AP: ‘Myanmar telecom deal with Qatar firm sparks ire’

The AP reports:

Religious tensions engulfing Myanmar spread Friday to the world of big business: Monks and others in the Buddhist-dominated country demanded to know why a lucrative license for a new national mobile phone network had gone to a company from a Muslim nation.

There’s more on the deal itself from Bloomberg:

Norway’s Telenor ASA (TEL) and Ooredoo QSC (QTEL) of Qatar won licenses to expand telecommunications in Myanmar, one of the world’s last remaining untapped markets where only about one in 10 people has a mobile phone.

The two carriers beat nine other bidders including Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (ST), billionaire George Soros and Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BHARTI) in the auction. A France Telecom SA-Marubeni Corp. group was named as a backup in case one of the winners doesn’t fulfill final requirements.

The decision ends a six-month race that drew 91 expressions of interest to operate in the country of 64 million people. The licenses are among the biggest prizes for foreign companies since President Thein Sein moved to allow greater political and economic freedom after taking power in 2011. They’ll be awarded according to a telecommunications law that parliament expects to adopt soon, according to a statement yesterday.

(All emphasis mine.)

‘The New Myanmar’: All 6 episodes of Anasuya’s new show

Last month I mentioned that the first two episodes of “The New Myanmar,” hosted by Anasuya Sanyal — also known as my amazing wife — were available online.

The show’s final four episodes have now aired on Channel NewsAsia, as well, and I wanted to embed them here.

Again, here are the first two shows:

Episode one, “Artistic Freedom,” about music and the arts in the country:

Episode two, about Yangon’s architectural heritage:

And now for the newer shows:

Episode three, on business development in Myanmar:

Episode four, on media in the country:

Episode five, about resolving the country’s ethnic conflicts:

And, finally, episode six, on what lies ahead for Myanmar:

‘The New Myanmar’: First Two Episodes Available Online

I mentioned a few weeks back that Anasuya’s new Channel NewsAsia TV show, “The New Myanmar,” would soon air.

Well, the first two episodes have been broadcast, and they’re now available online.

Embedded above on online here is episode one, “Artistic Freedom,” about music and the arts in the country.

And embedded above on and online here is episode two, “Saving Yangon,” about the city’s architectural heritage.

There are several more episodes to come. You can see them live on Channel NewsAsia on Mondays from 8:30 to 9 p.m. Singapore time.

Anasuya’s New Documentary Series on Myanmar

Here’s the trailer for a new Channel NewsAsia documentary series called “The New Myanmar.”

The series is hosted by Anasuya Sanyal, otherwise known as my amazing wife.

The first show airs Monday, May 6 from 8:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. Singapore time, and the series runs through June 10.

Keep an eye out if you receive Channel NewsAsia, or try to catch the show live online when it airs.

(Note: The trailer, as embedded above, may not display properly on a mobile device, but it should be viewable on a laptop or desktop computer.)

Obama’s State of the Union remarks on Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar

President Obama just finished his State of the Union address.

I Tweeted his remarks about Myanmar and wanted to share them here as well:

Here’s the rest of the passage, for context. You can find the full text and a video of the speech on the New York Times’s site.

We also know that progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all. In many places, people live on little more than a dollar a day. So the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades: by connecting more people to the global economy and empowering women; by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve and helping communities to feed, power, and educate themselves; by saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation.

Above all, America must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom during this period of historic change. I saw the power of hope last year in Rangoon – when Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed an American President into the home where she had been imprisoned for years; when thousands of Burmese lined the streets, waving American flags, including a man who said, “There is justice and law in the United States. I want our country to be like that.”

In defense of freedom, we will remain the anchor of strong alliances from the Americas to Africa; from Europe to Asia. In the Middle East, we will stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable transitions to democracy. The process will be messy, and we cannot presume to dictate the course of change in countries like Egypt; but we can – and will – insist on respect for the fundamental rights of all people. We will keep the pressure on a Syrian regime that has murdered its own people, and support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian. And we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace. These are the messages I will deliver when I travel to the Middle East next month.

NY Times: Journalists who cover Myanmar may have had their email hacked

The New York Times reports today:

Several journalists who cover Myanmar said Sunday that they had received warnings from Google that their e-mail accounts might have been hacked by “state-sponsored attackers.”

The warnings began appearing last week, said the journalists, who included employees of Eleven Media, one Myanmar’s leading news organizations; Bertil Lintner, a Thailand-based author and expert on Myanmar’s ethnic groups; and a Burmese correspondent for The Associated Press.

Worth a read.

Story of the Day, Obama’s Connection to Myanmar Edition

The New York Times reports:

When President Obama lands in Yangon on Monday, he will be the first sitting American president to visit the country now known as Myanmar. But he will not be the first Obama to visit.

The president’s Kenyan grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, spent part of World War II in what was then called Burma as a cook for a British Army captain. Although details are sometimes debated, the elder Mr. Obama’s Asian experience proved formative just as his grandson’s time growing up in Indonesia did decades later.

“His roots go through Burma,” said Timothy Parsons, an African history professor at Washington University in St. Louis who wrote a book on the colonial East African military. “It is kind of an odd intersection of his life. It’s like the three corners of the triangle come together — America, East Africa and Southeast Asia.”

Story of the Day, U.S.-Asean Relations Edition

Following my post yesterday about President Obama’s upcoming Southeast Asia visit this weekend, I wanted share another story on U.S. engagement with the region.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “has ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review military ethics training in the wake of a series of investigations that involve high-ranking military officers’ conduct…”

And:

Speaking at a news conference in Bangkok earlier Thursday after renewing the U.S.’s military relationship with treaty ally Thailand, Mr. Panetta said he isn’t aware of any additional government or military officials who received emails from Ms. Kelley.

The scandal has emerged as a major embarrassment for the U.S. military establishment, overshadowing not only Mr. Panetta’s trip to Australia, Thailand and Cambodia, but also Mr. Obama’s scheduled visits to Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, where he plans to attend a major regional summit. The U.S. “pivot” back to the Pacific is a hallmark of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy, and analysts expect Washington to step up its bid re-engage with East Asia over the next four years.

Among other things, the visits to the region of top U.S. leaders are expected to focus on finding a common approach with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations on resolving competing territorial claims with China in the South China Sea. The U.S. also hopes to improve military-to-military cooperation in the region, including with the armed forces of Myanmar, until recently viewed with deep suspicion by Washington for its North Korea-backed weapons program.

“Given the rising military power of China and ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, there was a consensus—within Washington, anyway—that America has to increase its military presence in Southeast Asia,” said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. “Expect a lot more ship visits, training exercises with the armed forces of Southeast Asia and capacity building support, especially with the Philippines, which is the weakest link in the Asean chain.”