Saturday, August 8, 2009

Overseas Employment Agencies Offer Services on Credit

JEG's note: This falls under Human Exploitation, agencies are paid up to $110 per head on recruitment, who pays? the employer. On top of that they charge a $1500 fee to the applicant and there is no guarantee the applicant will get a job abroad. The employer is the only one who should pay for the service, the applicant is free from these exorbitant charges, what a great idea to have the news censored to keep people ignorant of their rights, another "less-honest initiative" of the military junta.

The Irrawaddy News

RANGOON — To meet a growing demand from overseas employers, employment agencies in Burma have begun offering their services at a discount or on credit to persuade more Burmese workers to apply for jobs abroad.

“We are introducing a credit scheme which allows successful applicants to pay only half of the service fee before they leave Burma, and the other half from their earnings while working abroad,” said the manager of an overseas employment agency in Rangoon’s Kamayut Township. “Other companies are giving discounts to get people to sign up,” he added.

With the demand for cheap Burmese labor growing in countries recovering from the sharp economic downturn of the past year, many job-hunting agencies are even turning to rural areas in search of new recruits.

“Recruiting agents are sent to Upper Burma to find workers to go to Malaysia. They get US $50 for each new worker they recruit,” said a broker working for an overseas employment agency in Rangoon. “If they can find a person who wants to work in Singapore, they get $110 per head.”

However, many agencies say they are still having difficulty filling orders from Malaysia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because the number of overseas job-seekers is steadily declining.

“I received more labor recruitment orders this month,” said the owner of an overseas employment agency in Botahtaung Township, Rangoon. “But those who want to go abroad can’t afford the service fee.”

The cost of finding a job overseas is high by Burmese standards, and often proves to be an insurmountable obstacle for those seeking opportunities to earn money abroad. For a job in Malaysia, for instance, applicants must pay between $600 and $1,100, depending on the type of job.

Malaysia is one of the most popular destinations for Burmese who want to work abroad, with many kinds of jobs available in a variety of industries, from restaurants to rubber plantations and furniture factories.

“Work orders from Malaysia have been increasing since July,” said an employee of the Thuka Su San Overseas Employment Agency in Rangoon. “The economic situation in Malaysia is improving and workers can get overtime work again now.”

Although Malaysia continues to attract Burmese workers, better-paying jobs in Singapore remain beyond the reach of most. Service fees for finding work in Singapore are set at around $2,200, and applicants are also required to have a command of English and some other skill, such as driving or carpentry.

“Service fees for Malaysia are cheaper and there is no education qualifications to get a job in the country,” said the employment agent from Thuka Su San. “That’s why we get more laborers from rural areas going to Malaysia, while those going to Singapore are from urban areas like Rangoon.”

However, the number of workers going to Singapore has sharply decreased, with each agency sending just one or two workers a month. In some months, they can’t even send one.

For other destinations that promise even better wages, such as the UAE, prohibitively expensive service fees mean that there are few takers for the jobs available.

“A worker at a shipping dock in the UAE can earn the equivalent of $17 a day plus accommodation and meals,” said an agent from the A Win Win Overseas Employment Company in Kamayut Township. “But few people are interested in the job because they can’t afford the $1,500 service fee.”

In Burma, there are 131 overseas employment agencies officially registered by the Ministry of Labor. However, some agencies have been deregistered due to the economic downturn.

READ MORE---> Overseas Employment Agencies Offer Services on Credit...

Junta wants KIA to disarm honourably: Northern commander

by KNG

In a giveaway, the northern regional commander of Burma's ruling junta, Maj-Gen Soe Win told a high ranking army officer of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) last week that "We (the ruling junta) are just trying to convince the KIO to disarm themselves honourably", said KIO sources.

A KIO officer in the Laiza headquarters on the Sino-Burma border in Kachin State told KNG today, that Soe Win said this to Col. Wahkyawng Hkawng Lum, a staff member in the office of military headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed-wing of the KIO in Laiza. The conversation took place, while the commander was being escorted back home in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State from Laiza after the meeting with KIO officials on July 31.

The ruling junta's Northern Regional commander Maj-Gen Soe Win (left) and KIO chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra
The northern commander’s statement comes at a time when there is palpable tension between the KIO and the ruling junta over the demands made to each other. The junta has demanded transformation of the KIA to a battalion of the Border Guard Force (BGF) in April, whereas the KIO has demanded that the junta allow the transformation of the KIA to a brigade-level Kachin Regional Guard Force (KRGF) and KIO's direct participation in the new Kachin State government in the aftermath of next year’s general elections. The KIO’s demands were made in July.

As of now the two sides have not responded categorically to each others demands.

Kachin Baptist pastor Rev. Dr. Lahtaw Saboi Jum, former General Secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) and also a peace mediator, yet again, met the junta's Lt-Gen Ye Myint head of Military Affairs Security (MAS) in Naypyitaw last week to resolve the problems between the two sides.

Lt-Gen Ye Myint sent a message for the KIO through the peace mediator Rev. Saboi Jum, that the junta would like to uphold the ceasefire agreement with the KIO. He also offered to initiate a dialogue to solve the problems between them, said KIO officers in Laiza.

Meanwhile, on the frontlines in Kachin State, KIA soldiers and Burmese Army soldiers are secretly making preparations for a possible civil war, said sources in the frontline.

According to a source close to the junta, the regime will start the war first against the KIO and not the United Wa State Army (UWSA).

KIO sources said, the KIO and the three ceasefire groups in Shan state--- UWSA, Kokang ceasefire group and Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS) have already agreed to fight the junta together if a war becomes inevitable.

READ MORE---> Junta wants KIA to disarm honourably: Northern commander...

Beaten, but not Defeated

The Irrawaddy News

The bullets were about to fly in Rangoon and other cities on that day and the days ahead. Unbelievably, their targets were the students in white shirts and green longyi who were at the forefront of the marching columns of people from all walks of life, demanding democracy. Soon after the gunfire started, all that remained in the streets was blood, ownerless sandals, the smoke of guns and the groans and tears of those who had survived.

For a brief moment, the people had tasted victory after toppling the authoritarian regime that had clamped down on the country for 26 years. Sadly, that emancipation was soon replaced by the bitter realization that gun power had managed to defeat people power once again.

The result was at least 3,000 deaths, many more injured and jailed, and a flood of thousands of students and activists forced to flee into a life of exile. The tragedy began on August 8, 1988—21 years ago today.

The extraordinary events of that day have been permanently etched into the memories of those who witnessed them, and have become a part of the long saga of a nation whose struggle for independence began in the 19th century, and continues to this day.

If the current phase of this struggle, which began 21 years ago, were a person, it would be at the height of its youthful vigor. But after more than two decades, Burma’s pro-democracy movement is far from being in good health. It is not defeated, but it has been brutally beaten. Its leaders have been imprisoned and its forces have been scattered around the world. It wanders the earth, anguished, with no way to return to its home.

So far, nothing has succeeded in loosening the stranglehold of military rule. Non-violent protest and armed struggle have both failed to restore democracy. Neither sanctions nor engagement have persuaded the regime to relinquish its hold on power. Diplomacy has fallen on deaf ears, and prayers for peace have not penetrated the generals’ hardened hearts.

So what else is left?

It seems like all of our options have been exhausted, while Burma itself lurches perpetually on the brink of collapse. The worst nightmares of most countries are the daily reality of life in Burma.

But in life, the darkest despair can sometimes simply vanish, like a cloud that gathers and then passes. The Berlin Wall that divided Germany looked, for several long decades, like it might last forever. But then, it was gone, and with it the Cold War that had gripped the entire planet for what seemed an eternity.

The Burmese are no strangers to tragedy. They saw their country fall to a foreign power, but they fought on, determined to restore their dignity as a nation. In the end, they won their independence because they knew—with absolute certainty—that they were a sovereign people. It was a truth as undeniable as the sky, which the dark cloud of foreign domination could not obscure forever.

Today, Burma is darkened by different clouds, but its people are sustained by the same determination as their ancestors. The Burmese know that they are as free as any other people on earth, and that it is only the deadly delusions of their rulers that prevent this truth from shining through for all to see.

In the end, the clouds will pass, the bruises will heal, and Burma will show the world its true worth and beauty.

READ MORE---> Beaten, but not Defeated...

Security Tight on Anniversary of 8888 Uprising

The Irrawaddy News

Pro-junta supporters and truckloads of riot police patrolling Burma’s commercial capital on Saturday kept potential demonstrators off the streets on the 21st anniversary of pro-democracy protests that triggered one of the country’s bloodiest uprisings.

The anniversary comes days before a Burmese court rules on whether democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi should be jailed for five years for violating the terms of her house arrest. The Nobel laureate came to prominence during the demonstrations and remains the country’s most popular politician.

The verdict, scheduled for Tuesday, has already been delayed because judges said they needed more time to sort through legal issues. But Burmese scholars say the real reason for the postponement was fears that pro-democracy groups would take to the streets on the anniversary if a guilty ruling was handed down.

Rangoon’s streets were quiet Saturday and security forces were present in much of the crumbling city.

Dozens of riot police and scores of unarmed supporters of the regime were stationed along the main roads and junctions, as well as near the major monasteries and pagodas.

Dozens of barbed wire barricades, some of them freshly painted, were placed on roadsides.

Local media used the anniversary to praise the regime and warn residents not to be taken in by unidentified opponents, most likely pro-democracy groups.

Residents interviewed in Rangoon said they dared not mark the anniversary, knowing they would be quickly arrested and face the prospect of long prison sentences. Most said they had other priorities.

“I have forgotten that today is the anniversary,” said Hla Maung, a 52-year-old trishaw driver. “I wake up every morning thinking how to feed my family of three.”

Outside the country, dozens of demonstrators marked the day with protests in front of the Burmese embassies in the Thai capital of Bangkok and the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. A small demonstration was also held at the Burmese consulate in Hong Kong.

The anniversary marks the August 8, 1988 demonstrations—known locally as the 8888 uprising—in which more than a million people protested following the government’s sudden demonetization of the currency, which wiped out many people’s savings. Suu Kyi, a political novice at the time, became the face of the movement.

The protests brought down longtime dictator Ne Win, but a new group of generals replaced him and brutally crushed the protests in September, killing an estimated 3,000 people. Elections were held in 1990, but the military refused to recognize the landslide victory of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party.

Suu Kyi, who has been detained for nearly 14 of the last 20 years, faces up to five years in prison on charges that she harbored an American who swam to her lakeside villa earlier this year—a violation of the terms of her house arrest.

Security has been increased in Rangoon over the past several weeks and was stepped up on Saturday in response to recent security threats, national police chief Brig-Gen Khin Yi said at a news conference Friday.

He said “external opposition groups and terrorists” had planned to carry out attacks during UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit last month, as well as near Insein prison, where Suu Kyi’s trial is being held. The targets also included buildings of the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Association, he said.

Khin Yi said authorities have arrested 15 people this year for planning to carry out “demolition activities” in Rangoon, Mandalay and other big cities, though he did not say how many were connected to the trial.

READ MORE---> Security Tight on Anniversary of 8888 Uprising...

Forced militia training conducted in Ye Township

HURFOM (Rehmonnya): On July 3rd, the Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) No. 343 led militia training in Ye Township. The LIB forced residents to choose between participating or paying a 6,000 kyat fine.

Nai Myo, a Arutaung villager explained, “At about 9:00 AM the village headman Nai Htun Thin announced every household has to attend the militia training, which [was] lead by the LIB No. 343. He said that this announcement came from the LIB No. 343, and everyone must follow the policy. He said the LIB No. 343 needed about 50 people from our village to attend the training.”

“One of my cousins had to attend the militia training because his family couldn’t afford to pay,” Nai Myo continued. “My cousin said ‘they just taught us how to beat people, and how to control the villagers. They didn’t allow us to hold real guns; they just gave us bamboo sticks to pretend with. One sergeant and 5 soldiers trained us, and about 20 villagers attended the militia training.’”

In the instance of Aurtaung village, most residents chose to pay rather then attend the training. Nai Myo stated, “In our village, we have about 1000 households. Most people were paying money instead of attending the training. Therefore, the authorities collected a lot of money during the militia training.”

Similar incidents of forced militia training and irregular taxation have occurred in the villages of Sonnatha and Ah Phor.

A Sonnatha villager said, “In our village, the village headman Ko Myo Win collected 6,000 [kyat] from each household for the militia training. But we didn’t hear who had to attend the training – I think everyone one in the village paid. There are about 500 household in our village.”

“In our village the authorities set up a signboard for the announcement. The village headman said that the authorities needed about 200 villagers to attend the training,” an Ah Phor villager explained. “If a household didn’t have a son or father, they could pay 6,000 kyat for the training. Everyone else was forced to join the training.”

A political investigator based in Ye Township concluded, “They are preparing for the coming election and an uprising in the villages. In addition, they are preparing to prevent people from uprising if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is kept in prison.”

(Editors Note: All names have been changed for security reasons)

READ MORE---> Forced militia training conducted in Ye Township...

Verdict on the trial of Aung San Su Kyi postponed due to pressure

IMNA - The verdict for the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been postponed after increased pressure from politicians inside the country, as well as abroad in the international community, according to activists in Burmese political groups.

“The trial to imprison Daw Suu Kyi has been part of the military’s plan,” said U Aye Tha Aung, the secretary general of the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament (CRPP), he said in an interview with IMNA. “They [Burmese government] do not want her free in advance of the 2010 election. If she is released she could talk about the 2010 election and offer perspective on the [Burmese government’s] constitution. That is why it is impossible for them to release her.”

When the time came for the court to render a verdict on the previously appointed date of July 31st, the court put out a last minute extension to the judgment date, citing concerns that it needed to review the legal options. The new date for the court to read the verdict has been set for August 11th, 2009.

This is not first time the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi has been postponed. The trail was already in recess when UN secretary General Ban Ki Moon paid a recent visit to the Burmese government. The first postponement lasted until June 26th, to hear the testimony of defense witness Khin Moe Moe.

According to an article published the Burmese government state news paper, The New Light of Myanmar, two reasons have been given for the recent delay in the final stage of the trial. The first is for the court to reexamine the appropriateness of laws presiding over the trial, and the second is to address appeals that have been filed by both sides of the case.

U Aye Tha Aung explained that he believed without the release of Daw Aung San Su Kyi, the results from any election held by the military will be rejected outright. Also, that any government that comes to power in this way will also not be recognized by the international community.

The vice-chairman of the Mon National Democracy Front (MNDF), Nai Ngwe Thein, expressed his opinion, “The military court is probably planning to imprison her. The postponement of the case is due to pressure form the outside world and disagreement amongst the military groups.”

Nai Ngwe Thein believes that recent reports of a secret trip by Gen. Maung Aye to North Korea, and the construction of secret military tunnels, has led disagreement amongst the senior administration in the Burmese military government.

“But, in the case of a democratic icon [Suu Kyi], whether the outcome will be good or bad, it is still attracting the attention of the international community, who are watching closely,” he added.

U Nyan Win, a lawyer and spokesman with the NLD party who was also imprisoned 2 years ago, has been following the case in hopes of being able to provide council against illegal actions the court might try to take against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He explained that if the court would actually act according to the law and legal judgment, the case would be fair and she would be easily released.

A Burma watcher, and lecturer at the university of Rangoon (whose name has been withheld for security purposes), offered his opinion, “According to the court of the military government, she [Daw Aung San] can be imprisoned. But if the SPDC hops to recover any face in the international community, she will have to be released. That is, I think, what they are playing is a game of chess…If they [SPDC] continue to uphold her arrest, there will be no unification from the 2010 election. From there they will not be recognized by the ASEAN governments as well as by the world community. And right now there is no participation in the coming election.”

READ MORE---> Verdict on the trial of Aung San Su Kyi postponed due to pressure...

Security men guarding Suu Ky’s house punished

by Myo Thein

Rangoon (Mizzima) – Action has been taken against the security personnel deployed in and around Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence, who were responsible for the intrusion of an American John Yettaw, Police Chief Police Brig. Gen. Khin Yee has said.

He made the announcement at a press conference held in the Rangoon Narcotic Drug Museum on August 7 at 2 p.m. The press conference was about ‘Briefing on current activities on state security and maintaining law and order’.

“We investigated and questioned 61 security personnel from the police battalion deployed at Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence and then took action against some of them for dereliction of duty”.

In an earlier press briefing, he had said that the authorities would investigate the security lapse at Suu Kyi’s house and would take action against security personnel if they were found guilty.

“We have demoted a Police Lt. Col. and gave other personnel various prison terms ranging from three to six months,” Brig. Gen. Khin Yee said.

Police chief also said that action has been taken against over 20 personnel under the Police Disciplinary Rule.

On the health condition of Mr. Yettaw, he said that he was currently being treated in the Rangoon General Hospital. The American adheres to his religious perceptions and sometimes keeps Sabbath for about 44 days. “He had seizure earlier and had fits three times today”, the Police Chief said.

READ MORE---> Security men guarding Suu Ky’s house punished...

The Lady should be for turning

Illustration by M. Morgenstern

JEG's: I believe the sanctions were imposd on the generals pockets not the government, the government has the means to provide for the country instead they have opted to squeeze as much of the natural resources for personal gain. Do their "good governance" is shown with education? who for? Is it shown with healtchcare? Who for? What about jobs? do you have to belong and support the junta in order to be employable? The sanctions have nothing to do with the crisis the junta government has created. Suu Kyi has nothing to do with it either, she cannot be responsible for other governments decisions... Junta's greedy and well spread legal corruption has lots to do with the way the country is at present... you make up your mind, no-one forces your to follow DASSK or follow the junta, your choice...

By Banyan
The Economist

Aung San Suu Kyi is remarkable. But Myanmar’s problems are more than just those of democracy denied

JULY 20th marked the 20th anniversary of the day when military rulers first placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. The leader of Myanmar’s democracy movement has since spent more than 13 years detained at home or, as now, in a Yangon prison. She awaits the verdict of a sham trial in which she was charged with breaking the terms of her detention after an uninvited American, a nut, swam across to her lakeside home. Miss Suu Kyi plays a long game. But so does the military. It seized power in 1962. It has used force to put down two extraordinarily brave sets of pro-democracy protests, in 1988 and 2007. And it has ignored the result of free elections in 1990, convincingly won by Miss Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy.

Miss Suu Kyi, 64 and frail, has not wavered in her call for the junta to respect the election result and free what are now thought to be 2,100 political prisoners. She has long argued for countries to apply pressure by forbidding companies to trade with Myanmar or invest in it. The West has responded with sanctions regimes. Britain’s prime minister, Gordon Brown, recently called for even tougher financial measures against Myanmar.

There is no doubting Miss Suu Kyi’s courage. A decade ago she turned down the generals’ offer to leave the country (presumably, for good) to care for her dying husband. She never saw him again. Two sons have not seen their mother for years. Miss Suu Kyi’s moral stature puts her on a level with other imprisoned or exiled symbols of quiet resistance, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. She keeps democratic hopes alive in Myanmar; and around the world she inspires campaigners for freedom in the face of thuggish regimes. Elegant and dignified, she is the person any engaged liberal at Harvard or Oxford most wants to invite to dinner but can’t. This year garden parties at British embassies celebrating the Queen’s birthday were decorated with portraits of Miss Suu Kyi. At the embassy in Jakarta, a picture of her is projected onto an outside wall. She is, literally, democracy’s poster girl.

For weeks the military regime has delayed pronouncing a verdict in its trial, perhaps so as not to embarrass fellow members of the ten-country Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), meeting for its annual summit this week in Thailand. Yet few doubt but that Miss Suu Kyi will be put away for even longer. Her house, which has become a shrine to the democracy movement’s living deity, may be confiscated and razed. Myanmar’s leaders have called for elections next year, but on terms that ensure the military is the force behind civilian rule. Having Miss Suu Kyi to stand and fight is not part of the programme.

An even longer game, then, for Miss Suu Kyi and her supporters. But is it the right one? A growing body of opinion thinks not. It follows a tedious ritual. The world calls for freedom and democracy. The United Nations dispatches a representative to Yangon. He is fobbed off. The Lady continues in detention. The UN’s most recent big cheese was none other than the secretary-general. Ban Ki-moon left Yangon earlier this month without being allowed to meet Miss Suu Kyi.

This costs more than just wasted journeys. Myanmar is rich in natural gas, timber and gems. China and India, strategic rivals to east and west, chummy up to the junta. The Burmese elite has second homes and bank accounts in Thailand. Russia sells the generals arms, as does China, and both provide cover for the generals on the Security Council. So Myanmar does now in fact engage with the world—but its engagement takes the ugly form of a rapacious capitalism with amoral partners. Hillary Clinton, on her first trip to Asia as secretary of state, admitted that isolation “hasn’t influenced the junta”. An American review of Myanmar policy is under way, but official silence over Miss Suu Kyi’s trial hints at a certain confusion. Because there is no engagement, America’s soft power has no traction.

Worse, everyone from the UN down views Myanmar through the lens of democracy above all else—even development. For a desperate country with shocking rates of disease and mortality such a priority is dubious at best, shameful at worst. If nothing else, it fails to acknowledge how development can improve local governance. In the Irrawaddy delta in the wake of cyclone Nargis, which struck last year killing 140,000, deciding how humanitarian aid should be spent has increased civic participation and local autonomy in the face of an uncaring regime. Yet apart from Japan, official aid levels to Myanmar are pitiful compared even with other poor countries.

Icon or obstacle?

Lastly, depicting Myanmar as a kind of velvet revolution gone wrong, as Thant Myint-U, a historian of Burma, points out, is to ignore a big part of the picture. The paranoid regime’s inward-looking cast is conditioned by centuries of invasions, among them by the British and, after independence in 1948, by American-backed Chinese Nationalists. Since independence, the military has faced dozens of communist and ethnic insurgencies. It is true that since the 1990s, ceasefires have been signed in all but two. But independent Burma did not emerge as a unified state and, under early democratic rule, insurgencies flourished. The remaining conflicts, financed by drugs trafficking, are the longest-running wars in the world. They cannot simply be ignored.

Sanctions have helped bring about no democratic transition in Asia—on the contrary. So imagine if the West reversed policy, dropped sanctions and pursued engagement. The generals have already looked at the development paths blazed by China and Vietnam and said they want to follow. In comparison to the regimes in those two countries, Myanmar’s badly lacks legitimacy. So Mr Thant says that development could bring about swift changes to the political landscape, as eventually happened in Indonesia. Development, in other words, could be the fastest path to democracy. Will the courageous Lady admit as much? (JEG's: development could follow if the generals were genuinely interested in the country instead of filling their personal pockets, that is the difference with China and Vietnam, they had their time to prove themselves instead they wasted what is rightful to the citizens in paying thugs and decorating the army barracks with silk and diamonds)

Jul 23rd, 2009

READ MORE---> The Lady should be for turning...

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