August 20 - 26, 2012
By Aye Sapay Phyu
A DEPARTMENT of Meteorologyand Hydrology official last weekattributed the unusually heavymid-monsoon in Myanmar’s deltaand coastal areas to the effects of climate change.The official described the 2012monsoon as “extreme” – lowerMyanmar has received above-average rain, while falls in thecentral areas have been sparse– and said rainfall patterns hadbeen significantly different thanthe 30-year average from 1961to 1990.“Myanmar averaged rainfallfrom one inch to three inches aday in the mid-monsoon seasonof July and August over that 30-year period. That regular monsoondistribution was advantageous forsectors such as agriculture andtransportation. But we observedthat in the last 10 years, dailyrainfall in the mid-monsoonhas increased to five or even sixinches,” he said.“Since the end of July, we havemeasured five to seven inches of daily rainfall in some areas of lower Myanmar. Over the past 10years, there have also been dayswhere we measured no rain in themid-monsoon season.“Either extreme – excessiverain or not enough rain – is aproblem for the agriculture sector.Excess rain results in flooding inthe paddy fields and on roads.This impacts on the economy andsociety more broadly.”While some parts of the country,particularly Ayeyarwady andBago regions and Kayin State,have experienced flooding thisyear, the central areas are indrought, he said.He attributed the flooding toeffects of an unusually intenselow-pressure area in the Bay of Bengal in early of August.“Low pressure areas in thenorthern area of the Bay of Bengalnormally cause strong wind andheavy rain within 300 miles, toabout Thandwe in Rakhine state.But the impact of this low pressurearea reached about 600 miles andcaused the Ayeyarwady deltaarea to also experience extremeweather. Flooding in these areaswas at its worst in early August,during the high tide period,” hesaid. An official from the MyanmarRed Cross Society said on August13 that more than 10,000 peoplehad been forced to leave theirhomes because of flooding in theBago Region townships of ShweKyin, Waw, Madauk, Daik Ooand Kawa.Meanwhile, an official of the FireService Department for Patheintownship in Ayeyarwady Regionsaid that about five quarters inPathein were flooded last weekand some of the town’s schoolsforced to close as a result.“There are seven relief camps inPathein. … We are still countingthe exact number of people in thecamps. Water has been increasingsince full moon day of Waso [on August 2]. The water is morethan three feet high in some low-lying quarters,” he said on August16. “The high water level of theNgawun River combined withcontinuous heavy rain caused theflooding, which normally happensin Pathein every four years orso.”DMH reported on August 15 thatthe Ngawun River exceeded itsdanger level of 350 centimetres atPathein by 15cm on August 16.He said that all parts of Ayeyarwady Region, with theexception of Pyapon, Maubinand Myaungmya township, hadreported flooding.Daw Wint Mon, who visited Yangon from Pathein on August14, said flooding on the Yangon-Pathein Road was worst near DarKa township.“Water level was about theheight of an adult’s knee at threepoints on the Yangon-PatheinRoad. The edge of the road wasmarked with flags for the safetyof the cars,” she said.The department has forecastanother low pressure system couldintensify into a depression in theBay of Bengal in late August.
Climate change behind ‘extreme’ monsoon weather: DMH
By Soe Than Lynnwith
THE Pyidaungsu Hluttawlast week appointed 58-year-old navy chief AdmiralNyan Tun as the newvice president, replacinghardliner Thiha Thura UTin Aung Myint Oo in amove seen as strengtheninggovernment reformers. Admiral Nyan Tun, 58,who has a reputation asa political moderate, wasselected by the appointeddefence services personnelwho hold 166 seats – 25percent of the total – in thenational legislature.“I will carry out myresponsibilities honourablyto the best of my abilityand strive for the furtherdevelopment of the eternalprinciples of justice, libertyand equality,” AdmiralNyan Tun said in his oathof office on August 15.His appointment wasapproved by a selectionboard that vetted hiscredentials, PyidaungsuHluttaw Speaker Khin Aung Myint announced ata joint session of the lowerand upper houses in Nay PyiTaw the same day.“He’s very quiet and knownas a flexible man,” a militaryparliamentarian, who didnot want to be named, said of the new vice president. “Hehas three children and livesa simple life.”His predecessor, ThihaThura U Tin Aung Myint Ooresigned in July, ostensiblydue to ill health, aftermonths of speculation overhis future.The army’s first candidateto replace him, YangonChief Minister U Myint Swe,failed eligibility criteria inthe constitution because hisson-in-law is an Australiancitizen, a parliamentarysource told
.“The Yangon chief minister is not qualified tobe a vice president becauseof his Australian son-in-law.Military representativeschanged the nominationin the last week of July to Admiral Nyan Tun,” thesource said.The same constitutionalprovision is a barrier toNational League forDemocracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi takinga top leadership role in thecountry.Under Myanmar’spresidential electoralcollege system, electedrepresentatives in theupper house, electedrepresentatives in thelower house and militarypersonnel from both housesall select one presidentialcandidate. A vote is held toselect the president from thethree nominees, with theother two candidates takingon the vice presidentialroles.If one of the three is forcedto leave office, the groupthat selected him or her astheir nominee chooses thereplacement.
Navy chief sworn inas vice president
A woman washes clothes on the bank of the Ayeyarwady River in Mandalay last week.By Phyo Wai Kyaw and Hlaing Kyaw Soe
THE level of the Ayeyarwady River atMandalay receded in the first two weeks of August but an official in the city said thesituation needed to be closely monitoreduntil October.“The water level went down to 1051centimetres on August 14 from 1226cmon July 31,” said U Win Hlaing Than fromWater Guard Office 3 in Chanayetharzantownship.“But we still need to watch the situationuntil the middle of October, as the waterlevel often increases again in Septemberand October,” he said.The river normally reaches its annualpeak between July and October as a resultof heavy rains in catchment areas furtherupstream. In July 2004 the water levelreached 1382cm, its highest point in 30years. The river stayed above its dangerlevel of 1260cm for 17 days and dykes hadto be established along the bank besideStrand Road.
Official urges caution on river level
Pic: Phyo Wai Kyaw
Admiral Nyan Tun gets nod ater U Myint Swe ineligible