RANGOON — Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is set to visit Burma at the end of this month in her role as UN envoy for development of microfinance, Dutch media have reported.
Máxima, queen consort of King Willem Alexander, is the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. In this role, she focuses on development of an inclusive financial system that can help the poor gain access to services such as savings, insurance and credit.
Burma’s microfinance sector is one of the least developed in Asia because of the country’s long international isolation under the previous military regime.
President Thein Sein visited the Netherlands during his third European visit in September 2014, when he met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the king and queen.
The Netherlands has been among a number of European countries that have quickly reengaged with Burma following the introduction of reforms by Thein Sein’s nominally civilian government since 2011.
Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liliane Ploumen opened a Netherlands mission in Rangoon in late 2013 to foster trade relations between the two countries. Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Melanie Schultz van Haegen has visited Burma twice to promote cooperation and business opportunities in water management and infrastructure development.
Last year, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell was awarded offshore oil and gas exploration concessions in Burmese waters. Heineken is building a brewery in Burma, while Dutch consumer goods producer Unilever is building two factories in the country.
Some human rights organizations have cautioned Western government leaders against rushing to build trade ties with the Burmese government, as the country’s much-lauded democratic reform process has stalled in the past year or so, while rights abuses and oppressive measures are becoming more common.
In December, the king and queen of Norway, another European country that has sought to foster economic ties with Burma, made an official state visit during which they travelled to Naypyidaw and Mandalay. Ahead of the Norwegian king’s visit, authorities in Mandalay forcibly evicted dozens of poor families squatting at the jetty on the Irrawaddy River where the royal couple arrived by boat.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry later sent a letter of complaint to Burmese authorities over the treatment of the families.
The Product Launch & Promotion of "Super Sun Cut" Sun-block cosmetics of BSC Cosmetology was held at the Junction Square Shopping Mall in Yangon on March 13, 2015. Myanmar well-known supermodels showed up at this "SUN CUT" cosmetics launching and promoted the new products of BSC & NOWHOW. Photos by Wai Yan
The Press Launch of "Dream of Musicals" Music Concert was organized at the Strand Hotel in Yangon on March 10, 2015. Myanmar Top Female Vocalists: May Sweet, May Kha Lar, Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein, Chan Chan and Ni Ni Khin Zaw will perform for this "DREAM of MUSICALS" music concert together with Plus Three Music Band. The Show will be held on 28th March at Strand Hotel in Yangon. Photos by Wai Yan
Suu Kyi’s NLD to Compete in Myanmar Vote Despite Block
BANGKOK — The party of Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will contest the general election this year even if there is no change in the Constitution to allow the Nobel laureate to become president, one of the party’s top leaders said on Friday.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) would have more power to push for an end to the military’s veto over charter changes and remove the obstacles to her presidency if it wins the election, NLD Central Executive Committee Secretary Nyan Win said.
“We are going to compete,” he told Reuters in an interview. “First, we need the majority in Parliament. After that, we will be in a stronger position and we hope we can change the Constitution.”
The NLD had not previously committed to competing in the election, prompting speculation Suu Kyi was using participation as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the government.
Without Suu Kyi, who spent nearly two decades under house arrest for campaigning for democracy, the election would have lacked international legitimacy. Foreign governments lifted sanctions after 49 years of military rule ended in 2011 on condition of further democratic reforms.
The NLD and the government have been in a standoff over the Constitution, which reserves a quarter of parliamentary seats and key government posts for the military and bars Suu Kyi from the presidency because her sons are foreign nationals.
Barring Suu Kyi from the presidency made no sense, US President Barack Obama said in November. The United States has said it wants to see free and fair elections in Burma this year, but that was impossible without constitutional change, Nyan Win said. “The election may be free, but it won’t be fair,” he said.
The NLD is considering alternative candidates for the presidency but has yet to decide on one, he said.
It would not back former Gen. Shwe Mann, the speaker of Parliament and chairman of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), to avoid angering the NLD’s rank and file, he said.
Party aides told Reuters last year the party might support him due to a lack of NLD alternatives.
“We don’t want to see an army man in the top post,” Nyan Win said. “We have many people in the party qualified.”
The party hoped younger members of the armed forces might be more reform minded, he added. It would need at least one member of the military in Parliament to amend the Constitution.
“We will say to them: ‘Please, finally, think of the country,’” he said.
RANGOON — Two journalists detained in Pegu Division’s Tharyarwaddy Prison were released from custody on Friday, three days after they were detained while trying to report on student demonstrations that were dispersed in a violent crackdown.
Myanmar Post reporter Nyan Lin Tun and Phyo Aung Myint of the Reporter Journal said they have been acquitted of all charges and were treated fairly while in detention, even receiving medical care for injuries sustained during their arrest.
“Today at nearly 2pm, they took me from my cell but didn’t tell me whether I was being released or not,” said Nyan Lin Tun. “They released me at about 3pm.”
He said that while the prison guards treated him well, the same could not be said for the police that detained him on Tuesday. He said he showed officers his press identification card during the incident, which ended in a total of 127 arrests, but alleged that they were ordered to arrest journalists along with demonstrators.
Nyan Lin Tun said that Deputy Police Chief Nanda Win grabbed him by the wrist and shouted out instructions to arrest reporters, calling them “instigators.” Nyan Lin Tun also said that he was hit with bamboo and a police baton, as well as being hit and kicked on the head and other parts of his body.
“I collapsed without my bearings when the police kick me hard in the right side of my ribs,” he said.
Phyo Aung Myint said that he was spared a similar beating by two police officers preventing others from beating him.
“There were two policemen covering me so the others couldn’t hit me, and they told the others that I am a journalist,” he said. Phyo Aung Myint was then moved to a small holding room, where six policewomen guarded him and other detainees from “angry, baton-wielding police.”
A total of 127 people were arrested during Tuesday’s violent crackdown, and many were injured by police in what witnesses described as a chaotic scene of extreme aggression and ezxcessive force. About 60 people were charged on Wednesday for various offenses including incitement, harming a public servant and rioting.
Seventeen of those detained were conditionally released on Thursday. Eleven others were released on Friday, including the two journalists.
Myanmar Executive Listed in Forbes’ Asia's 50 Power Businesswomen
RANGOON — Forbes Magazine has listed Burmese businesswoman Win Win Tint, managing director of Burma’s largest retailer City Mart Holdings, in its fourth annual Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen list.
The list appeared in the March issue of Forbes Asia.
“Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen list showcases a year of accomplishments by the region’s female entrepreneurs and executives,” the magazine said. “To make the list, candidates have to be active in the upper echelons of the business world in Asia, wield significant power and have access to robust financial resources.”
It is the first time that a Burmese businesswoman is included in the list.
Forbes said Win Win Tint, 39, “oversees 5,500 workers and says sales have grown 25 percent to 35 percent annually for the past 5 years, to near [US] $200 million.”
“Initially the family hired a professional manager for the business, but Win took over after three months and has steered the company for 18 years. She holds an accounting and business administration diploma from Singapore’s Thames Business School,” the magazine said of the female executive.
Forbes described City Mart as “a leading supplier to Myanmar’s stirring consumer market. From a single grocery store in 1996, the company has burgeoned to over 100 outlets, including 18 City Mart supermarkets, 7 huge Ocean Supercenters and 45 City Express Convenience stores, as well as bakeries, pharmacies, baby clubs and bookstores.”
The Irrawaddy included Win Win Tint in a top 10 of Burmese women in the magazine’s December issue on ‘Movers and Shakers’ in 2014.