myanmar to help ebola-hit nations 2 e-paper

First INDEPENDENT English daily
FRIDAY, December 26, 2014
1st poll in decades
Yangon to hold rare polls on Saturday that observers say are flawed
NLD statement
implicated govt in
Letpadungtaung clashes
Major company absent
from top tax payer lists
People pass by a campaign truck on the outskirts of Yangon.
MYANMAR’S main city is
poised to go to the polls
Saturday for the first municipal
vote in six decades, but observers warn the process is riddled
with flaws and could cast a
shadow over crucial 2015 general elections.
For many the ballot in
Yangon, home to more than five
million people, will offer the first
taste of voting under the country’s quasi-civilian government
and a rare chance to steer the
direction of its biggest commercial hub.
But there are fears the election for the Yangon City
Development Committee
(YCDC), which comes just
months before next year’s landmark vote in the former juntaruled nation, is falling far short
of democratic norms with strict
curbs on who can vote, as well
as who can stand, among the
clauses causing concern.
“It will be unfair, but I am taking part anyway,” said Win Cho,
a political activist who registered to stand in the city’s western district just days after being
released from a jail term for protesting without permission.
“If we do not take part, we
can’t do anything for the people,” he told AFP.
The polls mark only the second major vote since 2010 general elections, which were
marred by widespread accusations of cheating and the
absence of Aung San Suu Kyi’s
A 2012 by-election held in a
handful of constituencies across
the country was considered
much freer and allowed the veteran democracy campaigner to
enter parliament for the first
These polls “represent a
measuring stick as to how genuinely democratic - or not Myanmar is becoming”, said
Yangon-based political analyst
Susanne Kempel.
But rules governing this latest
ballot “fall short of international
standards for democratic, free
and fair elections”, she said.
■ Ballot restrictions
Voting has been limited to one
person per household - meaning
only around 400,000 people can
cast a ballot - while narrow age
restrictions for candidates together with a ban on political parties
taking part is viewed as deeply
Under the rules appointed figures will also outnumber elected
ones at the city’s top council within the YCDC, which has major
responsibilities over infrastructure,
heritage and tax collection in
Regional poll regulators running Saturday’s election defended
their handling of the process.
“Candidates who will get the
most votes will win. So you cannot
say the voting system is not fair,”
the city’s election chairman Tin
Aye said.
Appetite for a greater say in
how Yangon is run is growing in
some quarters of the metropolis,
which is rapidly transforming as
the country sees a flood of foreign
Decaying infrastructure, worsening traffic, runaway property
prices and rapid construction often at the expense of the colonial-era buildings - are vexing the
denizens of Yangon.
An open letter by the
Association of Myanmar Architects
recently decried authorities’ handling of rampant construction in
the city.
“If the situation is not controlled quickly, we will not be able
to solve the problems created for
the next 50 years,” it warned.
But local people approached
by AFP expressed little enthusiasm for the election -- despite the
emergence in the last few weeks
of small posters announcing the
poll as well as the odd pick-up
truck cruising the streets playing
songs to encourage people to
“I don’t know who I should vote
for, so I don’t think I will be voting,”
said Than Than Nyunt from her
streetside stall selling betel nut.
She complained that leaflets
for local candidates were simply
profiles of individuals.
“They didn’t say anything about
what they would do for us if they
are elected,” she said.
China to relax outbound
investment restrictions
The subterranean
sounds of magic
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, December 26, 2014
Doctors, healthcare workers
to help combat Ebola outbreak
MYANMAR is planning to send
doctors and healthcare staff to
Ebola-hit West African countries,
said Deputy Director General Dr
Soe Lwin Nyein from the
Department of Health.
The Ministry of Health is
selecting the doctors and healthcare staff for that mission, he
The virus has killed 7,588 people as of December 21, the vast
majority in Sierra Leone, Guinea
and Liberia. A total of 666
health-care workers (HCWs) are
known to have been infected with
the virus up to the end of
December 21, 366 of whom have
died, according to the World
Health Organisation (WHO).
According to Soe Lwin Nyein,
the medical staff will be sent to
Liberia and Sierra Leone where
the Ebola outbreak is the highest
and both countries are urgently
in need of 5,000 healthcare
workers and nearly 700 doctors.
Other Asean countries are also
planning to send healthcare
workers to West Africa.
“It is not the first time we have
sent healthcare workers to other
countries. We sent healthcare
workers during H5N1 virus outbreak. We will choose the healthcare workers who attended the
healthcare programmes related
to epidemic in local and overseas
countries. We will give additional
trainings for those who have
been chosen. I cannot tell when
they will be sent,” he said.
The decision to send healthcare workers to West Africa
countries was decided at the
Asean Ministerial meeting and
WHO has also asked for help
from other European countries.
The results of the first step of
the new vaccine for Ebola Virus
in human are satisfactory,
according to the WHO.
Medical companies and health
agencies are trying to produce
drugs and vaccines to cure and
prevent Ebola virus. They tried
sample tests on twenty adults
giving some of them high dose
and the rest low dose. They discovered that all of them produced the required immune
response to combat Ebola virus,
said the American National
Health Department in November.
According to AFP, Sierra
Leone’s government yesterday
declared a five-day lockdown in
the country’s north to step up
efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, while making an exception for Christmas.
“Muslims and Christians are
not allowed to hold services in
mosques and churches throughout the lockdown except for
Christians on Christmas Day
(Thursday),” Alie Kamara, resident minister for the Northern
Region, told AFP.
Sierra Leone, Liberia and
Guinea are the three nations
worst-hit by the epidemic, and
Sierra Leone recently overtook
Liberia as the country with the
highest number of Ebola infections.
According to the latest update
from WHO, a total of 19,497 confirmed, probable, and suspected
cases of Ebola virus disease
(EVD) have been reported.
Taking into account the number of cases as a proportion of
an affected country’s population,
there have been 24 reported
cases and 15 reported deaths per
100,000 population in Guinea,
199 cases and 85 deaths per
100,000 population in Liberia,
and 157 cases and 45 deaths per
100,000 population in Sierra
PEN Myanmar calls for freedom of speech
Ei Thinzar Kyaw
A literacy discussion in a train.
PEN Myanmar, a group of
writers, has called for freedom
of speech in its Tuesday
“In some places including
Yangon, the township administrators have banned public
speeches. That is why we are
calling for more freedom of
speech,” said Thida
(Sanchaung), the chairperson
of PEN Myanmar.
Throughout the history, the
dictators had restricted the freedom of expression and the fivedecade long tyranny censorship
had also blindfolded the people,
the announcement continues.
The state-run media are full
of propaganda and have been
lobbying for the government’s
objectives and policies for
many decades.
The censorship had overruled the literacy rights and
extended the tight grips on the
writers till the middle 2012.
Along with the political transition, the people have started
to enjoy the factual data and
information from some independent news agencies.
However the state-run media
continue to serve as the government’s propaganda mechanism.
The announcement urges
state organisation not to subju-
gate the writers and public
speeches as the people only
have the rights to disagree.
PEN Myanmar is part of PEN
International, the organisation
devoted to promote freedom
among writers.
In an announcement posted
on PEN International’s website
in November, the organisation
noted that there have been very
few public workshops on creative writing in Myanmar due to
the strict state censorship
rules. Similarly, interactive
panel discussions between
writers and readers were very
rare. In order to counter this,
PEN Myanmar has been organising open, public, interactive
panel discussions across
Myanmar to encourage dialogue between writers and
readers. To reach out to all
groups of society, PEN
Myanmar organised literary
discussions in public places,
including on trains, at bus
stops and widely distributed
the PEN Myanmar newsletter.
In addition, PEN Myanmar has
recognised the need for writers
to be able to communicate with
their peers internationally as
well as to carry out advocacy
around freedom of expression
issues before the international
community and has therefore
started a training session for
writers in English.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, December 26, 2014
NLD statement implicated govt
in Letpadungtaung clashes
forcibly crack
Wai Lin Aung
Police officers are at the crackdown scene.
company operating the
Letpadungtaung mine compensate local farmers for the 6,784
acres of seized land and pay for
land substitution to farmers after
leaving about 1,900 acres of land
in the nearby villages vacant or
MP Khin San Hlaing of the
NLD, who is also a member of
the Letpadungtung Copper Mine
Investigation Commission, said:
“It has been one year since the
implementation committee was
formed by the President. It Is
clear that the committee could
not manage these problems
effectively. The clashes erupted
because authorities failed to
implement the recommendations
of the commission that reviewed
the project. The final report
urges compensation for seized
A woman was shot dead and
40 others were injured in the
recent clashes between farmers
and the police over fencing in
Letpadungtaung copper mine
project on December 22. Two
more locals were injured on
December 23. Myanmar Wanbao
Mining Copper Co (MWMCL)
suspended fencing on December
A different statement, claiming to be released by the NLD,
circulated widely on social media
on December 22 and implicated
the Letpadungtaung protesters in
The National League for
Democracy (NLD) released a
statement today responding to
the recent clashes over the contentious Letpadungtaung copper
mine project. The statement
holds President Thein Sein and
the committee he appointed to
monitor the tensions around the
mine responsible for the conflict’s latest casualties.
According to the NLD statement, a commission was formed
to once stigmata the case of the
Letpadungtaung copper mine
project last year, with NLD chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi as
leader of the commission. The
investigation commission submitted its final report to the
President on March 11, 2013, and
the full text of report was made
public the following day. The
president then appointed a committee to implement the findings
of the investigation commission.
The NLD claims that the
recent injuries and the killing of a
local woman protesting against
the mine project were made possible by the implementation
committee’s failure to fully
implement the commission’s
suggestions and the police’s failure to execute crowd control and
riot control techniques properly.
The relevant authorities
should deal with this problem
with special care by upholding
accountability and avoiding acts
that may harm people. The NLD
would like to urge officials to
make a thorough investigation
into the case as quickly as possible after taking an account of the
rule of law and its impact on
peace and stability, the statement says.
The investigation commission’s report suggests that the
the recent clashes. The NLD’s
information officer U Kyi Toe
declared it to be a forgery.
MWMCL’s fencing project continued into the evening of
December 23 with the help of
some 100 police officers.
Some people from Sede village fled the area to stay with relatives due to a rumour that an
arson attack would be carried
out against them, according to
local people.
With regard to the suspension
of fencing, a Salingyi Township
police officer said: “It is true that
the company has stopped fencing. I don’t know when the fencing will resume.”
About 50 policemen and
plainclothes officers forcibly
evicted the protesters from
the Michaungkan protest
camp at the exit of the
Yangon City Hall in a dawn
raid on December 23.
14 protesters, mostly
women, were detained for a
half day at the police station
in the West District and were
later released after they were
charged with violating four
“When we met with
Police Col Win Bo and other
police officers earlier, they
promised not to remove the
camp by force. But they
broke their promise and
staged a dawn raid, arresting
all the protesters. We are
being charged with violating
Section 18, 431 and 143. We
will fight to get back our land
even if we are under threat
from the authorities,’’ said
Aye Mi, one of the protesters.
The Michaungkan protesters were removed on March
30 and 31 from the protest
camp beside the
Mahabandoola garden, in
front of the Yangon City Hall.
Later, on December 12, the
Michaungkan protesters
moved to a new camp at the
exit of the City Hall since the
authorities failed to resolve
the problem.
NCCT proposes additional observers to ceasefire talks
A proposal for the inclusion
of more observers in the next
ceasefire talks is aimed at further cementing agreements,
said Naing Han Thar, leader of
the Nationwide Ceasefire
Coordination Team (NCCT).
The work coordination meeting between the Union
Peacemaking Working
Committee (UPWC) and the
NCCT which was held in Yangon
during December 22-23 and
mainly focused on resolving outstanding points of contention in
the draft of the ceasefire deal.
Both sides also discussed future
plans, such as those for constructive talks to avoid the
future fights during the ceasefire
talks and the formation of a
working group for joint monitoring of both sides’ adherence to
military rules and regulations.
The NCCT has also suggested
the inclusion of more observers
at the next ceasefire talks.
“The NCCT has proposed to
include more international
observers in the 7th ceasefire
Attending the meeting
talks. We [the UPWC] have
were the Union ministers
already agreed with the
from the government’s side
NCCT in principle to invite
Aung Min, Khin Yi, Khin
other foreign observers in
Maung Soe as well as
addition to the UN and the
Lt-Gen Thet Naing Win and
current observers. We
MP Thein Zaw.
don’t know which countries
“I’d attended the meetthe NCCT will propose.
ing for fifth time as No-4
Observers can be invited to
Special Military Operation
the talks only once both
Officer and Union Minister
sides have agreed,” said
of Border Affairs. Now, I’m
Hla Maung Shwe of the
Some foreign observers joined the recent here as the Union minister
because I’ve transferred
The next meeting
NCCT summit in Laiza.
the duty of No-4 Special
between the UPWC and
Military Operation Officer to
es of ethnic groups’ armed forcthe NCCT is scheduled for
Lt-Gen Khin Zaw Oo,” said
January 15-17. Both sides expect es and the union military. The
Lt-Gen Thet Naing Win.
talk was postponed from
to finalise the ceasefire deal at
Some ethnic leaders show
November when the army
this meeting.
doubt on the talk.
shelled a Kachinrebel training
“Recent events have caused
“Unless there is a good
camp in the north of the couna decrease in trust between
explanation for the attack, it
try, killing 23.
both sides. We believe that
might be very difficult to move
Notably, military representafuture agreements will be valid
forwards on the peace talks,”
tives failed to attend the latest
only when there are observers.
said Khun Okka, a member of
Both sides should be transparNCCT.
Also missing were Naing Han
ent,” the NCCT leader said.
Yet, after the two-day talks
Tha, NCCT’s leader, and second
The NCCT wants neighbourare finished, peace negotiators
leader-2 Maj Gen Guan Maw
ing countries, the US, the UK,
from both sides announced that
didn’t attend the discussion and
Japan and Norway to serve as
the nationwide ceasefire accord
only a delegation accompanied
observers when the nation-wide
between the government and
by first leader-1 Pha Do Saw
ceasefire deal is signed.
ethnic armed groups is expectKwe Htoo Win, Dr Sali Hlang
The seventh round of talk
ed to be signed on February 12
took place despite several clash- Hmone and Col Khun Oakker.
Aung Zaw Tun
(Union Day) next year. If that
happens, political talks will follow in May.
They issued a joint statement
saying that those points will be
brought to the attention of
respective leaders for further
approval. In the statement, they
also agreed to prevent unnecessary problems during the runup to the signing of nationwide
ceasefire deal and to hold the
next meeting in mid-January.
During the meeting, UPWC
leader Aung Min said that the
ceasefire is important for 2015
since there are many priorities
in the year including the election.
“We have to discuss not
only the internal peace but also
the Constitution. It will be like
the modern Panglon Assembly.”
Both parties are eager for
peace. However, we have limited time. Peace process is not
only the case to do in 2015
since there will be a general
election which has to be free
and fair.”
The ceasefire agreement, if
really clinched, would be the
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, December 26, 2014
Major company absent
from top tax payer lists
SHWE Ayar Nadi Co Ltd, the
creator of Laser Brand
Toothpaste, was not included on
the list of top taxpayers released
by the Internal Revenue
Department (IRD) this week.
US-based Colgate-Palmolive
Co bought Laser Brand
Toothpaste from Shwe Ayar
Nadi Co Ltd in November for
roughly US$100 million.
The Internal Revenue
Department released separate
lists of the country’s 1,000 top
commercial tax and income tax
payers, as well as the top foreign tax payers and companies
that paid taxes late throughout
the 2013-14 fiscal year on
December 22.
Companies that paid a minimum of Ks 10 million were
included on the list of 1,000 top
tax payers. It is unlikely that
Shwe Ayar Nadi Co, which
made at least $100 million last
fiscal year, failed to pay a mere
Ks 10 million in taxes.
Before investing in Myanmar,
US companies must ascertain
whether their local partners pay
taxes correctly and properly
report courses of income.
According to the Directorate
of Investment and Companies
Administration, Shwe Ayar Nadi
Co Ltd, which is registered as
Shwe Super Light Co, manufac-
tures lemon tea, cereal, coffee
mix and a variety of other foodstuffs.
Shwe Super Light Co (SSL)
was not included on the top tax
payers list, it’s affiliate SSL
Trading Co was included.
SSL Trading Co was ranked
479th on the list of the top
1,000 commercial tax payers
after paying less than Ks 50
million. The company was also
ranked 656th on the list of the
top 1,000 income tax payers
after paying less than Ks 50
SSL Trading Co’s tax payments are notably less than
those of other coffee mix manufacturing companies.
Super Coffee Mix Co Ltd was
listed among the top foreign tax
paying companies for paying
between Ks 50 million and Ks
100 million in both commercial
and income taxes.
Tax payers have complained
about the wide discrepancy
between the profits earned and
taxes paid by large companies
in Myanmar. The weakness of
tax collectors and the lack of
transparency in companies’
income reporting depress the
government’s total tax revenues.
No official explanation has
been offered for the absence of
Shwe Ayar Nadi Co Ltd from the
top taxpayer lists.
Mae Sot-Myawaddy border checkpoint
in Thailand’s Tak province.
Mae Sot-Myawaddy border checkpoint hours extended
Myanmar and Thailand have
reached an agreement to extend
services at the Mae SotMyawaddy border checkpoint by
three hours, effective January 1.
The checkpoint is usually
open from 6am to 6pm, but
starting this New Year, its service
hours will be from 5.30am to
8.30pm, according to Somchai
Hathayatani, governor of Tak
Province, Thailand.
The governor said the idea
was proposed by public and private sector enterprises in the
northern border province. Both
countries agreed to extend the
service hours, as it will help
boost cross-border trade
between the two countries.
“As our Prime Minister
Prayuth Chan-O-cha approved
the plan, we have already
informed all involved parties,
including customs officers, to
prepare for the extended service,” said Somchai.
Somchai said that the service
extension will also help the two
countries prepare for the upcoming implementation of the Asean
Economic Community (AEC) in
He also added that the checkpoint is strategically significant
because it serves as Thailand’s
gateway to the East. The check-
point also the gateway to the
East-West Economic Corridor,
which connects Southeast Asia
to India.
The extension will increase
the cross-border trade, which is
estimated to reach Bt50 million
this year. In 2012, the cross-border trade volume at Mae Sot was
valued at Bt39 billion, and it
increased to Bt46 billion last
looking to
Japan for SE
Asia rail
Thailand is talking to Japan
with a view to building three rail
routes in the Southeast Asian
country, a Thai minister said on
Saturday, the latest move by its
military government to kick-start
long-delayed plans to modernise
its aging rail network.
Thailand wants three new lines
connecting the capital, Bangkok,
with cities in the east, west, north
and northeast and Japan had
expressed interest in undertaking
the work, said Thai Transport
Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin
His announcement comes a day
after Thailand signed a
memorandum of understanding
with China to construct two
separate lines of 867 km (542
miles) in the kingdom, starting in
“We’re still in the process of
talks (with Japan). It will be clearer
after the Japanese government has
finished its election and discussion
will be made with both sides,”
Prajin told reporters on the
sidelines of a regional summit in
An overhaul of Thailand’s rail
network was proposed long ago but
has yet to materialise. The junta
wants to start the ball rolling as
part of its big infrastructure plans
to try to revive an economy
blighted by weak spending and
Thailand has proposed Japan
builds two separate east-west lines,
one from Mae Sot at the Myanmar
border to Mukdahan near the
border with Laos and another
connecting Kanchanaburi with the
industrialised province of Rayong.
A third route would run from
Bangkok to the northern city of
Chiang Mai, Prajin said.
The three routes combined
would cover roughly 1,500 km,
according to Reuters calculations.
Thailand agreed to use Chinese
firms and technology to build a
734-km standard-gauge dual track
railway from Nong Khai on
Thailand’s border with Laos, to its
ports and industrial zones in the
east. Another line would link
Bangkok with the central province
of Saraburi about 108 km away.
A modern rail network would
boost Thai trade and tourism and
strengthen China’s strategic
foothold in a country with
traditionally strong ties with Japan
and the United States. Relations
with Washington have soured since
a coup in May.
Japan has long been Thailand’s
biggest investor, mainly in car
manufacturing and high-tech
industries. Like China, Japan has
substantial economic interests in
the region, in particular, Vietnam,
Myanmar and Thailand.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, December 26, 2014
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, December 26, 2014
AEC expected to be bright spot amid
global challenges
Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn
BUSINESS leaders expect
2015 to be another challenging
year because of the global economic uncertainty, but are quite
optimistic about regional prospects under the Asean Economic
Community (AEC).
Prapon Chanasenee, managing director of P-Value Co, a
manufacturer of skincare products and supplements, said
Southeast Asia was at the top of
the list of regions around the
world. It has a stable economy
and people spend money to
enjoy their lives and upgrade
their lifestyles.
“P-Value suffered a negative
impact in the second quarter of
this year because it is the lowest
season of the year and because
the global national economies
slowed,” he said.
The company posted better
sales performance in the other
quarters. It will finish this year
with double-digit growth.
Thailand skincare and cosmetics industry is expected to
grow by 7-9 per cent next year,
while the supplements market
will enjoy higher growth of 15-20
per cent.
The factors next year will be
both domestic, such as government spending, and the global
P-Value’s major dietary supplement brands are So Kool for
men, Rosaline for women and
Roslim for weight control.
The implementation of the
AEC next year will open up tremendous opportunities, Prapon
said. Thailand is strong in the
know-how needed for manufacturing skincare products and supplements. The country has played
a leading role in this field longer
than neighbouring markets.
The company will launch a
joint venture in Phnom Penh next
quarter, branding and distributing its personal-care products in
the Cambodian market. In the
next step, the JV will supply hospitals in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh
and Sihanoukville.
“The intense competition in
the domestic market will also
allow all business players in the
field of cosmetics, skincare and
supplements to step forward to
higher development both in manufacturing technology and knowhow and business management,”
he said.
Chokdee Wisansing, chief
operating officer of the food business group at Evolution Capital,
said 2014 was a challenging year
for the company, like other businesses.
“We posted a two-digit drop in
the first two quarters from the
same period last year. We were
able to pick up business in the
second half. Our sales for the
whole year are slightly below
what we made last year,” he said.
“However, we have turned the
crisis into opportunity. It is a
good time for us to revise our
strategy and find ways to
improve our productivity.”
The company recently invested Bt23 million in a
2,000-square-metre central
Prason Chanasenee. left, managing director of P-Value Co, together with Agate Tantachon, centre,
managing director of Shining Gold Bullion co, and
Chokdee Wisansing, right, chief operation officer of the food business group at Evolution Captial
are seen visiting The Naton's editorial in Bangkok.
kitchen in Ayutthaya’s Wang Noi
district that will serve more than
100 restaurants in remote areas.
It has also expanded warehouses
to reduce its operating and logistics costs.
Evolution Capital, listed on the
Stock Exchange of Thailand,
invests in Asia’s rapidly growing
consumer markets. It is primarily
focused on budget hotels
through its investment in Red
Planet Hotels, the franchisee and
shareholder of Tune Hotels
across Asia.
It is also in the food and beverage business as a franchisee of
Domino’s Pizza in Thailand and
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in
Thailand and Cambodia.
It will diversify risks by opening its first Domino’s Pizza in
Phnom Penh in the middle of
next month and Kyochon, an
authentic and trendy Korean
fried-chicken restaurant, in the
same city next quarter.
Chokdee believes the AEC will
definitely benefit Thailand’s hospitality industry, especially hotels
and restaurants. With regional
liberalisation, the country will be
able to attract more foreign
investors, expatriates and tourists, and that would bring more
customers to local businesses.
The only obstacle is the shortage of skilled labour required by
the local hospitality industry.
Those workers need to have a
good understanding of the hotel
and restaurant businesses. They
should know how to develop their
skills and be service-minded, he
Agate Tantachon, managing
director of Shining Gold Bullion
Co, said Thailand’s gold-ornament market had been affected
by the dwindling purchasing
power of grass-roots people, who
were severely affected by the failure of the rice-pledging scheme
of the previous government.
“However, we have seen a dramatic increase in the trade of
gold bullion. Our sales of gold
bullion have jumped fivefold this
year,” she said.
The wild fluctuations in gold
prices attracted middle- and
upper-class speculators.
The company spent Bt80 million to Bt100 million to expand
capacity this year, especially in
gold stock and state-of-the-art
machinery that was installed in its
factory in Pathum Thani’s Lam
Luk Ka Klong 6 area.
The company supplies 1,500
goldsmith shops throughout
“We have focused on building
our brand for gold ornaments and
bullion this year, especially in the
Northern and Southern regions of
Thailand. We are dealing with
potential sales agents for our gold
bullion in the South and
Northeast,” she said.
The company has supplied
gold bullion to Laos and
Cambodia for the investment
market. It is also looking to
expand its gold-ornament business into Myanmar in the near
Shining Gold Bullion posted
about Bt8 billion in sales last year.
It expects its sales to increase
dramatically to between Bt70 billion and Bt80 billion this year
and up to Bt200 billion next year,
driven by the speculation of individual customers.
THL Group wins multi-million US$ contract with EDL
THL Group will construct 115
kV transmission lines, substations and distribution of electricity to remote rural areas in
Huaphan province, in the northeast of Laos.
THL Group signed a
Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU)/contract with Electricite
du Laos (EDL) on December 17,
2014. THL Group is registered in
Laos as a Norwegian domestic
and foreign investment company and consists of: TH Lao
Enterprise & Partners Co, TH
Lao Consulting Engineers Co,
and TH Lao Construction
Engineers Co.
THL Group, among several
invited international bidders,
managed to win the contract
with EDL as an engineering,
procurement and construction
(EPC) provider. The scope of
THL Group’s EPC contract is to
construct 115 kV transmission
lines and related substations in
Huaphan province.
Moreover, THL Group shall
include the distribution of
renewable electricity to several
remote rural villages and districts in Huaphan province.
Beyond the Norwegian engineers included in continuation
of essential studies of the contractual scope of works, such as
Multiconsult AS, with detailed
engineering and design, THL
Group will employ Lao engineers, Lao certified workers and
Lao local workforce only, which
THL Group’s management has
done in Laos over the previous
14 years, for the optimal benefit
of the population of Laos.
Lao companies regarding
civil work, mechanical work and
electrical work will be included
in THL Group’s commitments of
construction works, supervised
by THL Group’s professional Lao
THL Group’s focus is the
transfer of the latest innovation
and technology, to act as a university, to train and educate Lao
engineers and skilled workers to
be professional and independent developers of Laos, besides
getting Laos out of poverty.
The signed contract on
December 17 is a construction
extension of the existing
Xamneua substation with an
approximately 145km distance
of double circuit 115 kV transmission line to a new 115/22 kV
substation in Xiengkhor district.
With a new 115/22 kV substation in Xiengkhor district, multiple remote rural areas will
receive 22/0.4 kV distribution of
renewable generated electricity.
In connection with the distribution of 0.4 kV (400 Volt) renewable generated electricity, THL
Group shall install KWh meter
units to every household of
existing district end-users as
well. The scope of works is
divided into 2 phases, where
phase 1 will be the transmission
of 115 kV and construction of
115/22 kV substations, and
phase 2 will be the distribution
of renewable generated electrical energy to remote rural
With the rapid development
of hydropower renewable and
sustainable power generation
plants in this eastern area of
Huaphan province, the generated electricity grid will be able to
connect in to the new THL
Group constructed double circuit 115 kV transmission line.
The estimated construction
completion time of both mentioned phases will be 3-4 years
from EPC commencement of
phase 1. Phase 2 will commence
and partly be implemented during the scope of construction
works of phase 1.
Professional fulfillments of
contractual milestones of the
agreed works, international
quality of works, international
quality of products and international procedures of health,
safety and environment, is THL
Group’s absolute focus and priority.
Besides the contractual distribution of renewable generated electricity to remote rural
areas, THL Group will combine
a grant development of infrastructure to those areas too.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, December 26, 2014
Thailand’s fishing industry
struggles with its dark side
The world’s third-largest
exporter of fish and fishery products, Thailand, is facing something of a crisis for its international reputation. The glamorous
packaging of Thai seafood in
supermarket fridges around the
world stands in contrast to the
picture that emerged this year of
the industry’s abuse of trafficked
workers, including 20-hour
shifts, beatings and deaths.
According to the International
Labour Organisation, nearly 17
per cent of workers on Thai fishing boats have experienced
forced labour. In June, the United
States downgraded Thailand in
its annual human trafficking
report after revelations of slavery
in the supply chain of the shrimp
“Withholding meals and lashing with iron rods” were widespread forms of punishment,
said Sompong Srakaew of
Seafarers Action Centre, an
organisation that helps victims.
“Some boat workers witnessed
the deaths of their fellow crew
“The international outcry led
the military government to
announce a series of initiatives to
shore up the reputation of its8billion-dollar fishing industry,
which employs an estimated
300,000people, although official
figures are not available. The
most recent plan in November
involved sending select prison
inmates to work on fishing boats
in return for good behaviour.
“Convicts can replace illegal
migrant workers,” said an official
at the Department of
Employment. “But this will be
done on a voluntary basis.”
“There is a significant labour
shortage in the fishing industry
because no one wants to work in
a hard manual labour job that
pays very little,” the employment
specialist explained, requesting
not to be named.
On average, workers on fishing boats earn about 200 US dollars per month, less than half of
the minimum wage on land. The
inmates plan was derided by
rights groups in Thailand and
“It would be a human rights
atrocity roughly equivalent to
sentencing inmates to the death
penalty since some boat workers
go out and never return,” said
Phil Robertson of Human Rights
Watch (HRW).Among other
measures aimed at improving
working standards, authorities
are working on a database for
boat and worker registration. The
fisheries department is also
working on a system to monitor
fishing boats more closely.
Relevant ministries and departments have been directed draft
Some workers in
Rayong. Thailand’s
fishing industry
has employed a
large number of
migrant workers.
law amendments to protect
migrant workers and making the
registration process easier for
“Our main focus is to fight
human trafficking and illegal
overseas fishing,” said Viriya
Sirichai-ekkawat, the president of
the Thai Overseas Fisheries
Association, part of a coalition of
producers including Charoen
Pokphand Foods, or CP Foods,
Thailand’s largest food export
firm. Such plans have not won
over the industry’s critics, who
believe the problems of
Thailand’s huge fishing industry in particular its reliance on illegal
labour - may be too entrenched.
“The problem with the antitrafficking effort in Thailand is
that it too often remains on the
policy level and is not implemented vigorously,” said Annette
Lyth, a regional project manager
for the United Nations Action for
Cooperation against Trafficking
in Persons(UN-ACT).
“There is a significant labour
demand in the industry that has
not been met” by the legitimate
labour market, Lyth explained.
“Workers, mostly migrants,
are brought by brokers to meet
HRW’s Robertson agreed that
The Nation
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
the system seemed to be institutionalised. “Human trafficking
appears to be a business model
used on the fishing boats,” he
Industry representatives say it
would be impractical to increase
the tracking of personnel.
“The owners of the boats usually don’t know the origin of the
workers,” Viriya said. “Only boats
going overseas will require documentation from workers,” he
The European Commission,
which in November warned
Thailand about its efforts to fight
illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, said it was
watching the country “very closely.”
“The EU is still concerned
about the serious allegations,”
said a representative of the
European Union delegation in
Thailand. “Substantial progress
is still needed on a number of
important points, notably on
enforcement, inspection and
prosecution,” she said.
The UN has also called for
more to be done. “Although
Thailand has taken some important steps forward in fighting
trafficking, there is still room for
improvements,” Lyth said. “We
are not seeing significant progress,” Robertson said of the
government’s recent efforts. “It is
a failure in political will.”
Russia economic gloom hurts tourism
Viet Nam News
The number of Russian tourists arriving in Vietnam is
expected to decline at the
beginning of 2015, due to the
devaluation of the ruble in
Russia. On December 16, the
Russian central bank raised its
key interest rate to 17 per cent
from 10.5 per cent and the ruble
fell beyond 60 to the dollar.
These economic difficulties
have affected the spending
plans of the Russian people,
and it is expected that their
travel budgets will be the first to
be cut. Nguyen Van Thanh,
steering deputy chairman of the
Khanh Hoa Tourism
Association, told Biz Hub that
Russia’s economic downturn
has not affected the province’s
tourism industry yet, but he
predicted next year would be a
difficult time for travel firms.
“The annual period between
November and April is the peak
season for Russian visitors
coming to Vietnam. This year’s
season may not be much affected, but we have to prepare for
the following season,” said
Thanh. Meanwhile, during his
annual press conference on
December 18 in Moscow,
Russia’s President Vladimir
Putin assured Russians that the
economic downturn would last
only two years, at most.
Some travel firms in central
Khanh Hoa Province told local
media that the number of
Russian tourists to Vietnam in
December has not decreased,
but a number of tours have
been cancelled.
Nguyen Duc Tan, managing
director of Anex Tour Vietnam,
told that, as of
December, daily bookings have
decreased from 200 to 70-80
per day, a reduction of 60 per
cent. Tan said his company set
a target of 120,000 visitors from
Russia this year, a four-time
increase compared with last
year, but now he believes it will
be difficult to reach this target.
Tan explained that a 4-star
hotel room in Nha Trang costs a
Russian couple US$800, or
28,000 rubles, last year. But
now the price has climbed to
49,000 rubles due to the devaluation.
“If the number of Russian
visitors goes down, travel firms
will experience many difficulties. We have to hire an airplane
at the same cost, while there
are fewer passengers. In order
to lure enough passengers, we
then have to offer a 50 per cent
discount per seat,” said Tan.
He also said that the company had discussed discounting
the costs of rooms with local
hotels and resorts. Following
discussions, large hotels agreed
to a discount of 25-30 per cent,
while smaller hotels might offer
15 per cent reductions.
“However, tourist agencies
still face difficulties if Russians
visitors cancel their tours,” Tan
said. He added that visitors
often spend two-thirds of their
budget for airlines tickets and
one-third for hotels. In Thailand,
hotels support tourist agencies
by reducing room rates from
$200 to $70-80 per room,
when the country tried to lure
visitors during the difficult political crisis. “If Vietnam could do
the same, the travel firms may
escape difficulaties,” said Tan.
Further, the Turkey-based
travel firm Pegas Touristik told
Khanh Hoa News Online that
the company had to offer a 50
per cent discount for those purchasing a recent Vietnamese
tour, however, the situation has
not shown positive signs.
Pegas Touristik has begun a
trend, bringing Russian tourists
to Nha Trang, with most visitors
coming from the Russian Far
East. Statistics from the Khanh
Hoa Department of Culture,
Sports and Tourism show that
the number of Russian visitors
to the province in the first 11
months this year was 189,234,
an increase of 58.6 per cent
over the same period last year.
A direct flight between
Moscow and Cam Ranh
International Airport was
recently opened to meet the
demand of Russian tourists
seeking to spend their holidays
in the sunny beaches of Nha
Besides the traditional destinations of Nha Trang, southern
Binh Thuan’s Mui Ne and Phu
Quoc island has also attracted a
large number of Russian tourists.
More than 120,000
displaced in Aceh
Flooding has displaced more
than 120,000 people in parts of
Indonesia’s Aceh province, an
official said Wednesday.
The floods come as the province
prepares to mark the 10th
anniversary of the Indian Ocean
tsunami on December 26.Seven
districts in Aceh have been
inundated since Sunday following
heavy rain, said Sutopo Nugroho,
the spokesman for the National
Disaster Management Agency.
East Aceh and North Aceh
districts are the worst hit, with
water reaching as high as 4 metres,
he said. There have been no reports
of fatalities.
The confirmed death toll in
Indonesia in the Indian Ocean
tsunami of December 26, 2004,
was over 130,000 people.
The area will mark the
anniversary of the disaster on Friday
withprayers and a ceremony
attended by 35 foreign envoys and
33 aid organisations from around
the world.
Rise in number of
alcoholics in S’pore
The number of alcoholics
seeking help may be growing at a
slower rate compared with
gamblers, but there are still more of
them getting treated in recent
At the National Addictions
Management Service (Nams) of the
Institute of Mental Health, there
were 415 new cases of alcohol
addiction between April last year
and March this year - an increase of
about 13 per cent compared to
three years ago.
The centre records numbers by
its financial year, which runs from
April 1 to March 31.
Experts attributed the upward
trend to increasing levels of stress
and the easy availability of alcohol.
Dr Munidasa Winslow, an
addictions specialist in private
practice, said he sees about 20 per
cent more patients this year,
compared to three years ago. He
now has at least 100 new cases a
Vietnam to move
homeless to shelters
The Ho Chi Minh City
government has urged people not to
give money to beggars even as it
seeks to take them off streets and
put them in shelters.
It has asked religious
organisations to persuade their
followers not to donate money
But first an attempt will be made
to track down the families of
beggars and homeless people and
send them home. If it does not
succeed, they will be sent to the
centres starting on Sunday.
The social centres have been
ordered to accommodate them and
provide education, vocational
training, and jobs.
The People’s Committee said
since begging tarnishes the image
of the city, the campaign is a vital
social task.
VN to introduce women-only
buses during peak hours
Viet Nam News
The capital city administration
plans to operate women-only
buses on certain routes during
peak hours on trial basis as a
move to counter sexual harassment and stealing.
It has instructed the Hanoi
Transport and Services
Corporation (Transerco) to
implement this plan.
Nguyen Quoc Hung, vice
chairman of the Hanoi People’s
Committee, said at a conference
on Tuesday that women-only
buses should be introduced in
areas where female workers and
students were vulnerable to sexual assault.
He said the move aimed to
combat sexual harassment of
women and girls in public transport.
A survey of 2,046 people, conducted recently in Ha Noi and Ho
Chi Minh City, showed that 57
per cent of the women aged 16
and above felt sexual harassment
was most likely to happen on the
streets. As many as 87 per cent
of the surveyed women and girls
said that they had experienced
sexual harassment in various
forms, including being whistled
and stared at, having their physical appearance commented upon
and being teased and touched on
sensitive parts of their bodies.
About 31 per cent of school
girls said they’d suffered sexual
harassment on buses.
The survey was conducted by
ActionAid Vietnam and the
Research Centre for Gender,
Family and Environment in
Previously, the National Trafic
Safety Committee had asked the
city to identify locations, public
transport routes and road sections where sexual harassment
occurs most often.
Lan Phuong, a student of the
Viet Nam News
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, December 26, 2014
Buses pick up passengers in Ha Noi’s Cau Giay District.
Military Medicine Institute, said
she had seen female students
being harassed on the old route
plied by bus No39.
“It happened when the bus
was overcrowded,” she said.
“Everyone will put up with slight
touches, but more than that is
really annoying.”
However, she said, most victims ignored it. Some only
turned back and looked angrily
at the harasser.
Nguyen Viet Trieu, deputy
director of Transerco, said that
over the past eight months, the
corporation’s hotline had
received more than 43,000 calls
from passengers. Of these just
five reported sexual harassment
of buses, he said.
However, Trieu admitted that
overloaded buses during peak
hours were likely to be used to
pick pockets or sexually harass
He said the corporation had
set up a customers’ service room
to receive complaints about service quality from 5am to 11pm.
The hotlines of the corporation,
the city’s transport department
and the police department as
well as the corporation’s website
were printed on all buses, he
said. The corporation would work
with the police when it received
complaints, he added.
Indonesian woman found
guilty of drug trafficking
Vientiane Times
Vientiane People’s Court
recently found an Indonesian
woman guilty of involvement in
a methamphetamine deal
which took place in Laos,
according to a local newspaper.
This is the second such case
after a Myanmar national was
also charged with a methamphetamine deal involving10 kilogrammes of the drug.
The 37-year-old woman was
charged at Wattay International
Airport in Vientiane on August
18 after officials found 6 kilogrammes of metha mphetamine concealed in her luggage.
The Lao Phatthana Daily
newspaper did not give more
details as to whether she is
going to appeal or not or
whether she is being held in
custody in Laos.
Normally, the alleged
offender is permitted to appeal
the court’s decision within 20 d
ays of the verdict being delivered.
Vientiane Times made several phone calls to the
Indonesian Embassy in Laos on
Tuesday, but no one answered.
We also sent emails to ask for
more details on the case but so
far we have not received any
According to the newspaper,
the woman confessed that on
August 24, 2013, she became
acquainted with a foreign man
and they discussed a potential
methamphetamine smuggling
After reaching an agreement, the man gave her a
round trip ticket and US$800
to fly to India, where she
received a bag from another
man in that country.
She later flew to Singapore
before catching a flight from
Singapore to Wattay
International Airport on August
18, where police found 6 kilogrammes of methamphetamine
and some foreign currency in
her procession.
Recently, local newspapers
have featured a few headlines
about methamphetamine busts
even though senior police have
rejected the fact that Laos
could be a target country for
the methamphetamine trade.
Philippine court
murder trial
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Manila (The trial of a US
marine accused of killing a
transgender woman in the
Philippines has been suspended for two months, a
prosecutor said Wednesday.
The Olongapo City court
ordered the pause after US
Marine Lance Corporal
Joseph Scott Pemberton
asked the justice secretary to
review the case, querying the
conclusions drawn from witness statements.
“A party can always go up
to the secretary of justice to
review the resolution of the
lower prosecution,” prosecutor Emilie delos Santos said
in a television interview.
Pemberton allegedly strangled Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude
in a hotel in Olongapo City,
80 kilometres north of
Manila, on October 11. He is
currently in US custody within a Philippine military base
in Manila. In their petition,
lawyers for the 19-year-old
marine argued that the murder case was full of “unwarranted conclusions” based on
testimonies of witnesses who
saw him last with the victim,
before they checked into the
hotel. Laude’s family was
“very disappointed and
alarmed” at the postponement of proceedings, their
lawyer Harry Roque said in as
eparate television interview
on Wednesday.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, December 26, 2014
China to relax outbound
investment restrictions
New Beijing airport to
be operational in 5
Beijing will start construction of a
new airport in the capital on Friday
that will become operational in 2019.
The project, which was given final
approval by the National Development
and Reform Commission last week,
will involve nearly 80 billion yuan
($13.1 billion) of investment, making it
the costliest project in China’s civil
aviation history. The airport is planned
to handle 72 million passengers, 2
million metric tons of cargo and
620,000 flights annually after 2025.
The new hub, which has not been
officially named, will be in Daxing
district, 46 km south of Tian’anmen
Square. It will be 67 km from Beijing
Capital International Airport.
It will include four runways, 150
parking aprons for passenger jets, 24
parking aprons for cargo aircraft, 14
maintenance areas and a terminal
building with a floor area of 700,000
square metres.
Hanoi air capacity to
China Daily
China is to ease restrictions
on outbound investments to
sharpen the edge of Chinese
companies overseas as the
world’s largest commodity
exporter transforms into a net
capital exporter.
A State Council executive
meeting presided over by
Premier Li Keqiang decided on
Wednesday to streamline procedures for domestic companies to
launch overseas listings, mergers and bank openings.
This will make fundraising
easier for companies planning to
operate abroad. A statement
issued after the meeting said
commercial banks have been
encouraged to provide stronger
support for exports of major
equipment to ensure that all
funding requirements for such
overseas sales can be met.
The government has also
scrapped a long-disputed precondition for overseas investment by allowing investors to
wire money directly to targeted
companies abroad and register
their cooperation projects at
banks. Under the current regulations, companies must obtain
government approval for such
deals, even though they have
already reached an agreement
with foreign firms.
Export credit insurance will
also be open to more commercial insurance companies.
This type of insurance is a
risk management product and a
means to facilitate international
trade, ensuring that businesses
receive payment after goods are
delivered despite protracted
defaults, bankruptcy and other
unexpected incidents.
This will end the monopoly
held by China Export and Credit
Insurance Corp, with the aim of
reducing insurance fees when
competition is introduced.
The easing of restrictions
comes as many Chinese companies are expanding overseas,
with China eager to restructure
their sales abroad by including
more high-value-added products. China is poised to become
a net capital exporter for the first
time by the end of the year, when
its overseas direct investment is
expected to surpass its foreign
direct investment.
Chinese companies had
secured new overseas deals
worth $161 billion by November,
up by 12.5 per cent year-on-year,
with such companies operating
overseas employing 17 million
workers, more than half of which
are foreigners. In a speech to
global leaders in November,
President Xi Jinping said China
will invest more than $1.25 tril-
A salesman dressed as Santa Claus waits for customers at the entrance of a shop in Beijing.
lion in the next 10 years to realise Beijing’s proposal to build
the Silk Road Economic Belt
linking Asia and Europe.
According to media reports, Ping
An Insurance (Group) Co has
bought the Lloyds building, a
London landmark. Wang
Jingyuan, a researcher at the
Investment Research Institute
under the National Development
and Reform Commission, said
the policies announced on
Wednesday will enable Chinese
companies to be more competitive when it comes to overseas
This is because the policies
will end uncertainties over regulatory approval, and lengthy
waits. Policies were also
announced at Wednesday’s
meeting to ease government
financial difficulties and improve
the living conditions of people
with disabilities.
Phonhong handicraft producers win through finance
Vientiane Times
Handicraft producers in
Nayang village, Phonhong district of Vientiane province have
earned extra income from selling
their products after gaining
access to finance, contributing to
improving their livelihoods and
family finances.
Nayang village in Phonhong
district was considered as a poor
village in the past and most of
the villagers were relocated from
other areas.
They relied on rice farming,
livestock breeding, weaving and
traditional handicrafts.
Nowadays, most of the villagers’
livelihoods have been improved
after they gained access to credit
finance, thanks to the Women
and Family Development
Deposit-Taking Microfinance
Institution, commonly known as
the WFDF.
In the past, local people borrowed money from predatory
lenders but they were charged
with high interest rates and suffered from debt burden as a
result. The Women and Family
Development Deposit-Taking
Microfinance Institution gave
them opportunities to borrow
money with appropriate loan
rates to breed animals and produce handicraft items.
This will help them to stop
borrowing money with high
interest rates from predatory
lenders, said Ms Thongnath
Vongphachanh, head of WFDF’s
customer centre and handicraft
group in Nayang village.
The customer centre in
Nayang village now has about 70
women members with more than
100 million kip in deposit-taking.
Those members form groups
of four to five members and they
can generate large amounts of
income from their handicraft
“My group comprising some
five members can earn over 4
million kip per day from selling
handicraft products.”
We sell our products in
Vientiane and the provinces of
Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and
As of today, the WFDF offers
services in six districts of three
provinces, comprising
Hadxaifong and Xaysettha districts in Vientiane; Thaphabath
and Borikhan districts in
Borikhamxay province; and
Phonhong and Sanakham districts in Vientiane province.
Its services now extend to
cover some 82 villages in the six
districts and WFDF now has over
112 customer service centres
with a total of 5,250 members.
From 2009 to 2014, the
Women and Family Development
Deposit-Taking Microfinance
Institution has disbursed loans
of over 40 billion kip (about
US$5 million) to the target
groups for productive purposes,
mainly in trade, production and
the agricultural sector.
The Women and Family
Development Fund (WFDF) of
the Lao Women’s Union (LWU)
was established in 2009 with the
support of the Savings Banks
Foundation for International
Cooperation (SBFIC).
The vision of the WFDF is to
become a leading provider of
financial services to low income
women and their families in
Based on its roots in the LWU,
the aim is to combine social
responsibility as well as the professional excellence of its staff
and at the same time be a model
of best practice microfinance
Vietnam has started operating
anew $900 million airport terminal
that will nearly double the capital’s
flight capacity, the latest move in
expanding what is one of the world’s
fastest-growing aviation markets.
Passenger planes took off on
Thursday from Noi Bai terminal two,
Hanoi airport’s new wing that will
handle 10 million passengers per year
and up to 15 million in future as
demand rises for air travel at home
and abroad. Foreign arrivals in
Vietnam rose more than 10 percent
last year to 7.6 million, government
data showed, while domestic demand
is climbing amid rapid middle class
growth and competition between
airlines in a country with under
developed rail and road infrastructure.
Vietnam is poised to be the
world’s seventh-fastest growing
market for international passengers
during 2013-2017, as a regional open
skies initiative takes off and Southeast
Asia moves towards an integrated
economic community, according to
the International Air Transport
Association (IATA).
German govt selling
two properties in KL for
US$64 million
The German government is selling
the two properties it owns in the heart
of Kuala Lumpur for a potential
combined worth of 225 million ringgit
(US$64.34 million).
According to an advertisement in
The Star and a local business daily
recently, the former residence of the
German ambassador in Kia Peng Road
and the Goethe-Institut sited in
Langgak Golf Road, have been put up
for sale by tender by real estate
consultants Savills Rahim & Co.
A source familiar with the
transaction said that the former
residence of the German ambassador
and the Goethe-Institut are expected
to fetch 200 million ringgit and 25
million ringgit, respectively. A
spokesperson for the property
consultancy said the tender for the
properties started on December 15
and would close on January 26.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Friday, December 26, 2014
The subterranean
sounds of magic
for the audience.
Since 2009, teen idol Ye Yint
Aung has made a name for himself
as a much sought-after R&B artist
in Myanmar’s vibrant underground
music scene, with a string of hit
albums under his belt. These
include “A Mone Diary” (“Hate
Diary”), a duo album with Thar
Thar, and several compilation
albums. But none of these can be
called his own solo material. In the
run-up to Christmas, the singer was
busy finishing up his solo debut,
“Tha Wai Htoe Kha Gwei Ya Pint”,
which was eventually released on
Christmas Day as a gift for his fans.
He takes time out to talk to the
Myanmar Eleven about the new
album, his musical journey and his
foray into the film world.
Since you love hip-hop music,
why have you crossed over to
I have always wanted to be a hiphop artist since I was young after
listening to hip-hop music. But
when I write a song, I could only
compose its melody, not its lyrics.
Actually I couldn’t write rap lyrics.
When I sing, my voice is more suitable with the melody. So I ended up
singing the melodies. Later I started
learning about R&B and ended up
singing R&B tunes. The audience
also prefers me to sing R&B. I have
just started singing hip-hop really.
How did you come up with the
title of your debut album?
Originally I wanted to call it
“Chay”, but it’s a little too common.
At that time, I saw a phrase in one
of the old photos of my grandfather.
So I decided to name it “Tha Wai
Htoe Kha Gwei Ya Pint”.
How long did it take to put
together this album?
It took over a year. At first, I
wanted to release this album on my
birthday. But I was busy touring
other cities and composing songs
for others. My fans have been asking when my own album will be
released. I only started focusing on
this album three or four months
after turning down concert-tour
offers and cutting down on my
Tell us about your album. Any
artists featured on it?
Yes. Thar Thar, ASH, Lil-Z, X-Box
and Ni Ni Khin Zaw are featuring on
my album, which has 12 songs. I
composed most of the songs. The
album features some special songs
How did you become the lead
actor in a film being produced by
Bo Bo Entertainment?
Ko Bo San gave me an offer to
act in this film. I decided to accept
it as I’m already friends with Ko Bo
San. Also, this is a ‘fancy’ romance
among students. Other cast members are also my friends so I decided to accept it. I hear filming starts
next month.
Do you feel under pressure as
this is your first film role?
Yes. I used to act in music videos
only. I have never done acting in
films before. I’m a little worried.
This is my first film and I play the
leading role so it’s quite a big
Do you see yourself juggling two
different hats down the line as a
musician and an actor?
I love singing and I’m crazy
about music. I’m also interested in
acting, but it’s up to the circumstances really. It’s too early to say
whether or not I will pursue a career
in acting. I’ve only accepted this
offer because I want to get some
experience while working together
with my friends. I don’t know if I will
take offers to act in other films.
Cultural performances from
Yunnan province of China at the
National Conference Hall on
Wednesday night were a
resounding success, being
warmly received by the local
and foreign audience and helping to promote cultural
The live show was hosted by
the Cultural Division of Yunan
province through a collaboration
between the Embassy of China
in the Lao PDR and the Ministry
of Information, Culture and
The performers from Yunnan
put on 13 different acts that featured singing, dancing, acrobat-
Cultural performances enhance friendly relations
ic and magic shows in front of
high ranking officials of Laos
and foreign ambassadors as well
as Lao and Chinese people who
came to add to the entertaining
atmosphere in the hall.
Minister of Information,
Culture and Tourism Prof Dr
Bosengkham Vongdara, Chinese
Ambassador to the Lao PDR Mr
Guan Huabing, officials and foreign ambassadors attended the
event. The mixed audience of
dignitaries was enthralled with
the performances that introduced their special culture to
Lao people as well as providing
entertainment for Chinese people living here.
The peacock dance which
comes from the Leu ethnic
group was the beautiful curtainraiser, followed by the hula-hoop
dance. Solo singing performances came next with songs by
“Khuamhak Mahadsachan” and
“Kinhom Yamkangkheun”
describing the love and friendship that exists between Laos
and China as well as between
the two peoples.
The nail dance then showed
the audience the beautiful dance
culture of Leu people that in
days gone by used to be performed in palaces followed by
magic acts given by famous
Chinese magicians that riveted
the attention of the audience.
Dance performances by
Kading An Berkban of the Hani
ethnic group, “Dokmali” from
the Han ethnic group, with performances of both Lao and
Chinese traditional music,
added greatly to the overall
entertainment the audience so
obviously enjoyed.
Teen idol Ye’ Yint Aung
The performance of the Lao
song “Dok Cham Pa” by the
Yunnan artists brought wild
applause from the appreciative
audience. One member of the
audience, Ms Phonevilay, a student at Chomphet secondary
school said the cultural performances were great and she was
really happy she had the chance
to watch the show as it was her
first experience of the art and
culture of Yunnan province, and
she was overwhelmed by the
beautiful performances, especially the peacock dance.
She expressed her great
appreciation of the performers
and said that if she has the
chance to see this show again
she certainly will.