Weekly Diary, No.611 (17-23 November 2012)

Tips for the President: Every aspirant to your title deserves that dream!

Think Piece
I don’t believe in the ceasefire because I don’t see the two armed groups sit and drink tea together. The situation is like two bulls that glare at each other before they start fighting.
A villager elder from Pa-an, KIC, 19 November 2012

Downtown Rangoon are people talking excitedly about President Obama’s visit. But 45 minutes away in the slums are those who don’t even know he’s coming. Most of the changes, according to a former political prisoner, have taken place only in the upper parts of the society.
Billionaires come in to invest in the country. Many leave unfulfilled. Businesses remain frustrated by thickets of restrictions and bureaucrats accustomed to waiting for superiors’ orders. Changes coming from Thein Sein’s office, according to government advisers, are being bogged down at lower levels of the government.
Changes in Burma, as in Vietnam during the 1980s, come from within the leadership and thus may be much more gradual.
New York Times article, reprinted by Bangkok Post 20 November 2012

The problem hasn’t been with President Thein Sein, but with the military, their inability to change or lack of desire to reform.

Jennifer Quigley, director, US Campaign for Burma, PBS, 19 November 2012

Change is happening in the upper levels of government, but the lives of the people are largely the same.
Sein Win, managing director, Mizzima News, IRIN, 19 November 2012

2016 would be a critical year. That’s when a new parliament dominated by the NLD will push for genuine constitutional change, and the military will either agree or block it.

Sein Win, managing director, Mizzima News, IRIN, 19 November 2012

Obama never mentioned the word federalism. Why didn’t he do it? US democracy is successful because they use a federal system. And we are asking for the same system. He also said there are over 100 ethnicities in Burma, which is not true.
Zo Zam, Chin National Party (CNP) leader, Irrawaddy, 21 November 2012

The World
18 November 2012
The launch of Asean Economic Community (AEC) postponed from 1 January to 31 December 2015. (Mizzima)

18 November 2012
Asean leaders endorse controversial human rights pact during the annual summit that kicks of today in Phnoom Penh. (Bangkok Post)

International Relations
16 November 2012

Qi Jianguo, deputy chief general staff, PLA, holds meeting will visiting General Soe Win, Deputy Commander in Chief of Myanmar Armed Forces, in Beijing. They exchange views on regional security situation, bilateral relations and “other issues of common concern, with significant consensus being achieved.” (People’s Daily)

18 November 2012
The US and Burma have agreed to cooperate against all forms of trafficking in persons, says US state department. (Mizzima)

19 November 2012
Bangladesh government rejects comment by Aung San Suu Kyi suggesting Rohingyas may be illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. The country was founded only in 1971 since then there has been influxes of Rohingya into Bangladesh, says Dhaka’s foreign ministry. (DVB)

19 November 2012

President Obama makes historic 6 hour visit to Burma: meets President Thein Sein, Aung San Kyi and 30 minute delivers address at Rangoon University. (Agencies)

20 November 2012
Aung San Suu Kyi appointed an ambassador of the UNAIDS programme, says the agency. (AFP)

21-23 November 2012

New Zealand PM John Key visits Burma. He announces $ 5.7 million aid package for the country. (Bernama)

22 November 2012
Aung San Suu Kyi, after meeting New Zealand PM John Key, expresses disappointment over the fact that New Zealand and Australia have recognized Myanmar as the official name. (Australian AP)

Thai-Burma Relations
18 November 2012

There are 200 students enrolled in the Thai language programme at Rangoon University of Foreign Languages. According to Pisanu Suvanajata, Thai ambassador, there are 3 incentives: to find work with Thai firms working in the country, an increase in the number of Thai tourists and to pursue higher degrees in Thailand. The rector is Ms Lwin Lwin Soe. (Bangkok Post)

19 November 2012
Thailand and Burma reaffirms commitment to develop Dawei economic zone. The first phase, to be completed by 2015, concludes toll road, deep-water seaport, industrial estates, powerplants, water supply, telecommunications, high-speed train and residential communities. (Bangkok Post)

Politics/ Inside Burma
19 November 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi’s proposal to upgrade the Rangoon university into an educational hub passed by 148 votes to 64. It is supported by most military appointees. (Myanmar Times)

21 November 2012
President Thein Sein announces 4 point plan to resolve Arakan issue: changing people’s prejudices, promoting education, creating jobs and introducing birth control program. (Mizzima)

Ethnic Affairs
19 November 2012
Ceasefire have brought changes for ethnic villagers in Karen State, both good and bad:

Good bad
  • Marked decrease in conflict
  • Long abandoned fields under cultivation
  • Able to travel and work in fields more freely
  • Decreased demands for forced labor and encounters with Burma Army soldiers
  • Continued violence included cases of locals being shot at on-sight
  • Continued forced labor, land confiscation, development-induced displacement and forced relocation

20 November 2012
60 representatives from more than 10 different Karen CSOs meet KNU’s joint secretary Doh Lay Mu, Mergui-Tavoy district chairman Kwe Htoo Win and former CC member Htoo Htoo Lay in Rangoon. (Irrawaddy)

20 November 2012
Some ethnic leaders are not happy with Obama. Arakan Dr Aye Maung opposes use of the word Rohingya. Chin Zo Zam complains Obama not using the word “federalism”. (Irrawaddy)

22 November 2012
The KNU’s 15th congress will take place on 26 November. (Irrawaddy)

Shans/ Shan State
17 November 2012
Venerable Siri Dhamma 34, honored with Sao Thusandi Leadership award at Fa Wiang Inn temple, Wiang Haeng district, Chiangmai province. Altogether 5 Shan youths have received the award from the Mahadevi of Hsipaw since 2008. (SHAN)

23 November 2012

Hkun Htun Oo, leader of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), says he is planning to organize a Shan State conference, following the conclusion of the Shan conference, 26-28 November. (SHAN)

Economy/ Business
10 November 2012

Minister for Energy U Than Htay says Burma will receive $ 13.81 million per year for right of way for oil-gas pipeline under 30 year contract.
Rakhine     - 879.75 acres
Magway     - 1,121.47 acres
Mandalay     - 1,767.93 acres
Shan State     - 1,929.44 acres
Total        - 5,636.596 acres
Compensation amounting to 27.662 billion kyat has been paid for land and crops. (New Light of Myanmar)

16 November 2012
US State of Treasury releases joint statement easing ban on items imported from Burma:
  • Waiving ban set forth in 2003 Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act
  • General license authorizing anything to be imported, save for jadeite or rubies
  • Non-authorization of transactions with anyone blocked under the US sanctions program, such as front companies for Steven Law and Tayza
(Wall Street Journal)

18 November 2012

Craig Steffensen, country director of ADB’s Thailand resident mission, says ADB, would consider financial support to Dawei, but the project’s developer has yet to submit proposal and feasibility study to the bank. (Bangkok Post)

21 November 2012
IMF projects a rise in Burma’s economic growth rate from 5.5% this year to 6.25 % next year. (irrawaddy)

Human Rights
18 November 2012
Human Rights Watch accuses Burmese military of supporting brutal anti-Muslim violence, using satellite images. Naypyitaw spokesman Win Myaing rejects. (AP)

18 November 2012

State media announces release of 66 prisoners. Activists confirm there are at least 45 political prisoners including prominent human rights campaigner U Myint Aye. (DVB)

19 November 2012
Washington Times publishes opinion piece by Arizona Congressman Trent Franks saying army atrocities against the Kachin may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. (Irrawaddy)

20 November 2012

More than 1,000 people demanding closure of copper mining project in Letpadaung range, Monywa district, has been holding demonstration since 18 November. (Irrawaddy)

21 November 2012
14 of the 25 lawyers, who had their licenses revoked for political reason, have regained their licenses this week, according to lawyer Aung Thein. However, others like Pho Phyu, lawyer acting for farmers against land grabs, have yet to regain them. (Irrawddy)

21 November 2012

Religious leader Dr Htun Aung sentenced by Sittwe court to a total of 12 years imprisonment. Charges include instigating riot and fraud. He had assured that the gathering to pray for 10 Muslims killed by Arakanese mob in Taunggok on 3 June would not result in violence, but it did. (Irrawaddy)

24 November 2012
Police arrest 5 People’s Democracy Party (PDP) leaders and charge them for defamation. The party’s monthly bulletin had accused Kachin State Chief Minister Lajon Ngan Hsai of demanding bribes. (Irrawaddy)

21 November 2012

Sao Ood Kehsi, 65, CEC member of the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), passes away in Taunggyi. (SHAN)


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