Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Burma: 2008 Investment Climate Statement - Burma

Preface: U.S. Investment Subject to Sanctions

On May 20, 1997, by Executive Order 13047, the President imposed economic sanctions prohibiting new investment by U.S. persons or entities in Burma (Myanmar), based on the determination that the Government of Burma had committed large-scale repression of the country’s democratic opposition. The Cohen-Feinstein Amendment to the Foreign Operations Act of 1997 forms the legal basis for the investment ban. Every six months, the U.S. government reviews the sanctions policy. Since imposing the investment ban, the U.S. Government has found no measurable progress toward political liberalization in Burma and the sanctions have been renewed at each six month interval.

Prior to the imposition of the investment ban, many prominent U.S. investors had already withdrawn from Burma due to a hostile investment climate and disappointing returns. An active anti-Burma consumer movement in the United States and Europe also put investors’ corporate images at risk. Current U.S. federal sanctions prohibit new investment, but allow companies invested in Burma prior to May 20, 1997 to maintain their investments. Very few companies have elected to do so.

In 2003, the President signed into law the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act (BFDA), and issued an accompanying executive order barring the import of most Burmese products into the United States. The 2003 sanctions also prohibited U.S. persons from providing financial services to Burma, and seized the assets of certain Burmese entities. The 1997 and 2003 economic sanctions joined number of other sanctions the United States imposed against Burma in 1988, following the military’s crackdown against civilian democracy activists and 1990, when the military nullified the results of democratic parliamentary elections. The United States opposes the provision of international financial institution assistance to Burma, prohibits military sales, denies bilateral economic aid and commercial assistance programs, bans the issuance of U.S. visas to members of the military and senior government officials, and, since 1990, has downgraded our representation in Rangoon from Ambassador to Charge d’Affaires. In addition, the United States continues to engage in vigorous diplomatic efforts to promote political and human rights reforms in Burma.

U.S. law allows U.S. firms to export to Burma, with some exceptions.

In September 2007, in the wake of the Burmese government’s longstanding oppression of the Burmese people and its recent use of violence against peaceful demonstrators, the President designated an additional 14 senior Burmese government officials as subject to an asset block under Executive Order 13310. In October 2007, the President announced Executive Order 13348, which expands the authority to block assets to individuals who are responsible for human rights abuses and public corruption, as well as those who provide material and financial support to the regime.

Openness to Foreign Investment

To attract more foreign investment, the Burmese government enacted the Foreign Investment Law (FIL) on November 30, 1988. The priorities for foreign investment, according to the FIL, are:

* promotion and expansion of exports;
* exploitation of natural resources that require heavy investment;
* acquisition of high technology;
* support for production and services requiring large amount of capital;
* expansion of employment opportunities;
* development of facilities that would reduce energy consumption; and
* regional development.

According to the State-Owned Economic Enterprises Law, enacted in March 1989, state-owned enterprises have the sole right to carry out the following economic activities:

* extraction of teak and sale of the same in the country and abroad;
* cultivation and conservation of forest plantations, with the exception of village-owned firewood plantations cultivated by the villagers for their personal use;
* exploration, extraction, sale, and production of petroleum and natural gas;
* exploration, extraction, and export of pearls, jade and precious stones;
* breeding and production of fish and prawns in fisheries which have been reserved for research by the government;
* postal and telecommunications services;
* air transport and railway transport services;
* banking and insurance services;
* broadcasting and television services;
* exploration, extraction, and exports of metals;
* electricity generating services, other than those permitted by law to private and cooperative electricity generating services; and
* manufacturing of products relating to security and defense.

The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), “in the interest of the State”, can make exceptions to this law. The MIC has granted some exceptions in the areas of banking (for domestic investors only), mining, petroleum and natural gas extraction, and air services. As with all major political and economic decisions, this discretion lies solely with the Cabinet and senior generals of the ruling junta.

According to the FIL, the MIC must review all potential investment, both foreign and domestic. Due to accusations of corruption within the MIC, the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) sharply reduced the MIC’s influence in 1999. Potential investors must still work through the MIC, but it has lost most of its decision-making authority. Interested foreign investors must submit proposals through the MIC, which obtains the final approval from either the Cabinet (chaired by Prime Minister General Thein Sein, why in turn must also obtain clearance from SPDC Chairman Senior General Than Shwe) or the Trade Policy Council (TPC, chaired by SPDC Secretary (1) Lt. General Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myin Oo). The Cabinet and the TPC have the same membership, so authorities choose the decision-making body on a case-by-case basis. Although the MIC has no power to protect foreign companies, there is no evidence that the MIC overtly discriminates against foreign investors. Bureaucratic red tape, arbitrary regulation changes and endemic government corruption, however, continue to pose serious obstacles for all potential investors.

Once the government grants permission to invest, a foreign company must get a “Permit to Trade” –- essentially a business license –- from the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development’s Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration (DICA). Since February 2002, the government no longer allows DICA to issue new permits or renew existing ones for foreign firms. This decision has halted most new foreign investment and has disrupted the business of many foreign investors, forcing the closure of several foreign manufacturing firms. Since 2002, some foreign investors have attempted to do business by operating as local firms under the cover of Burmese partners, but some have faced legal action and difficulties in divesting.

Once a company has the “Permit to Trade”, it may, in theory, use the permit to get resident visa status, to lease cars and real estate, and to obtain new import and export licenses from the Ministry of Commerce. The government has had a de facto policy in place since the end of 2001 to only issue import licenses to those firms that are export earners. Companies without export earnings must purchase “export dollars” from another firm at an inflated exchange rate in order to apply for an import license. Some companies fraudulently transfer money between the accounts of export revenue earners to facilitate this process. Companies can also now use account transfers from Burmese seamen and other Burmese workers in foreign countries for exports. Since the government taxes these overseas remittances at a rate of 10%, many overseas workers remit their money home through informal networks. As of August 20, 2005, the high-level Trade Policy Council gives final approval for all import and export licenses.

In February 2002, a reversal of the government’s “open door economy” policy came from a verbal directive outlawing the issuance of new “Permits to Trade” and renewal of existing permits for any trading firms owned by foreigners (or jointly owned by foreigners and Burmese). The government allegedly took this measure to promote local trading firms, but it has served only to further distort the local marketplace. The authorities have not published any official notice of this directive but they generally enforce it, including against foreigners who have tried to evade the directive by listing their company under the name of a Burmese colleague or friend.

The FIL allows FDI in a wholly foreign-owned venture or a joint venture with a Burmese partner (either private or state-owned). Sole proprietorships and partnerships are equally acceptable. The FIL requires that at least 35 percent of equity capital in all JVs and partnerships be foreign-owned. The minimum foreign investment required in practice, though not specified in the law, is $500,000 for manufacturing investments, and $300,000 for services in cash or in kind. These minimum amounts include cash-on-hand requirements in foreign currency (calculated at the official rate of exchange of roughly 6 kyat = US$1, which is roughly 0.47% of the market exchange rate) of:

* 300,000 kyat (US$50,000) for a services company,
* 500,000 kyat (US$83,000) for a trading company (though the GOB does not currently allow trading companies), and
* one million kyat (US$166,666) for a manufacturer.

In June 2006, the Ministry of Finance and Revenue issued a notification for levying tax on profits gained by transferring assets of the companies conducting business in oil and gas sector as following rates:

Profit Tax rate

(a) up to US$100 million 40%

(b) Between US$100 and $150 million 45%

(c) Over US$150 million 50%

These tax rates remained the same in 2007.

The Burmese armed forces are involved in many commercial activities via the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, Ltd. (UMEHL) and the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). To set up a joint venture, foreign firms have reported that an affiliation with UMEHL or MEC proves useful to help them receive the proper business permits. Nonetheless, entering into business with UMEHL or MEC does not guarantee success for foreign partners. Some investors report that their Burmese military partners are parasitic, make unreasonable demands, provide no cost-sharing, and sometimes muscle out the foreign investor after an investment becomes profitable.

In November 2005, the government moved Burma’s administrative capital to the newly-constructed town of Nay Pyi Taw, located in a remote valley about 240 miles north of Rangoon. All official transactions, including import/export licenses, must be approved in Nay Pyi Taw. Although the majority of import/export procedures have not changed, several businesses have complained that the time and cost of obtaining licenses has increased since 2005. Currently, it takes approximately two weeks for license approval. The Burmese Government, to offset the time lag for import/export approval introduced in October 2007 a one-stop service in Rangoon for marine products and medicine licenses. For these products alone, import/export licenses are approved in two days.

Conversion and Transfer Policies

According to the Foreign Investment Law (FIL), investors in Burma have a guarantee that they can repatriate profits after paying taxes. The law also provides that, upon expiry of the term of the contract, the investor can receive the amount to which he or she is entitled in the foreign currency in which the investment was made. Due to the current shortage of foreign exchange in Burma, however, foreign investors have encountered difficulties in legally transferring their net profits abroad. The Foreign Exchange Management Department of the Central Bank of Myanmar must give permission for all transfers abroad of foreign currency.

Likewise, Burma’s multiple exchange rates make conversion and repatriation of foreign exchange very complex, and ripe for corruption. The official rate of approximately 6 kyat to the dollar is grossly overvalued. The government also issues Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC) at a fixed rate of 1 FEC=450 kyat via licensed exchange counters, but that rate is still significantly overvalued. The market exchange rate as of January 2008 was 1260 kyat to $1. Companies generally unload their kyat earnings as quickly as possible. The government requires foreign companies to use dollars or FEC to pay rental charges and utility and telephone bills (charged at a rate that is often ten times higher than what local firms are charged). The government allows foreign firms to deposit dollars in a state bank for later withdrawal as FEC by the company’s employees.

In Burma, only three state banks -- the Myanma Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB), the Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB) and the Myanma Economic Bank (MEB) -– are legally permitted to handle foreign exchange transactions. In practice, the MFTB and MICB handle most of these transactions. The MFTB primarily handles foreign currency transactions for government organizations, businesses, and private individuals, while the MICB primarily serves companies and joint ventures. MEB handles foreign currency transactions in the border trade regions.

U.S. government restrictions imposed in 2003 on the provision of financial services to Burma by U.S. banks severely disrupted the legal foreign trading system, which had long been primarily dollar-denominated. U.S. banks no longer offer any trade facilitation or correspondent banking services, making the use of letters of credit denominated in U.S. dollars problematic. Some traders and government banks have shifted to euros or Singapore dollars. As of July 29, 2003, the U.S. Government also froze the correspondent accounts of MEB, MFTB, and MICB in the United States, along with all other GOB assets and property.

Private banks held a large share of domestic banking activity until February 2003, when a major banking crisis severely reduced the holdings of the private banking sector. The GOB never permitted these banks to deal in foreign exchange. Although the government allowed some smaller private banks to resume operations in 2004, the sector remains tightly restricted. There is no indication that, if the private banking system is revitalized, the GOB would give private banks the right to deal in foreign currency.

Expropriation and Compensation

The Burmese Foreign Investment Law (FIL) provides a guarantee against nationalization during the “permitted period” of investment. However, the GOB has forced a number of foreign firms in various sectors to leave the country because it did not honor the terms and conditions of investment agreements. In the late 1990s, two large Japanese firms voluntarily left Burma after they found they were not able to operate according to earlier investment agreements. Additionally, government has seized the assets of foreign and local investors without compensation when the particular investment turned out to be very profitable.

In the 1990s, the GOB forced out a Swiss cement importer and distributor ostensibly because the company was not “operating according to its permit.” According to most accounts, however, the government evicted the company because the Swiss company could sell better quality, cheaper cement than its government-owned competitors. In another case in 1999, the government confiscated a large brewery that an expatriate businesswoman had made profitable and turned it over to the Ministry of Industry (1) to run. The local courts proved unhelpful in resolving the case, and the investor never received any compensation from the government.

Dispute Settlement

Private and foreign companies suffer major disadvantages in disputes with Burmese governmental and quasi-governmental organizations. Foreign investors generally prefer to use the 1944 Arbitration Act, which allows for international arbitration. The Burmese government usually tries to stipulate local arbitration in all contracts it signs with foreign investors. The military regime closely controls the entire legal system in Burma, and courts are neither independent nor impartial, so local arbitration is not reliable. Companies facing adverse administrative decisions have no recourse. Burma is not a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, nor is it a party to the New York Convention.

The Attorney General’s Office and the Supreme Court ostensibly control the legal system in Burma, but neither body is independent of the ruling regime. Burmese criminal and civil laws are modeled on British law introduced during Burma’s colonial period, which ended in 1948. Every Township, State, and Division has its own law officers and judges. The regional commanders and military authorities at the township, state and divisional level, however, have supreme de facto authority over judicial decisions at the local and state/division level.

There is no bankruptcy law in Burma.

Foreign companies have the right to bring cases to and defend themselves in local courts. As the military regime controls all the courts tightly, foreign investors with conflicts with the local government and those whose business has been expropriated, have little luck getting compensation.

Performance Requirements and Incentives

Officially, companies covered under the Foreign Investment Law (FIL) are entitled to a tax holiday for a period of three consecutive years. Under the FIL, the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) can extend this tax holiday. At the MIC’s discretion, investors are also eligible for a number of other incentives including: accelerated depreciation of capital assets, a waiver of customs duties and taxes on imported machinery and spare parts during the period of construction, or a waiver of duties on imported raw materials during the first three years of commercial production. Although the MIC issues the permission, the TPC and the Cabinet makes final decisions on these incentives and extensions.

There are no official performance requirements for new foreign investors in Burma, but the government does require investors to purchase local machinery and insurance (fire, marine, and personal liability). Unofficially, before approving an investment, the government often requires companies to commit to a certain level of exports. The government then requires compliance reports every three months, with evidence of export results or an explanation why goals were not met. There is no evidence that the GOB has taken any action against firms that do not meet their initial export targets.

There is no requirement that foreign investors buy or hire from local sources. Technology transfer is not generally a pre-requisite for investment.

Any enterprise operating under the FIL or the Myanmar Companies Act must pay income tax at a 30 percent tax rate. Withholding tax on royalties and interest is 15 percent for resident foreigners and 20 percent for non-resident foreigners. Tax collection in Burma is, in practice, extremely lax, but foreign investors are an easy target for cash-strapped tax authorities. The Burmese fiscal year ends March 31; tax returns are due by June 30.

Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

By law, foreigners may not own land in Burma, and may only rent property on a short-term basis, frequently for terms less than one year.

A private entity can establish, buy, sell, and own a business only with the review and approval of the MIC (and, by proxy, the top regime leadership).

Protection of Property Rights

Burma does not have adequate IPR protection. Patent, trademark, and copyright laws and regulations are all deficient in regulation and enforcement. After Burma joined ASEAN in 1997, it agreed to modernize its intellectual property laws in accordance with the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Intellectual Property Cooperation. An IPR law, first drafted in 1994, still awaits government approval and implementation. A Committee for IPR Implementation, established in July 2004, has worked toward approval of a new law, with assistance from the World Intellectual Property Organization. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has delayed required implementation of the TRIPS Agreement for Least Developed Nations until 2013.

The Government of Burma introduced a Patents and Design Law in 1946, but never brought it into force. Thus, the registration of patents and designs in Burma is still governed by the Indian Patents and Designs Act of 1911, enacted under British colonial rule.

The piracy of music CDs, video CDs, CD-ROMS, DVDs, books, software, and product designs is evident nationwide, especially in border regions and in the two major urban centers of Mandalay and Rangoon. Most consumers of IT products in Burma, both in the private sector and in government, use pirated software. Given the small number of local customers, poor state of the economy, and lack of infrastructure (e.g., unreliable electricity for manufacturing), piracy does not have a significant adverse impact on U.S. products.

Burma has no trademark law, although trademark registration is possible. Some firms place caution notices in local newspapers to declare ownership of their trademarks. After publication, the owners can take criminal and/or civil action against trademark infringers. Title to a trademark depends on use of the trademark in connection with goods sold in Burma. The British colonial government published a Copyright Act in 1914, but has never instituted a means to register copyrights. Thus, there is no legal protection in Burma for foreign copyrights.

Most real estate transactions in Burma require cash. Regular bank loans are difficult to obtain and are not available directly to foreigners.

Transparency of Regulatory System

Burma lacks regulatory and legal transparency. All existing regulations, including those covering foreign investment, import-export procedures, licensing, and foreign exchange, are subject to change with no advance or written notice at the whim of the regime’s ruling generals. The country’s decision-makers appear strongly influenced by their desire to support state-owned enterprises and meet the needs of the military-controlled Myanmar Economic Corporation and Myanmar Economic Holdings, Ltd., as well as wealthy cronies. Even omens and fortune-tellers can play a role in their decisions. The government regularly issues new regulations with no advance notice and no opportunity for review or comment by domestic or foreign market participants. The GOB rarely publishes its new regulations and regulatory changes, preferring to communicate new rules verbally to interested parties and often refusing to follow up in writing. The government occasionally publishes selected new regulations and laws in the government-owned daily newspaper, “The New Light of Myanmar,” as well as in “The Burma Gazette.”

Burma’s written health, environmental, tax, and labor laws do not impose a major burden on investment. However, the unpredictable nature of the regulatory and legal situation -– and irregular enforcement of existing laws -– makes investment in Burma extremely challenging without good -- and well-connected -- local legal advice.

See the Preface and Openness to Foreign Investment section for further details of the legal and regulatory system.

Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Burma has no true equity or debt markets, and the average citizen does not have portfolio investments. Burmese authorities have stated in the past that the existence of capital markets is essential for the development of a well-functioning financial system, and the Myanmar Economic Bank (MEB) and Japan’s Daiwa Institute of Research Co. Ltd. established a joint venture -- the Myanma Security Exchange Centre Ltd. -- to set up a limited stock exchange. However, the exchange is moribund, with only two listed companies – a small forestry joint venture and a small semi-government bank. A few Burmese companies sell bonds privately on a very small scale. Private companies, whether foreign or domestically controlled, are generally small in size. Usually, a small number of people or entities, often within the same family, closely hold the business shares. There is no securities law.

The private banking system in Burma was frozen in February 2003 after a public scare and a run on private banks, and the subsequent decision by the government to avoid any bailouts. The crisis did not seriously affect state-owned banks and partially state-owned banks. Although some banks closed, other private banks resumed operations in 2004 with limited functions. Government restrictions have made it impossible for the largest private banks to take in many new deposits or to extend significant new loans, and have limited the maximum amount clients can withdraw each week. The GOB has fixed interest on deposits at 12%.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed Myanmar from its list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories in October 2006 in recognition of GOB efforts to better enforce its anti-money laundering regime, but advised the Burmese Government to enhance regulation of the financial sector, including the securities industry. FATF will continue to monitor Burma’s progress on anti-money laundering in 2008.

In April 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department prohibited U.S. banks from doing business with Burmese banks or their overseas branches because of ongoing concerns of money laundering in Burma, specifically at Asia Wealth Bank (the largest pre-crash private bank) and Myanmar Mayflower Bank. The Government of Burma revoked the licenses of these two banks in March 2005 and, in August, closed a third bank suspected of laundering money, the Myanmar Universal Bank, for violations of the Financial Institutions Act. Currently, only six fully private and nine quasi-state banks operate, all under tight governmental restriction.

Foreign firms do not have access to bank loans, since the banks require collateral of land or real estate, neither of which foreigners can own in Burma. Since mid-2002, the government has forbidden the use of gold as collateral. Loans in kyat are available for local companies and individuals from state and private banks. Interest rates are currently fixed at 17 percent per year. The U.S. Embassy estimates that the inflation rate in 2007 was approximately 40 percent. Because of negative real interest rates and inadequate regulation and supervision, the private banking system remains unstable. Before the 2003 banking crisis, most private banks engaged in reckless lending and suffered from high levels of non-performing loans. Now, most are tightly regulated by the Central Bank and government regulations force them to be more conservative in policy. While accurate statistics are not available, businessmen and bankers say that the quasi-government banks are regularly asked to bankroll the regime’s pet projects and personal requirements, and as a result may still have a large percentage of non-performing loans.

A 1990 banking law permitted foreign banks to open representative offices to serve as trade and commercial liaisons for local and foreign clients in Burma, but they were not allowed to conduct business for the local market. For a variety of reasons, including the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, the bad local business climate, and the lack of liberalization of the Burmese banking sector, only 13 of the original 49 authorized foreign banks retain a presence in Burma today. Under U.S. law, U.S. persons and institutions may not provide financial services to Burma.

In 2004, in the absence of a government policy, the Myanmar Accountants Council issued its own standard accounting system –- the Myanmar Accounting Standards -– based very closely on International Accounting Standards (IAS).

Political Violence

Burma experienced major political unrest in 1988, when the current military regime seized power and jailed/killed an undetermined number of Burmese citizens and democracy activists. In 1990, the military government refused to recognize the results of a parliamentary election overwhelmingly won by the pro-democracy opposition. Burma also experienced major student demonstrations in 1996, and other demonstrations occurred in August and September of 1998. In May 2003, government-affiliated thugs ambushed a convoy carrying pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in northwest Burma, killing or wounding dozens of pro-democracy activists.

Political unrest continued in 2007. Following a sharp increase in fuel prices on August 15, 2007, pro-democracy groups began a series of peaceful marches and demonstrations to protest the deteriorating economic situation in Burma. The regime immediately responded by arbitrarily detaining over 150 pro-democracy activists between August 15 and September 11. On August 28, as popular dissatisfaction spread, Buddhist monks began leading peaceful marches. On September 5, security forces violently broke up demonstrations by monks resulting in injuries and triggering calls for a nationwide response and a government apology. Beginning on September 18, monks resumed their peaceful protests in several cities throughout the country. These marches grew quickly to include ordinary citizens, culminating in a gathering of approximately 10,000 protestors in Rangoon on September 24. On September 25, the regime tried to stop the protests by imposing a curfew and banning public gatherings. On September 26 and 27, the regime violently cracked down, shooting, beating and arbitrarily detaining thousands of monks, pro-democracy activists, and onlookers in Rangoon.

The regime routinely underestimated the number of deaths during the crackdown, confirming the deaths of only 10 protestors. Some NGOs estimated the number of casualties to be much higher, and in his December 7, 2007 report to the UN General Assembly, Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro stated that there were over 30 fatalities in Rangoon associated with the September 2007 protests. In retribution for leading protest marches, monks were beaten and arrested, many monks were disrobed, and several monasteries were raided, ransacked, and closed. In addition to the more than 1,100 political prisoners whose arrests predate the September 2007 crackdown, hundreds more continue to be detained due to their participation in the recent protests. Additional people continued to be arrested in 2008.

In April 2005, a bomb exploded in a market in Mandalay, killing three civilians. In May 2005, three bombs exploded simultaneously in central Rangoon commercial areas, killing at least 23 civilians. No individuals or groups claimed responsibility and, since the attacks, the Government has not revealed any results of an investigation or offered credible evidence about the perpetrators. There have been several small explosions in Rangoon and other Burmese cities as recently as January 2008 with few fatalities, and authorities regularly claim to discover such devices at various locations throughout Burma. In most cases, no groups claim responsibility and no one is arrested after the bombings.

For decades, there has been sporadic anti-government insurgent activity in various locations, particularly near Burma’s borders. These areas that surround central Burma have seen sporadic fighting between government forces and insurgent groups throughout the past 50 years. As a result, popular unrest and violence remain possible throughout Burma. Transparency International rated Burma worst in the world in 2007.


Corruption is endemic in Burma. Economists and businesspeople consider corruption the most serious barrier to investment and commerce in Burma. Because of a complex and capricious regulatory environment and extremely low government salaries, rent-seeking activities are ubiquitous. Very little can be accomplished, from the smallest transactions to the largest, without paying “tea money.” As inflation increases and investment declines, this problem appears to be worsening.

Since 1948, corruption is officially a crime that can carry a jail term. However, the ruling generals apply the anti-corruption statute only when they want to take action against a rival or an official who has become an embarrassment – most notably in October 2004, when the SPDC arrested then-Prime Minister General Khin Nyunt and many of his colleagues and family members for corruption. In 2006, authorities arrested over 300 Customs officials, charging them with corruption. Most citizens view corruption as a normal practice and requirement for survival. The major areas where investors run into corruption are when seeking investment permission, in the taxation process, when applying for import and export licenses, and when negotiating land and real estate leases.

Bilateral Investment Agreements

Burma has signed several bilateral investment agreements, also known as “Protection and Promotion of Investment” agreements, with the Philippines, China, Lao PDR, and Vietnam. These agreements have had little impact on enhancing incoming investment from other countries in the region. Investment treaty discussions are underway with Thailand and Singapore.

OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

Due to U.S. law, OPIC programs are not available for Burma. Burma is not a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).


In 1989, the United States withdrew Burma's eligibility for benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), due to the absence of internationally recognized worker rights. Independent labor unions are illegal in Burma. Workers are not allowed to organize, negotiate, or in any other legal way exercise control over their working conditions. In some instances workers have gained minor benefits through direct work actions, especially for wage increases at private enterprises following a significant pay increase for civil servants in April 2006.

Although government regulations set a minimum employment age, wage rate, and maximum work hours, managers do not uniformly observe these regulations, especially those in the private sector. The government often uses forced labor in its construction and commercial enterprises and for porterage and military building. These labor practices are inconsistent with Burma's obligations under ILO Conventions 29 and 87. The ILO imposed sanctions against Burma in 2000 and has critically reviewed the forced labor situation in Burma at subsequent ILO Conferences and Governing Body meetings. In 2006 and 2007, the ILO Governing Board raised the possibility of bringing Burma to the International Court of Justice for its refusal to address forced labor. The ILO continues to work with the Burmese Government on forced labor issues under the Supplementary Understanding on Forced Labor, which was signed in February 2007. The United States strongly supports ILO action against Burma.

Burma’s labor costs are very low, even when compared to most of its Southeast Asian neighbors. Burmese over the age of 40, particularly those over 65 years of age, are generally well-educated, but the lack of investment in education by the military regime and the repeated closing of Burmese universities over the past 20 years have taken a toll on the country’s young. Most in the 15-39 year old demographic group lack technical skills and English proficiency. Many older educated Burmese studied English in mission schools during the British colonial and early independence period. The military nationalized schools in 1964 and discouraged the teaching of English in favor of Burmese.

The government does not publish any unemployment figures. Anecdotal evidence and recent divestment by many foreign companies indicate a very high level of unemployment and underemployment in formal, non-agricultural sectors. The minimum wage is 500 kyat (roughly $0.40) per day. An average worker in Burma earns about 500-1000 kyat (roughly $0.40 to $0.80) per day.

Foreign-Trade Zones/Free Ports

The government has set aside 19 “industrial zones,” large tracts of land surrounding Rangoon, Mandalay, and other major cities. These areas are, however, merely zoned for industrial use. They do not come with any special services or investment incentives. The GOB has developed a draft industrial zone law, which has yet to be approved.

There are no free trade zones in Burma.

Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

Note: Investment figures compiled by the Burmese government include only investments approved by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), only a fraction of which go forward. No statistics exist as to disinvestment. The figures do not include investments outside of MIC’s purview, such as many small and medium Chinese-financed projects. Since the end of 2003, the MIC has stopped making its investment figures available publicly. The Embassy calculates the current figures based on Monthly Economic Indicators published by the Central Statistical Organization (CSO).

According to government figures, at the end of November 2007, cumulative foreign investment approved by the MIC totaled 417 projects, valued at $14.7 billion. This is 5.7 percent higher than the cumulative total listed at the end of October 2006.

Extrapolating from the latest government statistics on FDI flow for Burmese FY 2006-2007 (April-March), the U.S. Embassy estimates an 88 percent year-on-year decrease in the value of new FDI approvals ($752 million) compared with total new investment approvals in FY 2005-2006 ($6.066 billion). FY2005-2006 proposed investments from Thailand ($6.034 billion in power and oil and gas), India ($30.58 million in oil and gas) and China ($0.70 million in mining) received approvals. The amount of FDI investments approved in FY 2005-06 were the highest-ever reported. The approved FDI amount significantly rose in March 2006 with Thailand’s planned investment of $6 billion in the Ta Sang hydropower project. In 2006-07, the Burmese Government approved $752.7 million in new investments; Chinese companies pledged $281.22 million, U.K. firms (which include companies from the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda) pledged $240.68 million, Singaporean companies pledged $160.8 million, Korean firms pledged $37 million, and companies from the Russian Federation pledged $33 million.

The vast majority of approved new investment since 1997 has come from Asian countries. Western countries have largely stayed away from the Burmese market, largely due to the abysmal investment climate, including an absence of rule of law, economic mismanagement, and endemic corruption. New U.S. investment ceased in 1997 when the U.S. government imposed an investment ban.

According to GOB statistics, in stock terms, the United States is the eighth largest foreign investor in Burma, with 15 approved projects totaling $244 million. U.S. investment approved prior to May 1997, which was grandfathered under U.S. investment sanctions, is largely concentrated in oil and natural gas exploration.

Major non-U.S. foreign investors in Burma are concentrated in resource extraction and include: Petronas (Malaysia), Total (France), PTTEP (Thailand), Shin Satellite (Thailand), Keppel Land (Singapore), Daewoo (South Korea), China National Construction and Agricultural Machinery Import and Export Co. (PRC), and the China International Trust and Investment Corporation (PRC).

Government statistics do not report external investments made by Burmese companies. However, there is anecdotal information that some wealthy Burmese individuals and small family businesses have made investments in China and in neighboring ASEAN countries.

(Millions of US Dollars)
Sector No. of Projects Approved Amount % of Total Approved Amt
Power 2 6,311.000 42.83
Oil and Gas 85 3,242.478 2 1.32
Manufacturing 154 1,629.128 11.06
Real Estate 19 1,056.453 7.17
Hotels and Tourism 43 1,034.561 7.02
Mining 58 534.890 3.63
Livestock/Fisheries 25 324.358 2.20
Transport/Comms 16 313.272 2.13
Industrial Estates 3 193.113 1.31
Construction 2 37.767 0.26
Agriculture 4 34.351 0.23
Other Services 6 23.686 0.16
Total 417 14,736.279 1 00.00

(Millions of US Dollars)
No. Country No. of Projects Approved Amount
1. Thailand 58 7,391.843
2. U.K.* 50 1,860.954
3. Singapore 70 1,515.213
4. Malaysia 33 660.747
5. Hong Kong 31 504.218
6. China 27 475.443
7. France 2 469.000
8. U.S.A. 15 243.565
9. Republic of Korea 37 243.308
10. Indonesia 12 241.497
11. The Netherlands 5 238.835
12. India 7 219.575
13. Japan 23 213.004
14. Philippines 2 146.667
15. Australia 14 82.080
16. Austria 2 72.500
17. Canada 14 39.781
18. Cyprus 2 38.250
19. Panama 1 29.101
20. Germany 2 17.500
21. Denmark 1 13.370
22. Macau 2 4.400
23. Vietnam 1 3.649
24. Switzerland 1 3.382
25. Bangladesh 2 2.957
26. Israel 1 2.400
27. Brunei Darussalam 1 2.040
28. Sri Lanka 1 1.000
Total 417 14,736.279

*Inclusive of enterprises incorporated in British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

BURMA: Targeting Of Defence Lawyers

Saturday, 21 February 2009, 3:02 pm
Press Release: ALRC

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

BURMA: Targeting Of Defence Lawyers In Myanmar

1. In 2008 the authorities in Myanmar increasingly targeted defence lawyers as a means of quelling dissent not only outside but also inside the criminal justice system itself. Although the law practiced in Myanmar is supposed to be adversarial, apparently not content with already pre-arranging for the outcomes of many cases through the orders of executive councils at all levels to trial judges, authorities also began taking action against defence lawyers who have been causing them embarrassment simply because they have been trying to do their jobs according to law.

2. Towards the end of the year, at least six lawyers in Myanmar were accused of criminal offences because of their attempts to defend clients whom the Government of Myanmar intended to imprison irrespective of the trial process. Out of those six, the Asian Legal Resource Centre has closely documented the case of Supreme Court advocates U Aung Thein and U Khin Maung Shein, who were imprisoned for four months on a charge of contempt of court in November 2008. A brief study of the mechanics of the case and the means by which the two were imprisoned speaks to the extent to which the courts in Myanmar are governed by what the former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar correctly characterized as the “un-rule of law”:

a. U Aung Thein and U Khin Maung Shein are both lawyers of over 20 years experience in Burma. They have represented many defendants in criminal cases arising from the protests of September 2007. Among them were five cases lodged against three young men, Ko Htun Htun Oo, Ko Maung Maung Latt and Ko Aung Kyaw Moe, and one young woman, Ma Htar Htar Thet, Felony Nos. 307-311/2008 before Judge Daw Aye Myaing of the Hlaing Township Court in Rangoon (Yangon). The hearings were proceeding, like others from September 2007, in a special courtroom within the Insein Central Prison, under an order from the Supreme Court.

b. At the hearing of 3 October 2008 the family members of the defendants were not allowed to enter the courtroom nor leave food for them. Thereafter, at the hearing on October 6, Ko Htun Htun Oo, speaking on behalf of the four defendants, informed the court that as the family members had been denied the right to attend the hearings and as the defendants “no longer had faith in the judicial process” they had decided that they would no longer cooperate with the court. They would refuse to be examined, give testimony, or cross-examine witnesses through their counsel. They also would withdraw the power of attorney from the two lawyers at the next hearing. After he made this statement, the judge instructed that the same be put to the court through the lawyers. U Aung Thein asked that the court record the same in its record and U Khin Maung Shein did likewise. It was clear from this procedure that the withdrawal of power of attorney was made through consultation of the clients with their advocates, in
c. At the hearing of October 13 U Khin Maung Shein appeared to inform the court that the submissions to withdraw power of attorney had not yet been prepared. Thereafter he left the court.

d. On October 20 U Khin Maung Shein in the courtroom gave the submissions to withdraw power of attorney in the five cases to the four defendants. They read the documents thoroughly and each signed them. The two attorneys also had their signatures affixed. Then the documents were submitted to the court. At that time the judge said that the remark in paragraph 2 of the submissions to withdraw power of attorney that the defendants “no longer had faith in the judicial process” had not been made orally at the earlier hearing. Two of the defendants, Ko Htun Htun Oo and Ko Aung Kyaw Moe, both objected that they had said these words and they would again make a submission to the court to this effect. But Judge Daw Aye Myaing said that, “It is too late. Don’t speak.”

e. The Hlaing Township Court then made an application to the Supreme Court under section 3 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1926, that, contempt of court may be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to six months, in Miscellaneous Criminal Application No. 99/2008, Daw Naw Than Than Aye applicant. This Act consists only of this provision for the term of punishment. It contains no criteria on what amounts to contempt of court. In the past, courts in Myanmar (then Burma) had set some parameters and there was in general respect for the role of the attorneys and the need to ensure that they could conduct their business without fear of intimidation or retribution; however, as the present case reveals this provision exists in Myanmar today merely as one among many sticks that the authorities have available with which to hit out at anyone whom they deem to be threatening their personal prestige or the position of the state.

f. On 6 November 2008 the Supreme Court found the two advocates guilty of contempt of court and sentenced them to four months’ imprisonment each. In a letter of appeal against the sentence, U Khin Maung Shein noted that in Judge Daw Aye Myaing’s report of the proceedings of October 6, “After examination the defendants did not present any cross-examination,” which supports the lawyers’ assertion that it was the clients’ loss of faith in the judicial process as stated in the letter that caused this behaviour, not the lawyers’ own ideas. Furthermore, he observed that the clients would not have signed the documents to withdraw power of attorney with the said words if they had not really said them. This fact was even noted by the Supreme Court, which recorded that, “Although Daw Aye Myaing said that the defendants did not know anything about this matter as their signatures are on the submissions this issue needs to be examined for clarific ation.”

g. The wives of defendants Ko Htun Htun Oo and Ko Aung Kyaw Moe, Daw Khin Ma Win and Daw Win Maw Aye have also verified that when they each visited their husbands in prison the defendants said that because the families had not been allowed into the courtroom and because they no longer had faith in the judicial process they would withdraw power of attorney from the two lawyers. The two wives wanted to submit affidavits to the court to this effect but had been denied the opportunity.

h. Like defendants from last September 2007, the prison authorities have transferred the two lawyers to prisons remote from their families, in the Ayeyarwaddy Division. U Aung Thein was sent to Pathein Prison; U Khin Maung Shein to the Myaungmya Prison, further to the west. They were due for release on 7 March 2009.

3. Aside from criminal sanctions, there are many other methods that the authorities in Myanmar use to intimidate and coerce lawyers in Myanmar today in order that they refrain from performing their jobs to the best of their ability and the extent of the law. The ALRC has obtained a list of over 200 lawyers who in recent years have been suspended or deregistered and are now unable to practice, many of them as a result of doing things that the authorities found inimical to their interests. In a country with lawyers numbering in the thousands, this is a large percentage that speaks to the attempts to contain and coerce the profession as a whole. The ALRC has followed a number of cases of deregistration closely and is aware that the lawyers who have suffered this penalty have been informed by written communication of what has happened to them and have been denied the opportunity to present a defence, although the law allows for this.

4. In light of the above case and many others of its sort in Myanmar, some known to human rights groups abroad, many others not, the Asian Legal Resource Centre makes a special call to the Human Rights Council for close attention to be made to the situation of defence lawyers in Myanmar through the relevant Special Procedures, especially those on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the independence of judges and lawyers, and human rights defenders. In a legal system where not only the defendants are wrongly accused and tried in violation of basic criminal law and procedure but also their attorneys are targeted for retribution, the notion of protection of even the most basic human rights becomes an absurdity. If the lawyers, let alone their clients, are not free from wanton persecution of the sort described in this case then there is no prospect even for the formal application of law, let alone the realization of any of the guarantees that it should otherwise offer. It is criti cal for the sake of the a

About ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at local and national levels throughout Asia.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

ၿပည္တြင္း အထူးသတင္း ထုတ္ၿပန္ခ်က္


ျပည္တြင္းတိုင္းရင္းသားပါတီေတြစုေပါင္းဖြဲ႔စည္းထားတဲ့ United Nationalities Alliance (UNA)က ၂၀၁၀ မွာ စစ္အုပ္စုက က်င္းပေပးမဲ့ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲကုိ လက္မခံေၾကာင္း ၂၀၀၉ ခုႏွစ္ ေဖေဖၚရီလ ၂၀ ရက္ ေန႔စြဲနဲ႔ ေၾကညာခ်က္ တေစာင္ ထြက္ရွိလာပါတယ္။ ထုတ္ၿပန္ခဲ့တဲ့ဒီေၾကညာခ်က္မွာ United Nationalities Alliance (UNA)က ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္ ဦးေဆာင္ေသာ အမ်ိဳးသားဒီမုိကေရစီအဖြဲ႔ခ်ဳပ္ (N.L.D) က တင္ၿပခဲ့ေသာ ႏုိင္ငံေရးအက်ဥ္းသားမ်ား အားလုံးလႊတ္ေပးရန္ ႏွင့္ အဓိပၸါယ္ရွိေသာ ဖြဲ႔စည္းပုံအေၿခခံဥပေဒဆုိင္ရာ ေဆြးေႏြးမႈမ်ား ကုိ အခ်ိန္ကာလ ထားရွိ၍ ေတြ႔ဆုံေဆြးေႏြးမႈၿပဳလုပ္ရန္ ေတာင္းဆုိထားခ်က္ကုိ အၿပည့္အ၀ အခုိင္အမာ ေထာက္ခံပါေၾကာင္း ႏွင့္ ကမၻာ့ကုလသမဂၢ နဲ႔ ႏုိင္ငံတကာ မွလည္း ဒီေတာင္းဆုိခ်က္ အတုိင္း အေကာင္အထည္ေဖာ္ ေဆာင္ရြက္ရမည္ၿဖစ္ေၾကာင္း ေဖာ္ၿပထားပါတယ္။ ဒီထုတ္ၿပန္ေၾကညာခ်က္မွာ အခ်က္ ၆ ခ်က္ ပါရွိၿပီး၊ ေစ့စပ္ ၾကား၀င္ညွိႏွဳိင္းေပးေနတဲ့ ကမၻာ့ကုလသမဂၢ မွလည္း စစ္အုပ္စုက က်င္းပေပးမဲ့ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲကုိ ၀င္ရန္ တုိက္တြန္းေၿပာဆုိမႈမၿပဳလုပ္ရန္ ႏွင့္ ဒီလုိေၿပာဆုိလာမႈမ်ားကုိ ေရွာင္ၾကဥ္ၾကဖုိ႔ ကုိလည္း တုိက္တြန္းႏွဳိးေဆာ္ထားပါတယ္။

အေသးစိတ္ကုိ ဖတ္ရွဳ႕ ပါ။ သက္ဆုိင္ရာ သုိ႔ ၿဖန္႔ေ၀ႏုိင္ပါသည္။

ဒီထုတ္ၿပန္ခ်က္ နဲ႔ တေန႔ထဲမွာဘဲ စစ္အုပ္စု က အက်ဥ္းသား ၆၀၀၀ ကုိ ၿပန္လႊတ္ေပးမယ္ လုိ႔ ေၾကညာခဲ့တယ္။ ဒီလႊတ္ေပးမဲ့သူေတြထဲ မွာ ႏုိင္ငံေရး အက်ဥ္းသားေတြ ပါမပါ အတိအက်မသိ ရေသးပါဘူး။

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Junta to free 6,000 prisoners: state media

YANGON (AFP) — Myanmar's military government will release more than 6,300 prisoners to allow them to take part in elections next year, state media said Friday, a day after a UN rights envoy visited the country.

State television did not say if any of the country's estimated 2,000 political prisoners would be among those to be freed starting from Saturday, but the main opposition party said some of them may be released.

The authorities were releasing a total of 6,313 prisoners so they would be "able to participate for the benefit of the state, like other citizens, in coming 2010 free and fair elections", state television said.

It added that the government was freeing them to "respect humanitarian reasons and be sympathetic to family members of those prisoners who have learned good morals".

The announcement came a day after the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Tomas Ojea Quintana, wrapped up a six-day trip to the country during which he called for the "progressive" release of political detainees.

State television reported Quintana's visit on Friday but did not give details.

The UN has urged Myanmar's ruling generals to free all political prisoners, the most famous of whom is pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been detained for most of the last 19 years.

A spokesman from her National League for Democracy (NLD), Nyan Win, said that a "few political prisoners may be released but we cannot expect too many."

In September last year Myanmar's junta freed more than 9,000 prisoners, among them Win Tin, a 78-year-old journalist, who was the country's longest-serving political prisoner.

But courts have handed out heavy jail terms to dozens of pro-democracy activists in recent months, many of them involved in protests led by Buddhist monks that erupted in 2007.

The UN has said at least 31 people were killed during a crackdown on the protests.

Myanmar's government has said it will hold multi-party elections in 2010, but critics say the polls are just a way for the generals to solidify and legitimise their power.

The country has been ruled by generals since 1962.

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ဂမ္ဘာရီ တိုက္တြန္းခ်က္ အန္အယ္ဒီ လက္မခံ

ေသာၾကာေန႔၊ ေဖေဖၚဝါရီလ 20 2009 20:37 - ျမန္မာစံေတာ္ခ်ိန္

နယူးေဒလီ (မဇိၥ်မ)။ ။ ျမန္မာစစ္အစိုးရ က်င္းပမည့္ ၂၀၁၀ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲကို အားေပးရန္ တိုက္တြန္းသည့္ ကုလသမဂၢ ကိုယ္စားလွယ္ မစၥတာ ဂမ္ဘာရီသည္ ကုလ လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္မ်ားကို စြက္ဖက္သည့္ အသြင္ေဆာင္ေၾကာင္း အတိုက္အခံပါတီ အန္အယ္ဒီက ယေန႔ ေျပာဆိုလိုက္သည္။

မစၥတာ ဂမ္ဘာရီႏွင့္ ဂ်ပန္ႏိုင္ငံျခားေရး၀န္ၾကီး၏ ယမန္ေန႔ ပူးတြဲေၾကညာခ်က္တြင္ "ႏိုင္ငံတကာ အသိုင္းအ၀ိုင္းမွ လက္ခံႏိုင္ဖြယ္ ပုံစံတခုျဖစ္ေအာင္ ၂၀၁၀ တြင္ ျပဳလုပ္မည့္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲအတြက္ ျမန္မာအစိုးရကို အားေပးရန္" တိုက္တြန္းခ်က္သည္ ကုလ လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္အေပၚ စြက္ဖက္သလို ျဖစ္သြားႏုိင္ေၾကာင္း ေျပာဆိုျခင္း ျဖစ္သည္။

"အဲဒါ ဘာေၾကာင့္ ထုတ္သလဲဆိုေတာ့ ကုလသမဂၢ အေထြေထြ ညီလာခံက ထုတ္ျပန္ထားတဲ့ ၁၉၉၀ ခုႏွစ္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲကို ေလးစား လိုက္နာရမယ္ ဆိုတဲ့ မူနဲ႔ မကိုက္ညီတဲ့အတြက္ အထူး စိုးရိမ္မိတယ္။ သူ႔အေနနဲ႔ ကုလသမဂၢရဲ႕ လုပ္ငန္းေတြကို ၀င္ေရာက္ စြက္ဖက္သလို ျဖစ္သြားမယ္" ဟု ပါတီေျပာခြင့္ရ ဦးဉာဏ္၀င္းက မဇၥ်ိမကုိ ေျပာသည္။

သူက ဆက္ၿပီး "ဂမ္ဘာရီရဲ႕ ရပ္တည္ခ်က္က ကုလသမဂၢ အေထြေထြ ညီလာခံ ဆံုးျဖတ္ခ်က္ေတြရဲ႕အျပင္ ေရာက္ေနတဲ့ ပံုစံမ်ဳိး ျဖစ္ေနတယ္။ အဲဒီေတာ့ သူတို႔က အေထြေထြ ညီလာခံမွာ ႏိုင္ငံေပါင္းစံုေတြရဲ႕ ဆံုးျဖတ္ခ်က္ခဲ့တဲ့ ဟာေတြနဲ႔ မကိုက္ညီတဲ့အတြက္ စိုးရိမ္မိတယ္လို႔ ေျပာတာပါ" ဟု ေျပာသည္။

ကုလ ကိုယ္စားလွယ္သည္ ၇ ၾကိမ္ေျမာက္ ခရီးစဥ္အျဖစ္ ျမန္မာျပည္သို႔ ယခုလဆန္းပိုင္းက လာေရာက္စဥ္ အက်ယ္ခ်ဳပ္က်ခံ ျမန္မာ့ ဒီမိုကေရစီ ေခါင္းေဆာင္ ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္ အပါအ၀င္ အန္အယ္ဒီ ဗဟိုအလုပ္အမႈေဆာင္ အဖဲြ႔၀င္အခ်ဳိ႕ႏွင့္ အစိုးရ ဧည့္ေဂဟာတြင္ ေတြ႔ဆံုေဆြးေႏြးခဲ့သည္။

ေဆြးေႏြးပြဲတြင္ အန္အယ္ဒီက ႏိုင္ငံေရး အက်ဥ္းသားမ်ား လႊတ္ေပးရန္၊ ႏိုင္ငံေရး ျပႆနာ ေျဖရွင္းေရးအတြက္ ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္ႏွင့္ ဗုိလ္ခ်ဳပ္မႉးၾကီး သန္းေရႊတို႔ မ်က္ႏွာခ်င္းဆုိင္ ေတြ႔ဆံုေဆြးေႏြးရန္ စစ္အစိုးရကို မစၥတာဂမ္ဘာရီက တိုက္တြန္းေပးပါရန္ ေျပာဆိုခဲ့သည္။

ထို႔အျပင္ ၂၀၀၈ ဖြဲ႔စည္းပံု ဥပေဒကို အန္အယ္ဒီက လက္မခံေၾကာင္းႏွင့္ အဆိုပါ ဖြဲ႔စည္းပံုကို ျပန္လည္ သံုးသပ္ႏိုင္မည့္ နည္းလမ္းမ်ားကို ရွာေဖြရန္ အၾကံျပဳ ေဆြးေႏြးခဲ့သည္။

မစၥတာဂမ္ဘာရီက မည္သည့္ အခ်က္သည္ အဓိက ဦးစားေပးသနည္းဟု ေမးျမန္းခဲ့ရာ အန္အယ္ဒီက ႏိုင္ငံေရး အက်ဥ္းသားမ်ား ျခြင္းခ်က္မရွိ အကုန္လႊတ္ေပးေရး ျဖစ္သည္ဟု တံု႔ျပန္ေျပာဆိုခဲ့သည္။

ယမန္ေန႔က အထူးေၾကညာခ်က္ ႏွစ္ေစာင္ကို အန္အယ္ဒီက ထုတ္ျပန္ရာတြင္ မစၥတာ ဂမ္ဘာရီႏွင့္ ဂ်ပန္ႏုိင္ငံျခားေရး ၀န္ၾကီး၏ ပူးတဲြ ေၾကညာခ်က္အေပၚ ယေန႔ ေျပာဆိုခ်က္အတုိင္း တံု႔ျပန္ခဲ့ျခင္းျဖစ္ကာ၊ ေနာက္တေစာင္၌မူ မၾကာမီ ျမန္မာျပည္သို႔ လာေရာက္မည့္ ကုလ အေထြေထြ အတြင္းေရးမႉးခ်ဳပ္ မစၥတာ ဘန္ကီမြန္း၏ ခရီးစဥ္အေပၚ ပါတီီအေနျဖင့္ မည္သည့္ ၾကိဳတင္ ကန္႔သတ္ထားျခင္းမ်ား မရွိေၾကာင္း ေျပာဆိုထားျခင္း ျဖစ္သည္။

"အန္အယ္ဒီက ၾကိဳတင္ စည္းကမ္းခ်က္ေတြနဲ႔ ႏိုင္ငံေရး အက်ဥ္းသားေတြ လႊတ္ရမယ္ ဆိုတာေတြက မမွန္ဘူး။ က်ေနာ္တို႔မွာ အဲလို ႀကိဳတင္စည္းကမ္းခ်က္လည္း မထားပါဘူး။ အဲဒီထဲမွာပဲ ေခါင္းေဆာင္ ၂ ဦး တိုက္႐ိုက္ေတြ႔ဆံုေရး အတြက္လည္း ၾကိဳတင္ စည္းကမ္းခ်က္လည္း မထားပါဘူး" ဟု ဦးဉာဏ္၀င္းက ေျပာသည္။

အထူး ေၾကညာခ်က္မ်ားကို ႏိုင္ငံျခား သံ႐ုံးတခ်ဳိ႕ႏွင့္ ကုလသမဂၢ ဌာေန ကိုယ္စားလွယ္႐ုံးမ်ားကို ေပးပို႔ခဲ့ေၾကာင္း ဦးဉာဏ္၀င္းက ေျပာဆိုသည္။

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အလုပ္အကုိင္ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်ေနရတဲ့ အေမရိကန္ႏွင့္ အလုပ္လက္မဲ့ အေျခအေန

ေသာၾကာေန႔၊ ေဖေဖၚဝါရီလ 20 2009 16:56 - ျမန္မာစံေတာ္ခ်ိန္

အေမရိကန္ႏုိင္ငံမွာ ေဖေဖာ္၀ါရီလအတြင္း ေနာက္ထပ္ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ဆုံး႐ႈံးမႈ ထပ္မံ ျဖစ္ပြားခဲ့ျပန္ပါၿပီ။ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ဆုံး႐ႈံးမႈေၾကာင့္ အစုိးရက အလုပ္လက္မဲ့ေတြအတြက္ ေထာက္ပံ့ေပးၾကရမည့္ ဦးေရဟာ ၅ သန္းနီးပါး ရွိေနၿပီလုိ႔ အလုပ္သမား ၀န္ၾကီးဌာနက လစဥ္ ထုတ္ျပန္တဲ့ ေၾကညာခ်က္မွာ ေဖာ္ျပထားပါတယ္။

ေဖေဖာ္၀ါရီလမွာ အလုပ္လက္မဲ့ အက်ဳိးခံစားခြင့္ ေလွ်ာက္ထားသူ ၁၇၀,၀၀၀ တုိးလာတာေၾကာင့္ ေဖေဖာ္၀ါရီလ ၇ ရက္ေန႔ အပတ္မွာ စုစုေပါင္း ၄ ဒႆမ ၉ သန္းနဲ႔ အျမင့္ဆုံးထိ ေရာက္ရွိခဲ့တယ္လုိ႔ ဆုိတယ္။ လြန္ခဲ့တဲ့ ႏွစ္ကစၿပီး အလုပ္လက္မဲ့ ခံစားခြင့္ ေလွ်ာက္ထားသူဟာ ၂ ဒႆမ ၇၇ သန္း ရွိခဲ့ၿပီး၊ ဒီထဲက ၁ ဒႆမ ၅ သန္းဟာ မႏွစ္က လႊတ္ေတာ္က အတည္ျပဳထားတဲ့ ဥပေဒအရ ဆက္လက္ၿပီး အလုပ္လက္မဲ့ အက်ဳိးခံစားခြင့္ ရွိေနတာေၾကာင့္ ယခုဆုိလွ်င္ အလုပ္လက္မဲ့ ၆ ဒႆမ ၅၄ သန္းကုိ အစုိးရက ေထာက္ပံ့ေပးေနပါတယ္။

အလုပ္လက္မဲ့ ခံစားခြင့္ တၿပည္နယ္နဲ႔ တျပည္နယ္ မတူသလုိ၊ ၀င္ေငြ အခြန္ေဆာင္ထားခဲ့မႈေတြ၊ ၀င္ေငြေပၚ မူတည္ၿပီး ခံစားမႈရွိတဲ့ အစုိးရရဲ႕ ေထာက္ပံ့ေငြဟာ အနည္းငယ္ ကြဲျပားမႈ ရွိပါတယ္။ အေမရိကန္ အင္ဒီယားနား ျပည္နယ္မွာေတာ့ ၀င္ေငြခြန္ ေဆာင္ထားခဲ့တဲ့ တပတ္လွ်င္ နာရီေပါင္း ၄၀ လုပ္ခဲ့တဲ့ အလုပ္သမားတဦးဟာ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်ခဲ့မႈေၾကာင့္ အလုပ္လက္မဲ့ ျဖစ္ခဲ့လွ်င္ အစုိးရက တပတ္မွာ ေဒၚလာ ၃၉၀ ႏႈန္းနဲ႔ အနည္းဆံုး ၆ လ ေထာက္ပံ့ေပးပါတယ္။ ဒီေထာက္ပံ့ေငြထဲက အခြန္ ျပန္ေဆာင္ရပါတယ္။

သတ္မွတ္ထားတဲ့ တခ်ဳိ႕ ေထာက္ပံ့မႈ နည္းသူေတြကုိ အစားအစာ ၀ယ္ယူႏုိင္တဲ့ ကူပြန္ေတြကုိလည္း ေထာက္ပံ့ေပးပါတယ္။ အေမရိကန္မွာ ယေန႔ ရင္ဆုိင္ေနရတဲ့ စီးပြားေရးပ်က္ကပ္ေၾကာင့္ အစုိးရက ေထာက္ပံ့ေပးမႈ ကာလကုိ ၁ ႏွစ္မွ ၁ ႏွစ္ခြဲအထိ တုိးျမႇင့္ေပးထားတာေၾကာင့္ ျပည္နယ္အစုိးရေတြမွာ လုိေငြေတြ ျပေနၿပီး၊ တခ်ဳိ႕ ျပည္နယ္ေတြမွာ ေထာက္ပံ့ေပးရမည့္ေငြေၾကး ျပတ္ေတာက္မႈေတြနဲ႔ ရင္ဆုိင္ေနရတယ္လုိ႔ ျပည္နယ္အစုိးရေတြက ေျပာဆုိေနၾကပါတယ္။

ၿပီခဲ့တဲ့ အပတ္က ၆၂၇,၀၀၀ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ဆုံး႐ႈံးခဲ့ၿပီး၊ အဲဒီ အပတ္မတုိင္ခင္က ၆၃၁,၀၀၀ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ဆုံး႐ႈံးခဲ့တာေၾကာင့္ ၁၉၈၂ ခုႏွစ္ကတည္းက ရက္သတၱတပတ္မွာ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ဆုံး႐ႈံးမႈ အမ်ားဆုံးလုိ႔ ေဖာ္ျပထားပါတယ္။ ဒီလုိ ၆၀၀,၀၀၀ ထက္မက သုံးပတ္ ဆက္တုိက္ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ဆုံး႐ႈံးခဲ့မႈဟာ ၂၆ ႏွစ္အတြင္း ပထမဦးဆုံးအၾကိမ္ ျဖစ္ခဲ့ပါတယ္။ ဇန္န၀ါရီလကလည္း အလုပ္အကုိင္ ၅၉၈,၀၀၀ ဆုံး႐ႈံးခဲ့တာေၾကာင့္ ၁၉၇၄ ခုႏွစ္ကစၿပီး ဒါဟာ အျမင့္မားဆုံး ျဖစ္ခဲ့ေသာ္လည္း၊ ေဖာ္ေဖာ္၀ါရီလမွာ ဒီ့ထက္ ပုိမုိဆုိး၀ါးလာလိမ့္မယ္လုိ႔ ေဖာ္ျပထားပါတယ္။

မေန႔ကေတာ့ အေမရိကန္ ကားကုမၸဏီၾကီးေတြ ျဖစ္ၾကတဲ့ GM and Chrysler ေတြက တကမၻာလုံးမွာ သူတုိ႔ရဲ႕ အလုပ္သမားေတြကုိ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်မယ္လုိ႔ ေၾကညာသြားပါတယ္။ ဒီေၾကညာခ်က္ထဲမွာ GM က ၅၀,၀၀၀ ႏွင့္ Chysler ကုမၸဏီက ၄၇,၀၀၀ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်မယ္လုိ႔ တရား၀င္ ေၾကညာခ်က္ ထုတ္ျပန္ထားၿပီး၊ အေမရိကန္ ဗဟုိအစုိးရဆီကုိ ၂၁ ဒႆမ ၆ ဘီလီယံ ေခ်းဖုိ႔ ထပ္တုိးေတာင္းထားၾကပါတယ္။ GM ေမာ္ေတာ္ကား ကုမၸဏီဟာ လုပ္ငန္းေတြ ဆက္လက္လည္ပတ္သြားႏုိင္ဖုိ႔အတြက္ ၂၀၁၁ ခုႏွစ္အထိ အေမရိကန္ ေဒၚလာ ဘီလီယံ ၃၀ လုိအပ္လိမ့္မွာ ျဖစ္တယ္လုိ႔ ကုမၸဏီ အၾကီးအကဲက ေျပာဆုိခဲ့ပါတယ္။

အရင္တုန္းက အေမရိကန္ ဗဟုိအစုိးရဆီက ၁၃ ဒႆမ ၄ ဘီလီယံ ေခ်းထားတာေၾကာင့္ အခုဆုိ ၁၈ ဘီလီယံ ထပ္မံ လုိအပ္ေနေၾကာင္းနဲ႔ Chysler ကုမၸဏီကလည္း အရင္က ၇ ဘီလီယံ ေတာင္းထားတာက ၉ ဘီလီယံ ထပ္မံလုိအပ္ေနၾကာင္း ေဖာ္ျပထားပါတယ္။

အေမရိကန္ ကားကုမၸဏီ GM ဟာ ၂၀၀၂ ခုႏွစ္မွာ အလုပ္သမားေပါင္း ၁၇၇,၀၀၀ ရွိခဲ့ရာက ၂၀၀၈ ခုႏွစ္မွာ ၉၃,၀၀၀ သာ က်န္ရွိခဲ့ပါတယ္။ အလုပ္သမားေတြ၊ ႐ုံး၀န္ထမ္းေတြကုိ ဆက္လက္၍ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်သြားေနတာေၾကာင့္ ၂၀၀၉ ခုႏွစ္ အကုန္မွာ အလုပ္သမားေပါင္း ၁၀၀,၀၀၀ ေက်ာ္ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ဆုံး႐ံႈးလိမ့္မယ္လုိ႔ ကုမၸဏီ အၾကီးအကဲက အတည္ျပဳ ေျပာဆုိသြားပါတယ္။

ဒီလုိ ေမာ္ေတာ္ကား ကုမၸဏီေတြက အလုပ္အကုိင္ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်ေနသလုိ၊ ေမာ္ေတာ္ကား ဘီးတာရာေတြ ထုတ္လုပ္ေနတဲ့ Goodyear Tire& Rubber ကုမၸဏီကလည္း ၂၀၀၉ ခုႏွစ္မွာ သူတုိ႔ရဲ႕ ႐ုံးအမႈထမ္း အလုပ္သမား ဦးေရ ၄၅,၀၀ ကုိ ထပ္မံေလွ်ာ့ခ်သြားမယ္လုိ႔ ေၾကညာခဲ့တယ္။ Goodyear Tire& Rubber ကုမၸဏီဟာ ၂၀၀၈ ခုႏွစ္မွာ တကမၻာလုံးမွာ လုပ္ကုိင္ေနၾကတဲ့ သူတုိ႔ရဲ႕ အလုပ္သမားေပါင္း ၇၅,၀၀၀ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်ခဲ့ၿပီးသြားပါၿပီ။

လက္ရွိ ရင္ဆုိင္ေနရတဲ့ ကမၻာ့စီးပြားေရး အက်ပ္အတည္း ကာလအတြင္း ေမာ္ေတာ္ကား ထုတ္လုပ္ေနတဲ့ ကုမၸဏီၾကီးေတြဟာ ႏွစ္ေပါင္း ၂၇ ႏွစ္အတြင္း ကုန္က်စရိတ္ ျမင့္မားေနမႈ၊ အ႐ႈံးေပၚေနမႈ၊ ေရာင္းအား က်ဆင္းေနမႈေတြ အျမင့္မားဆုံးအဆင့္ကုိ ေရာက္ရွိေနတာေၾကာင့္၊ ဒီလုိ ဧရာမ အလုပ္အကုိင္ေတြကုိ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်ေနရျခင္းျဖစ္ေၾကာင္း ေမာ္ေတာ္ကား ထုတ္လုပ္ေနတဲ့ ကုမၸဏီ အၾကီးအကဲေတြက အေမရိကန္ အထက္လႊတ္ေတာ္ ၾကားနာစစ္ေဆးမႈမွာ ထုတ္ေဖာ္ေျပာဆုိခဲ့ပါတယ္။

ေမာ္ေတာ္ကား ကုမၸဏီၾကီးတခုမွာ သူတုိ႔ကုိ မွီခုိ ေထာက္ပံ့ေနတဲ့ ေမာ္ေတာ္ကားပစၥည္း ထုတ္လုပ္တဲ့ (Suppliers) ကုမၸဏီေပါင္း ရာနဲ႔ခ်ီရွိၾကၿပီး၊ ဒီ ရာနဲ႔ခ်ီတဲ႔ (Suppliers) ကုမၸဏီေတြမွာလည္း အလုပ္အကုိင္ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်မႈေတြ ဆက္တုိက္ ျဖစ္ေပၚလာမွာေၾကာင့္ ၂၀၀၉ ခုႏွစ္မွာ ဧရာမ အလုပ္အကုိင္ ေလွ်ာ့ခ်မႈေတြ၊ အလုပ္လက္မဲ့ ျဖစ္မႈေတြဟာ အေမရိကန္ အပါအ၀င္ ကမာၻ႔ေဒသ အေတာ္မ်ားမ်ားမွာ ဆက္လက္ ရွိေနၾကမယ္လုိ႔ စီးပြားေရး သုံးသပ္ေလ့လာေနသူေတြနဲ႔ စီးပြားေရးကြ်မ္းက်င္သူ ပညာရွင္ေတြက ခန္႔မွန္းေျပာဆုိ ေနၾကပါတယ္။

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Clinton Signals Possible Shift in U.S. Policy on Burma

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 18, 2009; 3:49 PM

JAKARTA, Feb. 18 -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that economic sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western governments had failed to pressure the repressive Burmese government, signaling a potentially major shift in U.S. policy.

Clinton, at a news conference here, did not deny that easing sanctions was one of the ideas under consideration by the Obama administration as part of a major review. "We are looking at possible ideas that can be presented," she told reporters and said that she had discussed the issue with Indonesia officials here.

"Clearly the path we have taken in imposing sanctions hasn't influenced the Burmese junta," she said, adding that the route taken by Burma's neighbors of "reaching out and trying to engage them has not influenced them either."

Burma, also known as Myanmar, is regarded as one of the world's most oppressive nations. The National League for Democracy, the party of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, won a landslide electoral victory in 1990, which the military leadership refused to accept. She has been held in confinement repeatedly since then.

Any move by the Obama administration to scale back sanctions on Burma could face strong opposition in Congress, where lawmakers have imposed a series of increasingly tougher restrictions on the Southeast Asian nation. The Bush administration also invested significant diplomatic capital into moving Burma for the first time onto the agenda of the United Nations Security Council, although a proposed resolution the junta's behavior have been vetoed by Russia and China.

Vice President Biden last year was the key mover in the Senate of the Block Burmese JADE act, which renewed restrictions on the import of Burmese gems and tightened sanctions on mining projects there. The act also imposed new financial sanctions and travel restrictions on the junta's leaders and their associates and created a post for a high-level envoy and policy coordinator for Burma.

But some humanitarian organizations have begun to question the sanctions policies. In an influential report issued in October, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group argued that humanitarian aid should begin to flow into the country and bans on Burmese garments, agriculture and fishery products and restrictions on tourism should be lifted.

"It is a mistake in the Myanmar context to use aid as a bargaining chip, to be given only in return for political change," the report said. "Twenty years of aid restrictions -- which see Myanmar receiving twenty times less assistance per capita than other least-developed countries -- have weakened, not strengthened, the forces for change."

While Clinton has been careful not to tip her hand on the direction of the policy review, she has used strikingly mild language about the Burmese government, describing "the unfortunate path" taken by Burma, leaving it "impervious to influence from anyone."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Suu Kyi demands prisoner release

Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained Myanmar opposition leader, has said all political prisoners must be freed as a precondition for any visit to the country by the UN secretary general.

A visit by Ban Ki-moon has been mooted as a possible way of breathing life into talks on political reform between the country's opposition and ruling military.

But in a meeting on Monday with Ibrahim Gambari, the UN special envoy to Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi was quoted as saying that the release of all political detainees was a "minimum requirement" for any talks to go ahead.

The opposition leader and Nobel peace laureate has herself been held under house arrest for most of the past 19 years.

Monday's talks with Gambari are thought to have been the first contact Aung San Suu Kyi has had with someone from outside Myanmar since she met him in March last year.

Commenting on the meeting, a spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi's the opposition National League for Democracy said she had explained to Gambari that she was "ready and willing to meet anyone, but she could not accept having meetings without achieving any outcome."

The talks with Gambari took place behind closed doors on Monday morning at a government-owned guesthouse in Yangon, Myanmar's former capital.

Few other details were given of the meeting, which lasted for about an hour.


Gambari's visit is his seventh to Myanmar and comes amid growing frustration at the UN's lack of progress in reconciling the opposition and the military.

During Gamari's last visit in August 2008, Aung San Suu Kyi refused to meet him, saying his efforts to bring political reform to Myanmar had shown no sign of movement.

This time however she said she was prepared to hold talks with him if he stepped up pressure on the ruling generals.

On Tuesday, the fourth day of his visit, Gambari is expected to travel to the Myanmar's remote new capital, Naypyidaw, for meetings with senior military officials.

It is not clear however whether he will meet the reclusive ageing leader, Senior General Than Shwe.

UN officials have said that on this visit Gambari wanted to have "meaningful discussions" with all parties, including talks on the country's ailing economy.

Despite rich agricultural land, oil and mineral reserves, Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in South-East Asia.

The country is still struggling to recover from the impact of Cyclone Nargis last May, which killed an estimated 146,000 people.

After his meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi Gambari was due to travel to the town of Lambutta later on Monday, one of the places hardest-hit by the cyclone.

Over the weekend Gambari met government leaders, urging them to release the country's political prisoners and resume dialogue with the opposition.

The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962 and says it is pursuing its own so-called "roadmap to democracy" which will lead to eventual elections for a new national parliament.

Opposition groups have dismissed the roadmap as a sham, because it bars Aung San Suu Kyi and other opposition leaders from public office and guarantees the balance of power remains with the military.

Aung San Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy to victory in national elections held in 1990, but the military government ignored the results and has kept her under house arrest for most of the intervening years.

Source: AL Jazeera English

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Burmese Rugby match in Ireland

By Dr. Sein Myint

Burmese people are ardent fans of English and European football, some even betting heavily in downtown Rangoon of some popular matches, but have not shown much enthusiasm in more physically-contacted games like rugby or American football. Perhaps, this could all be changed after some elected Burmese MPs in exile tried themselves to test it out physically of the rugby game in Ireland recently.

In her recent interview with the New Era Journal Chief Editor U Sein Kyaw Hlaing, the MPU Deputy Chairperson, Daw San San, an elected MP of Seikkan Township, Yangon Division, admitted that some violence was broken-up between certain elected MPs during the recent MPU conference in Ireland during the motion and debate on the UN Credential Challenge issue.

And further more, she also alleged that some elected MPs had changed their minds on this CC issue, reversing of their original positions once they were promised of ministerial posts in the new cabinet of exile coalition government headed by the re-elected Prime Minister Dr. Sein Win.

Changing positions and switching sides by the elected MPs are quite normal even in fully developed democratic parliaments of the West, such as the postwar Italian governments where many successive coalition governments had broken down due to minority coalition partners changing side, subsequently call-in for fresh elections to obtain new mandate to form new governments.

Although, heated debates with physical violence are usually rare in Western democratic parliaments, they are not uncommon in many developing democratic parliaments, especially for those hot blooded Taiwanese parliamentarians as pictures shown below. Taiwan's parliament is notorious for fistfights, with many lawmakers enjoying the media attention when brawls erupt.

However, no matter how ugly such violence scenes of disruptions in any democratic parliamentary process, no one can be denied that these physical brawls are much in pale comparing to those political prosecutions and intimidation routinely carried out by those repressive authoritarian regimes over its populace, especially to their political opponents.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t give a reason and a free hand to those elected MPs to act as they wish in public political process, no matter how emotional that they might feel on the debated issues at hand, tarnishing the very democratic principles, i.e. freedom of expression and thoughts, that they hold to their hearts and have been working so hard and long to establish in the country.

The negative effects of such misconducts and unruly behaviors by some elected MPs in Ireland shall not be confined only within the oversea Burmese diasporas and democratic oppositions inside the country , but also will reverberated through out the international communities who have been closely observing and monitoring exile democratic leadership of their integrity, performance, and responsibility.

Such disgraceful acts should not be take it for granted especially for those who were only ELECTED but not yet SEATED MPs to a democratic parliament, regardless of how contentious nature of the debated issue might had been.

Ultimately, the responsibly fell squarely upon the shoulders of the exile leadership who should be setting standard on principle and code of conducts of the fellow MPs carrying out the duties under their designated political roles. Statesmanship and political maturity can only be earned through one’s deeds not simply from one’s fancy words.

Dr. Sein Myint serves as the director of Policy Development of Justice for Human Rights in Burma, located in Maryland, USA. He is an Honorary Member of Amnesty International Chapter 22 in Washington D.C.


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