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Published by The Myanmar Times

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Published by: The Myanmar Times on Mar 17, 2014
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WWW.MMTIMES.COM ISSUE 721 | MARCH 17 󰀭 23, 2014
War of words over soap factory
 Army-run Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited draws fire from arbitrator in dispute over a soap factory for summarily terminating proceedings by locking officials out of hearings and removing furniture from meeting rooms.
Missing plane was steered off course intentionally
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said on March 15 that vanished flight MH370 had  been deliberately redirected toward the Indian Ocean and search efforts would now focus in that region. A skilled pilot is believed to have been in control of the airliner at the time,  but the PM said there was no confirmation whether or not the plane had been hijacked.
Special rapporteur mandate likely to stay
The European Union says it plans to submit a new resolution to the UN Human Rights Council proposing the special rapporteur post be maintained.
New impetus for peace
Leaders of armed ethnic groups say recent peace talks in Yangon have left them more optimistic about the prospects of signing a ceasefire.
Cinemas fade to black
Private firms that bought cinemas from government in privatisation auctions take the wrecking ball to historic properties.
Taxes to fall in new push to combat evasion
But experts say reductions and incentives approved by parliament are unlikely to change widespread culture of tax evasion and illegal trade.
MARCH 17 󰀭 23, 2014
Page 2 review:
Top Gear 
 takes the Burma Road
The first episode in the two-part season finale of motoring show Top Gear has broadcast and is now available for illegal download. The episode, filmed in late 2013, sees hosts Clarkson, Hammond and May issued with a challenge to drive from Yangon across the border into Thailand in ramshackle trucks.It’s standard, formulaic
Top Gear 
 fare. The trio blunder their way through the streets of Yangon, their impractical vehicles taking an even less practical route through town when – hilarity ensues – their oversized vehicles systematically destroy the power grid of a downtown side street while a confused crowd of urban poor look on. But never fear, once they are done knocking over street vendors’ apple carts and making fun of elderly pedestrians, they eventually (after what feels like about four hours) find their way to the road and resume normal programming: that is, any and all plans going
 awry and Clarkson the slightly-posh everyman emasculating the short guy. If you can deal with the show’s now-tired schtick, then it makes for an interesting watch, but I must confess: they lost me somewhere on the highway out of Nay Pyi Taw. One star.
Authorities move to clamp down on heavy petting zoo
Yangon City Development Committee has moved to instate a ban on young couples in Happy Zone Natural World at People’s Park, as their canoodling seems to be discouraging its target demographic – families with small children – from attending.
7 Day Daily 
 reported the management was sick of the young lovebirds sitting around in the theme park and holding hands, taking up valuable space that could have been occupied by more paying visitors. Similarly, it was reported, families felt less inclined to expose their young children to such scandalous behavior. “It is a good decision. This is because we have an exclusive park like this to have full-time with our children. The couples dominate all the time,” a 50-year-old mother told
7 Day.
Fortunately there are still a number of options for those looking for a venue for some hanky-panky. While Kandawgyi is an already-popular spot for illicit sub-umbrella handholding action, Happy World at the base of Shwedagon also hosts its fair share of dates. Based purely on observations made during one day trip, though, the United Races Village seems to be the venue of choice for slightly raunchier antics.
Plane sight
At the time of printing, the apparent hijacking of the MH370 flight has been the subject of much speculation and collective head-scratching, with no real answers forthcoming and authorities broadening the scope of the search as far afield as the Kazakhstan border.While no answers are immediately apparent, the first five days of searching – in the very least – could be said to have been a heartwarming show of cooperation in the South China Sea.Since then, focus has been redirected toward the Andaman. The Department of Civil Aviation acquiesced to Malaysian requests to search Myanmar territory, but was not actively participating in the search.Online, theories about just what had happened to the aircraft and its occupants were thrown around with abandon. The members of Reddit.com’s conspiracy theory forum pointing the finger at Uighur terrorists, the Rotheschilds, an Illuminati job, a revenge attack for Anwar Ibrahim’s sentencing, Putin, North Korea and – on a Myanmar-related note – an alleged Chinese listening post in the Coco Islands. While the nature of this alleged outpost is based on news stories of dubious origin and has been pretty neatly dismantled on several occasions by respected pundits, Greater Coco does have a runway and that’s fun to think about.
Next week:
Founder of YEC-promoted Trishaw fitness club concedes “it was a dumb idea” after expat sideswiped by 1940s Hino bus
The local lowdown & best of the web
online editor
Kayleigh Long
Page 2
Comedy comic book “Swallow on the Rainbow”, 1980 by Khin Aye Han, illustrations by Min Hlaing Bwa
Once was Burma...
 Archival material provided by Pansodan Gallery
Khin Nang Htikefor
 Photo: Htet Aung Kyaw (studio HAK)
The number of Staedtler Norica 2B pencils attained through “an international procurement process” for the census. The number of clipboards being distributed is 110,000.
Source: UNFPA
‘When I say the first thing you have to deal with in regards to the situation in  the Rakhine is rule of law, people say I’ve said nothing about the situation because  for them talking about rule of law is  tantamount to talking about nothing.
Aung San Suu Kyi gives a characteristically circuitous response to a question on Rakhine State at the East West Media Conference
 Thomas Kean
Myanmar aids hunt for lost plane
 AS part of the wide-ranging efforts to locate Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the Department of Civil Aviation last  week gave permission for search op-erations for the missing plane to take place in southern Tanintharyi Region.DCA deputy director general U  Win Swe Tun said the regional avia-tion control centre in Kuala Lumpur had requested permission to search Myanmar’s waters around Kaw-thoung on March 11 and had been granted approval by the government.On March 15 the search moved to the Indian Ocean after new evidence suggested the plane had been deliber-ately piloted in that directions for hours after disappearing from main radars.However government chiefs con-firmed previously that Myanmar had given its backing for the search to go ahead in its waters.“The regional control centre re-quested us on March 11 to permit search and rescue operations for MH370 in Myanmar airspace and Myanmar territorial waters in Kaw-thoung and nearby regions. In our aviation agreements we are to provide help and support if something like this happens so we already informed them that we allow them to do search opera-tions,” he told
 The Myanmar Times
.It was not expected the Myan-mar Search and Rescue Team would  be required, he said at the time, as Myanmar’s role would be limited to helping “facilitate [the search] in terms of communication and air traf-fic control”.In a press conference on March 15, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed that the Andaman Sea had  been part of the search. He also said new evidence pointed to “deliberate action from someone on the plane”.ETHNIC leaders have declared them-selves “very satisfied” with the latest round of informal talks, particularly the increased role played by represent-atives of the Tatmadaw.The military sent six representa-tives to the talks and they proposed having a nationwide ceasefire agree-ment signed by August.“We proposed to them that we need to sign it by August 1, and [ethnic leaders] told us they will try to sign it  before then,” said Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe from the Tatmadaw.The ethnic groups were represent-ed by the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordi-nation Team (NCCT) at the March 9-10 meeting at Myanmar Peace Center.NCCT members reached an agreement with the government to form a joint working group to cre-ate a new draft ceasefire. Currently,  both the government and ethnic groups have their own drafts.NCCT leader Naing Han Thar said the working group would have 18 members, with nine from each side. The nine government members will comprise three representatives from the Union Government, three from the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, or parliament, and three from the Tatmadaw.“At the moment we have two drafts so this makes it hard to reach an agree-ment. We need a new, single draft and  we agreed it would only have seven sections,” he said.NCCT member Colonel Khun Ok-kar said the six Tatmadaw officials who participated in the talks had each been allocated an area of responsibility in relation to the discussions. “Each of-ficial mostly focused only on the sub- jects that concern them. This was an important development for our discus-sions. Previously there were only one or two Tatmadaw members [involved in the talks],” he said.Salai Hlyan Hmon Sar Hkaung, an-other NCCT member who took part in the talks, said he was pleased with how the meeting had played out.“The Tatmadaw representatives studied our proposed ceasefire agree-ment and seemed very eager to discuss political dialogue, so we are very satis-fied,” he said.The next meeting was also sched-uled at the talks, with NCCT members expected to meet government peace ne-gotiators at the end of March in Yangon.The Tatmadaw’s lead negotiator, Lieutenant General Myint Soe from the Commander-in-Chief’s office, said he was optimistic a deal can soon be reached.“We are truly achieving peace with the ethnic armed forces,” he said.
Tatmadaw and ethnic minority delegates shake hands at the conclusion of peace talks in Yangon on March 10.
Photo: Thiri
New momentum for ceasefire after Yangon talks
People on-board flight MH370 when it disappeared on March 8, one hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing
THE Constitutional Amendment Im-plementing Committee has decided not to focus on changing the process of amending the constitution, mem- bers have told
 The Myanmar Times
.The decision not to focus on sec-tion 436(a) was taken at the com-mittee’s fourth meeting, a number of committee members confirmed on condition of anonymity. “We reached agreement on this af-ter arguing severely,” the member said.MPs who attended the meeting said military representatives, who hold seven of the 31 positions on the committee, proposed keeping section 436(a) as it currently stands. The sec-tion gives the military, which holds 25 percent of all seats, an effective veto over constitutional change, as it states that amendments need the support of at least 75pc of MPs to be approved. Section 436(a) lists sections of the constitution in which a 75pc majority and approval at a national referendum are required for an amendment to be passed, while under section 436(b) all other sections require only a 75pc majority.The military MPs argued against reducing the 75pc threshold on the grounds that they plan to gradually re-duce the number of seats assigned to military personnel, although they gave no indication when this would begin taking place. They argued that amending section 436(a) could result in the threshold for constitutional change being set too low. “They want to keep the 75pc re-quirement whether military MPs are in the parliament or not. Finally, we accepted the idea that if we reduce it below 75pc some may keep trying to reduce it further,” one committee member said.“Instead, the military MPs said they can negotiate with us to reach an agreement when MPs put forward proposed amendments ... It is very im-portant that we negotiate with them so that they accept the points that we  want to change,” he said.However, some MPs who are not on the committee said they did not accept the idea. They argued that this system  would still leave constitutional change in the hands of the military.
Constitution amendment body takes military veto off the table
Committee members argue heatedly over whether to propose changes to section 436 of constitution
HRW slams peacekeeping offer
Human Rights Watch has condemned the United Nations for inviting the Myanmar government to send troops to participate in United Nations peace-keeping operations, arguing it would undermine UN standards.Vijay Nambiar, the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Myanmar, extended the invitation to Senior Gen-eral Min Aung Hlaing during a January 23 meeting. But the New York-based rights group said the move would put the UN’s reputation at risk of “grave damage”.“The Burmese military’s poor record on rights and civilian protection is profoundly at odds with the standards that UN peacekeepers are expected to defend around the world,” executive director Kenneth Roth said in a state-ment on March 13. –
Wa Lone 
‘The Tatmadaw representatives ... seemed very eager  to discuss political dialogue, so we are  very satisfied.
Salai Hlyan Hmon Sar Khaung
Ethnic peace negotiator

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