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Trade, investment discussed with Russian PM

Posted by pakin On November - 13 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Thailand and Russia on Thursday reaffirmed their commitment to continue mutual cooperation in trade and investment, particularly in the agricultural and logistic sectors.

The agreement was made during a bilateral meeting between Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chanocha and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of Asean Summit in Myanmar’s capital of Nay Pi Taw.

The two sides congratulated each other on their longstanding ties ahead of the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2017. With Thailand remaining a popular destination for Russian travellers, Gen Prayut assured Medvedev that the Kingdom was a safe place to visit and that his government would make every effort to ensure the wellbeing of all visitors.

The Thai premier also thanked Russia for increasing its imports of Thai agricultural products, including fruits, vegetables and canned foods and expressed the hope that bilateral trade would double to about US$10 billion by 2016.

The PM also extended an invitation to Russia to invest in Thailand’s infrastructure development projects.

In return, Medvedev voiced readiness to push trade and investment cooperation between the two countries, saying he would further expand the market for Thai produce within Russia. The Russian premier said he considered Thailand one of Russia’s leading partners in Asean and insisted that bilateral cooperation would be increased in many areas, such as energy, tourism and cultural exchange.

He also invited Gen Prayut to make an official visit to Russia when convenient.

Fitch raises Vietnam’s credit rating

Posted by pakin On November - 4 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

HANOI — Vietnam’s credit rating was raised to three levels below investment grade by Fitch Ratings, which said the country’s macroeconomic stability has improved.

The company raised its rating on Vietnam’s long-term foreign and local currency debt to BB- from B+, and revised the outlook to stable from positive, it said in a statement today. Standard & Poor’s already rates Vietnam at BB-, while Moody’s Investors Service raised its assessment in July to B1, four steps below investment grade.

“Vietnam’s macroeconomic policy mix has moved towards policies aimed at achieving macroeconomic stability,” Fitch said. “Macroeconomic stabilisation has contributed to a sharp turnaround in the current account from a deficit of 3.7% in 2010 to a projected surplus of 4.1% in 2014.”

Vietnam’s economy expanded 5.62% in the nine months through September from the same period a year earlier. The government cut policy interest rates twice this year, aiming to boost full-year economic growth to 5.8 percent in 2014 and 6.2% next year. Government bonds had a fifth monthly gain in October after inflation eased for a fourth month to the slowest pace since 2009.

The yield on the benchmark five-year government notes fell one basis point to 5.16% today, according to prices from banks compiled by Bloomberg. The dong weakened 0.1% to 21,290 against the US dollar as of 3:55pm local time.

“The rating upgrade will boost investors’ confidence, especially foreign ones, and spur them to increase holdings of Vietnamese bonds,” Do Ngoc Quynh, the head of treasury at Hanoi-based Bank for Investment & Development of Vietnam, said by telephone today. “Fitch’s upgrade helps strengthen the recent uptrend of the notes in the local market.”

Htee Yaw, a Myanmar migrant living and working in Chiang Mai, reported that police arrested and detained his 17-year-old brother for several weeks, without allowing any family members access to him, in December 2010.

Htee Yaw went to the police station and pleaded for his release: “They knew he was 17, my brother told them, I told them … He was arrested by the police and put in handcuffs, even though he was young and had committed no crime.”

Htee Yaw said he had to pay a bribe of Bt5,000 (US$167) to secure his brother’s release.

The story is part of a Human Rights Watch report released on September 1. Titled “Two Years With No Moon: Immigration Detention of Children in Thailand”, the report details dozens of cases of children detained on immigration grounds.

The international organisation estimates that at least 2,500 children from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos pass through the Bangkok immigration detention centres each year before being summarily deported. The largest group of refugees living in Thailand is from Myanmar.

As of 2013, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) statistics said that there were 77,913 Myanmar refugees in camps in Thailand, 34,289 of whom were children. The Border Consortium, a non-governmental organisation providing assistance in border camps, estimated that there were 117,000 Myanmar refugees in the 10 camps they work in as of May 2014.

Most fled decades of fighting in Myanmar, and many children were born in Thailand to refugee parents. Some portion of the tens of thousands of Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand are, in fact, refugees, but have not been officially recognised as such, in large part because they are precluded from lodging claims with the government or with UNHCR.

Some 92,000 Myanmar refugees were resettled from Thailand to third countries between 2005 and January 2014.

Political changes in Myanmar since 2011, including the signing of preliminary ceasefire agreements between the Myanmar government and most of the armed ethnic groups, have opened the possibility for future voluntary repatriation. However, few ethnic minority group members have opted to return so far.

Registered Myanmar refugees in Thailand face stark decisions. They can remain in one of the refugee camps along the Myanmar border, where they are relatively protected from arrest, but lack freedom to move or work, and are dependent on aid agencies, which have reduced funding since the ceasefires in Myanmar. Or, they can live and work outside the camps (in areas such as in Mae Sot, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, and Bangkok, but typically without legal status of any kind, which makes them subject to exploitation, extortion, arrest and deportation.

All Rohingya at government shelters interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they were not permitted to leave the facilities.

Adults and children are also arbitrarily detained in police lock-ups.

Mai M, an ethnic Mon girl from Myanmar without paperwork in Thailand, was arrested on the outskirts of Bangkok around December 2011, when she was 15 years old. She said she was taken to a police station with her mother, uncle, and cousin, and held for 15 days without seeing a judge or going to court before police took her and 30 other migrants to the Myanmar border by truck to be deported.

“While Thailand has made progress in enrolling migrant children in school, there are still significant gaps, leaving some children vulnerable to arrest. “Many families live far in the fields,” said Saw Kweh, a veteran community activist in Mae Sot, “and schools can’t come pick them up. There are costs for going to school and some families can’t afford it.”

Human Rights Watch suggested the Thai government enact legislation and policies to expeditiously end immigration detention of children consistent with the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. It also called on Thailand to sign and ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

It noted that while this report was completed prior to the coup, its findings remain relevant. The National Council for Peace and Order has instituted no major policy changes regarding detention of migrant children.

“Thailand’s policy of detaining migrants has remained consistent across previous governments, including military governments,” it said.

Myanmar student wins Asean arts competition

Posted by pakin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Aye Myat Thandar Aung, the second-year student of the National University of Arts and Culture, is named the first-prize winner of the Asean Youth Competition on Arts and Human Rights held this month in Indonesia.

With her watercolour painting titled “Equality and Peace for Everyone”, the 20-year student beat other pieces belonging to Asean youth from other seven countries aged 18 to 25 years old.

At the award presentation ceremony held in Jakarta on Monday, she took home the US$2,000 prize money. She is not yet available for an interview.

“We held an art contest within our university first before entering the competition,” said Thit Lwin Soe, head of department of the National University of Arts and Culture (Yangon).

A panel of judges comprising officials from Myanmar Traditional Arts and Artisans Organisation, teachers from the National University of Arts and Culture, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs selected Aye Myat Thandar Aung’s painting titled “Equality and Peace for Everyone” for the Asean Youth Competition. This was the first time Myanmar participated in the competition.

“After we voted on the best piece, we submitted it through the Asean Committee for Culture and Information for Myanmar this month,” added Thit Lwin Soe.

Students from the National University of Arts and Culture have also won the first place in a youth art competition held in Turkey in 2012.

Youth in eight Asean countries submitted their artworks for the regional competition.

The “ASEAN Youth Competition on Arts and Human Rights” was organised by the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), to raise awareness about human rights and the Asean Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) among youths and encourage their participation in raising awareness on the promotion and protection of human rights.

The competition was held in two rounds – the first at the national level and the second at the regional level. The winner at the national level receives a cash prize of $450. The overall regional winner is entitled to $2,000.

The artworks must represent the AHRD and explain the human rights values contained within the artwork through a short narrative. The A2-sized pieces can be completed with water colours, acrylic paints, crayons or colour pencils. Importantly, they must be an original work, never submitted or published before.

Winners at the national level

Indonesia – Danang Adi Wiratama, 19

Lao PDR – Souchinada Kieoaphone, 24

Malaysia – Nur Fatin binti Kamarudin, 18

Myanmar – Aye Myat Thandar AUNG, 20

Philippines – Manuel Kristoffer M. Kang, 25

Singapore – Khairul Azri Bin Uthli, 19

Thailand – Subannakrit Krikum

Vietnam – Tran Anh Cuong, 18