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201232635

201232635

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Published by The Myanmar Times

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Published by: The Myanmar Times on Dec 19, 2012
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myanmar
times
     t     H     e
July 16 - 22, 2012
 
Myanmar’s first international weekly Volume 32, No. 635 1200 Kyats
By Victoria Bruce
 AMERICAN companieswere given approval toinvest in Myanmar by theUnited States governmentlast week but will have toadhere to strict reportingguidelines, the White Housesaid in a statement.The reporting guidelineshave been put in placeto ensure transparent,accountable and responsibleinvestment, the July 12statement said.The much-anticipatedannouncement presentsthe legal framework for USinvestment and companiessuch as Chevron, Proctor& Gamble, Google, Boeing,Coca Cola and Pepsi aredue to visit Yangon at theweekend, US embassyofficials in Yangon said.“We’ve essentially movedfrom broad to targetedsanctions,” US embassydeputy head of missionEleanor Nagy told
The Myanmar Times
.The move is a demonstra-tion of support for PresidentU Thein Sein’s governmentand will encourage continuedprogress toward democracy,Ms Nagy said.“We recognise that theMyanmar government’sreform process is ongoingbut is not complete,” shesaid.She added that the twogovernments were engagedin a dialogue on other areaswhere the US would like tosee progress, including themilitary’s human rightsrecord, corruption, ethnicconflict and its relationswith North Korea.Economic engagementby US companies wouldencourage the government’sreform progress and benefitthe population, Ms Nagysaid. She added that thereporting requirementswould encourage greaterresponsibility andtransparency.US firms investing morethan US$500,000 in newprojects will be required toreport on their policies andprocedures with respectto human rights, worker’srights, land acquisition, aswell as report any paymentsexceeding $10,000 toMyanmar governmententities.The two general licencesannounced by the WhiteHouse last week permit theexport of financial services toMyanmar and will allow USfirms to invest in all sectors,except defence, and engagewith all entities, exceptthe two military-ownedcompanies – MyanmarEconomic Corporationand Union of MyanmarEconomic Holdings Ltd, aswell as people listed on theUS Government’s targetedsanctions list on individuals. A Congress-imposed ban onimports from Myanmarto the US was recentlyrenewed, however.The reporting require-ments for new investmentwere cautiously welcomedby experts, includingSean Turnell, an associateprofessor of economicsat Australia’s MacquarieUniversity.“It is really hard to seeany reasonable argumentagainst such transparencyand I am somewhat hopefulthey might even provokea sort of ‘transparencycontagion’ with respect toother country investors,he said.By allowing new invest-ment, the US governmenthad ignored Daw AungSan Suu Kyi’s concernsabout doingbusinesswith state-run energycompanyMyanmarOil and GasEnterprise (MOGE), rightsgroups said.“The US looks like itcaved to industry pressureand undercut Daw AungSan Suu Kyi and others inBurma who are promotinggovernment accountability,”Human Rights Watchbusiness and human rightsdirector Arvind Ganesansaid in a statement on July11.However, some expertsdoubted that the legalframework would prompt arush of US investment. TheUS maintains substantialsanctions against Myanmar,said Mr Derek Tonkin, aformer British ambassadorto Thailand and Vietnamand chairman of non-profitgroup Network Myanmar.He said majorinternational financialinstitutions such as theIMF, World Bank and ADBare still limited to providingadvice and assessments,rather than funding forprojects.
Reporting 
rules forUS firms revealed
RelatedStory onPage 23
By
 AFP 
and
 
Stuart Alan Becker
SIEM REAP, Cambodia – US Secretaryof State Hillary Clinton held landmarktalks with President U Thein Sein onJuly 13 as he pleaded for the globalcommunity to end decades of isolationfor his nation.The pair met in the Cambodiantourist town Siem Reap on the sidelinesof a major US business conference, afterthe US on July 11 gave the green lightto firms to invest in Myanmar, includingin oil and gas.Shaking hands in the lush gardensof a luxury hotel, Ms Clinton toldPresident U Thein Sein that shewas sending “a very distinguisheddelegation” to his country to scout outopportunities for US business andinvestment.President U Thein Sein later told adinner attended by top US businessleaders that his impoverished Southeast Asian nation would welcome an influxof investment into a country which had“lagged behind in development for thepast 60 years”.“Myanmar is at a critical juncture,where she has evolved from the militaryadministration putting an end to armedconflict to achieve sustainable peaceand moving toward a new democraticera,” he said.“Building a democratic state will bethe biggest challenge for our peopleand our country. We must reform thebureaucratic system and the mindsetof government officials.”He told the audience that Myanmarhad to “walk out” from a centralisedsystem that had been practiced fora half-century and build a maturedemocratic state by reforming theexecutive, legislative and judiciarybodies.President U Thein Sein said he hadgranted amnesty to many prisoners,and relaxed regulations on media andtelecommunications, including aneasing of censorship procedures: “Wehave committed ourselves to enacta Media Law for media freedom andtransparency in the near future.”On economic policy, President UThein Sein said reforms were underwayto transform a centralised economy intoa market-oriented economy, using anew Micro-Finance Act and by seekingassistance from foreign experts.He expressed regret that economicsanctions were preventing his countryfrom receiving assistance frominternational monetary institutionssuch as the World Bank, InternationalMonetary Fund, Asian DevelopmentBank and United Nations DevelopmentProgram.“We have the fervent desire to seektechnical know-how and to set upeconomic engagement with othercountries, but the challenge is thatsanctions are still restricting us fromdoing so,” he said.President U Thein Sein said theMyanmar Investment Commissionhad drafted four principles for invitingforeign investors to Myanmar: to protectthe interest of Myanmar citizens,the dignity of the state and nationalsovereignty, and to allow environment-friendly investment.Ms Clinton, whose speech was thefirst to be delivered at the dinner,complimented the Myanmar leader.“I also want to thank President UThein Sein, who has moved his countrysuch a long distance in such a shortperiod of time,” she said.“We’re excited by what lies ahead,and we’re very supportive of PresidentU Thein Sein’s economic and politicalreforms,” she said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomes President U Thein Sein before a meeting in Siem Reap on July 13.
Clinton ‘excited’ aboutprogress in Myanmar
More page 4More page 4 
Pic: AFP 
 
C
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July 16 - 22, 2012
THE strange case of MonsieurDevillers has caused a lot of head-scratching and angst inplacid Phnom Penh.One might wonder why.The man is French, of course,and they are a cut above therest of us –
le monde est ànous
and all that. But whilethe world may once have beentheirs and Cambodia part of theempire, times change and theyare not so formidable any more.So that cannot be the reasonfor the intense reverberationsabout this case.Patrick Henri Devillers,52, had, like many fugitives,been living peacefully withhis paramour in Cambodia’scapital for several years andno one had paid any attentionto him. Nor did they pay muchattention three months agowhen word leaked out that hehad once worked for Bo Xilai,a member of China’s rulingPolitburo. As well, Devillers hadbeen involved in a closerelationship – perhaps justbusiness, perhaps not – withBo’s vivacious wife, Gu Kailai.Hence, some imaginative soulssurmised, perhaps he wascomplicit in last November’smurder of Gu’s Britishbusiness colleague, NeilHeywood.Perhaps even Devillersknew where to find the dollopsof money-laundered cash thatBo, Gu and Heywood hadallegedly stashed away. Inwhat has been tagged “China’sbiggest political scandal”in decades, Bo has nowbeen deposed, Gu arrested,Heywood topped – andDevillers holed up in PhnomPenh.It might seem like a juicyrecipe for a Luc Bessonthriller starring Jean Reno,Michelle Yeoh and GaryOldman, except that inCambodia such shenanigansseem almost passé.So should we get perturbedabout money laundering inChongqing, a Brit gettingbumped off in Dalian and aFrench dandy being nabbedhere?Give us a break. Lookat the kinds of people wealready tolerate. That is whyMonsieur Devillers, undernormal circumstances, shouldbe allowed to remain in thissanctuary and not sufferextradition.Indeed, there is lingeringchagrin over his June 13arrest at Romdeng restauranton Street 174, which, aseveryone knows, laudablyemploys former street urchinsas staff.We can hardly imaginethe shock these youngstersexperienced when observingnice Monsieur Devillers beinghauled away by Cambodianand Chinese cops.The poor man even hadto leave his electric bicyclebehind.Perhaps the Chinese havetheir reasons for this heavy-handed behaviour; as for theCambodians, their reasonsare the same as those thatmotivated them to return 20Uigher refugees three yearsago: Lucre.Still, we must hope thatDevillers will not be subjectedto enhanced interrogationas would be the case if he’dbeen a Muslim and it wasthe United States not Chinaseeking his extradition.For remember, it hasnow been revealed thatextraordinary renditionwas used by the US to sendsuspects to a black site inneighbouring Thailand fortorture. So it is not impossiblethat it also occurred inCambodia.That being so, perhapsDevillers might consideragreeing to return temporarilyto China to answer questions.If he had nothing to do withHeywood’s murder or themissing millions, then he’dbe better off going back andclearing his name once andfor all.The Frogs may croak, but letthem
mangez des madeleines
 while we ponder rather moreserious matters. RememberChut Wutty? Chea Vichea?Piseth Pelika?
Devillers par for thecourse in Cambodge
I WAS sitting in a traffic jamrecently, surrounded by a crush of newer-model cars, when I spied anold bus crammed with commuters.They fought for space with scary-looking compressed natural gastanks and an engine hatch noisilybanging at every shunt forward.My cab was hardly a Rolls Roycebut it felt like it compared withthat bus. A speaker at last month’s YangonHeritage Trust conference saidthe city’s planners faced a toughdecision on transport, and inparticular whether to promoteeither public or private transport. As I sat trying to count the numberof passengers on the bus, whichwas surrounded by newly importedvehicles carrying at most twopassengers, it felt that the choicehad already been made: the winnerwas private transport.But is this going to be adecision the regional and centralgovernments regret? Would they,like me, start to wish they couldwind back the clock to beforeSeptember 2011, when they firstannounced the overage car importsubstitution program, and insteadfocus on public transport?Since that day in September, carowners and buyers have been ona non-stop rollercoaster ride, withprice rises and falls determined bynew Directorate of Road Transportannouncements. But one constantin the quickly changing automotivelandscape has been the conditionsfaced by people catching the bus– rusty seats, cramped confines,shouting conductors and dangerousdrivers. And despite the apparentprivatisation of the circle trainline, there seems to have beenlittle progress on revitalising whatcould be the important first piecein Yangon’s mass transit jigsaw.Nearly everybody likes cheapercars, and there is a strong argumentfor making them even cheaper. Butsurely it would have been better toaddress the needs of the majorityand fix the many flaws in the publictransport network – if you couldcall it that – before embarking ona plan to help relatively wealthyprivate commuters.The place to start must be thebus networks: In the past monthsthe government has talked aboutestablishing public companies torun the bus and taxi networks butI say there’s nothing wrong withthe public sector running the buslines, provided they are properlymanaged. Alternatively, conducta transparent tender process andselect one private local or foreigncompany to run the network. Setrealistic targets – and price limits– and if the company doesn’t meetthem, fine it or take the contractback and award it to anotherfirm.Private companies dominatepublic transport at present and it’sclear to anybody who has watcheda rusting hulk shoot through ared light or overtake on the wrongside of the road that the systemis not working. The other day Isaw something that highlightedthe insanity of the current system– a conductor emptying a jugof urine onto the road as thebus was stopped at a downtownintersection, presumably becausethe driver and/or conductor donot have time to stop for toiletbreaks.The problem is competition:all the buses are and racing eachother for passengers and puttinglives at risk.No, I say put the bulk of thenetwork back in public hands.That way transport authoritiescan remove the incentives to breakthe law and also ensure that onlylicensed and competent driverswill be at the wheel. A network in public hands canalso keep prices low, which shouldbe a critical component of anypublic transport strategy. If low-income earners cannot afford tocatch a bus or train then the planwill have demonstrably failed.
 An opportunity missed
Opinion
with Stuart Deed
Recently imported cars andprivately run commuter busesvie for space on a main road inTarmwe township during peakhour last week.
Pic: Ko Taik
A
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Roger Mitton
 
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July 16 - 22, 2012
By May Sandy
THE head of UN Refugee Agency has dismissedPresident U Thein Sein’ssuggestion that statelessRohingya be sent to refugeecamps or a third country.UN high commissionerfor refugees Mr AntonioGuterres met President UThein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw onJuly 12 to discuss the crisisin Rakhine state. Accordingto the president’s officialwebsite, U Thein Sein toldMr Guterres that the solutionto communal violence inRakhine State was to sendthe Rohingya – known inMyanmar as Bengalis –to either UNHCR refugeecamps or a third country.But Mr Guterres saidat a press conference in Yangon on July 12 that theseproposals were impossibleas the Rohingya insideMyanmar would not berecognised as refugees underthe 1951 convention.“The resettlementprogram is organised byUNHCR for refugees, forpeople fleeing from onecountry into another in veryspecific circumstances sothis obviously is not relatedto the situation,” he said. According to UNHCRstatistics, approximately800,000 Rohingya orBengalis without citizenshiplive in Myanmar.President U Thein Sein toldMr Guterres that Bengaliscame to Myanmar asmigrant workers during theBritish colonial period andtheir children are consideredMyanmar citizens. However,after independence illegalmigrants known as Rohingyahad entered Myanmar andthreatened the country’sstability.Mr Guterres said he wastrying to explore otherpossible ways to resolve thecrisis.“We have discusseddifferent actions in applying[the] nationality law and inattributing nationality to thepeople who are entitled tohave nationality accordingto [the] nationality law anda certain number of othermeasures and it is in thiscontext that I believe thecooperation between theUNHCR and Myanmar willbe very positive,” he said.“For the government of Myanmar, this populationis designated as the Muslimcommunity or the BengaliMuslim community of north Rakhine State. Thegovernment of Myanmardoesn’t use the wordRohingya, which is a wordthat is used by others… internationally it is acommon word. But I think itis important to say that thatis not the designation thatthe government of Myanmaruses for the population.”Mr Guterres also saidthat his organisation wascommitted to assisting allvictims of the violence inRakhine State last monthregardless of their religionor ethnicity.“We are committed toenhance our capacity of humanitarian assistance andsupport to all the victims of which will be undertaken, inwhat we hope, in the processof true reconciliation,” hesaid.“We hope that our effortsmight also give a humblecontribution to hopefully whatwill be a true reconciliationbetween communities. And we strongly hope thatafter these events, it will beslowly possible to establishin north Rakhine State asituation where the rule of law will prevail in a humanrights-minded way and thecommunities will be able torespect each other and lookpositively into the future.”
UNHCR seeks ‘true’ communityreconciliation in Rakhine State
By Soe Than Lynn
THE Pyidaungsu Hluttawwill this week vote on themilitary representatives’nomination of U MyintSwe as vice president, aHluttaw Office officialsaid, following ThihaThura U Tin Aung MyintOo’s resignation on July1.“Pyidaungsu HluttawSpeaker U Khin AungMyint is now travellingabroad. As he will not beback until July 12, it willbe approved … on July 16,”a spokesperson from theHluttaw Office said.The hluttaw’s militaryrepresentatives nominatedU Myint Swe, the chief minister of Yangon Regionand former head of Yangonmilitary command, for thevice president positionon July 9. While manyserving and formermilitary personnel hadbeen rumoured to getthe nomination, U MyintSwe’s selection came assomething of a surprise.Military personnel hadbeen given until July 10 tosubmit a replacement forThiha Thura U Tin AungMyint Oo, who resigned forhealth reasons.“As instructed by UKhin Aung Myint on July4, the first day of thefourth hluttaw session,the group of Tatmadaw[representatives]submitted theirnomination to the speakerof Pyidaungsu Hluttaw onJuly 10.”Brigadier General WaiLin announced the decisionto reporters in Nay PyiTaw on July 10.“We believe that he canwork more for the country,”he said.The nomination endeda week of speculationover who would get the job. Pyithu HluttawSpeaker Thura U ShweMann, General Hla HtayWin, Union Solidarityand Development Partygeneral secretary U HtayOo, Home Affairs MinisterLieutenant General KoKo, Admiral Nyan Tunand Union ElectionCommission chairman UTin Aye were all believedto be in the running.“The Vice President canbe a hluttaw representativeor an outsider. What isreally important is to selectsomeone who is competent,”U Htay Oo, the PyithuHluttaw representativefor Hinthada, told
The Myanmar Times
.“Whosoever is chosen, wewill have to encourage himto work this way to realiseour objectives.“I think a succession planhad already been created.If the nominee is U MyintSwe, he can do his duty asassigned. I consider himto be someone who canbe flexible or strict if andwhen necessary.”The move comes amidexpectations of a cabinetreshuffle that observershope could pave theway for more moderatefigures to enter the quasi-civilian government,as the parliament istransformed by the arrivalof Daw Aung San SuuKyi and other NationalLeague for Democracyrepresentatives.State-run mediaannounced a reshuffle of six deputy ministers lateon July 9, hours after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi tookher seat as an elected MPfor the first time, but didnot say whether or not themove was part of a widerreorganisation.“I hope the new vicepresident will work fornational reconciliationand the development of democracy,” Daw AungSan Suu Kyi said on July10 before U Myint Swe’sname was released.Despite also having closelinks to former SeniorGeneral Than Shwe, UMyint Swe is seen as amore moderate figure thanhis predecessor.The 61-year-old, whois a representative of theUSDP, was seen as one of the military government’srising stars and raisedeyebrows when he waspassed over for a seniorposition in the newgovernment.
 – With AFP,translated by Thit Lwin
Reps to vote onU Myint Swe nod
UN high commissionerfor refugees Mr AntonioGuterres speaks at apress conference inYangon on July 12.
Pic: Boothee
Yangon Region chie minister a surprise choice or vicepresident, replacing Thiha Thura U Tin Aung Myint Oo
Yangon Region chiefminister U Myint Swe.
Pic:Myanmar Times archive

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