Gas pipeline bursts after leak neglected for months..,3 months after 1,000 shops burn in Moulmein, plans for replacement market announced

On February 19th, Lieutenant General Tha Aye from the Moulmain-based Southeast Command (SEC) called a meeting at the Mon State Peace and Development Council office to discuss the contract. According to sources close to the process as well as shop owners, business people, the SEC and officers from the Moulmein Development Affairs Department attended the meeting. .. continue
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He added the KSPP will be registered as an official political party once the ruling junta authorizes forming political parties in the country soon to allow contesting the 2010 general elections in keeping with the junta’s seven-step roadmap to so-called disciplined-democracy.

At the moment, the KSPP is not an official political party. However the KSIC members have travelled to different areas of Kachin State and mobilised people to participate in the 2010 elections, according to people in Kachin State.

Dr. Manam Tu Ja said, people of different races and political parties in Kachin State can join the KSPP but they must leave their organizations.

The KSIC chairman Dr. Manam Tu Ja totally denied the news written by Yin Yin (Naypyitaw) on January 26— stating that he was a member playing a leading role in the Canada-based United Democratic Party of Myanmar (UDP), chaired by Kyaw Myint, also known as Michael Hua Hu which will contest the 2010 elections in Burma.

Dr. Tu Ja said, he was invited to join the UDP in November last year by U Ye Htoon, vice-chairman of UDP based in Burma’s former capital Rangoon over telephone but he rejected the offer. Since then, he has had no links or communication with the UDP, added Dr. Tu Ja. continue

Burmese PM Agrees to Election Monitors

Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein reportedly said he would allow United Nations officials and developed countries to monitor the military-sponsored 2010 election during a meeting with his counterpart Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at the Asean Summit in Thailand.

The Burmese junta will allow United Nations officials to observe its long-awaited general election next year, the Thailand-based Bangkok Post newspaper said on Sunday.

The newspaper quoted Thai deputy government spokesman Suphachai Jaisamut who said Thein Sein told PM Abhisit Vejjajiva that Burma would allow UN special Burma envoy Ibrahim Gambari and the UN staff to observe the election.

Burma also wanted observers from developed countries to monitor the election, the newspaper reported. No countries were named.

The move was seen by some as an effort to move the momentum for the election forward, in the face of strong criticism from democracy groups inside and outside Burma.

“Before we even talk about monitoring the election, there has to be a constitutional review; there has to be a release of [political] prisoners,” said Debbie Stothard, the coordinator of the Alternative Asean Network, speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday. “There has to be freedom of association and freedom of expression.”

“Otherwise, there is no free and fair [election]—there is no need to hold an election,” she said.

Meanwhile, many Burmese opposition groups have said they will not take part in the election unless the recently approved constitution is reviewed and amended.

The National League of Democracy (NLD), Burma’s main opposition party, has declared it will not take part in the election unless the regime releases all political prisoners, starts a dialogue between pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi and the junta’s leader and reviews the 2008 constitution.

Recently, the NLD said it did not agree with a joint-statement by UN special envoy Gambari and Japan Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, saying international countries should encourage the Burmese junta to hold general elections in 2010 in a form that would be accepted by the international community.

Nyan Win, an NLD spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy that the joint statement was not consistent with NLD positions as well as resolutions by the UN General Assembly which honor the 1990 election results, which were not implemented by the military regime.


“We want to send a strong signal that we are anti-protectionist,” Thai Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu told Asia Times Online. “We see what other countries are doing and we want to signal that while other countries are looking out for themselves – in ASEAN we are helping each other out.”

While ASEAN’s anti-protectionism line was clear, mixed messages were rife from individual countries. For instance, it was reported this month that Indonesian civil servants were ordered by the Trade Ministry to buy and use domestic products. Smaller economies such as Cambodia and Laos have long had “buy local” campaigns in place.

It was only a little over two years ago that Thailand imposed capital controls on foreign equity, currency and bond transactions, in a surprise market intervention aimed at curbing the appreciation of the local currency, the baht. In fact, ASEAN’s much-touted new charter, ratified in December, includes no mechanisms to stop or punish member countries from implementing protectionist policies.

In an interview with local media last week, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said it was perfectly normal for countries to protect their domestic industries during an economic slowdown. Abdullah, however, modified his stance in the summit’s press finale on Sunday, saying: “All of us are of the same mind: we are anti-protectionist. Countries that are saying ‘buy us’, countries that are engaging in protectionism – we want to engage with them.” continue

Myanmar to celebrate 150th anniversary establishment of 2nd largest city

Myanmar will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of its second largest city of Mandalay in the north in mid-May this year, the local Weekly Eleven reported Monday.

The five-day festive event, which runs from May 15 to 19, will be mainly held at the Sports Ground at the foot of Mandalay Hill with market festival and entertainment programs attached, the Mandalay City Development Committee was quoted as saying.

Besides, literature contest, costume contest featuring ancient Yadanabon era and Myanmar traditional boxing contest will also be added for the event, it said.

State radio and television and local Mandalay FM radio station will telecast live the event, the report added.

As a pre-activity of the festive event, Mandalay local musicians and vocalists will also stage performances including opera show at the Mandalay National Theater from April 3 to 5 and featuring Myanmar traditional culture, earlier report said. continue

Thailand considering social security for foreign workers

BANGKOK, March 2 (TNA) – The Cabinet is expected to consider recommendations to extend social security benefits to registered foreign workers in May, Minister of Labour Phaithoon Kaeothong said on Monday, noting that at present the privilege is given by the government and enjoyed only by Thai workers.

Mr. Phaithoon will invite labour officials nationwide to meet later this month to compile the numbers of foreign workers in their provinces so that welfare can be extended to registered workers.

If privileges are offered to foreign workers in the same manner as Thai workers, Mr. Phaithoon said, he believed crimes committed by alien workers against their Thai employers as well as diseases brought by them into the country would be reduced.

Unofficial statistics estimate that there are between one to two million foreign workers in Thailand, with only about 500,000 officially registered. The balance are illegal.

Surveys indicating the number of foreign workers are to be carried out nationwide, Mr. Phaitoon said, after which solutions to problems will be discussed in April with recommendations expected to be sent to the Cabinet in May for approval.

The recommendations, if Cabinet-approved, will become law automatically. (TNA)

The EU has included some of the Burmese resorts that are connected to the junta on a black list. The UK government, however, failed to correctly implement this European Council”s Regulation and therefore it is not possible to punish the UK companies for not respecting it. Some of the tour operators claim they did not even know about such a ban.

02 March 2009

EU regulation bans business contacts with Burmese tourism facilities that are connected to the military regime. Some UK tour operators, however, do not respect this regulation.

Tourism Concern, an independent organization that fights exploitation in tourism, claims over 24 UK tour operators have business links to Burmese tourism facilities linked to the repressive military junta. The organization warns that as a consequence the industry generates funds for the country’s regime. Some of the tourism resorts are said to have been built by slave labor. Because of the construction of these resorts people allegedly lost their homes and were forcibly displaced with no or just minimum compensation.
The EU has included some of the Burmese resorts that are connected to the junta on a black list. The UK government, however, failed to correctly implement this European Council”s Regulation and therefore it is not possible to punish the UK companies for not respecting it. Some of the tour operators claim they did not even know about such a ban. The regulation forbids to knowingly provide direct or indirect financial benefits to the regime or regime associates.
The Burmese tourism industry is a slowly developing sector of the country’s economy yet it is an important source of revenue for the government. The government is also the main developer in this area, nevertheless, there are also private businesses as well as foreign investors involved. In 2007 the industry generated US$182 million.
Not everyone is, however, keen on further isolating the country. A charity group called Network Myanmar opposes the idea. According to Network Myanmar leader Derek Tonkin tourism industry helps people in Burma to fight poverty by creating jobs. They also believe that further development of tourism would help to provoke a democratic reform in Burma. There comes the dilemma, should we take job opportunities from the Burmese people to punish their cruel leaders?

The future of the Global Fund against AIDS etc in Burma / Myanmar

by thehimmoderator on Mon 02 Mar 2009 20:17 MMT
Both the original Xinhua report and the consequent article in the Irrawaddy sound similar. They make it sound as if the Global Fund needs to decide whether to come back to Myanmar. As long as the Country Coordinating Mechanism is compliant with Global Fund specifications, the Technical Review Panel approves the proposal, and one Principal Recipient passes an assessment, a Round 9 Global Fund grant will be made. The [him] moderator predicts that it will. And last week’s visits are just a small part of the process.

[him] moderator