities in the conflict zones, NSAG and related civil society structures and

Internally diplaced people share a meal at a camp in Kachin State. Pic: Kaung Htet
Internally diplaced people
share a meal at a camp in
Kachin State.
Pic: Kaung Htet


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

region level. These parties therefore have some claim to legitimacy in representing their communities. Most see that their aims – greater self-determination for ethnic communities, and representing these groups in the political process – are shared with NSAGs. However, they feel uneasy at the manner in which the government – and by extension, international community backers of the peace process – have welcomed NSAGs as political players via the peace arena. Therefore, ethnic political parties are feeling neglected and alienated from the peace process, excluded from discussions affecting the communities they seek to represent. Thepresentsituationholds numerous opportunities for supporting civil society and political party engagement in the peace process, including: supporting the engagement of Bamar civil society (exposing majority communities to the realities, grievances and aspirations of ethnic nationality groups); engaging sensitively with traditional civil society (building capacity and providing resources where appropriate, while avoiding the tendency to re-configure local realities in line with donors’ values); supporting the agreement between government and NSAGs (in the first instance) of codes of conduct and local monitoring mechanisms; supporting community and civil society participation in ceasefire monitoring; supporting consultations between NSAGs and conflict-affected and other communities. It is also necessary to bring ethnic political parties into the peace process, in recognition of their electoral legitimacy and in order to bridge the divide between Myanmar’s parliaments and NSAGs.

Risks of exclusivity The danger of not including ethnic civil society and political parties is that Myanmar may encounter a backlash in relation to the peace process. If they do not feel a sense of ownership and participation in the peace process, civil society and political actors –

especially ethnic political parties and urban-based civil society – may begin to mobilise to demand their inclusion as stakeholders. This could lead to protests on the part of groups who should be partners in the peace process. There is also a danger that, unless elements of the Bamar majority are exposed to the grievances and aspirations of ethnic communities, any progress on the political front could be undermined by unscrupulous politicians mobilising of the majority community, with alarmist calls to “defend the Union from disintegration”. As Myanmar approaches the 2015 elections, these concerns are likely to become more pressing as national politics enters a zero-sum mode. Given the demands of the country’s forthcoming chairmanship of ASEAN, followed by the elections, this year (and hopefully, the first part of 2014) represents a window of opportunity. Despite the many problems, there are great possibilities for social and political progress in Myanmar, including in the peace process. However, more needs to be done to engage the broad spectrum of civil society and political actors in the peace process, or these opportunities may be wasted.

Ashley South spent much of the 1990s as a teacher and aid worker on the Thailand- Myanmar border, and since then has worked as an independent writer and consultant, specialising in politics and humanitarian issues in Myanmar and Southeast Asia (most of Mr South’s publications are available at: www. He has worked for the UN in Myanmar, Laos and the Philippines, and for various international and national aid agencies, and academic institutions. Since early 2012, he has been a consultant with the Myanmar Peace Support Initiative (MPSI), which aims to build trust and confidence in – and test – the peace process in Myanmar (for details of MPSI see:



Police watch as a house burns down during communal conflict in Sittwe, Rakhine State, in June last year. Pic: Boothee

The situation has improved since late 2010, but we must remember how restricted the political space was just two years ago. The ethnic and other independent

personnel are the only ones they have known, and are perceived as more legitimate and effective than those of the state. It is essential that such individuals and networks enjoy a sense of ownership in the peace process.

New civil society activism Since the new government took power in 2011, the space for civil society in Myanmar has expanded dramatically – particularly on the part of the urban-based networks. These predominately, but not exclusively Bamar groups have taken a lead in mobilising popular protest around abuses in Myanmar during a period of rapid transition. The focus thus far has been mostly on land-related issues, with demonstrations and other actions organised against land seizures. If the transition underway in Myanmar is to be successful, the government and its development partners need to find ways of responding effectively to concerns raised by communities and

civil society actors. Newly assertive civil society actors have begun to engage with the peace process. Urban groupings, and some ethnic nationality

National Union, New Mon State Party, Chin National Front, Karenni National Progressive Party and Shan State Army-South have in different ways

Over the past 18 months, the political narrative regarding ethnic politics in Myanmar has shifted inside the country.

sought to engage their respective communities, through consultations and other encounters. However, such activities have largely focused on ethnic communities in and adjacent to the conflict- affected areas. There has been limited engagement with communities beyond the borderlands – and especially with urban-based and other civil society and political actors. Among the latter, there is a growing resentment. E t h n i c a n d o t h e r independent political parties that contested the 2010 elections did so at great political and personal risk.

networks, have protested against Tatmadaw offensives in Kachin State, for example, by holding public meetings and undertaking peace marches. Women and young people have been particularly involved in such activities. Nevertheless, civil society actors have not so far focused intensively on peace issues. To the extent that such networks have been engaged, it has mostly been to express discontent regarding the lack of information on the peace process, and concerns regarding underlying business agendas. A number of NSAGs, including the Karen

parties which contested the elections were not playing on a level playing field – but despite widespread electoral fraud, ethnic political parties did well in the elections, particularly at the state/

– but despite widespread electoral fraud, ethnic political parties did well in the elections, particularly at
– but despite widespread electoral fraud, ethnic political parties did well in the elections, particularly at


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

FEC dollar surrogate abolished

By Aye Thidar Kyaw

F O R E I G N E x c h a n g e Certificates (FEC) are no longer needed in lieu of US dollars following a decision debated in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and signed by President U Thein Sein on March 20. “ A l t h o u g h F E C i s abolished, the certificates can still be exchanged f o r U S D o r h a n d e d over in banks. Hluttaw representatives approved the decision because FEC is no longer needed by private busineses, as official exchange currency is now widely available in Myanmar,” said U Sai Thiha Kyaw, a member of the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

He added that the move

to abolish FEC was advised

by the International Monetary Fund.

A spokesperson for

the Foreign Exchange Management Department (FEMD), which operated under the Myanmar Central Bank, said that banks will be able to replace FEC with either USD or kyat; or, later withdraw them as kyat. “The value of FEC is the same as USD, so we will ensure that FEC holders

do not lose their money,” the spokesperson told The Myanmar Times on March


The bank announced it would abolish the use of

FEC in August 2012, slated for March 2013. FEC was originally introduced by the bank to Myanmar in 1993, meant for foreign travellers to use while inside the country. “The government agreed

to abolish it this month

because April starts the new year for the budget. We have been preparing

for the change since we announced it [in August]. We tried to keep and collect any FEC that entered the bank, and changed it to kyat or USD for customers,” the spokesperson said. As a result, the FEC value a dollar jumped K5 to 10 higher in January

as the certificates demand

o v e r r e a c h e d s u p p l y ;

the FEC stabilised in February. Following the hluttaw’s decision, the FEC value stands at K875-880 while the USD is K880-88 on the black market as of March 21. The exchange rate for FEC and USD at official money changers and banks stands at K881-887 as of March 22.

Meat distribution licenses questioned

By Myat Nyein Aye

LOCAL farmers and merchants are voicing their discontent with the current system for allocating licenses to meat distributors for being both antiquated and and exploitative. Since the colonial era, The License C – a license for butchery–hasbeencontrolled

by municipal committees and sold to villages via an auction system. An individual who received a License C was entitled to be the sole butcher and meat seller in their town or village. The law has since changed, but only slightly, and many would say for the worse. “There have been no licences issued or required in Yangon City and Nay Pyi Taw since last year, but other towns and villages are still subject to the same system,” said U Win Myint Maw.

“A License C costs nearly

K100 million for one year. Many small farmers in the villages have farm animals that they don’t have chance to kill. They have to just sell them to the license holder,”

said Dr Khin Hlaing, general secretary of the Myanmar Livestock Federation. With meat distributors

able to corner the trade in their given village, the price skyrockets, Dr Khin Hlaing explained. U Win Myint Maw said:

“The experts suggest that in Myanmar, 50 percent child mortality is a result of not eating enough meat, poultry, and eggs. If we [change] the meat sector and the licensing system, there could be cheap food available for everyone.” The current system also creates waste by forcing unlicensed butchers to sell their meats on the black market to neighbouring countries. “We have seized illegal meat that was being exported to China. We’ve seized 1993.5 tonnes of meat (one tonne is equal to 15 cows), which means more than 29,300 cows have been smuggled through the border,” said U Win Mint Maw. One farmer from Mandalay said: “Using the License

C system does not make

any sense. It only creates difficulties for consumers and farmers.”

The Shwedagon Pagoda is reflected in a floor tile in Yangon. Pic: Bloomberg

The Shwedagon Pagoda is reflected in a floor tile in Yangon. Pic: Bloomberg

difficulties for consumers and farmers.” The Shwedagon Pagoda is reflected in a floor tile in Yangon.


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

Google looks to the young for technology

By Justin Heifetz

THE ability to develop

M y a n m a r ’ s w o e f u l

telecommunications sector

rests on the country’s youth, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt said on March


Speaking to an audience

comprising mostly students

at Myanmar Information and

Communication Technology (MICT) Park, Mr Schmidt said that “young people and technology equals prosperity”. “You have the young people, technology is coming.” Google plans to roll out improved applications for local searches and mapping, and a new translation application, Mr Schmidt said. The easing of international sanctions is expected to

soon allow for the operation

on building up the technical

literacy of children. “We need to get educational material ready for smart phones and tablets,” he said.

“You have to start young and get the curiousity of the children.” Now, only 1 percent of Myanmar’s population accesses the internet. It is

largely utilised in English and by the elite and some students, Mr Schmidt said. Only about 9pc have mobile phone access, and most users are concentrated in urban Yangon. But Google maintains that if the government does not attempt to regulate the telecommunications sector, and allow private competition, it will boom – perhaps meeting President

U Thein Sein’s goal of

reaching an 80pc country- wide mobile penetration

by 2015.


the Google Play Store

“I believe something

convinced you’re all in for

and Google Wallet within the country on Android phones. Also, the company will launch – a search engine portal with

extraordinary in Myanmar is going to happen now. I’m

the ride of your life right now,” Mr Schmidt said. Mr Schmidt left Yangon

native Myanmar-language


meet with President

support – in the next few


Thein Sien in Nay Pyi

weeks, he added. But Google will just lay

Taw. He arrived in Yangon from a visit to India, where

the technical underpinnings for telecommunications development; technical innovation will come from Myanmar’s youth, Mr Schmidt said. “Students will take care

warned the country on

March 21 of not keeping up with new technology and innovation after such a long period of success in the IT sector. Founded in 2001, MICT



everything else. They’ll

Park accommodates 50

build the content and they’ll build the apps,” he said. Mr Schmidt said that further success is contingent

locally-based IT companies. The event was hosted by the Myanmar Computer Federation.

The event was hosted by the Myanmar Computer Federation. Young IT workers pose for photos in

Young IT workers pose for photos in Yangon on March 20 in anticipation of Eric Schmidt’s visit. Pics: AFP

One year on, exchange rate ‘stable’: Central Bank

By Aye Thidar Kyaw

AFTER five decades of instability, the exchange rate between the kyat and foreign currency has stabilised over the year since the Myanmar Central Bank implemented a managed float in April 2012, the bank and local economists said. The past 50 years have been marked by discrepant exchange rates in the trade and investment sector, on duty and tax charges and between official and black market money changers. But the MCB, in a bid to stabilise the fluctuating kyat, put a managed float on currency on April 1, 2012. It also allowed Myanmar nationals to legally hold USD in August 2012. Under Myanmar’s managed float, banks and official money changers are allowed by the MCB

to set their exchange rate within

0.8 percent of the daily auction rate. It became compulsory for

Myanmar’s entire financial sector to adopt the managed float, MCB’s deputy director

general U Win Thaw told The Myanmar Times on March 19. “The Central Bank wanted to emphasise the development of foreign exchange and stabilise the exchange rate. Over the course of the year, it has stabilised and it is appropriate

allowed companies to open official money changers if the companies could prove K30 million (about US$34,000) in capital and a proven history of accordance to foreign exchange rules and regulations. When official money changers

trying to stabilise the monetary market. Some people have criticised the Central Bank for being very reluctant to change, while others don’t want to agree on a daily exchange rate,” said U Win Thaw. “This is a very new practice

This is a very new practice for us.We’re keeping an eye on the economic situation of the country, and we also are looking at regional banking systems.

for both import and export,” he said. Prior to April 2012, the MCB allowed six private banks to open official exchange counters on Theinbyu Road in Yangon in October 2011. The money

changers eventually expanded to airports, hotels, shopping centres and to a network of 18 privately operated banks. The MCB, in a bid to expand their monetary market, next

opened in December 2012, both the official and the black market rate stood at K860. On March 12, there was a temporary discrepancy between the official market rate and the black market rate of K20; on March 18, the rate again stabilised and now stands at K880 for official money changers, while the black market rate stands at K885. “The Central Bank has received some serious criticism while

for us. We’re keeping an eye on the economic situation of the country, and we also are looking at regional banking systems.” Tourists are also affecting the stabilising exhange rate. U Win Thaw said that the new influx of foreign tourists to Myanmar will continue to depreciate the kyat. C o n s u l t a n t a n d s e n i o r economist for the Ministry of Commerce, Dr Maung Aung, said

the kyat has depreciated from K850 to K880 a dollar since the MCB implemented a managed float. “The exchange rate is more stable than in previous years, so traders can do their work with confidence. But I hope that the kyat will depreciate to K900 to benefit the agriculture and fishery industries,” he said on March 19. The vice president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), Dr Maung Maung Lay, said the managed float suits domestic traders and foreign investors. “The former rate of K6 a dollar did not work, because investors expect an exchange rate that reflects the actual market when they invest their capital. Now they do not have to worry with K880 as the official exchange rate,” he said on March 19. Before the MCB attempted to stabilise the exchange rate with a managed float, foreign investors could only receive K6 a dollar.


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

Food regs can boost economy: govt

By Myat Nyein Aye

MYANMAR’S food and

s a f e t y r e g u l a t i o n s are woefully behind international standards,

a gap that could harm not

only the country’s public health but also its economy, industry sources say. “Food safety standards must be implemented in every country, but there is no standard in Myanmar. This makes it difficult when we are importing and exporting foodstuffs, because we have no standard for safety when

it comes to regulating food,”

said Daw Toe Nandar Tin,

a spokesperson for Anawa

Devi Fishing and General Trading Company Ltd. She went on to say that when a consumer does not know what they are eating, their health is put at risk – particularly those with food allergies.

“Fish and meat in open- air markets are especially dirty. There are a lot of flies, mice and insects. Authorities do not take the proper action and vendors sell unclean food because not only is there no food safety standard, but no food safety law. If food safety standard were regarded, then we could take action

against unclean food. “In local food shops on the roadside, there is little safety but Myanmar people

are used to it. If foreigners

eat that food, they will often get sick,” she said.

The lack of food safety even


and into the home. “Myanmar people rarely take safety into account when they cook or eat at home. A lot of food brought into homes is bought from dirty butchers and it is not packed safely,” said Dr Khin Hlaing, secretary of Myanmar Livestock Federation.

Experts say tighter regulations will enhance

Myanmar’s economic power. Once Myanmar joins ASEAN in 2015, the

country will be able to take part in the Asian Free Trade Agreement.

f r o m

international quotas and tariffs, many food companies are hoping local cuisine could become one of Myanmar’s booming exports. “When [we enter] AFTA,

a lot of countries will trade

with Myanmar. At that time, we have to be ready for food safety standards in order to be able compete with foreign countries,” said Dr Khin Hlaing.

O n c e

f r e e

China, Thailand invest in hydropower

By Soe Sandar Oo

CHINA and Thailand are

interested in investing in hydropower projects in the Thanlwin River, said

a senior official from the

Ministry of Electric Power’s

Department of Hydropower Implementation on March


“ T h e y [ C h i n a a n d

Thailand] are interested

b e c a u s e t h e y a r e

worried about future electricity demand. Due to increasing populations and development, the production rate cannot meet the consumption rate of electricity in these countries,” he said. There are six hydropower projects scheduled to be

i m p l e m e n t e d i n t h e

T h a n l w i n R i v e r . I n

northern Shan state there

is the 1400 megawatt (MW)

Kounloan project, 1000 MW Noungpha, 200 MW Manthaung and 7110 MW Mountone projects.

Additionally there is the 4000 MW Yourthit project

in Kayar state and the 1360

MW Hatgyi proect in Kayin state. “It is just at the research stage. There are so many stages that need to be done in order to implement a hydropower project. But some people think we are starting and they want to protest against the projects

for the sake of environment,” he said. Chinese companies

H a n e r g y H o l d i n g

Group Ltd, Hydrochina

Corporation, China Three


(CTGC), China Datang Overseas Investment Co,

Ltd (CDOI) and Sinohydro Corporation have each

signed a Memorandum of Understanding with local companies.

T h a i l a n d ’ s E G A T

International (EGATI) is interested in a build operate

transfer agreement with

a local company and has

already signed an MoU with local companies and investors. Thailand has begun to worry about its long term future power sources after it was announced on March 6 that the Yadana offshore block will stop exporting gas to Thailand from April 4 to 15 for some

maintenance work, the official said.

“If we have no plan management to uncover the public for SIA and EIA, we will not continue the projects. This is a new era and everything will go on very openly and we will listen to what the people say,” he said. There have been rumours that the excess water from the dams would flow to Thailand, causing activists from the country to demand the projects be cancelled. The Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Electric Power, U Myint Zaw, said at the sixth regular sectional meeting of the first Pyithu Hluttaw that the rumours

are not true.

o r g e s C o r p o r a t i o n

Men load fish on to a transport at Yangon’s San Pya market. Experts say lack
Men load fish on
to a transport at
Yangon’s San
Pya market.
Experts say lack
of regulations
on fish and meat
are not only a
health concern,
but are holding
the economy
back. Pic: AFP
say lack of regulations on fish and meat are not only a health concern, but are


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

Job watch

World Vision Myanmar World Vision Myanmar is seeking dedicated staff who has a desire to

World Vision Myanmar

World Vision Myanmar is seeking dedicated staff who has a desire to serve others, while building a professional career in a globally re- spected organization. POSITION : Chief Financial Officer (MFP) LOCATION : National Office, Yangon Region POSITION : Human Resources Manager (MFP) LOCATION : National Office, Yangon Region Please submit your resume by post to HR De- partment, World Vision Myanmar or in person to application drop -box at No (18), Shin Saw Pu Rd;Ahlone Township, Sanchaung PO or send to not later than 7 April, 2013. Please visit to mm for more details. Must to provide a clean criminal background and reference check

Website: Apply Now! ♦ Sales and Marketing manager (pharmaceutical) ♦ Brand manager ♦


Apply Now!

Sales and Marketing manager (pharmaceutical)

Brand manager

Sales manager

Tour operation Manager

Tour operation Assistant

Tour Sales manager

Sales girl - 30 staff (Fresher)

Sales boy- 30 staff (Fresher)

Engineers (BE/ME/)



Human Resources Manager

No.851/853, 3 rd Floor, Bogyke Aung San Road, Lanmadaw Township, Yangon. Tel: 222963/ 229406/ 229437/



229406/ 229437/ 728261 E-mail: Myanmar to host IPA meeting By Aung Shin MYANMAR will for

Myanmar to host IPA meeting

By Aung Shin

MYANMAR will for the first time host the ASEAN IPA (Intellectual Property Association) General Meeting and Annual Conference on April 5 and 6 in Yangon, the Myanmar IPA Association announced at a press conference on March 22. “This is the first time we will host the annual conference. We have not hosted it in the past because Myanmar doesn’t have any intellectual property protection or law. Now, our country is opening up and foreign investment is coming in. The question from every foreign investor seems to be about intellectual property protection or law in Myanmar before they invest,” said Daw Tin Ohmar Tun, the chairman of the 23- member Myanmar IPA Association. The meeting will be held in anticipation of Myanmar chairing ASEAN in 2014. “Anyone who is interested in intellectual property is welcome to join our conference. International IP lawyers, ASEAN IPA members, business people from the private sector and other observers will attend,”

said U Thein Aung, a spokesperson for the conference. The two-day event will include a reception, dinner and a study tour that takes participants throughout the country. Myanmar is the last country in ASEAN to draft intellectual property law. The Myanmar IPA Association has began

IP protection is a very important issue in relation to foreign investment.

drafting a law in cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Technology. The process for promulgating the law will be discussed at the next parliamentary meeting. The law must be submitted to the World Trade Organisation by July 1. “I hope the law will be completed soon, however it is hard to pinpoint a deadline,” said U Aung Thein. Daw Tin Ohnmar Tun said: “Intellectual

property protection is a very important issue in relation to foreign investment. Now, the power for negotiation is in the hands of investors because we lack any relevant intellectual property law. The investors look at this type of law first. They will benefit from the promulgation of an intellectual property law, such as protection of their products, brand marketing and international products. The membership fee for the association is only US$50 a year.” U Nyunt Tin, a member of the association, said: “Intellectual property rights and the Gross Domestic Product are directly related. The GDP cannot be high is we lack intellectual property right protection. Intellectual property rights promote economic development.” ASEAN IPA was founded in Malaysia, in 1996. The association focuses o intellectual property protection and development within ASEAN; they have 200 members. Registrants can sign up for the conference at htm. The conference fee is $320 for non- members and $220 for members.

RECRUITMENT ANNOUNCEMENT Hoang AnhGia Lai (HAGL) is one leading multi-sector group in Vietnam. Our businesses


Hoang AnhGia Lai (HAGL) is one leading multi-sector group in Vietnam. Our businesses are mainly engaged in real estate, rubber plantation, hydro power, mining and sugar cane processing industry. In terms of foreign investment, we have invested in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand with total registered capital of up to USD one billion so far and have been highly appreciated by the Governments of these countries. In the Republic of Union of Myanmar, HAGL shall develop one property compound in Yangon City comprising Five Star Hotel, Office Building, Commercial Center and Serviced Apartment. We are now seeking for qualified candidates for the purpose of developing the project successfully as follows:

1. Engineer

1.1 Civil Construction Engineer:

1.2 Site Survey Engineer:

1.3 Electrical Engineer:

1.4Sanitation and Water Supply System Engineer:


5 persons

5 persons

5 persons


Graduated from university of civil, site survey and sanitation and Supply System engineering or equivalent


At least 5 years of experience in relevant job


Fluent in English (both speaking and writing)


Good communication skill


Less than 50 years old


Senior Human Resource:

3 persons


Graduated from University of Law or related faculties with good knowledge of Labor, Civil issues. Understanding Economics, Property, Investment law, Labor Code and Labor Safety Rules.


At least 3 years of experience in relevant job


Fluent in English (both speaking and writing)


Good communication skill


Less than 40 years old

3. Accountants:

3 persons


Graduated from University of Accounting or in relevant subjects


Understanding Myanmar accounting and auditing system.


At least 3 years of experience in relevant job


Fluent in English (both speaking and writing)


Good communication skill


Less than 35 years old



5 persons


Myanmar nationality


Having suitable license for cars ranging 4 to 30 seats


Well speaking and understanding English


Knowing Yangon City and Nay Pyi Taw’s street maps well


Good health and less than 40 years old


Welding Worker:

20 persons

COMMON REQUIREMENTS (For positions No. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, No.2, No.3)

- Male is preferred

- Able to travel locally and overseas subject to the Company’s requirements

- Oversea studying or trainingis an advantage for the position No.1, No.2 and No.3

- Salary is negotiable


If you would like to work in a challenging environment with good opportunities and benefits, please send your CV with a recent photograph (4x6cm), a cover letter in English and copies of qualification certificates to the following address:

Hoang AnhGia Lai Myanmar Company Limited 19B,Kanbawza Street, Bahan Township, Yangon City, Myanmar. Orby email:E1: Note: Phone contact is not accepted during the applying time. Deadline is 10thApril 2013.

New tax system urged

THE Pyidaungsu Hluttaw proposed that a new tax system for the 2013-

2014 fiscal year is needed to help the country develop.

U Sai Thiha Kyaw, member of

Public Accounts Committee, said parliamentarians proposed a tax system that could be easier, transparent and attractive for tax payers. “Our taxation is confusing in some areas. For example, with double taxation, a domestic trader pays a commercial tax on import – but when

the trader sells good, the trader needs to pay an income tax and the trader’s customers will also have to pay the tax. This is a problem we need to solve,” he said.

In particular, negotiations over

the new system will focus on how to use taxes to fund the government. Internal Revenue Department’s director U Aung Moe Kyi said that tax has already reformed as

of 2012 April, and government is getting more revenues than previous years – especially from income and commercial taxes levied by their

department. “There needs to be a consideration for reforming the whole tax structure, because many ministries are still underfunded,” he said.

He added that the government may find itself in crisis in the next fiscal year without sweeping tax reforms,

as they will need a source of capital to provide for a wide array of ambitious new projects. To go along with the new laws, MP

U Aung Moe Kyi told The Myanmar

Times that the government will need more sophisticated systems for dealing with tax evasion, including making larger banks more open and transparent so that the government can more easily track to the flow of cash.

– Aye Thidar Kyaw

Burnet Institute, Myanmar Country Representative Burnet Institute is one of Australia’s leading medical research and

Burnet Institute, Myanmar Country Representative

Burnet Institute is one of Australia’s leading medical research and public health organisations. It is a not-for-profit, independent, Australian, non-government organisation. Burnet combines medical research in the laboratory and at a population level with public health action and advocacy to address major health issues of disadvantaged populations in Australia and communities in the developing world.

Burnet Institute is currently seeking a Country Representative for our Myanmar Program to join the team of national staff based in Myanmar. Key priorities of the Country Representative position include an important leadership role within Burnet’s country office encompassing overall management, quality assurance and business development responsibilities, across the dual priorities of broad-based health research and development. Our goal is to move to national leadership of our office and program in Myanmar and suitably qualified Myanmar nationals are encouraged to apply.

We are seeking the following experience

• Post-graduate or equivalent qualifications in public health and/or management and/or international development or similar; Significant senior management and leadership experience in an international NGO, government and/ or UN organisation;

• Demonstrated experience working in a developing country in a cross cultural

environment; Strong working knowledge and experience of issues affecting civil society in a development context;

• Demonstrated understanding of the challenges and opportunities of working in

resource poor and politically challenging countries; Proven problem-solving and negotiation skills; Strong time management skills and the ability to meet critical deadlines; Strong communication skills.

Remuneration will be commensurate with skills and experience. For a copy of the

position profile and selection criteria, please visitour website au/careers_and_employment. For further information please contact the Country Program Manager, Lia Burns via email on, or +61 03 9282

2180. Written applications addressing the selection criteria and detailed resume

including the names and contact details of three referees should be emailed to Anita Cranwell, HR Officer by Monday 22nd April 2013.


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

Suntech collapse spurs solar volatility

By Belinda Cao

SOLAR stocks, the most volatile Chinese equities in New York, will extend declines as Suntech Power Holdings Co (STP)’s bankruptcy stokes concern they are over- leveraged, a c c o r d i n g t o G a m c o Investors Inc (GBL). Four of the five stocks with the highest annualized volatility this year among the most-traded Chinese companies in the US are solar makers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. LDK Solar Co (LDK), the Xinyu, China- based solar wafer maker down 15 percent in 2013, is posting the widest price swings behind Suntech, which plunged 40pc this week after defaulting on US$541 million of bonds. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index advanced


Suntech’s inability to repay its debt has brought attention to an industry that has been struggling with excess capacity and slowing demand for alternative energy as governments reduce subsidies. China’s four major solar producers, including LDK, have reported net losses for at

least six straight quarters. Suntech, which had more than $2.2 billion of debt by end-March 2012, was subject to a bankruptcy petition this week from eight of its Chinese lenders. “There clearly will be pressure on other Chinese s t o c k s w i t h h e a v i l y leveraged balance sheets and non-existent cash flows,” David Smith, manager of the Gamco’s Gabelli Green Fund, which sold out of its holdings in Chinese solar stocks before 2012, said by e-mail on March 21 from Purchase, New York. “The outlook also is strained by Suntech continuing its production. Suntech probably will have to discount their panels more to sell them, putting downward pressure on market pricing.” Suntech’s American depositary receipts have tumbled 72pc this year, the biggest decline on the China-US gauge. LDK, which has lost money since the second quarter of 2011, sank 14pc this week. Annualised volatility on Suntech’s ADR reached 143, the most among companies on the China-US gauge, while the level for LDK was 101, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Suntech, based in Wuxi of China’s Jiangsu province, said March 21 a local court accepted a lenders’ petition, pushing Wuxi Suntech Power Co, its main operating subsidiary, into insolvency, while production at the unit’s facilities will continue during the debt restructuring period. The company announced March 11 a forbearance deal with 63pc of its bondholders, who agreed not to exercise their rights until May 15. Not all the bondholders agreed to the deal and some said they were never contacted by Suntech. LDK, the world’s second- largest maker of wafers with more than $3.1 billion in debt, hired Citigroup Inc in December to help renegotiate its liabilities. The company said on December 21 that it received enough consents from the bondholders of its notes due in 2014 allowing it to take on more debt. On Jan. 31, LDK said state- run China Development Bank Corp approved a 440 million yuan ($71 million) loan to upgrade its Mahong Polysilicon plant. The company, which has yet to release its fourth- quarter results, said December 3 that net loss for

A man works near the cooling towers at Huaneng Power International Inc’s Gaobedian thermal power
man works near the cooling towers
Huaneng Power International Inc’s
Gaobedian thermal power plant in
Beijing. Pic: Bloomberg

the three months through September widened 20pc to $136.9 million. Trina Solar Ltd (TSL), China’s third-largest solar maker, slid 5.6pc this week to a three-month low of $3.88, extending its loss this year to 11pc. The company, based in Changzhou of Jiangsu province, said in February fourth-quarter net loss widened sevenfold to $267 million in 2012. It received

a total of $250 million in credit lines from China Development Bank Corp. during the quarter and had $1.29 billion in bank borrowings, according to its statement. Yingli Green Energy Holding Co (YGE), a solar maker based in Baoding of China’s Hebei province, sank 12pc this week to $2.17 in New York, the lowest level since Dec. 12. Trina’s volatility was

79 and Yingli’s 78 on annualised basis. The China-US gauge rallied 1pc on March 21 in New York to 92.26, reversing a loss earlier in the week. The iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI), the largest Chinese exchange-traded fund in the US, added 0.3pc to $36.94 on March 21 in New York, trimming a second weekly slump to 1.3pc. –Bloomberg

fund in the US, added 0.3pc to $36.94 on March 21 in New York, trimming a


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

Furniture showcased in Malaysia

By Myat May Zin

OVER the past five years the furniture market in Asia has outpaced European countries as the property market in Asia continues to boom. “Since the European

e c o n o m i c c r i s i s t h e furniture industry has focused its eyes on Asia,” chief executive officer of the Malaysian based furniture manufacturer HIN LIM, Thomas Lim said. The leading global furniture exporter is China with a market share of 31.3 percent, according to Malaysian Timber Industry Board. A t t h e M a l a y s i a International Furniture Fair (MIFF) in Kuala Lumpur in early March the interest was on full display as more than 500 exhibitors showcased their products. Around 20,000 visitors including 7000 overseas buyers made their way through the five-day show from March 5 to 9. “The show has grown 25pc bigger this year. There was

a strong demand after our

An office set is displayed at the MIFF. Pic: Myat May Zin
An office set is displayed at
the MIFF. Pic: Myat May Zin

record sales performance of US$830 million last year. This is good for buyers,

sector has benefited as

well. “The furniture sector is the most dynamic area in

W h i l e t h e m a r k e t continues to expand, Mr Klaus J Kummer, president

they will have more designs

the timber-based sector


n d

c h i e f

e x e c u t i v e

and exciting choices,” said

for Malaysia and it is the


f f i c e r

o f

f u r n i t u r e

MIFF chairman Dato’ Dr Tan Chin Huat. “Only buyers and visitors from Myanmar attended this year. I would like Myanmar business people to participant as exhibitors next year,” he added. Malaysia’s large timber

major export earnings also. Malaysia furniture was exported to 199 countries worldwide and valued at RM8 billion, an increase of 4.3pc compared to 2011,” said Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industry and Commodities, YB Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok.

Design Company KDT International Company said there must be a new focus put on quality design for the trend to continue in the future. “Designers are totally interested in styling but not real design,” he warned.

Hong Kong homes face 20pc price drop

By Stephanie Tong and Kelvin Wong

HONG Kong officials, who have struggled in vain for three years to slow the growth in home prices, are about to

get their wish as the city’s biggest banks raise mortgage rates. Prices could fall as much as 20 percent over the next two years, according to Deutsche Bank AG, after lenders including HSBC Holdings Plc, Hong Kong’s biggest by assets, and Standard Chartered Plc raise their home loan rates by 25 basis points in response to tighter risk rules. Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the US currency has kept interest rates in the city at near record lows, underpinning

a more than 110pc gain in home prices

since the beginning of 2009 to the most expensive among major global cities.

Low mortgage costs, coupled with a property buying spree driven by Chinese from the mainland, have seen home prices shrug off

repeated attempts by the government

s i n c e 2 0 1 0 t o stymie escalating housing values

amid an outcry over affordability. “You have this pile of measures plus higher interest rates; this will be a big challenge for the market,” said Buggle Lau, chief analyst at Midland Holdings Ltd, the city’s biggest publicly traded realtor, which predicted as many as a third of real estate agent branches in Hong Kong will close. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who took over in July as head of the government, on February 22 imposed his toughest yet price-curbing measures by doubling the stamp duty on all property transactions higher than HK$2 million (US$257,700). The same day, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority told banks to maintain the risk weighting for new home loans at a minimum of 15pc to help protect them against a drop in home values. London-based HSBC was the first among Hong Kong’s lenders to lift rates from March 14. Its mortgages linked to the best lending rate climbed to a range of 2.85pc to 3.15pc, while at Standard

Chartered, also headquartered in London, they are from 3.1pc to 3.5pc. BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd, the city’s largest mortgage lender, increased its prime-linked mortgage rate to 2.4pc to 3.05pc, according to a March 20 statement. Hang Seng Bank

Ltd, controlled by HSBC, has raised its mortgage rates to 2.4pc to 3pc. Bank

of East Asia Ltd upped its prime rate-

linked mortgage terms to 2.9pc to 3.4pc. Major banks in Hong Kong last lifted mortgage rates in November 2011. “Banks were mispricing their retail mortgage loans,” Sebastian Paredes, chief executive officer for Hong Kong

at DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Southeast

Asia’s largest bank, said in a March 8 interview. “Now with the new measures

from HKMA, they will be forced to correct it.” The rate increases may finally put

a dent in prices, which have climbed

16pc since Leung was sworn in on July

1, according to an index compiled by

payment requirement on mortgages for homes valued at more than HK$7 million. Leung, in October, imposed an extra 15pc tax on all home purchases by companies and non-permanent residents, and promised to raise land supply for private development and to build more government housing. While the impact on prices has yet to surface, the measures have reduced

transactions. The average number of homes changing hands every month fell to 6,777 last year from 7,039 in 2011 and 11,315 in 2010. Prices of both residential and commercial real estate have “come down” in the past two weeks and the property market is “stabilizing,” Chief Executive Leung said on March 22 at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment conference. Total home transactions may fall below 3,000 in March and prices may drop as much as 10pc this year, said Midland’s Lau. That would be the fewest monthly deals since

2003 when Hong Kong was nearing the end of a six-year property slump brought on by the

Asian financial crisis, the burst of the bubble and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome epidemic. Developers are responding. Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd, the builder controlled by Li Ka-Shing, the city’s richest man, cut prices at one of its projects by 11pc on March 5, while Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, the city’s biggest builder by value, on February 28 cut its target for the fiscal year ending June by 8.6pc to HK$32 billion. New World Development Co lowered its sales target in response to the curbs. Macquarie Securities Ltd has an underweight rating on Hong Kong’s property market and is expecting home prices to drop 10pc in 2013, analyst David Ng said. Ng is advising clients to sell Sun Hung Kai and ranks Cheung Kong its “top pick” among Hong Kong developers because it is “much more flexible on pricing and timing of their

With the new government measures, the potential further rises in mortgage rates.

Centaline Property Agency Ltd. “With the new government measures, the potential further rises in mortgage rates, and the expected increases in new supply in the medium term, we expect property prices to show larger corrections,” Tony Tsang and Jason Ching, analysts at Deutsche Bank, wrote in a March 13 report. A 60-square-metre (646 square feet) apartment on Hong Kong Island cost about HK$125,000 a square meter in January, according to the Rating and Valuation Department. By that calculation, it would cost about HK$7.5 million ($970,000) on average. An equivalent sized apartment in Manhattan would cost about $700,264, according to Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Since 2010, Hong Kong has imposed an extra tax of up to 20pc of the value of homes on buyers who resell them within three years after purchasing, and raised the minimum down-

More page 25

Waqf family fight for downtown property

By Htar Htar Khin

BUILDINGS rented to the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development in Yangon

must be returned to the

family that owns them, the official spokesperson for the family announced. Mohammed Ebrahim Munnee Waqf has claimed he owns the vacant building that once housed the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism on Sule Pagoda Road and a second vacant building on Merchant Street between 33 rd and 34 th Street. The Sule Pagoda Road property is scheduled to go to auction through the Privatisation Commission, though at what date remains uncertain. The fear of losing their property to a private investor most likely looking to turn the property into a hotel has added a new sense

of urgency to the case.

The family has sent letters the petitioning the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development (DHSHD) and Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) in February for not handing over the premises to him but has received no reply. “Thesetwobuildingsbelong to Mohammed Ebrahim Munnee Waqf and he has continuously managed them. According to documents we can prove that the buildings belong to Ebrahim Munnee,”

said U Mya Thaung, the official spokesperson for the family. “These two buildings were owned by Mohammed

E b r a h i m M u n n e e ’ s

grandfather. He bought them in 1918. The Waqf family has many contracts and agreements written in English and I’ve notarised [Myanmar] translations as well for evidence,” he said. Mr Waqf has been reluctant in the past to make demands of the government, but said that he feels safe doing so now as reforms have taken place. Letters have been sent to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Ministry of Construction, DHSHD, Human Right Commission and Myanmar Investment Commission. U Mya Thaung said that the family has paid all

Most of the government buildings have moved to Nay Pyi Taw and the two premises are vacant.

necessary property taxes to YCDC. He added that according to documents from YCDC and the Land Administration Department the property owner of the two buildings is Mohamed Ebarahim Munnee. “Most of the government buildings have moved to Nay Pyi Taw and the two premises are vacant. So, the two buildings are not necessarily needed by the government,” said U Mya


the two buildings are not necessarily needed by the government,” said U Mya Thaung. A view

A view of downtown Yangon. Pic: AFP


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

From page 24

project launches.” Bocom International Holdings Co. lowered Midland’s rating to sell from neutral partly “in anticipation of sluggish transaction volume over the next six months,” analyst Alfred Lau wrote in a March 19 report. The Hang Seng Property Index, which tracks the nine biggest developers listed in Hong Kong, including Cheung Kong and Sun Hung Kai, dropped 0.4pc at the close. The index has fallen 5.5pc this year, compared with the 2.4pc decline in the Hang Seng Index. Home prices dropped about 6.5pc before recovering after banks boosted home loan charges six times in 2011. Hong Kong has the highest housing costs among major global cities, according to a report this month by broker Savills Plc that includes London, New York, Paris and Tokyo. Homes in the city cost an average of 13.5 times the gross median household income, up from 12.6 times a year ago, making it the most expensive housing market in an annual affordability survey by Belleville, Illinois-based consulting company Demographia released in January. The rate increase will help Standard Chartered ease home- loan funding pressure after the new 15pc HKMA requirement. Standard Chartered assigned a risk weighting – the percentage of capital a bank is required to keep to cover its liabilities – of less than 10pc to home loans before the rule, said Mark Huen, head of consumer banking in Hong Kong. Lenders may increase mortgage rates this year by a total of 50 basis points to neutralize the impact of the risk floor, said Dominic Chan, an analyst at BNP Paribas SA. “With the larger banks increasing mortgage rates, the smaller ones will follow suit,” said Chan. “But they won’t increase

mortgage rates too much as this would cause home prices to fall, which isn’t good for them.” HSBC was ranked second in Hong Kong’s home-loan market last month with a 17pc share, while Hang Seng was third with 16pc and Standard Chartered fourth with 13pc, according to mReferral Mortgage Brokerage Services. BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) Ltdranked first with a 20pc market share, according to Hong Kong-based mReferral. The value of new residential mortgage loans drawn in Hong Kong declined 16pc from a year earlier to HK$15.9 billion in January, the lowest in 10 months, HKMA figures show. “The change in the monetary environment remains our key concern to determine the overall Hong Kong asset market outlook,” Jefferies Group Inc. Hong Kong-based analysts Venant Chiang and Christie Ju wrote in a March 13 report. They predicted a decline in home prices of as much as 10pc this year in a separate report in August. The affordability ratio for Hong Kong homes of about 40 square meters to 70 square meters – which account for half of total private housing – is currently about 49pc, meaning borrowers on average spend just under half of their income repaying mortgages, according to Jefferies. To maintain the same level of affordability, prices will have to decline about 15pc if mortgage rates rise by 1pcage point, according to the Jefferies analysts. Only one transaction of existing homes was recorded at 10 of Hong Kong’s biggest private residential developments tracked by Centaline, the city’s biggest closely held real estate agency, over the March 16 and 17 weekend. “The situation is disastrous,” said Louis Chan, managing director for residential sales at Centaline. “Potential buyers see these government measures and banks’ actions and now they are all getting cold feet.” – Bloomberg

Residential buildings stand by Aberdeen harbour in Hong Kong. Pic: Bloomberg
Residential buildings
stand by Aberdeen
harbour in Hong
Kong. Pic: Bloomberg
all getting cold feet.” – Bloomberg Residential buildings stand by Aberdeen harbour in Hong Kong. Pic:
all getting cold feet.” – Bloomberg Residential buildings stand by Aberdeen harbour in Hong Kong. Pic:
Advertorial Interview with Thomas Ng (Creative Director of NatRay Design Studio) THIS week, Singapore interior


Interview with Thomas Ng (Creative Director of NatRay Design Studio)

THIS week, Singapore interior designer , Mr. Thomas Ng, Creative Director of Natray Design Studio Myanmar, talks about the Top 10 home remodeling don’ts. By following these instructions, it will help your home renovation go smoothly and stay on budget. Whether you work with a general contractor or act as one on your own project, getting a glimpse into the mind of a contractor can give you a new perspective into remodeling projects around your home. I’ve learned a lot working as a contractor, and some of those lessons can help homeowners too. What you do is just as important as what you don’t do, and sometimes a homeowner’s instinct can negatively affect a home renovation project. Says Mr. Ng. So how do you know if you’re helping or hurting your project? Read on to find out and to see what can help simplify your home remodel.

1. Don’t delay decisions. If you want your remodel to go well, the best thing to do is make every single decision before work starts. A good builder can talk you through the list of situations that might come up on your job, but decisions about situations aren’t usually what cause delays. Instead, most of the issues are related to decisions about things like paint, trim and faucet

selection. These may seem small, but when your faucet is two weeks late, plumbers have to be rescheduled and the medicine cabinet door hits the faucet when it’s installed, you’ll see how something small can balloon into a week’s delay on a five-week project.

2. Don’t change your mind (too much).

Even though it’s inevitable that you’ll change your mind about something on your project, know this: Every time you change your mind, it’ll result in a change order. Although the change may seem minor, there are always added costs — even if it’s only the time spent discussing the change. Scheduling can be affected too. Everyone working on the job needs to be informed of the change so no one’s working on the old plan. Everyone makes changes, and that’s OK — just be aware of the potential to disrupt and delay the job.

3. Don’t buy your own materials. It

seems like an obvious way to save money — a builder is going to mark up the cost of materials and pass that added cost on to you. That’s true, but the builder may get a better price than you to begin with, meaning that even after markup, you’ll

pay the same price.

To be continued

I will try to be included among the most successful designers in Myanmar within five years

Htar Htar Khin


How is your fashin shop's design different?



The men's fashion shop's name is Red Devil. So I used red and black colour. Devil means black world. And design is also modern. We used circles and triangles as designs. The shop's signboard is different from other shops there is in Myanmar. But since it is in the shopping mall, the board is quite small.

FOR this week, we decided to interview with


Myat Hein Kyaw who is the director of


& We interior design and decoration. He

was among the thirty contestants enrolled


in the Best Interior Design Contest hosted


the Myanmar Times.


How do you happen to take part in the contest?


What logo do you hold for your customers and client?


This year an association has been established about Interior. I was a member of this. U San Oo also advise me to compete in this contest. I got a diploma from his course. That maybe why.


As the name We & We. First We represent the company and the second We represent customers. We and We together do our job the best. Customer must be satisfied and we must fullfil. This means that.


Where is your contestant disign located?


What is your future ambition?


I am myself to be among the most suscessful designer in Myanmar within five years. – Translated by Phyo Win Ko Ko


My design is at Kabaraye Gamon Pwint shopping centre. A men's fashion shop.

A HOME CONTEST THAT’S ALL ABOUT STYLE is jointly organized by The Myanmar Times, NatRay Co.,Ltd and the Association of Myanmar Interior Design (AMID).

STYLE is jointly organized by The Myanmar Times, NatRay Co.,Ltd and the Association of Myanmar Interior


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

echNology March 25 - 31, 2013 28 the M yanMar t iMes An AR. Drone quadricopter

An AR. Drone quadricopter on display at Brookstone’s Rockefeller Center store in New York in a file photo taken on November 10, 2010. It was the first quadricopter that could be controlled by an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. Pic: AFP

Free sky move for drones generates debate in US

WASHINGTON – Drones: A flying technological marvel that could save lives or a sinister robot spy which edges the United States ever closer towards becoming a surveillance society? The imminent proliferation of unmanned aircraft in American skies has stirred a debate which veers between excitement at the possibilities to deep concern they may be deployed to snoop on law- abiding citizens. Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open up airspace to unmanned aircraft by October 2015, a decision expected to see thousands of drones crisscrossing the sky within a few years. Supporters of the move point to a vast range of applications which drones could be used for –tracking the progress of wildfires, helping to find lost skiers, identifying criminals or mapping inhospitable terrain. “The possibilities endless,” Ryan Calo, an expert in law and emerging technology at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, said earlier this month.


“What are drones but flying smartphones, one app away from indispensable? We could see drones accompanying early morning joggers, taking sport, wildlife and other photography to a new level.” While the public perception of drones is associated with their use in war, the Association for Unmanned VehicleSystemsInternational (AUVSI) believes they can “save money, time and lives” in civilian life. The AUVSI also believes increased drone use will create 100,000 jobs by 2025, injecting billions of dollars into the economy. Baptiste Tripard, North American sales director of

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) warns


on wireless networks, monitor up to 65 people at a time and carry eagle-eyed technology

that can identify the brand on

a carton of milk from 18,000 metres. When a drone was used to assess damage from an earthquake in Italy in

September, it also detected

a marijuana plantation and

identified those individuals responsible.

Similarly, while US Customs deploys drones to patrol the border, their unmanned aircraft are sometimes used to help police.

The possibilities…are endless.

SenseFly, the Swiss maker

of a drone that can draw 3D

maps or take high resolution photos, believes the United States could become the biggest market for drones, especially in agriculture. Civil liberties groups have

a more guarded view of the likely darkening of American skies by unmanned aircraft.

“Rules must be put in

place to ensure that we can enjoy the benefits of this new technology without bringing us closer to a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinised

by the government,” the American Civil Liberties Union has warned.

The potential implications of widespread drone use mirrors the problems faced by internet giant Google, which was fined $7 million on March 12 after it emerged that vehicles snapping

photos for its Street View images were also gathering information from private Wi- Fi hotspots. The FAA meanwhile estimates that more than


will dot American skies over the next five years. When US airspace opens up in October 2015, drones will be used in six test locations. The tests are designed to help the FAA draw up rules governing the use of unmanned aircraft. Currently drones are allowed to fly on public service missions – used by fire brigades or customs for example – or for recreation, provided the smallest are visible to the naked eye. The rights group has argued that states should demand law enforcement seek warrants for drone use and prohibit the publication of images from drones or equipping them with weapons such as tasers, rubber bullets and tear gas. – AFP

Russian drivers’ need for ‘insurance’ fuels dashcam sales boom

MOSCOW – When a bright meteor streaked across the sky over the Russian Urals last month, it was the film footage captured by hundreds of in-car cameras and hastily uploaded to YouTube by dumbfounded drivers that allowed the world to share the event. Mini video cameras – dubbed dashcams – have been growing in popularity in Russia as drivers fix them to their windshields as an insurance against erratic road users, corrupt traffic police and the arbitrary justice that is still prevalent here. Minutes after the space rock entered the atmosphere and struck near the city of Chelyabinsk on February 15, leaving a spectacular glow in the morning sky, hundreds of dashcam films hit the internet. For days, millions of people entertained themselves watching the meteor disrupt the morning commutes of Chelyabinsk residents who observed its passage across the sky with impressive nonchalance. Most cursed in surprise, then kept on driving. The meteor’s dashcam debut revealed an entire internet meme of films capturing bizarre episodes on Russia’s roads, from hair-raising near-misses to the sudden appearance of tanks and fighter jets on the highway, and even dozens of cows falling out of a truck into oncoming traffic. D a s h c a m s w e r e nonexistent in Russia just a few years ago but electronics distributor Euroset said sales reached 1.5 million in 2012, a fivefold increase on the previous year. “Some people buy these cameras to get a bit of glory, since some videos get millions of views,” said Pavel Volkov, head of Euroset’s portable electronics department. But the main reason for their popularity is that people “hope to have evidence in case of a disagreement on the road,” he told AFP. In Russia, where poor road quality and a relaxed attitude to traffic laws contribute to a high accident rate, dashcams are one way to ensure a fair investigation in the event of a crash. Police are known to

arbitrarily prosecute drivers without sufficient political weight or money. “It’s a way of keeping a peace of mind, to protect yourself from people who want to falsely accuse you of causing an accident,” said Sergei Zaitsev, a sales manager in another electronics chain MVideo. “Or, in a case where the

police don’t, let’s say, follow the rules,” he continued with a smile.

M o s c o w r e s i d e n t

Alexei Drozdov learned of their usefulness from experience. When his motorcycle was hit by another car on an intersection, the driver at fault accused him of running a red light. Little did he know that Drozdov

him of running a red light. Little did he know that Drozdov A dashcam in a

A dashcam in a car in Moscow earlier this month. Pic: AFP

had a camera attached to his neck.

T h e f o o t a g e w a s

indisputable. “It was clear that I passed on green and had priority. So the other driver was named responsible,” said Drozdov, who ended up saving US$1000 in repair bills, all thanks to a device that costs about $100. Dashcams have also

e x p o s e d g o v e r n m e n t officials breaking road rules and abusing their right to use special blue flashing lights, known as migalkas, to force their way through traffic.

C o m m e n t a t o r s s a y

that the popularity of the cameras reflects a law of public confidence in the rule of law in Russian society. – AFP

Republican Party unveils a rebooted digital strategy

WASHINGTON – As part of an effort to rebound from its 2012 US election defeat, the Republican Party is rebooting its digital strategy to make better use of data, social media and other technology platforms. The party’s new digital strategy was unveiled on March 18 as it released its analysis of the November campaign defeat and proposed new strategies for the 2016 presidential election.

Republican National Committee chief Reince Priebus said the party will hire a “chief digital and technology officer” to coordinate tech teams. “Those teams will work together to integrate their respective areas throughout the RNC and provide a data- driven focus for the rest of the organisation,” he said. Republican spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said the Republican chosen as the party’s flag-bearer in the

race to replace Barack Obama in the 2016 vote will inherit a ready-made digital campaign system. She said this will be “the first time a party committee will take on a full digital

restructure in what is a space

race digital strategy ahead of the 2016 cycle.” Yet analysts say it’s not clear if Republicans will be able to replicate the success of Obama and the Democrats in the use

to have a well-oiled

of technology and social media. “The Republicans are playing catch-up,” said Zach Green a founder of the left- leaning website UniteBlue and a political social media consultant. “They said for a long time they were catching up on social media, but it seems like a fundraising thing.” Green said that digital strategies played an important role in 2012 but that the tools may not

work if the message fails to resonate. “You need to start with the message to get the people to rally behind you,” he said. Most analysts say Obama outmaneuvered his Republican foe Mitt Romney on the digital battlefield. Obama pioneered the use of social media for organising, fundraising and communicating in his 2008 White House bid and began ramping up his digital campaign in 2011

with millions of online ads. The tech-savvy president had far more “likes” on Facebook and followers of his Twitter feed. Robert Bluey, head of digital media for the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said it was “healthy” for the Republicans to focus on digital strategies, addressing a weakness in the Romney campaign.

“I think it was one of the

factors,” Bluey said. – AFP


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

US airs concerns over ASEAN’s human rights record

WASHINGTON – US officials voiced concern last week about

human rights in fast-growing Southeast Asian nations, referring

to a lack of progress in many

places and a worsening situation

in some. As the United States pursues its rebalance toward Asia, it is also paying greater attention to human rights in many countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, State Department

officials told lawmakers on March


“Human rights is one of the more difficult issues we raise with our partners, but we must raise them,” Acting Assistant Secretary

for East Asian Affairs Joseph Yun told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee. In November, Southeast Asian leaders endorsed a controversial human rights pact, hailing it as a landmark accord to help protect some 600 million people. “While the substance of declaration on human rights is

not what we would wish, I would

say that Southeast Asians doing it is an important fact,” Yun said. “They have never agreed among

whether they ought

to have common human rights goals,” he said, admitting there was still a long way to go. In Vietnam, for example, “we’ve been disappointed in recent years to see backsliding, particularly on freedom of expression issues,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Rights and Democracy Dan Baer. He cited concerns about the

all of them

prosecutions of people for speaking out on the internet, adding there had been “some progress in religious freedom issues in Vietnam a few years ago, and that, too, seems to have stagnated.” The situation had not improved in Cambodia either, while in Laos, the disappearance of activist Sombath Somphone in December “had a chilling effect on the broader civil society” because he had not been viewed “as a particularly radical guy.” Both men highlighted that it

was also important to monitor the role of the military in Southeast Asian nations, particularly in Myanmar. “We’re seeing far less military intervention than we ever did, which is very, very good news,” Yun told the senators. “But we still have situations – the prime example being Burma – where 25 percent of their legislature is appointed by the military,” he said, adding that “it’s not a sustainable, long-term situation.” – AFP

Peace will ensure security, Obama tells young Israelis

JERUSALEM – In a powerful direct appeal to Israelis, President Barack Obama insisted last week that a two-state peace with

the Palestinians could still

be forged and is their only

hope of true security. In a trademark soaring address on March 21,

Obama also built on his vow of an “eternal” defence

of the Jewish state in

the face of Iran’s nuclear program, which has been at the centrepiece of his first trip to the country as US president. Obama sought to convince

young Israelis to reshape the internal political dynamics that have seen peace talks frozen for two years. “Peace is necessary. Indeed it is the only path

to true security,” he told

an exuberant audience at

a Jerusalem conference centre.

“You can be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream,” Obama said, warning that a two-state solution was the only way

to ensure Israel remained a

Jewish state amid changing demographics. Obama urged his young Israeli audience to “look at the world through (Palestinian) eyes.” During a subsequent state dinner at his Jerusalem

residence, President Shimon Peres told his guest that he

was “moved by the way in which you spoke to the hearts

of the young Israelis.”

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was also pleased with the address,

a senior Palestinian official said. Earlier, Obama’s edgy news conference with Abbas in Ramallah reflected Palestinian disappointment

with his failure to live up to first-term vows to help forge

a Palestinian state. The frosty atmosphere lacked the bonhomie of the bonding session he held with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 20, as the two leaders, both starting new terms, sought to prove their

prickly relationship was a thing of the past.

In Ramallah, Obama condemned the “continuing threat” of attacks from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip after two rockets hit southern Israel and a radical group claimed responsibility for

the attacks in a statement that condemned Obama’s visit to the region. In front of Abbas, Obama said that the two- state solution was still a possibility, despite claims that Israeli settlement building had crushed

despite claims that Israeli settlement building had crushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Jerusalem on March 20. Pic: AFP

Palestinian dreams of a contiguous state. Although he singled out Israeli settlements on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state as a major impediment to reviving peace talks, Obama did not call for a new construction ban. In private talks with Obama, Abbas said that a freeze was a must, said his political adviser Nimr Hammad. “ A r e s u m p t i o n o f negotiations is not possible without an Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank and east Jerusalem,” Hammad

said. Israel says it will not come back to talks with pre- conditions. Obama flew to the Middle East amid tepid expectations, saying he was coming just to assess the prospects for progress. But the striking ambition of his speech will be sure to raise expectations of a new US intervention to revive the peace process. Obama made similar calls in Middle East talks in 2009 in a Cairo speech – but failed to live up to the expectations he generated, as the peace moves crashed. – AFP

UN panel to look into abuses in North Korea

GENEVA – The United

Nations on March 21 said

it will for the first time

establish a commission of inquiry into grave human rights violations in North Korea that may amount to crimes against humanity. The UN’s Human Rights

Council passed a resolution to establish a commission to probe “the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights

in the Democratic People’s

Republic of Korea

a view to ensuring full

accountability, in particular where these violations may a m o u n t t o

crimes against


to the council earlier this month in which he accused

Pyongyang of a string of crimes against humanity, including depriving the population of food, torture, arbitrary detention and the secretive regime’s denial of freedom of expression. He also highlighted concerns about a network of political prison camps

believed to hold some 200,000 people, including detainees

who were born in captivity because entire families are

thought to have been sent there. The resolution condemned a long line of

abuses, “in particular the use of torture and labour

camps against political prisoners and repatriated citizens”. It urged Pyongyang to “immediately end those practices and to release all political prisoners unconditionally and without

delay.” The resolution also extended Darusman’s mandate and said he should be one of three members on the new commission of inquiry. Like previous UN rights monitors, Darusman has so far not been granted access to North Korea and for his analysis he relied largely on testimony from North Koreans who have fled the country. – AFP


Political ploy , says envoy

Japan and

the European

Union, with the backing of other Western countries including the

United States, had presented the resolution, which passed with full consensus in the 47-member council. North Korea’s ambassador

to the UN in Geneva, Pyong

Se So, swiftly rejected the resolution, insisting to the council that it was “full of fabrications” and merely a “political ploy” to “disgrace the image of the Democratic Republic of Korea.” His country had “one of the best systems in the world for the protection of human rights,” he added. TheUN’sspecialrapporteur on North Korea, Marzuki Darusman,presentedareport

Israel apologises for raid


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologised to Turkey on March 22 for

a deadly raid on a Gaza

aid flotilla and announced

a full resumption of

diplomatic ties as well as compensation. The breakthrough, which ends a nearly three- year diplomatic rift, was engineered by US President Barack Obama at the tail end of a historic three-day visit to the Holy Land, the first of his presidency. Speaking soon after Air Force One departed for Amman, a senior US official said the Israeli leader had apologised to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a special telephone call from Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.

“On behalf of Israelis he apologised for any deaths those operational mistakes might have caused,” the

official said. “Prime Minister Erdogan

accepted the apology on behalf of Turkey,” he added, saying Obama had also spoken with the Turkish leader. Israel and Turkey both confirmed the apology, with Netanyahu’s office announcing a resumption of full diplomatic ties between the former close allies. Ties between Israel and Turkey plummeted in May 2010, when Israeli commandos staged a botched pre-dawn raid on the six-ship flotilla to Gaza headed by the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed. – AFP

Trade Mark CauTion

NOTICE is hereby given that Bausch & LomB Incorporated of One Bausch & Lomb Place,

Rochester, New York 14604, United States of America

is the Owner and Sole Proprietor of the following

trademark: - renu

(reg: no. iV/1052/1996)

in respect of:- “Contact lens solutions”

Any fraudulent imitation or unauthorized use of the said trademark or other infringements whatsoever will be dealt with according to law.

U Kyi Win & Associates

for Bausch & LomB Incorporated

P.O. Box No. 26, Yangon. Phone: 372416 Dated: 25 th March, 2013

Trade Mark CauTion

NOTICE is hereby given that revlon Consumer

Products Corporation and having its principal office

at 237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017 UNITED

STATES OF AMERICA, is the Owner and Sole Proprietor of the following trademark: -


(reg: no. iV/10835/2012) in respect of:- “Bleaching preparations and other substances for laundry use; cleaning, polishing, scouring and abrasive preparations; soaps; perfumery, essential oils, cosmetics and makeup, skin care products, skin whitening products, hair lotions; dentifrices.” Any fraudulent imitation or unauthorized use of the said trademark or other infringements whatsoever will be dealt with according to law.

U Kyi Win Associates

for revlon Consumer Products Corporation P.O. Box No. 26, Yangon.

Phone: 372416

Dated: 25 th March, 2013


March 25 - 31, 2013


the MyanMar tiMes

UN business class travel ‘excessive’, says US


UNITED NATIONS – The United States is taking aim at “excessive” business class air trav el by UN staff as it presses a campaign to restrain the global body’s multi-billion dollar budget. Complaints by the United States and other cash- strapped Western nations have been bolstered by revelations that nearly three quarters of the

money spent on air fares at UN headquarters goes on business class.

“ c l e a r l y

unjustifiable,” Joseph Torsella, the US envoy who

since 2011 has been leading a US war on “waste” at the UN, said on March 18.

R u l e s o n b u s i n e s s

class travel are “out of whack” and the failure to enact “common sense and overdue reforms is

T h a t

i s

creating a system that is ripe for abuse,” the US envoy for UN management

and reform told AFP. The United Nations spent at least US$769 million of its general budget of more than $5 billion in 2010-11 on moving officials and staff

around the world, show UN figures. The peacekeeping department, which has its own budget, spent another $200 million.

Some $54 million of the $74 million of air tickets bought at the main headquarters in New York and Geneva were business class. “There are a series of loopholes that are just on the face of it crazy,” Torsella said. Most UN staff travel under a 1990 system where a lump sum of 75 percent of the full economy class fare

New Israeli govt takes office

JERUSALEM – A new Israeli governing coalition with a strong showing of pro-settlement hardliners formally took office late on March 18 after confirmation by parliament days before a landmark US presidential visit. “During all three periods in which I had the privilege to govern the state of Israel, I don’t remember a more challenging period,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the first meeting of his new cabinet as he began his third term of office. He spoke of “dangers on one side, opportunities on the other and, of course the expectations of Israeli citizens.” “I think that it is within our ability to meet all the challenges,” he said in remarks carried live by public television. Earlier, Israel’s 120-member parliament approved Netanyahu’s new cabinet by 68 votes to 48. Although the lineup includes two centrist parties – Yesh Atid (19 seats) and HaTnuah (six seats) – which want to renew peace talks, it is dominated by the hawkish Likud-Beitenu (31 seats) and its new national-religious ally, Jewish Home (12 seats), a far- right faction that is party of choice for settlers. Addressing MPs before the parliament vote, Netanyahu thanked

Addressing MPs before the parliament vote, Netanyahu thanked Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his new

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his new Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon (left), in the Knesset (parliament) on March 18. Pic: AFP

the country for electing him as premier for a third term. “The top priority of the new government is the defence of the security of the state and its citizens,” he said, adding that Israel faced “very great threats” from Iran and Syria. He also gave a nod towards the moribund peace process with

the Palestinians, saying his new government would be “ready for compromises in exchange for real peace” and would talk with any Palestinian partner who would negotiate “in good faith.” Resuming negotiations is unlikely to be a priority for the new Israeli government, which was elected largely on socio-economic issues and which counts a strong showing of ministers with an openly pro-settler agenda. Replacing Ehud Barak as defence minister is Moshe Yaalon, a former armed forces chief of staff who strongly supports settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and who has been outspoken in his opposition to any construction freeze. Another new face in government is housing minister Uri Ariel, himself an ultra-nationalist settler from Jewish Home, who says his aim is to increase the number of Israelis living in the West Bank. “Today there are 360,000 and I want for there to be many, many more,” he said. “Will I double the number of settlements? No. Will I provide for natural growth? Yes.” Asked how such construction would affect prospects of a Palestinian state, he said: “There can be only one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – Israel.” – AFP

River and the Mediterranean Sea – Israel.” – AFP can be given. UN auditors estimate that

can be given. UN auditors estimate that this now costs 83 percent more than current regular fares. The UN has about 30 different outside travel agencies and so does not

get economies of scale and hardly uses online booking, Torsella said. He noted that trimming

10 percent off the travel

bill could buy 15.4 anti- malaria nets. – AFP

Arab network plans British news channel

DOHA – Qatar’s Al-Jazeera television network said on March 18 it was preparing to launch a news channel in Britain while studies are at an advanced stage for a French-language channel. “We are currently working to launch a news channel from the United Kingdom,” said the network’s director general Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al-Thani in Doha,

adding it will be called Al- Jazeera UK. Al-Thani also said that studies were at an “advanced stage” to launch a French- language channel aimed at “building bridges with other cultures and peoples.” In January, American television channel Current TV, co-founded by former US president Al Gore in 2005, said it was acquired by Al-Jazeera. Al-Thani said on March

18 that Al-Jazeera has

got “the right to broadcast nationwide in the United States.” A l - J a z e e r a h a s revolutionised the Arabic- language media and reporting on the Middle East since its foundation in 1996. Its coverage has many times caused disruption to the channel’s operations in a number of Arab countries. During the so-called Arab Spring uprising, the channel has faced repeated accusations of being biased. – AFP

Sarkozy charged

BORDEAUX – Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was on March 21 charged with taking advantage of the elderly L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, his lawyer said. The move came after Sarkozy was unexpectedly summoned for a face-to-face encounter with staff mem- bers of Bettencourt over claims he accepted enve- lopes stuffed with cash from the world’s richest woman to illegally finance his 2007 election campaign. Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog said the decision was “legally incoherent and unfair” and said he would appeal.

Malian soldier killed

BAMAKO – A Malian sol- dier died in Timbuktu’s first suicide bombing as the city came under assault over- night, triggering clashes in which 10 Islamist fighters died, military officials said on March 21. The bomb went off near Timbuktu’s airport as a group of armed men clashed with French and Malian soldiers who drove out the ancient city’s Islamist occu- piers in late January. The city has remained calm since, unlike the north- eastern city of Gao, which has been hit by several sui- cide bombings and guerrilla attacks since the Islamists

were driven out.

Everest climber dies

WELLINGTON – New Zealander George Lowe, the last surviving member of the expedition led by Sir Edmund Hillary that con- quered Everest in 1953, has died aged 89, reports said on March 22. Lowe died in a nursing home in the British town of Ripley on Wednesday, Ra- dio New Zealand reported. – AFP

Trade Mark CauTion

Sigma-Tau industrie Farmaceutiche riunite S.p.a. of Viale Shakespeare, 47, 00144 Roma, Italy, is the Owner of the following Trade Mark:-


reg. no. 7881/2006 in respect of “pharmaceutical and veterinary preparations; sanitary preparations for medical purposes; dietetic substances adapted for medical use, food for babies; plasters, materials for dressings; material for stopping teeth, dental wax; disinfectants; preparations for destroying vermin; fungicides, herbicides”.

Fraudulent imitation or unauthorised use of the said Trade Mark will be dealt with according to law.

Win Mu Tin, M.A., H.G.P., D.B.L for Sigma-Tau industrie Farmaceutiche riunite S.p.a P. O. Box 60, Yangon E-mail: Dated: 25 March 2013


the MyanMar tiMes


March 25 - 31, 2013

Suicide bomber kills 42 in central Damascus mosque

DAMASCUS – A suicide bomb attack on a central Damascus mosque has killed 42 people, including Syria’s most prominent pro-regime Sunni cleric, wounding dozens of others, the health ministry said last week. The attack on March 21 came as heavy fighting raged throughout Syria, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon said the United Nations would investigate whether chemical weapons have been used in the conflict. The bomber blew himself up inside the Iman Mosque as the cleric, Mohamed al- Bouti, addressed religious students, in an attack that echoed sectarian violence in Iraq. “The number of those martyred in the terrorist suicide attack in the Iman Mosque rises to 42 martyrs with 84 injured,” state television said, citing the health ministry. Bouti was the most senior pro-regime Sunni cleric in Syria. His weekly addresses at Friday prayers were often broadcast live on state television. His death is a blow to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has been fighting an insurgency that flared when his forces launched a bloody crackdown on Arab Spring-inspired democracy protests that erupted in March 2011. The relentless violence has killed tens of thousands of people and caused more than one million to flee their homes as refugees. Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, the head of the umbrella opposition National Coalition,

the head of the umbrella opposition National Coalition, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (right) during a surprise

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (right) during a surprise visit to an educational centre in Damascus on March 20 to meet the families of students killed in the country’s civil war. It was Assad’s first public appearance in nearly a month. Pic: AFP/Syrian Presidency Media Office

condemned the cleric’s killing as a “crime” and suggested that the regime could have been involved. Khatib, himself a cleric, said he had known Bouti, who was held in high esteem among Islamic theologians, but had disagreed with him over his vociferous support for Assad. The attack came as fighting continued throughout the country, with rebels reportedly gaining ground in the Golan Heights, which is partly occupied by Israel. Ban Ki-Moon said on March 21 that the investigation into whether chemical weapons have been used in the conflict would focus on an allegation from Damascus that rebel forces had used them. But a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity,

a tolerant vision of Syrian

I do know that he also has

“I don’t know what his political affiliations are. But

than Muslim Brotherhood, frankly,” Ford said of Hitto, a former IT executive who has lived in the southwestern US state of Texas for decades.

said: “We have no indication that chemical weapons were used.” In an earlier development last week, the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, told lawmakers on March 20 that the new Syrian opposition prime minister, Ghassan al- Hitto, “is more Texan than Muslim Brotherhood”. Dismissing concerns at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ford

a technocratic government

that plans to operate inside

Syria, attempting to bring rule of law and basic services

to large swathes of rebel-held

society,” Ford said. Hitto is expected to name

insisted that Hitto, narrowly by the Syrian National Coalition as interim premier at a meeting in Istanbul on March 19, was “not a religious extremist – far from it.”

“I’ve met him twice


he struck me as more Texan

territory. His election has exposed rifts in the fractured Syrian opposition, with at least 12 key members saying on March 20 they had suspended their membership. – AFP

Trade Mark CauTion

NOTICE is hereby given that Sandvik intellectual Property aB of SE-811 81 Sandviken is the Owner and Sole Proprietor of the following trademark: -


(reg: nos. iV/1004/2005 & iV/1536/2013)

in respect of: - “Metals and alloys and articles manufactured

therefrom, namely, steel, and nickel alloys, zirconium alloys and cemented carbide alloys, crude or in the form

of castings, bars, plates, blanks, sheets, bands, strips, tubes

and wires”- Class: 6 “Machine tools, especially machine saw blades; machine knives, rolls for rolling mills, drawing dies and cutting dies, drawing mandrels, tools and tool holders for working metals, milling cutters, lathe tools, tools for drilling, broaching, reaming, sawing, chiseling, stamping, shearing and piercing, cutting inserts; rock drills bits, rock drill rods and couplings therefor; steel belt conveyors and steel belts therefor; rubber clad steel belts, double belt presses, conveyors for food and chemical industry, and parts for steel belt conveyors.”- Class: 7 “Hand tools, especially saws, saw blades, saw frames and razors, files and rasps, chisels, axes, knives and tongs.” – Class: 8

Any fraudulent imitation or unauthorized use of the said trademark or other infringements whatsoever will be dealt with according to law.

U Kyi Win Associates

for Sandvik intellectual Property aB P.O. Box No. 26, Yangon.

Phone: 372416

Dated: 25 th March, 2013

Trade Mark CauTion

NOTICE is hereby given that Hyundai Motor Company a company organized under the laws of Korea (South) and

having its principal office at 231 Yangjae-Dong, Seocho- Gu, Seoul, Korea (South) is the Owner and Sole Proprietor

of the following trademarks: -


(reg: nos. iV/684/1996 & iV/1506/2013)

- HYUNDAI COUPE (reg: nos. iV/684/1996 & iV/1506/2013) (reg: nos. iV/4111/1995 & iV/1507/2013) (reg: nos.

(reg: nos. iV/4111/1995 & iV/1507/2013)

iV/1506/2013) (reg: nos. iV/4111/1995 & iV/1507/2013) (reg: nos. iV/5656/1996 & iV/1508/2013) The above three

(reg: nos. iV/5656/1996 & iV/1508/2013) The above three trademark are in respect of: - “Apparatus for locomotion by land including passenger cars, trucks and buses; parts and fittings thereof, components and accessories for all the aforesaid goods included in Int’l class: 12”

Any fraudulent imitation or unauthorized use of the said trademarks or other infringements whatsoever will be dealt with according to law.

U Kyi Win Associates

for Hyundai Motor Company P.O. Box No. 26, Yangon.

Phone: 372416

Dated: 25 th March, 2013

NASA denies report that Voyager 1 has left the solar system

WASHINGTON – The US space agency on March 20 denied a claim made in a scientific study that its Voyager 1 spacecraft had left the solar system, describing the report as “premature.” Scientists are eagerly awaiting signs that the craft, which was launched in 1977 on a mission to study

planets, has become the first man-made object to leave the boundaries of our solar system. A scientific paper that purported to describe this departure

appeared on



Union’s web