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Published by The Myanmar Times

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Published by: The Myanmar Times on Dec 23, 2013
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Govt to reveal MPT partner
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Vote-buying fears over constituency funding
 A parliamentary plan to distribute K100 million to each township could be used by MPs to kick-start campaigning for the 2015 election.
Agri-businesses leave millions of acres fallow
More than 75 percent of the 5.2 million acres of land given away to private companies as land concessions is yet to be planted.
City Mart distributor execs to face charges
Premium Distribution has been unable to show import documents for 80,000  bottles of wine found in a December 4 raid, the Ministry of Commerce says.
Dispute over Bogyoke Market renovation plan
Several dozen jewellery traders at the historic market have vowed to ignore an order to leave by December 31 so renovations can take place.
 A golden start for the host nation
 After a spectacular Southeast Asian Games opening ceremony on December 11 that impressed even the most cynical observers, Myanmar continued its winning start to the competition last week. The host nation has won gold medals in sports as diverse as canoeing, chinlone, chess and shooting and as of December 14 led the medal table with 26 gold, 25 silver and 21 bronze medals, ahead of Vietnam  with 23 gold medals and Indonesia and Thailand  with 22 each. Among the  winners for Myanmar was  Wai Phyo Aung (right),  who topped the nandao section in the wushu on December 9.
Wai Phyo Aung hugs his mother after winning a gold medal in the nandao section of the wushu competition at the Southeast Asian Games in Nay Pyi Taw on December 9.
The government is scheduled to announce on December 18 which foreign consortium will partner with Myanma Posts and Telecommunications – a key decision as the state operator prepares for new competition from Telenor and Ooredoo.
DECEMBER 16 󰀭 22, 2013
online editor
Kayleigh Long
Local paper in hot water over “hate speech”
The Ministry of Information has urged the Interim Myanmar Press Council to take action over claims month-old weekly journal
Thuriya Naywon
(The Sun Rays) has been a vehicle for personal attacks and unfair criticism of the government. “We have found that all writings in all issues of this  journal that have been published are unethical, [reflecting of] yellow journalism and contain hate speech”, read a release on the ministry’s website. “All writings by the  journal were personal attacks and damaged the current government.”What specific action the ministry is calling for, however, is unclear – particularly given the Council was established as a consulting body for those operating under new press regulations, and has no authority to mete out punishment.
The Sun Rays
 has made repeated claims of cronies reaping the benefits of close ties to the former regime and the current government.Last month, the journal was threatened with legal action by U Tay Za, who claimed they had defamed him when it ran a front page story with his photo under the headline “Cronies should jump into the Andaman Sea”.
Golden Rock ramps up security 
A ban on mobile phones and cameras has come into effect at the Golden Rock in the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda precinct, with Thaton District police authorities citing concerns over security. A metal detector has also been installed at the footbridge leading to the boulder itself,
Eleven Media
 reported last week. Cameras and mobile phones are still permitted in the pagoda grounds but, like women, are not allowed near the precariously-balanced rock where pilgrims make merit by applying gold leaf.
Monks Sans Frontieres established in Japan
Japanese monks have established a new body to promote ties between Buddhists in different countries, calling the group “Monks Without Borders”.The inaugural meeting of the group, whose name apes the Nobel Prize-winning Doctors Without Borders, was held in Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto on Wednesday, said Hiroaki Nakajima, chief priest at Joko-ji temple in the city.“Normally, Buddhists do not have regular interactions with people from different schools (of the religion), but I think we can cooperate under the name of Buddhism, which cherishes salvation of individual souls and lives,” he said.Nakajima, who says the grouping has sparked interest overseas, believes it will help with the self-promotion he thinks many Buddhists struggle with.“Monks are generally not good at publicity, even though individually they are active in helping the weak, such as visiting hospitalised patients and natural disaster victims,” he said.“We hope to strengthen our public relations by setting up a Facebook account,” he said.To avoid potential conflicts with governments or Buddhist school officials, the grouping will take the form of a loose “cloud”, where individual monks support others’ activities in poverty reduction, the fight against discrimination and disaster-relief, he said. –
MP humiliated over back-door treatment
Union Solitary and Development Party MP U Aung Tein Lin has expressed humiliation following a slight by regional ministers during a recent meeting, where he was made to enter and leave the premises via the back door.U Aung Tein Lin, the former mayor of Yangon, was meeting with regional chief minister U Myint Swe over protests on land grabs in Thingyanguan township. This is considered a fairly grave insult in local culture, with perhaps the most famous example being an incident involving King Thibaw and the invading British.“We struggled together during campaigning period to win victory embracing the hatred of competitors. When our party wins our members become government. You can guess how I will feel when I was humiliated by my colleagues who are now members of the government,” U Aung Thein Lin told
Thandaw Sent 
Gone Yi Aye Kyaw for
 Photo: Nay Ma Kha
The local lowdown & best of the web
 When Myanmar  was Burma...
 Archival material provided by  Pansodan Gallery
A poster for Workers’ Day, 1978 
Page 2
MPT to get its ‘foreign giant’ this week
THE government will this week reveal  which consortium is to partner with Myanmar Posts and Telecommunica-tions, in what could prove a key deci-sion for the state enterprise as it pre-pares to battle new competition from Telenor and Ooredoo.Consortiums headed by France’s Or-ange Group, Japan’s KDDI and Singa-pore’s SingTel – which were beaten by Telenor and Ooredoo in a hotly contest-ed licence auction in June – are being considered by the government. An an-nouncement is expected on December 18. The government invited the three consortiums to submit proposals for the partnership in early November. All three responded prior to the December 5 deadline. An official from KDDI in Yangon confirmed on December 10 that the company had submitted an application to work with MPT but would not pro- vide details on the type of partnership it had proposed. The official said only that the company hopes to collaborate  with MPT “in the near future” and MPT’s choice is “confidential”. France Telecom senior vice presi-dent Dominique Espinasse confirmed that the consortium of Orange and Marubeni Corporation of Japan had also submitted a proposal. Mr Espinasse said that a foreign operator would “bring specific knowl-edge” to a partnership with MPT and “the capacity to help them [MPT] transform into a competitive operator”.  A spokesperson from SingTel said only that the company “continues[s] to seek opportunities in Myanmar”.In September, MPT managing di-rector U Aung Maw told
 The Myanmar Times
 that the enterprise, which has had a monopoly on telecoms services for decades, had conducted discussions  with firms from France, Singapore, Ja-pan, and other Western countries.“We are now discussing a joint ven-ture agreement with a foreign giant,” he said.  An MPT official said last week that more details regarding the type of part-nership would be available when the announcement is made. Another of-ficial added that representatives from Roland Berger, the German consultan-cy firm that advised the government on the licence tender won by Telenor and Ooredoo, had arrived in Nay Pyi Taw on December 11 to assist the government on the process.  All three consortiums in the run-ning were shortlisted in the telecom-munications operating license tender in June. KDDI leads a consortium  with Japan’s Sumitomo and two local partners: Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Develop-ment Corporation and A1 Construction Company. SingTel is in a consortium with KBZ Group and Myanmar Telephone Com-pany. Orange and Marubeni Corpora-tion of Japan were selected as back-up options if either Telenor or Ooredoo are unable to fulfil their obligations. It is unclear if Orange would have to forfeit this position if selected to work  with MPT. Bringing in a foreign partner is seen as essential for MPT if it is to remain competitive as the government liber-alises the telecommunications sectors. For more than a decade MPT made millions of dollars selling SIM cards at exorbitant prices – initially as high as US$3000 – but both Telenor and Ooredoo have promising cheaper SIM cards, along with increased network coverage and higher standards of cus-tomer service. “MPT needs assistance to expand and modernise its networks [both fixed and wireless], and a foreign partner can bring expertise and capital to help enable this,” said Roger Barlow, an in-dependent telecoms consultant and the CEO of Hong Kong-based RJB Consult-ants Limited. “As, if not more, importantly, a for-eign partner can bring urgently needed management skills and expertise in ar-eas such as product development and marketing.” Telenor has pledged nationwide geographic coverage of 83 percent for  voice and 78pc for data after five years. The company has also committed to around 70,000 point-of-sale locations for SIM cards and more than 95,000 for top-up cards within five years. Ooredoo has promised to provide nationwide geographic coverage of 84pc for both voice and data after five  years. It is promising a larger distri- bution network than Telenor, with around 240,000 point-of-sale locations for SIM cards and 720,000 for top-up cards. Both Ooredoo and Telenor, how-ever, are waiting to sign their final licence agreements, after which they have nine months to launch services. While companies working with MPT will benefit from an existing cus-tomer base estimated at 7 million and close ties to the government that will likely bring state contracts, the partner-ship is likely to come with challenges.These include an “entrenched cul-ture as a former monopoly telecoms operator”, Mr Barlow said. There are also concerns over the extent to which a foreign partner will have “manage-ment and operational control and in-fluence over decision-making in the organisation”.
 – Additional reporting by Aung Shin
Government to select one of three consortiums to partner with state operator on December 18, with Orange, SingTel and KDDI in the race
‘A foreign partner can bring urgently needed management skills and expertise in areas such as product development and marketing.’
Roger Barlow
Independent telecoms consultant
Protest ends after MP promises to investigate dispute
FORMER Thingangyun township residents protesting the confiscation of their land by the military last week agreed to suspend their demonstra-tion for three months following nego-tiations with Yangon’s former mayor.The talks with U Aung Thein Linn,  who is now a Pyithu Hluttaw repre-sentative, brought an end to the pro-test on December 12, after 17 days. The MP promised a parliamentary investi-gation into the dispute.The protests were launched on No- vember 26 after two of the displaced residents from Mee Kyaung Kan ward  were jailed for leading an earlier dem-onstration, which took place without government permission.U Sein Than, a protest leader who  was released in an amnesty on Decem- ber 11, said U Aung Thein Linn had promised to resolve the dispute within three months by negotiating with the government and military.“We suspended the protest for three months while the parliamentary members investigate the dispute,” U Sein Than said.“[U Aung Thein Lin] told us that they found that Mee Gyaung Kan lands were not taken under the 1894 Land Acquisition Act. They found out  we were not squatters because we have lots of receipts for tax paid to Yangon City Development Committee.”The resolution came after nine  women were injured in a December 7 confrontation between demonstrators and military workers, who were trying to fence off the disputed site.U Aung Thein Lin said that he agreed to investigate the case because he did not want to see more people get hurt.“From what we can see they paid land tax regularly to YCDC and they have household registration docu-ments, so we cannot call them squat-ters,” he said. The commission will investigate the dispute, discuss it with the mili-tary and then report its recommenda-tions to the government.  Yangon Region Minister for Securi-ty and Border Affairs Colonel Tin Win said the regional government will not  be involved in the investigation.“The land is owned by Ministry of Defence and that is [a] union-level [ministry] … The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw  will do the investigation,” he said. However, he said the Mee Gyaung Kan residents had been unable to show enough documentation to prove they owned the land before it was con-fiscated in 1991. The military has also paid compensation to some residents, he said.“This case can’t be solved immedi-ately and … cannot be solved if they are too insistent on just getting the land back.” He also defended the actions of the military workers who injured the demonstrators. “Before that day, I went there and told them that we were just making a fence for the pagoda [behind the protest camp] because we didn’t want people to sleep in the pagoda com-pound,” Col Tin Win said. “But when the workers from committee made the fence, they did not move out. The  workers just did what they had to do.
A protester injured by military workers cries at the Thingangyun protest camp on December 7.
Photo: Zarni Phyo

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