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  • Emergence of a “Green Generation” in Dawei Special Economic Zone

    03/08/2016

    On a chilly January morning, wearing just a t-shirt and a pair of jeans, 19-year-old Naing Naing Win rode his family’s old Honda 125cc motorbike along a dusty, sandy road. His destination was Mayin Gyi village, about half an hour from his village of Thit Toe Tauk, Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar. As a youth living near a planned massive industrial zone, he knew that the days of riding his old bike along dusty, undeveloped roads might be limited.

    Naing Naing Win is a second year student from Dawei University majoring in English. Like other youths in the area, he has both worries and hopes about what the Dawei Special Economic Zone (DSEZ) will bring to his community. But he’s eager to be part of the process. He made that chilly morning motorcycle ride to attend a Community Research Training in Mayin Gyi, which he saw as a potential step toward engaging the company and government to make sure the project benefits local communities.

  • Shan civil society groups call for gold mining suspension

    03/08/2016

    The Shan State Farmers’ Network (SSFN) will ask the incoming National League for Democracy government to suspend companies’ gold mining operations?strong in eastern Shan State, which the organisation says have polluted local villagers’ water resources.

    A decade of mining in the Loi Kham hills has left around 300 acres of fields unusable, according to a joint press release from the SSFN and the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) published on March 3.

    The two groups said they “urge the incoming NLD government to implement federal reform to end Nay Pyi Taw’s unilateral power to grant mining concessions in ethnic areas”.

  • Chinese firms seek part in Dawei SEZ

    03/07/2016

    ITALIAN-THAI Development (ITD) is forming a consortium with Chinese companies to pour investment into new infrastructure projects in Dawei Special Economic Zone (DSEZ), as land lease in the initial phase kicks off.

    According to Somjetn Tinnapong, managing director of Myanmar Industrial Estate (MIE) – an ITD subsidiary responsible for the development of the 27-square kilometre initial phase – the consortium will consist of private and state-owned Chinese companies. Their focus will be on the 132-kilometre, four-lane road, which will require an investment of Bt13.5 billion and three ports that will cost US$400 million (Bt14 billion).

  • Myanmar: The great land rush

    03/02/2016

    Hla Ohn May still weeps when she takes the road past the twisted white piping of the gas terminal near the western Myanmar town of Kyaukphyu. The 46-year-old farmer and mother of five once owned land on this green strip perched above the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal.

    Then she and fellow villagers were bought out by a consortium, which included the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and the Korean conglomerate Daewoo. Kyaukphyu is now the starting point for a pair of immense Beijing-backed transnational energy pipelines, turning these wild shores into what some are calling “China’s west coast”.

    The development is a big part of fast-opening Myanmar’s efforts to exploit its position at the crossroads of Asia. The lush fields where Ms Hla Ohn May and other farmers used to plant rice and beans are mere industrial landscaping now, manicured behind fences by company workers in orange jumpsuits. Ms Hla Ohn May was paid Kt2.78m ($2,250 at current exchange rates) but feels she was short-changed for giving up the only productive asset she ever had.

  • ‘Economic Growth Is Not the Best Way to Solve Economic Problems’: Policy Advocate

    03/01/2016

    A public seminar entitled “Myanmar’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs): Opportunities or Threats to Local Communities” attracted regional development specialists to Rangoon this week, including Penchom Saetang, Director of Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand (EARTH).

    In her work as a community and policy advocate, Saetang fights for corporate and government accountability concerning health and environmental problems from industrial pollution.

    As Burma is developing three SEZs in Arakan State and Rangoon and Tenasserim divisions, respectively, problems have been highlighted concerning land confiscation, a lack of public consultation and forced relocation.

    The Irrawaddy’s Yen Snaing spoke with Saetang about Thailand’s experience promoting industrialization, and what experiences Burma might be able to draw upon from its neighbor.

  • Dawei road start faces delays

    02/28/2016

    Construction of a road linking the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar with Kanchanaburi will be delayed after Japan determined that 15-degree inclines along seven stretches of the road would be unsafe for lorries.

    Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Friday construction of the 138km road from the Dawei deep-sea port to Ban Phu Nam Ron in Kanchanaburi must be postponed.

    The project was due to start in March.

    The delay comes following an inspection by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

  • Eye On: Baht Beyond Borders

    02/23/2016

    With public opposition to major infrastructure projects a growing concern, and willing partners in neighboring countries eager to pick of the slack, Thailand’s industrialists are fanning out in all directions. Energy projects dominate the mix, including coal, gas and hydropower. As a result, it’s the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand driving much of the activity.

  • Myanmar expects entry of more US businesses

    02/23/2016

    Representatives of US companies have become frequent guests at the Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry these days as they explore business opportunities in the long-isolated country.

    The visits have gathered pace since the National League for Democracy (NLD) won the election and the power transition from military rule appeared to be going smoothly, Win Aung, president of the federation, said last week.

    “I strongly believe that Myanmar-US economic relations will strengthen in the next government’s term.

  • Industrial zones polluting water with chemicals

    02/23/2016

    Many industrial zones nationwide failed to operate their waste treatment systems properly and have dumped large amounts of industrial waste with high levels of toxic chemicals into the environment, according to Dr Le Trinh, from Viet Nam Environmental Science and Development Institute.

    Trinh said industrial waste and wastewater were major contributors to environmental pollution.

    Industrial and urban wastewater has caused serious water pollution in many channels in HCM City, including the Tham Luong, Ba Bo and An Ha channels, according to the institute.

  • Dawei residents vow to fight special economic zone

    02/18/2016

    More than 200 representatives from Kalonehtar village in Dawei organized a spiritual ceremony last week to symbolize their ongoing protest against the mega Dawei Special Economic Zone to be built under a joint venture deal between the Thai, Maymar and Japan governments. Under the current project plan about 1,000 villagers would be resettled to pave way for a reservoir to feed the new industry complex.

    “We believe that we have the right to determine our own sustainable future on our native lands,’ they declared. “We, the Kalonehtar villagers, will not move from our native place and we will not accept any project that does not respect our right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent. We do not support any part of the Dawei SEZ project.”

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