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Published by: The Myanmar Times on Apr 22, 2013
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No. 673, April 8 - 14, 2013
Heartbeat of The Nation
 AS a religious leader, Itotally condemn any form of social unrest in Myanmar.While it is not possible topinpoint or trace an originto it, nowadays there havebeen riots among peopleprofessing different faithsand coming from differentracial backgrounds. Itis heartrending andunnecessary situation forall of us.From its epicentre inRakhine State, the racialclashes have spread toMeiktila in MandalayRegion, where a seriousconfrontation broke outbetween Buddhists andMuslims. From there,further frighteningrumours have spread likewildfire to other parts of the country, in particularwestern Bago Region.Innocent inhabitants areliving in fear. Compatriotswishing to live in peaceand unity have been deeplydisturbed because of thosedamaging rumours. At atime when the country isbuilding national unityand paving the way todemocracy brick by brick,these unpleasant situationswill certainly have asignificant and negativeknock-on effect.I, Sitagu Sayadaw,therefore, deeply denouncethese religious, racial andcommercial conflicts withno exceptions.
By Atar Ahmad
MEDAN, Indonesia – A group of Myanmar Muslimsbeat eight Buddhists todeath at an Indonesiandetention centre on April 5after becoming enraged atnews of deadly communalviolence in central Myanmar,officials said.The Rohingya Muslimslaunched the attack atthe immigration centreon Sumatra island usingweapons fashioned fromsmashed up beds and broomhandles after seeing picturesof religious violence that leftdozens dead last month.The attack underscoresthe soaring Muslim-Buddhist tensions that havecast a shadow over politicalreforms in Myanmar,where the end of decades of authoritarian military rulehas laid bare deep sectarianfault lines.Last month’s disorder wasthe worst since an eruption of violence between Buddhistsand Rohingya Muslims,also known as Bengalis, inRakhine State last year thatleft scores dead and tens of thousands – mainly Muslims– displaced. An increasing numberof Rohingya – viewedby many Myanmar asillegal immigrants fromBangladesh – have beenarriving on Indonesianshores.Immigration centre officialRida Agustian said theentrance to the block wherethe detainees were beingheld was sealed off to stopofficers from interveningas the deadly attack waslaunched in the early hours.When officers finallygot in, they found “bloodspattered on the walls andin pools on the floor”, he said.“The men had used woodfrom their beds and broomsticks as weapons to kill.“The bodies were coveredin blood, it looked like theywere beaten and tortured todeath.”Mr Agustian said 15people, believed to Rohingya,were injured during theviolence at the centre, where106 of them are being held.Ko Kyaw Kyaw, 25, who isone of a handful of MyanmarBuddhists being held at thecentre, said he heard theattack unfolding and was“very scared”.“We ask the Indonesiangovernment to send usstraight back home toMyanmar,” he said outsidethe centre before being takenaway for questioning bypolice.He said the victims werefrom a group of MyanmarBuddhists being held at thecentre at the port of Belawanafter being caught illegallyfishing in Indonesianwaters, and had been dueto be deported next month.The attack began afterthe detainees saw imagesof recent violence betweennon-Rohingya Muslimsand Buddhists in centralMyanmar that has left atleast 43 people dead andmany Muslim homes andmosques destroyed, saidlocal police chief EndroKiswanto.“They managed to seesome photos of the violencein Myanmar, includingbuildings on fire, and webelieve that’s when theviolence broke out,” MrKiswanto said.He said all eight Buddhistmen were dead when policearrived at the detentioncentre in the early hours of  April 5.Twenty-five detainees and30 other witnesses were beingquestioned by police, and 30officers were at the site, MrKiswanto said. –
Related story page 11
Eight deadas violencespreads toIndonesia
Emotional arewell or 13 school fre ictims
Mourners carry the cofn of a boy killed in a re at an Islamic school through Yay Way cemetery in Yangon on April2. Thirteen students sleeping overnight at the school, on the upper block of 48
Street in downtown Yangon, diedin the re, which started in the early hours of April 2. Rumours that the blaze had been deliberately lit were quicklydismissed by the regional government, which said an overheated transformer was to blame. Full coverage pages 3
and 6.
Pic: Kaung Htet 
 A plea for peace from a religious leader
Sitagu Sayadaw
More page 4
Phone shops brace orrush ater SIM news
Daily papers fnallymake their debut
Race heats up or twotelecoms licences
By Roger Mitton
WINNERS can also be losers.So it proved last month whenSukhumbhand Paribatra was re-elected governor of Bangkok.It was a stunning andunexpected victory, although whatSukhumbhand had to do with it ishard to gauge.Certainly, it is hard to think of acandidate who was frowned uponso much by his Democrat Partycolleagues and by the media, andwho campaigned so ineptly, andyet who won so handsomely.Well, politics is a strangeand fickle business and weshould not dwell too much onSukhumbhand’s failings, for histriumph was a life-saver for theDemocrats and its leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.It was also uplifting forThailand, and in a way, goodfor the nationally governingPheu Thai Party and itsdefeated candidate, PongsapatPongcharoen.By retaining Bangkok, theopposition Democrats cannow continue to provide somesemblance of a check-and-balanceon the dominant Pheu Thaicentral government under PrimeMinister Yingluck Shinawatra.The PM’s party and its alliesalready dominate parliament andreign supreme across the whole of Thailand, except, thankfully, forthe capital and a few pockets inthe deep south.If Sukhumbhand and theDemocrats had lost Bangkok,it would have meant cedingalmost total control to theswaggering Pheu Thai warlordsand their fugitive puppet master, Yingluck’s elder brother, ThaksinShinawatra. And that would have been just as profoundly unhealthyfor Thailand as is theinstitutionalised stranglehold of the Cambodia People’s Party onthat country’s polity.So, for all his faults,Sukhumbhand’s win was a greatfillip for Thailand – and of course,it was hugely uplifting for theDemocrats, who have been in thedoldrums since losing the 2011general election.If they had also lost theirBangkok bastion, it would havebeen a disaster, which wouldlikely have obliged their leader Abhisit, the Ernest Milquetoast of Thai politics, to resign.Now, thanks to Sukhumbhand– a man he disdains, and thesentiment is mutual - Abhisit hasgot another lease on life.The governor’s re-election waseven a plus of sorts for Pheu Thaiand Yingluck, since it has giventhem a much needed wake-up call.The PM’s continuinghoneymoon, rather like thatof Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, isstarting to show signs of fading –and that trend will accelerate if she continues to underwhelm andput on weight.More portentously, the Anti-Corruption Commission isinvestigating an alleged US$1-million loan she secretly made to acompany run by her common-lawhusband Anusorn Amornchat.If the commission rules againsther, Yingluck could be disqualifiedand forced to step down – echoingthe fate of her brother Thaksin,the former PM, who remains herkey adviser.In case that scenario comes topass, the party has arranged for Yingluck’s elder sister, YaowapaWongsawat, to contest a by-election this month in a safeChiang Mai seat. Yaowapa is a stern politicalenforcer, who will whip thesomewhat lax Pheu Thai caucusinto better shape, and just asimportantly, will be positioned toslot into Yingluck’s place if thePM is disqualified.Interestingly, the Bangkokgovernorship result alsobrought kudos to the loserPongsapat, who polled morethan a million votes in theopposition’s heartland and issure to be rewarded with a plumappointment soon.Only the poor winnerSukhumbhand lost out. Henever really wanted to begovernor in the first place, butwas railroaded into taking the job when the former Democratincumbent was disqualified.Foreign affairs is really hisforte, and as a former deputyminister who grew up amongprinces and plenipotentiaries, hisover-riding ambition has alwaysbeen to become Thailand’s topdiplomat.But his remarkable re-electionmeans he can no longer aspire tothat post for at least another fouryears.Instead, he’ll have to settlefor the mansion and the pomp:another trumpet flourish,another pair of embossedunderpants. It can’t be so bad.
April 8 - 14, 2013
A Thai employee works ona construction area at ashopping mall in Bangkokon April 1.
Pic: AFP 
New governor the onlyloser after Bangkok vote
By Lian Kual Sang
IT has been pleasing to seegradual, rather than drastic,changes taking place inMyanmar’s political, social andeconomic spheres over the pasttwo years. There have also beensetbacks and challenges, some of which remain huge and perhapsoutstrip government capacity toresolve them.But personally I am contentwith the performance of thecurrent government. However,this article is not a paean tothe government, but rather amessage to our ethnic politicalleaders in the hope that it maystir their conscience and leadthem to engage in the country’swider issues.It appears our ethnic, orregion-based, political parties arealmost completely preoccupiedwith political and economicissues in their regions. Of course,I absolutely agree on the value of focusing on areas that concernthem the most. However, I thinkthere is also room for them toplay a greater role in nationalaffairs. Why not speak out aboutbudget issues, or the country’sforeign investment policy? Whynot get involved in the debateson tackling poverty and otherdevelopment issues? Why shouldwe limit ourselves to engaging in just our own regional and racialaffairs? It also begs the question: Are there any factors or issuespreventing us from taking abroader involvement in politics?There are three possibilities.The first is that our ethnicpolitical leaders simply do nothave a deep interest in widerissues affecting the country.Their interests might not extendpast ethnicity, equality, and theintroduction of a certain politicalsystem – the immediate concernsof the region and ethnicity towhich that politician belongsto or is representing. To theseleaders I have nothing else tosay.The second possibility is thatpoliticians feel they do not havethe background or expertise todeal with issues related to thewhole country. We all know mostethnic regions are less sociallyand economically developed thanBamar areas. I believe that whilesome ethnic leaders understandthey can contribute positivelyto the national discussion theyalso feel their opinions andexpertise are not wanted and sorefrain from joining the debate.These type of leaders need tobe proactive and clearly maketheir skills, capabilities andcommitment known to theirfellow politicians.I am not saying all ethnicleaders fall into these categories.No doubt some have made anattempt and even received acertain level of recognition butfar too many have made noattempt at all. Quite a few of ourethnic leaders and politiciansare well-educated and haveyears of experience in politicsand business. They can bringfresh insight to complex issuesbut they either decide not to doso or are incapable of meetingthe challenges posed to theirparticipation.The third possibility is that thegovernment and major politicalparties do not do enough toactively involve ethnic leadersin the process of solving thecountry’s complex challenges.This broad participationis absolutely fundamentalfor bringing about unity inMyanmar.Rather than simply encourageethnic minority leaders to play agreater role, a simple approachthat the government couldemploy is to recruit them assenior members in importantcommittees or associations thatoversee health, education, trade,foreign investment, banking andother sectors. The governmentshould also consider appointingethnic leaders in ministerialroles. We are yet to see reallyany technocrats or professionalsfrom ethnic minorities join thegovernment. To keep the reformprocess moving forward, thegovernment should comprise afair balance of people of variousethnicities. This suggestionapplies to major political partiestoo. Do any have a policy of empowering ethnic minorityleaders within their ranks? A look at the makeup of theseparties would suggest not.This is our country. Everycitizen, regardless of theirreligion or race, is our brotheror sister. So to my respectedethnic leaders I want to say: let’splay a bigger role on the mainpolitical stage.(
 Lian Kual Sang is a businessconsultant and entrepreneur from Yangon. He can be reachedat naolian@gmail.com.
This land is your land
April 8 - 14, 2013
By Win Ko Ko Latt
THE Union ElectionCommission will meet theleaders and secretaries of allregistered political partieson April 8, and some expectby-elections and a proposedchange of the voting systemto be discussed.It comes 10 days after anearlier meeting called by thecommission was postponed,party officials.“The Union ElectionCommission informed usthat it would meet withpolitical parties on April 8.But I don’t know what will bediscussed,” said U Htay Oo,vice chairman of the UnionSolidarity and DevelopmentParty.However, National Leaguefor Democracy officials,including Daw Aung SanSuu Kyi, will not attend, saidparty spokesperson U NyanWin. “Our party has alreadyarranged to hold its firstcentral executive committeemeeting on the same day soI informed the commissionthat we cannot attend,” hesaid.U Min Thu, theNLD’s Pyithu Hluttawrepresentative for Ottarathiriin Nay Pyi Taw, said thecommission would likelydiscuss plans for more by-elections.“I think the commission islikely to discuss two things.One is holding by-electionsin 2013 for 28 vacantconstituencies and anotherissue is discussing changingthe election system from first-past-the-post to proportionalrepresentation,” he said.U Khin Maung Swe fromthe National DemocraticForce said his party wouldtry to focus discussions onthese two issues. “Some localpapers also reported thatproportional representationwill be discussed at thismeeting,” he said.
UEC callsmeetingwith allparties
By Htoo Aung andNoe Noe Aung
TWO men have been arrested overthe fatal fire at an Islamic school indowntown Yangon last week that left13 dead, and prompted rumours thatthe fire had been deliberately lit.The rumours were later dismissedby police and regional governmentofficials, who within hours of extinguishing the April 2 blazehad pinpointed the cause as anoverheated power transformer undera staircase at the
, onthe upper block of 48
Street inBotahtaung township.One teacher from the school wasarrested on April 2, while anotherwas detained the following day. Theyface potential charges of negligenceand negligence resulting in death.Myanmar Police Force said the 13boys died of smoke inhalation, andthousands attended funerals laterthat day at the Islamic section of YayWay cemetery.They were among 71 students andtwo teachers asleep in the buildingwhen the fire broke out at 2:30am. At a press conference later on April2, Yangon Region Chief Minister UMyint Swe responded to rumours thatthe fire had been started deliberately.“This mosque is also a school anddormitory. The 13 boys who died slepton the upper floor,” he said.“The fire started because of the regulator, which was locatedunderneath the stairs. It spread tothe rest of the stairs so the 13 boysdidn’t have a chance to escape,” hesaid.“There was no one to open theentrance so firemen had to break theentrance to extinguish the fire. Whenthe rescue crews arrived, the otherboys were able to escape by runningout through a door. The upper floorhas … security bars blocking most of the building’s windows and the key[for the door] was with the mosqueteachers.” Yangon Region Police ChieColonel Win Naing said at the pressconference that a boy sleeping in theschool, Ko Wai Yan Phyo, saw thefire start and tried to wake up theteachers. When the teachers wokeup, they tried to put the fire out witha wet blanket but were unsuccessful.“The diesel was located underneaththe stairs. This diesel was spread andthe blanket was soaked so that thewhole mosque smelled of diesel. Theblaze was not started intentionally bythrowing something in from outside,”the chief minister said.Despite the regional government’sinsistence that it had a clear pictureof the tragedy, a commissioncomprising police, fire and powersupply personnel was formed on April2. While the regional governmentsaid Islamic leaders would also beincluded in the commission, nonewere listed in an order published instate media on April 3.State-run media urged the publicnot to believe rumours, which werealso spreading online, contrary tothe official version of events, and saidupdated news would be released in atimely manner.For many, the immediatechallenge was coming to termswith the grief of losing 13 youngmembers of their community.“Most of the boys are from YangonRegion and some are from differentparts of the country, includingKawkareik, Thaton, Yamethin andBago,” said the family member of oneof the deceased. A teacher from the school, U KyawNaing, said that some other childrensuffered minor injuries in the fire.“Some children were injured, andthey are afraid of what happened inthe building,” he said.“I want to know how governmentis going to explain this. None of usbelieve this is an accident. We are sadbecause we lost our children – theyare the future of our religion.”
Police make second fire arrest
The blaze was not started intentionally.
Two teachers detained in connection with Islamic school re that let 13 students dead on April 2
IN preparation for the leap into the daily era,
The Myanmar Times
English edition is undergoinga substantial makeover. Showcasing a trulymodern, international-standard design, the newlook will raise the bar for publications nationwide.The talented team was fronted by consultantCatherine Tai, whose stylish, cutting-edgedesigns for high-profile print publications inHong Kong have netted her awards from theSociety of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) and World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers(WAN-IFRA). Myanmar Consolidated Mediaart directors Tin Zaw Htway (right rear) andKo Pxyo (left rear) also added their expertise tothe project.English edition editor Thomas Kean (middlerear) has been preparing his staff for the excitingtransition, and is committed to upholding thepaper’s top-tier editorial standards, producing thehard-hitting, award-winning news coverage forwhich
The Myanmar Times
is justly well known. All signs are pointing to a smooth launchthat will push the newspaper to the head of thedaily pack in short order. “
The Myanmar Times
 has long been the benchmark of publishingin Myanmar,” said Wendy Madrigal, MCM’schief operating officer. “And I think our readerswill quickly realise that our new-look paper isamong the best in the region, befitting of ourinternational status.”
 – Staff Writers
New look for paperin run-up to daily
Pic: Aung Htay Hlaing

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