asean+ - Myanmar Eleven E

First INDEPENDENT English daily
THURSDAY, January 8, 2014
Cardinal urges
religious tolerance
Exact date for national
ceasefire signing is not
set yet: minister
Myanmar’s new Catholic cardinal warns against religious extremism
Influx of visitors leads
to record tourism revenue
Pope visit sparks frenzy in
the Philippines
Newly appointed
cardinal, Yangon
Charles Maung Bo,
stands in front of a
portrait of Pope
MYANMAR’S first cardinal
said Tuesday he would push for
an end to sectarian violence in
his country, two days after he
was elevated to the heights of the
Roman Catholic Church.
The Buddhist-majority country’s first Catholic cardinal
warned that religious extremism
could derail Myanmar’s muchvaunted reform process.
Charles Maung Bo, 66, was
promoted to cardinal on Sunday
by Pope Francis alongside 19
others. Many hail from the developing world as the Vatican’s support shifts from its traditional
European stronghold.
Overwhelmingly Buddhist
Myanmar has seen a spate of
communal unrest in recent years,
particularly in the states of
Rakhine and Kachin.
Bo called on religious leaders
of all faiths to help ease tensions.
He warned that Buddhist
nationalism directed against
minority Muslims could drive the
latter to connect with international extremist groups that
would “retaliate”.
“So far they have been more
on the quiet side, but if they
come with the force of an international community of Muslims,
then violence, terrorism, suicide
bombers and all these things
could happen,” Bo told Reuters
in an interview at the red-brick
cathedral in downtown Yangon,
Myanmar’s largest city.
Myanmar’s minority religions
have looked on with alarm at
growing instances of intolerance
from a small but increasingly
vocal core of Buddhist nationalists.
Overall, Christians are thought
to make up about 3 per cent of
Myanmar’s 51 million population
- around 750,000 of them
Catholics. Muslims make up
another four per cent and
Buddhists around 90 per cent,
with other religions including
Hinduism and animism.
Bo warned there were no
quick solutions to solving the
country’s religious tensions.
“Although the problems of
religious conflict cannot be
solved immediately, I believe that
we can solve these problems if
we continue trying with noble
and good spirit.”
“If religious leaders show
unity, their followers will gradually gain greater understanding
and I think the violence will then
lessen,” he told AFP from his
office in St Mary’s Church in
“I will make a strong effort to
achieve stability in Rakhine and
Kachin states where there has
been unrest among different ethnic groups,” he added.
Bo called for mutual understanding and urged the government to do more to curb hate
speech by radical monks.
Myanmar emerged in 2011
from half a century of military
rule, and the semi-civilian government has lifted curbs on freedoms of speech, association and
But the reforms have been
accompanied by a rise in
Buddhist nationalism, with
monks forming groups aimed at
promoting the country’s
Buddhist character.
Sectarian violence since June
2012 has killed at least 240 people, mostly Muslims, while
almost 140,000 Muslims remain
in displacement camps after
their homes were destroyed.
Bo said he was optimistic
about Myanmar’s reform process, but warned that the military could again seize control if
the peace process failed and
sectarian violence continued.
“We hope that chaos won’t
happen,” he said, calling on the
military to make greater efforts
to build trust with ethnic armed
groups, and for more monks to
speak out against extremism.
“For peace in the country the
Buddhist monks also have quite
a major role to play too,” said
Francis appointed 20 new
cardinals, 15 of whom will be eligible to vote for the next pope. It
was the first time cardinals from
Myanmar, Tonga and Cape Verde
were appointed and the appointees from all three nations are
Chin Tsong Palace: A
haven of art
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Thursday, January 8, 2014
Exact date for national ceasefire
signing is not set yet: minister
EFFORTS are under way to
achieve the nation-wide ceasefire
agreement before February 12,
said a government peace negotiator. Though, he could not confirm the exact date of the signing.
Union minister Aung Min, who
also serves as vice-chairman of
the Union Peacemaking Working
Committee (UPWC), said
President Thein Sein and 12 ethnic armed groups discussed the
points that have yet to be compromised for the national ceasefire in Nay Pyi Taw on January 5.
“In meeting with the president, the ethnic leaders
expressed their demands. The
president himself told them as
much as he could,” said Aung
“More trust can be built as the
President takes responsibility for
some issues. So we can say the
peace process is moving forward.
While an exact date is not set, we
are trying our best to sign a
nation-wide ceasefire agreement
Primarily, all parties aimed to
have the accord signed before
the Union Day, which will fall on
February 12.
Pado Saw Kwe Htoo Win, general secretary of the Karen
National Union, said: “On
February 12 (Union Day), the
name ‘the Union of Myanmar’
emerged. We have two reasons to
sign a nation-wide ceasefire on
Union Day. First, both parties are
trying to reach a ceasefire agreement. Second, we made lots of
compromises in the latest coordination meeting. We have only a
few points to discuss, and will
continue our coordination. All
can agree to seek coordination
before February 12.”
Colonel Khun Oakka, leader of
the Pao National Liberation
Organisation, said the talks
between the NCCT and UPWC
are close to achieving their goal.
However, he said the nationwide
ceasefire deal could be signed
only if the problems of renewed
violence between the Myanmar
Army and ethnic armed groups
could be solved.
The government invited all the
16 ethnic armed groups to discuss the ceasefire. However, four
armed groups - the Kachin
Independence Army, the Ta’ang
Soe Min Htaik
MP Dr Aye Maung, chairperson of Arakan National Party, at the political-parties meeting.
National Liberation Army, the
Karenni National Progressive
Party and the Chin National Front
- could not attend the talks for
various reasons.
Earlier, the UPWC and
Nationwide Ceasefire
Coordination Team (NCCT),
comprised of representatives
from the ethnic armed groups,
held a meeting in Yangon on
December 22 and 23 to discuss
the remaining eight out of 103
points included in the nationwide ceasefire draft. After the
discussed points have been
approved by the armed group
leaders, the whole ceasefire draft
could be finalised, he said.
In another development, as
President Thein Sein met the
leaders on January 5, on the
same day 53 political parties
including the ruling Union
State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee
to decide sealed-monastery case
The State Sangha Maha
Nayaka Committee will have to
decide how to wrap up the case
of the sealed- Maha Thanti
Thukha monastery, said Yangon
Region Religious Affairs
Department Officer Sein Maw.
“We are going to proceed
with the case according to the
decision of the Sangha Maha
Nayaka Committee. Currently,
we don’t know how to do it. We
have not received any information,” said Sein Maw.
The Maha Thandi Thukha
monastery in Natchaung Ward,
Tamwe Township was owned by
Penang Sayadaw until last June.
While the abbot was visiting
Japan to promote Buddhism on
June 10, 2014, monks from the
Yangon Sangha Nayaka
Committee, as well as officials
from the Ministry of Religious
Affairs and the police, raided the
monastery and placed it under
the control of the Sangha Maha
Nayakha Committee, the ruling
body for Buddhist monks.
Penang Sayadaw wanted the
monastery to be a centre for religious education. However,
Sangha Maha Nayaka
Committee sought to rent the
monastery to hold wedding ceremonies, market festivals and
dance training courses.
Penang Sayadaw called the
move unjust and called on the
government to settle the issue of
its ownership.
The Sangha Maha Nayaka
Committee argued that regional
courts should not interfere with
religious affairs and that only the
highest team organised by
Sangha Maha Nayaka
Committee would be qualified to
adjudicate the case, said Htun
Solidarity and Development
Party discussed on public participation in ceasefire talks.
According to MP Dr Aye
Maung, chairperson of Arakan
National Party, the meeting was
planned a week earlier. The parties focused on a proposed joint
campaign to collect public opinions throughout the country;
public sessions to share knowledge on the ceasefire talks; and
the formation of public peace
“The campaign will require a
lot of money,” said Aye Maung.
He was also concerned that
some ethnic groups may not take
part in the ceasefire accord.
He noted that Section 17-(1) of
the Unlawful Association Act is
now an obstacle for ethnic
groups to sit at ceasefire talks, as
their positions are not warranted
as political parties.
He also suggested political
parties establish a joint peace
working committee similar to
Myanmar Peace Centre, the government’s think tank which is
devoted for peace talks.
Further, he pointed out that
the armed ethnic groups have
become stronger. Therefore, the
government should revise its
problem-solving methods.
“There should be equality and
self-regulation for ethnic nationals to solve the conflicts. It’s time
for the government to prove its
Nyunt, director of the Religious
Affairs Department.
Although the public sent letters to the Union parliament, the
Rule of Law, Peace and
Tranquillity Committee, the
Government’s Guarantees,
Pledges and Undertakings
Vetting Committee, the Yangon
Regional Government
Committee as well as the
Ministry of Religious Affairs, the
Ministry of Home Affairs and
Yangon Region’s Sangha Maha
Nayakha Committee to resolve
the dispute, no action has yet
been taken.
Prior to seizing control of the
monastery, the Ministry of
Religious Affairs charged five
monks of violating religious disciplinary rules and trespassing
on the monastery grounds. The
case is on-going.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Thursday, January 8, 2014
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Thursday, January 8, 2014
Findings on death of
farmer under review
Govt actions harm
democratisation efforts
Two associations working on
political prisoners’ rights in
Myanmar warned that the government’s actions against political dissidents and protesters
pose a threat to democratisation and national reconciliation
In the statement, issued a
day before the 67th
Independence Day on January
4, the Former Political
Prisoners Society and the
Assistance Association for
Political Prisoners said that
Myanmar people still do not
enjoy basic human rights or the
fruits of independence.
Moreover, the Myanmar government continues to violate
the human rights of students
and workers and confiscate
land from farmers.
Constitutional change is neces-
The fencing damages
crops in the mining area.
The Myanmar National Human
Rights Commission (NHRC) is
reviewing its findings on the death
of a farmer during a protest at the
Letpadaungtaung copper mine in
Sagaing Region. The commission
will release a report about the incident within days, said Sit Myaing,
vice-chairperson of the NHRC.
The clashes between protesters
and police began on December 22,
when the Myanmar Wanbao
Mining Copper Co Ltd (MWMCCL)
tried to erect a fence around lands
for which local farmers claimed
they had not received compensation. Female protestor Khin Win,
56, was shot dead by the police
that day.
An investigation team led by
NHRC members Zaw Win, Soe
Phone Myint and Dr Nyan Zaw
went to the scene to investigate
the case on December 30. Their
four-day probe was completed on
January 4.
“They have returned and submitted their findings to the commission, which is reviewing them.
A certain solution will emerge.
Within a few days, we will publish
the report,” said Sit Myaing yesterday.
MWMCCL continued fencing
the site on December 23, but on
December 24, it suspended the
fencing operation after a second
day of clashes with protesters.
The government is now under
fire for slow investigation. Fuelling
dissents was a report by a government committee, tasked to be in
charge of the dispute. In the report
released on January 9, it said over
Ks 10 billion (US$10 million) in
compensation has been distributed to farmers who were dispossessed by the project, and each of
the farmers has received an
amount of that matches the value
of the lands they lost.
However, residents, parliamentarians and members of civic
organisations in the
Letpadaungtaung area argue that
the claims of the committee’s
statement fail to take into account
the full scope of the damage done
to the famers’ livelihoods.
Lower House MP Khin San
Hlaing from Pearl Township, near
the project area said: “The project’s operation period is 30 years.
The copper yielded will be worth
millions of dollars, as calculated
by the current market price. If the
mines are found to contain gold
and uranium, as some assumptions suggest, the profits will be
greater than expected. So the
compensation given to the farmers
is petty compared to the profits.”
According to their contract, the
Myanmar government will receive
51 per cent of the profits, the
Union of Myanmar Economic
Holdings Ltd will receive 19 per
cent, and Myanmar Wanbao
Mining Copper Co Ltd (MWMCCL)
will receive 30 per cent.
MP Khin San Hlaing continued
that the locals lost the lands and
livelihoods they inherited from
their ancestors and now face
unemployment, as the mine project will produce few job opportunities for the locals.
“Their main profession is agriculture. All members of a household are employed if they have
arable lands. The new jobs can’t
employ more than one or two
members of a family. Agribusiness
was the most beneficial job for
them,” Khin San Hlaing said.
MWMCCL provided some job
opportunities to locals, but these
have not compensated for the
incomes the farmers lost.
Lawyer Thein Than Oo weighed
in: “What do they mean by ‘reasonable compensation’? Did the
farmers really enjoy the compensation as the government has
said? Did experts assess the values of the lands? A paper report
produced through under-the-table
compromises won’t work in this
case. If the compensation was
really sufficient, the residents
would not bother to stage such
intense demonstrations. What is
missing in this compensation process is transparency.”
Thein Than Oo is also a member of the Lawyers’ Network
tasked with investigating the murder case of Khin Win, who was
shot dead in December during
clashes with the police.
He continued: “The market
price per acre is more than Ks 3
million in Letpadaungtaung area
alone. The government based its
compensation values on a Ks 1.5
million [per acre] figure. Thus, the
lives of farmers remain insecure.
According to 1894 Land
Acquisition Act, the government
has the right to seize land only if
they can satisfy the needs of the
landowners. But the government is
now failing to do so. It even
brought charges against over 70
farmers for assault and trespassing. The Chinese were able to file
cases against the locals, while
Myanmar citizens had to struggle
to open a case for the death of
Daw Khin Win. There were about
700 Chinese men accompanying
police when they cracked down on
the demonstration. There’s just a
tonne of injustice beyond expression.”
Thwe Thwe Win, a local from
Wethmay Village, remarked on the
committee’s announcement: “I’ve
found the announcement that was
shared online by the Presidential
spokesman U Ye Htut’s Facebook
account. What I want to ask U Ye
Htut is for how many times has he
been in Letpadaungtaung? It only
mentioned that the farmers have
received compensation, but it did
not mention those who refused
compensation or the one shot
dead. The [the death of Khin Win]
occurred because not every farmer has received the compensation.”
Win Htay, a local from Setel
Village, echoed: “It’s wrong to say
everyone has received compensation. About 1,113.17 acres of land
have been compensated, but they
are all fenced up now. The demonstrations are taking place to retain
our lands. Ward and village administrators have obtained compensation to which they have no rights.
Some families been broken up due
to the intimidation of the authorities.”
The announcement on January
5 contained 20 provisions, but it
did not mention the death of Khin
Win or the matter of compensation
for ruined plantations.
sary to end these violations, the
statement said.
It also said 164 political prisoners remain in jails across the
country, and 203 political activists currently face lawsuits.
In the statement, the two
associations called for the
unconditional release of political prisoners and an end to
charges against political activists as the government proceeds with its democratic transition and national reconciliation.
The associations said they
would continue to work together with other relevant associations and the government to
ensure the wellbeing of political
The government recently
announced that no political
prisoners remain in jail, which
civil organisations working on
prisoners’ rights contest.
Kantblu farmers’
complaint rejected
Farmers from Kantblu fail to win court’s support.
Ye Yint Aung
A Kantblu Township court
has rejected a complaint
lodged by farmers against tenant farmers. The tenant farmers
were hired by the army to harvest the crops planted by local
farmers whose lands were
seized by the army in Kantblu.
Although the judge initially
accepted the complaint, which
was last month, he ultimately
decided not to let the case proceed.
“In the middle of last year,
soldiers and tenant farmers
destroyed our crops. They set
fire to our shelter. We filmed
and photographed it. When we
sued them at the court through
the police station, they first
seemed to accept our complaint, but then the court
rejected it two weeks later.
They told us that if we were
not satisfied with the court’s
decision, we should to lodge a
complaint to higher court,”
said a local farmer from
Khaowntar village.
The army destroyed some
crops and hired tenant farmers
to reap the rest. The army is
now guarding the crops and
will not allow anyone to enter.
The farmers cannot reap their
own crops, and they are heavily in debt for their investments
on the crops, said local farmers.
“We were devastated when
we saw they were reaping our
crops. We felt that we had
been cornered to be beaten
when the court rejected our
complaint. We lost pigeon peas
and sugarcane plantations
worth millions of kyats,” said
farmer Kyaw Khant.
The farmers report that they
face unemployment, a lack of
healthcare and education services and shelter, and they
blame this on the Myanmar
“They set fire to our house
and sent the breadwinner of
my family to the prison. The
rest of them are on trial. We
have to go to a court hearing
instead of working for a living.
We are in heavy debt. We don’t
know how to respond. We want
to do something to them,” said
farmer Daw Khin.
Local farmers said they are
facing a lack of funds and
other issues, which prevent
them of bringing the case to
another court.
US $
Euro ¤
Singapore $
Source: KBZ Bank
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Thursday, January 8, 2014
Influx of visitors leads
to record tourism revenue
Region needs
Natural beauty of Inle Lake draws a large number of visitors each year.
OCEAN tourism in the Myeik
Archipelago in Kawthoung
District, Taninthayi Region, generated more than US$85,000 in
December – a record high –
according to the Ministry of
Hotels and Tourism in
Kawthoung District.
Last December, a total of 601
tourists visited the archipelagos
in Myeik Township. Most visitors
came from France, Germany,
Switzerland, Thailand and China.
“The district’s revenue in
December last year is 39 per
cent of the total for all of 2013.
601 of foreigners visited the
Myeik Archipelago. The number
of ships in the area is rising. The
foreigners are interested in the
beautiful ocean scenery. That’s
why they stay at sea for many
days. A German tourism guideth
book described the Myeik
Archipelago as the 15 top tourist destination for 2015. The
regional government committee
is now lifting the travel restrictions, and authorities are fulfilling the requirements,” said
Officer Hlwan Moe from the
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in
Kawthoung District.
The Myanmar government
allowed foreigners to travel freely
in the archipelago in Kawthoung
District, except in restricted
areas. A foreigner must pay $100
per sea excursion, or $150 to
travel beyond a certain distance.
■ Record year
Myeik is one of destinations
that helped draw visitors to
Myanmar and boost tourism revenue for the country.
Last year’s tourist arrivals set
a new record, earning over US$1
billion, according to the Ministry
of Hotels and Tourism. The number of tourist arrivals reached 3.5
million and generated $1.135 billion in revenue.
The record revenue in 2013
amounted to $926 million.
Since the government put
more focus on tourism,
Myanmar’s tourism has been
booming. The tourism sector
receives more tourist arrivals and
generated increased revenues
year on year.
The ministry said that much
of the benefits went to smallscale tourism businesses.
The number of tourist arrivals
is expected to reach an estimated
four or five million in 2015, thanks
to the policy to expand tourist
The government officials from
Myanmar and Thailand held discussions on the development of
tourism sector in December 2014.
Before these discussions,
Myanmar has implemented its
plan to develop tourism sector in
cooperation with Germany,
Norway, the Asian Development
Bank (ADB), Japan, Luxembourg,
Switzerland, Australia and Italy.
Myanmar is implementing the
Tourism Master Plan with help
from Norway and the ADB. The
ministry will expand tourist destinations to coastal regions.
Most visitors now go to Bagan,
Inle and Yangon.
■ New destinations
With the aim of attracting
tourists, the Myanmar Restaurant
Entrepreneurs Association also
plans to upgrade the Inle Night
Market situated in northern Shan
“We have a plan to upgrade
the night market this month.
However, we will first discuss it
with locals and the authorities.
Inle Night Market should be
upgraded because many of foreigners visit it,” said Myo Min
Zaw, chairman of the association’s Inle Zone.
At present, the market has
only ten shops that open at
10.30pm. Plans are underway to
expand restaurants as well as
souvenir shops and regional
product shops.
The association hopes that
the upgrade would draw more
local and foreign visitors, which
would generate more income to
local businesses and crate more
There is also a plan to build a
night market in Yangon, but the
location is not finalised yet.
“Personally, I wish the market
opened somewhere on Strand
Road. The road is now busy and
the night market should attract
more tourists,” said Myo Min Zaw.
“In other countries, riverside
roads are designated for night
markets, where vendors can park
their cars and sell their products.
In the morning, the markets are
clean because the vendors leave
WB weighs in on selecting audit firm for EITI report
The World Bank has joined in
selecting independent audit
firm for the implementation of
Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (EITI).
The audit firm will help assist
the tripartite committee, consisting of representatives from
the government, the private sector and civil society organisations.
Min Zarni Lin, the deputy
chief of Myanmar EITI
Implementation Team, said that
the country is inviting bids from
international audit firms this
The audit firm’s main task is
to review incomes from extraction of resources in accord with
international criteria.
Myanmar, as a candidate of
EITI, is supposed to submit the
report specified on the country’s mining sector to EITI
Secretariat no later than
January 2016, or within 18
months after a country is
approved as a candidate to
become a full-fledge member.
Civil society organisations
considered reporting the plight
of land-grabbed locals due to
Letpadaungtaung copper mining project to EITI Board as the
case clearly breached the commitments the government made
for its membership.
The six member countries of
the Greater Mekong Subregion
(GMS) need to work together for
mutual benefit to accelerate growth
in the tourism sector, a senior Lao
tourism official has said.
Currently, the private sector is
creating joint package tours among
GMS countries but more work is
needed between GMS governments
to promote the entire region as a
tourist destination.
Director General of the Tourism
Marketing Department, Saly
Phimphinith, said “We need to
arrange more events or meetings
to allow more tour companies from
the six countries to meet and
discuss how to cooperate in
organising package tours among
member countries.”
The GMS countries comprise
Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar,
Thailand, Vietnam, and China.
Leaders of the six countries agreed
at the 5th GMS Summit in Bangkok
last month that a tourism package
should be organised to boost
visitor numbers in the region.
Thai Tourism and Sports
Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul,
was quoted in TTR as saying “In
the past, each GMS member
country conducted independent
marketing activities attempting to
persuade tourists to visit just their
own country, but there was a lack
of connectivity or cooperation…so
the packages are also not very
popular among tourists.”
Initially, there are two routes
that will be promoted in the plan.
The first route will link Thailand,
Laos and Vietnam in which tourists
will cross the third Lao-Thai
Friendship Bridge across the
Mekong River between Thailand’s
Nakhon Phanom province to
Thakhaek district in Khammuan
The second option is for
tourists to visit Thailand, Laos,
Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.
Under the umbrella of ACMECS,
the five countries – Laos, Thailand,
Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar
- have already agreed in principle
on a single visa.
It was initiated in 2005, under
the concept known as “Five
Countries, One Destination” and is
still in a preparatory stage. However,
Thailand and Cambodia jointly
introduced the single visa scheme in
late 2012, as a pilot project.
But the single visa remained a
barrier to promoting convenient
travel and as long as security
issues were high on the agenda it
was unlikely to change.
International tourist arrivals in
GMS countries are increasing by
more than 12 per cent per year and
generated close to US$50 billion in
receipts in 2013.
Laos missed out on these gains
due chiefly to under investment in
tourism infrastructure.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Thursday, January 8, 2014
Gem company builds road on Kachin creek
Trucks are passing the
newly-constructed road.
Ministry. The rest comprised
minerals, ores and gemstones.
The total is $48 million higher than during the same period
last year, the ministry said.
Jade exports by sea totalled
$107.163 million and those
exported overland were worth
$68.518 million.
Most exports of mining products through border checkpoints, including jade, go to
Casino town raises the stakes with factories
Poipet, a Cambodian town
fuelled by gambling and crossborder trade, is trying to build
up a manufacturing base
Under the glow of a blinking
replica windmill in the dark, a
dozen sheep shuffle around a
browning patch of grass. A wiry
man in a cowboy suit keeps
watch as excited children flock
around, to the strains of Thai
country music.
This is Poipet, a Cambodian
district bordering eastern
Thailand, where pastiches are
as common as slot machines.
The scruffy town, better known
for its bustling Thai-oriented
casinos, is poised for growth as
bilateral relations, fraught over
border disputes, show signs of
easing and tax incentives ease
the way for trade and investment.
Cross-border trade is already
firmly established in the area,
with a sprawling market in the
Thai border town of
Aranyaprathet anchored by hundreds of Cambodian vendors living in Poipet.
Then, six months ago,
rumours of a crackdown by
Thailand’s post-coup government sent more than 200,000
migrant Cambodian workers
fleeing across the border back
Cambodian Prime Minister
Hun Sen - known to be close to
Bureau, about 24,000 Thai
exiled former Thai premier
nationals crossed over into
Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother
Poipet using short-term border
of ousted premier Yingluck
passes last February. Many of
Shinawatra - called it a “violathem spent more than a few
hours in Poipet’s nine casinos,
Today, the workers have
which Cambodian nationals are
returned, allowing both neighbanned from entering.
bours to turn their attention to
“I come here for a change of
special economic zones being
atmosphere,” says 79-year-old
developed on both sides of the
Poipet has had a head
start. A new Japanese
hard disk component
factory with about 1,000
workers is already operating at an industrial
park 5km from the border.
Another three companies - including multinationals like Toyota Tsusho
- are due to move in
soon, says Chhour
A vendor depend largely on visitors.
Vichet, chief executive of
Sanco Cambo Investment Group Taweetip Limsuklam, as she
showed The Straits Times the
that is behind the special econine passport stamps she
nomic zone project.
acquired here last year. Prior to
If it takes off, it promises to
this, she had gambled on ships
add variety to Poipet’s casinomoored off Thai waters as well
dominated job scene.
as Singapore waters.
Not that its casinos are not
According to the Phnom
thriving. During a Straits Times
Penh Post newspaper, the counvisit on a weekend last month,
try earned US$22 million in
construction workers swarmed
casino and gaming-related taxes
over half-built annexes as a nevin 2013, a sum which analysts
er-ending stream of Thai puntsay understates the size of the
ers rolled up on golf carts ferryindustry, with more than 50
ing them directly from the borcasinos scattered all over the
der checkpoint.
According to the latest statisHun Sen, who is regularly
tics from Thailand’s Immigration
China. Exports of raw mineral
products exceed by far those of
value-added products.
The rise in official exports follows a crackdown on illegal
trade by the Customs
criticised for turning the country
into a gaming hub for its neighbours, said in 2012 that building
casinos was his secret plan to
protect the border.
“The biggest goal for giving
permission to build casinos is to
protect the border,” he was
quoted as saying. “One can
remove border markers, but one
can’t remove five-storey hotels.”
The off-beat rationale does
not detract from the fact that
casinos have created thousands
of jobs in a country
with the lowest per
capita gross domestic
product in Southeast
Asia, which was
$944.4 in 2012. In
Poipet, the effect is
obvious, with its casino
strip wedged between
the two border checkpoints teeming with
young Cambodians
drawn by the relatively
comfortable jobs.
“It’s easy,” says
Meas Sophea, 28, who, after 12
years of schooling, earns 6,500
baht ($197) a month as a dealer.
“I work for only eight hours a
day… I’m happy.”
In the hardscrabble town,
where trucks laden with cars,
machinery and consumer goods
from Thailand constantly rumble through, and where locals
need to cough up their own cash
to fix roads in their neighbourhoods, the casino strip also provides a welcome change of
“This place is beautiful,”
declares seven-year-old Seak
A gem company is building a
road on the side of Uru creek in
Kachin State, to enable the passage of trucks to a mine, said
local people.
The road is some 40 feet
wide, said residents of Mahmon
village, Hpakant in Kachin State.
They were concerned that filling the creek with earth would
make the creek narrower. As
such, danger of floods during
the raining season could be
more imminent.
In the raining season in 2014,
Hpakant witnessed the worst
floods in history. Most people
including the schoolchildren had
to face difficulties in moving one
place to another. If the creek
becomes narrower, villages in
the upstream of Hpakant could
also witness floods.
Hpakant region has more
than 300 joint venture companies and 500 private-owned
companies working on over
15,000 gem blocks. Local people
have complained about pollution
from the mining activities as
waste is being dumped into the
State MP In Phan Garan said
recently that he would submit a
proposal of possible danger of
flood in most villages in Hpakant
to the respective parliaments.
During April 1 and August 15,
2014, exports of mining products totalled $281.153 million, of
which $175.681 million was jade,
according to the Commerce
Department in cooperation with
mobile teams that monitor trade
routes over land and at ports.
The Ministry of Commerce and
related agencies set up the
mobile teams.
Leap Chanrath, whose parents
take her here for picnics on its
neat lawns once a month. Such
greenery is rare in other parts of
At dusk falls, the strip glitters
with fairy lights more befitting a
city mall than frontier town.
“Casino growth has a limit,”
says Dr Chap Sotharith, senior
research fellow at Cambodian
Institute for Cooperation and
Peace. “We cannot have a thousand casinos, or it would be like
Las Vegas.
“But manufacturing and
industry can still grow because
we have a large labour force.”
In Poipet’s special economic
zone, Sanco is touting a stable
electricity supply from Thailand,
labour recruitment services and
the duty-free import of equipment and construction materials.
Across the border, while full
details have yet to be firmed up,
business leaders speak of longterm plans to connect
Cambodia to Thailand’s
Suvarnabhumi Airport and to
provide better connectivity
between south-western
Cambodia’s Sihanoukville port
and Thailand’s main Laem
Chabang container port.
The plans give hope to
townsfolk like Bun Heang, 48,
who thinks that casino jobs are
dishonourable and is averse to
his children working there, even
though they are jobless and his
family business is failing.
“If more factories come, I’d
ask my daughter to go and
apply,” he says.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Thursday, January 8, 2014
The entreprising in the
Philippines shall profit
FOR most Filipinos, next
week’s papal visit will kick off the
new year on a high spiritual note.
For the most enterprising,
though, it is as much a commercial as a religious occasion.
Shops in malls and makeshift
street stalls are selling a myriad
of papal memorabilia - pins,
rosaries, water bottles, mugs,
towels, T-shirts, umbrellas. And
they are flying off the shelves, as
this nation of 80 million
Catholics goes all out to welcome the Pope.
These items sell for as low as
20 pesos (US$0.44) for a prayer
The Catholic Church sanctions the sale of these souvenirs,
but it does not have the manpower to regulate all vendors.
Anyone with a stall and a space
outside a church can sell any
number of items. There are even
cartoonish “Francis dolls” being
sold online.
In Pampanga province, north
of the capital Manila, pastry chef
Lillian Borromeo has created
“papal biscuits” from a mould
etched with the Pope’s image
and the words “Viva Santo
Caritas Manila, the social arm
of the Church, has been selling
papal memorabilia since
October. It sells about 100
T-shirts daily, apart from many
other items, said Choy Gagalac,
Caritas’ garment designer.
Part of the sales proceeds will
help cover the cost of the papal
visit, said Caritas executive
director Anton Pascual.
Radyo Veritas, a church-run
broadcaster, has authorised traders to sell papal items at gift
shops inside malls. Its 10 per
cent cut on sales helps fund its
Outside Manila, one small
garment-maker in Cebu city is
shipping some 500 T-shirts to
neighbouring Tacloban city and
Palo town in Leyte province,
where the Pope is scheduled to
share a meal with victims of
Typhoon Haiyan.
The Church is not frowning on
this merchandising mayhem.
“The Church sees it as a way
of propagating awareness of the
Pope’s visit. In a way, these small
businessmen look at it as an
opportunity to gain, but at the
same time it raises awareness
regarding the Pope’s visit,”
Father Joel Camaya of the
Episcopal Commission on Social
Communication told The Straits
Still, the Church is monitoring
the messages in these souvenirs.
For Gloria Ramos, 46, a vendor selling papal trinkets in
Paranaque city, south of Manila,
the visit is a chance to earn
some extra money to feed her
family, as well as do a good
People wearing baroque
carnival costumes and masks
attend the Angelus prayer of
Pope Francis during the Feast
of the Epiphany at St Peters
Square in Vatican City on
January 6.
M’sia’s Fire
and Rescue
releases ‘hot’
deed. “At least we’re not stealing,” she said.
■ Securing Pope Francis a big
Security officials will provide
air cover and deploy snipers on
rooftops in addition to nearly
40,000 troops from the police
and the military to protect Pope
Francis during his visit from
January 15 to 19, officials said on
“We are considering everything, his preferences, his personality, the crowds which will
reach millions. That will serve
as a challenge to us,” said Chief
Supt. Wilben Mayor, spokesman
of the Philippine National
Lt Gen Jeffrey Delgado said
the Philippine Air Force (PAF)
would provide round-the-clock
air patrols to ensure that all
routes and venues are secured.
All PAF helicopters and available assets will be deployed in
Metro Manila and in Palo and
Tacloban in Leyte province
where the Pope will say a Mass
for victims of last year’s
Supertyphoon “Yolanda”, said
the Air Force chief.
Gen Gregorio Pio Catapang
Jr, chief of staff of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines, said
snipers would be posted in strategic positions and high-rise
buildings along Roxas Boulevard
to complement a security force
of 6,000 to 7,000 troops and
around 5,000 reservists that
would work alongside the
25,000 PNP force mobilized for
the papal visit.
Close-in security will be provided by the Presidential
Security Group.
Speaking at a joint
Department of National DefenceAFP traditional New Year’s call,
Defence Secretary Voltaire
Gazmin said the government had
not monitored any specific threat
to the Pope, and to the holding of
the Black Nazarene procession
on January 9.
“We are looking at all angles,
looking at all reports and act on
these,” he said.
Catapang admitted that
ensuring the Pope’s safety was a
big “security challenge.”
“It’s a security challenge in a
way but we can do it. We will
just make do of available forces.
We are in joint forces with the
PNP. The PNP will bring in the
biggest contingent,” he said.
■ Bigger than Barack’s
Compared to the state visit of
US President Barack Obama last
year, the papal visit is expected to
draw far bigger crowds.
“It will be more challenging to
plan the security. The PNP considers all scenarios as challenging, that is why we adopted a
whole of government process,”
Mayor said in a press briefing in
Camp Crame on Tuesday.
The PNP has formed Special
Task Force “Papal Visit 2015”
led by Director Ricardo Marquez
to protect the Pope.
The PNP will secure the
immediate vicinity of the venues
Pope Francis will visit, while others will be deployed for perimeter and route detail.
Mayor said the PNP was considering everything in planning
the security arrangements,
including Pope Francis’s preferences. The Pope will not be riding a bulletproof vehicle during
his visit here, but will be using a
white, open car. Pope Francis is
also known for mingling with
Since Pope Francis is considered a head of state, the PNP
considers the papal visit as a
state visit and apostolic journey
which requires the specific protocol and security appropriate
for the head of the Catholic
The PNP urged the people to
cooperate. “We ask them to
observe the rules and security
arrangements, the public will
serve as a safety net in our
preparations on security and
public order,” Mayor said.
The Malaysian Fire and
Rescue department have set
many a beating heart aflame
with the release of their hot
new 2015 calendar.
Featuring mainly uniformed muscular male officers going about their daily
routines or striking impressive poses, the calendar nevertheless also pays tribute to
women officers, with the
months of March and May
dedicated exclusively to a
female pilot and a female
ground officer within the
“Previously, we had a different concept for the calendars but this time we wanted
to show that our officers are
healthy and fit. It is also a
mark of appreciation for our
officers. All of the models in
the calendar are operations
officers from around the
country,” said Norizan Saad,
the Fire and Rescue
Department’s senior superintendent II of corporate management.
He added that the new
concept was important to
encourage everyone, including those within the Fire and
Rescue department, to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Although the Fire and
Rescue department have
released many calendars in
the past, this is only the second time the calendars have
been made with a ‘healthy
and fit’ concept, said Norizan
However, these exclusive
calendars are not for sale and
will be only made available to
Fire and Rescue department
officers, state Fire and
Rescue departments and
related ministries.
But fret not members of
the public - to win (very) limited copies of the calendar,
Facebook users were asked
to answer questions relating
to the duties of Fire and
Rescue department officers.
In less than 24 hours, the
posting regarding the competition on the Fire and Rescue
department’s Facebook page
received nearly two thousand
likes and over a hundred
replies, many of which were
from members of the public
who were eager to get their
hands on the calendars.
Over the past month, Fire
and Rescue Department
officers dispatched to the
east coast of Peninsular
Malaysia have received praise
for their tireless efforts and
hard work in carrying out
flood relief operations.
More rains expected
in Malaysia
Malaysia’s weather bureau on
Wednesday warned of more rains in
areas devastated by floods in recent
weeks, as the government rushed
aids to hundreds of thousands of
The Malaysian Meteorological
Department said “monsoonal rains
with strong winds are expected to
occur over the states of Kelantan,
Terengganu, Pahang, Johor and
Sabah from Wednesday until Friday.
Aid organisations have been
rushing supplies to the more than
250,000people displaced by the
most severe floods to hit the
country in decades. Rescuers on
Tuesday recovered the bodies of two
Nepalese workers buried by a
landslide in the state of Kelantan,
bringing to 25 the confirmed death
toll from the disaster, according to
the police.
Monsoon rains started around
three weeks ago, pounding the
coastal states with high tides,
forcing people to flee their homes
and seek shelter in schools or
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Thursday, January 8, 2014
Indonesia bans cheapest flight
seats after AirAsia crash
Parts of the crashed AirAsia Flight QZ
8501 laying on the sea floor,
‘Star Wars’ sequel
may get ‘silat’ touch
Three Indonesian actors from
Hollywood director Gareth Evans’
locally shot action franchise The
Raid will appear in the next Star
Wars movie, a reliable cult film
website is reporting.
TwitchFilm said on Monday that
the stars of The Raid 2: Berandal,
Iko Uwais (Rama), Yayan Ruhian
(Prakoso) and Cecep Arif Rahman
(“The Assassin”), would appear in
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force
Awakens, slated for release in
Decrying the “CGI trickery” of
other Star Wars films, Twitch editor
Todd Brown wrote that Episode VII
director JJ Abrams has “cast a trio
of highly skilled martial artists who
have already demonstrated their
skills with blades, batons, etc in a
world where super powered
warriors fight with blades, batons,
None of the actors would
confirm their bow in the most
eagerly awaited film of 2015.
INDONESIA said Wednesday it
would stop budget airlines from
selling seats at rock-bottom prices, in an effort to re-emphasise
safety following the AirAsia crash
10 days ago.
The lowest ticket prices for
Indonesia-based budget airlines
would be set at 40 per cent of
the highest-cost fare, Transport
Ministry spokesman Julius
Barata said.
“We want to prevent a price
war so that airlines don’t compromise on safety,” he said. “We
want to protect the public.”
The cause of the crash on
December 28 is still unknown,
with no firm evidence that flight
safety checks were involved.
Herry Bakti Gumay, a former
Indonesian civil aviation chief,
said that safety standards at lowcost airlines were no different
from those at full-service carriers.
“Safety is the basis for all airlines,” he said.
AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed
into the Java Sea on its way from
Surabaya in Indonesia to
Singapore, after requesting permission to climb to avoid bad
weather. Divers frustrated by zero
visibility and strong currents
were Wednesday still aiming to
reach objects thought to be part
of the plane’s fuselage, and
thought to contain many of the
victims’ bodies. Thirty-nine bodies have been found so far out of
the 162 people on board, but
only about five have been recovered in the past three days.
“Our priority is to find more
bodies and the black boxes,” said
search operations chief, Tatang
The Bali provincial
administration is drawing up a
bylaw on the protection of local
traditional fabric, as part of efforts
to preserve the tradition and push
for production and quality
enhancement in line with market
Bali Industrial and Trade Office
head Ni Wayan Kusumawathi said
her office, in cooperation with
academics at Udayana University,
was drafting a bylaw on Balinese
traditional-fabric protection. The
ordinance is expected to be passed
this year and to act as a stimulant
in the development of the fabric
and as in preparation for global
market competition.
The draft, said Kusumawathi,
had been preceded by the
identification of traditional
Balinese textiles.
Bali prepares by-law
for traditional cloth
Zaenudin. “The strong currents
are making the search difficult,
but we are making all-out
efforts,” he said.
On Tuesday, AirAsia released
a statement quoting its chief
Tony Fernandes as saying that
the company has the right to fly
“We had flown that schedule
and had rights for seven days a
week. We have secured both
slots as well as approval from
both Indonesia and Singapore.
What happened was purely an
administrative error,” it added.
The country’s transport ministry said earlier on Wednesday
that it had fired one transport
official and disciplined several
others in a crackdown following
the crash, as it investigates how
the flight was able to depart
without permission.
“To date, we have taken action
against eight officials - two from
the transport ministry, four from
state navigation operator AirNav,
and two airport officials,” transport ministry official Hadi
Mustofa told AFP.
“One of the transport ministry
officials was fired and the other
official was temporarily suspended. As for the other six officials,
some have been temporarily suspended and some have been
Singapore authorities say the
Sunday flight schedule had been
cleared at their end.
■ Tail found
Indonesia said Wednesday it
had found the tail, potentially
marking a major step towards
locating the plane’s black boxes
and helping shed light on what
caused it to crash into the sea
ten days ago.
Search and rescue agency
chief Bambang Soelistyo said he
was sure of the discovery after
seeing photographs of the underwater wreckage, on which the
company logo could be seen.
The “black box” flight data
recorders, crucial to determining
the cause of the crash, are usually housed in an aircraft’s tail.
“We have successfully
obtained part of the plane that
has been our target. The tail portion has been confirmed found,”
Soelistyo told reporters in
The plane vanished from radar
screens during a storm on
December 28 when it was flying
from the Indonesian city of
Surabaya to Singapore with 162
people on board, most of them
Despite a huge recovery operation assisted by various countries, progress has been patchy
with poor weather conditions
hampering the search. So far 39
bodies have been found, all of
them floating on the sea.
Search chiefs earlier said five
large parts of the plane had been
detected but had not confirmed
which parts of the aircraft.
“I am led to believe the tail
section has been found. If right
part of tail section then the black
box should be there,” AirAsia
boss Tony Fernandes wrote on
Twitter after the announcement.
“We need to find all parts
soon so we can find all (our)
guests to ease the pain of our
families. That still is our priority.”
Indonesia alleges the plane
was flying on an unauthorised
schedule when it crashed and
AirAsia has since been suspended from flying the SurabayaSingapore route.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Thursday, January 8, 2014
Singapore firm
launches mobile
app for halal
The Malaysia Stock Exchange fell in line with regional movements yesterday, with fears sparked by the global slump in oil
prices and the Greek political crisis.
Oil plunge a ‘golden opportunity’
for Asia economies
THE plunge in crude prices
will give a much-needed boost to
Asia’s oil-guzzling economies
and provides governments a
“golden opportunity” to implement crucial structural reforms
such as cutting expensive energy
subsidies, analysts say.
A slowdown in the key export
markets of Europe, China and
Japan, the end of US stimulus
measures, and an expected US
rate hike - fuelling a flight of foreign cash in search of better
returns - has left some governments having to make tough
decisions to get back on track.
But experts say lower oil prices would ease inflationary pressures throughout much of Asia,
allowing many central banks to
either keep monetary policy on
hold or reduce interest rates.
And the Asian Development
Bank last month said developing
countries could see an additional
0.5 per centage point of growth
on average this year if oil prices
remain low.
However reforms are needed,
analysts say, and among the
most crucial and controversial is
the removal of fuel subsidies,
which in the past been the catalysts for sometimes violent protests across the spectrum, from
the impoverished to the region’s
growing middle class.
While global equity markets
are being strafed by a continuing
slump in the prices of black gold
- they have fallen more than 50
per cent since June to five-and-ahalf-year lows - analysts said
countries should grab the opportunity and move now.
Malaysia, Indonesia and India
have already made cut to the
populist but economically disastrous subsidies, which have contributed to government fiscal deficits.
Shang-Jin Wei, chief economist at the Manila-based ADB,
said in a statement that easing
oil prices “present a golden
opportunity” for oil-importing
countries to introduce the
And Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific
chief economist at global consultancy IHS, warned if they fail to
move, leaders “will miss the window of opportunity and face public resistance to removal of fuel
subsidies if oil prices strengthen
significantly in future years”.
■ Angry protests
Previous efforts in Indonesia
to slash fuel subsidies sparked
violent protests, but the country’s new president Joko Widodo
has vowed to tackle the problem
despite risks to his popularity.
Widodo, who took office in
October, wants the money diverted to overhauling infrastructure
and helping the country’s poorest.
An attempt by former
Indonesian president Suharto to
reduce the subsidies triggered
riots that helped end his threedecade dictatorship in 1998.
India also experienced similar
protests in the past when it tried
to cut the subsidies - diverted
government funds used to artificially keep fuel prices low.
Removing the payouts allows
market forces to determine prices and free them from political
The softer crude prices will
also provide some respite for the
region’s oil-reliant economies,
facing global headwinds from
slowing in their key export markets.
Biswas said “most of the
Asian economies are large net
importers of oil and gas, and will
benefit from lower oil import
costs and significantly reduced
fuel costs for consumers”.
“This positive boost helps to
mitigate the negative effects of
China’s moderating growth rate
and Japan’s slump back into
recession in late 2014,” he said.
Analysts expect India, Asia’s
third largest economy, to be a
major beneficiary as it imports
nearly 80 per cent of its oil
Like China and South Korea,
the lower prices should keep
inflation in check and allow the
central bank to implement muchneeded interest rate cuts with
less fear of stoking inflation.
Among the top winners is the
airline sector, while shipping and
energy-intensive heavy manufacturing industries such as steel
will benefit across the region.
Shukor Yusof, founder of
Malaysia-based aviation research
firm Endau Analytics, said jet
fuel accounts for about a third of
airline operating costs in Asia.
■ Further losses ahead
“You’re likely to see airlines
posting profits for the fourth
quarter of 2014 and for this coming quarter,” he told AFP.
“Given the trend in falling oil
prices, we should see a corresponding correction in air fares
as well.”
However, oil and gas exporters including Malaysia and
Brunei stand to take a hit.
With petroleum-related
earnings accounting for 30-40
per cent of Malaysian government revenues annually, the
ringgit currency has fallen
almost 11 per cent against the
US dollar over the past six
months as oil prices sank.
Malaysia in October forecast
economic growth of 5-6 per
cent for 2015, but the World
Bank projects the expansion at
4.7 per cent due in part to
lower oil prices.
And there could be further
falls in the oil price from the
present levels of $47.90 for
West Texas Intermediate and
$50.82 for Brent.
Daniel Ang, an investment
analyst with Phillip Futures in
Singapore, told AFP he expects
WTI to hit bottom at $46 and
Brent to hover at $50-$53 in
the second quarter of this year.
He forecasts WTI to average
$58-$63 a barrel this year,
against the average $92.60 in
2014 and $98.05 in 2013.
Brent is projected to average
$60-$65 this year, compared
with $99.29 last year and
$108.70 in 2013.
But Ang and other oil market watchers say further price
falls to below $40 would not
surprise them.
A Singapore-based company on
Wednesday launched a mobile
application that enables Muslim
foodies and travellers to share halal
restaurant discoveries around the
The free “HalalTrip” app,
available for Apple iOS and Android
devices, enables users to take and
upload photos of halal dishes, write
comments and share them through
social media.
Clicking on a photo gives details
about the dish as well as the
location of the restaurant. The app,
which has English and Arabic
interfaces, also uses a traveller’s
location to display photos of halal
dishes served in nearby restaurants.
The term halal is used for food,
products and services that comply
with Islamic requirements.
“Halal food is one of the biggest
drivers of tourism for the Muslim
market,” said Fazal Bahardeen, chief
executive of HalalTrip, part of a
Muslim-oriented business group
called CrescentRating.
“When travelling, one of the
main concerns of Muslims is halal
food. What we did is to bring in a
social media element into
discovering halal food and making it
more fun and more intuitive,” he
told AFP.
Fazal predicted the Muslim
travel market would be worth $192
billion a year globally by 2020, up
from $140 billion in 2013.
devalues dong to
boost growth
Vietnam’s central bank on
Wednesday said it would devalue
the dong currency in a bid to
contain inflation and bolster
economic growth.
The State Bank of Vietnam
(SBV) will devalue the reference rate
by one per cent to 21,458
Vietnamese dong per dollar to
“control inflation and... push up
economic growth”, it said in a
The move - the second
devaluation in eight months - is “in
accordance with the developments
of the domestic and international
financial markets, creating a solid
stability for the forex market”, the
SBV said.
Economist Vu Dinh Anh from the
state-run Economic Finance
Institute told AFP the dong had been
under mounting pressure on foreign
exchange markets late last year.
“The SBV had to proceed with
the adjustment to avoid
disadvantages against other
currencies,” he said.
In communist Vietnam, the
dollar, along with gold, is considered
a safe haven against economic
Vietnam’s economy grew 5.98
per cent in 2014 - the highest for
three years - while inflation slowed to
4.09 per cent, official figures showed.
The government is targeting
economic growth of 6.2 per cent
this year.
MYANMAR ELEVEN, Thursday, January 8, 2014
Wyne Su Khine
Thein to stage
first concert in
The majestic Chin Tsong
Palace has stood the test of
time as home to several
government offices over
the past century.
Wyne Su Khine Thein
A haven of art
THE historic colonial-era
building of the Chin Tsong
Palace on Kabaraye Pagoda
Road has been given a new
lease on life as the Central
Cultural Department. The
department is responsible for
organising painting, sculpture,
handicraft and traditional art
activities open to the public.
“The reason for opening the
Central Cultural Department is
to provide a place for the sale
and exhibition of paintings,
sculptures, and other cultural
artefacts. We will rent the
ground floor for exhibitions
and showrooms. Myanmar traditional performances and
puppet shows can be staged at
the mini-theatre,” said Htay
Lwin, deputy director of the
Fine Arts Department under
the Ministry of Culture.
“The main goal is to create a
one-stop hub for local visitors
and foreign tourists that are
interested in the traditional
arts. We will open this [department] together with the State
Fine Arts School,” he added.
“We have staged our art
exhibition here since December
7. It’s great that the Ministry of
Culture has arranged for all of
our arts to be brought together
[under one roof] like this. It will
become an attraction for both
local and foreign visitors. They
can observe ancient architectural styles while viewing paintings and Myanmar handicrafts,” said Ma Thet of the
Myanmar Art Centre art exhibition.
The Myanmar Art Centre has
just mounted its first art exhibition at the palace. The rental
rate is Ks 50,000 (US$50) per
day and long-term rental rate is
Chinese merchant Lim Chin
Tsong built the Chin Tsong
Palace in 1915 at a cost of over
two million rupees. The five-
storey building, a hybrid of
Western and Eastern architectural styles, is adorned with a
collection of British paintings.
After his death in 1923, the
building was passed down
through various owners and
was used as the headquarters
of the All Burma Broadcasting
Station under Japanese rule
and refurbished as a hotel in
the aftermath of World War II.
It was then renamed as
“Kanbawza Yeik Tha” in 1951.
Since 1988, the Ministry of
Culture currently has maintained an office and the State
Fine Arts School on the palace
Pop singer Wyne Su Khine
Thein’s first concert has been
postponed from this month to
March as a result of her mother’s
medical treatment overseas.
The concert, originally set for
last Sunday, has been rescheduled
for sometime after the end of the
matriculation exam in March.
“I need to postpone my concert
as I need to go abroad for [the sake
of] my mother’s health and prepare
for other things. As it is my first
concert, I will do my best so that it
will be worthy of the long wait by
my fans. I plan to hold it after the
matriculation exam. I will announce
the exact date later,” said Wyne Su
Khine Thein.
Wyne Su Khine Thein rose to
prominence with the song “A Pyit
Ma Myin” and her commercially
acclaimed debut album “Met Lauk
Sayar”. Her second album “Myat
Hlae” and third album “Arr..Bwar”
also struck a chord with her fans.
She has also featured
[prominently] in various group
The concert has so far been
postponed twice. Last time, it was
called off because of her wedding.
Art education project spreads its wings
An art education project run
by the Education for
Development Fund-Lao (EDFLao) together with the education sector is set to be rolled
out at schools in other provinces after its initial success in
Over 200 primary school
children in Phontoum village,
Outhoumphon district,
Savannakhet province have
benefited from the scheme
since it was launched in 2010.
Various art topics have been
taught at the school four
The subjects include drawing, painting and other activities, and have been taught by
Professor Dr Katsuhiko Hibino
from the Tokyo Fine Art
University in Japan.
The aim of the project is to
give children the opportunity
to share different experiences
in drawing and painting.
This information was
revealed at a seminar to promote art education held in
Vientiane recently with the
support of the Japan
Foundation Asia Centre.
The event was attended by
EDF will not only support
the school in the Savannakhet
province, but also plans to
assist other schools in other
EDF was established in
1995 and began carrying out
projects in 1997. So far, over
25 primary schools have been
supported by the organisation
and more than 50,000 scholarships have been awarded to
students and teachers.
It is a charitable organisation that aims to reduce poverty in central and southern Laos
through educational development.
the Ministry of Education and
Sports’ Deputy Director of the
Physical and Art Education
Department, Khamphan
Onphan, EDF-Lao Managing
Director Mr Khamhiane
Inthava and other invited