asean+ - Asia News Network

First INDEPENDENT English daily
FRIDAY, November 21, 2014
Her hope is dashed
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
Central bank warns
against currency
NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi alone in the crowd.
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
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
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
50 workers crammed into
two condo units in S’pore
Honouring Aung San’s
At least 22 killed in army
attack in Kachin state
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014
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
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
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
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
A Myanmar army shell left at
least 22 cadets from the Kachin
Independence Army (KIA) military academy dead and 14 others
seriously wounded on
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
“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
“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
Thai fishermen convert boats to
cash in on human-smuggling
police detain
five suspected
of human
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.
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
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
US-made barometers to be installed in Yangon
Kyaw Htin
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
The committee is going to
purchase four barometers made
in the US with the aim of surveying air pollution in 14 locations in
“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-
malaria goal
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 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
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
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
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
“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.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014
Central bank warns against
currency manipulation
This picture shows Myanmar bank workers stacking bundles of Myanmar kyat bank notes in Yangon.
Tin Yu Nwe
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
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.
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
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
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
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014
Muse border generates
US$3 bn in trade with China
A scene of Toll-Gate in Muse Border Trading Camp.
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’
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’
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
Patkol, a Thai manufacturer
of foodprocessing, refrigeration
and ice-making machines, will
open an office in Myanmar next
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
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.
50 workers crammed into
two condo units in S’pore
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
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
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
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
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
Old apartments remain
in state of disrepair
Jakarta Governor
Basuki Tjahaja
Purnama, left, is
greeted by Indonesia’s
President Joko
Widodo after his
Muslim-majority Indonesia’s
capital gets Christian leader
Agence France-Presse
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.
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
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
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
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014
Nine sentenced over
deadly 1996 disco fire
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
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
“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
The Straits Times
Agence France-Presse
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
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
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
Would-be witness
in Philippine
Agence France-Presse
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014
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$300,000 in
renovation to provide something
different to what was already on
offer in the city, especially modern dishes appealing to both
local and foreign guests.
“The reason that I have decided to open the hotel is because I
want to provide a variety of the
food to the guests, especially my
own friends who do business
here in Laos,” he said.
He added that he had dined
out at many places in Laos, and
too many had left him less than
impressed. Such experiences
helped in the decision to run his
very own hotel.
Souksakhone observed that
his business associates and
guests were prepared to spend if
they believe the food and accommodation are value for money.
“Our hotel will be a main
meeting point for people all walk
of life to enjoy dining, drinking
and socialising.”
He also believes it is right
time to open the hotel in order to
welcome the era of the Asean
Economic Community (AEC) with
a professional team from
Thailand to provide service to
“We have a strong team and
the team that share common
goal, have a sense of responsibility and the team spirit. This is
our selling point.”
Souksakhone said he is aware
of growing competition in
Vientiane, but he is confident his
hotel with accommodation start
from 50$ 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
Hong Kong
United States
New Zealand
Source: EIU
“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.
The Straits Times
opt for
bank cards
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
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
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, November 21, 2014
Honouring Aung San’s legacy
Shwe Baho Cinema to reopen
as a two-screen theatre
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
“It’s now easy for movie
buffs residing near Tamwe
Township to go to the modern
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.
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.
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
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.
Hnin Si Anyeint is known for blending humour and political satire.
A model of the mini theatres at Shwe Baho Cinema.
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
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.