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Published by TheMyawadyDaily
Myanmar Times
Myanmar Times

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Published by: TheMyawadyDaily on Apr 12, 2014
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WWW.MMTIMES.COM ISSUE 725 | APRIL 14 󰀭 20, 2014
Govt accuses Britain of Rakhine ‘interference’
Britain calls in Myanmar ambassador to push for return of foreign aid to Rakhine.
A procession of Shan princes
Ethnic Shan boys dance while sitting on the shoulders of older male relatives during a procession through the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand, on April 5, the second day of the Poy Sang Long festival. The festival culminates on the third day with an ordination ceremony.
Obama to return this year
UNITED States President Barack Obama will return to Myanmar later this year, a senior State Department of-ficial says. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns announced the trip in a speech on April 8 at the launch of the Asia So-ciety Policy Institute in New York. Mr Burns said that Mr Obama will travel “later this fall” to Myanmar, Chi-na and Australia to attend a series of regional meetings. Mr Burns said that Mr Obama’s planned visit shows an “enduring commitment to enhancing security, prosperity, human dignity, and effective regional architecture across the Asia-Pacific”. The trip has not yet been confirmed  by the White House.In November 2012 Mr Obama be-came the first sitting US President to  visit Myanmar when he stopped in  Yangon en route to Cambodia to attend the ASEAN Summit. He held talks with President U Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi before saying in a speech that he had come to extend a “hand in friendship” to Myanmar. However, the tone of Mr Obama’s second visit to Myanmar is likely to be somewhat cooler given ongoing human rights concerns and recurring commu-nal violence between Buddhists and Muslims, particularly in Rakhine State. Mr Burns emphasised that the US is “deeply worried about the violence in Rakhine State and the government’s decision to curtail the activities of hu-manitarian organisations”.
Orwell: a critic in Katha
The sleepy river town offers a unique and nostalgic glimpse of British Burma – and the world Eric Arthur Blair inhabitated as a colonial police officer.
Magazine market facing extinction
Loss of advertising dollars and growing postal charges could sound the death knell for monthly publications.
APRIL 14 󰀭 20, 2014
The local lowdown & best of the web
Myanmar’s media reforms herald a new era in the glorious democratic transition
A reporter for the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), Zaw Pe, is staring down the barrel of a one-year prison sentence after being found guilty of “trespassing” and “disturbing a civil servant on duty” or, for what it sounds like from details currently available, “committing a fairly benign and routine act of journalism”.
In 2012 
.The charges were levelled over an August 2012 incident where Zaw Pe visited the Magwe Region Education Department in order to carry out an interview about a scholarship program.DVB has denounced the sentencing, and his lawyer Thein Tun (no relation to Mr Pepsi) says the verdict will be appealed.“Despite all the government officials’ pledges of press reform, we believe the jailing of Zaw Pe is an obstacle to media freedom in the country, and we call for the unconditional release of the reporter and his co-defendant,” read a statement issued by DVB.Zaw Pe is not the first journalist to be sentenced for trespassing in recent months, with Eleven Media’s Ma Khine having served three months for “defamation, trespassing, and allegedly using abusive language while interviewing a lawyer about a legal dispute in eastern Kayah State”, according to a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).Ma Khine was the first reporter to be imprisoned since U Thein Sein’s political prisoner amnesty in 2012 which saw 14 journalists released.Another case currently going through the legal system is, of course, the four journalists being put through the wringer over trespassing and charges that fall under the 1923 Burma State Secrets Act.While reporting on issues like an alleged nuclear facility almost certainly requires a good deal more tiptoeing than, say, a piece on scholarships, it’s definitely a concern that a journalist can be handed a prison sentence for “disturbing an on-duty civil servant”.In early 2014, it was announced that Myanmar had climbed six places to 145th in the 180-country Press Freedom Index.
The Face of a Human Rights Award
In an announcement certain to annoy card-carrying 969ers,
 magazine’s Hannah Beech has won the English-language Magazine prize for “The Face of Buddhist Terror” at the annual Human Rights Press Awards in Hong Kong. This is the 18th year that the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and Amnesty International Hong Kong “have joined to recognize outstanding reporting in the area of human rights”.
Census skips hung-over household
With the census now all but wrapped up, anecdotal evidence would seem to point to a decent number of homes being skipped over altogether. I’d assumed my home would also miss out. But, the morning of April 6, an enumerator came to the door of my apartment.She was met by my shirtless, crapulent housemate who explained that everyone was asleep. She didn’t press the issue and left immediately. While I’m grateful for the lie-in, the lack of tenacity on the enumerator’s part is a bit upsetting. I’d been really excited about filling in the forms.
April Fools joke goes “too far”
An April Fools report claiming that one of Taiwan’s beloved pandas had been infected by parasites and could be euthanised went “too far”, the upset mayor of Taipei said last week.The story, published on the homepages of Next Media websites in Hong Kong and Taiwan, claimed that Yuan Yuan, mother of the first Taiwan-born panda cub Yuan Zai, was seriously ill.“Taipei Zoo officials have been discussing euthanizing her... much like Copenhagen Zoo recently did with its giraffe Marius,” the story said.The story sparked immediate concern from local media, and saw the concerned Taipei government rush to check with zoo authorities whether it was true.“All the three pandas have been in good shape,” Taipei mayor Hua Lung-bin said, according to a spokesperson. “We don’t know the motive of the story. The joke has been taken too far.”Fortunately the reports were not picked up on by staff at
The New Light of Myanmar,
 who generally take their commitment to panda-related coverage every bit as seriously as that of elephant births, municipal works and the release of fingerlings.
– With AFP 
In brief:
Local rasta unimpressed at enumerator skipping over his house and thus denying him the chance to put “914” and “human being” on the census formExpat wrestled with “immense white guilt” while swilling free champagne at April 5 TS-1 gallery launch in Yangon’s dockyards
Next week:
Two women hospitalised after a violent scuffle over the last pack of tampons at CityMart
Once was Burma ...
 Archival material provided by  Pansodan Gallery
online editor
Kayleigh Long
Page 2
Happy Thingyanfrom
 Photo: Htet Aung Kyaw ( Studio- HAK)
 Thomas Kean
Actor Ye Dike jailed for drug possession
Doubts over log export ban
EXPERTS say an export ban on raw timber that came into effect on April 1 could have a limited impact because of a lack of clarity from the government on how the ban would work in practice, as well as the effects of the conflict in Kachin State.This confusion could allow unscru-pulous merchants to continue selling illegally cut timber across international  borders, particularly in northern My-anmar where enforcement is weak be-cause of conflict.“Now there’s a strong push in the [Myanmar Timber Merchants Asso-ciation] and the [Ministry of Environ-mental Conservation and Forestry] to clamp down on illegal logging, but it’s not clear to me what illegal logging in this context actually means,” said Kevin  Woods, a researcher with the NGO For-est Trends who specialises in Myan-mar’s timber sector.“Does that mean that logging is be-ing done by villagers and then sold to  businessmen without the explicit per-mission of [the ministry]? Or could it also mean, as I feel it should … logging  being done by crony companies in nat-ural, unmanaged forests?“None of that is clear to me from any statement made by any govern-ment officials.Logging has also been a contin-ued source of conflict in Kachin State,  where the Tatmadaw has launched at-tacks against Kachin Independence  Army troops on the pretext of cracking down on the illegal timber trade.U Win Myo Thu, co-founder of the environmental NGO EcoDev, said that  very little of the timber that crosses the  border into China is actually logged in  border areas. EcoDev’s field researchers have found most of the logs actually come from areas controlled by the govern-ment, such as Sagaing Region and parts of southern Kachin state, he said.The tough terrain and conflicts in Kachin State make it difficult to track  which groups are responsible for felling and transporting the timber.“To be able to say [logs are] really illegal we really need to track the chain of custody,” he said. “[But] many of these logs begin in the deep jungle.” Neither the government nor EcoDev has the resources to send monitors into areas that are both isolated and poten-tially dangerous.Beyond the physical limitations of investigating the illegal timber trade, U Win Myo Thu said powerful groups have a vested interest in keeping it alive. He warned that they may try to stymie government reform initiatives in the sector. “There are cronies doing this business, also many armed groups that deal in this business … It’s difficult to enforce the law.”“[It’s] basically enemies becoming  business partners,said one observer of the timber industry in Kachin State,  who asked not to be named. “Clearly to get logs from Sagaing into China, there has to be a collusion of interests on  both the government and KIO side for that to happen, and it’s also very clear that the KIO is taxing the timber trade through their controlled checkpoints on the road.“[But] according to local inform-ants the timber seems to be very much predominantly coming from Myanmar-controlled areas.”The Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry could not  be reached for comment, while senior KIA official General Gun Maw declined to comment last week.In an interview with
 The Irrawaddy
in February, however, he conceded that there were people “who benefit from this trade on both sides”.“Instead of blaming each other, we mainly have to find a way to solve the issue of illegal logging,” he said.The ban on raw timber exports was announced by the government in late 2012. It argued that the ban was nec-essary to preserve what is left of My-anmar’s natural forests, while at the same time creating jobs and generating higher export revenues by sawing tim- ber before it is exported.
 ACTOR Ye Dike has been slapped  with a six-year jail term for pos-session that authorities say should serve as a deterrent to others in the industry engaged in drug use. Ye Dike was arrested in Bago Region’s Kyauktaga township in July 2013 with 16 grams of hashish, police said. A police sergeant from Kyaukta-ga said the township court handed down the sentence on April 7. He said police had initially tried to also charge the actor with drug use but a medical checkup revealed no traces of illicit substances in his body.“The decision of the judge is fair. The section for drug possession car-ries a potential jail term of five to 10 years, so you can say he got off lightly with only six,” said the ser-geant, who asked not to be named.“I heard some other celebrities are using drugs. I hope they con-sider what has happened to Ye Dike and avoid using drugs completely.”The trial took longer than ex-pected because most defence wit-nesses failed to appear as sched-uled, he said.“On November 12, November 26 and December 2 the defence wit-nesses were absent.”Director Nyi Nyi Zaw, who had  worked frequently with Ye Dike on movies produced by Satori Films, said the decision was unfair and the defence was planning to appeal.He said the judge had not taken the defence witnesses seriously.“The judge thought that because he is an actor people love him and they were willing to lie at the trial. The judge thought the witnesses  were fake,” Nyi Nyi Zaw said.Even if the actor does have to serve the six-year term, Nyi Nyi Zaw said Satori would welcome him back into their films.“Ye Dike is a good person and has done a lot for the public. He does not deserve this punishment.” After the sentencing, some of the actor’s fans said they thought he had got a lengthier term because police  wanted to use him as an example.“I’m very sad for Ye Dike,” said Ma Phue Phue, 23. “I think he was sacrificed for all of the drug-using celebrities as a way for the authori-ties to say they will take action against anyone, no matter how fa-mous they are.”
Govt accuses Britain of interfering in Rakhine
PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson U Ye Htut has accused Britain of interfering in Myanmar’s internal affairs after it summoned the Myanmar ambassador in an effort to convince the government to allow humanitarian aid activities to resume in Rakhine State.“The president has already ex-plained to the secretary general of the UN [Ban Ki-moon] that the govern-ment has taken the necessary meas-ures to ensure the safety and protec-tion of all international organisations [working in Rakhine State],” U Ye Htut said. “So we don’t need to say anything more.”U Ye Htut, who is also a deputy min-ister for information, also took issue  with Britain’s usage of the term “Roh-ingya” in a statement issued following the meeting with the ambassador.He said no official documents from the British colonial period had ever re-ferred to Muslims in Rakhine State as Rohingya.“It’s unreasonable for the British to now urge recognition of the term,” he said. “It appears they are trying to in-tervene in our internal affairs and we don’t accept it.” Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire summoned ambassador U Kyaw Zwar Minn on April 7 to discuss the continued restrictions on aid or-ganisations working in Rakhine State. On February 28 the government or-dered Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to leave the state, while mob violence in March forced aid workers to flee.The UK said this meant that an al-ready “dire” situation had deteriorated further. “[H]undreds of thousands of vulner-able people in Rakhine, mainly from the Rohingya community, are not re-ceiving vital medical and humanitarian aid,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for Interna-tional Development said in a statement released after the meeting. The statement added that Mr Swire had pressed Myanmar to “urgently to restore humanitarian access to all communities in need, and to ensure the security of humanitarian aid work-ers and all communities in Rakhine State”.
Ye Dike stages a bizarre protest at St Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Yangon in May 2013.
Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing
Conflict in Kachin State will make it difficult for government to stop exports to China, experts say 

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