Weekly Diary, No.613 (1-7 December 2012)


Tips for MPs: Say No to long speech makers!

Think Piece
The military: A law into itself

  • Both architect and guardian of the country’s embryonic democracy
  • No apologies for its violent suppressions in 1988 and 2007, military intervention necessary
  • “Maximum restraint” exercised in Kachin State
  • Effective veto in parliament
  • No journalists can visit the War Office Parliament can reduce or increase defense budget, but it cannot audit it and has no control over the military’s vast off-budget financial holdings

Reuters, published by Bangkok Post, 3 December 2012

Laos could learn valuable lessons from Thailand. We have ‘developed’ at the expense of natural resources. Now we are almost drowned in our own rubbish.

Bangkok Post, 7 December 2012

The World
5 December 2012
Transparency International releases list of most corrupt among 176 countries surveyed: Sudan, Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia and Burma (# 172). Laos is (60th) and Thailand (88th). (Irrawaddy)

5 December 2012

Typhoon Bopha, with winds up to 150 kph, hits Philippines killing up to 500 and leaving at least as many missing. (Reuters)

International Relations
2 December 2012

Xu Zenhuan, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, visits Burma. No details. (New Light of Myanmar)

4 December 2012
In response to U Aung Min who claimed Burma should be grateful to China, critics like Ba Shein says only the former junta should feel grateful for saving it. (Irrawaddy)

5 December 2012
State media reports President Thein Sein has postponed planned visit to Australia and New Zealand. (Mizzima)

6 December 2012
Sky Net sign deal with Voice of America to broadcast a range of its programs on Burmese TV. (Mizzima)

7 December 2012

Patrick Murphy, Acting Special US Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, on a 2-day visit to India to hold consultations with Indian officials on ongoing reforms in Burma. He will also travel to Brussels, London, Rangoon and Beijing. (Press Trust of India)

Thai-Burma Relations
1 December 2012
Minimum wage for a skilled construction worker in Burma is more than 300 baht per day while unskilled ones earn about 180 baht. But the cost of living is quite high. A street food vendor can charge as much as 75 baht for one meal while in Thailand the normal cost is 30-40 baht. Another point is that office workers earn very low salaries. So the cost of living is rather high compared with average earnings. (Thai Rath/ Bangkok Post)

2 December 2012
Thai labor Solidarity Committee that has surveyed 600 people across 8 provinces found 400 have no idea of what the AEC will entail. Those that are familiar say:
  • It will benefit business operators more than employees. They will be able to relocate to countries with cheap labor costs.
  • Boon for migrant workers as restrictors will be eased
  • Poor English standard in Thailand will put domestic workers at a disadvantage
(Bangkok Post)

6 December 2012

Somdet Susomboon, assistant director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, says Thailand is holding trade exhibition in:
  • Rangoon    6-9 December
  • Mandalay    13-16 December
It aims to raise export growth with Burma by 30% next year, he says. (Bangkok Post)

7 December 2012
Beginning Monday, 3 December, about 300,000 aliens are entitled to the right to register for Thai citizenship, according to Surapong Kongchantuk, a human rights lawyer. The beneficiaries include:
  • Desplaced people from Myanmar who entered the country before 9 March 1976
  • Non-Thai nationals born to hilltribe people and highlanders living in Thailand before 3 October 1985
  • Displaced Myanmar nationals
  • Aliens’ children born and abandoned in Thailand
  • Students including children educated in Thailand but who have no legal status as surveyed by the Ministry of Interior between 2003-2009
(Bangkok Post)

8 December 2012
Thai transport minister Chatchai Sitthipan says Bangkok has decided to go ahead with the Chinese high-speed railway project reports Xinhua. Construction for Bangkok-Chiangmai route will begin by mid 2013. Another route is between Bangkok and Nong Khai. Both routes are scheduled to be completed by 2015. (Bernama)

Politics/ Inside Burma
1 December 2012
President forms 30 member fact finding committee on Letpadaung copper project, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi. Report is due by 31 December. (Mizzima)

3 December 2012
President’s Office issues notification cutting down the number of Monywa Inquiry commission from 30 to 16 together with its duties and powers. (Mizzima)

4 December 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi, chairing meeting of Letpadaung Inquiry Commission, blames lack of transparency as the cause of the copper mine protests leading to last week’s crackdown. (New Light of Myanmar/Mizzima)

8 December 2012
Religious Affairs Minister Myint Maung apologises to senior Buddhist monks for the violent crackdown on 29 November. He “begs for pardon” and blames “incompetency” of the authorities. He stops short of apologizing for the crackdown itself. (New Light of Myanmar/Mizzima)

Ethnic Affairs
6 December 2012
United Nationalities Alliance, made up of parties that had won seats in the 1990 elections, issues 4 point open letter for President Obama:
  • Ceasefire agreements must be followed by political negotiations to guarantee a lasting peace
  • Too early to lift sanctions as long as there are political prisoners
  • Democracy is just beginning: more transparency in need
  • Emergence of genuine federal union

7 December 2012

CNF delegation meets Naypyitaw delegation let by U Aung Min. Yet to reach agreement on many points, says Aung Min, but he nevertheless believes “the meetings will be fruitful.” It is joined by Border Affairs Minister Zaw Win. (Mizzima)

7 December 2012
UNDP is to implement a 3 year program providing $ 144 million for 3 main tasks in Kachin, Karen, Chin, Rakhine and Shan states, in coordination with the Ministry of Border Affairs:
  • Eliminating extreme poverty and hunger by 2015
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability
  • Promotion of democracy and human rights through good governance
(Myanmar News Agency/Mizzima)

Shans/ Shan State
5 December 2012

Shan leader Yawdserk attends King’s birthday ceremony in Chiangmai. He asks Shans to obey Thai laws and not to be deceived by fake ID cards, some even sold by Shans. (SHAN)

Economy/ Business
3 December 2012
Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (UMEH) and the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) are owned by the military. Blacklisted by US Treasury, they remain involved in gem trading, banking, tourism, breweries, property, transport and construction. They have ties to crony businessmen and their finances are state secret.

MEHL, founded in 1990, has 38 subsidiaries and 9 joint venture, and staffed by 14,000 workers. It gave up its auto-import licenses last year. But it is still very active in building oil refinery near Dawei deep seaport. It is also the biggest partner in the Monywa coppermine project.

Its Myawaddy Bank, with 20 branches, have $ 106 million capital, $ 56 million authorized and $ 50 million paid up.

MEC manwhile operates 37 factories with about 10,000 workers. (Reuters)

Human Rights
1 December 2012
Former monk of 2007 Saffron Revolution fame Gambira aka Nyi Nyi Lwin rearrested and sent to Insein prison on the following day. (AAPP)

3 December 2012
Al Jazeera announces release of documentary on Rohingya, “Hidden Genocide”, on 9-12 December. (Al Jazeera)

4 December 2012

Lawyer Aung Thein says 6 activists arrested last week for protesting against Letpadaung copper mining project have been accused of inciting unrest. The law denies them release on bail. (AP)

6 December 2012
UN Under secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos, the first black woman in UK cabinet and House of Lords, tells press in Dhaka Burma should recognize Rohingyas as citizens. (Kaladan)

7 December 2012
School teachers in Buthidaung are being forced to buy portraits of President Thein Sein: K 8,000 ($ 9.4) each. Township education department also cut K 2,500 ($ 2.9) from the salary of a primary teacher and K 3,000 ($ 3.5) from a middle and high school teacher for sports fee. The teachers also have to pay for the expenses of inquiry team if complaints are lodged. (Narinjara)

7 December 2012
Government says Al Jazeera report is “exaggerating and fabricating”. (Irrawaddy)

5 December 2012
ADB study says geothermal energy, Burma’s least known energy resource, is abundant, with considerable locations have been identified throughout the country. (Irrawaddy)

1 December 2012

UNODC director Yury Fedotov meets Aung San Suu Kyi and VP Sai Mawk Kham in Naypyitaw. He pledges UN support for Burma’s reforms, measures to curb corruption and the drug trade and to help resolve ethnic conflicts. (UN Press Release / Irrawaddy)

2 December 2012
A 5-day 4 country joint patrol launched from China’s Guan Lei Port. (Xinhua/ Mizzima) Thai officials in Chiang Saen denies Thai participation — Editor

2 December 2012
Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) policy, 2011: Focus on 5 aspects, which are production, import, export, trade and possession. This year, it has focused more on pursuing the supply chain, from the users to the manufacturers. (Bangkok Post)

2 December 2012
The Thai government should not only try to get rid of drugs, but also take care of children orphaned and left homeless by the arrests and confiscation of properly. (Bangkok Post)

3 December 2012
Defense Services Academy has halved its annual intake of cadets to 1,000. Little access to the outside world in the past, cadets today can surf the web and bring their own laptops. Mobile phones remain forbidden. Requests to interview them still turned down. (Reuters)

4 December 2012

Government forces for the first time use 2 helicopters to attack the KIA in Pangwa township, according to KIO spokesman Lah Nan. (Phophtaw)


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