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ISSUE 70 | TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2015
NEWS 3 NLD cuts representatives from constitution debate The NLD has cut back by more than
NLD cuts representatives
from constitution debate
The NLD has cut back by more than
half the number of its MPs who will
debate proposed changes to the
constitution, after 26 registered to
take part in three days of discussion
scheduled to begin today.
Minimum wage will be set
this month, says minister
Minister for Labour U Aye Myint insists
minimum wage is needed to resolve
conflicts at factories, but garment
manufacturers say the proposed rate of
K4000 a day is too high.
Boredom and distrust on
the Thai-Myanmar border
Journalists invited to cover a summit
of armed ethnic groups in Kayin
State earlier this month instead
found themselves trapped in the
jungle with little to do.
Rice export bump means
less for local market
Yangon residents check their names on electoral rolls yesterday at a ward office. Voter
lists went on display in 21 Yangon townships, as well as a number of other states and
regions around the country. About 33 million people will be eligible to vote in this
year’s election, which will be the first to use computerised voter records.
Senior Myanmar Rice Federation
officials say growing exports of the
staple grain mean there is less rice
available for local consumption,
putting local prices at risk of rising.

President faces campaign ban

A parliamentary committee yesterday put forward amendment bills that would force President U Thein Sein and members of his government to stand for election as independents rather than USDP members. NEWS 5





IN BRIEF MERS screening begins in Mandalay Screening of arriving passengers for symptoms of the deadly
MERS screening begins
in Mandalay
Screening of arriving passengers for
symptoms of the deadly Middle East
Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) has be-
gun at the airports of Mandalay Region,
an official from Department of Health
for Mandalay Region said on June 20.
“MERS has spread to Thailand. So
we’ve now started conducting health
control measures to prevent it spread-
ing to Myanmar. Health officials are
screening arrivals at Tada-Oo and
Bagan airports as well as at other
entry points,” said the official.
Symptoms include fever, coughing
and shortness of breath. Travellers
who experience such symptoms within
29 days after arriving from countries
where the deadly virus has broken out
should seek medical advice, warns the
Department of Health.
“People who visit countries where
cases of MERS virus occur should
wash their hands often and wear a
mask in crowed places,” said the
health official.
In South Korea, where the disease
was first reported on May 20, 24 of the
166 people known to be infected have
died. The South Korean government
announced on June 19 that they had
the disease under control. Thailand
has confirmed that has been detected
in the country.
– Mg Zaw, translation by Zar Zar Soe
S Korea
to train
Firefighters help an unidentified worker following the collapse of scaffolding and concrete at the Pullman Hotel
construction site in Mandalay on June 20. Photo: EPA/Pyae Sone Aung
Worker rescued
after 34-hour ordeal
Voter lists go on display in three
Mandalay districts
Electoral rolls for the remaining three
districts of Mandalay Region were
released yesterday and will remain on
display until July 5, said U Kyaw Kyaw
Soe, deputy director of the Mandalay
election commission office.
He invited voters to examine the lists
and notify the commission of any er-
rors or omissions. Lists for Mandalay,
Pyin Oo Lwin, Kyaukse and Myingyan
districts were open for review between
June 8 and 21. The remaining three
districts are Meiktila, Nyaung Oo and
Yamethin. The amended voters’ list will
be posted for a week once the date of
polling day is announced, he said.
The commission said it would oper-
ate more than 5400 polling stations
across Mandalay Region during the
election. – Mg Zaw, translation by
Thiri Min Htun
A WORKER who was trapped
under collapsed scaffolding and
concrete at a construction site in
Mandalay was finally freed follow-
ing a desperate 34-hour rescue ef-
fort by the Red Cross Society and
Fire Services Department.
The construction worker,
19-year-old Ko San Myint Aung
from Satu Kyauk Sit Pone village in
Minbu township, Magwe Region,
is now receiving medical treat-
ment in Mandalay General Hospi-
tal’s intensive-care unit.
The collapse of the steel scaf-
folding and concrete occurred at
the under-construction Pullman
Hotel in Mandalay on June 20,
leaving two workers dead and 18
A number of victims were
trapped beneath the scaffolding,
prompting a rescue operation in-
volving the Fire Services Depart-
ment, the Red Cross Society, doc-
tors from the Ministry of Health
and volunteers from civil society
A social relations official at the
Mandalay General Hospital told
The Myanmar Times that Ko San
Myint Aung arrived at the hospital
at 11:30pm on June 21.
“Upon arrival, he was placed in
the ward for patients with broken
bones, where he was treated im-
mediately by orthopaedists and
surgeons. This morning he was
sent to the intensive-care unit,” the
official said.
“The patient has lost both legs
from the collapsed concrete, and
one of his arms is in serious condi-
tion. Doctors are working to save it.”
The Pullman Hotel project is
part of the US$100 million Mingala
Mandalay Project on New City plot
1, which is owned by Mandalay City
Development Committee. New Star
Light, CAD and Nyan Family Con-
struction have been contracted to
build the project.
The collapsed portion of the
scaffolding had been built by Nyan
Family Construction. U Nyan Lynn
from the company expressed sor-
row on June 21 for the workers in-
volved in the accident and added,
“Our company will take responsi-
bility for the injured and the vic-
tims. We will give compensation.”
Police Captain Khin Zaw from
Chan Mya Tharsi township said
an official from Nyan Family Con-
struction has been charged under
sections 337 and 338 of the penal
code – causing hurt by act endan-
gering personal safety of others
and causing grievous hurt by act
endangering personal safety of
others respectively – as well as sec-
tion 304 for culpable homicide not
amounting to murder. The charges
carry a potential prison term total-
ing 17 years.
– Translation by Thiri Min Htun
SOUTH Korea will train Myanmar’s
newly appointed permanent secretar-
ies to help the country’s bureaucratic
reform, an official of the Korea Devel-
opment Institute (KDI) has announced.
At the Myanmar government’s re-
quest, the training program will be
funded by the Korea International Co-
operation Agency (KOICA) and will be
conducted by KDI, a leading govern-
ment think tank in South Korea.
“Training will start in September,”
said Sang-Woo Nam of the KDI School
of Public Policy and Management, who
led a KDI delegation to Myanmar last
week. “This training will assist the
permanent secretaries to fulfil their
very important role,” he said yesterday.
KOICA is also helping the Myan-
mar government to establish the My-
anmar Development Institute with
a US$20 million contribution over a
four-year period.
KDI program officer Kim Tae
Young said the program might involve
a visit to South Korea to see how the
country’s bureaucracy works.
“We are still working out the de-
tails, including the possibility of a visit
and training. There will also be lec-
tures, capacity-building activities and
some site visits in Korea. Capacity-
building is particularly important for
permanent secretaries because they
will be playing a leading role after the
election as well,” said Mr Kim.
President U Thein Sein’s govern-
ment appointed nearly 40 new perma-
nent secretaries in March and April as
part of the government’s bureaucratic
According to the plan, the perma-
nent secretaries will lead negotiations
with policy makers, design and moni-
tor projects, and take responsibility
for administration, internal audit, in-
formation policy and international
News THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 23, 2015 IN BRIEF MERS screening begins in Mandalay Screening of


NEWS EDITOR: Thomas Kean | tdkean@gmail.com

News 3

Minimum wage to be set this month: labour minister UEC rolls out next phase of voter
Minimum wage to be set
this month: labour minister
UEC rolls out
next phase
of voter list
Garment factory owners remain opposed to the wage, citing worries over gaining market share
MINISTER for Labour U Aye Myint
promised yesterday to determine a
proposed minimum wage for gar-
ment factory workers by the end of
this month, despite strong opposi-
tion from employers.
Factory owners would be given
two months to lodge their com-
plaints against the proposed
amount, the minister said yester-
day. The long-running process of
reaching an agreement for one of
Myanmar’s most vital export sectors
has been punctuated by strikes and
protests that have dented investors’
The minister was speaking at a
minimum wage workshop bringing
together the labour ministry, em-
ployers and trade union representa-
tives organised by the Union of My-
anmar Federation of Chambers of
Commerce (UMFCCI).
A meeting in Nay Pyi Taw of a
national committee responsible
for setting minimum wages said
on June 17 that manufacturing sec-
tor factory owners were willing to
agree on a minimum wage, likely
to be K4000 (US$3.60) a day. But
garment factory owners in the cut-
ting, manufacturing and packaging
(CMP) export sector were strongly
opposed, arguing they could not
gain market share at such rates.
A member of the national commit-
tee on setting minimum wages said it
appeared possible that the CMP sec-
tor might obtain a different minimum
wage from other industries.
Views expressed at the workshop
reflected the battle lines that have
hardened during months of con-
troversial debate, and efforts by the
government to reach a compromise.
U Myint Soe, chair of the Myan-
mar Garment Entrepreneurs Asso-
ciation, said garment factories us-
ing the CMP system would have to
U Soe Myint, head of the Myanmar Garment Entrepreneurs Association, speaks at a meeting about setting a minimum
wage in Yangon yesterday. Photo: Naing Wynn Htoon
change their method of production
to meet the costs of the proposed
minimum wage.
“We need to know how the gov-
ernment will support us, what will
be the strategy for us to develop the
garment sector,” he said. “It depends
on the business community and the
U Win Aung, UMFCCI chair, said
fixing minimum wages should be
carried out rationally, and that fac-
tory owners would have to think
about changing their business prac-
tices if they could not pay fixed
U Naw Aung, a labour representa-
tive and national committee member,
said other industries expected CMP
factories to agree to K4000 as the av-
erage minimum wage.
U Zaw Oo, economic adviser to
the president’s Office, said the mini-
mum wage could be set between
those earned in Cambodia and
Bangladesh, two of Myanmar’s main
competitors in attracting foreign in-
vestors away from China.
He suggested from K3200 to
K4000 a day was a “fair” amount to
start with and that all would have to
overcome difficulties together.
Ko Kyaw Lwin Oo, a garment
worker from E-Land Myanmar who
attended the workshop, said more
than K4000 was needed as a “living
wage” because of rising commodity
U Maung Maung, chair of the
Federation of Trade Unions-Myan-
mar, said the minimum wage should
be based on eight hours of work a
day, without including overtime,
and needed to be sufficient to sup-
port a family.
“Minimum wages should be
measured by the dignity of workers
in the rest of world. I don’t want to
create such conditions that inter-
national investors come here [My-
anmar] because labour is cheaper,”
commented Daw Sandar Min, a
member of parliament from the Na-
tional League for Democracy.
THE Union Election Commission yes-
terday launched the latest phase of
displaying voter lists for public verifica-
tion in 21 Yangon townships and sever-
al states and regions across the country
in preparation for the November gen-
eral elections.
Lists published in three stages so far
have drawn a storm of controversy over
the high rate of errors and omissions.
But election officials stress that there
is time for corrections to be made be-
fore all the electoral rolls are published
when the election date is set in August.
About 33 million people are eligible
to vote in the election, which will be the
first time that Myanmar has used com-
puterised electoral rolls. Previous elec-
tions were dependant on hand-written
lists, and much of the data provided by
the home affairs and immigration min-
istries has proven to be incorrect.
Would-be voters have two weeks to
check their names and data are entered
correctly on the lists that were posted
yesterday. Heavy rains dampened en-
thusiasm in Yangon, the country’s most
populated region.
Nonetheless U Khin Maung Oo,
chair of a ward sub-commission in
Mingalar Taung Nyunt, said public in-
terest in his ward was “quite good”.
“Up to now, we have recorded about
250 residents who came and checked
their names and data,” he told The
Myanmar Times yesterday afternoon.
Among those there were 30 residents
whose names had been omitted.
Ko Tin Win, who lives on 108 th Street
in Mingalar Taung Nyunt township,
told The Myanmar Times that his name
was not on the list and he had submit-
ted Form 3 to correct it. “Most of my
family’s names and data are correct, but
my name was omitted,” he said.
Some ward sub-commissions played
music tracks recorded by civil society
public advocacy groups to catch public
Lists were moved in and out of of-
fices depending on the rain. “When it
is raining, we have to take the lists back
inside. Once it stops raining, we get
them out so that people can look,” said
Daw Nwe Nwe Hla, head of the Thiri
Khaymar ward sub-commission.

NLD scales back participation in constitution debate


discuss the bill and were granted




However, the NLD has since


trimmed its cohort to about 12 or

THE National League for Democracy will trim the number of its MPs who will take part in three days of debate on proposed constitutional amend- ments that will begin in parliament today. The debate will focus on pro- posed changes to section 436 and 59(f), which relate to the process of amending the constitution and the presidential eligibility requirements respectively, and require both ap- proval in parliament and at a nation- al referendum to be passed into law. A vote is expected to be held at the conclusion of the debate on June 25. Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann announced on June 18 that 75 MPs had registered to take part in the debate, but due to time constraints only 12 of 33 MPs from his Union Solidarity and Devel- opment Party were granted approval to discuss the bill. Another 26 MPs from the Na- tional League for Democracy and 16 from other parties registered to

13, U Win Myint, the party’s Pyithu Hluttaw representative for Pathein, said yesterday. The proposed amendments would remove the military’s veto over con- stitutional change by reducing the level of support to pass amendments from 75 percent of MPs to 70pc. The changes to section 59(f) would relax the presidential eligibility require- ments, but Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would remain barred because her sons are British citizens. The military has not indicated how it will vote on the proposed changes, and MPs were yesterday mostly un- willing to predict the outcome. U Thein Tun Oo, a Pyithu Hluttaw representative for Amarapura town- ship from the USDP, said civilian MPs were working hard to build sup- port for the bill among military MPs. While the constitution states that amendments require the sup - port of “more than 75pc” of MPs, he noted that at least nine military representatives would have to back the changes to ensure their passage,

as eight constituencies are currently vacant. U Khine Maung Yi, the Pyithu Hluttaw representative for Ahlone from the National Democratic Force, said he believe the amendments would pass. “It may be difficult, but I think we will have success,” he said yesterday. This week’s expected vote caps a more than two-year journey for the amendment process, which began in March 2013 with a proposal from senior USDP officials. For much of that time the pro- cess has appeared to move slowly, and mostly behind closed doors in

‘The demand for reform of the constitution will remain on the agenda for some time yet.’

Andrew McLeod

Oxford University

NEWS EDITOR: Thomas Kean | tdkean @gmail.com Minimum wage to be set this month: labour minister

parliament. But in recent weeks the pace has picked up, in part due to the looming election in November and the failure of the six-way talks between national political leaders to lead to an agreement on constitution- al change. The only six-way meeting was held on April 10, bringing together President U Thein Sein, Command- er-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Thura U Shwe Mann, Amyo- tha Hluttaw Speaker U Khin Aung Myint, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and U Aye Maung, a representative for eth- nic minorities. Andrew McLeod, a research fel- low in law at Oxford University who provided support to the parliamen- tary committees that developed the amendments, said yesterday that the bills had been ready “for some time” but parliamentary leaders had want- ed to wait for the outcome of the six- party talks. “With a second round of talks yet to be scheduled, I think Thura Shwe Mann wanted to offer a sign that he was still pushing for amendment of the constitution and this was the last opportunity before the elec -

tions to introduce the bills to the

hluttaw,” he said. Even if all of the amendments put forward so far are approved, further calls to amend the constitution area likely. “I doubt these amendments will satisfy the calls for constitutional renewal. The demand for reform of the constitution will remain on the agenda for some time yet.” Nicholas Farrelly, director of the Australian National University’s My- anmar Research Centre, said there was a “huge amount at stake”, par- ticularly for Thura U Shwe Mann, who has spearheaded the amend- ment process. “Thura U Shwe Mann is seeking to build a multi-party coalition of confidence that supports the reputa- tion of the legislature and bolsters his own credentials as somebody ca- pable of handling the trickiest politi- cal dilemmas,” Mr Farrelly said. “[But] constitutional amend- ment is sensitive and hyper-political. There is a huge amount at stake and the government is cautious about making the wrong move or unnec- essarily destabilising their carefully created political architecture.” – Translation by Zar Zar Soe




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U Punnavara, a central committee member of Ma Ba Tha, speaks at the organisation’s national conference in Yangon on June 21. Photo: Zarni Phyo

Sangha committee a no-show at Ma Ba Tha conference

AUNG KYAW MIN aungkyawmin.mcm@gmail.com

A CONSERVATIVE monks’ organisa- tion concluded its national conference on June 21 by urging the government to stop all construction projects near Shwedagon Pagoda, build “strong fencing” along Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh and not allow “Bengali boat people into our land”. However, senior officials from the government- backed State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, also known as Ma Ha Na, did not attend the meet. In a statement issued at the end of the conference, the Organisation for the Protection of National Race and Religion, better known by its Myanmar-language acronym Ma Ba Tha, also called on the Union Elec- tion Commission to ensure a free and fair election and MPs to focus on na- tional security when amending the constitution. The three-day conference on the

outskirts of Yangon attracted more than 6000 people, including 3300 monks, but senior members of the Ma Ha Na were notable absentees. Ma Ba Tha leaders were quick to insist that

the snub did not reflect a breakdown in relations between the two groups. But there was also no sign of Sit- agu Sayadaw, a vice chair of Ma Ba Tha who has seemingly distanced himself from the organisation this year. Organisers had said prior to the meeting that they expected Sitagu Sayadaw to attend and his role in Ma Ba Tha to be clarified. Magwe Sayadaw U Pamaukkha told The Myanmar Times yesterday that Sitagu Sayadaw had not in- formed organisers why he could not attend. “I don’t know why Sitagu Say- adaw did not attend the conference. Does he have something else to do? I heard he had to go to a school open- ing. Regardless, he is still a member of Ma Ba Tha, and we have not al- tered his position.” The group’s 12-point “opinion statement” released at the end of the meeting touched on many of Myan- mar’s major political issues, but said the organisation would refrain from

advising the public which party or candidate to vote for in this year’s election. Instead, it said voters should vote based on the “race, religion and be- lief” of candidates. It also called for the enactment “as soon as possible” of four controversial laws that it proposed in 2013, includ- ing one on interfaith marriage and another on religious conversion. “This statement shows that Ma Ba Tha is not on the side of any one part. We just prioritise justice,” said Sitagu Ashin Daeweinda Bhivamsa. He said that any political

‘I don’t know why Sitagu Saydaw did not attend. Does he have something else to do?’

U Pamaukkha

Magwe Sayadaw

News THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 23, 2015 Chief Executive Officer Tony Child tonychild.mcm@gmail.com Editorial Director –

comments attributed to Ma Ba Tha members were just their individual opinion, and did not represent those of the organisation. The group called for the strength- ening of the border with Bangladesh, raids to root out “non-immigrant for- eigners” and for Muslims to condemn Islamic extremist movements. It also took a swipe at the “bias” of the United Nations and the United States toward the “scoundrel Bengalis so-called Rohingya”, and condemned groups trying to revise the 1982 Citi- zenship Act. The group’s chair, U Bhadanta Tilawkar Bivamsa, also known as In- sein Ywama Sayadaw, said the meas- ures were necessary to protect the future Buddhism in Myanmar. “Our once-Buddhist neighbours were lost in the past because they were negligent. So we need to instill nationalist spirit in future genera- tions,” he said. To this end, a separate statement was released on the need to foster a network of Buddhist “dhamma” schools. The group also called for a ban on Muslim women wearing head-

scarves in schools.

Kachin accuse Tatmadaw of shelling church



KACHIN State’s Baptist leaders have accused the Tatmadaw of destroying a church with artillery fire during clashes with fighters of the Kachin In- dependence Army in Hpakant town- ship last week. Reverend Samson Hkalam, secre- tary of the Kachin Baptist Convention, said yesterday that Christ Church in Kamaing village was destroyed on

June 19. He said more than 70 people fled the village and were being cared for by Baptist aid workers in Nam Yang. The Red Cross has also arrived with aid in the Hpakant area, he said. A colonel in the Tatmadaw’s Public Relations and Psychological Warfare section said the military had no com- ment on the report. The Tatmadaw would not have opened fire on a church, he added. Myanmar Online, a Chinese-lan- guage website, reported yesterday

that the church burnt down after be- ing hit by rocket-propelled grenades fired by government forces. It said the Baptist pastor was taken away and beaten. NGOs and other groups helping ci- vilians displaced by the fighting were having difficulties accessing Hpakant township because of the clashes, ac- cording to Daw Khun Jar, coordinator of the Kachin Peace Network. U La Saing, chair of the National League for Democracy in Hpakant,

called on the Tatmadaw to cease its offensive against the KIA, saying the fighting jeopardised efforts to reach a nationwide ceasefire agreement. He said the situation was quiet yesterday. Fighting in the highly lucrative jade mining area of Hpakant was reported to have displaced more than 2000 people in January. About 100,000 people remain in IDP camps in Kachin State following the break- down of a ceasefire between the gov- ernment and the KIA in 2011.


News 5

President faces axe from USDP campaign

www.mmtimes.com News 5 President faces axe from USDP campaign HTOO THANT thanhtoo.npt@gmail.com A BILL now before




A BILL now before parliament could prevent President U Thein Sein and other senior government officials, as well as senior judges, from campaign- ing in the coming elections as mem- bers of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party. The amend- ments to seven laws now under con- sideration would bring legislation in line with the constitution, says the secretary of the Pyithu Hluttaw Bill Committee. U Thein Tun Oo, a Pyithu Hlut- taw representative from the USDP, said that if parliament accepts the amendments, which were submitted yesterday, the government officials

will not be able to campaign as repre- sentatives of their political party, but they can campaign as independent candidates. The amendments would also af-

fect the vice presidents and members

of the constitutional tribunal, as well as ministers and their deputies. U Tin Maung Oo, a USDP MP who sits on the Public Affairs Manage- ment Committee, which prepared the amendments, said the changes would bring the laws into line with the constitution. U Thein Tun Oo said that a change in the wording of section 7 of the law governing campaigning would delete the words “political party”. “The [existing] clause is against the constitution. We substituted the wording ‘electoral campaign activity’, omitting the words ‘political party’,” he said. In an interview earlier this month, Union Election Commission chair U

Tin Aye agreed that the constitution and the Union Government Law were at odds over whether senior govern- ment members could campaign as party members, and he had asked the Constitutional Tribunal to decide on

‘I think the USDP wants to show that political parties are important. Senior officials cannot campaign for their parties.’

U Khine Maung Yee

National Democratic Force

www.mmtimes.com News 5 President faces axe from USDP campaign HTOO THANT thanhtoo.npt@gmail.com A BILL now before

the matter. The constitution states that the president, vice presidents and Union government ministers can be mem- bers of a political party but must not “take part in its party activities dur- ing their term of office”. Due to this clause, President U Thein was required to relinquish his position as chair of the USDP in 2012 to parliament Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann. The move in parliament to end the confusion comes after President U Thein Sein submitted the names of Union government ministers and their deputies to the USDP to run as candidates in this year’s election. Minister for Agriculture and Irri- gation U Myint Hlaing confirmed to The Myanmar Times last week that the names were submitted to the party. However, USDP officials initially

refused to reveal how many cabinet

members will contest the election on the grounds the information is still confidential. U Khine Maung Yee, an MP from the National Democratic Force, said the submission of the amendments showed the importance of political parties in the electoral campaign process. “I think the USDP wants to show that political parties are important. Senior officials cannot campaign for their parties,” he said yesterday. Amendments have been submitted in respect of the Union Attorney Gen- eral Law, the Union Auditor General Law, the Union Civil Services Board, Nay Pyi Taw Council, the Union Ju- diciary Law and the Constitutional Tribunal Law. Members of parliament wishing to take part in the debate on the amend- ments should register by tomorrow, an- nounced Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann. – Translation by Thiri Min Htun

Press Council to offer training on conflict safety



JOURNALISTS are to receive training in reporting in conflict situations under a new program set up by the Myanmar Press Council (Interim). Editors and re- porters yesterday welcomed the move but urged the council to do more to protect journalists from prosecution by the government in the courts. The Myanmar Press Council (Inter- im) said the training courses would be assisted by International Media Sup- port, an NGO which works to support local media in countries “affected by armed conflict, human insecurity and political transition”. “Safer conditions and a safe work- ing environment for journalists are crucial to enabling journalists to carry out professional, independent and di- verse journalism. Journalists who are informed about how to prepare for and behave in a threatening situation will be better equipped to secure their own safety,” said U Khin Maung Lay, vice chair of the council. Lars Bestle, head of the Asia depart- ment of International Media Support, said in a statement, “While the Myan- mar media sector has taken tremen- dous strides over the last four years towards more professionalism and in- dependence, the issue of the safety of journalists has been neglected.” U San Yu Kyaw, head of the Manda- lay Journalism School, welcomed the proposed training. “Reporters can bet- ter solve the problems and negotiate with threats if they have trained for safety journalism,” he said. But he added that the govern- ment, while allowing “free reporting” following the lifting of censorship, was now pursuing more journalists in the courts. “Journalists are in jail, and journal-

ists outside are protesting against that. But the government has not released

them and I have to say that we are un- der pressure,” U San Yu Kyaw told The Myanmar Times.

London-based human rights group Amnesty International said last week that efforts to restrict freedom of ex- pression had intensified over the past year, with at least 10 members of the media currently in prison, all of them jailed in the last 12 months. The Myanmar Press Council (Inter- im) was set up by President U Thein Sein and has been criticised by some members of the media for not being adequately free or independent. U Wai Phyo, editor in chief of Daily Eleven, noted that the government had just launched a criminal con- tempt-of-court prosecution against 17 senior members of the editorial team of the newspaper, arguing that their coverage of an earlier defamation suit was in breach of the law. “It’s strange that the Press Council is giving such security training,” he said, calling on the organisation to stand up to the government’s attacks on the media. Ma Shwe Hmone, senior reporter for Thamaga Weekly Journal, who was charged in court for taking part in an unauthorised rally calling for freedom of expression, said the proposed train- ing alone could do nothing. “There needs to be a good organisation to pro- tect journalists effectively,” she said. “Levels of violence against jour- nalists in Myanmar have been rising in the last year, both due to targeted attacks on journalists, but also due to the fact that more journalists are in the field, covering the country’s sensi- tive religious and ethnic conflicts and street riots as first-hand witnesses,” the Council and International Media Support said in a joint statement.

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A Karen National Union soldier patrols Law Khee Lar, Kayin State. Photo: Wa Lone

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Reporters trudge through the mud to the site of the Ethnic Armed Organisations Summit in Law Khee Lar earlier this month. Photo: Wa Lone

Boredom and distrust on the border:

A week with warring ethnic leaders

Journalists invited to attend a summit of armed ethnic groups in Kayin State instead found themselves trapped in the jungle with little to do

JUST getting to Law Khee Lar was hard enough. But once there, for the journalists, including me, covering a crucial summit of leaders of armed ethnic group it was boredom and dis- trust rather than breakthrough that characterised a week on the Myanmar- Thai border. The Karen National Union (KNU) had cordially invited the media to cov- er the summit in the first week of June. Despite rumblings of discord – among ethnic groups and with the govern- ment – hopes still prevailed that Law Khee Lar might make history as the place where the ethnic leaders would endorse a “nationwide” ceasefire ac- cord and then head to a triumphant signing ceremony in Nay Pyi Taw. In the southeast of Myanmar, close to the border of Thailand, Law Khee Lar had known more than 60 years of conflict. Now it would be making an appeal for peace, we hoped, as did en- voys from the UN and China who also journeyed there. Setting out from Yangon, we did not even know the itinerary. We were told to make our way to Hpa-an, capi- tal of Kayin State. There the KNU liai- son office checked lists and took our mugshots. Not knowing the travel plan themselves, they suggested we head to the border town of Myawaddy. We found a driver with an ille- gally licenced car who had paid Ka- ren armed groups for a permit to Myawaddy. The road is part of the East-West Economic Corridor, an am- bitious project linking Da Nang in Vietnam 1450 kilometres (900 miles) away with the Indian Ocean in Myan- mar. It is a lucrative source of income for gun-toting guards of various Karen armed ethnic groups as well as for the Tatmadaw who stop every car and mo- torbike to collect money. Our anxious driver urged us not to take pictures or stare at them. Being rainy season, it would have been too difficult to get to our des- tination from the Myanmar side. Thanks to cooperation between the KNU and the Myanmar and Thai au- thorities, the media group crossed the

bridge over the Thaunggin River and into the Thai town of Mae Sot with- out showing passports. From there we used Thai transportation for the four-hour drive on to Law Khee Lar, a sparsely populated collection of villages. The Nippon Foundation has helped the KNU build small brick homes as a resettlement project for over 50 house- holds out of the thousands who live as refugees in Thailand. No one is living there, however. Eventually a small ferry boat took us to the summit venue back across the shallow and sparkling Thaung-

For 15 minutes the media could take pictures and attend the delegates’ opening remarks and then it was back to the military camp.


gin, bounded by forests and with the lingering smell of scorched earth from cleared land. A few fishermen and gold-panners eked out a living there. Once signed up and registered, the media was promptly warned that hanging around the conference cen- tre waiting for delegates would not be allowed. The obvious distrust had its reasons. At a peace conference in Law Khee Lar a year ago, KNU intelligence staff had caught a reporter taking documents of an ethnic leader with- out permission. And last month two reporters had passed themselves off as ethnic delegates to get into a summit hosted by the United Wa State Army in Pangkham on the border with China. This time, to our shock, a senior KNU official accused half of the me- dia representatives present of being




government spies. So instead of being able to spend time as we did last year chatting at night and getting to know the various ethnic leaders, reporters were segre- gated and kept in a military training school more than 2km away, with se- curity guards on every corner all day and night. Bored-looking, taciturn soldiers with vintage weaponry hung around – some literally, in hammocks. They wore Thai camouflage gear. A few wooden huts became our homes. Electricity was supplied by generators for a total of six hours a day. Occasional internet was available from a Thai provider, and there was one television with Sky Net satellite service. Each morning and evening an

open truck would pick up the 25 re- porters and wind its way up the hill to the conference centre. Bulldozers had recently cleared the trail. For 15 minutes the media could

take pictures and attend the del- egates’ opening remarks and then it was back to the military camp for the rest of the day. In the evenings we were allowed back briefly but by then all the ethnic leaders had left for the night, with just a few press people re- maining. KNU media officials said we should only talk to people responsible for the ceasefire process, and leaving the conference area or our military camp was forbidden. That made fraternis- ing with the locals rather difficult, although we only saw a few, carry- ing loads on their backs, heading to the border. We were also warned that landmines were a danger. After five days, we were waiting for permission to enter the summit when a KNU three-star officer wearing a pis- tol ordered us to line up in front of the

gate for our pictures to be taken “for the information department”. Those refusing would not be allowed to en- ter, he said. KNU secretary Pado Kwel Htoo Win apologised for this treatment af- ter we complained. He explained the lingering distrust from last year’s epi- sode. Fed up with little information and access, some reporters decided to head back to Yangon before the talks were over. Crossing back over the river into Thailand brought a welcome feeling of escape. The conference dragged on beyond schedule. On its eighth day, the lead- ers decided to reject the draft ceasefire accord their negotiators had signed on March 31. Instead, they proposed 15 amendments and set up a new nego- tiating team. Two weeks have passed since then and there is little sign that the govern- ment will even agree to meet the new team. Our return to Law Khee Lar, if ever, might be some time off.


Journalists cross the Thaunggin River on their way to Law Khee Lar. Photo: Wa Lone


News 7

www.mmtimes.com News 7 Views Curtailing civil society in the kingdom CHAK SOPHEAP newsroom@mmtimes.com S EVERAL laws


www.mmtimes.com News 7 Views Curtailing civil society in the kingdom CHAK SOPHEAP newsroom@mmtimes.com S EVERAL laws

Curtailing civil society in the kingdom



S EVERAL laws currently under consideration are threatening to bring about the end of free civil soci- ety in Cambodia. Several

others have recently been passed, radically reforming the judiciary and rules governing electoral campaign- ing in a manner that centralises power in the executive branch and erodes the checks and balances that a healthy democracy requires. The recently passed Law on Election of Members of the Na- tional Assembly also prohibits civil society organisations from making statements or conducting any other activities deemed to be supportive of political parties during election periods, which some fear could be used to stop civil society from asking questions, criticising candidates or seeking to better inform voters. Others are looming – some shelved, some threatening to pass – focusing on cybercrime, trade unions, land use and other issues related to the free exercise of our human rights. The draft law on associations and NGOs (LANGO) is the government’s most recent attempt to push through legislation that has the potential to undermine human rights without genuine and broad public consulta- tions. The last draft of the LANGO was seen in 2011, and was criticised for giving the government overly broad powers to shut down civil soci- ety organisations in a way that many feared was open to abuse. The law lay dormant until May when Prime Minister Hun Sen declared that it would be passed that month. As the government has refused to release the new draft, speculation on its content and potential impact has grown steadily among civil society organisations, donors and the diplomatic commu- nity. However, now the Council of

All in all, the law will seriously undermine the rights to freedom of association and



... undermine civil society’s legitimate role in holding public authorities to account.

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Ministers has reportedly approved a new text, and a leaked version has been widely distributed, a version that confirms many observers’ fears that the law would be worse than the one proposed in 2011. The law in its current form makes no distinction between community- based organisations and other kinds of associations, and includes manda- tory registration requirements for all NGOs and associations working in the country, prohibiting any activity by unregistered groups. These provi- sions would enable the authorities to restrict the legitimate activities of a wide range of organisations, includ- ing local community and grassroots groups and social movements. Equally concerning is the vagueness of some of the language

contained in the text. The government can refuse to reg- ister organisations that “jeopardise peace, stability and public order or harm the national security, national unity, culture, and traditions of the Cambodian national society”, am- biguous terms that are clearly open to broad interpretation and potential political manipulation. Furthermore, the law states that foreign associations and foreign and domestic NGOs must remain “neutral toward all political parties”, and introduces harsh sanctions for failing to comply with the law. All in all, the law will seriously undermine the rights to freedom of association and expression, impair citizens’ constitutional right to par- ticipate actively in the political life of the nation, and undermine civil society’s legitimate role in holding public authorities to account. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition minority leader Sam Rainsy have publicly embraced what they call a politi- cal “culture of dialogue”. But so far, sadly, that dialogue has only taken place between the two of them and their high-level staff, and has not been extended to include the public or civil society. At the same time, a number of local and international organisa- tions have come together to kick off a campaign urging the government to “Stop and Consult” on the LANGO and other critical laws likely to have a negative impact on human rights. As part of these efforts, I joined a delegation of Cambodian civil society members in Washington to call on the US and other governments to urge the government of Cambodia to be more transparent, inclusive and consultative. As I walked the halls of Congress in Washington from one meeting to another, I gained energy from the respect and empathy I found. But each of those steps also highlighted for me what could soon be a fantasy: walking the halls of parliament in my own country to advocate for change. Members of civil society in Cam- bodia must have explicit permission to even set foot in our National Assembly. Although members of the government have said they support the idea of consultations, we have yet to see the proof of it. Instead, as our Stop and Consult campaign gained momentum, an official warned that those who criticise the government, even with something as simple as a tweet, would be punished. Cambodia’s democracy was hard won. After a civil war and a devastat- ing genocide, my country now has a constitution that guarantees our rights. But we need more than words

on paper. A lack of transparency and inclusive dialogue around lawmaking is threatening to close the space for those who work every day to provide services to their fellow citizens and make our country better. This is why we are calling on the government to draft a law to ensure that the legislative process takes into consideration the views of multiple stakeholders including civil society, and most importantly, the public. We’re calling on the international community to stand with us. Now back in Cambodia, I still hold out hope that, when tomorrow comes, citizens like me will still be able to speak and serve our fellow citizens freely. Our future depends on it.

Chak Sopheap is executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

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An activist from the ASEAN Grassroots People’s Assembly demonstrates for human rights, land rights and democracy in front of the Cambodian parliament in Phnom Penh on November 16, 2012. Photo: EPA/Stephen Morrison

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Total addresses rights and security concerns

8 THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 22, 2015 Business INTERVIEW Total addresses rights and security concerns AUNG




CONCERNS over security and hu- man rights have caught up a number of companies in Myanmar, and are particular headaches for the extrac- tive industry. Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR) is com- prised of governments, companies and non-government organisations working to promote principles for extractive companies on security and human rights standards. French petroleum giant Total is one of the corporate participants in VPSHR. It organised Myanmar’s first seminar on the principles in Yangon on June 18. The Myanmar Times’ Aung Shin met with the Total officials after the event to discuss the program.

What message do you want to send with the seminar?

We organised the seminar as part of a global VPSHR policy. It is about security and human rights, both of which are very important. We held the discussions in order to avoid hu- man rights violations. It is important to engage in dialogue with the security forces of Myanmar, police and army, NGOs, oil and gas companies, as well as private security. Total has been in Myanmar for more than 20 years. We are engaging with people in the Kanpauk area [in Tanintharyi Region, the area where Total’s gas pipeline comes ashore]. When you are engaged with people, when you engage with the community, you can improve the life of the people in a peaceful manner.

How do you use VPSHR in your op- erations? I mean, addressing both security and human rights at the same time, when you are smooth- ing out your operations?

[When signing a contract with private security companies], the question of implementation on the ground, mak- ing sure every guard working for the company has proper training, know- ing how to react in the case of vio- lence, intrusion … is quite important because this company is working for us. We are responsible for what they are doing.

We have to make sure these peo- ple are behaving the way they have to behave to respect human rights principles.

What is the progress of Total’s contribution to this policy?

Total is committed to respect the vol- untary principles of Security and Hu- man Rights. We joined the process in 2006, and we have done a lot of imple- mentation, improving every year. We continue to try to enforce im- plementation of these principles, es- pecially in countries that need support from the military, police and private security companies. So it is very important for us that we asset the impact of our opera- tions, especially in the local commu- nity. A part of this is to reduce the

8 THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 22, 2015 Business INTERVIEW Total addresses rights and security concerns AUNG

Total E&P Myanmar general manager Xavier Preel (left) and Hubert de Bremond d’Ars, Total’s VPSHR coordinator, discusses Total’s efforts on security and human rights. Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

level of tension in order to apply se- curity rules for safety purposes in our operations without having to resort to violence.

How important is cooperating with the government in this VP- SHR policy?

The government has a monopoly on force in every country in the world. Mostly the counterpart is the police force. We need to deal with them. We have regular meetings in Kanpauk. But actually, we have nothing to report, even cases of accident we have never had. There is no more fighting in the area, even if it happened in the past.

There have been many cases of human rights violation in the country. According to NGOs, this continues today. What would you say about this?

The seminar we organised this morning is a contribution by Total to the community and to Myanmar people to discuss how to improve these things. We are not the govern- ment of Myanmar. What we are do- ing is to disseminate information. I am very satisfied with what hap- pened this morning. We were dis- cussing in very positive ways that human rights have to be respected. There is no report of human rights abuse in the area in which we are op- erating. We have to be clear on that. People should not be confused about that. And we are not the only oil and gas company in Myanmar.

There were some protests by oil company workers and local peo- ple in the Kanpauk area last year. What would you say on this issue?

Yes there are some labour issues in the area. I don’t want to comment on other companies. But part of our concern is a la- bour issue; that is why I said the

VPSHR seminar is very useful. To my knowledge, there were no hu- man rights abuse cases in those demonstrations, maybe because of

our principles. But we don’t pretend that because what we are doing, like corporate social responsibility ac- tivities, VPSHR principles or what- ever, people would stop having com- plaints on labour issues, with may happen because of community life – employees, of course, have labour

... moting VPSHR policies to respect human rights, to respect each party.


That’s why we are pro-

What kind of tensions are there?

Tensions can be related to land use for example. The pipeline for Total has been in place for more than 20 years. So compensation mechanisms have been put in place, but from time to time, people such as new- comers forget that compensation has been paid … Sometimes we are facing activities of farmers. They want to cross our pipeline, but that becomes a [Health, Safety, Environment] issue. It’s a conse-

quence of all gas pipelines.

Following this seminar, what is the next step to promote VPSHR policy?

It is still too early to say what will be the next step. People who partici- pate in this seminar are willing to do it again. Ideas of training for par - ticular private security companies is something else … We are thinking to contribute to training private secu- rity companies, but it is not decided yet. Let me say there is a possibility. We share our experiences but there is no point that we should be the trainer. Providing good testimo- ny is part of the training.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

MIC approves 123 companies in the current fiscal year



FIFTEEN local and foreign com - panies were granted approval by the Myanmar Investment Com - mission (MIC) in June, taking the total number of companies approved this fiscal year to 123, according to U Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the MIC. “Creating local job opportuni - ties is our main focus this finan - cial year, so MIC has approved more contract manufacturers than companies in other sectors,” said U Aung Naing Oo, adding that investments into other sec - tors have also been approved. The number of contract man - ufacturers granted approval is 35 so far this fiscal year, accounting for 43 percent of total permis - sions granted, according to a statement by the Directorate of Investment and Company Ad - ministration last week. U Aung Min, chair of the contracted manufacturers asso - ciation said, “The capital needed to invest in contract manufac - turing is lower than for manu - facturers. Moreover, they don’t have the headache of distribut - ing their products in the market. Most of the foreign investments in this sector are from Korea and China.” The statement said that a ma - jority of MIC approvals were to companies in the manufactur - ing sector, including agricultural production, livestock produc - tion, wood finishing production, and the production of foodstuff, with 45 approvals granted this fiscal year, which began on 1 April. During the first three months of this financial year 39 local enterprises, 41 joint ventures between a local and a foreign company, 32 foreign investments

and 11 joint ventures between foreign companies and the gov - ernment were permitted to do business. Oil and gas extraction is per - mitted through joint-ventures between the government and in - ternational companies, and all of these joint ventures are formed through a profit sharing agree - ment. Oil and gas has been the most profitable of Myanmar’s ex - port sectors since 2013, accord - ing to an official from the Minis - try of Commerce. Of the investments proposed by local companies, 11 were in the hotel sector, said U Aung Na - ing Oo. “Investment into the ho - tel sector is increasing because it has become an important sector for tourists coming to Myanmar,” he said.



Share of manufacturing businesses approved, out of all approvals so far this year

8 THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 22, 2015 Business INTERVIEW Total addresses rights and security concerns AUNG

From 1988 to May 2015, 657 foreign companies have pledged US$46.2 billion in investments to Myanmar. During that period, 26 per - cent of approved projects were from China, the largest source of approved foreign investment into Myanmar. Thailand and Singapore were second and third at 18pc each,

and Hong Kong in fourth at 12pc.

– Translation by Thiri Min Htun

Life Square to be IT retail hub at HAGL



THE large HAGL Myanmar Cen - tre near Inya Lake will be home to an electronics shopping mall, modelled after famous IT retail - ing hubs such as Tokyo’s Aki - habara district and Thai retailer Power Buy. U Aung Shein, chief executive of Ever Seiko and Living Square companies, said retail space will be called Life Square and is aimed at attracting tech tenants. “We, Living Square company, has decided to start an IT and electronics accessory shopping centre at HAGL, for the first time in Yangon,” he said. The HAGL Myanmar Centre is a large-scale multi-use complex on Kabar Aye Pagoda Road near the Sedona Hotel.

U Aung Shein said the Life Square IT shopping mall will hold 33 electronic stores, in - cluding local and international brands, with a total of 30,000 square feet market for IT and electronics among 50,000 square feet of retail. Daw Aye Aye Thwe, managing director of Living Square, said customers will be able to find the latest products, brands, dem - os and service at the mall, with shops selling computers, appli - ances, televisions, mobile phones and a range of other goods. There will also public spaces, including cafes, as part of the experience. Potential tenants said they were keen on the project. U Yan Naing, an official with electron - ics retailer Infinity Investment, said it is a good idea to bring electronics shops together.

BUSINESS EDITOR: Jeremy Mullins | jeremymullins7@gmail.com


Philippines chooses Vietnam in major rice buying tender


Trade pacts shed jobs to China, US economists find


Exchange Rates (June 22 close)

Currency Buying Selling Euro K1252 K1272 Malaysia Ringitt K297 K309 Singapore Dollar K824 K838 Thai Baht
Malaysia Ringitt
Singapore Dollar
Thai Baht
US Dollar

Rice stocks lower as exporting picks up


RICE dealers are striving to strike the right balance between exporting and managing local prices, amid warn- ings from some businesspeople that too much rice is being exported. U Soe Tun, vice chair of the My - anmar Rice Federation (MRF) says domestic price rises indicate that local stocks may be insufficient. The concerns were expressed at a June 17 meeting of MRF members and rice exporters at the offices of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and In - dustry (UMFCCI). “If exporters ship out most of what they produce, local consumers will be hit as domestic prices rise. For the time being, there is enough rice on the local market, but there is a need to exert control and not export too much. Now local prices are rising even though exports are slackening off,” said U Soe Tun. Since late May, the price of emahta, a local benchmark paddy strain, has risen from K16,000 a bag to K17,500. The export price has remained stable at about US$300 a tonne, but local prices are edging up, say exporters. Exports are there - fore slowing as export profits drift downward. “The October-November mon - soon paddy means there will be plenty available for local consump - tion,” said U Soe Tun, who said the rise in domestic prices was attribut - able to falling stocks and the strong dollar. “Before, we exported 3500 tonnes a day cross-border to China.

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A man loads rice bags onto a lorry from Yangon jetty. Photo: Kaung Htet

Now that prices are higher we are exporting only 2000 tonnes a day,” said MRF vice chair U Aung Than Oo. The Food and Agricultural Or - ganization stated 2014-15 rice production in Mynamar was 28.5 million tonnes, while it estimates this year that production will be 29.2 million tonnes. The country av - erage 29 million tonnes in produc - tion between 2010 and 2014, it said. Official data states Myanmar is

to export about 2 million tonnes this year, on the back of rising de - mand of China, Africa and Europe. Last year’s exports totalled 1.8 mil - lion tonnes last year, itself an in - crease of 40 percent over the previ - ous year, with shipments to China dominating the trade, according to official figures. The FAO meanwhile estimated exports at 760,000 tonnes for the 2014-15 July to June marketing year. Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam


and India are major rice export - ers in the region. Myanmar hoped
29 to attract investment from those countries and from the EU to help revamp its outdated planting and milling technologies, but has thus far achieved little success. Potential investors hesitate to move into Myanmar because of continuing logistical problems such as inadequate electricity supply and poor transport infrastructure,

Myanmar’s average annual rice production between 2010-2014, according to the FAO

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which can make exporting costly.

Europe rice standards still a challenge for millers





MYANMAR has duty-free access to the European Union for nearly all its exports. This has been a particu - lar boon to garments, but has also opened the door to the rice trade. Only Cambodia and Myanmar enjoy this duty free access among regional rice exporters. Although this market access gives local pro - duction a leg up, it is still tough to gain European buyers, as the do - mestic industry has trouble meet - ing its high standards. “For the time being, Myanmar has been exporting broken rice to the Eu- ropean Union,” said Damien Plan, an official with the European Commis- sion’s Agriculture and Rural Devel- opment directorate-general. Europe is assisting Myanmar develop its rice sector. In the future, ideally it will be exporting more fragrant rice, such as jasmine rice, to Europe. “We want quality rice from My - anmar,” said Mr Plan. Rice exports have been growing significantly in recent years, and along with beans and pulses are a major national export. About 70

percent of rice exports go to China, with most of the rest going to Afri - can markets and the Middle East. In May, the EU’s committee for the common organisation of ag - ricultural markets said 144,552 tonnes of rice were shipped from Myanmar to the EU in September to April period in 2014-15, com - pared 79,942 tonnes a year earlier. More exports to Europe will re - quire improvements to domestic in - frastructure. A World Bank report last year highlighted the need for Myanmar to improve the quality

‘Quantity is tough to increase, so we should look at improving quality and exporting to Europe to receive a good price.’

U Ye Min Aung

Myanmar Rice Federation

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of its rice production by expanding and upgrading domestic mills. Exports have been rising rapidly since 2011, particularly due to a rapid increase in Chinese demand. Europe Union also extended its everything- but-arms duty-free access to Myan- mar in 2013, backdating it to 2012. Different statistics exist for rice exports. Myanmar’s statistics show exports will reach 2 million tonnes this fiscal year, though other as - sessments are about half as high. Still, the trend toward increase ex - ports is evident. Myanmar Rice Federation sec - retary general U Ye Min Aung said rice still lacks quality compared with some neighbouring countries. “We need to think about quan - tity and quality to promote exports. But quantity is tough to increase, so we should look at improving qual - ity and exporting Europe to receive a good price,” he said. Experts say that while the aspi - rations exist to improve the quality of exports, there are serious practi - cal challenges. Rice mills urgently need upgrades, quality checks must be improved and greater under - standing of what constitutes inter - national-quality rice is essential.

“If there is market interest, we will

grow fragrant rice and export it to Europe,” said U Myo Aung Kyaw, vice chair of the Myanmar Rice Federation. Figures from the Ministry of

Commerce put rice exports at more than 1.7 million tonnes for the 2014- 15 fiscal year, worth a total of $645 million.

TRADE MARK CAUTION Camus La Grande Marque of 29, rue Marquerite de Navarre, 16100 COGNAC, France,
Camus La Grande Marque of 29, rue Marquerite de Navarre,
16100 COGNAC, France, is the Owner and Sole Proprietor of the
following Trade Mark:
Reg.No.IV/ 10286 /2012
in respect of “Class 33: alcoholic beverages (except beers)”.
Any fraudulent imitation or unauthorized use of the said Trade Mark
or other infringements whatsoever will be dealt with according to law.
Khine Khine U, Advocate
LL.B, D.B.L, LL.M (UK)
For Camus La Grande Marque
#205/5, Thirimingalar Housing, Strand Rd, Yangon.
Dated. June 23, 2015


International Business


BANGKOK Thailand to raise tax on LPG for transport IN PICTURES Photo: EPA Thai workers install
Thailand to raise tax
on LPG for transport
Photo: EPA
Thai workers install a chandelier at a cinema in a shopping
district in Bangkok yesterday. The Bank of Thailand dimmed
the country’s economic growth in 2015 to 3 percent from
3.8pc due to the slow pace of economic recovery as a result
of a lagging exports performance, a failed improvement of
domestic consumption and investments, and the decreasing
number of foreign tourist arrivals.
THAILAND’S Energy Ministry’s
Energy Business Department has
confirmed it will raise the tax on
liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for
the transport sector in the second
half of this year at a rate that will
be fairer to users of other fuels.
The department’s director-gener -
al Witoon Kulcharoenwirat said the
tax on LPG was not likely to have
a major impact on business or the
economy as the new retail price
would still be substantially lower
than other fuels such as diesel or
petrol. It would not add much more
cost to the transport sector either,
he said.
Based on the heat rate and tax
on other petrols, the tax will be
raised by another 2.5 baht per litre
(US$0.07), up from 1.1 baht. This
will push the LPG retail price to 16
baht per litre from 14 baht.
Retail prices of diesel and petrol
range from 26 to 29 baht, so LPG
should remain popular in the trans -
port sector, said Mr Witoon.
Some 900,000 vehicles were reg -
istered as being LPG-compatible at
the end of May, down slightly from
1.2 million units, mainly because of
declining oil prices.
LPG contains an average heat rate
of 25,000 British thermal units (BTU),
slightly below that of petrol and diesel
at 30,000 BTU, he said. “We intend to
arrange fair consumption between gas
and oil on an equal basis. It is not be-
cause we want to drive this business
off the road,” said Mr Witoon.
He said the tax would be phased
in gradually after it is implemented
by the Energy Policy and Planning
The ministry also plans to tax
compressed natural gas (CNG)
for the transport sector as well as
start collecting a levy on the gas,
said Mr Witoon. The retail price of
CNG is capped at around 2 baht per
kilogram below its production cost,
making the retail price 12.5 baht
per kilogram.
Last week the Thai Auto Gas
Business Association (Tagba) called
on the department to delay the LPG
tax as it is concerned the plan would
put vehicle modification companies
out of business. Tagba chair Surasak
Nittiwat said 50 to 60 billion baht
worth of business could evaporate
because of the higher tax.
He said the government should
switch to taxing LPG for petrochem -
ical feedstock to earn more revenue,
rather than the transport sector.
LPG demand in the transport sec -
tor has dropped since the govern -
ment initiated its plan to float LPG
prices in February. LPG imports
were halved to 93,000 tonnes in
May from their monthly average
last year.
– Bangkok Post


JOY CREATORS LLP., a company incorporated in India and having office at No.4, Mysore Road, Kolkata – 700 026, West Bengal, India, is the Owner and Sole Proprietor of the following Trade Mark:-



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Used in respect of “Class 5: Pharmaceutical including Ayurvedic preparations, sanitary preparations, disinfectants, medicated hair oils, lotions, creams and pain relieving preparations”.



Used in respect of “ Class 3: Herbal, organic and other non medicated cosmetics, Soaps; perfumery, essential oils, hair oils, hair lotions, massage oils; dentifrices, talcum powder, creams, lotions, shampoos, sun protection preparations, face wash, hair preparations for personal use, personal hygiene preparations, body gels and toiletries, cosmetic, petroleum jelly of all kinds including lip guard”.

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

Khine Khine U, Advocate LL.B, D.B.L, LL.M (UK) For JOY CREATORS LLP

#205/5, Thirimingalar Housing, Strand Rd., Yangon.

Dated. June 23, 2015


Indian weather systems lead to $23 billion loss

FEW expected India’s science minister to cut the monsoon outlook as he un- veiled a weather forecasting system on June 2. The surprise contributed to a 1.5 trillion rupee (US$23 billion) two- day slump in the nation’s equities. The rupee also slid as Harsh Var- dhan’s prediction of weaker rainfall stoked concern that reduced farm out- put may hurt the economy. The episode is the latest example of growing water risks for investors and companies in India. About half of the country’s 1.26 bil- lion people face potential surface-water supply disruptions, setting the stage for clashes with thirsty industries just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to make his nation a manufacturing power. And India isn’t alone: From Af- rica to the Americas, surging demand is exacerbating a global water deficit as groundwater diminishes. “While India is just one of many markets that’s being impacted by wa- ter issues, it appears to be particularly acute there,” said Ben Caldecott, a pro- gram director at Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. Water risk will be of in- creasing importance for investment decisions, he said. India relies on groundwater as piped supplies can’t meet demand but the World Bank has flagged aquifer overexploitation by farms, businesses and cities. The University of California at Irvine says the Indus basin aquifer of northwestern India and Pakistan is the second-most overstressed in the world. The impact on companies is wide and deep. Coca-Cola last year scrapped a $24 million expansion in Uttar Pradesh state, citing delays in water extraction permits. Farmers there had protested about dwindling supplies. Brewer SABMiller’s local unit has studied the

aquifers it relies on and is trying to manage usage with the local popula- tion. ITC, British American Tobacco’s Indian associate, plans to double its agribusiness watershed management program to cover 1 million acres of farmland by 2018. “If we don’t have a long-term per- spective, our raw material availability is at risk,” said Ashesh Ambasta, a vice president at Kolkata-based ITC. In the energy sector, some Indian coal-fired power plants are in areas of “extremely high” water stress, which can trigger blackouts and affect prof- itability, according to a report by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. The plants need fuel and water to generate electricity. Dipping summer lake levels imperil Maharashtra State Power Generation’s power capacity each year, spokesper- son Mahesh Aphale said. It produces electricity for the western state of Ma- harashtra, home to the financial capital Mumbai. Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemi- cals, a unit of India’s biggest oil explor- er, said it monitors usage daily for most

‘While India is just one of many markets that’s impacted by water issues, it appears to be particularly acute there.’

Ben Caldecott

Oxford University

International Business THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 22, 2015 BANGKOK Thailand to raise tax on LPG for

of the year to avoid a repeat of a plant shutdown in 2012 caused by a lack of water. Investors such as PGGM and Norg- es Bank Investment Management are increasingly asking businesses about water. Norges, manager of Norway’s $900 billion sovereign wealth fund, di- vested from 35 companies in 2013 and 2014 over water risks. For some businesses, scarcity in In- dia is an opportunity in industries such as wastewater recycling. Veolia Environnement, Europe’s biggest water company, is looking to sell more treatment plants to Indian energy and mining businesses. The next largest, Suez Environnement Co, is considering purchases of local opera- tors to expand. Mr Modi has unveiled some steps to avert a crisis. The agenda includes re- viving a 30-year-old plan to link Hima- layan and peninsular rivers to channel supplies to deficient basins. He also wants to curb toxic discharges into the Ganges River. For now, patchy metering, theft and below-cost supplies are stoking over- exploitation in India. A lack of water regulators remains an obstacle too. Water is the biggest challenge to Mr Modi’s drive to scale up manufacturing in India, said Damandeep Singh, the head of the India chapter of London- based researcher CDP. Science Minister Vardhan’s forecast was for June to September rainfall at 88 percent of a 50-year average. He spoke a few hours after India’s central bank said further interest-rate cuts would hinge on the monsoon. The market capitalisation of India’s benchmark S&P BSE Sensex equity in- dex fell 1.5 trillion rupees ($23 billion) to 44.6 trillion rupees by the end of the next trading day.

– Bloomberg


International Business 11


Philippine rice buy skips Cambodia for Vietnam

CAMBODIA has lost a 100,000-tonne Filipino rice bid to Vietnam, on ac - count of higher costs as compared to regional competitors, marking

the fourth time the Kingdom has failed to win a rice tender issued by the Philippines. The Philippines National Food Authority last week awarded the tender to Vietnam Southern Food Corp based on its offer of US$416.85 per tonne, a little higher than the reference price of $408.15 per tonne set during the tender, according to the Philippine Star . Thailand’s offer was marginally higher than Vietnam’s, $417 per tonne, but Cambodia’s final bid of $455.50 per tonne was way above the reserve price. All three countries were asked to revise their initial bids after they were deemed to be too high by the Philippines. Sok Puthyvuth, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), said that despite being costlier than neighbouring countries, $455 a tonne left exporters with little or no profit and was the best price they could offer given the current circumstances. “The problem is our paddy rice is already expensive when collected for milling, and the cost of pro - cessing to export was higher than that in neighboring countries,” Mr Puthyvuth said. CRF committees, he said, are working to bring down processing and transportation costs and hoped to be more competitive during the next bid. “We are looking at short-term solutions, like cutting down ser - vice costs in the value chain, such as port fees, and in the long term to increase efficiency in rice pro - cessing among the millers and rice productivity among the farmers,” he said. High production prices and the poor quality of agro-inputs, such as fertilisers and insecticides, af - fected Cambodia’s competitiveness, said Srey Chanthy, an independent economist. He added that high energy costs and use of outdated technology at processing plants also impacted rice prices. “There is need for a mechanism that supports, facilitates and im - proves the whole value chain of Cambodia’s rice sector,” he said. But as long as Cambodia could make up for these low margins with higher profits from other high val - ue export destinations, Mr Chanthy said, it was worth bidding for fu - ture Filipino tenders. The 100,000 tonne bid comes weeks after 150,000 tonnes was also procured from Vietnam on June 6 for $416.8 per tonne, taking the average cost of the entire 250,000 tonnes to $412.8, according to the Philippine Star . Ken Ratha, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, could not be reached for comment. Last year, Reuters reported that Philippines was moving away from previous targets in rice self-suffi - ciency, though still aims at self-suf - ficiency in the future. Philippines was the world’s eighth-largest rice importer in 2013, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

– The Phnom Penh Post


Thai industrial estates face water shortage

WITH a severe dry spell looming, industrial sectors have requested 20 million cubic metres of additional raw water for thirsty industrial es- tates in eastern Thailand. Lertviroj Kowattana, director- general of the Royal Irrigation De- partment, said investors in the region asked the department to supply more raw water to Eastern Water Resourc- es Development and Management Plc, a SET-listed supplier of raw water and tap water to Thailand’s industrial zones. “They asked me during the prime minister’s recent visit to the Prasae reservoir,” said Mr Lertviroj. The Meteorological Department has warned of a late rainy season and drought conditions in various parts of the country. The late rains have cut raw water storage in major dams, whose average

storage stands at 30 to 35 percent of total capacity. That is still more than the 25pc of capacity in 2013-14, when the country faced a severe drought that forced a reduction in water discharged from major dams to spare it for key crops. It remains unclear whether the



Average storage capacity of water in major Thai dams, compared to normal capacity

International Business PHNOM PENH Philippine rice buy skips Cambodia for Vietnam CAMBODIA has lost a 100,000-tonne

Royal Irrigation Department will re- lease the 20 million cubic metres for industrial zone use, but an increase in storage capacity at Prasae is ongoing. “We have enlarged the spillway of Prasae reservoir already, but I don’t know for sure whether we can allo- cate that huge amount of water for the industrial sectors, as our priority is the agriculture sector,” Mr Lertviroj said. The enlargement will add 240 mil- lion cubic metres of water storage ca- pacity, bringing it to 500 million. “But our priority is the 38,000 rai [60.8 square kilometres] of farmland down there,” Mr Lertviroj said. “At this stage, we have additional water but I can’t tell you right away whether we have that much water to be suffi- cient for all sectors as the rain arrives late.”

The department has cut the

amount of water discharged from major dams to 35 million cubic me- tres from the normal rate of 60 mil- lion, putting pressure on the indus- trial sector. Veerapong Chaiperm, governor of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), said the likeliest ar- eas to be hit by the drought are the Eastern Seaboard industrial zones and central provinces such as Ayut- thaya, Saraburi and Pathum Thani. The IEAT is monitoring the wa- ter situation in the eastern industrial region, aiming to avoid a production disruption that would hurt the overall economy. “We will do everything within our means to prevent a shutdown like the one in 2005,” said Mr Veerapong, adding that the government will seek underground water to supply eastern industrial zones. – Bangkok Post

SINGAPORE A Singaporean customer noses out the best durian. Photo: EPA
A Singaporean customer
noses out the best durian.
Photo: EPA

Stinky fruit tastes sweeter as ringgit tumbles against SGD

SALES have doubled at Uncle Lim’s durian farm as Singaporeans flood over the border into Malaysia to buy the spiky, stinky fruit, lured by the cheapest exchange rates since the countries separated 50 years ago. The Malaysian ringgit’s weakness means they can now buy at least two top-grade durians there for the price of one in Singapore. The Southeast Asian native fruit – known for its sweet, custardy flesh and banned from the city-state’s subways and ho- tels because of its pungent odor – can retail for more than S$40 (US$30) apiece in Singapore. “I receive a call every 10 minutes right now, on top of Facebook and WhatsApp messages,” said Wesley Loo, who organises bus tours to his father-in-law’s orchard in the south- ern Malaysian state of Johor. “One of the reasons is the weaker ringgit.” Singapore’s dollar rose to a record 2.80 ringgit on June 18, up more than 5 percent this year, and currency for- wards project it will strengthen to 2.84 in 12 months. More than three decades ago, the currencies were close to parity, according to data compiled by Bloomberg that goes back to 1981. While Singapore’s currency has

been supported by central bank expectations of a pickup in infla- tion, plunging crude oil prices have dragged the ringgit to a nine-year low against the US dollar. The ringgit is Asia’s worst-per- forming currency in the past month, tumbling more than 3pc against the greenback. It sank last week to within 0.7pc of the 3.80 level where it was pegged from the Asian finan- cial crisis in 1998 until 2005. Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Macquar- ie Bank Ltd say it is just a matter of time before that threshold is tested. Malaysia’s foreign-exchange re- serves remain near a four- year low reached in March, limiting the cen- tral bank’s capacity to defend the currency. Fitch Ratings warned in March there is a risk of a sovereign downgrade for the country. The biggest winners as the ringgit slides may well be those who reside in Malaysia and commute to the city state to earn Singapore dollars. Nazzi Beck lives in Johor but works in Singapore as the acting head of Islamic global banking at Malayan Banking, Malaysia’s biggest lender. He is considering investing in more properties in Kuala Lumpur or Pen- ang, adding to the two apartments in

Johor he already owns. “With the ringgit’s depreciation, the obligation will get a lot less,” said Mr Beck, who takes as long as two hours to drive to Maybank’s offices in Singapore’s central business district from Johor. “I would first probably take advantage of the weaker ringgit to pay down my mortgage.” If forecasts prove correct, he will get that opportunity. Nizam Idris, head of currency and fixed-income strategy at Macquarie in Singapore, said the ringgit may slump further toward 4 per US dollar. “The profile is for the ringgit to perform worse than the Sing dollar,” said Claudio Piron, co-head of Asia foreign-exchange and rates strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Singapore. “Malaysia certainly has a greater level of vulnerability and they have less ammunition in their FX reserves.” Singapore’s dollar has strength- ened 4pc against the greenback in the past three months. Traders may be betting the island state will maintain its monetary policy stance, which calls for a gradual apprecia- tion in its exchange rate against an unspecified basket of its trading partners. The Monetary Authority

of Singapore sought to slow that ap- preciation in January before leaving policy unchanged in April. The divergence between the two currencies’ fortunes has sent Singa- poreans in droves across the border to stock up on groceries and visit for cheaper seafood dinners. During rush hour, the 0.7-mile (1.1-kilome- tre) causeway linking the countries can take more than two hours to cross. Aton Shafii, a healthcare practi- tioner in Singapore, set off to Malay- sia at 6:30am two weeks ago, armed with a shopping list that included a month’s supply of detergent and milk. She bought 16 pieces of tempe, a food item made from fermented soybeans and eaten mainly with rice, for just 4 ringgit ($1.08), less than a quarter of the price in Singapore. Ms Aton exchanged more of her Singapore dollars for ringgit this week before a planned return to Johor to buy flour, sugar and other necessities in preparation for the Muslim Eid-al- Fitr celebration in July that concludes the Ramadan month of fasting.

“With the weaker ringgit, you can get a lot more,” she said. “Even if you get stuck in traffic, it’s all worth it.”

– Bloomberg


International Business



Greece goes to war with own central bank

Greece has vastly different views for the future direction of its finances from its creditors. The country was in the midst of crisis negotiations

yesterday in a last-ditch attempt to avoid default, but it is also taking aim at domestic critics such as its own lender of

THE Greek government sees a lot of enemies in its campaign to reach an eleventh-hour deal on the country’s finances – including its own central bank. On the night of June 18 in Lux - embourg, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis launched a broadside against the Bank of Greece, accus - ing it of encouraging liquidity fears in an “astonishing” fashion. Ear - lier this week, the parliamentary speaker refused to accept the cen - tral bank’s annual monetary policy report, which urged a deal with creditors, instead releasing a docu - ment arguing that “odious” debts shouldn’t be repaid. The clash between the rul - ing Syriza party and the Bank of Greece shows the extent to which the Mediterranean country’s debt crisis risks undermining the basic functioning of its governing insti - tutions. It’s also left Prime Minis - ter Alexis Tsipras fighting on yet another front to fulfill pledges to keep his country in the euro region without further rounds of austerity. “This highlights the desperation of what’s happening,” said Dario Perkins, the chief European econo - mist at Lombard Street Research in London. The governor of the Bank of Greece, Yannis Stournaras, is a member of the political establish - ment that ruled before left- wing Syriza’s landslide election win this year. A former finance minister un - der ex-prime minister Antonis Sa - maras, Stournaras was appointed to the job about a year ago. He had a record of winning the confidence of creditors; while in government, Mr Stournaras presided over Greece’s return to the debt markets with a 3 billion euro (US$3.4 billion) bond sale that was oversubscribed, its

first in four years. The central bank report this week warned of catastrophic conse - quences for Greece’s economy, em - ployment and banking system if no deal is reached. It also said that a Greek default would probably lead to an eventual exit from the Euro - pean Union entirely, not just the currency bloc. Such opinions have not always endeared Mr Stournaras to the Syriza rank and file. The parlia - mentary speaker who rejected Mr Stournaras’ report, Zoi Konstanto - poulou, set up a “Debt Truth Com - mittee” to provide alternative views on Greece’s predicament. She re - fused to accept the memory stick the bank’s report was delivered on, citing a requirement that the docu - ment to be submitted in hard copy to parliament. In Luxembourg on June 18, Mr Varoufakis said the lender was “the only central bank I know personal - ly that, even before there were any serious problems, issued a state - ment that there was a prospect of a liquidity shortage”. Instead, he said, “central banks have a duty to do precisely the opposite – douse any concerns about liquidity, then pro - vide liquidity when it is lacking.” Mr Tsipras’s government on June 18 said there was an effort un - der way to spur capital flight, un - dermine the financial system and strengthen the creditors’ position. No conspirator was identified. “Greece won’t be blackmailed,” the government said in a “non- paper”, which are documents typi - cally designed to spur discussion and aren’t a formal government declaration. The feud risks putting Greece in a small club of governments that have gone head-to-head with their

last resort
last resort

An anti-austerity protester holds a Greek flag in front of the parliament during a demo against austerity policies yesterday.

Photo: AFP

central bankers. This year Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, implied the central bank was under foreign influence because it wasn’t lower - ing interest rates at the speed he would prefer to boost the economy. In Argentina in 2010, the central bank governor left after refusing to back a government plan to use reserves to pay off debt that was coming due. Other monetary policymakers have had their independence tested

too. Iceland’s central bank Gover - nor David Oddsson was eventually removed by an act of parliament af - ter refusing a government request to resign. Greece on June 19 tried to show it’s patching up relations with Mr Stour- naras. The government and the cen- tral bank issued a joint statement to publicise a June 19 meeting between him and Euclid Tsakalotos, the deputy foreign minister, that occurred in a “good climate”. Mr Stournaras, the statement said, was confident that

“the stability of the Greek financial system is fully secured”. The Greek government is not taking steps to remove Mr Stour - naras from his position, Minister of State for Government Coordination Alekos Flabouraris said in an inter - view on June 19. “It’s not the government’s prior - ity to pick a fight,” Mr Flabouraris said. “But his behaviour was uncalled for and this is noted by the Greek government.” – Bloomberg


US study reverses assumptions on China job losses

A GENERATION of economists trained to believe that trade had little to do with the long decline in high- paying US factory jobs is changing its mind. Their findings are likely to fuel the opposition within President Barack Obama’s own Democratic Party to his proposed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Part- nership and similar pacts lowering barriers to international commerce. Because manufacturing employ- ment as a share of the workforce has been dropping for more than 40 years and the same trend has affected other developed nations, including Japan, with far less liberal trade policies than the United States, many economists had concluded that automation was the primary culprit. But studies examining the impact of China’s entry to the World Trade Organization in late 2001 have made the case that between 1 million and more than 2 million of the 5 million American factory jobs lost since 2000 are traceable to low-cost imports. “The ‘aha’ moment,” said Mas- sachusetts Institute of Technology economist David Autor, “was when we traced through the industries in which China had surging exports to the lo- cal addresses of their US competitors and saw the powerful correspondence between where China had surged and where US manufacturing employment had collapsed.” Democrats last week blocked fast- track trade-negotiating authority for Mr Obama, though House Republicans

on June 18 passed alternative legisla- tion to try to revive it. Democrats and their allies in or- ganised labour argue that trade deals kill jobs supporting a strong blue- collar middle class without providing offsetting benefits. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said such agreements have “cost millions of jobs”. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said trade accords have “let subsidised manufacturers around the globe sell here in America while good American jobs get shipped overseas”. Democratic presidential front-run- ner Hillary Clinton echoed some of these concerns at a campaign stop in Iowa on June 21 without directly op- posing trade legislation, saying “there should be no deal” unless terms are improved. Their Exhibit A has been the North American Free Trade Agreement, which they say caused the exodus of hundreds of thousands of US factory jobs to Mexico. But government sta- tistics show that US manufacturing employment actually rose during the five years after NAFTA took effect in 1994, temporarily reversing the long- term decline. An April 16 study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that NAFTA “did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics”. China is another matter. In an April paper, economists Jus- tin Pierce of the Federal Reserve and Peter Schott of Yale University found that the biggest US manufacturing

employment declines and largest surges in imports were in products for which China permanently locked in the greatest reductions in tariffs as part of its entry to the WTO. Indus- tries such as apparel, leather goods, plastic plumbing fixtures and surgi- cal and medical equipment sustained substantial hits, they concluded. “Something big happens” around the time China entered the WTO, Mr Schott said. “In fact, in the industries that were more affected, that’s where you see the job loss occurring. “That’s the smoking gun for the link with the policy,” he said. Mr Autor and two co-authors wrote a 2013 paper estimating that between 2000 and 2007 the US lost 982,000 manufacturing jobs because of Chi- nese import competition. Mr Autor and his colleagues said imports from China and other coun- tries caused one-quarter of all US manufacturing job losses during the period. He said in an interview that the estimate was conservative and that trade might be responsible for half the impact. Despite his findings, Mr Autor sup- ports the Pacific-rim trade deal. He co- wrote an op-ed column in The Wash- ington Post saying that the lost factory jobs are not coming back and that the deal would help the US in areas such as intellectual property, where it en- joys a competitive advantage. The col- umn said the agreement would also put pressure on China to stop gaming the global trade system.

Before the recent studies, most economists had concluded that some- thing besides trade must be at work in the job losses. They settled on the growing role of automation. They argued that what is happening in manufacturing in the US and other developed nations is similar to what occurred in agriculture, where indus- trial techniques allowed farmers to produce much more with a fraction of the workers. Federal Reserve data back up the critical role of automation in long- run trends: Output per factory worker more than quadrupled from 1970 to

‘The “aha” moment was when we ... saw the powerful correspondence between where China had surged and where US manufacturing employment had collapsed.’

David Autor


International Business THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 22, 2015 ATHENS Greece goes to war with own central

2010, a phenomenon driven by every- thing from the replacement of people with machines to making work pro- cesses more efficient. As recently as 1980, one in five American workers was employed in manufacturing; the number today is one in 12. Mainstream economists ac- knowledge that trade has taken a toll on US factory jobs. But they are scep- tical about the dimensions of the new generation’s estimates of its size, as well as its claim of an abrupt change with China’s WTO entry. They do not think the new gen- eration gives sufficient weight to the benefits of trade in helping a country make efficiency-improving economic changes and being able to obtain less- expensive products. “Trade explains about a fifth of the manufacturing job loss since 2000,” said Robert Lawrence, a Harvard economist and a veteran of the aca- demic and Washington trade debate. “The rest,” Mr Lawrence said, “is the result of slow growth in consumer spending on manufactured goods and productivity gains” from automation, citing the traditional explanation for what is causing the decline in US fac- tory employment. Economists generally defend trade as a way for countries to reallocate their workforces to better and higher uses, a long-term process. And they say that consumers, particularly middle- and lower-income households, benefit immediately from the availability of

cheaper imported goods. – Bloomberg





WORLD EDITOR: Kayleigh Long

EU renews sanctions against Russia over Ukraine concerns


14 THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 23, 2015 15 World WORLD EDITOR: Kayleigh Long EU renews sanctions

Death toll from Pakistan heatwave nears 200



Bridge eases drug trafficking routes

WHILE the opening of the first My- anmar-Laos Friendship Bridge last month may bring long-awaited eco- nomic benefits, it has also raised con- cerns over the risk of increased drug trafficking along the route. The bridge linking Tachilek in My- anmar’s Shan State to Luang Nam- tha district in Laos is also known as part of Route R3B, which connects Thailand, Myanmar and China. The route links to the R3A Highway, which runs through Thailand, Laos and Xi- -shuangbanna in southern China. The Friendship Bridge abets traf- ficking networks, particularly in the northern areas of Shan State where drugs are produced by several ethnic minority groups, said Police Colonel Myint Thein, deputy secretary-general of the Myanmar Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control. Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Chi- na have devised more stringent meas- ures to battle the illicit trade – partic- ularly precursors in drug production – under the Safe Mekong Joint Opera- tion, a project carried out by the four governments to crack down on nar- cotics production and distribution in the upper Mekong region and Golden Triangle. Raids are being launched in areas near the bridge as part of the second phase of the project. Presidents Thein Sein of Myanmar Choummaly Sayasone of Laos official- ly opened the bridge on May 2. Representatives from the four countries met last week to review pro-

gress on the operation at the Myan- mar-Laos Friendship Bridge. They in- cluded Pol Col Myint and Permphong Chavalit, secretary-general of the Of- fice of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB). A local law enforcement officer, who declined to be named, said caf- feine – a precursor to methampheta- mine – has been smuggled across the bridge several times since its opening. A total of 21 tonnes of caffeine pills – which would have produced 500-600 million speed pills – was confiscated. Mr Permphong said the R3B and the R3A Highways are popular routes for drug dealers. “The crackdown has focused on suppressing drug precursors delivered overland and via the Mekong River. The raid will also include tracking down several drug kingpins who are now hiding in neighbouring coun- tries,” Mr Permphong said. “Myanmar authorities also set up many checkpoints as they are on the look-out for illegal drugs,” he said. Mr Permphong added that since Myan- mar authorities use outdated technol- ogy, they can sometimes fail to detect illegal substances. “Thai authorities will supply them with the necessary equipment,” he said. Roughly 20 million baht is ear- marked by Thai authorities for the inter-border crackdown operation conducted by the ONCB, which will last until September, according to Mr Permphong. Justice ministers in Myanmar,

Thailand, Laos and China have also decided to expand the target areas for drug suppression activities in their own countries this year. For example, areas along the northern border of Thailand will have heightened surveillance while Chinese authorities will tighten measures in Yunnan. Laos will also expand its drug suppression drive over Bo Kaew and Luang Namtha districts. Mr Permphong also voiced con- cern over the deteriorating situation of drug trafficking in Thailand, with a recent increase in the amount of smuggling. The border passes in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai are the main transit points, as these two provinces are situ- ated close to production and traffick- ing areas of Myanmar, he said. Drugs also slip into Thailand through the Myanmar-Thai border in Kanchanaburi’s Sangkhla Buri dis- trict in the west. ‘’We will implement stronger measure intercept the drugs,’’ said Mr Permphong. The Myanmar government is also targeting drug labs and trafficking bases, though the remote and moun- tainous geography of the northern states makes this a challenging task, said Police Lieutenant Than Shew, su- pervisor of the Anti-Narcotics Units. Several narcotics production bases are located deep in the forests with no road access. Those areas are also heavily guard- ed by armed men, Pol Lt Than Shew said. – Bangkok Post




lodged on NGO law

MORE than a dozen international ad- vocacy groups wrote to Cambodia’s National Assembly President Heng Samrin asking him to withdraw a con- troversial draft law on NGOs and asso- ciations. The group said the draft “appears designed to restrict the legitimate ac- tivities of civil society in violation of the right to freedom of association”. “Drafted in a closed and flawed pro- cess, there has been no consultation and no opportunity to comment on an official draft of the law, despite repeat- ed requests by civil society groups,” the letter reads. Signatories to the letter included Amnesty International, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, the Internation- al Commission of Jurists, and Oxfam. The groups highlight seven ele- ments of the draft legislation – expect- ed to pass in coming weeks – that they argue would “severely undermine the crucial role that civil society plays”. Issues raised over provisions, which require NGOs and associations to reg- ister within “onerous” restrictions, and places “arbitrary” constraints on mem- bers should be scrapped, they argue. Chheang Vun, National Assembly spokesperson, declined to comment. “If the [law] is passed, the gov- ernment will be violating the right to freedom of association … and the right to participate actively in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation,” the letter reads. – The Phnom Penh Post

South China Sea exercises ramp up

THE Philippines yesterday began sepa- rate but simultaneous naval exercises with the United States and Japan, amid shared and growing concern at Chi- nese island-building in the disputed South China Sea. Manila has been holding the naval drills with its longtime ally Washington since 1995. But the exercise with Tokyo, a World War II foe, is only its second ever after one earlier this year. This week’s Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) drill with Washington will include a P-3 Ori- on aircraft, of the type used by the US to monitor the South China Sea. China claims almost the entire Sea despite competing claims from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, and has been taking strong action including reclamation to assert sovereignty. “CARAT remains a practical way to address shared maritime security pri- orities, enhance our capabilities, and improve inter-operability between our forces,” the US exercise commander, Rear Admiral William Merz, said at the opening ceremony in Puerto Princesa city on the southwestern Philippine is- land of Palawan. Rear Admiral Leopoldo Alano, commander of the Philippine fleet, described the drill as a great opportu- nity “to gain valuable experience and increase our inter-operability”. The drills will also feature for the first time the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth, and involve the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard. While it does not take sides in the dispute, the US has in recent weeks

intensified its criticism of China’s rec- lamation work, which has created new islands including airstrips on reefs and shoals also claimed by its neighbours. The US says the activities could pose a threat to freedom of navigation. China said last week its land recla- mation in the disputed Spratly islands would finish soon. The Philippines has asked a UN tri- bunal to reject China’s claims to most of the sea, a move angrily rejected by Beijing which says the world body has no authority in the matter. This week’s naval exercise will be held both on Palawan, the closest land mass to the disputed reefs and waters, and in the Sulu Sea to the east. The Filipino forces in the drills, in- cluding the US-acquired frigates BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Gregorio del Pilar, also patrol the South China Sea. The exercise will focus on combined maritime operations, mobile dive and salvage training, coastal riverine opera- tions, and maritime patrol and recon- naissance along with seminars ashore, the US Navy said. Japan, which has its own maritime dispute with China in the East China Sea, has also expressed concern at Bei- jing’s reclamation further south. Yesterday began three days of drills with the Philippine navy involving a Japanese P-3C patrol aircraft. The drills, which will also include a Philippine Navy aircraft, will focus on joint search and rescue operations on the high seas, the Philippine navy said. They will take place in international airspace and outside Philippine territo- rial waters, it said in a statement. – AFP


14 THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 23, 2015 15 World WORLD EDITOR: Kayleigh Long EU renews sanctions

A Malaysian Muslim man sits amid coffins in a pit during the re-burial of remains believed to be those of ethnic Rohingya found at human-trafficking camps in the country’s north, at Kampung Tualang some 16 kilometres east of Alor Setar yesterday. Malaysian authorities held a mass funeral for the 21 whose bodies were found in human-trafficking graves last month. Photo: AFP

Mass funeral held as trafficking victims re-buried in Malaysia

MALAYSIAN authorities yesterday held a mass funeral for 21 bodies found in human-trafficking graves last month, with fellow Muslims praying for the unidentified vic- tims who are believed to be Ro- hingya, to find a place in heaven. The remains were what police said were the first of 106 exhumed so far from pits at trafficking camps found in late May in jun- gles in northern Malaysia along the Thai border, a discovery that laid bare the brutal extent of the region’s migrant crisis. About 100 local villagers offered quiet Muslim prayers as 21 wooden coffins – containing 19 men and two women – were lowered into deep graves cleared by earth-mov- ers at an Islamic graveyard in the northern state of Kedah. The discovery of camps and graves on both sides of the Thai- Malaysian border and a flood of thousands of starving boat people to Southeast Asian shores in May has highlighted the plight of the Rohingya. A Muslim minority from Myan- mar, they have for years sought to escape what they say is worsening

persecution by the country’s Bud- dhist majority. Fleeing abroad by the thou- sands each year, they typically put their lives in the hands of often brutal smugglers and traffickers who arrange a perilous passage by sea and land, usually destined for Muslim-majority Malaysia. “These are innocent Muslims, like brothers and sisters to us. We are really sad that they had to un- dergo misery and pain. I am sure they will take their rightful place in the heavens above,” said Mo- hamad Yusuf Ali, 57, a local carpen- ter of Rohingya origin. Despite not knowing the unidentified victims, scores of Ma- laysians and Rohingya turned out for the ceremony in the sleepy vil- lage of Kampung Tualang despite fasting for the month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, the faithful avoid consuming food or liquid during daylight hours, offer more prayers, and reflect on what it means to be Muslim. “I hope Allah will punish the criminals who were responsible for their deaths. The Rohingya people did not do anything wrong.

They were only looking for a better life,” Mr Mohamad Yusuf said. A Malaysian police officer, speaking on condition of anonym- ity, said the remains of 106 people had been exhumed so far and that authorities were still conducting post-mortems on the majority of them. Police had earlier said 139 grave sites were found at more than two

‘These are innocent Muslims, like brothers and sisters to us. We are really sad that they had to undergo misery and pain.’

Mohammed Yusuf Ali


14 THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 23, 2015 15 World WORLD EDITOR: Kayleigh Long EU renews sanctions

dozen abandoned jungle camps in the Malaysian state of Perlis. They are yet to offer a final tally of dead, or announce the suspected causes of death. A government minister said last month that 12 Malaysian police of- ficers were being investigated for possible involvement in the camps, but authorities have since released no new information on their inves- tigations. Earlier in May, Thai police said seven camps were found on their side, and 33 bodies have been discovered. Fifty-one people have been arrested, including a senior army general, and more are being sought. Rights groups – which have long accused Malaysian authori- ties of tolerating abusive and dead- ly human-trafficking – and the US government have called for a full and transparent investigation. Mohamad Noor Abu Bakar, 48, a Rohingya Muslim resident of Malaysia, told AFP, “The [traf- fickers] will never have a place in heaven. All for money, they are prepared to beat and kill a human

being,” – AFP


Hajjis on radar of Thai MERS response

THE Public Health Ministry and air- port authorities have stepped up pre- ventative measures to stop the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) when more than 10,000 Thai Muslim pilgrims travel to Saudi Ara- bia for the hajj in September. The country’s first confirmed case of MERS, a 75-year-old man from Oman, raised concerns over the pos- sible infection of people going to and from Saudi Arabia. According to the Department of Religious Affairs, 10,400 people from Thailand are likely to attend the Mus- lim pilgrimage, which will take place in late September. Visitors will begin leaving for Riyadh in August, and re- turn as late as October. Surachet Satitramai, the Public Health Ministry’s acting permanent secretary, said Muslims will not be stopped from attending the hajj. However, when people return they will be monitored for 14 days to a month to make sure they are safe from infection, Dr Surachet said. If anyone develops a fever or flu- like symptoms, they will be placed in isolation and observed at a hospital. The Public Health Ministry will ask tour companies to submit the names of those who are travelling to Saudi Arabia and they will be required to attend a class about communicable diseases in the Middle East and pre- vention practices. As usual, people who make the pil- grimage to Mecca will have to take flu and yellow fever vaccines. Doctors ap- proved by the Public Health Ministry will accompany pilgrims to Medina and Mecca, centres for the annual hajj. “For three years, we have imple- mented such measures with the hajj. We will intensify it this year against the Mers epidemic,” said Dr Surachet. Religious Affairs Department offic- ers in the southern border provinces insist that no Muslims have cancelled

their planned trip so far. About 300 Thais will be the first to leave on a charter flight Aug 16, said Wae-yuso Sama-ali, head of the de- partment’s public relations team. Oth- ers will follow until mid-September. The hajj will begin about Sept 20. Health checks are a routine part of the pre-hajj preparations for Thai pilgrims, but measures will be aug- mented in September for this year’s pilgrims, because of the threat of Mers, which originated in Saudi Ara- bia. Thailand is allotted 10,000 visas for Muslims to travel to Mecca for the hajj, a duty for all Muslims at least once in their lives. He said travellers are confident in Saudi Arabia’s measures for screening for infectious diseases. According to the Foreign Ministry, Saudi Arabia has stepped up its meas- ures to prevent people catching Mers and other communicable diseases. Thailand has improved its screen- ing measures at three border check- points with Malaysia and added another thermal scanner at Suvarnab- humi airport. Public Health Minister Rajata Ra- jatanavin, who inspected Suvarnabhu- mi airport on June 21, said 37 airlines operate flights between Bangkok, the Middle East and South Korea. The ministry has handed out guidelines to airlines and airports on how best to deal with suspicious cases on flights and at airports. Thermal scanners have been set up at arrival gates for people from risk countries and at immigration. The Immigration Bureau also has set up a special section in a different part of the airport to process people from risk countries. Meanwhile, health officials are searching for 82 people, deemed to be at a low-risk of infection, who came into contact with the man from Oman infected with MERS.

Deputy permanent secretary for public health, Wachira Pengchan, said that 94 people who came into con- tact with the man are currently being monitored. On June 18, the man was moved from Bumrungrad Hospital to an infectious diseases facility in Non- thaburi. Three relatives of the man, also being kept in isolation rooms at the institute, had tested negative for the virus, said Dr Surachet. “The condition of the MERS pa- tient is better overall,” he said. “The chest X-rays show improvement and he can eat soft food.” Authorities said it took nearly four days to confirm the illness. Songpol Chawalpipat, director of Ratchaburi Hospital, dismissed a re- port on social media that some staff at the hospital had contracted MERS, saying the hospital had isolated a woman after she returned from South Korea but she was later discharged af- ter a lab test showed no signs of virus. Meanwhile, Department of Em- ployment chief Sumet Mahosot said the department won’t stop Thai work- ers looking for work in South Korea, where the virus has also been found. Around 1000 Thai workers travel to work in South Korea each month. However, he did express concern for about 54,000 illegal Thai workers in South Korea who don’t have access to adequate healthcare. South Korea reported one more fatality from MERS on June 21, rais- ing the death toll to 25. The Ministry of Health and Welfare in South Korea confirmed three new patients have been infected. The number of people in quaran- tine has dropped from 5197 to 4035, while 43 people who had the virus have now been discharged from hos- pital, up from 36.

Bangkok Post


Rejected appeal brings French drug convict closer to firing squad

A JAKARTA court on June 21 rejected an appeal by a French drug convict on death row, raising the prospect that another foreigner could soon face the firing squad in Indonesia. Serge Atlaoui, 51, was due to be put to death with seven other foreign drug offenders two months ago but won a temporary reprieve after Paris stepped up pressure, with authorities agreeing to let an appeal run its course. The execution in April of two Aus- tralians, a Brazilian and four Nigerians sparked global anger. But President Joko Widodo insists convicted traffick- ers must be harshly punished, saying Indonesia is facing a crisis due to rising drug use. On June 21 the State Administrative Court in Jakarta dismissed Mr Atlaoui’s latest appeal, in which his lawyers had argued the president rejected the con- vict’s plea for clemency without proper consideration. The court upheld an earlier decision that it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the challenge to the clemency plea, which is typically a death row convict’s final chance. “We reject the challenge by the challenger,” presiding judge Ujang

Abdullah told the court. “We uphold the decision made by the head of the administrative court on April 9.” The administrative court had al- ready decided that it did not have the jurisdiction to hear Mr Atlaoui’s appeal because granting clemency is the pre- rogative of the president, but his law- yers challenged that decision. It was not clear when the French- man might face the firing squad. The legal team of the welder, who was arrested in 2005 in a secret drugs factory outside Jakarta, indicated pre- viously they may explore other legal av- enues if the latest appeal was rejected, which could potentially slow down the process. The failure of his latest legal bid came after Indonesia’s Supreme Court in April rejected another appeal – a request by Mr Atlaoui’s legal team for a judicial review of his death sentence. Several months ago, Mr Widodo rejected pleas for clemency from Mr Atlaoui and other foreigners, many of which had been pending for years. He is among several foreigners who have sought to appeal against their death sentences since this rejection, but none has so far succeeded.

Authorities accuse Mr Atlaoui of be- ing a “chemist” at the drugs lab where he was arrested. But the Frenchman has maintained his innocence, claim- ing that he was installing machinery in what he thought was an acrylics plant. He was initially sentenced to life in prison but the Supreme Court in- creased the sentence to death on appeal. France has mounted a diplomatic campaign to save him, warning Jakarta of unspecified consequences if he is put to death and saying there was a “seri- ous dysfunction” in Indonesia’s legal system that led to Mr Atlaoui being sentenced to death. Indonesia pushed ahead with the executions despite global condemna- tion led by UN chief Ban Ki-moon. The executions of Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in particular caused ten- sions, with Indonesia’s neighbour Aus- tralia temporarily recalling its ambas- sador from Jakarta. Indonesia has some of the tough- est anti-drugs laws in the world. The country resumed executions in 2013 after a hiatus of several years. – AFP


World 17


EU renews sanctions

EUROPEAN Union foreign ministers formally agreed yesterday to prolong to January 2016 damaging economic sanctions against Russia to ensure it fully implements Ukraine peace ac- cords, officials said. “EU has extended economic sanc- tions against Russia until 31 January 2016, with a view to complete imple- mentation of [the] Minsk agreement,” an EU spokeswoman said in a tweet- ed message. The 28-nation bloc initially im- posed travel bans and asset freezes against Russian and Ukrainian fig- ures for their part in the crisis but then reacted sharply after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in July 2014 over territory held by pro-Moscow rebels. Brussels hit Russia’s banking, oil and defence sectors hard and, along with the United States, has warned more sanctions could follow unless Moscow lives up to its Minsk com- mitments in February to withdraw support for the rebels and use its in- fluence with them to implement the accord. In March, EU leaders agreed in principle to roll the sanctions over by linking them directly to the ceasefire brokered by France and Germany in Minsk that runs to December this year. The ceasefire has largely held since then but Kiev and the rebels swap charges daily over breaches and observers reported a sharp pick-up in fighting earlier this month in a con- flict which has claimed more than 6400 lives and destroyed much of

www.mmtimes.com World 17 BRUSSELS EU renews sanctions EUROPEAN Union foreign ministers formally agreed yesterday to prolong

A pro-Russian separatist looks on as young boys learn to use a Kalashnikov machine gun during a training session in Donetsk region on June 17, as the conflict with Ukrainian forces continues. Photo: AFP

eastern Ukraine. The foreign ministers of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia are due to meet in Paris today to review the situation. Separately, the EU announced on June 19 it had prolonged until June 2016 sanctions imposed to punish Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The European Council, which groups the bloc’s political leaders, said they continued to “condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Fed - eration and remains committed to fully implement its non-recognition policy.” Russia annexed Crimea in March

2014 following the ouster of pro-Mos- cow president Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev, saying the peninsula had voted overwhelming in favour of returning to its Russian homeland. The Crimea sanctions include bans on cruise ships using ports there and restrictions on ex- ports of telecommunications and transport equipment, in addition to visa bans and asset freezes against figures said to have helped the Russian annexation. The Ukraine crisis has plunged EU and US ties with Russia into the deep freeze, with some of the exchanges reminiscent of Cold War tensions. – AFP


Ukraine conflict intractable: Russia

THE secretary of Russia’s security council said yesterday it is impos- sible to stop Russians from going to fight in Ukraine because they are guided by “emotions”.

Nikolai Patrushev, the hawkish former chief of the federal security service (FSB) who currently sits at the helm of President Vladimir Putin’s group of security advisors, said the conflict is fuelled by US attempts to wipe out Russia. “We don’t call on people to go and we don’t reward them. But re- ally, it is impossible to prevent it,” he said, once people hear about the “atrocities” happening across the border. “Emotions go into play. Peo- ple head over there and fight,” Mr Patrushev said in a wide-ranging interview to Kommersant newspa- per published yesterday. The 15-month-long conflict in Ukraine has claimed the lives of nearly 6500 people and driven more than 1 million from their homes. Ukraine and the West say Rus- sia sends regular troops into east- ern Ukraine to boost separatist forces in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, but Moscow flatly denies such accusations. Deployments of volunteers from Russia are no secret and various organisations have openly held collection drives for military

gear in Moscow and elsewhere. Mr Putin portrays the crisis in Ukraine as the product of regime change instigated and funded by the United States, but Mr Patrush- ev said in the interview that Amer- ica’s real goal is to destroy Russia. “They don’t care what will hap- pen in Ukraine, they just need to exert pressure on Russia, so that is what the United States is doing,” he said. “They would want very much that Russia would not exist. As a country,” he said. “We have great resource wealth. And Americans believe we have them illegally or undeserv- edly,” he said, adding that the US completely overpowers the Eu- ropean Union regarding Russia policy. EU sanctions were only im- posed due to “US influence”, he said, adding even that Europe secretly recognises the annexa- tion by Moscow of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014, which unleashed the first round of sanctions. “They understand that every- thing that happened in Crimea was legal.” “Europeans are rather weak- willed and Americans are strong. The United States wants to domi- nate in the world,” he said.




Netanyahu to stand firm against intl pressure

Iranian parliament curbs major barrier in nuclear deal

ISRAELI Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected “international dictates” as France’s top diplomat vis- ited, with Paris advocating a UN reso- lution laying out parameters for peace talks. With negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians stalled for more than a year, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met Palestinian presi- dent Mahmud Abbas and Mr Netan- yahu on June 21. The separate meetings in Ramallah and Jerusalem were part of a regional tour by Mr Fabius aimed at reviving

security and at the same time give Palestinians the right to have a state,” Mr Fabius told journalists earlier at a joint news conference with Palestin- ian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki in Ramallah. Mr Malki welcomed France’s ef- forts, but said he doubted a deal was possible with the current rightwing Israeli government, which he labelled “extremist”. Mr Fabius sought to ease some Is- raeli concerns with the announcement that Mr Abbas – who is attempting to form a new cabinet after the govern-

IRAN’S parliament curtailed its own power to block a nuclear deal with world powers on June 21, effectively removing a longstanding threat that a final accord could be torn up by lawmakers. A draft bill presented on mid-last week, which laid down strict criteria for Iran to accept any agreement, had threatened to complicate upcoming talks on the long-pursued deal, which are due to conclude on June 30. However, in a boost to Presi- dent Hassan Rouhani’s government,

military commanders and hand-

designed to insulate Iran’s negotiators from the West’s “excessive demands”, Mr Larijani suggested otherwise. “We want to help the country and not create new problems,” he said, re- ferring to the need to coordinate with the SNSC. According to the official IRNA news agency Mr Larijani earlier told Ahmad Tavakoli, a conservative MP critical of the bill being delayed, “We are not discussing the sale of pota- toes, but an important issue for the country.”

supervision” of nuclear sites. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, on a visit June 21 to the Pales- tinian territories and Israel, said any nuclear deal with Iran “must be able to be verified”. “We think that we must be extremely firm and that, if an agreement is to be reached, that agree- ment must be robust,” he added. Any deal will still have to be rubber-stamped by Tehran’s parlia- ment but it would be highly unlikely for lawmakers to oppose a text ap-

peace talks. France has argued in favour of a UN resolution that would guide ne- gotiations leading to an independent Palestinian state and which could in- clude a timeframe for talks. Ahead of Mr Fabius’ arrival in Jeru- salem, Mr Netanyahu hit out at inter- national diplomatic efforts to impose

ment collapsed this week amid a deep- ening rift with Hamas – had vowed any new Palestinian unity government should not include the Islamist group. “[Mr Abbas] told me this govern- ment of national unity could only in- clude women and men who recognise Israel, renounce violence and who are in agreement with the principles of

key amendments to the proposed legislation will now move the formal oversight of a deal out of the hands of lawmakers. The original text said parliament would have to ratify key criteria for an agreement to be binding but the amended bill instead gives the right of supervision to the country’s Supreme

‘We want to help the country and not create new problems.’

proved by the SNSC. The bill stipulates the need to lift all sanctions imposed on Iran as punishment for its nuclear program, under which leading states have sus- pected the Islamic republic of devel- oping a bomb. However, the altered draft law is now more specific and says sanc-

proposals which he said neglected to

the [Mideast] Quartet,” Mr Fabius said

National Security Council (SNSC).

Ali Larijani

tions need only be lifted “on the day

address vital Israeli security concerns, saying his government would reject

at a press conference in Jerusalem af- ter talks with Mr Abbas in Ramallah.

The council comprises ministers,


Iran starts implementing its obliga- tions”, as opposed to “on the day of an

“international dictates”.

Noting that those conditions ruled

picked appointees of Ayatollah Ali



In a joint news conference with Mr Fabius after their meeting, Mr Netan- yahu said, “Peace will only come from direct negotiations between the par- ties without preconditions.” “It will not come from UN resolu- tions that are sought to be imposed from the outside,” he said. Mr Netanyahu said a Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state as well as “iron-clad security arrangements on the ground in which Israel can defend itself” were requirements for peace. Mr Fabius sought to respond to such concerns, saying negotiations would ultimately be left to the Israe- lis and Palestinians, but that it did not prevent international support in the process. “We must both guarantee Israel’s

out Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Gaza strip, Mr Fabius added, “And that suits us perfectly.” Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been comatose since a major US push for a final deal ended in failure in April 2014. Israel says the process failed be- cause the Palestinians refused to ac- cept a US framework document out- lining the way forward. But the Palestinians blame the col- lapse on Israel’s settlement building and the government’s refusal to re- lease veteran prisoners. The relationship between the two sides remains severely strained, prompting the Palestinians to boost efforts on the international stage to seek their promised state. – AFP

Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader who will have the final word on any agree- ment. The council is also chaired by Mr Rouhani, who is pushing hard for the deal. “Whatever decision the leader takes in this regard, we should obey in parliament,” Speaker Ali Larijani said after 199 MPs voted for the amendments in the 290-member chamber. “We should not tie the hands of the leader,” he added. Only three lawmakers opposed the changes and five abstained, with six not voting and dozens more absent. Although the sponsor of the origi- nal bill, Alaedin Boroujerdi, the chair of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, said it was

And IRNA later cited Mr Rouhani as saying, “in the current situation, in order to advance the country and resolve its problems, we need to help each other more.” Iran and the P5+1 powers – Brit- ain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany – agreed the outlines of the nuclear deal on April 2 after intensive talks went past a March 31 deadline. Major roadblocks that remain include the West’s ability to enforce tighter inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites and other facilities. Iranian officials insist there can be no inspections of military sites and the legislation published on June 21 forbids access beyond “conventional

Officials in Tehran have pushed for the measures, mostly economic, to end immediately but in a sign of greater flexibility, Mr Rouhani said on June 13 that “weeks or even months will pass” between signing and implementing the deal. Iran has for years been faced with UN, EU and US sanctions that have ravaged its economy. In a measure that mirrors that taken in Tehran, President Barack Obama has given US lawmakers 30 days to review a nuclear deal. Iran denies its nuclear program has military objectives, insist- ing it is for purely peaceful energy development purposes capable of re- ducing its reliance on fossil fuels. – AFP





Rebel shells and allied strikes rock Aden

REBEL shelling of residential areas in

Yemen’s Aden killed at least three ci-

vilians on June 21, as air strikes by the

Saudi-led coalition also hit the south-

ern city, medics and witnesses said.

Rebels fired Katyusha rockets and

mortars at residential areas destroy-

ing four homes, residents and mili-

tary sources said.

Medics at Aden’s Al-Naqib hos-

pital told AFP that three civilians

were killed and four wounded in the


Coalition air strikes hit rebel posi-

tions at entrances to the city as well as

at the strategic Al-Anad air base in the

nearby city of Lahj, military sources


Late on June 20 clashes between

rebels and pro-government forces

killed 12 fighters from both sides near

the base, the sources said.

In the town of Daleh to the north,

15 rebels were killed in an overnight

ambush by pro-government fight-

ers, local military sources said, add-

ing that two of the attackers had also


AFP could not confirm the tolls

from the clashes from independent

The latest violence came after the

UN special envoy for Yemen, Ismail

Ould Cheikh Ahmed, announced on

June 19 that talks in Geneva between

the warring sides ended without


The rebels – including Shiite Huthi

militiamen and troops loyal to ex-

president Ali Abdullah Saleh – have

seized control of large parts of Yemen

after taking the capital Sanaa last


The coalition launched the air

strikes in March in support of Presi-

dent Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who

fled a rebel advance on Aden to Saudi


Loyalist troops have been joined

by some Sunni tribes and southern

separatists in battling the rebels.

More than 2600 people have been

killed in Yemen since March, accord-

ing to UN figures, and almost 80 per-

cent of the population – 20 million

people – are in need of urgent hu-

manitarian aid.

The situation is particularly seri-

ous in Aden, where residents have

complained of food and water short-

ages and health officials are warning

World THE MYANMAR TIMES JUNE 23, 2015 SANAA Rebel shells and allied strikes rock Aden REBEL

sources and the rebels rarely acknowl-

of the spread of disease.

Yemenis wait to fill jerrycans with water from a public tap on June 21 amid an acute shortage of water supply to houses

edge their losses.



during the fasting month of Ramadan in the capital Sanaa. Photo: AFP





the industrial Sea of Azov port of

The four countries’ foreign minis-

Meet the democracy





Mariupol that the rebels have been

ters will meet in Paris today to try to

movement’s champion

relations hit post-Cold War low

trying to seize to establish an export

salvage the blueprint for ending one

Ukraine on June 21 reported the

gateway for the steel and coal mines

of Europe’s bloodiest conflicts of the

deaths of two soldiers while pro-

they now control.

past generation.


Russian rebels accused Kiev’s forces

Insurgency commanders said

But the talks come with East-West

AS ONE of Hong Kong’s most out-

other countries restless,” said Mr Lai.

of killing a civilian in clashes preced-

rockets launched from Kiev-held posi-

relations seeming to test ever new

spoken democracy advocates, media

“Also, domestically, a lot of people

ing crunch talks aimed at ending the

tions around the city of Donetsk had

post-Cold War lows.

tycoon Jimmy Lai has been on the re-

think Xi Jinping is becoming Mao Ze-

15-month war.


killed a civilian and wounded two

EU foreign ministers have extended

ceiving end of everything from rotten

dong,” he said, referring to the found-

Kiev military spokesperson Andriy

others in the rebels’ main stronghold.

expiring trade and financial restrictions

animal entrails to Molotov cocktails in

ing father of communist China.

Lysenko said two government troops

Separatist negotiator Denis

on Russia through the end of January.

the past 12 months.

“By giving Hong Kong democracy,

died and six were wounded in shell-

Pushilin called the reported attack “a

Those steps stem from claims

When the city erupted into mass

people would look at them as enlight-

ing across swathes of the eastern

grave violation of the Minsk agree-

– brushed off by President Vladimir

protests last year against a Beijing-

ened leaders. [It] is actually a very

separatist Donetsk province over the

ment” that Russia and Ukraine signed

Putin – that Russia is trying to inflict

backed plan for its next leader, father-

cheap price for good PR.”

past day.

during February negotiations spear-

permanent damage on its ex-Soviet

of-six Mr Lai, 66, became a frequent

A number of incidents in recent

Mr Lysenko told reporters that “ac-

headed by the leaders of Germany

neighbour in retribution for Kiev’s

fixture at the major rally site and a

months have sounded alarm bells over

tivity had especially picked up” around

and France.

sudden shift to the West.

regular target for pro-government sup-

threats to press freedoms, from censor-



ship and strategic withdrawal of adver-

The contentious bill would have

tising to interference from officials and

physical assaults on journalists.


allowed the public to vote for Hong

sources and the rebels rarely acknowl- of the spread of disease. Yemenis wait to fill jerrycans

Kong’s leader for the first time, but

“It’s bad–-- a lot of the media are

kept to a Beijing ruling that all candi-

leaning to their [Beijing’s] side,” said

dates must be vetted by a loyalist com-

Mr Lai, but he believes technology will

mittee – derided as “fake democracy”

make control more difficult.

by Mr Lai and opposition campaigners.

“Nobody will have control of the

After months of political wrangling

media in the future because user-gen-

the proposal was finally voted down on

erated content is going to become the

June 18 by lawmakers in an unprec-

major content.”

edented rebuke by the semi-autono-

More oppression in Hong Kong

mous city towards Beijing.

would make the city increasingly un-

But with the defeat of the bill, Hong

governable, says Lai, who also bats

Kong’s leader will continue to be cho-

away concerns over the fragmentation

sen by a pro-Beijing committee and

of the democracy movement as new

Lai is preparing for the next phase of

smaller groups emerge.


“What we have to worry about is

“It’s very encouraging for Hong

whether some of those organisations

Kong (that the bill was rejected),” he

are set up by Beijing, pretending they

told AFP.

are part of us, but trying to destroy

“What’s going to happen in the end?

unity,” he said.

We really don’t know. But once we give

Relaxing back into an armchair at

up, we are giving up fighting for our

Next Media headquarters, Lai casts

democracy and freedom. We are kind

himself as a rebel optimist.

of giving up our dignity as humans,” he

At 12 years old he was smuggled in


to Hong Kong by his family in a boat

Founder of the strident anti-govern-

from the southern Chinese city of

ment newspaper Apple Daily and the


main shareholder – along with his wife

It was the bloody crackdown in Bei-

Teresa – in its publisher Next Media,

jing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 that

Lai draws both admiration and bile.

hardened his politics and he set up

His house and office were fire-

Next Media the following year.

bombed in January and putrid animal

“As long as I’m alive, I don’t think


A Somali soldier stands guard next to the site where Al

organs thrown at him during the dem-

Next Media will change. I don’t want




my kids, my grandchildren, to say my

Shebab militants carried out a suicide attack against a military

“You just get used to it. I’ve never

father, my grandfather was very rich


had a bodyguard,” said Mr Lai.

but he was an asshole,” Mr Lai said.

intelligence base in Mogadishu on June 21. The militants

Beijing has shown no sign of com-

The daily crises of his early life as

launched a major raid on the military intelligence base, setting

promise on future reform for Hong

an entrepreneur have also made him

Photo: AFP


off a car bomb before storming inside, security officials said.

Kong and there are fears of a backlash

an optimist, he says.


in the wake of the defeat of the bill, but

But while Mr Lai may be phlegmat-

Somalia’s interior ministry said three attackers were all killed

Lai says China must change.

ic, he does not want his children to fol-

in the raid, and that Somali security forces who fought them

“China being the number two

low his path – they will not inherit his

strongest country in the world and

media empire.

suffered no casualties.

having a dictator like (President) Xi

“I don’t want them to go through


Jinping on top of it is making a lot of

what I went through,” he says – AFP



World 19


Pakistan heatwave death toll nears 200

NEARLY 200 people have died in a

heatwave in southern Pakistan, offi-

cials said yesterday, as the government

called in the army to help tackle wide-

spread heatstroke in the worst-hit city


The death toll in Karachi, the coun-

try’s largest city, where temperatures

hit 45 degrees Celsius at the weekend,

is at least 180 and a further 11 deaths

were reported in southern parts of cen-

tral Punjab province.

The deaths come a month after

neighbouring India suffered the second

deadliest heatwave in its history, with

more than 2000 deaths.

Doctor Sabir Memon, a senior

health official with the government

in southern Sindh province, said the

death toll was 180 and warned it was

likely to rise in the evening.

An AFP tally based on information

from five hospitals around Karachi sug-

gested the toll there could be as high

as 249.

National Disaster Management

(NDMA) spokesman Ahmed Kamal

said the government had asked the

army and paramilitary Rangers to help

relief efforts, which will include set-

ting up heatstroke treatment centres

around the city.

Coping with the scorching heat has

been made harder by the power cuts

that are a daily feature of life in Paki-


The Sindh provincial government

has imposed a state of emergency at all

hospitals, cancelling leave for doctors

and other medical staff and increasing

stocks of medical supplies.

Another 11 deaths were reported

yesterday in the southern part of Pun-

jab province.

“Eleven people have so far died be-

cause of heat-related diseases in South

Punjab during last 48 hours,” a health

official in the city of Multan said.

Doctors say most of those who have

died succumbed to heatstroke.

The Islamic fasting month of Rama-

dan, during which devout Muslims

abstain from all food and drink during

daylight hours, began on June 19, coin-

ciding with what is usually the hottest

time of year in Pakistan.

Sher Shah, a veteran medical prac-

titioner and former president of the

Pakistan Medical Association, said Ka-

rachis poor were most at risk. AFP

www.mmtimes.com World 19 KABUL Pakistan heatwave death toll nears 200 NEARLY 200 people have died in

Dead bodies lie in the cold storage of the EDHI morgue in Karachi on June 21. Photo: AFP


Lives lived in fear as militias and impunity continue to thrive

FOUR years after a militiaman doused

Mumtaz with a flesh-searing acid for

rejecting his marriage proposal, leav-

ing her disfigured, scarred and trau-

matised, death threats have forced the

20-year-old Afghan into hiding.

Her ordeal encapsulates the major

issues roiling Afghanistan – a silent

tsunami of violence against women,

anti-Taliban militias bringing further

turmoil to an already conflict-torn

country and a seemingly dysfunctional

state unable to offer Afghans even a

www.mmtimes.com World 19 KABUL Pakistan heatwave death toll nears 200 NEARLY 200 people have died in

Mumtaz, a 20-year-old Afghan acid attack victim, is pictured here in a safe house in Kunduz on May 20.

modicum of security.

Swaddled in a cobalt blue scarf

partly covering her jagged facial scars,

Mumtaz vividly recalls the horrors of

that night when the jilted lover stormed

into her house with six other assailants,

holding up the corrosive liquid.

“He grabbed me by my hair and

hurled the acid at my face with such

vengeance, as if to say ‘now let’s see

who will marry you,’” Mumtaz, who

goes by one name, told AFP in a safe

house in the volatile northern province

of Kunduz.

She remembers screaming and

writhing as the acid, some of which

splattered on her sisters and mother,

burned through her flesh.

Mumtaz has undergone multiple

surgeries and painful skin grafts since

the attack in 2011 and is now forced to

live in hiding due to threats purport-

edly from the assailants, some of whom

are still at large.

Her plight is worsened by an esca-

lating conflict in Kunduz, where the

Taliban recently launched a large-scale

offensive, creeping ever closer to the

provincial capital and trapping civil-

lany of pro-government forces and

militias. Statistics are scant but acid

attacks are common in Afghanistan, of-

ten used to deface and cripple women

even for minor transgressions such as

refusing to wear a headscarf or rebuff-

ing unsolicited lovers.

When she was 14, Mumtaz, known

within her extended family for her doe

eyes and flawless skin, hid herself be-

hind the folds of a burka to evade the

amorous advances of a militiaman

called Nasir.

The daughter of a wheat farmer

stopped going out unchaperoned and

avoided the main village thoroughfares.

But Nasir, who gained local infamy

for his links to an anti-Taliban militia,

stubbornly lingered outside her house

and waylaid her even as her family in

a heated exchange warned him to back


Two years later, when Mumtaz got

engaged to another man, he burst into

her house to avenge the humiliation of

rejection by wrecking her beauty.

He escaped after the horrific attack

but a court sentenced three of his ac-

complices to a decade in prison, a rare

male victims little legal recourse.

Ironically, though, Mumtaz’s real

troubles began when they were put be-

hind bars.

“They threatened to behead me. ‘We

will kill your whole family when we get

out of prison,’ they said. ‘We will come

after you,’” Mumtaz said.

Armed intruders have attempted

to break into her house, said Women

for Afghan Women (WAW), a nongov-

ernmental organisation which helped

Mumtaz with legal aid and seeking

treatment for acid burns in India.

“We are very concerned about her

safety,” Haseena Sarwari, the Kunduz

manager for WAW, told AFP.

“The men in Mumtaz’s household

are forced to carry firearms and take

turns to sleep at night,” she said.

Mumtaz’s father, Sultan, said the

attempted intrusions forced them to

move houses and going to his farm was

fraught with risks.

Relatives of the jailed assailants

have chased him down by motorcycle,

threatening him with consequences if

they did not get out of prison soon.

“They will never leave us alone,”

“We are barely living, confined to

our home, stripped of our livelihood,”

he said. “It’s a helpless feeling.”

AFP could not access the families

of the assailants, residing in an outly-

ing village of Kunduz city that has seen

regular skirmishes.

In recent years Afghanistan has

seen a rise of militias, former mujahi-

deen strongmen both feeding off and

fuelling the conflict, and accused of a

litany of abuses including rape and col-

lecting “protection tax” from civilians.

When he came to power last year

President Ashraf Ghani vowed to dis-

arm the militias, blamed for devastat-

ing Afghanistan during the country’s

civil war in the 1990s and setting the

stage for a Taliban takeover.

But as the Taliban insurgency

spreads north from its southern

stronghold, the government appears

to be remobilising them to augment

Afghan security forces.

Earlier this year Mumtaz married

the man she was engaged to, bringing

a faint glimmer of hope in her life.

“But I live in constant fear that they

[the assailants] will find me one day.”

Photo: AFP ians between insurgents and a miscel- judgement in a nation that offers fe- Sultan
Photo: AFP
ians between insurgents and a miscel-
judgement in a nation that offers fe-
Sultan said with a lump in his throat.
s o r DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon n e g i n t i f
DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon



the pulse 21


s o r DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon n e g i n t i f

Cooked dogs are displayed at a vendor’s stall in Yulin. Photos: AFP/Johannes Eisele

s o r DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon n e g i n t i f

A dog looks out from its cage at a stall as it is displayed by a vendor as he waits for customers during a dog meat festival at a market in Yulin.

s o r DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon n e g i n t i f

An animal rights activist (left) takes a picture of vendors waiting for customers to buy dogs in cages at a market in Yulin.

s o r DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon n e g i n t i f
s o r DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon n e g i n t i f
s o r DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon n e g i n t i f

Ricky Gervais condemns the Yulin Dog Meat Festival online. Photo: Twitter

s o r DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon n e g i n t i f

Vendors wait for customers to buy dogs in cages at a market in Yulin. Photo: China Out/AFP

China’s annual dog-eating festival

prompts social media firestorm

Lindsey Bever and nick kirkpatrick

  • t’s a practice that makes animal-lovers ill – China’s so-
    i lore says eating dog meat brings good luck and health. But

called Yulin summer solstice Lychee and Dog Meat Festival

for which some 10,000 canines are said to be beaten, killed

and cooked for human consumption (cats too). traditional

the event, which has ignited fury for years, is gaining momentum

on social media.

restaurant owner told a Chinese tV station, according to

Associated Press.

this year, social media has pushed the protests forward.

Animal rights advocates say dogs are caught with nets,

drugged or poisoned, and kept until they are killed for their meat.

the past month, there have been nearly a million tweets from

people using the hashtag #stopYulin2015. this week, British

comedian Ricky Gervais, who has partnered with Humane society

International, wrote: “Please help our best friend. #stopYuLin2015.”

terrified. Inside two other slaughterhouses hidden in residential

areas not far from the market, dogs and cats, many wearing

collars, displayed behaviour associated with household pets.

“the slaughter is more than an insult to the nation’s

expanding animal-loving community.”

Among the most serious issues, advocates argue, is the

heightened risk of rabies.

Worldwide, China is ranked the second-highest for the

number of people who contract rabies and the Guangxi province

s o r DePuTY Pulse eDiTor: ToM BArTon n e g i n t i f

Animal right activists scuffle with unidentified onlookers as they protest against a dog meat festival in front on the government building in Yulin. Photo: AFP/Johannes Eisele

the annual event in Yulin in China’s Guangxi region marks

the summer’s start, which was June 22 this year.

Indeed, eating dog meat is legal in China, but canines

are supposed to be raised on farms and certified for human

consumption before they are sold. Animal rights advocates say

dogs in Yulin are stolen from farms and family homes – many

still wearing collars when they are killed. Aside from animal

cruelty issues, they say, such festivals fuel crime and food safety


Mounting pressure from animal rights groups ignited uproar

last year, prompting nationwide protests.

Amid outcry, Yulin’s government banned public slaughter

and advertising using words “dog meat”, though it claimed that

although locals had held small get-togethers in the past, the city-

wide festival was a myth.

“the so-called summer solstice lychee dog meat festival does

not exist,” the government said in a statement, according to Time.

“Neither Yulin government nor social organisations have ever

held such activities.”

the state news agency Xinhua said last year the festival is

“only a local folk custom, without official sanction”. But locals

say now instead of slaughtering dogs in the streets they do it in


“Now we have to do it as though we are thieves,” a local

He attached a photo of a dog with lipstick kisses on its face, saying,

“the only marks you should leave on a dog.”

As of June 18, Hong Kong-based animal rights group Animals

Asia said its recent letter urging the country’s dog meat

traders to boycott the festival had garnered about 70,000


t he Us-based animal rights organisation Duo Duo Animal

Welfare Project has launched an online petition, calling on

Yulin Governor Chen Wu to cancel the event, citing issues

ranging from animal cruelty to social stability to food safety. so

far, it has more than 700,000 signatures. the group also posted

a video on Youtube, which has been viewed nearly 500,000 times.

“I went to a slaughter house in Yulin a few days ago,” Duo Duo

founder Andrea Gung told BBC News earlier this month. “ the

dogs and cats were wearing collars and of different sizes and


Peter Li, associate professor of East Asian politics at the

University of Houston-Downtown and a China policy adviser with

Humane society International, wrote in the South China Morning

Post that he visited Yulin just last month.

“What I saw was a city in preparation for the annual

massacre,” he wrote. “A slaughterhouse at the city’s Dong Kou

market had just received a new supply of dogs shipped from

sichuan. the unloaded dogs looked emaciated, dehydrated and

has the most cases in the country, CNN reported, citing China’s

ministry for public health. Yulin is branded one of the country’s

“top 10 cities” for rabies cases among humans.

“this is more than an animal welfare issue,” Li told The New

York Times. “ this is a matter of public health as well. After long-

distance transport, most of the dogs are sick, dying or already

dead. skin problems are common. these are serious food safety

problems and public health hazards.”

Dog meat was once considered a delicacy in China. Yulin’s

festival started in 2009 or 2010, according to media reports, to

help dog meat traders boost business.

In China, people have come out on both sides of the debate.

On the Chinese social media site Weibo, some have spoken out

against consuming what Westerners consider household pets,

according to BBC News, while others said the country’s local

customs should be respected.

Yulin’s food and drug administration has vowed to crack down

on the festival this year, Beijing-based animal rights lawyer An

Xiang said, according to The New York Times. He filed a petition

earlier this year to force the government to make its dog meat

regulations public information.

“I believe the Yulin authorities are in hot water now,” Li told

the newspaper. “I believe the legal team led by An Xiang knows

what to do next. Let’s see.” – The Washington Post


the pulse


Don’t lock up books, says Yangon’s ‘free librarian’

NyeiN ei ei HTwe


T HE books, thousands of

them, stretch from floor

to ceiling. If the librarian

thinks not enough people

are borrowing them, he

will get on his bike and deliver a

basketful to readers. There is no

Yangon, and the other in his home

village of Si Tar, Kyaukpadaung

township, Mandalay Region.

Last week, Zaw Zaw was awarded

the Citizen of Burma Award (CoBA)

intended for voluntary workers who

benefit society. Founded in 2010,

CoBA is an organisation of Myanmar

nationals living abroad dedicated to

recognising important contributions

the pulse THE MYANMAR TIMES June 23, 2015 Don’t lock up books, says Yangon’s ‘free librarian’

Zaw Zaw poses in his free library in Hlaing township, Yangon. Photos: Zarni Phyo

because we had no rice,” he said.

But he also loved reading since

he first learned to read and his

the walls of his Yangon library, in the

spaces between the books.

He started out by washing

bottles to recycle. “That brings in

enough to buy two more books a day,”

he said.

charge. In fact, he has been known to

pay people to read.

He is known as the free librarian

of Hlaing township, and if he insists

on giving away books, there are

plenty of people who will make up the

deficiency by donating more.

His name is Zaw Zaw. The 26-year-

old owns two libraries, both called

“Mandalay” – one in Hlaing township,

to Myanmar society by individuals or

groups within Myanmar.

“I am very happy about the prize

but it is also a spur that encourages

me to continue to pursue my dream

of building free libraries throughout

the country.”

Hunger is one of his earliest

memories. “My mother worked on

a farm. We lived on baked beans

grandfather, U San Thein, encouraged

him with tales of famous writers.

By the time he was 14, hunger

drove him to leave home for Yangon

in the hope of making some money.

His family gave him K7500, three

books and some of the currency that

the government abolished in the

1970s, bearing the portrait of General

Aung San. The notes are displayed on

the pulse THE MYANMAR TIMES June 23, 2015 Don’t lock up books, says Yangon’s ‘free librarian’

dishes and waiting tables in a beer

restaurant. On his way home one

day, he dropped into a library to

satisfy his hunger for reading matter.

“But the librarian asked for my NRC

card. When I couldn’t produce it, or

provide a fixed address or the name

of a parent, they wouldn’t let me

borrow books,” he said.

From his earnings of K4500, Zaw

Zaw would buy two books a month.

“Luckily, a new bookshop opened

in front of our restaurant and I

always went there in my free time.

  • I couldn’t sleep without reading a


He also learned from the

restaurant cook how to make

barbecued fish. He found he could sell

it for K1000 a portion, and amassed


He moved to Hlaing township,

where he rented a 5-foot-square room

paid for partly by performing chores

for the owner. At night, without a

blanket or a pillow, he slept on a pile

of books.

“At that time, I had already bought

lots of books and I wanted other

people to read them,” he said. He

took to filling his bicycle basket with

books and spent his mornings and

evenings delivering them to anyone

who wanted to read. “I didn’t want

my books to be locked up, as if they

were in jail. I hate libraries that don’t

He even earns enough to send

money back to his family and to

support his other library in his native

village, which boasts more than 8000

volumes. He and his cousins all live in

the back room of the little library in

Hlaing township.

“After U Kyaw Thu donated

books, many people came to hear of

me. Even U Ye Htut, the Minister of

Information, and other famous people

would donate,” said Zaw Zaw.

The library is open to borrowers

day and night, whether Zaw Zaw and

his cousins are there or not. Once, it

was burgled.

“Many things were stolen, mostly

books. I choose not to be angry, because

they wanted books and I want to share.

If I was angry about people taking my

books, I wouldn’t be a librarian. I just

replaced the books,” said Zaw Zaw.

Though he opposes regulations,

he does keep a register so that he

can keep track of the books for the

customers’ benefit. Now, readers from

Hlaing, Kamaryut, Insein, Hmawbi,

Sanchaung and other townships come

to his library and order books.

“I haven’t bought so much as a

single shirt for myself. I spend all my

money on books so that everybody

can read freely and love books as

much as I do,” he said.

accept readers. There should be no

rules governing the borrowing of

books,” he said.

the pulse THE MYANMAR TIMES June 23, 2015 Don’t lock up books, says Yangon’s ‘free librarian’

The word soon spread among his

neighbours, who would both borrow

and donate books. One woman

donated more than 700 volumes and

400 dhamma CDs.

“I even advertised on bus stops

that I would deliver books for free,”

he said.

Word of his activities reached

Daw Myint Myint Khin Pe, the

wife of U Kyaw Thu, who runs

a free funeral service. U Kyaw

Thu’s family visited him with

an offer.

“They asked me whether

  • I wanted a car or a bicycle.

  • I said I couldn’t drive, so

they gave me a bike to

deliver books,” he said.

From that moment, he

became known as the free

librarian of Hlaing township.

“I want everyone to read.

Our education system can’t be

much good. Otherwise, why do all

the rich people send their children

abroad to study?” he said.

He finances his library

activities from the proceeds of the

fish restaurant where he works

with his cousins. Every morning,

he and his cousins deliver books

by bicycle – they now have five

bikes. They also pick up plastic


the pulse 23

‘Letter to the President’ awaits letter from the censors IN PICTUREs Photo: AFP/Miguel Schincario ChIT sU
‘Letter to the
President’ awaits letter
from the censors
Photo: AFP/Miguel
but they instructed me to change
some scenes,” said Wyne.
One of the major requests by
L etter to the President, an
the censorship board was for Wyne
upcoming feature film by
to change a character’s portrayal
pseudonymous Myanmar
as the son of a minister to the son
Brazilian pianist
Ricardo de Castro
Monteiro performs
in the air on a piano
hanging from wires
during the annual
Virada Cultural event
in Sao Paulo, Brazil,
on June 21.
director Wyne, has faced a
of a crony.
lengthy delay for approval
“I can’t change that. That’s
by the Myanmar Film Censorship
backbone of film,” said Wyne. “The
Board. According to Wyne, the
film will not focus on the negative
censorship board’s review has lasted
aspects of the government. We will
three months – a stark contrast to
only film the issues that represent
the usual review time of between
the public.
two and four weeks.
“I don’t understand how they
The fictitious film’s plot involves
are thinking,” Wyne said.
a man who has been framed and the
Director Wyne planned to start
Got an event?
List it in What’s On!
journalist investigating his case.
shooting the film in August but said
Wyne is a well-known director
he can’t until the permit is approved.
in Myanmar. His films include box
“We have made the changes
office success I am a rose, Dear (Kya
[but] some of the scenes really
Ma Ka Hnin Si Par Maung), and the
need to be filmed,” said Wyne.
film that won him Best Director in
“I can’t do anything except stop
the 2013 Myanmar Motion Picture
making the film until they give me
Academy Awards, Satan’s Dancer
the permit. I have no power. If I
protest against the film censorship
Wyne told the Myanmar times
board, I don’t think I can get
that he applied for permission
Tuesday Snippets. A gathering in which
all sorts of people interested in the future
of the country enjoy conversation and
perhaps some beer until late at night.
Pansodan Gallery, Pansodan Street,
Kyauktada 7-10pm
soft drinks, fun games and quizzes,
thought-provoking discussions,
and more. Connect Institute, 3A
Pansodan Business Tower (corner
of Anawrahta Road and Pansodan
Street) 2:30-4pm
to make Letter to the President
U Thain Naing, a director of the
in March. At the end of April,
Myanmar Film Censorship Board,
the censorship board send a
was tight-lipped on the issue of
letter requesting Wyne change
Wyne’s long-awaited permit.
some scenes. He acquiesced, and
“I have nothing to say,” said U
resubmitted a revised application
Thain Naing. “I said them to wait
for permission. Wyne is still yet to
to get permit. I heard the producer
hear back.
is discussing with authorities. I
Tuesday Movies at the Connect
Institute. Free popcorn, chips and
Bamboo Trio. Enjoy jazz music and a
great dinner in a friendly atmosphere.
The Rendez-Vous Restaurant, 340 Pyay
Road 7:30-9:30pm
Salsa at Salud. K5000 entry includes
free Mojito, beer or cocktail of
your choice. Salud Salsa Club, 7C
Wingabar Road (next to Clover Hotel),
Bahan 8pm
Daiquiri cocktails night. Try new
seasonal flavored daiquiris. Buy
one get one free. The Lab, 70A
Shwegonedaing, Bahan 5:30pm
Lady’s Night. One free cocktail for
ladies. B20 Bar and Bistro, 96 20 th
Street, Latha 8-11:45pm
“They approved the film’s title,
can’t say any more.”
www.mmtimes.com the pulse 23 ‘Letter to the President’ awaits letter from the censors IN PICTUREs Photo:


the pulse



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6T 805
6T 806
YJ 751
7Y 242
Asian Wings (YJ)
YJ 201
YJ 202
YJ 761
K7 225
Tel: 515261~264, 512140, 512473, 512640
YJ 751
YH 728
1 16:15
W9 201
YJ 761
Fax: 532333, 516654
YJ 233
YH 738
YJ 212
YH 737
YJ 602
6 16:25
Golden Myanmar Airlines (Y5)
8M 6603
YJ 212
YH 727
1 11:30
YJ 752
YJ 601
YJ 602
Tel: 09400446999, 09400447999
Fax: 8604051
K7 224
W9 129
5, 7
7Y 242
7Y 241
Mann Yadanarpon Airlines (7Y)
YJ 761
K7 225
W9 129
YH 729
YH 728
1 17:00
Tel: 656969
Fax: 656998, 651020
YH 737
W9 152/W97152
1 17:05
YH 727
1 11:30
Y5 776
Yangon Airways (YH)
Y5 325
Y5 326
W9 251
W9 211
4 17:10
K7 319
6T 706
Tel: 383100, 383107, 700264
Fax: 652 533
7Y 241
YH 738
6T 705
7Y 532
K7 224
8M 6604
4 17:20
7Y 531
K7 320
FMI Air Charter (ND)
Y5 234
8M 903
Y5 325
2 15:30
Y5 326
2 17:15
Tel: 240363, 240373, 09421146545
W9 211
4 15:30
YH 730
SO 201
SO 202
APEX Airlines (SO)
W9 252
Tel:95(1) 533300 ~ 311
Fax : 95 (1) 533312
K7 422
K7 423
Air Mandalay (6T)
7Y 413
7Y 414
YJ 201
SO 101
W9 309
W9 309
Tel: (+95-1) 501520, 525488,
Fax: (+95-1) 532275
ND 910
YJ 202
6T 611
6T 612
ND 105
ND 9102
Airline Codes
ND 107
6 11:25
ND 104
ND 109
ND 106
6 10:00
K7 422
K7 422
ND 9109
ND 108
SO = APEX Airlines
7Y = Mann Yadanarpon Airlines
7Y 413
7Y 413
ND 111
7 18:25
YJ 212
W9 309
7Y 413
7 12:05
K7 = Air KBZ
SO 102
ND 110
7Y 413
7 11:00
W9 309
ND 9110
Y5 421
Y5 422
YH 917
YH 918
K7 319
YH 634
K7 222
7Y 132
YH 633
K7 320
7Y 131
K7 223
W9 = Air Bagan
Y5 = Golden Myanmar Airlines
YH = Yangon Airways
YJ = Asian Wings
6T = AirMandalay
FMI (ND) = FMI Air Charter
SO 201
6T 708
K7 224
K7 225
6T 707
SO 202
7Y 241
W9 129
7Y 531
7Y 532
W9 129
7Y 242
Subject to change
without notice
W9 211
W9 129
YJ 751
YJ 752
= Monday
YH 729
YJ 752
7 16:10
= Tuesday
YJ 751
7 11:00
YH 730
6T 805
6T 806
= Wednesday
YH 826
YJ 202
= Thursday
YJ 201
YH 827