Myanmar Monitor Weekly


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A Myanmar migrant worker ties a rope to a crate at a market in the town of Bukit Mertajam in Penang, Malaysia. Photo: Radio Free Asia

Security

Safety of Myanmar Workers Questioned
The investigation of the recent killing of 5 Myanmar workers in Kuala Lumpur suburb last week has ruled out that Malaysian were involved in the killings, or these were religiously motivated or done in retaliation for the alleged mistreatment of Rohingya. The killings were motivated by an old dispute with fellow Myanmar workers who came from the same village in Myanmar.
Due to the rising tensions between Myanmar and Malaysia in recent weeks amid the criticisms by Malaysian officials of Myanmar’s handling of violence in Rakhine state, the Myanmar government voiced concerns over the safety of their workers in Malaysia. There are more than 400,000 Myanmar workers in Malaysia, around 100,000 of whom are illegal, according to Myanmar’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur. However, the police chief of Selangor said his department would give Myanmar migrants the same level of protection given to Malaysians.
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Foreign Affairs

Myanmar to Fence Border With India
Myanmar announced that it will build physical fencing along the Indo-Myanmar international border, sealing off approximately 3,500 acres of Khiamniungan Naga land. Naga civil society had objected the project due to the “direct violation against the rights of the indigenous people” as the border would divide many ethnic communities whose lands straddle the regions between the two countries. Besides being forced to live as citizens in different countries, 43 villages, about 3,000 households and around 20,000 villagers of various tribes living between the borders will be affected by the border fencing work. According to Xinhua news agency, the purpose of the fence is to curtail cross-border crime, including smuggling of goods and drug trafficking, which would simultaneously help regional authorities manage the border affair. However, Myanmar Foreign Ministry claims that the construction will not restrict the regular travel of both the peoples in accordance with their tradition and custom.
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Bangladesh Prime Minister Asks Myanmar to Take Back Refugees
Bangladesh Prime Minister on 11 January asked Myanmar’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kyaw Tin to take back tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh from a military crackdown in Rakhine state, Myanmar. The influx of refugees over the past week has caused Bangladesh to reinforced its border posts and deploy coastguard ships to prevent more Rohingya arrivals. The Myanmar government refuses to recognize the Rohingya as one of the country’s ethnic minorities, instead describing them as illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh – even though many have lived in Myanmar for generations.
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Economy

Myanmar Growth Outlook Positive
The World Bank projects Myanmar’s real GDP growth to hit 7.8% in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, an increase from the lower-than-expected 7% growth in 2015-2016. Energy and telecommunications are expected to be immediate areas of growth, given the lack of infrastructure. To move the country away from extractive industries amd develop the manufacturing sector, the government hopes to attract US$140 billion worth of foreign direct investment between 2014 and 2030. Myanmar’s new Investment Law, which comes into effect in April 2017 will provide investors with a more cohesive and modern legal framework. With a young, growing population and a liberalised economy, Myanmar has been slated as one of 20 “markets of the future” that will offer the most opportunities for consumer goods companies.
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World Bank Invests in Myanmar’s Financial Inclusion
The World Bank has established the Financial Sector Development Project to allow SMEs and households in Myanmar to gain better access to financial services and to modernise the financial sector infrastructure. This goal will be achieved through state-owned bank reform and upgrading the legal, regulatory and supervisory framework. The five-year project that includes US$100 million in credit will focus on the country’s microfinance and insurance sectors. The funding is to be split between the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the Central Bank. The 38-year loan is interest-free; however, the government will pay an annual service charge of 0.75% after six years.
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