MONDAY, February 2, 2015
A weekly publication of The Nation
Connectivity promises
Consumers stand to benefit from fierce competition in the telecom industry, as prices drop amid expansion of service coverage areas
communication. Today, the need is significantly higher, and this comes at a
lower price. Moreover, prices will be
going down,” said Petter Furberg, CEO
of Telenor Myanmar.
Voice data now accounts for a significant revenue stream for Telenor, but
over time, Internet usage is expected to
rise, thanks to the growing number of
smartphones, Furberg said.
Cormack added that at the start, telecommunications connects job-seekers
with new opportunities and links fami-
talent already exists. We understand
the government’s vision and are just
as passionate as they are about
bringing the benefits of mobile technology to Myanmar. We are committed to enabling human growth
through affordable and easy access
to mobile technology. We are more
than just a telco. Through creative
and innovative solutions, developed
in partnership with local people, government and businesses, we offer
underserved communities the oppor-
THE days when a SIM card could
cost as much as US$200 are gone following the liberalisation of the telecom
industry, which welcomed two new
players – Ooredoo and Telenor– into
the country.
Three weeks after its service launch
on August 15, 2014, Ooredoo Myanmar,
based in Qatar, sold 1 million SIM
cards. Unveiling its services
on September 27, Telenor
Myanmar, a Norwegian
company, sold 2 million SIM
cards, priced as low as
Ks 1,500 (US$1.5), in five
weeks. Following the emergence of these two foreign
telecom providers, Myanma
Posts and
Telecommunications (MPT)
– the state-owned and only
service provider until 2014
– recently lowered its service fees.
Aside from cheaper service fees, the new telecom
players have opened up
new communication possibilities within Myanmar and
While MPT’s network is
now the most extensive,
Ooredoo and Telenor are
expanding quickly.
As of January 15, 2015,
the Qatari firm has covered
six regions and three states
– Yangon Region, Bago
Region, Mandalay Region,
Magway Region, Sagaing
Telenor’s service launch has attracted a large number of customers.
Region, Ayeyarwady
Region, Mon State, Shan
lies who are separated by geography.
tunity to access vital information and
State, and Kayin State. Telenor’s coverservices, such as banking, healthcare
age areas this year will cover Mandalay, Mobile communications enables
teachers to access learning resources
and education via their mobile
Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw, Magway and
while enabling farmers to track market phones,” Cormack noted.
demand, and entrepreneurs to con“Better networks help people do
“At the time of our launch, we covnect with new suppliers. Meanwhile,
business, get in touch with friends and
ered 15 per cent of the overall populayoung talent are eager to deploy
family. In time, this will drive economic
tion. By the end of last year, we manmobile technology to develop new
growth,” Furberg added.
aged to expand our network coverage
businesses and kick-start social develto 40 per cent. By the end of 2015, we
expect to cover 80 per cent of the popOoredoo recently hosted a connectulation. Within five years, we expect to
Optimism is high despite challenges
ing women conference with the GSM
cover 97 per cent of the population,”
that the newcomers have yet to overAssociation in Yangon that focused on
said Ooredoo Myanmar’s chief execucome.
using technology to empower women
tive officer Ross Cormack.
Telenor’s major challenge lies in the
and spur female participation in
process or acquiring permits.
Myanmar’s tech scene.
“It’s a bit difficult in Myanmar to get
“We are passionate about inclu“Myanmar is not different from any
permits as it’s completely new to
sive development, ensuring that this
part of the world in terms of need for
them,” Furberg said. He estimated that
is not centred in urban areas, where
■ Hiccups at the start
■ Growth drivers
over 100 applications are needed to get
permits for the construction of telecom
towers, posing an obstacle for new
players, who were obligated to start
service within eight months after the
licences were awarded in February
He experienced progress in this
area, though. The permit-granting process is getting faster and more professional. Moreover, about 100 local companies involved in the construction are
becoming familiar with the process and
more capable of carrying
out their tasks in the
speedy way.
In 2014, 250 towers
were constructed. Telenor
aims to construct 250-300
monthly in 2015, but that
depends on weather and
geographical conditions.
“I’m not saying it’s easy.
But mostly, things go as
planned,” Furberg said.
At Ooredoo, in the first
couple weeks of construction, the companyfaced a
shortage of steel. It became
necessary to import steel
along with other components that were not available in the country, such as
“The country’s existing
infrastructure has required
some innovative solutions.
Seventy per cent of the
population does not have
access to electric power, so
a large percentage of our
towers will need generators,” Cormack added.
“There are brown-outs
even in the cities, and
there isn’t any power at all
in most of the rural areas, so you need
a mix of green power and diesel. You
then need a small army of people to
maintain the generators.”
The sheer size of the country is
another challenge to the new telecom
providers. Myanmar is twice the size of
the Phillippines, but road connectionsare poor. Off-road tracks are waterlogged during rainy season, and the
rain itself slows down construction
“But all of this is known to the people
living in the country, and our great people have been, and continue to be, the
biggest asset in helping us navigate ourselves through this,” Cormack noted.
Achara Deboonme
Khine Kyaw
✪ Continued on Page 4
MYANMAR IN FOCUS, Monday, February 2, 2015
Myanmar starting to veer from the
path to democracy: Freedom House
Nay Htun Naing
THE latest report released by the
Freedom House on January 28 says
that Myanmar, which has only partly
abandoned military rule, began to veer
from the path to democracy.
The report emphasised that
Myanmar’s civil liberties rating
declined from 5 to 6 due to restriction
on media freedom, including the arrest
and imprisonment of a number of journalists.
The report also highlighted that
journalists and demonstrators faced
greater restrictions; the minority continued to suffer from violence and official discrimination and proposed laws
as national safeguarding law.
Meanwhile, the report said that
India, Japan, and Indonesia in the AsiaPacific region went to the polls in 2014,
handing their leaders strong mandates
through what were largely open and
fair electoral processes. But in
Thailand, in which the military ousted
an elected government, suspended the
constitution, and implemented martial
law restrictions that drastically rolled
back political rights and civil liberties.
The annual report scored points
from 1 to 7 [good to bad] on political
rights and civil liberties in 195 countries around the world and Myanmar
scored point 6 on political rights.
According to the report, the ranking
grade for freedom of political rights in
Asean countries such as Brunei,
Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand is
No 6; Vietnam and Laos at No 7 and
Malaysia and Singapore are No 4; the
Philippines is at the No 3 position and
Indonesia is at No 2 position and it
has the most freedom in political
rights among the rest of the Asean
Last December, the report of the
France-based Reporters Without
Borders said Myanmar Media freedom
seems to be improving but it is still on
its watch list.
Meanwhile, Myanmar is on the list
of the top 10 worst jailers of journalists in 2014, according to the
Committee to Protect Journalists,
coming in eighth with 10 journalists
languishing in jail. Transparency
International’s global corruption
report said that Myanmar is one of the
worst corrupt countries in Asean.
Forbes magazine once labelled
Myanmar as the hardest place to do
Military wants ethnic MPs to join charter talks
Military members of Parliament
have suggested that more MPs representing ethnic minorities and minority
political parties should be involved in
political dialogues, which will lead to
changes in the 2008 Constitution.
In the suggestion sent to the
Speaker of the House of Nationalities,
MP Banyar Aung Moe said, “The sixparty talks will be about amending
Section 436. If we can amend the section, it will be easy for the amendments of other sections. If we cannot
amend all sections in this parliamentary term, we will continue to do it in
the next.”
Section 436 demands approval
from more than 75 per cent of MPs.
Banyar Aung Moe suggested the
amendment can be approved by two
thirds of representatives.
Twenty-five parliamentary seats are
now controlled by the military. Earlier,
military MPs showed their opposition
to the amendments before the 2005
general election.
Brig-General Kyaw Lwin Oo said:
“Candidates from over 100 ethnic
groups cannot be represented in the
political dialogue, and it is not
respectful to appoint just one representative for all ethnic groups. At
least a representative from each of
the seven major ethnics groups
should be included in the political
MP Myint Tun of the ruling Union
Solidarity and Development Party
(USDP) also backed the modification of Section 436.
Parliament has so far tried to hold
a six-party talks to win supports for
the amendment process.
President Thein Sein only gave a
conditional response to the invitation.
Aung San Suu Kyi
in Parliament.
In his letter to Union Parliament
Speaker Thura Shwe Mann,
President Thein Sein said, “Such a
meeting would be good as long as it
represents all people, including civic
organisations and political forces.”
The meeting would involve the
president, the lower house speaker,
the upper house speaker, the chairperson of the National League of
Democracy (NLD), a representative
for all ethnic groups and the commander-in-chief of the defence services in order to discuss amending
the constitution to make it more
applicable to the current state of
affairs in Myanmar.
NLD chairperson Aung San Suu
Kyi last week renewed the push for
the discussion.
“We should hold the talks.
Whether it is held or not depends on
the president. But I want to be clear.
I think it should happen sooner rather than later. In a democracy, the
government must welcome such discussion,” she said.
Myint Tun also said that the talk
must take place as soon as possible.
“The situation will be better if six
leaders discuss the future of the
country,” he said.
“All seem to accept their instructions. Six-party talks will allow more
discussion as there are fewer people
to be heard.
“The talks would not need to last
more than five minutes. The
Commander-in-Chief of the defence
services would only take 10 minutes
to attend the talks. It needs to be
held once every week or two. If they
want to invite ethnic representatives,
they can invite them. But if more
people are involved in these political
talks, there will be no warmth. It
would be better for the country if all
parties were friendly. The whole
country is expecting it.”
Khin Aung Myint, Speaker of
House of Nationalities, instructed
the MPs to submit the points they
want to discuss at the six-party talks
before January 24.
The Constitutional Review Joint
Committee will soon submit a bill to
amend the Constitution, after winning
supports from 20 per cent of MPs,
according to committee secretary Aye
MYANMAR IN FOCUS, Monday, February 2, 2015
A pragmatic solution needed
to solve rape-murder cases
and conclusive.
The above-mentioned points show
that it is very difficult to adjudicate servicemen for committing offences with
the laws related to civilians. It seems
that the military is in a position to indirectly (not even directly) adjudicate
military personnel for committing
crimes. Organisations monitoring rape
and murder cases in ethnic areas also
view this as an obstacle.
What we are sure is that not only the
government but also the military are
responsible for the case of the slain
Kachin women. Both need to help in
clearing public doubts.
Nay Htun Naing
Crime scene
Kaungkhar village in Nant Taung village-tract – the area where the tragedy
took place – is located between Muse
and Monekoe and only 10 miles away
from the Muse 105th Mile trade hub.
The area is within the reach of the
rule of law. It is also located by the
tarred road where the military columns
Tarnished image
The church’s vicinity with the teachers’ house in the red circle.
used to pass through.
Further, troops from No.503 Infantry
Regiment under the North-East
Command arrived on the morning of
January 19 and spent the night in
Kaungkhar Village at the time of the
That is why the soldiers from the
regiment were suspected.
It is usual the military fell under suspicion whenever a rape-and-murder
case occurred in ethnic regions since
such grisly crime is seldom among the
ethnic nationals.
There is only one organisation
accused by ethnic nationals when such
incidents occurred under the title
‘Ethnic Cleansing’ and thus, the military is at the centre of accusations.
It is no doubt that the military was
near the crime scene. Troops were
staying in the houses no more than
200 feet from the crime scene.
Moreover, locals said servicemen
already stood by for security in hillocks
near the church where the crime
occurred since the military column
Moreover, such a case was unheard
of in Kaungkhar Village until now.
Some locals are also held suspects.
Two men reportedly came to stay in a
house about 70 feet away from the
scene. Yet, given that 30 out of 40 suspects were servicemen, it seems reasonable for ethnic nationals to suspect
the military.
Women’s League Burma (WBL) – an
institution comprised of 13 ethnic
female organisations – issued a report
‘If they had hope, they would speak’
which revealed that the military is
responsible for several sexual violence
cases and gang rapes that occurred in
conflict areas.
It continued that most of 104 sexual
abuses against women and girls happening in the last three years – after
the 2010 general election and January
2014 – in ethnic regions were related to
the military offences.
From January to June last year, WLB
released series of reports on military
involvement in sexual violence cases in
ethnic areas. It said there were 14 gang
rapes in those areas within six months.
Such cases occurred in Kachin State,
northern Shan State, and border states
such as Kachin State, Kayah State,
Kayin State, Mon State and Chin State.
All those states except Kayin State
faced cases of sexual violence until
2014, according to WLB.
In the 2008 constitution, Section
293 (a) under Chapter (6) ‘Judiciary’
says that Courts-Martial can be
formed. Meanwhile, Section 319 states
that according to Sub-section (b) of
Section 293, the Courts-Martial shall
be constituted in accord with the constitution and the other law and shall
adjudicate Defence Service personnel.
Section 343 under Chapter (7)
‘Defence Services’ also stipulates that
in the adjudication of military justice:
(a) The Defence Services personnel
may be administered in accord with
law collectively or singly;
(b) The decision of the Commanderin-Chief of the Defence Services is final
NOBODY denies that the process to
investigate the rape and murders of two
Kachin teachers is complicated, especially when it involves public doubt in
the Myanmar army.
On the night of January 19, two
young female volunteers from Kachin
Baptist Convention (KBC) were brutally
raped and killed in Kaungkhar village,
Pan Sai Township, Muse District in
northern Shan State. The teachers,
both 20, were sent there by the KBC, a
religious organisation which is influential over Kachin nationals and Kachin
Independence Organisation.
They are not the first. There were
many instances of ethnic women being
raped and murdered in conflict regions
in the past. Cases of physical assaults
were also common. As such, the case
concerns not only Kachin nationals but
all the ethnicities living in Myanmar.
The rapist of a Peruvian woman in
Kyaikthiyo faced 43-year jail term.
Another culprit of an attempted rape
case over an American woman was
sentenced to life imprisonment. The
proceedings of these cases finished in
no time. Both of the offenders faced
with the penalties much heavier than
their actions.
But the case of the two Kachin
teachers will be more than an ordinary
criminal case, as there are doubts if
soldiers were involved. Besides Kachin
organisations, civil society organisations have called for a probe into the
case. The US Department of State also
weighed in and called on Myanmar to
bring the perpetrators to justice on
January 21.
A case has been filed under Section
302 of murder charge at Kyugoke
Police Station, Pan Sai Township for
the case of two Kachin volunteers.
Ten civilians and 30 soldiers from
No. 503 Infantry Regiment under the
North-East Command were questioned
because the women were raped and
murdered while the regiment was stationed in the village. Required forensic
tests were conducted as well. Still, it is
yet to identify the offenders.
Raping and killing ethnic women in
the ethnic regions has become a tradition.
In 1988, rapes and murders of
female students reinforced the prodemocracy uprising. The murder of the
two Kachin nationals could spark
another uproar, given that they were
teachers. They came from afar for the
education of needy people. When compared with the cases of giving a 43
years’ imprisonment and a life sentence for raping female foreigners, the
rape and murder of the two Kachin
teachers is far worse.
The military is notorious for two
things - recruitments of child soldiers
and alleged sexual molestation of ethnic women.
The military has admitted to the
issue of child soldiers and some have
been released from service. As a result,
criticism of the military for that has
reduced. But it has yet to admit to sexual assaults. Ethnic women organisations say with evidence that such cases
exist in the country.
The issue of the two murdered
teachers has something to do with the
image of the military. If military personnel were involved in the case, severe
and effective action must be taken. It is
the issue related to all ethnic people,
not Kachin alone. The culprits must be
exposed and a pragmatic solution
needs to be sought. Punitive action
must be taken against whosoever. The
case should not become like Par Gyi
case - the beating and murder of a
freelance journalist where the military
was accused to have involved- that
could not yield any satisfactory results
for the public.
Both the government and military
have responsibility to expose the perpetrators regardless of whoever has
committed. Only when they are brought
to justice would the public regain trust.
MYANMAR IN FOCUS, Monday, February 2, 2015
Rakhine students join protest
against National Education Law
Myo Min Tun, vice chairman of
the Rakhine State Student Union.
Some critics have pointed out
that the education system in
Rakhine State has deteriorated
MORE than 1,000 Rakhine
and that exam results in the
students took to the streets last
state remain below the national
week to protest against the
National Education Law, ahead
Thousands of high-school stuof the discussion between students and residents of
dent leaders and the governKyautpadaung Township also
ment on Sunday.
showed their support for the stuThey plan to continue the
dent march, as it reached the
protest if the discussion does
town on Thursday. The students
not yield satisfactory results.
were briefly stopped by police
The protest, starting at 9am,
last week, but the barriers were
ended at about 3pm.
lifted amid growing public
They echoed the four-point
demand that students across
“Most students want to carry
the country have been demandon the march to Yangon thanks
ing since the movement against
to public support,” said Thant
the law renewed on January 20.
Zin, a protester.
They ask the authorities to
Student leader Min Thwe Thit
establish an education system
Students from Sittwe Township, Rakhine State, jointly protest against National Education Law.
said “The authorities, including
that treats all students equally;
Minister Aung Min, have threatened to
to have ethnic minority languages
As students and villagers march
Law enacted by the government will
use Section 144 against the protesters.
included in school curricula; to extend
from Mandalay to Yangon, which are
lead to centralisation of the education
But the march will continue.”
compulsory free education to the mid570km in distance, the authorities
system. Moreover, the law also curbs
Members of Free Funeral Service
dle school level; and to allow student
agreed last week for a talk.
the freedom of students. We hope to
Society also joined the protest.
“We believe the National Education
educate the public about the law,” said
Than Hlaing
■ MPT’s response
Khin MaungTun, general manager
of MPT and deputy chief executive
officer of MPT-KDDI-Sumitomo joint
operations, said MPT has avoided
fuelling competition, as this may lead
all to failure.
“We want to create a win-win situation. As we really want market stability, we remain and retain our dialing
price at 35 Ks per minute [while other
operators charge 25 Ks per minute],”
he said.
Yet, MPT does not stand idle.
Khin MuangTun added that MPT
has executed a series of reforms. For
example, the data activation fee, levied on internet access, of Ks 10,000
was waived. In cooperation with
SweThahar, since January 12, customers can enjoy better call and SMS
rates plus faster internet speed.
“We are expanding our network
coverage to cover the whole country,
and we aim to provide the best service
quality through our largest network. At
the same time, we are increasing
capacity and quality for the benefit of
the users,” he said, adding that the
telecom industry is just in its infant
stage here.
Last July, MPT also signed a joint
operation agreement with Japanese
mobile carrier KDDI Corp and trading
house Sumitomo Corp. The joint operations started on September 12.
According to Takashi Nagashima,
CEO of MPT-KDDI-Sumitomo joint
operations, the network improvement
plan kicked off on November 6. The
capacity of congested 3G sites in
Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw was expanded. Capacity of those sites is now
about 50 per cent higher than before
November 6.
He added that the capacity and
coverage will be boosted nationwide.
By the end of March 2015, the number
of 3G sites will double. In the Yangon
area, the total 3G network capacity
will almost triple. MPT is also testing
the 3G network technology to allow
better data service.
“We have planned to accelerate
geographic coverage and reach more
than 70 per cent by 2016.By mid2015, almost 100 per cent of MPT networks will be covered with 3G,” said
“We currently stand as the numberone telecom operator in Myanmar. We
are more than willing to maintain our
standing in the future. We will try our
best to satisfy customers by expansion
of coverage and capacity. We cannot
say how much we have invested for the
joint operations so far,but we are committed to investing US$2 billion over
ten years,” he added.
■ Black market
Since September, MPT,whose network covers 70 per cent of the country’s area, has sold 5 million SIM
cards. Its SIM cards and top-up cards
are now available in tens of thousands
of points of sales.
Ooredoo plans to keep selling more
than 1 million SIM cards per month,
while Telenor is pumping out 1.5 mil-
ered by mobile phone networks. In
the uncovered areas, SIM cards are
still sold at a premium, as some people still want to be the first,” he said.
One of
hundreds of
towers being
built in the
past year.
■ Looking ahead
✪ Continued from page 1
lion SIM cards on a monthly basis,
which are available at 17,000 vendors.
Demand is huge. Telenor sold 521,000
SIM cards on the day of its debut in
Both Cormack and Furberg are
confident that they have enough
capacity to satisfy demand, but their
SIM cards are still sold at a premium
in some parts of the country.
Furberg noted that this would soon
be over. It took only three years for
SIM card prices to fall from $200 to
“It will take a while to reach out to
all who are not used to buying their
own SIM cards. Before, due to the
high prices, they had to win a lottery
to get a SIM card. Meanwhile, the
entire area of Myanmar is not yet cov-
Noting that competition is always
good for customers who have more
choices of mobile technology and
internet service, Cormack sees
immense opportunity. Ooredoo’s 3G
network is ready to deliver 4G when
the time comes.
Ooredoohas set its sights on bridging Myanmar’s gender gap in technology and promoting the female digital
economy through a variety of initiatives, including the Connected
Women’s Conference in October
&Ideabox’s Geek Girls community,
which spurs female development in
Myanmar’s tech revolution. Looking
beyond Myanmar’s towns and cities,
this is also about educating people,
particularly low income and rural
communities, about the benefits of
technology, of being connected and of
digital inclusion.
“We saw a great opportunity to
break down the barriers that were preventing people from accessing these
services, and getting online,” Cormack
said, adding that Ooredoo is materialising the government’s aim to leapfrog
their country technologically, socially
and economically.
“Over a year ago, around 10 per cent
of the country’s population was estimated to have mobile-phone access.
Ooredoo has committed to making this
97 per cent in five years’ time.”
US $
Euro ¤
Singapore $
Source: KBZ Bank
MYANMAR IN FOCUS, Monday, February 2, 2015
Myanmar ranked 161st
freest economy in world
WITH a score of 46.9 in the Heritage
Foundation’s “Index of Economic
Freedom 2015”, Myanmar needs to
improve many areas of its economy to
keep up with countries in the region
and the world.
Myanmar’s score is well below the
regional average of 58.8 and the world
average of 60.4, ranking it the 161st freest economy in the world.
Published in cooperation with Wall
Street Journal, the report ranked
Myanmar 38th out of 42 countries in
the Asia-Pacific region.
However, the overall score is a 0.4point improvement over last year.
There has been improvement in five of
the 10 economic freedoms – including
freedom from corruption, labour and
monetary. The economy, however, saw
substantial decline in control over government spending.
“Over the past five years, economic
freedom in Burma has advanced by
about 9.0 points, the second-best
improvement among graded countries.
From a low base, Burma has made considerable strides in liberalising its
economy and opening itself to the outside world. Gains in eight of the 10 economic freedoms include greater price
stability and double-digit improve-
ments in labour freedom and investment freedom,” the report said.
“Nevertheless, Burma remains a
“repressed” economy due to years of
state intervention, poor institutional
structures, and autarkic investment
and financial regimes. To solidify and
build on the past half-decade’s gains,
the government must continue its
reform agenda with particular emphasis on stamping out corruption, enforcing property rights, creating an independent judiciary, and further opening
up the economy to the international
marketplace,” it added.
The report noted that rule of law and
protection of property rights are weak.
“Judicial decisions are often influenced by government interference, per-
Index of Economic Freedom
sonal relationships, or bribes.”
Meanwhile, overall tax revenue is
less than 5 per cent of gross domestic
product, while public expenditure
amounted to 27.2 per cent of the
domestic economy. Public debt is now
around 43 per cent of total domestic
Due to low tax revenue, the government has limited capacity to spend.
Myanmar’s top individual income
tax rate is 20 per cent, and its top corporate tax rate is 30 per cent.
The report further stated that significant bureaucratic impediments to
entrepreneurial activity and economic
development persist. The labour market remains underdeveloped, and
enforcement of labour codes is ineffective. The informal sector continues to
be an important source of employment.
While the country showed no change
in the score for investment and financial freedom, its trade freedom
improved. Myanmar’s average tariff
rate is 3.2 per cent though some
imports face additional restrictions.
“The financial system remains
underdeveloped, and the banking sector is dominated by state-owned banks.
Most loans are directed to governmentled projects, and access to credit
remains very poor,” the report
CHD Bank offers
home loans
at 13% interest
The Construction and Housing
Development Bank is now offering loans to
home buyers and builders at 12 per cent
interest plus a one per cent service fee.
“We are financing both buyers and
builders. Savings accounts must be opened
at the bank to apply for a 13 per cent interest
loan. Some purchasing documentation from
both parties [buyers and sellers] is required
to get a loan approved,” an official from the
bank said. The bank has not put a limit on
loan amounts for individual borrowers, but it
will consider each borrower’s credit limit.
“Those who are building homes can
apply for equity loans as well. Property must
be used as collateral. Loan terms will be
between one and three years. We are not
giving out loans to buyers who are
purchasing units that are listed as having
been developed by the government,” the
banker continued.
The banker said that they know the
financing period seems short, but in the
future, when they work together with foreign
banks for financial assistance, they promise
to provide long-term loans. Roughly Ks 1.5
billion has been lent to borrowers. The CHD
bank, directly supervised by the Ministry of
Construction, was licensed by the Central
Bank of Myanmar last July in accordance
with financial rules and regulations.
National Trade Portal to be launched online this year
A view of the Boaungkyaw Harbour.
Both locals and foreigners have
reported Myanmar’s trade and tax
rules to be difficult to understand.
“Ministries have weak cooperation
with the private sector. So I welcome
the idea of three trade portal. There
are some regulations that are hard to
To guarantee transparency and
clarify the complicated rules and
procedures related to trade, a website called National Trade Portal is
set to launch at the end of 2015,
according to the Ministry of
“We will provide data regarding
exports and imports and taxes, as
well as information released by other
ministries. It is under mapping now,”
said an official from the ministry.
The United States Agency for
International Development lent
expertise to the development of this
The website is meant to be a onestop source of extensive data regarding tax amounts, tax-free goods, tax
exemptions and need updates.
The National Trade Portal will be
connected to the Asean Trade Portal.
“The National Single Window will
be connected with the Asean Single
Window, and the information will be
offered in both English and Myanmar.
We’ve gathered the required data for
now,” the official added.
understand, even for a local businessman. It will also help build mutual trust between the government and
the private sector,” said a private
business owner.
The trade information on the portal website will be shared with the
World Trade Organisation in order to
ensure transparency.
Many believe Myanmar can boost
its service sector by offering clearer
rules on foreign investments and
developing the local business environment.
MYANMAR IN FOCUS, Monday, February 2, 2015
Red Dot plans nationwide e-top-up service
RED Dot Network, a mobile phone
service provider in Myanmar, plans to
expand the country’s first top-up service nationwide in the near future.
Andy Whelan, chief marketing officer, said the firm wanted to become the
foremost provider of electronic top-up
service and payment solutions in the
The pioneering system of Red Dot
represents the first step by a large
retailer in Myanmar to diversify from
the old, cumbersome scratch-cards.
The new service was initially launched
at all branches of Orange Supermarket
in Yangon on January 22, allowing
users of Ooredoo, Telenor, MPT and
MEC devices to top up on mobile
phone credit, using a pin number
printed on a receipt given at checkout
points .
"It is very easy. You can just select
your top-up card from a E-top-up stand
or point of sales and bring it to the
check-out counter. It will be scanned
and you will be given two receipts - one
for the price and the other top-up
instructions with a pin code. Then, you
can just in type in the pin code to top
up," Whelan explained.
Currently, the E-top up system supports Ks 5,000 and Ks 10,000 top-up
denominations for all kinds of SIM
cards in Myanmar, such as MPT,
Telenor, Ooredoo, and MEC. Besides,
Ks 16,000 and Ks 36,000 denominations for RedLink Internet are also
available under E-top up system.
Lower denominations (Ks 1,000 and Ks
3,000 top ups) by MPT, Telenor, and
Ooredoo will also available soon.
An Orange
to use an
Khine Kyaw
"We are thrilled to partner with
Orange in driving retailers’ adoption of
electronic top-up in Myanmar. We have
invited retailers of all sizes to join us as
we work to revolutionise the top-up
process in Myanmar," said Whelan.
To him, Red Dot Network has not
only developed the technology but also
oversaw store installations of the new
service and provided trainings to
Orange Supermarket staff.
Pyae Phyo Latt, merchandising
director of Orange Supermarket, said
that as the first retailer to offer the service, it is delighted to be able to offer
its customers the new top-up experience before it is available at other retail
chains in the country.
SCG offers overseas internship programme to AEC university students
Siam Cement Group (SCG), a leading Asean business conglomerate, has
opened registration for the “SCG
International Internship Programme,
Year 3,” offering students from
Myanmar and other Asean countries
the opportunity to work in Thailand for
the summer of 2015.
This year’s Internship Programme
will have 41 selected participants from
five Asean countries take part in a onemonth internship in Bangkok,
Thailand. Ten students will be selected
from Myanmar.
The programme allows students to
enhance their professional knowledge
and learn skills through best practices
in a dynamic and international work
environment in order to develop themselves in preparation for the Asean
Economic Community (AEC).
Students who participate in the program will not only improve their work
competencies and reap the benefits of
working in a cross-cultural environment; they will also learn about SCG’s
business philosophy, good corporate
governance and sustainable development, which has led the Group to
achieve business sustainability over
the past 100 years.
“The SCG International Internship
Program is one of SCG’s human
resources strategies to prepare for the
coming AEC, which aims to create a
pool of talent for future business expansion in Asean. The programme was
established in 2013, and it is with great
honour that we open the programme to
more students from Myanmar this
year,” said Kiti Madiloggovit, corporate
human resources director of SCG.
“Myanmar is a key growth market
for SCG, and we are delighted to offer
development opportunities for
Myanmar’s next generation,” he added.
The programme is open to
Myanmar third-year university students and students pursuing Master’s
degrees with a major in or related to
Engineering (Mining, Civil, Mechanical,
Electrical, Automation and Control,
Chemical, Industrial, Environmental
Engineering), Business (Business
Administration, Finance, Marketing),
Social Science (Psychology, Political
Science, Social Studies, Economics)
and Law.
Applicants should have a good
command of English and must be able
to participate in the programme in
Thailand from June 15 to July 14.
Airfare and accommodation costs will
be covered, and there will be a daily
allowance provided for the duration of
the programme. There will also be a
certificate of completion given to each
“The internship was one of the
greatest things that happened in my
student life. It was a valuable opportunity for learning and professional
development,” said Ei Ei Thu, a participant in 2014. “I met so many wonderful people while gaining real workplace
experience and learning about SCG’s
products, customer relationships, customer service, digital marketing and
e-commerce, which helped improve
my competencies and my future career
Students will have the opportunity
to learn soft skills, such as presentation and teamwork through specialised training and practical projects.
Participants are each paired with a
senior mentor from SCG, who provides advice and guidance, as well as
one-on-one support. The nature of
the programme allows students to
engage with professionals and other
participants with diverse backgrounds from across Asean. Students
will also visit SCG’s plants across
Interested students can find more
information at
SCGcareer and fill in the application
form at The
deadline is February 14, and shortlisted candidates will be contacted
by March 15 for interviews.
MYANMAR IN FOCUS, Monday, February 2, 2015
Don’t suppress the country’s future
veryone is closely monitoring the
situation of student protest against
the National Education Law as the
era of Thein Sein administration is
nearly at its end and people are beginning to feel their high expectations for
Myanmar ebb away.
Some are concerned about the possibility of an impending uprising, and
many fear that the student protesters
will face a violent crackdown.
The National Education Law is a
one-sided document drawn exclusively
by the authorities. It restricts the freedom of students to form student
unions. Dictators throughout history
have oppressed students and prevented them from organising student
unions. Students learn about politics
through student unions, which strikes
fear in dictators who want to prevent
student uprisings.
In reality, student unions in
Myanmar play the important role of
training students to cooperate and
exchange educational ideas and conduct civil discussions. Students need to
practice this sort of cooperation with
others in preparation for ultimately taking responsibility for running the country. Moreover, student unions are
important because they ensure that
students know their rights and obtain
the awareness necessary to fight for
their rights.Students and student
unions have been an important political
force since Myanmar’s colonial era.
They played a prominent role in opposing the dictatorship of the State Law
and Order Revolutionary Council and in
the era of 88 uprising.
Education can take place peacefully
under peaceful conditions. Students
cannot learn properly under conditions
in which they feel hopeless or stripped
of their rights. Thus, who is responsible
for the students not accepting their
education peacefully?
People who blame the student protesters for today’s political tumult
should remember that if we do not
have student unions or students who
are aware of politics, maintaining the
benefits of independence will be difficult. We will realise the goals of democracy, and we will remain under dictatorship. The authorities should aware that
oppressing students is like oppressing
the future of the country. Students who
are bright and intelligent understand
their rights and will do everything to
preserve them.
Negotiation is always better than the
non-productive confrontation.
Asean, China should seek mutual economic benefit
on trade and investment not
only with China but also
with the United States and
Officials and executives
of the Association of
At this point, however,
Southeast Asian Nations
what is crucial is China’s
agree that there is enornon-economic relations with
mous potential to boost
Asean, at least with memtrade and investment with
bers such as the Philippines
regional economic powerand Vietnam. Michael Yeoh,
house China but that politico-founder and chief execucal and security issues may
tive of the Malaysia-based
be a drag to realising it.
Asian Strategy and
This consensus emerged
Leadership Institute, emphain a packed workshop at
sised that while prospects
Asian Financial Forum 2015
for Asean and its relations
in Hong Kong, where delewith China are getting betgates tackled the topic
ter, it is very important for
“China, Asean and the new
both sides address this
Silk Road”. Connecting the
most critical issue: a peacemassive Chinese economy
ful resolution of the South
with Asean is a new dynamChina Sea row.
ic that will impact the global
Yeoh’s suggestion is for
economic system. Hong
China to show “peace and
Kong is positioning itself as
goodwill” in November,
the bridge between the two
referring to the annual leadmarkets, noting that the
ers’ meeting of the Apec
Asean economy as a trade
(Asia Pacific Economic
bloc is now its second-bigCooperation) in Manila,
gest trading partner
(US$96.3 billion in 2014).
Malaysia Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, centre, speaks to Asean Foreign Ministers and delegates regarding this maritime dispute. “Connectivity, commuAsean itself was ranked
during Asean Foreign Ministers Retreat in Malaysia. The country start its Asean chairmanship in
nity and centrality - China
the seventh biggest econo2015 with the retreat.
should focus on these three
my in the world last year.
Cs with Asean to boost relations with
cooperation between China and South
task and everyone at the forum agreed
With the integration into the Asean
the region,” he added.
and Southeast Asia -is touted to be a
that help from neighbours, especially
Economic Community (AEC), it will be
While Asean stands to gain from
game-changer, with the potential to
China, should be welcomed. Now
the fourth biggest in the world by the
increased ties with China, the Asian
comes China’s New Silk Road project, a alter the regional and global econoend of 2015. China’s trade with Asean
economic giant will also benefit from
mies. Bank Indonesia deputy governor
$40-billion initiative divided into the
grew 8 per cent in 2014, faster than the
building trade and investment relations
Maritime Silk Road (which seeks to link Perry Warjiyo explained how his coun3.4-per cent increase in its trade with
with its neighbours.
try is getting ready, focusing mainly on
various seaports in the region from
the rest of the world, according to Xu
Regional cooperation has proven to
China to Southeast Asia to East Asia all three aspects. The first is to make sure
Ningning, executive president of the
be beneficial in other parts of the
that Indonesia’s economic fundamenthe way to Europe) and the Silk Road
China-Asean Business Council.
globe. China can choose to be a big
tals are strong, with the proper policy
Economic Belt (which seeks to signifiBilateral trade with Asean is projected
partner of Asean in trade and investcantly strengthen economic and cultur- environment. The second involves
to reach $500 billion this year, or a
ments rather than a bully, as it is being
structural reforms to open investment
al trade among the nations along the
growth of 10 per cent from last year,
pictured in the ongoing maritime terriand trade. Third, Warjiyo said,
Silk Road route).
and to $1 trillion by 2020.
torial dispute with its neighbours.
Indonesia is engaging in cooperation
The project’s aim - including the
Establishing the AEC is a labourious
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MYANMAR IN FOCUS, Monday, February 2, 2015
Myanmar’s national hero
arrest, he went underground. He then
went to Amoy, China, to find support
MYANMAR is in festive mood this
for his cause: Myanmar’s independence
month as this year marks the birth cenfrom British rule. He stayed for about
tenary of Bogyoke Aung San, which
two months in the International
falls on February 13, regarded as
Settlement there before the Japanese
National Children’s Day.
took him to Tokyo.
A multitude of cultural festivities –
After three months in Tokyo, he
being staged chiefly by the National
returned to his country in 1941 to comLeague for Democracy (NLD) in places
municate the plans given by the
like Yangon and Natmauk, Aung San’s
Japanese to his comrades in Myanmar.
birthplace – continue to capture the
He went back to Tokyo soon after, takimagination of the public in the run-up
ing with him the first batch of young
to the big day.
men to undergo military training by the
If you missed some of these celeBogyoke Aung San
Japanese for the purpose of staging an
bratory events, don’t fret. Many more
insurrection in Myanmar.
are still to come.
In 1942, he came to
In Yangon, a traditional
Bangkok to organise the Burma
Anyeint performance by the
Independence Army with the
Aung San Thuriya Hnin Si
help of the Japanese. He
Anyeint dance troupe on
marched into Myanmar along
February 9 and 10 at the
with the latter as part of an
National Theatre. Anyeint is a
invasion of the country. Ever
since he and his comrades
type of slapstick comedy that
were in Japan and eventually
combines music and dance. It’s
became disillusioned with the
performed by not just profesJapanese. He even tried to
sional comedians, but guest
organise an anti-Japanese
artists as well like actors, singmovement before he came
ers and dancers. In Mandalay,
back to Myanmar.
the famed Mandalay Marionette
He attempted to form an
Theater will stage two shows on
anti-Japanese Resistance
February 10. The Htwe Oo
Movement from 1943 and sucMyanmar puppet troupe will
ceeded in forming the Antiperform twice on February 11 in
Fascist People’s Freedom
the same city.
Phoe Chit’s dance troupe is to stage a traditional dance performance celebrating Bogyoke
League in August 1944. Finally
In Natmauk, the Phoe Chit
Aung San’s centenary.
he led the open general rising
dance troupe will perform on
against the Japanese militarists on
ing “a conspiracy to overthrow the
bodies, notably as Editor, ViceFebruary 11 before embarking on a tour
March 27, 1945. In September 1945, he
Government by force”, according to a
President and President of the
across the country. Natmauk will also
government communique. But he was
Rangoon University Students’ Union,
host the Human Rights Human Dignity
and 10 other colleagues went to Kandy
released shortly after. He served also
Travelling Film Festival on February 12
and as one of the founders and
to conclude a military agreement for
on the Working Committee of the Alland 13 at Sutaungpyae Payagyi monasPresident of All-Burma Students’
the amalgamation of the Patriotic
Burma Peasants’ League and was one
Union. He also served, even as a stutery. These events serve to reinforce
Burmese Forces (as the Resistance
dent, along with another student repreAung San’s national resonance.
Forces were then called) with the
of the principal figures initiating the
Burma Army under British control.
Freedom Bloc of parties and elements
Informally referred to as “bogyoke”
sentative, on the University Act
If Aung San were still alive, he would
(general), Aung San was born on
interested in the struggle for
Amendment Committee appointed by
probably regret that Myanmar is still
February 13, 1915, in Natmauk, Magwe
Myanmar’s freedom, along with Dr Ba
the government in 1938 and succeeded
not a fully independent country, a point
district, into a well-to-do family with a
Maw, during 1939-40.
in getting the progressive University
raised frequently by his daughter Aung
He also acted as Secretary of the
long pedigree.
Act passed by the Burma Legislature.
San Suu Kyi.
He received primary schooling iniFreedom Bloc until he went underAs a student, he contributed many
“Myanmar already regained her
tially at the Vernacular High School in
ground. In March 1940, he led a Thakin
articles to local English and Myanmar
independence, but the people are living
Natmauk and secondary education at
delegation to the Ramgarh Session of
publications and served for a time on
under oppression, this is why, our
the Indian National Congress at the
National High School in Yenangyaung.
the editorial staff of the “New Burma”,
invitation of the latter and visited sever- country is not a sovereign state,” Aung
He attended Rangoon University
the only Burman-owned and-managed,
San Suu Kyi said at a ceremony mark(now the University of Yangon) in 1933
al cities in India including Gaya,
nationalist English-language tri-weekly.
ing her father’s centenary.
and took a degree in English Literature,
Benares, Allahabad, Agra, Delhi,
In October 1938, he ended his law
“If my father were alive, he would be
Modern History and Political Science.
Peshawar, Khyber Pass, Lahore,
studies abruptly and entered national
Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Bombay and
Later he attended law classes at the
politics to pursue the patriotic cause of
almost 100 years old. My father died
same university. It was during his uniCalcutta. After that trip, he served for a
national freedom by joining the
when he was hardly 33 years old. We
versity days when Aung San developed
short time on the Governing Body of
Dohbama Asi-ayone (Thakins), at the
need to rethink how much we have
his interest in politics and became a
University College in Yangon as a reptime the only militant and extremely
done for the objectives of the indeprominent student leader while doing
nationalistic political party in Myanmar. resentative of the Rangoon University
well academically. His political aspiraHe became General Secretary of
How much freedom and security
Students’ Union while conducting an
tions were only to have a profound
have we restored? Freedom and securiintensive anti-imperialist, anti-war
that party until August 1940 when he
ty are always related together,” she
campaign in Myanmar.
went underground to continue the fight
impact on his university life.
When a warrant was issued for his
for Myanmar’s independence. At this
As a student leader, he was threatened with expulsion
from the university for
refusing to reveal the
name of the author of
the article “Hell Hound
At Large”, which criticised a senior University
official. This led to the
Second University
Students’ Strike and the
university authorities
subsequently retracted
their expulsion orders.
At the university, he
served on various students’ organisations and
point, he was anti-British, and staunchly antiimperialist. He became
a Thakin (lord or master
– a politically motivated
title that proclaimed
that the Burmese people were the true masters of their country, not
the colonial rulers who
had usurped the title for
their exclusive use).
As a Thakin leader, he
was arrested and
detained in 1939 for
being one of those lead-