500 Jailed over Communal Violence in Myanmar

10 July, 2013
Politics

Almost 1,200 people have been arrested and 500 sentenced to jail for their involvement in two episodes of communal violence in Rakhine state last year that left about 200 people dead and 140,000 displaced, a senior government official said on 9 June. Vice President Sai Mauk Kham said that 662 people are still on trial related to 45 different cases.

Myanmar bans Time’s ‘Buddhist Terror’ cover story

26 June, 2013
Politics

The Myanmar government has announced it will soon hold an all-inclusive conference for ethnic minorities. The announcement comes following the draft of the Comprehensive Union Peace and Ceasefire Agreement, which is the result of work by the European-funded Working Group for Ethnic Coordination (WGEC), and was released last month in the Myanmar Peace Centre. While it is hoped that the agreement will serve as a basis for the all-inclusive dialogue, many issues still remain to be addresses, such as the code of conduct for the military and for armed ethnic groups.

Brunei Sultan Lauds Chinese Military

21 June, 2013
Political Security

Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has praised the Chinese Military as the ASEAN+8 are participating in a multilateral humanitarian and disaster relief military exercise. The exercise hosted by Brunei is meant to strengthen cooperation between the ASEAN+8 nations in non-conventional security. The sultan was reportedly impressed with the proficiency of the Chinese armed forces during the exercise.

China Lifts Freeze on Malaysian Bird’s Nest Imports

21 June, 2013
Trade and Investment

China has lifted its ban on bird’s nest imported from Malaysia and has granted approval for nine Malaysian firms to restart exports. The lift is conditional however and the firms must make improvements to meet standards set by the Malaysian Health Ministry which is working with China. China had previously banned Malaysian bird’s nest due to suspected usage of nitrate additives.

Vietnam, China to Extend Oil Project

20 June, 2013
Trade and Investment

Vietnam and China extended an agreement to jointly explore for oil and gas in the Gulf of Tonkin until 2016. The pact was originally signed in 2006 where the countries were looking to gain access to the potentially large stores of oil under the Gulf. The agreement came as a surprise considering the recent tension caused by territorial disputes in the South China Sea region.

Myanmar to renegotiate resource deals to combat corruption

25 June, 2013
Politics

The Myanmar government will renegotiate billions of dollars’ worth of its natural resources deals to clamp down on corruption and impose tougher environmental standards. Businesses owned by the previous military regime and Chinese companies are expected to be most affected. “Apparently, the government is preparing to renegotiate all previously agreed-upon projects to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place and to subject future projects to stricter social and environmental controls,” said a report by the Asia Society, a non-profit organisation dedicated to studying Asia.

Government announces plans for ethnic conference

25 June, 2013
Politics

The Myanmar government has announced it will soon hold an all-inclusive conference for ethnic minorities. The announcement comes following the draft of the Comprehensive Union Peace and Ceasefire Agreement, which is the result of work by the European-funded Working Group for Ethnic Coordination (WGEC), and was released last month in the Myanmar Peace Centre. While it is hoped that the agreement will serve as a basis for the all-inclusive dialogue, many issues still remain to be addresses, such as the code of conduct for the military and for armed ethnic groups.

Australian bank ANZ opens office in Myanmar

24 June, 2013
Business and Investment

ANZ has officially opened a representative office in Myanmar but ANZ was the first Australian bank to win approval to establish a presence last December. The representative office will serve as the first point of contact for customers interested in doing business in Myanmar, but Australia has been strengthening ties with Myanmar following the economic reforms.

Myanmar’s healthcare system in critical condition

24 June, 2013
Economy

Myanmar’s healthcare system faces several challenges before it can deliver effective and affordable care. Despite a rise in government budget, healthcare spending is still low at 3.9% of the total budget, compared with 20.1% allocated to the military. But the increased budget might not benefit patients yet as there is widespread corruption in the healthcare sector. Patients are frequently expected to make under-the-table payments to ensure they will receive quality care, or they can expect longer waiting times and even being ignored completely by the hospital staff.

Government plans legal revamp to tap US market

24 June, 2013
Economy

The government will improve the protection of labour rights and intellectual property to ensure that before the end of this year Myanmar will be reinstated in the generalised system of preferences (GSP), which will grant Myanmar exports duty-free access to the US market, according to officials at the Ministry of Commerce. New legislation on minimum wage and standards for occupational health and safety, as well as new copyright legislation, will be discussed in the next session of parliament.