Wednesday, November 30, 2011

About 30,000 acres lost to Shweli dam projects

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Wednesday, 30 November 2011 19:51 Kyaw Kha

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Two hydropower dam projects on the Shweli River in northeast Burma will displace 30,000 acres of arable lands, affecting local residents’ tea plantations, paddy fields and forests.

Shweli No. 2 and Shweli No. 3 dam constructions will largely impact the Taaung, aka Plaung.

The authorities have not offered compensation or land substitution to local residents, the Taaung Students and Youth Organization [TSYO] said in a press conference on the Thai-Burmese border on Tuesday.


The Shweli No. 1 Hydropower Dam. Photo: Burma River Network

The group findings were based on a survey carried out over a two-year period in Mong Mit, Manton and Nanhkan townships located near the two dam projects which are being built by Chinese and Swiss companies. The dams will generate a total of 1,570 megawatts.

“Although the government is carrying out the projects, it has not given compensation to the residents,” said Lway Poe Ki, who spoke at the press conference and was involved in the survey.

Because of the Shweli No. 3 dam project, the authorities have ordered an estimated 3,000 villagers from Molo, Nayone, Naya, Mohkat and Nasot villages to relocate about 30 miles from the villages by 2013.

Mai Aung Ko, a TSYO member, told Mizzima, “The villagers don’t know what to do for a living in the new location so they don’t want to move.”

In February 2010, the Ministry of Electrical Power 1 signed a contract with a Swiss company, Colenco Power Engineering, for the Shweli No. 3 hydropower project, which will generate 1,050 megawatts. In November 2009, the ministry signed a contract with China’s Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Company Limited for the Shweli No.2 hydropower project, which will generate 520 megawatts. The electricity generated from the projects will be sold to China.

Mai Ohn Khaing, the secretary of the Taaung (Palaung) National Party, said the party was not aware of the situation, but would conduct a field survey.

“We don’t know much about the situation now. Our party will investigate and when we get reliable facts, we will put forward a motion in Parliament,” he said.

The TSYO report said the Shweli No. 1 hydropower project, about 30 miles from the Shweli No. 2 project, was completed in 2008, and also involved confiscation of residents’ land.
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Hillary Clinton’s lunch menu

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Wednesday, 30 November 2011 20:18 Kyaw Kha

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The following are dishes for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s lunch, which will be hosted in Burmese President Thein Sein’s home in Naypyitaw on Thursday.

The lunch will include fried crab, fried chicken wings, fried eel, maize soup, Taiwan mustard and mollusk, Japanese tofu, asparagus, steamed fish, soya-bean sauce, sea mollusk, fried noodles, eggs and beans, fried rice, fruit, tea and coffee.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waves upon her arrival in Naypyitaw on Wednesday, November 30, 2011. Clinton's visit is the first top-level U.S. visit for half a century and seeks to encourage a movement toward democracy in military-dominated Burma. Photo: AFP 

Sources said that the meal would be prepared by the Thingaha Hotel owned by Chit Khaing of the Eden Business Group. Naypyitaw’s food and drug administration inspected the kitchen of the Thingaha Hotel for food safety.

Hillary Clinton, Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner arrived on a special state department plane. They were welcomed by Burmese Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Myo Myint.

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton will meet with Burmese President Thein Sein. She will also meet with the two Burmese speakers of Parliament, Thura Shwe Mann and Khin Aung Myint.
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A Mandela moment?

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Wednesday, 30 November 2011 16:23 Bo Bo Kyaw Nyein

(Commentary) – Aung San Suu Kyi has been compared to Nelson Mendela, one of the greatest iconic statesmen of the 20th century, for her steely will and strong convictions while standing tall for democracy and fighting courageously for the freedom of the people. Like Mandela, she is committed to nonviolence. She is unwavering in her beliefs. Some so-called Western liberals have labeled her ‘stubborn,” “hard-headed” and some even dared to accuse her of politically na├»vete.

“The Lady,” as she is known, took all the abuse but never showed any signs of compromising her political convictions. Fittingly, as a democratic icon, some people hailed her released in November 2010 as a Mandela moment. However, some, disagreed, like The Observer, in an article headlined: “A release to celebrate – but this is not a ‘Mandela moment’.”

On February 11, 1990, when Mandela was released, the event was broadcast live all over the world and thus many remembered that as the Mandela moment. But there was another moment. Mandela boldly encouraged black South Africans to support the mainly white national rugby team as South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup. His argument was that his support for the previously hated team was for the greater good of the country, and he bravely appeared at the World Cup final wearing a South African green and gold rugby shirt. For many, this was the moment that was widely seen as the major step in the reconciliation of white and black Africans.

Only a brave and wise leader like Mandela would dare to take such a challenging and unpopular move and to willing confront die-hard supporters for the sake of the country. It was also the right thing to do.

Similarly, Aung San Suu Kyi has the wisdom and courage to meet such challenges, and she took a decisive turn when the NLD announced it would re-register the party and enter the by-election. This was Suu Kyi’s Mandela moment, at least to this author. Just as there was no Black South Africa or White South Africa, but only one South Africa for Mandela, there is only one country for Suu Kyi.

Not surprisingly, some supporters, especially from the fringe of the left wing, protested and voiced their opposition. Many of them do not know any better than to oppose the military for the sake of opposing. What is remarkable is that like her father, General Aung San, who won over the people with his honesty and transparency, the “Lady” asked her party’s leaders to vote on the issue, in full transparency. They overwhelmingly supported her policy.

Many leaders when they are entrusted with the responsibility of a country take up the challenges and become reform-minded. Khrushchev, Gorbachev and Deng Xiaoping are good examples. It appears that President Thein Sein and his reform-minded ministers are a new breed of military officers. Thein Sein, who was prime minister during the days of the military junta, was relatively clean of corruption charges and his first speech to the nation after his election was like listening to an election campaign speech in a Western democracy. Many doubted his words, but he invited Suu Kyi for a meeting and a photo of General Aung San, her father, the architect of the country’s Independence, looked down on them. That was an image no one can easily forget.

No one really knows what transpired between the two during that meeting, but it was clear that Thein Sein was able to win the trust of the iconic leader to a certain degree.

Aung San who led the revolution against the Fascist Japanese army saw the destruction of the country due to two wars, and he was determined to win Independence from the British through negotiations. Similarly, Suu Kyi’s choice has always been negotiations. But a leader needs their counterpart to negotiate. Mandela spent 27 years in prison and only when President F.W. de Klerk came to power did he find his partner. Similarly, Suu Kyi showed defiance for 20 years and only now with the birth of Democratic institutions and the election of President Thein Sein, has she found her partner.

After their meeting, Suu Kyi was invited to seminars and Zarganar, a famous comedian, who is also a vocal critic, was released with a few other political prisoners. The release did not meet expectations because many of the 8888 student leaders were not released. Many do not realize that this is just the start of a complicated political dance that can lead to democracy. Many in the military old guard are power-mongers and very hardline regarding reforms. Many opposition members cannot differentiate between a “wish list,” a “possibility” and “reality.” The Darth Vader military men are no fools. All are smart in their own way, and some have both the wealth and power to derail the positive efforts made by the president and his fellow reformers, if their faction’s interests are threatened.

Another important factor is the invisible hand or the unseen influence still asserted by retired Snr-Gen Than Shwe, although he may also be in genuine retirement. No one really knows. Just as Deng Xiaoping instructed his followers to move forward carefully, Thein Sein and his reformers have to step carefully because they know they are in unchartered and dangerous waters.

While many foreign and domestic analysts had been underestimating the former SPDC chief, this author had come to the conclusion very early on that Than Shwe is a very shrewd strategist. His moves are methodical, thorough, strategic and very long-term oriented. He never showed his hand and one of his strongest characteristics is that he is a very patience man.

By design, he retired most of the old generals from the previous junta and placed a very junior general with a new face in place as the commander in chief. The army is his insurance policy, and its power was embedded in the 2008 Constitution. He placed relatively moderate generals, Thein Sein and Shwe Mann, as heads of the executive and legislative branches respectively, and he put a hard-liner, Tin Aung Myint Oo, as vice president to balance the two moderates. Than Shwe seemed to understand the danger of creating a strong man and this line up was his way of setting up a check-and-balance mechanism to make sure that no one could consolidate power and become another strong man.

Leaders want to leave a legacy, and Than Shwe is no exception. But he has shown great patience. When he became commander in chief, he did not possess actual power. General Tin Oo (Secretary (2) had the fighting forces and General Khin Nyunt controlled the Intelligence. They were proxies for the real strong man, General Ne Win. It took more than 10 years for Than Shwe to consolidate his power, and he used the wily Khin Nyunt to do his dirty work. While he was in power, Khin Nyunt repeatedly broke the cardinal rule to survive under any dictatorship: Never over step your “power.”  Because he controlled the ministries, Khin Nyunt was up front and center in the news. It did not bother Than Shwe, because he was sure of his power base, and he played the army against military intelligence well. He watched Khin Nyunt’s ambitions, utilizing the intelligence services to his maximum advantage. He even allowed a budget request from Khin Nyunt to expand his units for a power grab and only when intelligence made its first move did he crush them for good using their arch rival, the Army. He made sure that military intelligence will never be able to challenge its mother unit: the army.

When “Arab Spring” occurred, he completed his election schedule and only then did people realized that he was one step ahead of them. Than Shwe unerstood that there was a need for political reform in order for economic development to occur and bring an end to Burma’s isolation. He made certain that the transition did not jeopardize the security of the military with his hand-crafted 2010 Constitution, which gives ultimate power to the military not the civilian branch of government.

Then, with his cards in place, Than Shwe left the political scene peacefully. But many believe that he still wields major influence on the ruling clique even though he may be truly practicing a hands-off policy.

Now imagine this scenario: If Suu Kyi and Thein Sein can do the perfect political dance and over time gradually elevate Burma into a truly democratic state, Burma’s iconic leader will be able to deliver her promise and bring a second independence to the country. Wouldn’t she then deserve a second Nobel Peace prize? No one has achieved it yet. Then following a tradition, Thein Sein might also be standing next to Suu Kyi like President F.W. de Klerk, who received the Nobel Prize as the partner to Nelson Mandela.

In a similar fashion, the Nobel Prize was awarded jointly to Yasar Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East. If Democracy can be revitalized in the country and economic development can be reintroduced, then who is the playwright who wrote the whole script? Who knows but one day Than Shwe’s followers may build a statue in honor of his “legacy,” and future soldiers may salute a fourth statue at the military marching grounds in Naypitaw.

Than Shwe surely cares about his “legacy,” and so long as Thein Sein and Suu Kyi dance within acceptable boundaries, the ex-junta leader will not stop them from moving toward a full-fledged democracy. It is a win-win situation for all. Nearly 60 million people have suffered, and it is time for peace and economic development in Burma.

When the final curtain comes to a close, legacy and partnerships do matter to real leaders.
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Photo News - November 2011

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A Burmese government peace delegation and top Kachin Independence Organization leaders met for two hours on Tuesday, November 29, 2011, in Shweli in China’s Yunnan Province to discuss a cease-fire. Photo: Mizzima

Kachin Independence Organization leaders and a Burmese government peace delegation discussed a cease-fire for two hours on Tuesday, November 29, 2011, in Shweli in China’s Yunnan Province. Photo: Mizzima

People queue around Maha Pathana Cave in Gaba Aye Hill in Rangoon to pay homage to a tooth relic of the Buddha on Sunday, Novembr 27, 2011. The relic, on display until December 7, was sent to Burma from China for public display. Photo: Mizzima

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with more than 50 musicians and singers at her home in Rangoon on November 25, 2011. The National League for Democracy (NLD) said the meeting was held to discuss songs for use in NLD canvassing in the coming by-election. Photo: Mizzima

NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi meets with Burmese singers and musicians to talk about the upcoming by-election and songs to use while campaigning. Photo: Mizzima

Aung San Suu Kyi will seek a seat in the Burmese Parliament in the upcoming by-election. Photo: Mizzima

Burmese musicians and singers discuss the upcoming by-election and songs that might be used by NLD candidates while campaigning. Photo: Mizzima

A tooth relic of the Buddha was sent to Rangoon from Naypyitaw on Tuesday for public worship. The religious affairs ministry  announced that the relic will be in Rangoon from Tuesday until December 7. Since 1955, the Chinese authorities have sent the relic to Burma four times. Photo: Mizzima


Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at education network anniversary

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and activist Phyo Min Thein cut a ribbon to open a fair at the Judson Church Center in Rangoon to mark first anniversary of the Bayda Institute, a National League for Democracy education network, on Monday, November 21, 2011. Photos: Mizzima

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi attends a fair at the Judson Church Center in Rangoon to mark the first anniversary of an NLD education network on Monday, November 21, 2011

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the fair at Judson Church Center in Rangoon to mark first anniversary of the Bayda Institute, an education network on Monday, November 21, 2011.

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the Judson Church Center fair on Monday, November 21, 2011, in Rangoon to mark first anniversary of an NLD education network.

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks in front of the Judson Church Center in Rangoon on Monday, November 21, 2011.

A vendor displays a clock with a picture of Aung San Suu Kyi at a fair at the Judson Church Center in Rangoon on Monday, November 21, 2011.

A man wearing a T-shirt with Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s picture at a fair at the Judson Church Center in Rangoon on Monday morning, November 21, 2011.

NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi among her supporters and reporters outside the NLD headquarters in Rangoon after the NLD voted to re-register and to re-emerge as a legal political force in Burma. Photo: Mizzima

Reporters gather at the NLD headquarters in Rangoon on Friday, November 18, 2011, for an historic vote by the NLD central committee to register as a political party and contest in the upcoming Burmese by-election, probably in December. Photo: Mizzima

Women celebrate at the NLD headquarters in Rangoon on Friday, November 18, 2011, after an NLD central committee meeting unanimously voted to register as a legal political party and to contest in next election, probably in December. Photo: Mizzima

NLD central executive committee member Win Tin answers questions from reporters on Friday, November 18, 2011, after 106 members of the NLD central committee unanimously voted to register as political party and to contest in next election. Photo: Mizzima

British soldiers who died in Burma in World War II honoured

UK minister Andrew Mitchell studies a list of British soldiers who lost their lives in World War II at the war memorial in Htaukkyant Township in Rangoon on Thursday, November 17, 2011.

British soldiers who died in Burma in World War II honoured

UK minister Andrew Mitchell, right, and David Daniel, left, a former British soldier in World War II, lays a wreath at a British war memorial in Htaukkyant Township in Rangoon to commemorate British soldiers who lost their lives during World War II. During a three-day visit to Burma, Mitchell, the International Development Secretary of the Department For International Development, met with Burmese government officials in Naypyitaw and National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon. Photos: Mizzima

British soldiers who died in Burma in World War II honoured
UK minister Andrew Mitchell visits the British war memorial in Htaukkyant Township in Rangoon on Thursday, November 17, 2011. The  memorial commemorates more than 27,000 British  soldiers who lost their lives in Burma in World War II from 1939 to 1945.

British soldiers who died in Burma in World War II honoured

UK minister Andrew Mitchell at a press conference at the British war memorial in Htaukkyant Township in Rangoon on Thursday, November 17, 2011.

Aung San Suu Kyi conducts a press conference for local and foreign reporters
National League for Democracy (NLD) General-Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi answers questions from local and foreign journalists at a press conference at NLD headquarters in Rangoon on Monday, November 14, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Suu Kyi at a press conference with local and foreign reporters in Rangoon on Monday, November 14, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Aung San Suu Kyi with reporters from the local and foreign press in Rangoon on Monday, November 14, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

The AG Church compound in Myitkyina in Kachin State was destroyed in a bomb blast on Sunday, killing 10 people and seriously injuring 27 people. Photo: Hkrum U

Competitors in the Burmese beauty competition in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burmese. The competition was held by Mae Sot municipality during the traditional Loy Krathong Festival. Law student Min Min Soe, 22, from Myawaddy, won the title. Photo: Mizzima

During the traditional Loy Krathong Festival, Mae Sot, on the Thai-Burmese border, staged a Burmese beauty competition to promote friendship between Thailand and Burma on Thursday, November 10, 2011. Law student Min Min Soe, 22, from Myawaddy, won the Miss Mae Sot – Burma title. Photo: Mizzima

The four-day 'Enterprise India Show' organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Indian Embassy in Rangoon at Tatmadaw Hall in Rangoon on Thrusday, November 10, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Burmese Industry Minister Soe Thein, left, and Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Vice Chairman Zaw Min Win, right, attend the four-day 'Enterprise India Show' organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Indian Embassy at Tatmadaw Hall in Rangoon on Thrusday, November 10, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Exhibitors including TATA  showed various commercial vehicles such as this modern bus. Photo: Mizzima

Agricultural exhibitors including Farmtrac showed the latest model tractors. Photo: Mizzima

A crowd gathers around a poster display of the latest model commercial vehicles. Photo: Mizzima

Two girls laugh at a cartoon at the Tazaungdine Cartoon Festival held on 13rd Street in Lanmadaw Township on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, to commemorate cartoonist Ba Gyan (1902-1953). The cartoon festival is usually held during the Tazaungdine Light Festival on 13rd Street where Ba Gyan lived. The former junta frequently banned the festival. Photo: Mizzima


The Tazaungdine Cartoon Festival was held on 13rd Street in Lanmadaw Township on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, to commemorate cartoonist Ba Gyan (1902-1953). The former junta frequently banned the Tazaungdine Cartoon Festival. Photo: Mizzima

A man studies a cartoon at the Tazaungdine Cartoon Festival on 13rd Street in Lanmadaw Township where cartoonist Ba Gyan lived (1902-1953). The former junta frequently banned the Tazaungdine Cartoon Festival. Photo: Mizzima

To commemorate the 21st anniversary of NLD member Maung Ko’s death, a ceremony offering food to monks and others was held at Inya Kan Phyar Monastery on University Avenue Road in Rangoon. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi attended the ceremony. Maung Ko died 17 days after he was arrested by authorities. His family said that he died because he was tortured in the Yaykyiai interrogation center. Photo: Mizzima

Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese Finance and Revenue Minister Hla Tun at the two-day 'Workshop on the Development of the Financial Sector in Myanmar and its role in supporting inclusive Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction' held at the Chatrium Hotel in Rangoon on Monday, November 7, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Left to right, David Lipman, the European Union ambassador to Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese presidential adviser U Myint at the 'Workshop on the Development of the Financial Sector in Myanmar and its role in supporting inclusive Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction' held at the Chatrium Hotel in Rangoon on Monday, November 7, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese presidential adviser U Myint at the 'Workshop on the Development of the Financial Sector in Myanmar and its role in supporting inclusive Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction' held at the Chatrium Hotel in Rangoon on Monday, November 7, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Participants at the 'Workshop on the Development of the Financial Sector in Myanmar and its role in supporting inclusive Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction.' Burmese government officials, EU diplomats and guests pose for a photograph at the Chatrium Hotel in Rangoon on Monday, November 7, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

UN special envoy to Burma, Vijay Nambiar, speaks at a press conference at the end of his third recent visit to Burma, where he met with high-level government officials and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo: Mizzima

Vijay Nambiar, the special Burma envoy of UN Secretary-General Ban Kyi-moon, holds a press conference at the Rangoon International Airport on Friday evening, November 4, 2011, at the end of his third recent trip to Burma. Photo: Mizzima

Dr. Myint, an economic adviser to President Thein Sein, welcomes opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to the 'The First Myanmar Forum & Conference on Green Economy and Green Growth' at the Banker's Association in Yankin Township in Rangoon on Friday, November 4, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

The audience members at the conference on a green economy and green growth in Rangoon on Friday, November 4, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Participants in the 'The First Myanmar Forum & Conference on Green Economy and Green Growth' at the Banker's Association in Rangoon on Friday, November 4, 2011. Aung San Suu Kyi and Dr. Myint, an economic adviser to President Thein Sein, center. Photo: Mizzima

Vijay Nambiar, the special envoy of UN Secretary-General Ban Kyi-moon, right, and Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi  at Suu Kyi’s home on Thursday, November 3, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Aung San Suu Kyi answers reporters' questions after her meeting with Vijay Nambiar, the UN special envoy, in front of her home on Thursday, November 3, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Aung San Suu Kyi in front of her home after her meeting with Vijay Nambiar, the UN special envoy, on Thursday, November 3, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the Traders Hotel in Rangoon for a personal meeting with former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to discuss trade and economic issues on Thursday, October 3, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at the Traders Hotel in Rangoon for a personal meeting with former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to discuss trade and economic issues on Thursday, October 3, 2011. Photo: Mizzima

Malaysian former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, standing fourth from left, watches Malaysian and Burmese officials sign a memorandum of understanding on importing palm oil from Malaysia to Burma at the Burmese-Malaysian Investment Forum at the Traders Hotel in Rangoon on Wednesday, November 2, 2011. Photo: Mizzima
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