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Myanmar needs to encourage more companies to be listed in the upcoming Yangon Stock Exchange in order to achieve its capital market goal, experts said at the KPMG’s Myanmar Business Forum held in Yangon on Thursday.

“A stock exchange is meaningless without listed companies. The capital market needs securities companies, and very educated investors. So we are now focusing on initial public offerings (IPOs),” said Shinsuke Goto, a director of Daiwa Securities Group, which has been mainly helping to establish YSE.

Goto added that Daiwa is currently focusing on doing IPOs, a process it initiated last year. At first, it is expected that leading, big companies will be listed in the YSE. But later, the stock exchange needs to invite smaller companies, he said.

Yasuhide Fujii, managing partner of KPMG in Myanmar, echoed Goto’s view.

“For the success of the capital market, I think we should have good quality listed companies. When we came to Myanmar two years ago, comparing it to other emerging countries in Indochina, we saw that Myanmar’s economy is driven by private companies, not state-owned companies. How to attract all these companies to be listed is a key issue,” said Fujii.

According to KPMG, companies that undergo pre-IPO testing and preparation will be in the best position to maximise the value of their business, raise the bar of transparency in doing business and complement the pace of economic growth in Myanmar through a vibrant and credible stock market.

“Myanmar companies considering a listing on the exchange should first ask if an IPO is the right choice and at the right time given their stage of development and prospects. Running a comprehensive pre-IPO test can help companies evaluate both timing and readiness for a listing,” said Fujii.

He added that robust preparation, ongoing governance and transparency will not only increase the number of good securities on the exchange, but will accelerate international investor appetite in the local capital market. To him, an optimal operating structure combined with sound corporate governance and transparency will enhance shareholder value, mitigate risk and ultimately provide investors with confidence in the YSE.

Tanate Kasemsarn, KPMG partner in Thailand, said that businesses should develop an IPO roadmap and test to ensure IPO readiness and adequate preparation.

“First of all, a company needs to set its destination. Then, it should formulate its equity growth story. After that, a pre-IPO readiness test needed to be conducted,” said Tanate, adding that such test is vital to find out which group structure, accounting standards, systems, processes, and internal controls need to be changed.

Tanate urged to develop a proper business plan and prepare financial and related requirements to meet the criteria of both stock exchange and investors after conducting the pre-IPO readiness test.

Rohingya Muslim students hope for better lives

Posted by pakin On June - 23 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

But education discrimination persists against this minority of 1.3 million people

MYANMAR’S most repeated motto under President Thein Sein is: “Building a modern developed nation through education”.For thousands of Rohingya Muslim schoolkids, education is a way of escaping from lifetime tragedy in locked internally displacedperson (IDP) camps and villages in Rakhine state. Such an environment, human rights groups say, is akin to the world’s” biggest openair prisons”.

The struggle to get away is incredible.Rohingya Muslim students need higher marks in the Grade 11 examination. And only the highly competitive medical study is allowed. It’s a winner-take-all contest as the Rohingya Muslim students are not permitted to apply for other subjects at Sittwe University. They are banned from studying liberal arts or sciences such as English or zoology, as a result of the sectarian violence in June 2012.

Last year, nevertheless, an IDP Rohingya teenager, Maung Min Naing, from the camp here with outstanding grades was permitted to enrol in the medical school in Magway in central Myanmar.

“Students at medical schools are a good role model for Rohingya kids. It’s the only channel opened for them to continue their studies since they cannot study at the university level in Rakhine,” Hla Kyaw, a Rohingya teacher in the Thet Kay Pin IDP camp in Sittwe, said recently. The teacher has been privately tutoring a group of 11thgraders at a bamboo house to prepare them for the next academic year. He lamented that just 16 Rohingya students from camps in Sittwe took the Grade 11 exam last March.

“Two students out of 16 passed the exam and one with two distinctions,” said Hla Kyaw, who

graduated from Sittwe in chemistry in 1996. “I often think about a hundred Rohingya students joining the exam next March.” More than 150,000 Rohingya Muslims from Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, were driven from their homes during the sectarian violence in June 2012. At least 200 were believed to have been killed and 13 Muslim quarters out of 14 were burned down.

The government of Myanmar set up temporary camps for hundreds of thousands of internally displace persons, most of them Muslims, around the north of Sittwe. Now entering the third year, there are still no signs that these residents can return to their homes in Sittwe town.

“We fled from the town and took refuge here. I thought it would be a few months. But now temporary means permanent,” said Daw Sandar, who runs a pharmacy in the camp.

“Alongside a host of problems, the one we are most worried about for our kids is their education.”

According to IDP camp committee members,about 200 Muslim students who werestudying at Sittwe University before the violence are barred from returning to the university. Just one high school was

allowed to operate in the 2014 academic year. In the following year of the violence, Muslim students in IDP camps were depending on a middle school to further their education.

“My daughter was in the 10thgrade when we fled from the violence. But in the camps, there was no high school education available,” Daw Sandar said.

“So my daughter went repeatedly to a middle school for Grade 9.” It is a tearful panorama that Sittwe

University is located just within walking distance from Muslim IDP camps north of Sittwe. It is out of reach for Muslim students.The university entrance is still heavily guarded by riot police in khaki uniform and soldiers in green. Muslim students can only watch with dismay as three-wheel motorcycle taxis carry Rakhine students to the university passing through Bumay, a Muslim village near Sittwe University.

“We are just sitting at teashops or corners of dusty roads, seeing my friends going to the university,” said Mohammad Shari, or Maung San Oo, his Burmese name, who was studying psychology before June 2012.

“Of course, I am shattered.”Last year Maung San Oo and his friends signed a letter to Sittwe University authorities, requesting to continue their studies. But there were only told that only correspondence courses might be provided. The Education Ministry merely says the situation there is not conducive for Muslim students.

The request letter was sent to U Shwe Kan Kyaw, a student affairs administrator at Sittwe University. When asked about the future of Muslim university students and why they are kept out, he wiped sweat from his face.”Decisions for the Muslim students came from Nay Pyi Daw due to security, not from the university. So we can only allow them to reenrol if we get the green light from Nay Pyi Daw.

“As teachers, all of us staff at the university want to see all students studying at the university

equally.”

This education discrimination among the Rohingya Muslim minority with an estimated 1.3 million population reflects a likely apartheid policy in western Myanmar alongside the restrictions on freedom of movement and access to healthcare.

Since March 27, all international NGO healthcare workers at Rohingya camps were suspended after Rakhine mobs attacked their offices in Sittwe. Before the violence, Rakhine and Muslims were living side-by-side for generations. In many instances, it was an employee-employer relationship as most of Rohingya Muslims worked in Rakhine’s shops, restaurants and houses as labourers. While Rohingya Muslims drove trishaws in Sittwe, Rakhine were their passengers. The situation took a turn overnight in the middle of 2012 following photos of a raped and murdered Rakhine girl that appeared on social

media such as Facebook and the streets of Rakhine. Three Muslim were accused. The incident ignited sectarian violence between Rakhine Buddhist and Muslims across Rakhine in the following days, and hundreds were killed and millions of dollars worth of properties were destroyed.

The government in Nay Pyi Daw now separates and bars the two communities from using barbed wire and security forces on grounds of preventing hatred and further violence.

Many people in the country including those in Rakhine feel that such tactics are fruitless in the long run since they don’t address the root causes of the crisis.

“Muslim refugees without hope for education can be more dangerous,” said U Khaing Kaung Zan, director of the Wan Latt development foundation in Sittwe.

“People without education can become extremists at any time.”

As Rohingya are banned from higher education,an increasing alternative education resource for Muslim teenagers has become “Madrasa” religious schools set up in the IDP camps and villages.

A major Madrasa is the Dar Paing Madrasa near Sittwe. Ahmad Hussein, the headMaulana, said the student bodies at religious schools have dramatically increased in the past two years from 50 to 350 members.

“Students cannot go to high school and the university. So we are getting more students,”said Ahmad Hussein, who wears a Pakistani long white dress and sports a beard. Asked whether there are extremists among young Rohingyas since they are living in a heart-breaking environment, Hussein said his preference is escape rather than resistance.

“As long as I’m alive, I’ll be patient in this situation. If I could not live here, I would be ready to run away elsewhere,” he said.

For some teenage Rohingya Muslim students in the private tuition class organised by teacher U Hla Kyaw, escaping from this tragedy takes on another meaning. They believe hard study to get good marks at the university entrance exam is a ticket out.

“I’m trying to get as high marks as I can in order to go to the medical school in Magway,” said Maung Soe Than Htut, a 15-year-old Rohingya student referring to one of four medical universities in Myanmar.

“I know if I cannot get good enough grades to attend medical school, I will be still be locked in here,” he said.

Army fights labour fears on new front

Posted by pakin On June - 17 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Sirichai heads off Myanmar worker panic

The junta yesterday moved to calm down panicked alien labourers, including the bulk of Thailand’s foreign workforce from Myanmar, reiterating that there were no harsh crackdowns being planned.

Gen Sirichai Disthakul, chairman of the National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO) sub-committee on transnational labour, yesterday led a team to visit employers and migrant workers in Samut Sakhon, a province with one of the largest populations of migrant workers, mostly from Myanmar.

The visit was apparently aimed at curbing problems facing business operators who were losing workers and whose businesses could be damaged by sudden labour shortages, both legal and illegal.

Gen Sirichai asked for cooperation from employers in Samut Sakhon to urgently report to the NCPO the number and names of the Myanmar nationals they were hiring, either legally and illegally.

He said it was part of the NCPO’s measures to manage foreign labourers.

Gen Sirichai said the NCPO plans to pilot its migrant labour management policy in Samut Sakhon and Ranong provinces. They were conducting a survey for the plan which includes residential zoning arrangements and public health services.

Gen Sirichai said Thailand still lacks effective measures to solve foreign worker problems and unity among government agencies to manage the problems.

“We insist that there’s no policy to crack down on foreign workers,” Gen Sirichai said.

NCPO chief Prayuth Chan-ocha also insisted yesterday the NCPO was “regulating” the employers hiring migrant workers and it was crucial to abide by the law by formally registering the migrant labourers who currently live and work in Thailand.

NCPO deputy spokesman Winthai Suvaree also insisted the NCPO did not have any policy to crack down on migrant workers but would have to re-regulate the migrant labour that had been a problem plaguing Thailand for more than a decade.

Government agencies were enacting the principle of re-regulating migrant labour in line with humanitarian principles and international standards, Col Winthai said.

Both employers and migrant workers should benefit from this effort to improve the working and living conditions of migrant workers, he said.

The most urgent issues facing migrant labour include the abuse of child labour, human trafficking, and the corrupt actions of some state officials and labour brokers profiting from illegal businesses associated with migrant workers, Col Winthai said.

Employers of migrant labourers are simply required now to carry on with business as usual while taking the best care of their workers, he said.

The chief aim of the NCPO’s move to re-regulate migrant labour is to correctly register migrant workers so they can live and work in Thailand and receive proper work benefits including health care, he said.

The Samut Sakhon Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries, relevant clubs and associations yesterday also signed a memorandum of understanding not to hire children or illegal workers.

Gen Prayuth had previously vowed to finish registering all alien workers living in Thailand in one year.

There are currently 2,233,015 legal migrant workers in Thailand — 1,741,771 Myanmar nationals, 95,888 from Laos, and 395,356 from Cambodia, said Thanich Numnoi, deputy director-general of the Employment Department.

Of the total, about 1.8 million workers had entered Thailand illegally previously but later went through nationality verification and received permission to live and work temporarily here, Mr Thanich said.

After his visit to Samut Sakhon, Gen Sirichai said the province was conforming properly with the NCPO’s migrant labour management policy and should be used as a model for other provinces.

But he warned that influential figures who earn money from illegal businesses related to migrant labour should stop, or else face harsh action.

Ms Kamolwan, a construction firm owner who asked that her last name be withheld, said her 100 Cambodian workers informed her that they had to go back to Cambodia but promised to return later.

Her small firm was suffering greatly from a labour shortage, she said.

Rumours that some Cambodians had been detained and physically assaulted emerged about a month ago, she said.

“Many of my Cambodian workers insisted their parents were very concerned about their safety and that was why they had to go home,” Ms Kamolwan said.

She urged the government to open a new round of migrant worker registration to turn illegal migrant workers into legal ones, saying the current policy of requiring alien workers to seek visas and work permits requires a lot of time and money.

Sanguan Saengwongkij, vice-president of the association of rubber wood operators in the eastern provinces, said the Cambodian worker exodus had led to several businesses in Rayong’s Klaeng district having to close temporarily.

A state official in Sa Kaeo province who asked not to be named said that the exodus of Cambodian migrant workers had mainly been caused by rumours spread by telephone from Cambodia that Thai soldiers had been capturing and murdering Cambodians.

If the news of the NCPO’s policy to re-regulate migrant labour prompted Cambodian workers to flee, the question was why illegal migrant workers of other nations were not affected by the same news in the same way, said the same official.

Jeerasak Sukhonthachart, permanent secretary for labour in his capacity as deputy chairman of the NCPO’s sub-committee on transnational labour, said the exodus of Cambodian workers has begun to take a toll on businesses.

As Myanmar is speeding up the implementation of special economic zones (SEZ) before the launch of the Asean Economic Community, the success of Thilawa SEZ will serve as a “gateway” to a lot of mega-projects in the country, an economist said.

Maung Aung, senior adviser to the Ministry of Commerce, told Myanmar Eleven that Thilawa SEZ plays a vital role in the country’s economy as it will set a good example for the implementation of mega-projects.

“Currently, many investors are keeping an eye on the development of Thilawa SEZ. Not only Japanese investors but also international businesses are looking closely at the zone’s development. If we can do well in Thilawa SEZ within the targeted timeframe, I am sure thousands of businesses will flock to our country,” said Maung Aung.

The adviser pointed out that all-inclusive participation is needed to make the project a success.

“I heard [that] Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Limited has sold out thousands of its shares to the public. As there are many new shareholders in the firm, the Board of Directors should get advice from the public and listen to other shareholders.”

Sett Aung, chairperson of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone Management Committee, said in an earlier press conference that the management team of Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings might be reformed owing to the increase in the number of shareholders.

Currently, Win Aung, chairman for Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce (UMFCCI), and Thein Wai, chairman of First Myanmar Investment Co (FMI), are serving as the chairman and vice chairman of the Thilawa SEZ Holdings, respectively.

Criticism arises over the selection of shareholders as chairman and vice chairman, as this may lead to a conflict of interest.

The SEZ has a total area of 5787.187 acres (2342 hectares). Class A area, which is the first phase of construction work, has a land area of 978.691 acres (396.061 hectres). As it is a special economic zone, there will be residential and commercial areas besides industrial area. There will be supermarkets, residential housings, and international schools, hospitals, etc. Such buildings will be built in the residential and commercial areas.

“There will be free zone and promotion zone as you can learn it in the new Special Economic Zone law. Export-oriented industries will be in the free zone. Domestic-oriented industries, supermarkets, residential housings, recreation centres will be situated in the promotion zone. So we will form the free zone as the international bounded area,” said Sett Aung.

“In Thilawa SEZ, we will separate into two parts: free-zone industries and other industries. There may be a domestic market-oriented industry near the free zone. But they will enjoy the same opportunities as other domestic-oriented industries do. We take Model 2 of the new Special Economic Zone law.”

Sett Aung emphasised the role of the developer as it will invest, build, and maintain the whole zone. Myanmar-Japan Thilawa Development, which is a joint-venture company, will serve as a developer while Thilawa SEZ Management Committee will serve as a regulator.

“The regulator itself has become the minority shareholder in Thilawa SEZ. In the newly formed joint-venture company, SEZ Management Committee will possess 10 per cent of shares while Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings possesses 41 per cent of shares. [The]Japanese consortium will hold 39 per cent while Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] will hold 10 per cent,” said Sett Aung, who is also the deputy governor at the Central Bank of Myanmar.

He noted that there was one condition then that the developer must be a public company. The other criteria are the company must have more than 50 shareholders and it must submit the letter of intent within two weeks from advertisement date. At the time, there were more than 20 public companies and of total, only 12 have more than 50 shareholders. Moreover, only nine of the 12 managed to submit the letter of intent on time. These companies ended up being the shareholders of Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings.

But Sett Aung highlighted that the voting rights of the initiating developers will be the same as those of other shareholders and there will not be any discrimination among the shareholders.

Win Aung, the chairperson of the Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings, said that the construction of factories will commence in the zone by this month. Four roads connecting the Thilawa special economic zone are already planned for construction.

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