Burmese migrant community in Malaysia tense after recent attacks – The Irrawaddy
June 13th, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR — Differing accounts are emerging from Burmese migrants and refugees in Malaysia about recent deadly violence here that has claimed several lives and pitted Burmese groups in Malaysia against each other.
The deaths, which prompted the arrest of hundreds of Burmese nationals by Malaysian police, are being described as spillover from recent Buddhist-Muslim clashes in Burma.
“We don’t know who did these attacks,” says San Win, chairman of the Malaysia Myanmar Free Funeral Service, a Kuala Lumpur-based group that assists Burmese migrants. Flicking through gory photos of roughly stitched victims of the violence, he adds, “but we think it could be the Rohingya people.”
The president of the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia (MERHOM), Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani, disputes this speculation.
“This is not correct,” he says, citing previous attacks by Buddhists on Muslims in Burma, which he says did not prompt sectarian reprisals in Malaysia. “We have to respect Malaysian law and if any Rohingya breaks the law, we don’t support it,” Abdul Ghani adds. (more…)
It’s a question of justice – The Irrawaddy
June 11th, 2013
While the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) in Naypyidaw was primarily a business-focused gathering bringing together Burma’s political leaders with regional and global chief executives, human rights did get a look in, with Amnesty International secretary-general Salil Shetty a panelist in a discussion of Burma’s business future.
The panel lineup, featuring the likes of Serge Pun, a well-known Burmese businessman, along with representatives of Dow Chemical and India’s Hindustan Construction, hints at a growing awareness that in Burma’s transitional politics and economy, the human rights-business crossover is particularly acute. (more…)
Advertisers in Burma ‘can’t bill It as a gold rush’ – The Irrawaddy
June 10th, 2013
Much coverage of Burma’s “frontier market” has focused on sectors such as natural resources, telecommunications and manufacturing. Some of the world’s biggest and best-known companies—such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Microsoft and Unilever—have in recent months put their money into Burma, or pledged to, after Western sanctions were eased or lifted in response to reforms in the one-time army-ruled country.
One sector that hasn’t received as much attention is the nexus of public relations, marketing and advertising, which is, or will be, bound up with the companies and sectors that want to market and sell their wares in Burma or set up shop making goods in the country’s low-wage economy. (more…)
Burma’s house speaker Shwe Mann airs Presidential ambitions – The Irrawaddy
June 7th, 2013
NAYPYIDAW — Burma’s Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann told The Irrawaddy on Friday that he is interested in succeeding President Thein Sein in 2015.
“Yes, I would like to,” Shwe Mann said when asked about the position. However, the chairman of the governing Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) cautioned that any prospective president must first win the backing of Burma’s voters and his or her own party.
“That depends first on our party and our people,” he added, referring to his own presidential prospects.
Burma’s president is elected by the country’s parliamentarians and therefore will likely come from whichever party wins the next national elections, also scheduled for 2015.
It looks increasingly likely that either Shwe Mann or opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be Burma’s next president, after the Nobel laureate Suu Kyi reiterated on Thursday that she too wants the job.
Current President Thein Sein, Shwe Mann’s USDP party colleague, has not ruled out running, however. (more…)
Burma’s tech sector not ready for start-up funding: Intel – The Irrawaddy: Intel – The Irrawaddy
June 7th, 2013
NAYPYIDAW — Burma’s small but growing coterie of tech entrepreneurs will likely have to wait some time before attracting significant seed money from abroad, according to the head of Intel’s venture capital wing.
“Myanmar does not yet have a venture capital ecosystem,” said Intel Capital president Arvind Sodhani, after announcing US$16 million worth of investments in India and Singapore at the World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering of chief executives and regional political leaders, which finishes today in Burma’s grandiloquent capital, Naypyidaw.
Sodhani added that Burma’s legal framework was not up to speed with what investors required when considering putting money into promising local start-ups. Echoing concerns made elsewhere about the need to improve Burma’s energy and communications infrastructure, he said poor Internet connectivity in the country made it difficult for tech-based companies to function.
“We need to see fast Internet access,” he said. (more…)
Minister says Burma considering federal system of government – The Irrawaddy
June 6th, 2013
NAYPYIDAW — Burma is considering adopting a federal system to resolve conflict with the country’s numerous ethnic armed groups, a top government minister said on Thursday.
Minister of the President’s Office Soe Thane cited the federalist system in use in Germany as a possible model. “We are thinking about what you have said — federalism,” in response to a question posed during a debate with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, staged by the BBC at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Burma’s capital Naypyidaw.
Many of Burma’s myriad ethnic minority militias and their associated political parties have long sought a federalist Burma, citing the 1947 Panglong agreement in which Burma’s independence hero General Aung San pledged to devolve power to some of the country’s larger ethnic groups. (more…)
Burma’s energy resources to be used for domestic needs in future, says minister – The Irrawaddy
June 6th, 2013
NAYPYIDAW — Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering in the Burmese capital on Thursday morning, Deputy Energy Minister Htin Aung said that in future Burma will only export energy resources after domestic demand has been met.
“We will not sell unless we fulfill our demand and then only if there is a surplus,” the deputy minister outlined, adding that new contracts for offshore oil and gas blocks include a provision on the need to meet domestic needs.
“We will honor older contracts that do not say this,” he confirmed, saying that this assurance was needed “to protect our reputation for investors.” (more…)
New anti-Muslim violence in Burma – RTÉ World Report
June 2nd, 2013
http://www.rte.ie/news/player/world-report/2013/0602/ - radio story here. Script below.
It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. Two years into what are usually described as Burma’s dramatic and striking reforms, in a country often lauded as a “new Myanmar,” to use the government’s official name for the country, and the one that enthusiastic would-be investors default to, an increasingly-nasty anti Muslim campaign seems to be picking up across this diverse and long-troubled land.
This week, Buddhist-Muslim violence, which has hit several regions of the country since about a year ago, spread to Lashio, in Shan State in the country’s east – close to the infamous Golden Triangle drugs area and long a redoubt for traffickers and ethnic minority militias that have fought the Burmese army for decades.
A Muslim man is said to have gotten into argument with a local Buddhist woman, and, for whatever reason, set her on fire. She’s in hospital being treated for her wounds, but, as word spread of the attack, mobs gathered – including Saffron-robed Buddhist monks – and looted and burned Muslim property in the town. (more…)
Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi speaks out – The Christian Science Monitor
May 31st, 2013
YANGON, MYANMAR – In an unexpected turnaround Aung San Suu Kyi openly criticized aspects of the government’s policies this week, resulting in a bit of head scratching among Myanmar-watchers.
On Monday Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi said that the government’s much-lauded reforms were moving too slowly. “The last three years saw no tangible changes, especially in [the area of] the rule of law and the peace process.”
Human rights groups say that at least 100 political prisoners remain in jail and that several draconian laws dating from Myanmar’s military rule remain unchanged.
To be fair, Myanmar has done some remodeling: There were free and fair by-elections in April 2012, many political prisoners were set free and the media is much more free than before. The parliament – though mostly made up of army-linked men who took their seats in a rigged 2010 election – has passed laws that would have been unthinkable a few years ago, allowing trade unions, for example. (Read the Monitor’s coverage on Myanmar’s about-face) (more…)
Enter Japan – Tokyo makes a big push to invest in Myanmar – The Edge Review
May 31st, 2013
www.thedgevewiew.com – Full magazine available for digital/app download here.
By Simon Roughneen / Yangon – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to Myanmar signaled that Asia’s second-largest economy is intent on taking a leading role in investing in the region’s latest emerging market, with Abe announcing a 51 billion yen (US$504 million) loan package to Myanmar.
The Japanese government also announced it would write off US$1.74 billion in debt arrears owed to it by Myanmar, in part as a reward for the country’s continued push toward political and economic reform.
At the core of Japan’s investment focus in Myanmar is the country’s infrastructure needs and the requirement to build modern manufacturing capabilities. Of the 51 billion yen loan package, 17 billion yen is targeted at infrastructure spending. (more…)