Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Irrawaddy Magazine

The Irrawaddy Magazine

The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (July 23, 2016)

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 09:04 PM PDT

Rangoon International Airport. Burma's Department of Civil Aviation has reached an agreement with an American company to develop an air traffic system using satellites. (Photo: Reuters)

Rangoon International Airport. Burma's Department of Civil Aviation has reached an agreement with an American company to develop an air traffic system using satellites. (Photo: Reuters)

Siamgas to invest US$48 million in Mon State power plant

A Thai natural gas supplier has announced it will acquire a stake in a 230-megawatt gas-fired power plant in southern Burma's Mon State.

Siamgas and Petrochemical announced to the Stock Exchange of Thailand on July 18 that it would pay a total of US$48 million for the stake in the plant, which is located by the state capital of Moulmein.

"The company expected that this investment is an opportunity to expand into other energy business. The investment in power plant in [Burma] shall resulting in higher income and returns from investment, which shall create additional value to the company [sic]," the filing said.

According to a report from 2014, the plant was built by Singapore-based Asiatech Energy with finance from the United Overseas Bank, also based in Singapore. At that time, the plan was to supply power to the national grid via the Myanmar Electrical Power Enterprise. The completion of the project was scheduled for the end of last year at an estimated cost of $170 million.

Siamgas said its Singapore subsidiary Siam Gas Power would acquire a stake in the power plant over two transactions that will see it take on shares from three different companies involved in the plant, named as Asiatech Energy, the Burma-incorporated Myanmar Lighting (IPP), and Malaysia-based MSN International Limited. The document shows that after the two transactions, each worth $24 million, Siam Gas Power will hold 30 percent stakes in all three companies.

In each of the three companies, the largest other shareholder (and the 70 percent majority shareholder in the case of Asiatech Energy), is Singaporean oil trader Tang Weng Fei. Burmese individuals named as Sein Wan, Than Soe and Oak Ghar Aye are also shareholders in MSN International and Myanmar Lighting IPP.

Govt aviation agency looks at using satellites for air traffic control

Burma's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has signed an agreement with a company based in McLean, in the American state of Virginia, to work together on the development of an air traffic system using satellites.

US company Aireon LLC this week announced the memorandum of understanding reached with the Burmese government agency, which it said would enable the country's airports to safely receive growing numbers of visitors.

"DCA will collaborate with Aireon to develop a concept of operations and benefits analysis for the deployment of Aireon's space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) service," a press release said.

The release quoted Soe Paing, DCA director of air navigation safety, saying that working with Aireon would offer "increased safety and visibility that exceeds the capabilities of ground-based infrastructure" at a time when air traffic is growing by almost 10 percent a year.

"We look forward to working with Aireon on the concept of operations. We have many challenges installing ground-based surveillance solutions, due to the remote and diverse terrain in our region," Soe Paing said.

"We recognize the challenges that [Burma] faces. The Aireon service will allow DCA to utilize next-generation air traffic surveillance, in real time, without the need for large investments in ground-based infrastructure," said Cyriel Kronenburg, Aireon's vice president for aviation services.

"We applaud them [DCA] for focusing on improving safety to meet future air traffic demand both within [Burma] and overflying traffic."

Japanese ramen chain coming to Burma

A Burma-facing, Singapore-listed investment vehicle is set to bring Japanese ramen chain Ippudo to the country early next year in the hope of tapping into the opportunities created by the apparent growth of Burma's middle class.

Singapore Myanmar Investco Limited (SMI) told the Singapore Stock Exchange that it had entered into an agreement with Chikaranomoto Holdings Co. Ltd., the owner of Ippudo, to operate and manage restaurants under the brand in Burma.

"Under the agreement, Chikaranomoto will provide training programs and on-going support to SMI to facilitate the set-up and operation of Ippudo ramen restaurants in [Burma]," the statement said.

"The first Ippudo ramen restaurant in [Burma] is expected to be opened in the first quarter of 2017 and SMI has plans to open more outlets in major cities across [Burma] over the next few years.”

There are more than 90 Ippudo restaurants in Japan, and over 60 elsewhere, including in New York, London and Hong Kong. Originating in Fukuoka in 1985, Ippudo claims to be "the most popular ramen restaurant in Japan."

"We see abundant growth opportunities within the F&B retail market in [Burma] and the time is ripe for us to introduce the popular Ippudo brand and cuisine to a growing middle class in [Burma]," SMI's president and CEO Mark Bedingham said in the statement.

SMI signed a long-term agreement in December to operate a large chunk of retail space at the new Rangoon International Airport, which is operated under a government concession by local conglomerate Asia World.

SMI is reportedly also going to operate the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf coffee shop chain and Crystal Jade dim sum restaurants in Burma.

Turbine firm declares winning US$8 million power plant contract

EthosEnergy, a company with offices in Houston, in the American state of Texas, and Aberdeen, Scotland, has announced that it will overhaul a power plant in Rangoon after winning a government contract worth US$8 million.

In a statement, EthosEnergy said the Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE) had hired it to overhaul one turbine and upgrade another at the Ywama gas-fired power plant.

"When awarding the contract for this project we required a provider that could meet all our expectations; the ability to restore the unit(s) to the original manufacturer's performance specifications of 120MW coupled with the demanding return to service deadline," the State-run MEPE was quoted saying in the statement.

"Equally we expected a proven state of the art control system to allow us accurate and efficient machine calibration, monitoring and control."

It added that the upgrades would increase output at the plant to 123 megawatts.

According to its website, EthosEnergy is a joint venture formed in May 2014 between Aberdeen-based oil and gas company Wood Group's turbines division and TurboCare, part of Germany's Siemans.

Telenor sees rising profits as subscriber base keeps growing

Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor has said it made US$72.3 million in profit in Burma during the three months of the Burmese fiscal year up to the end of June.

In a report detailing the company's global performance for the second quarter of 2016, Telenor said that it had added another 1.4 million subscribers in Burma during the period, bringing its total number of subscribers to 16.9 million. Telenor has been putting on subscribers steadily since launching in 2014, although subscriber gains have been higher in previous quarters.

Operating profits of $72.3 million in the quarter compare with $44 million the company made in the same period in 2015.

The growth in earnings "was driven by the continued growth in subscription and usage, partly offset by increased costs on the back of a larger number of network sites on air," the report said.

"Capital expenditure remained high in the quarter, with the continued ambition to expand network coverage across the country and enhance capacity to cater for the strong demand for voice and data," it said, adding that Telenor now has 5,831 cellphone towers "on air."

Telenor's rival private operator Ooredoo of Qatar no longer publishes quarterly results where it separates out its operations in Burma. In the company's annual report for 2015, the firm said it had 5.8 million customers in Burma and made an earnings loss of about $2.1 million in the year.

Ooredoo Myanmar's CEO, installed last year, has said the company is taking a new approach to the Burmese market—slashing its data tariffs and focusing on improving distribution.

Meanwhile, a new CEO at Telenor Myanmar, set to take charge on Aug. 1, has vowed to keep on with the company’s "proven strategy."

The post The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (July 23, 2016) appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

The Lady, Surrounded by the Generals and Their Families

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 08:59 PM PDT

 In this image from the commemorative events for Martyrs' Day on June 19 at 54 University Avenue, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is seen turning to talk to Daw Khin Lay Thet, 6th from left, the wife of former general and USDP leader Shwe Mann. Daw Khin Lay Thet is seated in front of the couple's two daughters-in-law, Daw Zay Zin Latt, wife of Toe Naing Mann, and Daw Khin Hnin Thandar, wife of Aung Thet Mann. Also in the photo are, first left, Daw Khin Thet Htay, wife of First Vice-President Myint Swe, and, fourth left, Daw Cho Cho, wife of Speaker of Parliament Win Myint.

In this image from the commemorative events for Martyrs' Day on June 19 at 54 University Avenue, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is seen turning to talk to Daw Khin Lay Thet, 6th from left, the wife of former general and USDP leader Shwe Mann. Daw Khin Lay Thet is seated in front of the couple's two daughters-in-law, Daw Zay Zin Latt, wife of Toe Naing Mann, and Daw Khin Hnin Thandar, wife of Aung Thet Mann. Also in the photo are, first left, Daw Khin Thet Htay, wife of First Vice-President Myint Swe, and, fourth left, Daw Cho Cho, wife of Speaker of Parliament Win Myint.

It may seem to be venturing into the personal side of things, to talk about the families of the generals in Burma. But there's no denying that in our country, the political is also personal. Our political destiny is surely partly about personalities.

Independence hero General Aung San is the personal hero of citizens from all walks of life. He left us a precious gift in the form of his daughter Aung San Suu Kyi, who is overwhelmingly loved and trusted by the people.

This year's Martyrs' Day events assumed huge significance as the nation watched Daw Suu commemorate the 69th anniversary of the death of her father and eight fellow national heroes. People are hyperaware that this year's commemoration events on July 19 came as Daw Suu, the State Counselor, tries hard to carry forward the mantle of her father's unfinished mission around the Panglong Agreement into the 21st century.

National reconciliation is Daw Suu's key policy priority. For this she has to build pragmatic, reconciliatory relations with former and current generals who once regarded her as their top enemy. There was plenty of symbolism around reconciliation in the air this year as, for the first time in decades, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces attended anniversary events.

At the same time, it felt strange on the day to see military cars and police escort vehicles lining up in front of 54 University Avenue, while an array of green and navy blue uniformed security personnel took up places on the roadside. In former years, youths of the National League for Democracy (NLD) wearing the party's revolutionary pinny jackets and Kachin-style longyis filled the yard of the Lady's home. This time, the Martyrs' Day ceremony at 54 University Avenue had changed in both appearance and essence. Save for the presence of a very few senior leaders of the NLD, it seemed to have taken on the appearance of a special gathering of generals and their families. It may also have been the first time the army chief visited the home of Daw Suu.

In images that emerged from the day's events, it appeared that former general and Union State Development Party (USDP) leader Shwe Mann had brought along not only his wife Daw Khin Lay Thet, but also more of his family members. In the image shown above, Daw Suu is in a sitting position and turning to talk to Daw Khin Lay Thet. Behind the former general's wife sit the couple's two daughters-in-law, Daw Zay Zin Latt, wife of Toe Naing Mann, and Daw Khin Hnin Thandar, wife of Aung Thet Mann.

It is not unusual for people to try to interpret the political climate of a country through images of its key political and military leaders. For certain, this photo will generate very different feelings, meanings and speculations within the camps of the NLD and the USDP.

The transition from the USDP-led government to the NLD-led administration has seemed smooth on the surface. But many people from the democratic forces have had to swallow bitterness connected to some aspects of the current reconciliation environment, which has not, for instance, included the establishment of a Truth Commission as happened in South Africa. People here do not want to retaliate, but many do feel they need for justice in relation to actions taken by generals in the past. It may now be very hard for them to see their beloved leader surrounded and praised by people who represent, for many, old abuses, brutalities and corrupt practices.

Of those from what may be termed the old guard, the one who seemed to first attract the attention of Daw Suu was Shwe Mann, who served as Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) from February 2011 to January 2016.

The development of the relationship between Daw Suu and Shwe Mann has been carefully watched, and criticized, by both the democratic and military camps, because this relationship has had significant impact on the political climate of the country.

The relationship apparently began four years ago, with the landslide victory of the NLD in the by-election of 2012, and Daw Suu's first entry into parliamentary politics. After that point, Shwe Mann used his status as parliament speaker to invest time and energy in the relationship with the Lady. He accorded her special treatment among parliamentary committee chairpersons and at public events, actions that helped engender major divisions within the USDP leadership.

On the democratic side, it is understandable that those who have been fighting against military repression hand-in-hand with Daw Suu over almost three decades find it very hard to believe in Shwe Mann or in any general. They have had great concern about the relationship with the man who used his power to build a family business empire and who, like many others, quickly became rich.

There is a widespread assumption that of the two parties in this alliance, it is Shwe Mann who has gained most, in terms of political and economic benefits. During the critical period around his ousting by the USDP, many people expected him to face the kind of misfortune that once fell on the heads of former prime minister Khin Nyunt and others. The business circle around the firms connected to Shwe Mann's sons was greatly worried about possible fallout.

Luckily for Shwe Mann, there were no charges of corruption or abuse of power related to the family business interests. Some analysts believed that the alliance with Daw Suu not only protected his role in politics but also created a shield for the activities of his sons Aung Thet Mann and Toe Naing Mann, of the agro-business firm Ayar Shwe War and the internet broadband company Redlink, respectively.

On the other hand, the democrats who used to surround Daw Suu have felt abandoned in the name of national reconciliation. Or, at the least, the photos that emerged from 54 University Avenue on Martyrs' Day this year sent a message that Mother Suu is now busy dealing with the generals and their families. This is just the beginning of the hard truths around national reconciliation.

Thuta is the pen name of an independent Burmese writer and observer of politics in the country.

The post The Lady, Surrounded by the Generals and Their Families appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Shan Herald Agency for News

Shan Herald Agency for News

Extra-judicial killings in Shan State: Military's rare guilt admission signalling a change of heart?

Posted: 23 Jul 2016 03:34 AM PDT

In a surprise move, Lt-Gen Mya Tun Oo, the serving chief of Burma's military intelligence, confirmed on 20 July that government soldiers were indeed responsible for the murder of five men from Mong Yaw in Lashio Township, northern Shan State.

Many wondered if the steadfast Burma Army's denial mode for its nefarious behaviour is now starting to change, given the two highest profile gross human rights violations over the recent years remained unresolved and the culprits unpunished.

One is the October 2014 killing, while in military custody, of freelance journalist Ko Par Gyi, and the other, the deaths of two Kachin schoolteachers in northern Shan State in January last year that were widely alleged to have been perpetrated by Burma Army's (Tatmadaw) soldiers.

Let us look into what might seem to look like the change of heart from the part of Tatmadaw, and if this is a new start to become a standard army or genuine union army, taking orders from the civilian government, rather than positioning itself as "a state within a state".

How it happened

Seven Mong Yaw villagers were reportedly killed by the Burma Army late last month. According to eyewitnesses, five were arrested by a unit of Burmese government forces on June 25, and later found buried in shallow graves near an army camp. The other two were shot dead that same day when they failed to stop their motorbike at an army checkpoint in the town.

While Mya Tun Oo said the Burmese soldiers were responsibly for the death of the five, the responsibility for the two others, who were shot down from their motorcycle were somewhat not clear and still need to investigate for clarity.

He would concede only the possibility that it was Tatmadaw bullets that killed the men, indicating an equal likelihood that an ethnic armed group could also be responsible.

During the press conference on 20 July, he said: "They drove their motorbike into the fighting zone," asserting that the two had entered an area of active conflict between the Tatmadaw and an unspecified ethnic armed group.

"We don't know whose bullets they were shot by. We found their dead bodies. And also found them [in possession] of drugs. We still don't know who they are. We will certainly investigate."

The Shan Human Rights Foundation, however, has already conducted its own investigation into the incidents, identifying the two victims on the motorbike as brothers Sai Naw Tint and Sai Hla, fathers of two and three children, respectively.

Their badly decomposed bodies were found in a ditch beside the road on which they were shot on June 29, four days after the incident, according to SHRF's report, which cited testimony from the two men's uncle.

The shooting occurred on June 25, the report said, when Tatmadaw Light Infantry Battalion 362 set up a blockade of the road linking Mong Yaw village to Lashio town. Based on testimonies from other motorists pulled over, the SHRF said Tatmadaw troops ordered the men to stop but they did not heed those calls, prompting gunfire from soldiers in the battalion first into the air and then at the men, killing them both.

"I heard the military tried to stop them, but they didn't stop. There are witnesses that say the military shot them," Nan Shwe Yone, said a resident of Mong Yaw, corroborating SHRF's report.

"The court martial found that they [soldiers] violated the rules, and failed to follow certain procedures that led to the death of the victims during interrogation," Lt-Gen Mya Tun Oo admitted at a public news conference in Rangoon.

He said a court martial was in progress, and that the verdict would be made open to the public. 

Public uproar after the killings

Following the tragic incident, on 4 July, five Shan Civil Society Organizations – Tai Youth Network, Tai Youth Organization, Kachin Youth Organization, Ta'ang Women Organization, Ta'ang Students and Youth Organization – issued a statement, condemning the killings, cautioned that it could derail the 21st Century Panglong Conference and demanded the speedy investigation, bringing justice to the case.

On 15 July,  Nang San San Aye, a Shan Nationalities League for Democracy MP representing  Hsipaw township, put forward the urgent proposal addressing both the Shan State and also the Union governments to stop all the wars as soon as possible, mediating as a go-between among warring parties and help mapped out to avoid future conflicts.
The tabled proposed motion, during the fourth session of the state legislature was submitted a day earlier, which the state border and security affairs minister Colonel Soe Moe Aung, on July 15, advised Shan State lawmakers to put the proposal on record, a less forceful parliamentary motion, but MPs anyhow voted on it.

The motion was approved with a wide margin approval of 76 votes to 57 rejection votes, which were military appointed MPs. The huge success was due to the fact that all Shan State citizens MPs, regardless of political affiliation, all voted for the anti-war urgent resolution, according to Nang San San Aye.

Simultaneously, on 16 July, more than 1,000 protesters held a rally in Lashio town demanding an end to the killing of innocent civilians.

According to Sai Pha Seng, who was present at the event, the demonstration started at 9am, and included participants from Lashio, Kutkhai, Hsenwi, Tangyan, Mongyai, Kyaukme and Hsipaw townships, The peaceful protest was conducted through the streets of Lashio city.

"Innocent civilians have been killed arbitrarily, but no group is taking responsibility," he said. "The Tatmadaw and ethnic armed groups must work together through the peace process and show respect for human rights."

Earlier, the civil society organizations leading the rally had also demanded the National League for Democracy (NLD) regime to lead the investigation and bring the culprits to justice.

Dim prospects

This brings us back to the point if the Tatmadaw is becoming enlightened and is determined to strive for a standard or professional army, going back to the barracks where it really belongs to and taking orders from a democratically elected, civilian government.

But seen from the point of a well-known rights group, the government and the military might need to do more, if such incidents are to be avoided and handled in a proper way.

In a statement on July 20, Amnesty International urged the NLD-led government to take action against those who were involved in the incident.

"While it's positive that the authorities are investigating this case, the reality is that all too often victims and their families are denied access to justice, truth and reparations, and have faced reprisals when reporting cases of military abuse. This has to stop and Myanmar's [Burma's] new government must make it clear that no one is above the law," said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty's director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

"This case is an important reminder of the need to reform the military and judicial systems in Myanmar," he added. "Although it is important that steps are taken to ensure those responsible for serious human rights violations are held to account, military tribunals are not the solution. The authorities in Myanmar must take immediate action to ensure that human rights violators can be effectively tried before independent, civilian courts – anything less would only serve to perpetuate the cycle of impunity."

Apart from this, the Burma Army's indoctrination of its soldiers' mindset to hate and treated the ethnic population as enemies, as they are supporters of the ethnic armies, must be changed through detoxification program, leading to a more humane, standard army behaviour that is in line with a democratic state. Of course, this also has to be coupled with the promulgation of enforcement law and harsh punishment for perpetrators in committing such extra-judicial killings of innocent civilians.

Furthermore, the Tatmadaw would need to cater to "The Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols-Basic Rules" that emphasizes the "Basic rules of international humanitarian law in armed conflicts", where those who do not take a direct part in hostilities are entitled to respect for their lives and their moral and physical integrity and they shall in all circumstances be protected and treated humanely without any adverse distinction; forbidden to kill or injure an enemy who surrenders or who is hors de combat; among others.

According to Wikipedia,  person is "hors de combat"if: (a) he is in the power of an adverse Party; (b) he clearly expresses an intention to surrender; or (c) he has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and therefore is incapable of defending himself; provided that in any of these cases he abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape.

And the poor innocent villagers were not even running away, but killed under interrogation and torture. Hundreds of such victims could be counted, if one cares to go through the human rights abuses documentation, gathered by reputed rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and United Nations Human Rights Council, during this decades-long and ongoing war of ethnic conflict.

The Shan State parliament restoring peace and anti-war resolution won't be able to do anything concrete on the ground, so long as the military is not onboard and political settlement still out of reach, as the rejection of the military MPs  have shown during the urgent proposal to stop the war voting on 15 July.

As such, it is quite clear that only the about turn policy of the military from war-like posture to peaceful settlement, coupled with the absence of war, doing away with the human rights abuses  and finally returning to the barracks, would be able to resolve this continuous and lingering crime against humanity, not before all these conditions are met or have taken place.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Irrawaddy Magazine

The Irrawaddy Magazine

Cholera Outbreak in Pyay District

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 05:48 AM PDT

The Pyay General Hospital, where 96 mostly elderly people are being treated for cholera. (Photo: Kaung Myat Min/The Irrawaddy)

The Pyay General Hospital, where 96 mostly elderly people are being treated for cholera. (Photo: Kaung Myat Min/The Irrawaddy)

PYAY, Pegu Division — A cholera outbreak in Pyay District of Pegu Division has hospitalized almost 100 people, according to the Pyay General Hospital, which is caring for those affected, half of whom are in a severe state.

The 500-bed hospital in the town of Pyay, the district capital, first received 15 patients suffering from diarrhea and low blood pressure on July 11. The hospital staff was not used to treating this particular mix of symptoms, said Dr. Tin Shun, the medical superintendent.

"I conducted a lab test together with a pathologist and the results aroused suspicion. So, we sent the test results to the national health laboratory [in Rangoon] and received an answer on Thursday confirming that it was cholera," said Dr Tin Shun.

He said that 96 cholera sufferers were currently receiving care at the Pyay hospital, with half being in a severe state—although no deaths had so far been recorded.

The patients, most of whom are elderly, are from Pyay, Paungde, Pauk Khaung, Pandaung, Thegon and Shwedaung townships of Pyay District in Pegu Division, as well as Aunglan Township in neighboring Magwe Division. Two urban wards in Pyay Township have been hit the hardest, according to the medical superintendent.

Following the outbreak, Pegu Division public health officers and an anti-epidemic team from Naypyidaw have been monitoring the situation across the district, conducting educational talks and chlorinating sources of drinking water.

"A public health team chlorinated a lake and artesian wells in our ward," confirmed a housewife in Ywabe Ward of Pyay Township.

Cholera can be contracted through contact with contaminated food and water in unhygienic surroundings. The medical superintendent has urged locals to exercise rigor in their personal hygiene, and has requested local authorities ensure appropriate standards of cleanliness in local food outlets.

The post Cholera Outbreak in Pyay District appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

‘Patriotic Monks Union’ Interrogates Shwedagon Vendor Over Origin of Goods

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 05:44 AM PDT

Devotees throng to Rangoon's Shwedagon Pagoda on the full moon day of Tabaung on March 4, 2015. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

Devotees throng to Rangoon's Shwedagon Pagoda on the full moon day of Tabaung on March 4, 2015. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — The Board of Trustees for Rangoon's Shwedagon Pagoda told The Irrawaddy on Friday that they received a complaint from a group of Buddhist monks claiming that an on-site vendor was selling religious goods supplied by a non-Buddhist wholesaler, an act which does not violate any existing regulations.

The complaint was filed following an incident on Wednesday, in which eight monks—identifying themselves as belonging to the Patriotic Buddhist Monks Union—interrogated the shop owner, named Sandar, and inspected her stall to see whether she was selling religious goods purchased from a non-Buddhist distributor, according to a report by local newspaper The Voice.

Htun Aung Ngwe, chief of the office for the Board of Trustees, told The Irrawaddy that Shwedagon Pagoda has no restrictions regarding from whom vendors can purchase their wholesale religious goods to sell on-site.

Central Ma Ba Tha Online Media, which claims to be a mouthpiece of the ultranationalist Association for the Protection of Race and Religion—better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha—published a statement on Thursday saying that Ma Ba Tha had no connection to the incident.

Last April, monks from the Patriotic Buddhist Monks Union threatened Muslim vendors, ordering them not to sell items near the Shwedagon Pagoda. The monks seized their goods and demanded they send letters to the police and local authorities stating that they would close their shops around the pagoda in the future.

Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Burma. It has received nearly 30,000 foreign visitors in June alone, according to figures on the pagoda's official website.

The post 'Patriotic Monks Union' Interrogates Shwedagon Vendor Over Origin of Goods appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Securities Commission Issued Warning Against Illegal Share Sales

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 05:35 AM PDT

Military linked UMHEL recently transitioned into a public company earlier this year. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

Military linked UMHEL recently transitioned into a public company earlier this year. (Photo: The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON—The Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar (SECM) warned public companies this week that it would take action against those that sell shares without the SECM's approval, according to a commission member.

To protect investors, the SECM said it will ensure that companies are in compliance with the Securities Exchange Law and will take action against those that are not.

"Recently, some companies have announced that they have shares available to sell. But if they do not have approval from the SECM, they can be punished under the law," said commission member Tin May Oo.

According to the law, public companies—which are jointly owned by numerous private shareholders—are required to submit a prospectus to the SECM before selling shares. After submission, the approval process takes about 60 days, according to the commission.

According to Article 66 of the Securities Exchange Law, public companies that violate the law can be imprisoned for up to a year or fined. The law was approved by Parliament in 2013, but some companies still lack information regarding the details.

"That is why we are announcing the rules again and our intention to take action," said Tin May Oo. "Some companies have advertised shares in the state-owned newspaper. We've asked them to stop. If they continue, they will be charged," she added.

No public company has been sued yet under the law.

"This is the second time we've issued a warning regarding this. We will also announce it on DICA's [Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration] website soon," Tin May Oo said.

According to DICA, more than 200 businesses in Burma are registered as public companies. Only six are expected to list their shares this year on the country's stock exchange, which opened in March.

Thet Tun Oo, a senior official from the Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX), said many companies do not have a proper understanding of the Securities Exchange Law.

"Businesses need to gain knowledge and follow the rules. The YSX will check that any companies listed in the future are compliant with the law," he said.

The state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar cautioned that action would be taken by the SECM against those selling stocks through illegal or "non-transparent" means, including over social media sites.

The post Securities Commission Issued Warning Against Illegal Share Sales appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Rangoon’s Best Buffet Hot Pot and BBQ

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 04:34 AM PDT

Foodie Myanmar rounds up their top seven picks for all-you-can-eat hotpot and barbecue for less than 15,000 kyats.

Foodie Myanmar rounds up their top seven picks for all-you-can-eat hotpot and barbecue for less than 15,000 kyats.

This week, Foodie Myanmar rounds up their top seven picks for all-you-can-eat hotpot and barbecue for less than 15,000 kyats.

Hot Pot City

hotpotcity Hot Pot City has made a local name for itself in recent months. More than 80 dishes featuring pork, prawn, chicken, crab, beef and vegetables are available. The daytime buffet price is 11,000 kyats per person until 4 p.m., after which the 12,800 kyats dinner price kicks in until 11 p.m. The standard prices include a two-hour table time, and increases if guests choose to stay for three hours. The restaurant gets crowded during dinner but there are private rooms available for parties of at least 10 people.

Address: No. 33, Kyaik Waing Pagoda Street, Mayangone Tsp.

Jo Jo Hot Pot

In addition to their hot pot options, Jo Jo Hot Pot offers specialty side dishes like Yunnan pork, dumplings, BBQ chicken wings, prawn tempura and their signature homemade meatballs. Five types of broth are available, with spicy and not-so-spicy options. Seating times are not limited and the price is 12,000 kyats for adults and 6,000 kyats for children between ages three and 10.

Address: No. 23 (A), Nawady Street, Dagon Tsp.

Gangnam Buffet

For fans of Korean food, Gangnam Buffet near Inya Lake is a great choice. This hot pot restaurant offers 50 dishes including meatballs, sliced meats, seafood, vegetables and Korean side dishes. Dessert options include a chocolate fountain, fruit, biscuits and cookies. The price is 11,900 kyats per person and half price for children under four feet tall. The seating time is an hour and a half and the restaurant charges 1,000 kyats per person for each additional 10 minutes.

Address: Maha Land Center, Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, Yankin Tsp.

Mu Ka Hta Thai BBQ

This BBQ spot in South Okkalapa Township offers over 100 options for hot pot or to grill on your own, which are sold in packages. Package A costs 12,800 kyats and lasts one and a half hours, Package B is 14,000 kyats for just over two hours and Package C costs 16,000 kyats and lasts just over three hours. Children eat for half price.

Address: No. 51, Thitsar Road, Ponnami Bus Stop, South Okkalapa Tsp.


Foodie Myanmar rounds up their top seven picks for all-you-can-eat hotpot and barbecue for less than 15,000 kyats.

Based in Singapore, this Korean chain offers 70 dishes featuring meats, kimchi, fried rice, tteokbokki and more. The BBQ buffet price starts at 12,500 kyats plus a 10 percent service charge. The children's price is 7,500 kyats and the seating times are not limited.

Address: No. 10, Yadanar Street, Rainbow Food Center, Thingangyun Tsp.


ManpukuManpuku Buffet is a Japanese-style BBQ in Yankin. To ensure freshness, it only prepares meat to order, which can mean a long wait for customers. Prices start at 12,800 kyats plus a 10 percent charge for service and tax. The price is 7,000 kyats for children under 4 feet tall and seating times are limited to an hour and a half.

Address: No. 26 (B), Aung Zeya Street, Yankin Tsp.

Shwe Pan Sai Swanton

Unlike other options, this South Okkalapa Township grill and hot pot restaurant offers sweet and sour broths on top of spicy and non-spicy options. The price is 10,800 kyats for adults and 5,000 kyats for children aged four to six.

Address: No. 5, Yadanar Street, Thingangyun Tsp.

This article was written by Foodie Myanmar. Available for download in the Google Play Store, the Foodie Myanmar app will help you discover great places to eat and ways to share your foodie moments. Available at:

The post Rangoon's Best Buffet Hot Pot and BBQ appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

National Ethnic Youth Conference to be Held in Panglong

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 04:21 AM PDT

A Union monument at Panglong commemorates the signing of the historic agreement on Feb. 2, 1947. (Photo: Kyaw Zwa Moe / The Irrawaddy)

A Union monument at Panglong commemorates the signing of the historic agreement on Feb. 2, 1947. (Photo: Kyaw Zwa Moe / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON – A national youth conference will be held in southern Shan State's Panglong in late July, aiming to build unity among young people representing ethnic groups from across Burma.

Over 600 representatives from 26 ethnicities—including Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Chin, Mon, Arakanese, Shan, Dawei, Naga, Palaung (Ta'ang), Lahu, Intha, Pa'O, Danu, Burman, Taung Yoe, Akha, Wa, Kokang, Myaung Zee, Kadu, Kanan and Yaw—will gather in the town from July 27-31.

Youth from the country's ethnic areas started the Coordination Committee for National Ethnic Youth Conference (CCNEYC) four years ago in June 2012. Before implementing the national level summit, they held an ethnic youth conference in northern Shan State in 2014.

Sai Aung Myint Oo, one of the 40 organizers with CCNEYC, told The Irrawaddy that the conference's purpose is to form "a collective youth voice," which could support policy development that would address pressing issues in the ethnic areas.

Participating ethnic youth organizations expect that their five-day-long gathering will yield more unified support in building a federal union in Burma.

Sai Aung Myint Oo explained that Panglong was selected as the venue because the town once hosted the historic 1947 Panglong Agreement, signed between Gen Aung San—a Burman independence leader against British colonialism—and leaders from ethnic nationalities. The Panglong pact promised equal rights across ethnic lines and greater self-determination for ethnic groups in an independent Burma.

Mai Myo Aung, another organizer who is an ethnic Ta'ang (Palaung), representing the Ta'ang Student and Youth Organization, said that building unity and better relationships between ethnic youth—through the building of a network—is key to the conference's success.

Representatives who will be attending the conference have experience working for youth and regional development, added Mai Mai, an ethnic Kachin woman also helping to organize the event.

The conference will host panel discussions on federalism and peacebuilding with input from stakeholders and experts. Representatives from each ethnic group present will prepare and deliver papers highlighting regional issues including drug abuse, human rights violations and social concerns.

The post National Ethnic Youth Conference to be Held in Panglong appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

Burma Army Defends Soldier Against Myitkyina Murder Accusation

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 01:05 AM PDT

Kachin youth in Myitkyina protest on June 21 against the fatal shooting of the ethnic Kachin student by the Burma Army soldier. (Photo: Kachin Waves)

Kachin youth in Myitkyina protest on June 21 against the fatal shooting of the ethnic Kachin student by the Burma Army soldier. (Photo: Kachin Waves)

RANGOON — At a press conference in Rangoon on Wednesday, the Burma Army re-stated their defense of a low-ranking soldier accused by locals of murdering an unarmed ethnic Kachin student, aged 19 years old, in the Kachin State capital Myitkyina on June 20.

At the same press conference, the Burma Army accepted responsibility for the murder of five civilians in a rural area of Lashio Township in northern Shan State at the end of June, and promised to take unspecified "action" against the soldiers involved.

Lt Gen Mya Tun Oo repeated the army's earlier claim of self-defense regarding the Myitkyina incident: that the shot that killed the university student Gum Seng Awng was a "misfire" from the soldier who, along with one other soldier on duty, was trying to fend off a physical assault from the student and seven other youths, and protect his gun from being seized.

The student was punching the soldier in the face and going after his gun, said Lt Gen Mya Tun Oo. The two soldiers were guarding the Bala Min Thin Bridge in the city.

"We have strong evidence," Lt Gen Mya Tun Oo said, adding that, "We have suspicions that those eight youths were using illegal drugs, because normally people are afraid of guns but they weren't." He said the army would be investigating the incident further.

Hkawn Nawng, the lawyer hired by the family of the victim, is currently gathering evidence in preparation to file a case against the accused soldier, Private Maung Maung. He told The Irrawaddy that "only four" youth were involved in the fracas with the two soldiers, rather than eight as claimed by the Burma Army.

The lawyer denied that any of the youth were attempting to seize the gun from the soldier, and said the four were stopped while trying to cross the bridge on motorbikes, before being shot by the soldier. He said he had three witnesses prepared to confirm this.

Although a case has yet to be filed against the soldier, the lawyer said that Lt Gen Mya Tun Oo's comments at the Rangoon press conference show "disrespect" to the judicial system, and betray an attempt by the Burma Army to position themselves above the law, since "only a court has the right to decide whether or not the soldier is innocent [of murder]."

Meanwhile, police in Myitkyina have charged three local youths who survived the incident—named Joseph Brang Nan, Htwal San Awng and Sut Jat—for allegedly attempting to seize the gun from the soldier who committed the fatal shooting. All three are currently released on bail.

The post Burma Army Defends Soldier Against Myitkyina Murder Accusation appeared first on The Irrawaddy.

National News

National News

In Mong Yaw village, justice deferred for some

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 12:54 AM PDT

The extraordinary Tatmadaw admission this week that soldiers within its ranks were responsible for the deaths of five civilians last month in Shan State may bring a degree of closure to the victims' loved ones, but for the families of Naw Tint and Sai Hla, the mea culpa did not – and may never – apply.

After long delay, religious census data proves less ‘sensitive’ than anticipated

Posted: 22 Jul 2016 12:45 AM PDT

Long-awaited census data on religion,kept hushed for nearly two years for fear it would "shatter" stability,was finally released yesterday.The numbers were met with relief,scepticism and, mostly, confusion, as the data reflected notably miniscule changes in balance since the previous counts despite the lapse of decades.

BBC reporter walks free after judge halves sentence

Posted: 21 Jul 2016 11:06 PM PDT

An imprisoned reporter for the BBC's Myanmar-language service was released yesterday after a judge in Mandalay Region commuted the three-month sentence. Ko Nay Myo Lin was imprisoned following an altercation with a police officer last year during student protests.

Escaped fishermen ask officials to save those still enslaved

Posted: 21 Jul 2016 10:57 PM PDT

Eleven former slaves who recently escaped a fishing village in Tanintharyi Region's Yephyu township have asked government officials to save the rest of the human-trafficking victims in the area.

One man’s fight to save the lake

Posted: 21 Jul 2016 10:32 PM PDT

In a bamboo stilt house surrounded by kayaks, bicycles and other trappings of nature tourism, Zwe Zaw Zaw Hein is teaching village children about the value of their local environment, a desperate bid to save the wildlife rich expanse of Indawgyi Lake from destruction.

Golden promises turn sour in Indawgyi

Posted: 21 Jul 2016 02:30 PM PDT

A Myanmar Times investigation reveals the country's largest lake could shrink by one-third within 10 years as illicit gold mining in the area around Indawgyi reserve pollutes the lake, threatening endangered species and denting hopes of UNESCO recognition.

Rakhine govt launching thrice-delayed 100-day plan

Posted: 21 Jul 2016 02:30 PM PDT

"Better late than never", residents of Rakhine State might well be saying after the state government reveals its "100-day" initiatives today, having postponed the public disclosure three times previously.

Workers fear police raids, as pink card deadline looms

Posted: 21 Jul 2016 02:30 PM PDT

With the deadline to register for temporary work permits swiftly approaching, migrant workers in Thailand say they are being subjected to a rash of police raids.

Culture minister eyes permanent 8888 memorial

Posted: 21 Jul 2016 02:30 PM PDT

The 8888 memorial hall – commemorating the 1988 student uprising – may soon become a more permanent fixture, the Union minister for religion and culture said.

Search for fabled Dhammazedi Bell continues

Posted: 21 Jul 2016 02:30 PM PDT

They seek it here. They seek it there. They seek the elusive Dhammazedi Bell everywhere.

Shan Herald Agency for News

Shan Herald Agency for News

Villager and daughter injured by landmine in Hsipaw

Posted: 21 Jul 2016 11:55 PM PDT

A man and his eight-year-old daughter were seriously injured by a landmine explosion on Monday when they went into a forest to cut firewood in northern Shan State, a local member of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) has reported.

 According to SNLD's Sai Sai, the incident happened around 3pm when Sai Teng Aung and his daughter Nang Mo Leng stepped on a landmine between the villages of Kungao and Pang Nyaung in Hsipaw Township.

"They were going to cut firewood," said Sai Sai. "The eight-year-old girl has wounds all over her body, including her hands and legs."

He said the pair were taken to Hsipaw Hospital at 5pm, but due to the severity of the injuries both were transferred to a hospital in Lashio Township two hours later.

This is by no means the first incidence of landmine injuries in and around Hsipaw, where several armed groups are active, including the Tatmadaw (Burmese armed forces), the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA), and the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA). However, there is no evidence linking the laying the mines in this area to any particular group.

On April 28, Myanmar Times reported that two German tourists were injured by a landmine blast while hiking in the area.

On July 12, Shan Herald reported that more than 300 villagers in Hsipaw Township had fled their homes because of fighting between TNLA troops and the RCSS/SSA.

According to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, an organisation that documented global landmine use, Burma was ranked third most dangerous country in the world in 2014, after Colombia and Afghanistan.

 BY: Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)