EPA PE R ASEAN+ : ROOFTOP DINING OPENS IN LAOS ✪9 First INDEPENDENT English daily www.elevenmyanmar.com FRIDAY, November 21, 2014 INSIDE Her hope is dashed NATIONAL Suu Kyi apparently admits her fate, acknowledging that chance to claim presidency is pushed away At least 22 killed in army attack in Kachin state ✪2 BUSINESS Central bank warns against currency manipulation ✪4 EMG ASEAN+ NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi alone in the crowd. MYANMAR ELEVEN OPPOSITION leader Aung San Suu Kyi made a surprise move, saying the timetable for charter change laid out by Union Parliament Speaker Thura Shwe Mann is logical. She made the comment to reporters on November 19, a day after the speaker mentioned that the 2015 elections would be held under the military-drafted constitution. He also said that the efforts to have the constitution amended would proceed, though it would not be completed before the 2015 election. Thura Shwe Mann also confirmed his presidential candidacy. Meanwhile, without changes in the constitution, Suu Kyi stands no chance to join the presidential race. However, the chairperson of National League for Democracy said that Thura Shwe Mann’s timetable for the charter change is logical. “He laid out the process for charter change. Only after we amend Section 436 can we make changes to other sections. This process is in conformity with our current work,” she said. “The amendments should be made in step-by-step manner. Section 436 should be amended before we change 59(F). This process is natural,” she added. Under Section 436, any significant changes to the constitution require a majority vote of more than 75 per cent, thereby giving the last say to soldiers. This change will pave way for the amendment in Section 59(F), which prohibits Myanmar citizens like Suu Kyi with foreign spouses or children from claiming the presidency. To local reporters, Suu Kyi went on to explain that by following such a process, lawmakers would be following the path toward democracy. “Our disagreement over the army’s role should be in accordance with the democratic standards,” she said. However, she also remarked that the role allotted to the army by the 2008 constitution is inherently undemocratic and must be changed. Suu Kyi’s approval of Thura Shwe Mann’s timeline, which would only allow amendments to take effect after the coming national election, seems to signal her acceptance of the reality that she will not be permitted to run for the president in 2015. Some politicians still demand changes before the 2015 election. “The current constitution was written at a time when the country’s national unity was weak, and the time has come to amend it in parliament. We must seize this moment,” said Lower House MP Thein Nyunt on Wednesday 19. “The changes will show we have the capability to amend the provisions that deserve to be amended in the interest of the people.” At the press conference called by himself on November 18, Thura Shwe Mann said that discussions on charter change within parliamentarians should be finished by November 25. Then, related bills would be reviewed and approved in the next parliamentary session. A referendum should be called around May, whereby the public can review the Union Parliament’s judgement. After the elections are over, the provisions enacted by the constitution will have to be approved when the Upper House and the Lower House convene. “The constitutional amendments cannot be enacted immediately following the referendum. They will depend on the results of the election. We are making strenuous efforts. All are urged to extend a helping hand to us. The referendum is a difficult matter. Plans are underway to successfully accomplish this process by means of enacting laws,” Thura Shwe Mann said on November 18. 50 workers crammed into two condo units in S’pore ✪7 LIFESTYLE Honouring Aung San’s legacy ✪10 2 NATIONAL At least 22 killed in army attack in Kachin state MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014 MYANMAR ELEVEN Myitkyina The most recent skirmish occurred in April this year, demanding stern preparation from KIA soldiers. trainees at the military academy. They intentionally shelled the place where the trainees were gathered,” said Lamai Gun Jar. “At first, it was reported that 20 died and 16 were injured. At 8pm, two more were reported dead. The attackers were from Light Infantry Regiment No. 389 based in Moegaung,” Lamai Gun Jar continued. When asked about the incident, a government soldier from the Northern Command declined to comment, citing lack of authorisation discuss the incident. The KIA as well as its political wing, the Kachin Independence Organisation, could not be reached for comment either. Lamai Gun Jar said he was instructed by the KIO to inform the authorities about the attack, adding that he had already informed the joint KIO-Myanmar Army conflict-resolution team and the government’s Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC). Hla Maung Shwe, a member of UPWC’s Technical Group, also said the authorities had been informed about the attack. Clashes between the Myanmar Army and the KIA resumed in June 2011 after the 17-year cease- fire broke down, resulting in casualties on both sides and forcing over 100,000 people to take refuge in displaced-person camps. A Reuters report yesterday said 23 cadets were killed, quoting General Gun Maw, the KIA’s second-in-command. He said the attack brought the number of KIA soldiers killed since 2011 to more than 300 and that 15 cadets were wounded in the blast, one of several attacks in KIA-controlled areas throughout Wednesday. A senior military official told Reuters the attack came after several days of mounting tension between the military and the KIA, which he said had shelled government soldiers building a road near Laisa. “Two of the wounded soldiers are still in critical condition,” he said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media. Gun Maw said Wednesday’s attacks were intended to pressure the KIA to sign an agreement with terms favourable to the military and to delay the elections. He said there were indications that the military was preparing for a wider offensive by moving troops and heavy weapons into northern Shan state, near KIAcontrolled territory. The KIA took up arms in 1961 and is the second largest among the approximately 20 ethnic armed groups in Myanmar. ■ Ceasefire talk The fighting was the second eruption of conflict this week. On November 16, a skirmish between the 317th Infantry Battalion of the Myanmar Army and Battalion 27 of the KIA broke out in Mansi Township, Bhamo District. Four Myanmar Army personnel were wounded in the fighting, and no one from the KIA was hurt, according to locals from Manwainggyi, as well as the KIA spokesperson. Officials from the Myanmar Army and the KIA conflict resolution team said the recent skirmishes and their causes will be discussed at their next meeting. In May, talks between the Union Peacemaking Working Committee and the KIO resulted in an agreement to create a conflict-resolution team that included representatives from each side. The formation of the conflict-resolution team aims to hold EMG A Myanmar army shell left at least 22 cadets from the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) military academy dead and 14 others seriously wounded on Wednesday. Clashes were reported between the Myanmar Army and KIA soldiers in Mongnaung Village in Kachin State’s Moehnyin Township at around 3am yesterday, and another clash also broke out approximately 10 miles from Palana Ward in Myitkyina at about 11 a.m. on the same day. Myanmar Army soldiers began firing on the training camp, located just over five miles from the KIA headquarters in Laiza, at 12.20pm on Wednesday. Local people began fleeing the region in the wake of the fighting. However, the situation returned to normal in the afternoon, locals said. “Three mines exploded consecutively. The fighting was just like the rainfall. The scene was very close to my home. My house was shaking at the time. It took place near Kyauksinyoke monastery. Local people fled the village, as did workers from jade mine. Some hid under their houses. Some people said one soldier from the KIA was killed. I don’t know whether the victim was a civilian or a solider. One victim broke a hip. One older woman who was wounded was taken away by the KIA. No soldiers are left here,” said a local from Mongnaung village. Among the injured are civilians. Win Naing Oo, 24, suffered from a broken knee. According to a member of the funeral service society of Mongnaung village, he could be injured by the blast. He was dispatched to Mohnyin Hospital via Lonetone Hospital to treat his broken bones. Lamai Gun Jar from the Myitkyina-based Peace Creation Group (PCG) said the government had been informed about the incident at the academy. “Artillery shells did not [just] fall, and neither did clashes occur. Government artillerymen sitting on Khaya Mountain could clearly see the movement of monthly talks and to reduce the number of skirmishes over the next year. Ceasefire talks between the Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) and the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) are likely to resume in the early December, according to Naing Hanthar, head of the NCCT. In recent days, a team led by Aung Min, vice-chairperson of the UPWC, and government officials met with Naing Hanthar and the NCCT in Nay Pyi Taw to discuss the upcoming talks. “We sought ways to resume the talks that stalled in September through coordination. Progress has been made to a certain degree,” said Naing Hanthar. “We will resume the talks, but we cannot say the exact date. It may be either at the end of this month or in the early December. Both sides want the talks to resume,” he added. The NCCT has scheduled its meeting from November 24-26, before the resumption of talks between the UPWC and the NCCT. The exact date for the bilateral talks may only be fixed after this meeting. MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014 National 3 Thai fishermen convert boats to cash in on human-smuggling Malaysian police detain five suspected of human trafficking DEUTSCHE PRESSEAGENTUR Kuala Lumpur Police in Malaysia detained five Myanmar nationals suspected of being members of a trafficking syndicate, state-run Bernama news agency reported Tuesday. In a raid on Monday, police found 55 Myanmar nationals in a weak condition in a house in George Town, some 300 kilometres north of Kuala Lumpur, the agency quoted deputy district police chief Salawati Saad as saying. The syndicate allegedly brought the 55 into the country for a fee and promised them employment. Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said there are 250,000Myanmar workers in Malaysia but only about 113,000 of them have valid documents. Ahmad Zahid said people from Myanmar, including Rohingyas from the strife-torn Myanmar state of Rakhine, are the third highest number of illegal immigrants in Malaysia next to those from Indonesia and Bangladesh. interior of a boat to hold people. “He is getting very rich,” said Hanif as he sorted shimmering piles of ribbon fish and mackerel. “He wanted to make as much room as possible to carry more in one trip.” Many locals saw nothing wrong with transporting boat people, said Manit Pianthong, chief of Takua Pa district in neighbouring Phang Nga province. “Villagers and fisherman have been living with migrants coming in and out of Thailand for more than 30 years because of our proximity to Myanmar,” he said. “That’s why we need to educate them slowly and show them that this is wrong.” Thailand is the world’s thirdlargest exporter of seafood. It is also one of the worst centres for human-trafficking, according to the US State Department, which in June downgraded Thailand to its lowest ranking for “not making significant efforts” to tackle the crime. MYANMAR ELEVEN AFP THE smuggling of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar is so lucrative that Thai fishermen are converting their boats to carry humans, police and officials in southern Thailand said. In recent weeks, thousands of Rohingya, a mostly stateless people, have sailed across the Bay of Bengal to the west coast of Thailand, from where humansmugglers deliver them to neighbouring Malaysia, a Muslimmajority country where they can find jobs. Some boat operators in Ranong province, which has a large fishing industry, were adapting to profit from the exodus, said Sanya Prakobphol, chief of police in Kapoe district. “The fishing business isn’t so good so the fishermen make their boats people-carrying boats,” Sanya told Reuters. “Some converted Ranong boats can carry up to 1,000 people.” Boat operators can earn up to Bt10,000 (US$300) per person by ferrying illegal migrants from Myanmar to Thailand, he added. The Royal Thai Navy told Reuters last month that most smuggling and trafficking ships plying the Bay of Bengal were from Thailand. The navy also said it had increased patrols. According to the Arakan Project, which plots migration across the Bay of Bengal, about 100,000 Rohingya have left Rakhine State since 2012. Violent clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists that year killed hundreds and left 140,000 homeless, most of them Rohingya. Ranong’s provincial capital, which goes by the same name, is a port city just 40 minutes by boat from Myanmar. Migrants have historically formed the backbone of its seafood industry. Hanif, who uses only one name, said he had helped a fellow Ranong fisherman strip the Myanmar national, Khalid Mohammed, allegedly a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) trained IED expert staying in the southern city of Hyderabad, was taken to court in Kolkata, India, yesterday. He was arrested in connection with the October 2 blast in Burdwan. He allegedly belongs to the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation, a militant outfit fighting for rights of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. US-made barometers to be installed in Yangon Kyaw Htin MYANMAR ELEVEN The Yangon Regional Government Committee will survey air pollution in urban areas with the use of US-made barometers, which will be installed in Maha Bandula Park, Hledan and Mingaladon Township, according to the Environmental Conservation and Sanitation Department under Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC). The committee is going to purchase four barometers made in the US with the aim of surveying air pollution in 14 locations in Yangon. “Among the four barometers, one will be mobile instrument to measure air pressure throughout the country. We plan to install these barometers in early 2015,” said an official from Environmental Conservation and Sanitation Department. One barometer will be installed in Maha Bandula Park to measure the Central Economic Zone’s air pollution, the second will be set up in Heldan with the aim of further surveying air pollution, and third will be put in Mingalardon Township to measure atmospheric pressure on the outskirts of Yangon. When the survey of air pollution begins, reduction plans will be implemented in accordance with the findings. If the findings no reason for concern for air pol- EMG REUTERS Ranong Unprecedented regional malaria goal adopted Vehicles in downtown Yangon producing exhaust fumes. lution in Yangon, the authorities will concentrate on environmental sanitation works. Previously, a German organization had agreed to provide 15 barometers to Myanmar. However, that plan failed. New barometer installation programs will be funded by YCDC. YCDC has never before used barometers, so the committee hasn’t taken a systematic survey on air pollution. Yangon recently won the 3rd Asean Environmentally Sustainable Cities Award presented by the Asean Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (AWGESC), which measures the environmental merits of cities throughout the Asean region. YCDC’s plans to carry out air pollution surveys predated this award. Leaders of the 18 East Asia Summit countries last week committed to an ambitious goal of eliminating malaria from the entire Asia Pacific region in the next 15 years. The bold move shows strong leadership on health security and responds head-on to concerns about growing resistance to the drug artemisinin, the mainstay of worldwide treatment for the most dangerous form of the disease. Resistance was first reported in western Cambodia several years ago and was more recently detected in Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. The Asia Pacific region has an estimated 32 million cases of malaria each year and 47,000 associated deaths. Around 2 billion people in the region remain at risk of infection. The region-wide commitment builds on strong political and technical leadership. The Prime Ministers of Australia and Vietnam are the co-chairs of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance, a new grouping of heads of government devoted to battling the disease. “Technical experts and available evidence all suggest this game-changing goal is crucial and achievable,” said Dr Benjamin Rolfe, Executive Secretary of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance. “Reaching it will require an urgent and coordinated regional response, robust and predictable financing, as well as effective programme management in each country.” The fact that drug resistance has extended from its origins at the Thailand–Cambodia border to as far west as Myanmar, is a particular cause for worry. Experts fear that should resistance reach India, as has happened with previous frontline anti-malarial medicines, the task of controlling its spread will be far more difficult. “If drug resistance escapes from this handful of countries, the gains of two decades of the global malaria struggle could be undone,” said Sir Richard Feachem, co-chair of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network. “Hundreds of millions of dollars in previous investments could be lost, and we could see a massive resurgence of the disease.” The regional malaria elimination goal has considerable cost implications for the public health budgets of affected countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion. “Some countries and international organisations are cutting funds just when we need to go the final mile – to avoid the risk of malaria resurgence,” said Dr NafsiahMboi, Chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and former Minister of Health of Indonesia. “We have asked regional leaders to recognise the risk, to provide vision and commitment, and to take action to counter it effectively,” she added. 4 BUSINESS MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014 AFP Central bank warns against currency manipulation This picture shows Myanmar bank workers stacking bundles of Myanmar kyat bank notes in Yangon. Tin Yu Nwe MYANMAR ELEVEN THE Central Bank of Myanmar warns private banks against currency manipulation, while attributing the recent kyat depreciation to their manipulation. An official from the central bank said that CBM has not been oblivious of the irregular dollar/ kyat movement. Last week, an amount of US$50 million was sold to private banks to ease the increasing demand for US dollar. Meanwhile, under the directive No. 14/2012, it sent a circulation to all banks, instructing them to quote the exchange rate within the legal limit. “The CBM wants price stability in the market. This is a result of competitive sales by the private banks and other non-banking organizations,” said the official who asked not to be named. Banks are allowed to quote selling and buying prices within a band, which is set within 0.8 per cent of the CBM’s reference rate. The CBM sets its daily reference rates for US dollar, Euro and Singapore dollar. The reference rates of US dollar set by the CBM was Ks 1,016 per dollar on November 14; Ks 1,029 on November 17; Ks 1,040 on November 18 and Ks 1,048 on November 19 respectively. Under the stipulated band, on November 19, private banks must quote the selling rate at no more than 1,056 per dollar. However, the black market rate was as high as 1,080 on the day. The kyat has depreciated by 8 per cent against US dollar so far this year. In the corresponding period, the dollar has risen by 9 per cent against euro and 11.2 per cent against Japanese yen. Since the managed float was adopted in April 2012, the kyat has depreciated sharply from 820 to 1,048 or by 27.8 per cent. The kyat averaged 935.81 from 2012 until 2014, reaching an all-time high of 989 in December of 2013 and a record low of 847.95 in October of 2012. The greenback’s upward momentum started in July when the US Federal Reserve hinted that interest rates could rise further than expected when they are eventually hiked, probably in mid-2015. Economists have attributed the weakening to widening trade deficits, as Myanmar needs a huge amount of dollar for imports. Meanwhile, the greenback has gained against major currencies since July when the US Federal Reserve Board hinted at a possible hike in interest rates, following gradual economic recovery. The kyat weakened against dollar along with other currencies since then and the pace has quickened since late September. Aside from high demand to cover imports, he anticipated that there was currency speculation by some cronies. Than Lwin, a senior advisor from Kanbawza Bank, noted that an issue here is that only 40 per cent of money circulated in the economy is passing through the banking system. “Only 40 per cent is now circulated in the banking system. It would be easier if up to 80 per cent is,” he said. MYANMAR ELEVEN The price for a luxury condominium unit currently under construction by KHG Development starts at Ks 360,000 per square foot, according to the company’s senior executive. “At the moment, one square foot runs between 360,000 and 400,000 kyats. The construction will take three years. Singaporean construction consultants will be involved with the project,” said Ye Pyae Aung, the senior executive of the company. He added that permissions from both the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and the Regional government were granted last month. The luxury condos will be situated in twin towers, each with 28 stories. At least 148 units will be installed. Companies owned by Myanmar nationals are permitted to build hotels as well as condominiums with the approval of MIC. Among the 12 sectors in which Myanmar citizens are allowed to invest, the construction sector attracts the most investment, followed by hospitality and tourism. Economists are becoming increasing alarmed by rising speculation in real estate, saying it will undermine the economic progress Myanmar is making. EMG Luxury condo sales open at Ks 360,000 per square foot KHG’s construction site on Kaba Aye Pagoda Road in Yangon. Pyae Wa Htun, CEO of Parami Energy Group, earllier said that property prices would continue to surge due to rising demand. “But there is no doubt the market will fall when the owners of prime land start selling at prices that undercut the market,” he said. Some people are borrowing cash to speculate in the hope that the sale price will cover the interest rates accumulating on their loans. “If the property market falls, the entire economy will be damaged at once. Of course those with black money won’t be hurt,” Pyae Wa Htun added. The government needs a master plan to determine how much farmland can be converted for development, experts have said. They point to studies showing the population of Myanmar topping 100 million by 2040, and say this underscores the need to consider land-use policy very carefully. MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014 5 Business 6 MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014 EMG Muse border generates US$3 bn in trade with China A scene of Toll-Gate in Muse Border Trading Camp. MYANMAR ELEVEN Yangon MYANMAR’S trade with China through the Muse border trading camp was valued at approximately US$3 billion this fiscal year, according to the Directorate of Commerce and Consumers’ Affairs. This number marks a spike of over $656 million in trade since last fiscal year. Myanmar exports to China were valued at over $2 billion between April 1 and November 14 this year, while Chinese imports to Myanmar were valued at over $918 million. Thus, the bilateral trade amounts to over $2.9 billion. Last fiscal year, the volume of exports to China amounted to over $1.5 billion, and China’s import volume was worth over $790 million, bringing the value of the bilateral trade between the two countries close to $2.3 billion. In an effort to increase trade with China, Myanmar is now opening additional border trading camps in Muse, Lwejel, Chin Shwe Haw and Kan Peik Tee Townships. Among the border trading camps, Muse processes the most trade with China, according to the Directorate of Commerce and Consumers’ Affairs. Myanmar mostly exports agricultural products such as rice, beans, pulses, sesame and maize as well as raw rubber products to China through the Muse border trading camp. Myanmar mainly imports Chinese-made motorcycles, bicycles, fertilizers and construction materials from China. Patkol to open office in Myanmar next year THE NATION Patkol, a Thai manufacturer of foodprocessing, refrigeration and ice-making machines, will open an office in Myanmar next year. Managing director Sangchai Chotchuangchatchaval is confident the food industry, including exports in the region, will continue to expand. At present the company has offices in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The Thai office serves Cambodia and Laos markets. Sangchai said the full implementation of the Asean Economic Community next year would result in 700 million people being brought together and as a result Patkol would have access to many more potential customers. He said that would present a tremendous growth opportunity for a company that was a pioneer in the market and now has more than 50 years of history. Patkol also has representatives in the United States, Australia, Europe, Japan, the Middle East, and Africa. It does business in more than 50 countries. Sangchai said the expansion meant the company would have to train staff for up to three years – an important investment – while its 10,000 squaremetre Kingkaew factory in Bangkok was being upgraded and would serve as a distribution, installation, service, and training centre New machines will also be installed at Patkol Manufacturing in Phetchaburi. Sangchai said the company had the biggest market share in Thailand, with its domestic and overseas sales accounting for 80 per cent and 20 per cent of its business respectively. It wants that ratio to be 50:50 within five years. The company recorded total revenue of Bt2.97 billion and a net profit of Bt132.55 million in the first nine months of the year. ASEAN+ 50 workers crammed into two condo units in S’pore 7 MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014 The Straits Times One unit is the size of a typical two-bedroom condominium apartment and could house a family of about four comfortably. But two of these units in a condo along Selegie Road were, instead, housing about 50 construction workers from Bangladesh and India, according to a spot check by the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC) and The Straits Times on Wednesday. Rotting food, soiled clothes and bags were strewn on the grimy floors of the units located in Selegie Centre near Little India. The men slept shoulder to shoulder on the floor or on wood- en boards along the corridors outside the apartments. The walls were stained brown and cabinets were broken, while a damp stench permeated the hallways. When asked if they thought the conditions were bad or unbearable, the men, nervous from the spot check, could only reply: “I don’t know.” According to Urban Redevelopment Authority guidelines, rented residential properties can house a maximum of eight people, regardless of size. Yesterday’s spot check came after the MWC received a call on its hotline on Tuesday afternoon from a worker. He said that his company, cannot be condoned.” MOM officers went down to the scene later and took down the particulars of all the workers there. An MOM spokesman said: “Our initial assessment is that the units are overcrowded and we are investigating several employers for failing to ensure that their foreign employees have acceptable accommodation.” Employers found guilty of failing to provide acceptable accommodation can be fined up to S$10,000 (US$7,682), and/or jailed for up to 12 months. Harri Construction & Maintenance manager Nallusamy Narayanan dismissed the workers’ claims, saying the workers Harri Construction & Maintenance, and some of the company’s sub-contractors were putting workers up in poor housing and owed them several months of salaries. MWC executive director Bernard Menon said: “Our staff who answered the call sensed that there was an urgent need to look into the case. Our chairman, Yeo Guat Kwang, directed us to do a spot check later in the night.” Menon added: “Upon our inspection, we found that the living conditions of the workers are unacceptable. We urge MOM (Ministry of Manpower) to take serious action against the employer. This kind of behaviour are unhappy because they want three days off a week but he offered them only a weekly rest day. He added: “I want them to stay in proper dormitories. But they want to stay in Selegie because it is near Little India. They like Geylang, because you know, there are girls there and they can drink.” Nallusamy, a Singapore permanent resident and Indian national, said he moved 14 workers temporarily to the apartments in Selegie Centre this week. He insisted there are usually only 15 workers in each apartment. He admitted he owed them salaries, but all have been paid. Old apartments remain in state of disrepair Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, left, is greeted by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo after his swearing-in. Muslim-majority Indonesia’s capital gets Christian leader Agence France-Presse JAKARTA A Christian was inaugurated Wednesday as governor of the Indonesian capital for the first time in 50 years, despite weeks of protests from Islamic hardliners in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also the first person from the country’s tiny ethnic Chinese minority to become leader of Jakarta, was sworn in at a ceremony by President Joko Widodo. He replaces Widodo, who took office as head of state last month, and like the president was a political outsider without deep roots in the era of dictator Suharto. The emergence of leaders such as Widodo and Purnama has been praised as a sign that democratic reforms introduced after the end of authoritarian rule in 1998 have taken root. Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, was Widodo’s deputy and has been acting governor for several months. However, his appointment has not been smooth, with Islamic hardline groups staging regular protests against an “infidel” taking over as governor and political opponents in the city council attempting to block his inauguration. But the hot-headed, straight-talking governor has shrugged off the challenges to his leadership. “You can’t make everybody happy,” he said after his inauguration. The tall, bespectacled politician promises a starkly dif- ferent style to his predecessor. Purnama is famed for his angry outbursts at bumbling officials. Despite the opposition from Islamic groups, many Jakarta residents support the governor. They believe it takes a strong leader to fix the problems of the capital, which include a threadbare public transport system, inadequate flood defences and an inefficient bureaucracy. Scores of people headed to city hall to show their support for the new governor on Wednesday, with a banner that read: “Congratulations on the inauguration of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama”. Having an ethnic Chinese city governor also represents progress in Indonesia, as the minority suffered severe discrimination in the Suharto years. Reuters HANOI the University of Construction. People were losing faith in the Government’s capability to provide them with better houses, she said. Moreover, some were “not fully aware of the dangers” of living in buildings that “could collapse anytime.” The old apartment buildings were dangerous not only because they were constructed decades ago, but also due to illegal expansions. About half of the apartment area in Giang Vo was built illegally and ille- There are more than 1,500 old apartment buildings at risk of collapse across Vietnam, but in the last decade, only five per cent were rebuilt. “Enterprises are not interested in rebuilding apartment buildings, which is low-benefit and high-risk,” said Pham Sy Liem, vice president of the Vietnam Federation of Civil Engineering Association. In Ha Noi, only 14 of the 1,155 buildings in need of renovation attracted investment from enterprises. Restrictions on height and occupancy in Ha Noi’s central districts, where most of the old apartments are located, and difficulties in land clearance present obstaThe Nguyen Cong Tru apartment cles for would-be building in Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung investors. District is one of more than 1,500 old “The first compaapartment buildings in the country ny to take my apartthat are at risk of collapse. ment building’s progal expansions accounted for ject had to spend two years 61.7 per cent of the Nam Dong convincing residents to sign area in Dong Da District, compensation contracts. according to the Institute of However, it was for nothing. Construction and Urban Some residents still refused Economics. the offers and then that comTran Thi Minh Tam, who pany was replaced by anothlives in Giang Vo’s C8 aparter,” said Nguyen To Loan, who ment building, built a 10sq.m lives in the Giang Vo area of room at the back of the Ba Dinh District. 40sq.m apartment that Disagreements between housed her family of ten. apartment residents and “That was still not enough investors over compensation amounts were the main reason space for beds. The whole family had to sleep on the that land clearance took so floor,” she said. long, said Le Thi Hoai An from Viet Nam News Viet Nam News ASEAN+ 8 MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014 Nine sentenced over deadly 1996 disco fire MANILA A potential witness in the trial over the Philippines’ worst political massacre has been killed, police said Wednesday as the government struggled to secure justice for the 2009 murder of 58 people. Tuesday’s attack brings to four the number of would-be witnesses in the ongoing trial to be killed, with no one yet convicted nearly five years on. Dennis Sakal died while another potential witness Sukarno Saudagal was wounded in the attack by unknown gunmen in the southern province of Maguindanao, where the massacre took place on November 23, 2009, said provincial police chief Rodelio Jocson. “I was officially informed that the two were to take the stand,” Senior Superintendent Jocson told AFP by telephone. He said he was unaware of what they planned to say. Apart from the three other potential witnesses murdered earlier, three relatives of persons who had planned to testify at the trial in Manila have also been killed, prosecutors say. The 2009 massacre was allegedly orchestrated by the Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao on Mindanao island in a bid to stop a local rival from challenging one of its members for the post of governor. The clan’s candidate, Andal Ampatuan junior, allegedly led his family’s private army in stopping a convoy carrying his foe’s wife, relatives, lawyers and a group of more than 30 journalists, and then gunning them down. A total of 111 out of 195 suspects are on trial, including the principal suspects Andal junior, brother Zaldy Ampatuan and their father and clan patriarch Andal Ampatuan senior. However, court officials said the other suspects remain at large and prosecutors do not expect the court to hand down verdicts until next year at the earliest. Abigail Valte, a spokeswoman for President Benigno Aquino, and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines both condemned the latest ambush. “The government has to step up and secure people involved in this trial, which has taken too long already,” union director Jose Jaime Espina told AFP. “It does not help the morale of the other witnesses,” Valte acknowledged. The Ampatuans, who deny the murder charges, had ruled Maguindanao for about a decade under the patronage of then-president Gloria Arroyo, who had used the clan’s militias as a buffer against Muslim separatist rebels. Despite the detention of top clan leaders, wives and other relatives of the key defendants were elected to major local posts across Maguindanao last year, attesting to the clan’s enduring influence. A Philippine court on Thursday sentenced nine people to jail for a fire that killed 162 people at a disco in 1996, in a decision that highlighted the country’s painfully slow justice system. Survivors and anti-crime groups welcomed the ruling, but were anguished that it had taken so long and expressed fears that some of those found guilty had fled the country, with a court official admitting the whereabouts of the nine were unknown. In one of the Philippines’ deadliest fires, 162 people were killed and 94 others injured after becoming trapped when the Ozone Disco in a commercial district of northern Manila went up in flames. In Thursday’s ruling, seven city engineers were sentenced to up to 10 years in jail for allowing the nightclub to operate without adequate safety precautions, court administrator Teresa Pabulayan told AFP. The Ozone Disco’s owner and treasurer were given the same sentences, according to Pabulayan, but she would not specify the exact number of years given, saying only it was between six and 10. “The engineers gave unwarranted and preferential advantage to the Ozone disco owners. They failed to detect structural and fire safety deficiencies,” she said, summarising the Manila anti-graft court’s ruling. The nine will not be immediately arrested as they have 15 days to appeal the ruling, Pabulayan said, adding she did not know where they were. “After 18 years, finally justice is served,” Stephen Santos, president of a group that represents the survivors, told local television channel ANC. However Santos voiced concern about the time it took for the verdict to be delivered, and said he feared those convicted had left the country. Dante Jimenez, founder of an anti-crime advocacy group that helped the survivors with court cases, said some of the survivors had died before justice was served. “This reflects how rotten the justice system is,” Jimenez told AFP. Court cases in the Philippines typically take many years to complete. Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said last month she was hiring more judges and finding ways to hasten legal procedures to clear massive backlogs that burden judges with as many as 4,000 cases at a time. “We want to say that in the Philippines, it’s no longer justice delayed and therefore justice denied,” she said. A giant puffball mushroom was found in a grass patch in Buangkok View housing estate in Hougang, Singapore, after recent heavy rain. The Straits Times Agence France-Presse MANILA 6,900 sq km of seafloor searched so far for MH370 ties involved. “The plan includes search timings, methods, procedures, The underwater search safety precautions and the inifor the missing Malaysia tial search areas for the various Airlines flight MH370 plane vessels. has to date covered about The Fugro Discovery, a for6,900 sq km of the seafloor, mer Norwegian Navy vessel, an area slightly larger than has departed the underwater the state of Negri Sembilan. search area on Nov 18 to transit In an operational search to Fremantle for resupply. update, Australia’s Joint It is expected to arrive on Agency Coordination Centre Nov 23 and depart again for the (JACC) said the underwater search area on Nov 24. As for search aims to map the the Fugro Equator, its mobilisaMH370 debris field, in addition for the underwater search tion to locating the aircraft. has been postponed due to Such a map will help to delays in the supply of a new identify and prioritise the deep tow winch and cable. recovery of specific aircraft Meanwhile, the vessel has components, including flight been tasked to return to the recorders, which will assist The underwater search areas for missing MH370 in the Indian search area for further bathymwith the Malaysian investiga- Ocean, off Western Australia. etric operations, which will tion. broaden the survey coverage in the cur“The ATSB has utilised the data from the initial plan for the underwater search, rent underwater search area. the bathymetric survey work to prepare to be followed and referred to by all par- The Star EPA Would-be witness in Philippine massacre murdered Agence France-Presse MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014 9 ASEAN+ Rooftop dining experience is on offer in Laos Vientiane Times The rooftop dining experience that defines world-class cities can now be enjoyed right here in Vientiane, from the rooftop of the newly opened hotel USouk Hotel. Guests will enjoy the wonderful view of Vientiane from the fifth floor at the Terminal 5 Exclusive Lounge. Owned by Souksakhone Saythirath, who is also President of Saythirath Group, the 3-star hotel aims to introduce new experiences to its guests. The team in the kitchen is led by an experienced chef from Thailand bringing a modern approach of to a range of dishes. An experienced Lao architect was engaged to renovate the hotel in bringing a contemporary flavour to the boutique hotel experience. The owner has invested about US$300,000 in renovation to provide something different to what was already on offer in the city, especially modern dishes appealing to both local and foreign guests. “The reason that I have decided to open the hotel is because I want to provide a variety of the food to the guests, especially my own friends who do business here in Laos,” he said. He added that he had dined out at many places in Laos, and too many had left him less than impressed. Such experiences helped in the decision to run his very own hotel. Souksakhone observed that his business associates and guests were prepared to spend if they believe the food and accommodation are value for money. “Our hotel will be a main meeting point for people all walk of life to enjoy dining, drinking and socialising.” He also believes it is right time to open the hotel in order to welcome the era of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) with a professional team from Thailand to provide service to customers. “We have a strong team and the team that share common goal, have a sense of responsibility and the team spirit. This is our selling point.” Souksakhone said he is aware of growing competition in Vientiane, but he is confident his hotel with accommodation start from 50$ per night has both the style and unique attributes to compete and thrive. “Every business has challenges, but if we maintain strong relationships, clear goals, a vision, especially team spirit in our office we can run our business smoothly and successfully,” he said. A graduate from Lao National University majoring in economics, he has done a great deal of business in Laos including Saythirath Group’s successful construction and cement project in Khammuan province via Lanexang Cement Company in addition to real estate and luxury car ventures. S’pore named world’s best place for business The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has once again ranked Singapore as the best place in the world to do business because of its efficient and open economy. No. 2 out of the 82 counries surveyed was Switzerland, followed by Australia, Hong Kong and Sweden respectively. Singapore has come out tops for seven consecutive years. Last month, it also topped the World Bank’s ease of doing business report, which looked at 189 countries. The rankings were based on the attractiveness of a country’s business environment measured by criteria such as political climate, openness to foreign investment, taxes, the labour market and infrastructure. BRIC (countries fared poorly on this year’s rankings with China in 50th place and Russia in 64th. Brazil and India were ranked 47th and 48th respectively. EU countries were some way off the top, with the UK at No. 21 below Malaysia on the annual TOP 10 1. Singapore 2. Switzerland 3. Australia 4. Hong Kong 5. Sweden 6. Canada 7. United States 8. Denmark 9. New Zealand 10. Finland Source: EIU index. “The impact of the debt crisis on political stability, economic stability and financing availability has meant that EU countries remain some way off the top,” said the EIU report. However, other northern Europe countries of Denmark and Finland did make it into the top 10, placing eighth and 10th respectively on as they “continue to provide a stable environment to do business”. Ranked last out of the 82 countries ranked was troubled African nation Libya. Thai pro-democracy activist Nacha Kongudom closes her mouth and flashes a three-finger salute in front of a poster of “The Hunger Games” movie at a cinema in Bangkok. Two Thai students were arrested for attempting to organise an antigovernment protest by watching the latest instalment of the Hunger Games whose symbols are used by opponents of the military regime. EPA The Straits Times More consumers opt for bank cards Vietnam HANOI Vietnamese consumers were using 76.13 million bank cards as of October, up 15 per cent against December last year, according to statistics from the State Bank of Vietnam. This number included 68.08 million domestic cards and 8.05 million international cards. While commercial banks offered several promotion programmes to encourage the use of credit cards, these accounted for barely 4 per cent of total bank cards. Only 3.04 million were credit cards while 69.83 million were debit cards and 3.26 million were prepaid cards. The growth rate of credit cards also declined from last year to 25 per cent. The central bank also reported that the country had 15,809 automated teller machines (ATMs) by October, up 3.6 per cent against last year. This included 159,067 point of sale (POS) devices, up 23.1 per cent against last year. The Government aims to cut cash payments from 14 per cent of all transactions in Vietnam in 2011 to less than 11 per cent by the end of 2015. The plan also focuses on the development of card payment services, with the aim of developing 250,000 POS that can accept about 200 million card payments per year by 2015. Industry insiders said that bank cards were currently not widely accepted, and that electronic payment methods must be diversified to support the development of e-commerce in Vietnam. The SBV recently established an interbank electronic payment system connecting 66 members under the SBV and 463 branches of 94 credit institutions in order to create conditions for the development of e-commerce. LIFESTYLE 10 MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014 Honouring Aung San’s legacy Shwe Baho Cinema to reopen as a two-screen theatre MYANMAR ELEVEN YANGON Shwe Baho Cinema in Tamwe Township will reopen next month as a two-screen cinema following extensive renovations, according to Mega Ace Cinema Group. Operated by Mega Ace Cinema Group under a longterm lease, the theatre screens both 2D and 3D Myanmar and foreign films with five showtimes per day. “Currently, we plan to screen the films at the two mini-theatres on the ground floor and add another mini theatre upstairs,” said a spokesman for Mega Ace Cinema Group. “It’s now easy for movie buffs residing near Tamwe Township to go to the modern cinema. We will try to screen new releases at the same time they open at bigger downtown theatres,” the official added. Mega Ace Cinema Group operates Aung Thapyay Cinema in Nay Pyi Taw and Mya Yadana Cinema in Yangon with plans to upgrade Gone Yaung Cinema in Mandalay. MYANMAR ELEVEN As part of Bogyoke Aung San centenary celebrations, popular dance troupe Hnin Si Anyeint will stage a fund-raising performance featuring an all-star cast of dancers, thespians and comedians on February 13. “We are arranging a fund-raising performance for February as a memorial to Bogyoke Aung San and to mark his birth centenary. ERIK NILSSON CHINA DAILY Uproar ensued after the highestscoring Chinese player at this year’s European Mahjong Championship came in 30th and the highest-ranking Chinese team finished 37th. “This result is equal to Brazil not qualifying for the World Cup,” media quoted foreign Chinese news site Literature City as saying. (Many pundits pointed out that China didn’t qualify for the World Cup.) Emotions became visceral on social media, and traditional media chimed in. Explanations – some said excuses – were debated. Jetlag. Weak players. Luck of the draw – or lack thereof. Any and all of these may be true. But Yao Xiaolei, assistant secretarygeneral of the game’s Beijing-based global governing body, the World Mahjong Organisation, points to a certainty fewer dispute. “Although the results were not good, we should look at the very quick development of the European (tournament) mahjong in recent years. It showed Chinese mahjong’s promotion has been rewarded,” media quoted Yao as saying. The game invented in China roughly two millennia ago is gaining ground globally in the new millennium. It arguably ranks among the country’s top cultural exports. “Mahjong is increasing in popularity in Europe,” says Tina Christensen, president of the European Mahjong Championship’s organiser, the European Mahjong Association. “In Europe, mahjong (events are) organised in several countries with many tournaments and many demonstrations at game and culture The show will feature all troupe members including thespians, dancers and comedians who will be cracking some new gags as well. As this will be the first show in Yangon in many years by Hnin Si, it’s definitely a must-see performance,” said Hnin Si Anyeint troupe director Maung Myo Min, aka Yintwinphyit (literally “from the heart”.) Known for combining drama, classic Myanmar dance, deadpan comedy and political satire in their live performances, the dance troupe features wellknown actresses such as Moe Yu San, May Kabyar and Phoo Sone. Actors Nay Toe, Kyaw Kyaw Bo, Tun Tun, Moe Moe and Ye Lay will serve as supporting comedians. The trailer of a political biopic about Aung San will be shown as one of the highlights on the day. EMG Hnin Si Anyeint is known for blending humour and political satire. A model of the mini theatres at Shwe Baho Cinema. ASEAN FOCUS Mahjong expanding ‘to every corner of the world’ million, the league’s managing festivals. There is some luck director Freddy Fajardo says. involved in mahjong. But China International trends include didn’t send their strongest player more daylong tournaments and to recent tournaments in Europe,” weeklong festivals, Australia’s says Christensen, who’s also the Rockhampton Mahjong Club Inc World Mahjong Organisation’s president Jan Davison says. deputy secretary-general. Others are younger players and Australian Mahjong League more men, although retired managing director Freddy Fajardo women still comprise most of asserts a home-turf the Western base. “Over the disadvantage. “It’s a combination years, I’ve seen an incredible of learning the tournament rules, resurgence with kids as young as scoring, formats and practice,” he Foreigners are beating Chinese at their 7 wanting to learn and couples says. “Mahjong is a game of skill own game. who enjoy an evening or that does also require a little bit President of manufacturer Fun With afternoon game with other couples,” of luck.” More “mahjong cruises” are says Rosen, who also teaches classes. Mah Jongg Anna Rosen points to setting sail from Western ports, and industry surveys saying player numbers Israel points to nostalgia for the earlier overseas national associations, decades when the game was popular in have risen from 90 million worldwide a tournaments and leagues are the US as a reason for its revival among few years ago to 500 million. proliferating. European tournaments younger Americans. Owner of Dutch Web shop have surged from two when the “Younger people – men and women Mahjongshop DOt1 Janco Onnink European Mahjong Association was alike – (are) … recalling with great explains the Dutch Mahjong established in 2005 to 40 last year, affection the clattering of the tiles at Association’s founding has meant the Christensen says. The continent hosts their mothers’ or grandmothers’ country has gone from hosting virtually about 700 tournament players, she mahjong tables,” she says. no tournaments in 2004 to many. says. Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game Media report the game has become “When we started offering our co-author Ann M. Israel points to US a staple in some US singles bars mahjong line, we had eight products,” surveys that suggest the country hosts frequented by youth. Mahjong isn’t as says Onnink, who has competed in between 500,000 and 800,000 players much emerging but re-emerging in the international mahjong tournaments. of various levels. “Mahjong is popular “We now offer over 75 items … sold on a US, where it was popular through the with literally millions of participants in 1920s until the Great Depression, retail, wholesale and export basis. all the Asian countries,” she says. Rosen says. There were very few websites when we “Mahjong is now played in the It maintained some appeal until the started. Today, there are thousands.” Middle East and all throughout Europe. The Australian Mahjong League has early ‘60s, she says. “However, by the There is no question the game has a late ‘60s it became stereotyped as a hosted over 6,000 tournaments since growing international following. (Its) its 2007 founding, attracting thousands game that only older Jewish women global popularity is expanding, with no were playing,” Rosen says. “But today, of players who’ve won more than $2.6 end to its growth.” with 1950s nostalgia becoming so popular thanks to television shows such as Mad Men, the game is enjoying a renaissance.” Rules’ standardisation has proven a boon and a bane. Rubrics vary by location in China, and many sets of international standards are clamouring to be recognised as the global standard. Many nations, such as the US and Japan, have developed diverse homegrown variants that are also competing for recognition as the law of the land within their borders and beyond. It can be said mahjong is less of a game than a family of games. Christensen calls standardisation “a must”. “This work is still ongoing,” she says. Fajardo says: “Our vision is to have a unified approach to the rules and tournament formats around the world that benefit the internationalisation of mahjong. Other challenges include legislation in many markets that consider mahjong to be a form of gambling rather than a game of skill that can be enjoyed by men and women of many generations. These types of restrictions restrict the promotion of mahjong and potential internationalisation.” Insiders agree globalisation will surpass barriers to transcend boundaries. “Mahjong in the United States isn’t just for little old Jewish ladies anymore,” Rosen says. “It’s a game that has grown and will continue to grow as its popularity expands to every corner of the world.” Within the contexts of mahjong’s globalisation and soft power, the recent Chinese loss in Europe can be viewed as a different take on international game theory – one in China wins, even if it loses.
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