The Burma/Myanmar Thread

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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by prcscct » Wed May 27, 2015 7:43 am

The seeds of destruction. :(

Myanmar to develop Mergui islands as tourist destination

http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/tou ... estination
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Re: 10 Reasons You Need to Go to Myanmar

Post by buksida » Wed May 27, 2015 7:56 am

hhfarang wrote:This article made me wish we had visited Myanmar before we left while it is still pristine....
It still is if you avoid the tourist traps and go off-season, Burma is a massive country with a lot to see.
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by Bamboo Grove » Wed May 27, 2015 9:20 am

I've always wondered about the sentence: "You'd better visit this or that country now before everything old is gone." That was said about Thailand decades ago and yet you can find lots of old Thailand if you are willing to go out of your way. Just as Buksida said about Burma above. This kind of thing may happen in places like Dubai or Singapore, which are so small that the changes affect the whole area very fast. So, I wouldn't worry about the chances slipping through your fingers.
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Re: 10 Reasons You Need to Go to Myanmar

Post by pharvey » Wed May 27, 2015 2:33 pm

buksida wrote:
hhfarang wrote:This article made me wish we had visited Myanmar before we left while it is still pristine....
It still is if you avoid the tourist traps and go off-season, Burma is a massive country with a lot to see.
The same can be said for China, but the rate of change/destruction/construction is extreme...
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Aung San Suu Kyi on the state of democracy in Burma

Post by dozer » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:14 pm

Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel peace laureate and chair of the opposition National League for Democracy party in Burma, spoke Tuesday by telephone about her recent trip to China, elections scheduled for November and other matters. An edited transcript is below.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ ... ons&wpmm=1
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Re: Aung San Suu Kyi on the state of democracy in Burma

Post by dtaai-maai » Wed Jun 17, 2015 7:18 pm

Q: What did you learn on your trip to China?

A: It was a good discussion. We all understand that neighbors have to live in peace and harmony.

Did you discuss the imprisonment of [fellow Nobel peace laureate] Liu Xiaobo?

I have to keep explaining that I never discuss details of my conversation with leaders of governments or organizations. These are usually considered private.
These were the first 2 questions. I didn't bother reading any more. Did I miss anything?
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by dozer » Thu Jun 18, 2015 5:36 pm

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy ... in-Myanmar

The sway of ultra-nationalists
Nationalism and religious conservatism a toxic mix in Myanmar
SIMON LEWIS, Contributing writer


Prominent Buddhist monk U Pamaukkha, right, takes part in a nationalist demonstration in Yangon on May 27. (Photo by Simon Lewis)
Yangon -- In years gone by, decisions in Myanmar's courts were largely dictated to the judge by the military, with instructions given in sealed envelopes or by telephone. In early June, however, a court in central Myanmar caved to a different kind of pressure.

From the start of Htin Lin Oo's trial to his sentencing on June 2, Buddhist monks and nationalist activists demonstrated outside the Chaung-U Township Court in Sagaing Region, in Myanmar's central west region, demanding a tough punishment. The writer and political activist was finally sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor.

"The court is afraid of the monks," said Thein Than Oo, the lawyer representing Htin Lin Oo. "They put on maximum pressure in this case."


He was convicted under Article 295(a) of the country's criminal code: "Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs."

Htin Lin Oo was taken to court over a speech he gave at a literature festival in October when he was an information officer for the opposition National League for Democracy. In that speech, he questioned the Buddhist credentials of those involved in resurgent nationalism in Myanmar.

"Buddha is not Bamar, not Shan, not Karen," Htin Lin Oo, himself a devout Buddhist, reportedly said in October, referring to different ethnic groups living in Myanmar. "If you want to be an extreme nationalist and if you love to maintain your race that much, don't believe in Buddhism."

Extreme nationalist groups have been blamed for attacks on Muslim communities across the country since mid-2012, when intercommunal violence flared between ethnic Rakhine Buddhists and a stateless Muslim minority who identify themselves as "Rohingya," in western Myanmar. About 140,000 people, mostly Rohingya -- or "Bengalis" as they are widely known among the majority Bamar or Burman population, were displaced by the riots and are now in temporary camps.

Anti-Muslim sentiment is fueled by many of the country's half a million Buddhist monks, including firebrands like the infamous Wirathu, leader of the 969 movement of activist monks. Religious chauvinism has spread in a population whose majority is devout Buddhist. Most of the country's Muslim minority arrived in the country during British colonial rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has been the target of resentment among the Bamar majority for decades.

Nationalist and religious groups have called for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses, and racist abuse has proliferated on social media as the population rapidly gains access to the Internet.

A video of Htin Lin Oo's October speech was posted online, prompting complaints from monks aligned with the Committee for the Protection of Race and Religion, known in the local language as Ma Ba Tha. The local government's religious affairs officer responded by filing a legal complaint against Htin Lin Oo, which led ultimately to his sentencing.

"This was a fair trial, and the judge listened to my arguments," Thein Than Oo told the Nikkei Asian Review. "But the judge lives in the township, and there are many monks there linked with Ma Ba Tha. They always intimidate and protest. This is psychological pressure."

The case as well as another recent ruling reflect the influence that religious and nationalist activists have over law and regulations in Myanmar, which has been under civilian rule since 2011. In March, a court in Yangon passed down sentences of two-and-a-half years with hard labor to three bar managers in another case that drew nationalists and monks to protest outside the courthouse.

The men, one of whom is a New Zealand national, had produced a flyer with an image of Buddha wearing headphones, which the court ruled to be a criminal insult to Buddhism.

Nationalist Agenda

Amnesty International, which has called for the immediate release of Htin Lin Oo, said both cases "raise serious concerns about the authorities' ability to stand up to pressure from extremist groups pushing [a] nationalist agenda."

"The jailing of Htin Lin Oo ... for speaking out against extremism is deeply alarming, and likely to foster an environment where any discussions related to religion will be further inhibited," Rupert Abbott, Amnesty's research director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, wrote in an email to the Nikkei Asian Review. "He must be released immediately and without conditions."

Ma Ba Tha as a self-styled guardian of Buddhist values, is also campaigning on other issues, including recent protests against five controversial construction projects planned near Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the country's most revered Buddhist sites. The group has threatened nationwide protests if the government refuses to cancel the developments, and has called a conference this weekend in Yangon to discuss action.

Extremist groups may wield even more power when Myanmar goes to the polls in November, as politicians rally for votes. As well as the revered Buddhist monks, the nationalist movement also has radical outriders like Nay Myo Wai, a long-time activist who is also a contender in the elections. In May, he caused the cancellation of a conference of the country's Muslim leaders by threatening to cook a pork curry at the venue. That led local authorities to call off the conference.

Nay Myo Wai, who says he is an atheist, heads the Peace and Diversity Party. He said his party and others labeled as "ultra-nationalist" would use the election campaign to draw attention to the alleged threat posed to Myanmar by global Islam.

"We want those who understand the dangers of Islamization to be members of parliament," he said. "Extreme Islamization exists around the world, and we want our MPs [members of parliament] to be people who can protect us against this problem."

Majority Support

Already, the nationalist extremists have influenced legislation. The government, led by the Union Solidarity and Development Party, has introduced to parliament legislation initially proposed by Ma Ba Tha targeted at Muslim communities.

A population control law that limits how often women in certain areas have children has already passed, although questions about its enforcement remain. Three other so-called "protection of race and religion" laws -- restricting interfaith marriage and religious conversion, and outlawing polygamy -- are now being discussed in parliament.

These bills have so far won the approval of the majority of lawmakers each time they have been put to vote, with USDP members, military representatives and some ethnic minority parties backing them. In addition, in a campaign by Buddhist activitsts, some 1.3 million civilians signed a petition showing their support. Opponents meanwhile have faced threats of violence, quelling public debate about the legislation.

Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD has voted consistently against the four race and religion laws and has publicly denounced them as contrary to human rights principles. But with less than 7% of parliament's seats, the party has little power to stop them.

Patriotic duty

With national elections looming, how politicians deal with the so-called "Rohingya problem" will have a real impact on their chances of being voted into office. Within Myanmar, Suu Kyi has been accused of being too soft on the Rohingya, who most believe should not be given citizenship. Outside of the country, she has faced criticism for failing to take a stronger stance in their defense. The NLD has also been criticized for sacking Htin Lin Oo after his speech sparked controversy.

In Yangon on May 27, hundreds of monks and demonstrators marched in a protest, claiming Myanmar had no responsibility for those cast adrift at sea. Most of the "boat people" are thought to be Rohingya, who are stateless despite many being born in Myanmar, while some are economic migrants from Bangladesh.

At the rally, prominent nationalist monk U Pamaukkha spoke angrily about the Muslims, who he claimed were making the lives of Buddhists more difficult all over Myanmar.

U Pamaukkha cited a local dispute between two communities on the outskirts of Yangon over access to clean water. "Buddhists have been living in that place for many years. This is why there is a problem with the kalar," he said, using a pejorative for people of South Asian descent.

This kind of attitude is a major concern for those hoping the coming elections will be inclusive, as well as free and fair. But with less than six months until polling, the sway of nationalist rhetoric is set to grow.

In a hint at what is to come, U Pamaukkha said: "Patriots have a duty to pay attention to Burmese politics."
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by dozer » Wed Jul 01, 2015 6:02 am

Myanmar and Asia Pacific’s Role in Driving Oil and Gas Growth

http://oilpro.com/post/15137/myanmar-an ... gas-growth

With the volatility in the Oil patch at the moment, Myanmar and much of Asia Pacific presents as a unique opportunity to provide growth to a sector that is currently undergoing fundamental change and deals with volatility in a growing market. This is particularly true when one considers the structural growth drivers in the APAC region. These are:

•2 billion people have no access to power / electricity
•6 billion use wood/dung/other biomass for cooking purposes
•By 2035 we will see world population increase by 1.5 billion
•Within the next decade, the world’s population will be found in urban settings and be around the 6 billion mark.

When considering these drivers, we also note that energy demand is set to grow more than 40% over the next 30 years. It is noteworthy that growth in Oil demand is predicted to be relatively flat in overall terms, with growth demand being serviced by cleaner forms of energy. The forecast growth in Gas demand as an energy source is particularly relevant in the Region. It also presents significant opportunity for a frontier country such as Myanmar. Whilst there is a great deal of excitement over the opportunities present by the anticipated natural gas reserves in Myanmar, there are a number of chokepoints that need to be resolved in order to open up these opportunities. In a sense, Myanmar and the IOC’s are at a crossroads, and this was explored at the 2nd Myanmar Offshore Congress held in Yangon on the 25th /26th June.

enter image description hereMyo Myint Oo and Andre Wheeler at the 2nd Myanmar Offshore Congress held in Yangon. Myo Myint Oo, the Managing Director of MOGE (Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise) was guest speaker and opened the Congress, Andre was Chairman and presented a paper on Offshore Supply Base.

An essential key to Asia’s frontier economies, such as Myanmar / Cambodia/ Vietnam and Laos is access to affordable energy. With electricity and power you get:

•Job Creation
•Growth in Economic activity
•Improved quality of life and growth in the middle class.

Both Government and IOC’s need to form strong partnerships that create the necessary conditions to deliver this potential. In Myanmar, there is an opportunity for this relationship to provide leadership in the Oil / Gas patch, by forging a relationship that goes outside traditional paradigms. It is also an opportunity for the IOC’s to reset some of its processes that will lower costs and be an enabler in assisting them in dealing with the new business paradigm.

To this end, Government is currently reviewing and changing the regulatory framework, improving the business environment. These changes, whether to Tax Law and Foreign Investment, is reducing the sovereign risk normally associated with doing business in the region. For some, these changes have come quickly and have not been matched with supply of infrastructure to support the development of these opportunities. It can be argued, that these opportunities are now at risk as key chokepoints have emerged. Examples of the more important ones have been identified, all of which can undo the good work that has been done in opening Myanmar for business, include:

•No comprehensive data sets that clearly identifies prospective drilling areas, including Seismic and 3D modelling,
•No key infrastructure, particularly in Offshore Supply Base to support Drilling and Exploration,
•No clearly articulated transition and development plans to develop and protect local talent for sustainable ongoing development (Examples, key skill development in Wharf Management, marine etc).

I would suggest the following actions be taken, that will not only assist in unlocking these chokepoints, but could also create a new collaborative model for the way the IOC’s and Government bring new fields to market. These recommendations are based on the very tight project timelines that emerged from the discussion regarding the PSC’s – exploration is scheduled to start by the end of 2016.

Firstly from an IOC perspective, I would suggest that there be:

•Standardisation in drilling operations, as this will allow improved Rig utilisation in drilling particularly during the initial exploratory well phase where two wells per block are anticipated. Reduces time and cost.
•Share Geo-Physical and Geo-Technical data, including shared cost in generating comprehensive high quality 3D and other seismic data for all basins.
•Encourage and support the development of a multi user supply base / OSB structure that allows collaboration and sharing of a key piece of support infrastructure.
•Enable communities by building in “protection and capacity building” in their community engagement process. There should be robust systems that allows not just training of local community talent, but ensure that this is transferred so as to make ongoing Country development sustainable.

From a MOGE / Union Government perspective, with 52 Expressions of Interest in the provision of an OSB to support exploration, I suggest that:

•Engage expertise to fully develop a user requirement and identify locations for development,
•Facilitate the acquisition of land and passage of regulation that would allow fast tracking of the OSB development,
•Engage expertise to create a Myanmar solution with the custom design in OSB solution that takes account of the local conditions BEFORE an operator is appointed. Don’t allow the solution to be imposed by a third party’s capabilities, but build local capability.

In conclusion, Asia Pacific and in particular Myanmar, can drive future growth in the Oil and Gas sector. It provides a unique opportunity to create a new collaborative working model in frontier regions in the oil patch, as well as providing good news to a sector under strain.
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Myanmar fisherman goes home after 22 years as a slave

Post by JamesWest » Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:57 am

22 years a slave on a fishing boat.

https://news.yahoo.com/myanmar-fisherma ... 50579.html
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Re: Myanmar fisherman goes home after 22 years as a slave

Post by usual suspect » Thu Jul 02, 2015 4:48 am

Almost had tears in my eyes reading this story..
... but if this story is read by 1000's in the US & EU then (even tho' in this report Thailand is not directly implicated) the tide may be turning for both the pet-food factories around
Samut Sakorn, & for those 20,000 Thai-owned trawlers that are still un-registered..& Thai exports as a whole, not just fish-based products.. time will tell eh?

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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by Nereus » Thu Jul 02, 2015 9:30 am

http://oilpro.com/post/15137/myanmar-an ... gas-growth
•2 billion people have no access to power / electricity
6 billion use wood/dung/other biomass for cooking purposes•By 2035 we will see world population increase by 1.5 billion
•Within the next decade, the world’s population will be found in urban settings and be around the 6 billion mark.
You would think that somebody that writes stuff like this would at least get the numbers correct.
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by buksida » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:25 am

Dawei SEZ finally gets green light in Tokyo
Thailand, Japan and Burma on Saturday effectively launched the US$50 billion Dawei special economic zone by signing an agreement in Tokyo that will have a deep impact on trade and investment in Southeast Asia.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe both said the signing of the tripartite pact will boost the economic partnership between Japan and ASEAN.

Gen Prayut and Mr Abe held talks on Saturday after senior government officials of the three countries signed the memorandum on tripartite cooperation to develop the Dawei project as Burmese President Thein Sein looked on.

The signing came on the sidelines of a summit in Tokyo between leaders of Japan and the Mekong nations — Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam — at which Japan pledged financial aid worth US$6.1 billion to the five Southeast Asian countries.

The largest of its kind in Southeast Asia, the Dawei project in Tavoy, southeastern Burma, will include a deep-sea port with the capacity to hold 250 million tonnes of cargo; an economic zone that will cover more than 200 square kilometres; factories; a coal mine and power plant for electricity; and golf courses and five-star hotels for visiting executives.

Dawei is projected to become the major gateway for the Mekong region’s trade with India, the Middle East and Africa, while linking Burma by road to Thailand, Cambodia and southern Vietnam.

http://burmaboard.com/viewtopic.php?f=6 ... 4557#p4557
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by dozer » Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:27 am

Employment standards for workers, however, continue to languish. Despite the passage of a Minimum Wage Law in 2013, the National Minimum Wage Committee has been unable to broker a deal between employers and workers, leaving the latter without any guaranteed minimum for a day’s work. The current proposal — rejected by labor activists and workers alike — would see laborers paid $3.24 for an eight hour day.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/07/06/the ... Swiss_Jul6


As the government continues to ignite foreign investment and deliver on its economic potential, and the international community welcomes another producer and consumer of goods to the global economy, Burma’s growth is cause for celebration. But perhaps not for the people fueling it.
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by dozer » Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:51 pm

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy ... re-reforms

NAYPYITAW -- Myanmar's President Thein Sein signaled that he intends to pursue his ambitious reform program beyond national elections in November to the end of his current term in early 2016, and rejected recent charges that reforms had stalled and the process was backsliding.

In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review on Wednesday, the president confirmed a change in his earlier intention to retire after his current term, saying he would be willing to serve a second presidential term. That, however, would depend on "the country's situation, the prevailing circumstances and wishes of the people," he noted, outlining far-reaching goals for the final phase of his current term.

Among what he described as top priorities in the final stages of his government, Thein Sein gave the strongest indication so far of confidence that a nationwide ceasefire agreement could be finalized with ethnic armed groups before the Nov. 8 poll. He also outlined plans to deepen Myanmar's diplomatic ties with neighboring countries and step up economic development focusing on the manufacturing sector -- particularly small and medium enterprises -- alongside a new push to move the country away from raw materials exports toward value-added production.

"I don't agree that our democratic reforms have stalled or are back-sliding," he said at the presidential palace in the capital, Naypyitaw. While acknowledging that his government had not reached the lofty poverty eradication and income-boosting targets adopted early in his term, he said that a range of political, economic and administrative reforms had resulted in "tangible and significant achievements" during his term.

These included political and security developments, such as a marked reduction in fighting between ethnic armed groups and military, economic and social reforms, and the creation of around 80 new political parties -- some featuring former political prisoners -- that would contest elections, he said.

"One of the most significant achievements is that we have been able to change military government to democratic elected government without bloodshed and in a peaceful and stable manner... This will be our legacy in the history of Myanmar," he added.

On the economic front, in the eight months or so remaining until a new administration took over, the government would "redouble efforts" to help growth in the manufacturing sector and to boost productivity and exports, he said. In that respect, he added, the government would increase its focus on improving basic infrastructure such as reliable and sufficient supplies of electricity and technological know how. He said that outside assistance was vital to achieve this objective.

"To cope with the shortages, we are closely working with other countries, including Japan," Thein Sein said, noting Japan's high levels of development assistance and investment. High profile projects include the nearly completed first phase of the multi-billion dollar Thilawa special economic zone near Yangon, and Tokyo's recent decision to join Thailand and Myanmar in developing the Dawei economic zone and deep sea port project in the country's south.

Good relations

Beyond purely economic imperatives, the government wanted to further broaden Myanmar's international relations, he said. While China remained a good friend and neighbor, and still ranked as the top investor in Myanmar, relations with the U.S. had warmed considerably despite continuing hesitancy among some big U.S. investors. "They have eased sanctions but have not yet lifted them ... [but] President [Barack] Obama's administration started a new approach and reengagement policy with Myanmar. As a result of this policy, our countries have good relations."

Thein Sein stressed that India was also a key regional player, and that good relations were vital for Myanmar. "We share a common border, about 1,000 km," he said. "Both China and India are big emerging economic powers, and our country is sandwiched between them. So we need cordial relations with these important neighbors."

Domestic politics

On the role of the Tatmadaw, or Myanmar's armed forces, Thein Sein predicted a natural reduction of the military's role in parliament and politics as peace is restored. "I myself served in the military for 45 years. The Tatmadaw comprises national citizens. Right now, some military service personnel serve as representatives in parliament and their role is to help ensure a smooth and stable democratic transition in our country. As you know, there are still armed groups in our county, and both parliamentarians and the people have little knowledge about democratic practices and experiences. We are still in the learning process... [and] as our democratic experience matures, the military will gradually reduce its role in politics."

Pressed about his attitude to a second term, he said that while he had age and health issues -- he recently turned 70 and uses a pacemaker -- there were few younger people who were experienced enough to "steer the country."

He lamented the lack of unity in politics, and alluded to recent struggles within the ruling USDP party, including moves by the powerful parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann to amend laws in order to ban cabinet ministers from running under party banners. The amendments were opposed by the parliament's military bloc, which holds 25% of the 664 seats in the bicameral legislature and is seen as closely aligned with the president.

Local political analysts said the move highlighted a bitter and deepening rift within the ruling party between the two political leaders, and exposed a growing divide between the executive and legislative branches.

"This [the ban on ministers running under party banners] is quite an unusual provision, because according to the constitution, every citizen has the right to vote and every citizen has the right to run [for elected office]," Thein Sein told the NAR. "So this is quite unusual and I believe no one will be happy with this or no one will obey this provision."

While acknowledging that the ban would affect any members of his government who wanted to run for seats under a party banner, the president emphasized that any ministers or senior officials could run as individuals -- and that he would be eligible for a second presidential term without running for a seat.

"With my age -- and with some health concerns, I want to retire... But frankly speaking, in our country, there are very few young or even middle-aged people who could steer the country in the right direction. As you know our electoral system and presidential selection procedure is that [a presidential candidate] does not need to run in elections because it is based on parliamentarians, who choose the president. So running in the election is not necessary. The president is chosen by parliamentarians through an electoral college system.

"But at present what I consider more important than being president or being next president is to stage these elections peacefully and successfully and in a free and fair manner -- and I want to see peace and stability in the post-election period and to ensure that whoever wins the elections and the presidency can form a government in a peaceful and stable manner. That is more important than pursuing the presidency -- and that is what I have on my mind."
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Re: The Burma/Myanmar Thread

Post by prcscct » Sun Sep 27, 2015 6:55 am

I really like articles like this about architecture and old colonial buildings in this part of the world. Below article is a case in point, and a beautiful building now owned by Thailand. Pete :cheers:

Our house in Yangon

"....The colonial-style residence of the Thai ambassador to Myanmar is recognised by the Association of Siamese Architects with a Historical and Architectural Conservation Award...."

Many photos at link: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/sunday/ ... 69603.html
30269603-07_big.jpg
30269603-07_big.jpg (36.82 KiB) Viewed 633 times
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