Category Archives: Volume 03

Aung Khin Soe Ambassador

Aung Khin Soe Ambassador
Aung Khin Soe Ambassador

I appreciate Globally Managed Services for its great effort in publishing Myanmar Matters newsletter giving special attention to Myanmar among ASEAN member states. I am deeply impressed by Myanmar Matters newsletter covering wide range of infonnation on Myanmar. Myanmar Matters newsletter will surely contribute to a better understanding of politics, economy, and culture of Myanmar by Indian people and thereby promoting peopleto- people connectivity between the two countries. The newsletter not only provides information on historical and current cordial relationship between Myanmar and India but also conveys current business and investment opportunities in Myanmar encouraging Indian businessmen to do more businesses and investments in Myanmar. I congratulate Mr. Ranjit Barthakur, Founding Chairman of Globally Managed Services.

Myanmar Conferences and Trade Shows Calendar

Date: 3-4th Sep, 2013
Myanmar Energy Investment Summit
Location: Traders Hotel, Yangon
The Myanmar Energy Investment Summit 2013 is designed to provide a platform for international energy industry players and potential investors to gather in Yangon; providing updates on the market potential and development plan of the energy sector in Myanmar; implication of new economic regulations arising from latest parliamentary decision for the energy sectors.

Date: 10-11 Sep, 2013
The Myanmar Global Investment Forum
Location: Myanmar International Convention Center, Nay Pyi Taw
With over 900 international and local business leaders, policymaker, financiers and economists, the conference offers international participants an ideal platform to connect with the country’s government and business leaders. Hear their outlook for the country as it continues its dramatic re-emergence into the international community. 

Date: 16-18 Sep, 2013
Myanmar Supply Chain Management Conference
Location: Traders Hotel, Yangon
Myanmar Supply Chain Management Conference 2013 is the only strategic supply chain conference where people, innovation technologies and best practices converge to define the realm of SCM in Myanmar. It aims to provide the international platform where global supply chain practitioners network and learn about the opportunities presented with the opening up of various sectors in Myanmar. The spot light will be cast on the supply chains of vastly different industries – ranging from automobile to CPG manufacturing, from retail to the agricultural supply chain. Focus will also be on the transport and logistical networks which play an integral part in the enabling of an agile, responsive and highly efficient supply chain.

Date: 23-26 Sep, 2013
Myanmar Power Summit and Myanmar Oil Gas & Power Week
Location: Sedona Hotel Yangon
Incorporating 2 Ground- breaking industry conferences with individual interactive sessions, ‘shared’ sessions and separately bookable workshops for comprehensive networking and knowledge sharing experience.

Date: 24-25 Sep 2013
Asia Cementrade Summit

Location: Parkroyal, Yangon
Booming infrastructure and construction growth in Asia drives cement demand & investment. The topics of discussion mainly include -How sustainable is Asia’s infrastructure and construction boom? Cement demand, prospects & investment challenges/updates in:Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, India, Indonesia, The Philippines, China; cement trade opportunities in Myanmar with new FIL, Myanmar’s infrastructure development & industrial projects master plan, dry bulk freight market forecast and dement technology update.

Date: 30 Sep-01 Oct 2013
Myanmar Real Estate Summit (MRES)

Location: Parkroyal, Yangon
Burgeoning demand, revised regulationsandnewopportunities are driving Myanmar’s property sector – from refurbished office spaces to service apartments to retail outlets. But what are the limitations for investments and challenges ahead for the real estate market? Will foreigners be able to buy condominiums in the near future? Is Myanmar facing a real estate bubble? 2nd MRES explores pivotal issues that are crucial for investing in Myanmar’s property sector. 

Telecom and IT Global summit 2013 is set to take place at Yangon, Myanmar from 3-4 october
SINGAPORE – The 2nd INTO MYANMAR: Telecom and IT Global Summit 2013 is set to take place at Yangon, Myanmar from 3-4 October 2013.Two new telecom licenses have just been awarded in Myanmar. The new Telecom Law is now being treated in its final stage in Parliament and is expected to be passed soon. more…

Returning to Myanmar

Kunal Sinha

Local men at a bar
Local men at a bar
Cilincs offer HIV counseling
Cilincs offer HIV counseling

My Myanmar experience goes back twenty years. Then, the nation was stuck in a time warp. It was like being in the 1940s. Slogans urging people to lead a ‘disciplined life’ lined the streets and welcomed us to government offices. Working on a project about HIV/AIDS for UNICEF, we visited quite a few offices, but our research also took us to drug rehabilitation centers – where HIV positive youth had been tested but not told about their seropositive status. In the Buddhist monasteries up in the hills of the Golden Triangle, religious leaders completely denied the existence of HIV, even as hundreds of young girls crossed the border routinely into Thailand, worked in the sex trade and sent money back home. We spent eveningsposing as potential customers in Yangon’s restaurants and Kentung’s karaoke bars, learning how young women had false, but sophisticated – notions about how HIV could be transmitted, like only if the blood groups of sexual partners matched. In the fairground where traditional all night long Zat Pwe performances were held, some of these women plied their trade.

I spotted injecting drug users rummaging through hospital waste to pick up discarded IV needles and tubes, because it was illegal to buy a syringe. In a land where deep religious faith and a complete lack of personal agency stifled all initiative, it was indeed disturbing to see how vulnerable people were to the AIDS epidemic.

Poster - Zat Pwe performance
Poster – Zat Pwe performance

On a different note, Yangon’s Bogyoke Aung San Market was a virtual Aladdin’s treasure trove, with gems, intricately carved ivory and teak statuettes, and bright fabrics spilling out of small family owned stores. This was where we were told that we should exchange our US dollars, because you could get 15-20 times the official exchange rate.
The Myanmar that I will be revisiting this year promises to be very different, but equally exciting. Coincidentally, it will be for another UNICEF, project on comprehensive education system reform. As foreign investment pours in, the country faces a huge challenge: in terms of having an educated, trained and skilled workforce that can meet the needs of the new companies, across every sector. Many schools themselves are supported by their communities, rather than relying on government support, which clearly indicates that families value education.

It isn’t surprising that Myanmar’s rich natural and mineral resources have created such a rush of investment.

If I am able to make even the tiniest contribution towards unlocking the human potential through the education system reform, I would consider it as a real privilege.

The writer is Chief Knowledge Officer – China and Regional Cultural Insights Director, Ogilvy & Mather Asia Pacific, based in Shanghai. who has written several books on his travels around the region, including Myanmar.

Education in Myanmar


Myanmar has opened itself to the world at seemingly lightning speed. During the past year, rapid changes have resulted in the suspension of economic sanctions and the first visit to Myanmar by a U.S. president. President Thein Sein’s government has released hundreds of political prisoners, eased restrictions on the press and freedom of assembly and brokered cease-fires with many of the nation’s ethnic insurgencies. After years of house arrest, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been elected to the parliament, which is playing an active role in the country’s governance.

Myanmar currently must contend with a dual challenge of excessive centralization and the processes of decentralization that is currently underway – particularly in the education sector. At the present time, 13 different ministries oversee higher education, the Ministry of Education overseeing the majority. The Ministry has 10 different departments for overseeing the country’s education system, but for higher education it has two specific units, one for northern Myanmar – centered in Mandalay and one for southern Myanmar – operating out of Yangon.

While the system may seem highly centralized, it also is quite fragmented as there are 12 other ministries that oversee and operate universities; each of these universities has a dedicated and strictly regulated curriculum that is more focused on a specific functional or technical expertise and less focused on providing a general liberal arts education. Indeed, some disciplines or techniques are completely absent (e.g. political science) or very underdeveloped (e.g. journalism studies, sociology and social science methodologies). The universities in the fields of defence, forestry and agriculture tend to be better staffed, equipped and funded than most other universities. The geographic distribution of these universities reflects considerations of equity and access rather than the availability of infrastructure, faculty, etc. In addition, many

HEI: Higher Education Institues
HEI: Higher Education Institues

universities have been scattered across the country to constrain large scale student mobilization and participation in political demonstrations against the government. Interestingly, each of the major states in Myanmar has at least three universities within its locality.

This leads to further fragmentation as the cost of operating these various units is fairly high and the availability of adequate resources is very limited. As a result, many universities suffer from inadequate budgets as well as a shortage of qualified faculty and administrative personnel. Students, faculty and universities themselves suffer from a lack of autonomy and choice. All decisions regarding a student’s choice of field of study or university are derived from performance on the national achievement test, administered upon completion of secondary school and depending on geographic location. Similarly, access to international fellowships and exchange opportunities have been strictly regulated from the central ministries.

HEI: Higher Education Institues
HEI: Higher Education Institues

It seems that the capacity in the country to absorb training and new approaches to education and research may be limited at this time. This is due in part to the highly centralized, top-down nature of the educational system but also due to a certain amount of “assessment and training fatigue” created by the intense interest in Myanmar from outsiders. There is little coordination among foreign assistance, although there is some effort to become more coherent through various coordinating bodies organizing international donors and NGOs. A law is currently under consideration to allow the establishment of private institutions with degree granting authority. This seems to be intended primarily for foreign entities wishing to establish a base in Myanmar, and will likely include minimal financial investment pre-requisites. Basic infrastructure – from electric power, to internet access, to educational research and learning facilities – is uneven and undependable. We can expect significant improvements in online access within the next 12-24 months through foreign investment, but at this time access to international resources and information is very limited.

Importance of Leadership and Entrepreneurship

Despite the challenges of centralization and bureaucratic rigidity noted above, Myanmar’s civil society and educational sectors also highlight the importance of individual leadership, personality and entrepreneurship. Ministries and universities exhibit considerable variation in the degree of openness to change and internationalization. In part this appears to be determined by the relative willingness and ability of the senior ministry leadership to lead and implement reforms.

In general, there is an interest in reform and greater international connections, driven in part by a desire to reclaim the historical high standing of Myanmar’s educational system in the region. A hunger for external information and technical support is evident everywhere and at all levels of institutional and civil society hierarchies.

Today, however, modernizing the higher education system in Myanmar will require more than just upgrading buildings, classrooms, and related physical infrastructure. The more pressing need is to re-establish across the spectrum of higher education organizations a new type of totally integrated living-learning academic experience that generates fertile discourse and critical academic engagement outside as well as inside the typical academic classroom.

This is a critical juncture for engaging with Myanmar. Higher education organizations can be a catalyst in bringing funders together with educators and government entities to make sure that investment is made where it can do the most good in preparing the future workforce and supporting economic development. There is no doubt that the awakening that has taken place in Myanmar is a welcome sight for those who have watched from afar while Myanmar’s universities deteriorated due to explicit neglect and political heavy-handedness. Nonetheless, while it remains quite clear that Myanmar’s universities are embarking on a path that eventually will prove rewarding and yield promising results, they too must remain focused on bringing about high priority, critically needed incremental changes and proceed ahead at a moderate versus an accelerated pace to ensure continued political support for the current reforms taking place. It is incumbent on the international education community to respect the need for such a deliberate choice and to proceed ahead accordingly.

Japan and India are among the countries at the forefront of this effort. “We are ready to help,” said Hiroto Arakawa, Vice-President the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), at the WorldEconomic Forum on East Asia in Myanmar.

JICA is signing an agreement with Myanmar to extend US$ 500 million in aid for ‘quick-fix type power projects’ in the Yangon area and education and other development programmes among the country’s ethnic groups. Japan will also provide loans to build infrastructure in a new special economic zone in Myanmar and open a vocational training centre in August.

For its part, India is helping set up the Myanmar Institute of Information Technology in Mandalay, patterned after the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology system, which has produced some of the world’s top engineers and scientists. “The first batch of students will be admitted in September this year,” said Subramanian Ramadorai, Vice-Chairman, Tata Consultancy Services, India. The school will train thousands of IT specialists in four or five years.

Since mid-2012, Australia has helped to deliver textbooks to 700,000 school children and improved access to early childhood development for 140,000 boys and girls. This has helped lift the standards of education by training 32,000 teachers and 7,400 school administrators.

HEI: Higher Education Institues
HEI: Higher Education Institues

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ayala Corporation, Philippines, noted that his country is in a similar situation as Myanmar in terms of its young population. The youth must be equipped with thinking and creative skills and expertise, not rote learning, he said. Giving the example of the US$ 15 billion business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the Philippines, he urged harnessing the private sector to help develop new sectors and create jobs. “Business can help create new models with academia,” he said.

In the case of the BPO sector, the private sector formed an industry association and leveraged the combined influence of its members to persuade schools to equip students with computer skills and fluency in English, which are essential for BPO work. Today, nearly 800,000 jobs have been created in the new industry, staffed mostly by young people.

As Myanmar embarks on socio-economic transformations, education must play a critical role in promoting inclusive growth and poverty reduction. This will help Myanmar meet rapidly evolving labor market needs, rebalance and equip the economy to modernize and move into higher value-added sectors, and successfully enter regional and global markets.

The Burmese language (myanma bhasa) is the official language of Myanmar. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as that of some ethnic minorities in Burma like the Mon. Burmese is spoken by 32 million as a first language and as a second language by 10 million, particularly ethnic minorities in Myanmar and those in neighboring countries. (Although the constitution officially recognizes the English name of the language as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese.)

What is Buddhist Art?

Buddhist art includes media which depict Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other entities; notable practitioners and historical figures; narrative scenes from the lives of all of these; mandalas and other graphic aids to practice; as well as physical objects associated with Buddhist practice (dorjes, bells, clothing, etc.).

Music, chanting, dramatic forms, and poetry can also be considered Buddhist art.

The earliest known instances of material objects of worship for Buddhists are relics of the Buddha and other holy figures, as well objects symbolic of relics (e.g., stupas).

An early text describes three categories of relics:



1. Saririka: physical relics of the Buddha;
2. Uddesika: religious symbols including the Buddha image, stupas, dharmacakra (wheel of the law), ‘implying the places of actions and objects of use as relics of a Buddha;
3. Paribhogika: personal articles used by the Buddha. Relics are always closely associated with the life story of the historical Buddha and their preservation/worship is intended to encourage religious practice. more…

Measuring change in Myanmar at Yangon’s Iconic Shwedagon Pagoda

Light pours through the clouds into the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. A mix of tourists, monks, and Buddhists who came to pray, leave offerings, and see the famous landmark, passed through the pagoda on Thursday morning during a brief and bright break from Yangon’s June monsoon storms. | photo: natalie keyssar/globalpost
Light pours through the clouds into the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. A mix of tourists, monks, and Buddhists who came to pray, leave offerings, and see the famous landmark, passed through the pagoda on Thursday morning during a brief and bright break from Yangon’s June monsoon storms. | Photo: Natalie Keyssar/Globalpost

Excerpts from Ben Schreckinger’s travelogue in Global Post

YANGON, Myanmar – On the first morning we set out into Myanmar to discover how the country is changing, we went to one of the places in Yangon that for centuries has largely stayed the same: Shwedagon Pagoda. The 368-foot gold structure predates the city itself and serves as an emblem of the country. It has existed in its present form for centuries, and archeologists believe that the pagoda houses more ancient structures within its gilded walls (Burmese Buddhists believe it also houses eight hairs plucked from Siddhartha Gautama’s head).But we were concerned with more recent history. The day before, senior AP correspondent Aye Aye Win had expressed to us her skepticism at the breathless tone with which foreign media have been reporting on the country’s reforms. The reforms, she said, had not yet changed the lives of average citizens. So, besides winning merit by applying small squares of gold leaf to the chests of Buddha statues, we went to the pagoda – the place where thousands of monks converged in September 2007 in support of the so-called Saffron Revolution- to get a sense of whether the high-level reforms initiated since 2011 were being felt on the ground. The hill on which the Shwedagon Pagoda sits is packed with lesser Buddhist shrines. The covered stairs of the approach we took were lined on either side with shops. more…

Festivals of Myanmar

Celebrating the Taungpyone Nats or Spirit Festival
Celebrating the Taungpyone Nats or Spirit Festival

Wagaung Maha Dok Festival : Wagaung (August) is the month for what is called Maha Dok festival, believed to be named after a very poor man who became rich over-night for his offerings to ‘Kas-sapa Buddha’. According to tradition and custom, communal groups solicit donors to prepare alms-bowls, one or more each, depending on the means and will of the donor. Each bowl is filled with some rice meal with a curry and dessert like sweets and fruits. Monks are invited to receive the bowls and lots are drawn. Each donor is in turn given a number of each bowl and lots are drawn again for the winning number. The lucky donor often receives a sum of money. Overjoyed with his luck; he believes that he is given another opportunity to do good deeds of merit.

Taungpyone Nats or Spirits Festival: The festival of Taungpyone is a very peculiar and particular festival that although Myanmar Buddhists are not actually spirit worshippers, thousands of country folks and townspeople alike flock to this yearly festival of ‘Nats’ (Spirit Gods) near Mandalay to participate in its joyous, light- hearted merrymaking. 

The small Taungpyone Hill and surrounding areas had been ‘awarded’ to the ‘Nats’ as a special province of their own by Myanmar Kings since the Bagan Dynasty in the 11th century. Once a year, festivals are held to honour these ‘Nats’.

Myanmar’s New Year is in April. It is also the time to celebrate the most famous and active festival in Myanmar. What is the name of this particular festival?

Water Festival: The Water Festival, or Thingyan, is celebrated in Myanmar. It is a time of celebration where people sprinkle and splash water as a symbol of washing away sins and bad luck from the previous year. It is also celebrated in Thailand.

September 2013


Celebration of Tawthalin Boat Races
Celebration of Tawthalin Boat Races

Tawthalin Boat Races : ‘’Tawihalin” (September) is the sixth month on Myanmar calendar and it is the time for Royal Regatta Festivals which is being revived by the state with the holding of festivals of pageantry and boat races. September is the month when boat races are held in practically every pond, river and lake throughout the country.

Buddha’s Tooth Relic Festival also known as Phaung Daw Pagoda Festival: Buddhist devotees from all over the country come to Paung-de (Buddha’s Tooth Relic Festival), 130 miles north of Yangon, to worship this sacred relic brought out once a year (in September) from its vaults. It is taken around the town on an elephant in a procession. 

Myanmar Hospital Joins Hand with Singapore’s Parkway Hospital

Singapore’s Parkway Hospital has signed a MoU with Myanmar’s Zabuthiri Specialist Hospital in Nay Pyi Taw, the official capital of Myanmar, to work together for medical services in both countries. Zabuthiri Specialist Hospital, located in the capital, will provide low-cost but high standard medical services for the people in Myanmar as part of the joint-venture with the Parkway, according to officials from the hospital. more…

Myanmar Allows Traffic Rights to Indian Airlines


Indian airlines can now operate flights to Myanmar as the country has granted traffic rights to India-based carriers paving the way for air connectivity between the nations. “Yes, we (Indian airlines) got the fifth freedom rights which is a major concession,” said Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma. The fifth freedom rights allow an airline to carry revenue traffic between countries as a part of services connecting the airline’s own country. At present, there is no direct air connectivity between India and Myanmar. more…

Myanmar Floods Force 25,000 Into Relief Camps

STOP PRESS : A picture made available on 31 July 2013 shows a car submerged on a street outside an apartment building at a residential area in the Thai-Myanmar border district of Mae Sot, Tak province, northern Thailand, 30 July 2013. Severe flooding in north-western Thailand has brought the million-US dollar daily trade with Myanmar to a halt at the border crossing near the town of Mae Sot, officials said. The rainfall caused the Moei River to burst its banks, inundating Mae Sot and Myawadi, the town on the Myanmar side of the border. The Mae Sot border crossing is a major artery for trade between Thailand and Myanmar, accounting for about 300 million baht (1 million US dollars) a day in goods. | photo:
STOP PRESS : A picture made available on 31 July 2013 shows a car submerged on a street outside an apartment building at a residential area in the Thai-Myanmar border district of Mae Sot, Tak province, northern Thailand, 30 July 2013. Severe flooding in north-western Thailand has brought the million-US dollar daily trade with Myanmar to a halt at the border crossing near the town of Mae Sot, officials said. The rainfall caused the Moei River to burst its banks, inundating Mae Sot and Myawadi, the town on the Myanmar side of the border. The Mae Sot border crossing is a major artery for trade between Thailand and Myanmar, accounting for about 300 million baht (1 million US dollars) a day in goods. | photo:

Yangon: Nearly 25,000 people have been evacuated to makeshift camps after floods ravaged eastern Myanmar, an official said Wednesday, as relief teams struggled to reach remote areas inundated by water. Flood waters have risen dramatically after several days of heavy rain in Karen State forcing thousands to flee to nearly 80 relief camps, Chum Hre, director of the social welfare, relief and resettlement department told AFP. “Altogether 24,499 flood victims have been evacuated” in Karen State, he said, adding hundreds more had been displaced in Mon and Rakhine states. “It is very difficult to reach some of the disaster–hit places because of the bad weather and landslides,” he said, adding that helicopters had been deployed. more…

Real Estate in Myanmar
The shortage of property in Myanmar’s capital Yangon and the rising price trends for newly built residential and commercial real estate are prompting more and more foreign property developers to set foot in the country. There is a huge undersupply of business office space. In late 2012, there was about 60,000 sq m of office space in Yangon, less than some individual office buildings in Bangkok. Early 2013, office rentals in Yangon has gone up to US$ 85 / sq mtr per month.