The Burma/Myanmar Thread

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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by Nereus » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:07 am

Ford to sell cars and trucks in Myanmar

http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wo ... n-myanmar/

Ford Motor Co has signed a deal to distribute cars and pickup trucks in Myanmar, the head of Ford's local partner said.

The carmaker's first showroom in the country's largest city, Yangon, could open as early as May, Khin Tun, the director of Capital Automotive, said on Thursday.

Ford spokesman Neal McCarthy said the company is "gearing up for market entry" and has a local distributor, but declined to discuss details.

American brands PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, GE, Caterpillar and Danish brewer Carlsberg have all signed distribution deals in Myanmar, as rapid political and economic reforms transform the country from pariah state to investor darling.

Though lingering uncertainties about the stability of Myanmar's transformation and fears that the US could reinstate sanctions have discouraged many Western companies from making large, long-term investments, the deals show how Myanmar's economic landscape is starting to change. Much of the old economic order still prevails, but a few industries once monopolised by military and crony businesses are beginning to open to new players.

Businessmen who have avoided the taint of Western sanctions are snapping up deals with foreign partners and some of the old "cronies," long disparaged for their links to the country's repressive military leaders, are now trying to rebrand themselves to attract some of the rush of foreign capital.

Vehicle imports, for example, used to be so tightly controlled - and highly prized - that the government was able to cover much of the construction cost of its new capital city, Naypyitaw - which rose from scrubland and rice paddies about seven years ago - by paying "crony" businessmen with permits to import vehicles, rather than with cash.

Myanmar loosened vehicle import restrictions in late 2011, transforming the streets of the country's commercial capital, Yangon, from quiet lanes to gridlock. Old Japanese cars still dominate the streets here.

Carlsberg's joint venture with Myanmar Golden Star Breweries to distribute and eventually produce beer here, announced earlier this month, is remarkable because it marks the entry of a foreign player into a sector dominated by military-owned companies. The deal also shows how far Myanmar has come since 1996, when Carlsberg abandoned plans to work with Golden Star because of pressure from human rights activists, according to Vriens & Partners, a consulting company with offices in Yangon.

Ford's Myanmar distributor, Capital Automotive, is a unit of the Capital Diamond Star Group, whose managing director, Ko Ko Gyi, has managed to build a successful conglomerate with interests ranging from trading and distribution to construction and real estate, without running afoul of US sanctions.

This is his second big win with a US company. Diamond Star Co, another group company, became the sole importer and distributor for PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola, 7-Up and Mirinda brands in Myanmar in August.
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by Jimbob » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:32 am

From SBS (AUS) Dateline reporters blog from a visit to a village near Letpadaung Mountain copper mine

Evan Williams has been reporting from Burma for around 15 years. After his visit to put together this report, he reflects on how the country is changing…

"You are being watched right now by the police," whispered our contact as we sipped green tea in one of the busy teashops you find all over Burma. "There's one behind you and two more outside. They have been watching you for a few days and and asking everybody questions about you."

After more than fifty years of military rule, Burma is taking the first steps towards a type of democracy but it seemed the old habits of surveillance and control, were still very much in place.

We knew why they were watching us. In a remote part of Burma's north, a few hours from the famed city and now tourist hotspot of Mandalay, we had been filming a small group of farmers who were challenging some of the most powerful interests in the country.

While the army has taken a step back from direct political control, the generals still retain a massive and opaque business empire built on the assets they had amassed during their direct rule. Under dictatorship their holding companies were mandatory partners for any significant foreign investment and today they have stakes in virtually all aspects of the economy from beer to gas and land development.

At Letpadaung Mountain the generals had done a deal with a subsidiary of China's main weapons manufacturer Norinco, to exploit what is believed to be one of the biggest untouched deposits of copper in the world worth billions of dollars. To do so, they need to demolish an entire mountain range and require 6000 acres of fertile farmlands for the rubble and processing centres.

In a deal signed just before they allowed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and 45 party members to run for parliament, the generals took a fifty percent share. The mine owners insist they had paid enough compensation to farmers to have them leave the land.

But a small group of farmers told us they had been duped into signing contracts many of them didn't understand. They didn't want to leave their land as they feared this would leave them and future generations without the security of the income they could make from growing food. A job cleaning at the mine wasn't good enough for them, they said.

I have been coming to Burma for about 15 years and I was immediately struck by the fact that these farmers were even able to complain, let alone organise against such powerful forces. And they were effective: they had received the support of pro-democracy forces as far away as the old capital Rangoon and politically active monks.

The security forces seemed unsure of what to do in the ‘new’ Burma as the crackdown and almost certain jail terms that had been their usual response would not sit well with the image the new country was now trying to portray. The showdown at Letpadaung cut across many of the key aspects of Burma's transition and at the heart was a people able to stand up for the first time and ask for the generals' business interests to be held to proper public accountability.

Aung San Suu Kyi is now head of a parliamentary body investigating the deal. It is under pressure to redraw the contract if it is found that the royalties benefit the generals more than they do the nation. Political activists have also now said Daw Suu must hold to account those responsible for attacking and badly burning Buddhist monks who had joined the farmers' protest at the mine site.

What happens next is a major test of what kind of country the new Burma will be and a crucial challenge for Daw Suu's commitment to reform. The generals have inched back from direct control to allow the West to re-engage. Will they be willing to reduce their stake in the huge business opportunities also now on offer as Western companies stream in to Burma. How far will this nascent democracy go when it comes to money?

Unfortunatley his Dateline TV report is nto aviabale aoutside AUS and NZ. http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/wa ... ion-Course

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Myanmar/Burma

Post by Dancer107 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:23 am

Does anyone if the border for Burma is open to foreigners to do a Visa Run, or just cross the border to get a passport stamped?

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Re: Myanmar/Burma

Post by buksida » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:22 am

Dancer107 wrote:Does anyone if the border for Burma is open to foreigners to do a Visa Run, or just cross the border to get a passport stamped?
No, at the current time foreigners cannot go inland from border crossings, you have to fly to Yangon or Mandalay.

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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by buksida » Mon Apr 01, 2013 9:27 am

Nok Air unveils Myanmar routes

Nok Air plans to operate two new routes from Tak's Mae Sot district to Myanmar in preparation for the establishment of the Mae Sot special economic zone and the Asean Economic Community (AEC).

Nok Air board director Somchainuek Engtrakul and chief executive Patee Sarasin on Sunday led 20 airline executives to board a Nok Air survey flight from Mae Sot to Myanmar's Mawlamyine (formerly Moulmein) ahead of the airline's plan to operate services on that route.

The budget airline also plans to introduce flights between Mae Sot and Yangon.

The move follows a recent agreement between Thailand and Myanmar to permanently open the Mae Sot border checkpoint to boost cross-border trade and tourism. It also aims to capitalise on the 2015 launch of the AEC.

Source: Bangkok Post
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by MrPlum » Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:13 am


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Myanmar to revive 'Death Railway'

Post by prcscct » Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:49 am

A few photos and video at link. Pete :cheers:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/transpo ... th-railway

Myanmar to revive 'Death Railway'

Published: 25 Apr 2013 at 12.49
Online news: Transport

An elegant cemetery in strife-torn southeast Myanmar has long stood as a lonely testament to the fate of thousands of prisoners of war who died building Japan's "Death Railway".

Visitors look at a tourist train as it crosses a railway bridge over the river Kwai, built during World War II, in Kanchanaburi. About 13,000 prisoners of war -- many captured in Singapore, the Malay Peninsula and what was then the Dutch East Indies -- died during construction of the railway, along with up to 100,000 civilians, mostly forced labour. (AFP Photo)

As the fast-changing nation now opens to the world, a reformist regime is considering rebuilding a stretch of the notorious World War II track to attract tourists and help develop border areas, where memories of the line have been eclipsed by conflict and poverty under decades of junta rule.

Local gardeners pluck weeds and tend flowers between neat lines of graves at the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery in Mon state for some 3,000 Allied troops who died building the line between Myanmar and neighbouring Thailand.

"After seeing this cemetery people do not want to see war. There should not be war in the whole world," gardener Myat Soe told AFP.

"Because the soldiers died the way they did the world remembers them with sorrow. Dying fighting is honourable, but dying like this is very sad."

Many epitaphs at the site, funded by the Britain-based Commonwealth War Graves Commission, are a heart wrenching testament of how bewilderingly distant the country then called Burma was for the families of those killed.

"We were not there to clasp your hand, you passed away without a last good-bye," reads the epitaph for 26-year-old Lance Serjeant Harry Dawes, of the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire), who died in September 1943.

Exhaustion, starvation, disease and torture were the chief causes of fatalities among those impelled by the invading Japanese to gouge a rail route through dense jungle and solid rock between October 1942 and December 1943.

Children play at the railway station in Thanbyuzayat, in Myanmar's eastern Mon state. Weeds have swallowed much of the old railway track and a modest cemetery is a lonely testament to the thousands of prisoners of war and Asian workers forced to build the "Death Railway". But Myanmar's plan to reinvigorate the railway aims to transform the area. (AFP Photo)

About 13,000 prisoners of war -- many captured in Singapore, the Malay Peninsula and what was then the Dutch East Indies -- died during construction, along with up to 100,000 civilians, mostly forced labour from the region.

Robert Goodwin, an Australian veteran who worked on the infamous "Hellfire Pass" cutting on the Thai side of the border, said the men's relentless toil involved hacking through rock almost completely by hand.

"Every day that we worked, if anyone seemed to be slowing up they'd be belted with not just hands or pickaxes but with wire whips, with anything they could lay their hands on. The Japanese were cruel by anybody's standards."

On the Thai side, hordes of foreign visitors flock to see the track and bridge made famous by the film "The Bridge Over the River Kwai", and to ride on a stretch of the line still in operation.

The town of Kanchanaburi, a popular destination about three hours drive from the capital Bangkok, generated tourism revenue of over 2.4 billion baht last year, according to Thai officials.

That fact is not lost on Myanmar authorities keen to encourage development in the southeast of their country -- a region emerging from isolation after years of civil war.

Ceasefire deals were reached last year between local ethnic Karen and Mon rebels under a new quasi-civilian government which took power two years ago after decades of harsh military rule ended.

Surveys have now begun to trace the route from Thanbyuzayat to Three Pagodas Pass at the Thai border, according to an official from Myanmar Railways, who asked not to be named.

"This is primarily for tourism. If we can connect the railway track on the Thai side, it will help tourism develop," he said.

Phyoe Wai Yar Zar, of the Myanmar Tourism Board, said there is "huge potential" to develop tourism around the "Death Railway" in Myanmar.

But he said efforts should not only be "focused on the past" and should also showcase the heritage of the local ethnic minority population.

"I believe we shouldn't invent the wheel again. What has been done in another part of the region shouldn't be done again in Myanmar," he said.

There are, however, doubts about the feasibility of restoring the railway.

Rebuilding the track would make "little economic sense" because a hydropower dam on the Thai side blocks the original route, according to Rod Beattie, a historian who runs Kanchanaburi's Thailand-Burma Railway Centre.

The 420 kilometre (260 mile) line linking the Thai and Myanmar railway systems was aimed at resupplying the Japanese army as it fought British colonial forces and their allies.

It fell into disuse after the war ended in 1945 and much of the track was reclaimed by the jungle.

Myanmar was soon embroiled with its own internal strife as independence in 1948 heralded civil wars in ethnic areas.

In Thanbyuzayat there is little sign of remembrance beyond the gates of the cemetery.

An old locomotive and a last scrap of track on the outskirts of town acts as a memorial, but the rails have been swallowed by weeds and a huddle of statues depicting emaciated prisoners has been vandalised, smashed almost beyond recognition.

The railway has become a legend for local children, a group of whom eagerly led a visiting AFP journalist through the shady corridors of a rubber plantation to proudly display an anonymous mound of earth they were convinced marked the old route.

Gardener Myat Soe is encouraging local youths to understand the history behind the cemetery and said a planned museum would also help raise awareness.

"As long as the world exists, this cemetery will be a symbol of a tragic time," he said.

He recalled a 90-year-old Australian veteran who made the difficult journey to the cemetery two years ago to visit the grave of a friend.

"As soon as he arrived, he put down his bag beside the grave, saluted and burst into tears. It was the saddest thing I had seen in the nine years I have worked here. I cried beside him."
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by buksida » Fri May 03, 2013 12:48 pm

A very interesting analysis on the bigger picture in Burma ...

Myanmar morphs into a US-China battlefield
The much-hyped democratization of Myanmar has come with a drift away from a tight relationship with China creating a new confrontation point between Beijing and the West. The United States is boosting its intelligence base in the country while China builds northern Myanmar's United Wa State Army to be Asia's most powerful non-state militia, armored vehicles, missile-carrying helicopters and all.

Full Report: Asia Times
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by MrPlum » Fri May 17, 2013 8:38 am

'Thein Sein a man of war, not peace'
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_ ... 8Ae01.html

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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by MrPlum » Tue May 21, 2013 10:49 am

'Barack Obama praises leadership of Burma's Thein Sein'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22565267

Why?

'Global fight for natural resources 'has only just begun'
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... food-water

Mustn't forget the human rights groups...

'President Obama expressed "deep concern" at violence against the Muslim ethnic minority'.

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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by J.J.B. » Fri May 24, 2013 4:45 am

This week's special report on Myanmar from The Economist:

A Burmese Spring
http://www.economist.com/news/special-r ... -swift-and

Democracy on Prescription
http://www.economist.com/news/special-r ... escription

Suu Kyi for President?
http://www.economist.com/news/special-r ... -president

The opening up of Myanmar could transform the rest of Asia
http://www.economist.com/news/special-r ... te-passage

Business - The promise - and the pitfalls
http://www.economist.com/news/special-r ... d-pitfalls

Ethnic strife - The F Word
http://www.economist.com/news/special-r ... ess-f-word
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Photos from Burma

Post by Bamboo Grove » Thu Aug 15, 2013 10:38 pm

If you are a fb user, I higly recommend to follow this Finnish journalist. He is now travelling in Burma and the photos are fantastic.

https://www.facebook.com/rauli.virtanen ... 972&type=3

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Re: Photos from Burma

Post by prcscct » Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:17 am

Yes, some really good photos. It seems that rural women there are really into smoking cigars, and not small ones either! I've never seen that with Thai women, only the occasional home rolled cigarette. Pete :cheers:
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by Bamboo Grove » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:05 am

I remember reading that smoking cheroots would be also kind of a mosquito repellant. Not sure if it helps but might make sense. Never fancied the taste, though. I tried them a long time ago while travelling on a pick-up from Mae Sot to Mae Sariang, where they are common.

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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by prcscct » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:28 am

Permission still required for tourists to visit Myeik Archipelago

Published on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 20:34

Foreign tourists seeking to visit the pristine Myeik Archipelago in Southern Myanmar still need to submit permission from the authorities, according to officials.

"It has been specified that tourists are only allowed to travel in the towns in Kawthaung, Boat Pyin, Kha Mauk Kyi, Pyi Gyi Manai, Tayatchaung, Pu Law, and Kyunsu townships and they need prior permissions if they want to travel to nearby areas. As it is a journey by sea route, the specification has been set up due to weather and transportation conditions," said an official from the Myeik district immigration department........

http://www.elevenmyanmar.com/tourism/32 ... rchipelago

Maps and island by island summary at Wiki link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mergui_Archipelago
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