'Master Sports' Footware Factory Workers Meet Press

'Master Sports' Footware Factory Workers Meet Press

Sintgu Goldmine Raided, Miners Trapped in Underground Mine

Sintgu Goldmine Raided, Miners Trapped in Underground Mine

Vietnamese Party Members Call For Democracy, Push-Back Against China

A protester holds up a large photograph of Vietnam Communist Party Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong (R) shaking hands with China's President Xi Jinping during an anti-China rally in downtown Hanoi on June 2, 2013.
AFP
Sixty-one distinguished members of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam have urged their top leadership to embrace democratic reforms and stand up to territorial encroachment and political bullying by powerful neighbor China.

In an open letter dated July 28 and addressed to the party’s Central Committee, the former senior government officials and scholars, newspaper editors, and artists said that the Communist Party must now focus on changing the country’s political structure “from that of a totalitarian regime to one of democracy in a way that is both firm and peaceful” in order to deal with challenges facing the nation.

The letter—whose signatories include a former Vietnamese ambassador to China—also said they regret having supported a government system marked by “corruption,” a lack of transparency, and mistakes in economic policy that have caused Vietnam to “lag behind other nations.”

The Communist Party itself acknowledged recently that efforts to curb corruption have fallen short of expectations as the government struggles to bolster a sluggish economy hit by Southeast Asia’s highest level of bad debt.

“The path that the leadership has been imposing on the country is wrong and is taking us down a blind alley,” Nguyen Khac  Main, a veteran party member and one of the letter’s signatories, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service, speaking in an interview.

Fifty years of communist rule have failed to form a powerful and united nation, he said, adding that only when Vietnam has a “sustainable” internal strength can it create happiness and prosperity for its nearly 100 million people.

Call for legal action

Film director Kim Chi, who also signed the letter, urged that Vietnamese leaders take strong legal action against China for its encroachments on what she called Vietnamese sovereignty over disputed areas of the South China Sea.

“I think that now, more than ever, the Vietnamese government has to take China before an international court as soon as possible, before it is too late,” she told RFA in an interview.

The recent deployment of a Chinese oil rig in waters off Vietnam’s coast, together with the sinking by China of a Vietnamese fishing boat, have lowered relations between Vietnam and China to their worst level since the two communist nations fought a brief border war in 1979.

Violent anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam followed the deployment of the rig, which was later withdrawn, and left at least four people dead and the destruction of factories believed to be operated by Chinese companies, though many were Taiwanese-owned.

Vietnam’s leaders are afraid to stand up to their powerful northern neighbor, though, Kim Chi said.

“This has caused pain to the entire population,” she said, adding, “These days, everyone in the streets—even the taxi drivers and vegetable vendors—says, ‘We’re about to lose our country.’”

“But the leadership remains quiet,” she said.

“All of us who signed our names asking for change think that strong action needs to be taken from top to bottom and from inside to out.”

Also speaking to RFA, former director of the Vietnam Institute of Sociology Tuong Lai said,  “In the name of socialism and in the name of  having a similar communist leadership, China manipulates the Vietnamese Communist Party and the leaders of Vietnam, making them dependent on China.”

“And it is this dependence that has increasingly damaged the party’s reputation and caused such severe distrust among party members and the people.”

Reported by An Nguyen for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.

China's Offshore Military Drills Seen as 'a Show Intended For Japan'

Ground crew members of the Chinese Air Force refuel a J-11 fighter jet during a drill at an airbase in Jinan city, east China's Shandong province, July 29, 2014.
Imaginechina
China's live-fire military wargames in the East China Sea, which have resulted in massive flight disruptions in and around Shanghai, are purely a form of psychological warfare aimed at Japan, experts said.

Beijing's Ministry of Defense announced the five days of drills that began on Tuesday off the eastern seaboard opposite Japan, sparking a red alert by civil aviation authorities and a partial shutdown of some 19 airports in the region.

Among those affected were Shanghai's two international airports, which have a throughput of tens of thousands of passengers daily.

Live-fire drills are also slated for the Gulf of Tonkin, near Vietnam, and the Bohai Strait and Yellow Sea, opposite Korea, according to official media reports.

But the drills are still largely aimed at showing China's military muscle to Tokyo, Yang Liyu, professor of East Asian Studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, told RFA's Mandarin Service.

"They are showing off their military might, and I think that this is psychological warfare," Yang said.

The moves will feed into growing fears among the international community that President Xi Jinping is aiming for global superpower status, in stark contrast to previous administrations, who have pursued low-key foreign policies.

"Public opinion in the West is increasingly concerned [about Xi Jinping]," Yang said. "Only the day before yesterday, there was an article in the Washington Post saying that Xi Jinping is very hard line."

"The Western media has seen that Xi Jinping is even more formidable and difficult to deal with than [Russian president Vladimir] Putin."

Zhu Yongde, honorary professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, agreed.

"Right now it's all about dealing with Japan," Zhu said.

"There is widespread support for opposition to Japan inside China."

Japan looms so large in Chinese foreign policy

He said Japan looms so large in Beijing's foreign policy that the ruling Chinese Communist Party would make other sacrifices not to be seen as weak on Tokyo, including backing off from territorial disputes over disputed island chains in the South China Sea.

"China is getting ready to put the South China Sea dispute to one side," Zhu said.

Yang said Xi seemed very worried about showing any kind of weakness.

"Of course these military exercises are intended as a warning to Japan;they're aimed at the Japanese," he said.

"They are also a warning to the United States, that China has its own military capability and its own strategic priorities; we're not low-maintenance [any more]."

He said concern in the West has been fueled by the People's Liberation Army's growing missile capabilities.

"China's missile capability is pretty formidable," Yang said. "Its entire defense strategy depends on the Long March rocket."

Tokyo was quick to play down the significance of the drills, however.

"For any country, conducting drills in nearby seas is what they routinely do," Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters on Tuesday.

"We ourselves carry out exercises in a solid manner. We take this as China's routine exercise," he said.

"It is our understanding that this is not the kind of exercise aimed at a particular country or a particular situation."

China is increasingly at loggerheads with Japan over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu island chain, recent visits by Japanese leaders to the Yasukuni Shrine, and an ongoing war of words over Tokyo's past military aggression in East Asia.

Nanjing massacre

Beijing typically holds Germany up as an example of a country that has faced up to the atrocities of its past, while criticizing politicians in Japan who pay respects at war shrines and historians who take issue with international accounts of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.

China says 300,000 people died as advancing Japanese troops rampaged through the city, while an international military tribunal in 1948 estimated that more than 200,000 Chinese were killed.

Beijing recently applied to have its historical archives on the massacre and the widespread forcing of "comfort women" into prostitution to serve the Japanese military admitted to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Japan has acknowledged that the Nanjing massacre took place, though its historians say Beijing has inflated the figures.

Beijing's ties with Tokyo have soured over competing claims to a string of uninhabited islets, known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan, in the East China Sea.

Earlier this month, China removed an oil rig from the disputed Paracel Islands after several confrontations with Vietnamese vessels that had led to collisions, including the ramming of a Vietnamese fishing boat in May by Chinese patrol vessels, which caused it to capsize.

The dispute had lowered relations between China and Vietnam to their worst level since the two communist nations fought a brief border war in 1979.

Violent anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam following the rig deployment had left at least four people dead and the destruction of factories believed to be operated by Chinese companies, though many were Taiwanese-owned.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Reported by Yang Jiadai for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Rakhine Parliament on Preservation of Historic Sites

Rakhine Parliament on Preservation of Historic Sites

MPs on Controversy Over PR Vote

MPs on Controversy Over PR Vote

The Mirror Daily_ 31 July 2014 Newpapers

31.Jul_.14_km by Thit Htoo Lwin

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Union Daily_ 31 July 2014 Newpapers

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Union Daily_ 31 July 2014 Newpapers

Reporter News Journal Issue - 80

Reporter News Journal Issue - 80

Commerce Journal Vol 14 No 28

Commerce Journal Vol 14 No 28 by Thit Htoo Lwin

Commerce Journal Vol 14 No 28

The Farmer Journal Vol 8 No 107

The Farmer Journal Vol 8 No 107 by Thit Htoo Lwin

The Farmer Journal Vol 8 No 107

Snap Shot_Vol.4 No.92

Snap Shot_Vol.4 No.92 by Myat Khine

Snap Shot_Vol.4 No.92

Snake Bite in Burma

Snake Bite in Burma

Dalai Lama Photo on Open Display at Tibetan Horse-Race Festival

Festival-goers parade the Dalai Lama's portrait, July 27, 2014.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.
In open defiance of authorities, Tibetans set up a portrait of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at a traditional horse-racing festival in China’s Sichuan province this week, inviting festival-goers to pray before the photo and make offerings, sources said.

The popular festival, held this year on July 27 in Dziwa village in Bathang (in Chinese, Batang) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, opened with the Dalai Lama portrait’s formal installation, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.

“Though Chinese authorities imposed restrictions on the festival, the Tibetans brought in a portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and placed it on a throne,” Tsultrim Choedar said, citing local sources.

“The organizers also invited Tibetans gathered at the festival to view the photo and offer ceremonial scarves,” he said.

“They prayed for the long life of the Dalai Lama and other prominent religious teachers, and also prayed for a resolution of the question of Tibet.”

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet into exile in India in 1959, is reviled by Chinese leaders as a dangerous separatist who seeks to split the formerly self-governing region from Beijing’s rule.

In what he calls a Middle Way Approach, though, the Dalai Lama himself says that he seeks only a meaningful autonomy for Tibet as a part of China, with protections for the region’s language, religion, and culture.

A popular tradition

Horse racing festivals date back to the time of the Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century, and are still popular in Tibetan rural nomadic areas—especially in the historical southeastern Tibetan region of Kham, which has largely been absorbed into Chinese provinces, Choedar said.

“This time, when the horse race was organized in Dziwa village, the festival began with an invitation to all who came to the festival to participate in the installation of Dalai Lama’s portrait and to receive blessings,” he said.

Most of the horse-racing events are held annually “but in some places the event is organized twice each year.”

Many travel for days to attend the festivals, he said.

In September 2012, Bathang-area Tibetans also defied authorities by parading large portraits of the Dalai Lama during the enthronement of a local religious leader, Tibetan sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Several thousand Tibetans, many on motorbikes, took part in the enthronement ceremony to welcome the young lama, one source said, adding, “Many displayed huge photos of the Dalai Lama on their motorbikes and paraded in the ceremony.”

And in March this year, a 31-year-old nun named Drolma self-immolated near a monastery in Bathang to protest Beijing’s rule, sources in the region and in exile said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 131 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.

Reported by Pema Ngodup for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

China Cuts Off Internet Near Kashgar Amid Reports of Deadly Violence

Fully armed Chinese paramilitary police officers stand guard along a street in Urumqi, May 23, 2014.AFP
Chinese authorities near the Silk Road city of Kashgar have cut off Internet services to a part of Yarkand county in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region after reports of deadly violence appeared online, local residents said.

There was also a noticeable increase in police patrolling the streets of the county, one local resident said on Tuesday as the exile World Uyghur Congress called on Chinese authorities to provide details of casualties amid unconfirmed reports that 20 people had been killed.

"The Internet has been totally shut down since about 10.00 a.m. [Monday] morning," an employee who answered the phone at a guesthouse in Yarkand (in Chinese, Shache) county told RFA.

"There is a total information lockdown," the employee said, adding that the attack had taken place "in the countryside."

"It happened on [Sunday] night in a rural place called Ailixihu township."

The Internet blockage came after reports of an unconfirmed "terror" attack began to circulate online.

"There has been an incident in Kashgar," wrote one anonymous blogger on a popular social media site late on Monday. "All police leave has been canceled and all officers are being recalled to duty."

It said gun battles had broken out with "terrorists," resulting in deaths and injuries, more than 20 of them "terrorists," and six of them police.

"I don't know if this will be on the news tomorrow," the post said.

'More than 20 killed'

Meanwhile, a second post said police searching for suspect packages and explosives had killed "more than 20 terrorists" after fighting broke out during the searches.

"After that, more than 300 people attacked them with knives, sticks, and their bare hands," it said. "The situation is now under control ... more than 70 people were detained."

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based exile World Uyghur Congress (WUC), said his organization had heard numerous reports of violent clashes in Yarkand, and called on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to publish details of the violence and casualties.

"We are hearing this from a number of different channels, and yet the Chinese government hasn't confirmed it," Raxit told RFA.

"We have at least been able to confirm that a clash did take place, and that there were deaths and injuries on both sides," he said.

"We are still trying to confirm the figures ... The Chinese government should let the outside world know what happened in these clashes," Raxit said.

However, an official who answered the phone at the Ailixihu township government offices denied any violent incident had taken place there.

"No, it didn't," the official said. But he added: "I don't know about the rest of Yarkand county. I haven't been back there in weeks."

The reports of violence came as some 1,600 business executives converged on Kashgar for a three-day commodity fair which opened in the city on Sunday.

One participant tweeted that they had lost money after the fair was prematurely closed.

"I am speechless," the trader wrote. "I spent so much time preparing for this, only to make a loss."

"They didn't hold a meeting with the stallholders; none of the organizers spoke with us. An employee just came over to each of us and said it was over, and that we had to pack up," the post said.

Such events are part of China's bid to boost economic and trade ties in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs were celebrating the end of a month of fasting on Monday in spite of heavy pressure from Beijing.

Last year, commercial contracts worth some 42.46 billion yuan (U.S.$6.9 billion) were signed at the fair, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

High-profile attacks

The reports of fresh violence in Yarkand came after several high-profile attacks blamed on militants in Xinjiang, the traditional home of the Uyghurs, who complain they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness.

Xinjiang authorities declared a one-year crackdown on "violent terrorist activities" last month following the May 22 bombing at a market in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi that killed 43 people, including the four attackers.

Last week, an ethnic minority Uyghur suspect stabbed a police officer to death and seriously wounded another in Yarkand's Ishkul township police station after he was allegedly tortured during interrogations, local police said.

Meanwhile, a resident of Xinjiang's regional capital Urumqi surnamed Zhang said the regional authorities had canceled a traditional public holiday observed by the region in honor of Eid al-Fitr, the celebration breaking the Ramadan fast.

"It is customary for everyone to get a day off on Eid al-Fitr, Muslims and non-Muslims alike," Zhang said.

"That has now been canceled, for the time being, across all work units and departments."

Ban on fasting

Last week, a college in Kashgar prefecture warned ethnic minority Muslim Uyghur students who fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan that they may be expelled.

The Kashgar Normal College's controversial move came days after officials in Xinjiang told Muslim Uyghur civil servants, students, and teachers not to observe Ramadan, triggering protests from rights groups who called the move discriminatory.

Beijing's restrictions on Uyghurs' religious practices, linked to an ongoing anti-terror campaign, could trigger new violence in the already restive region, the United States warned in an annual report on international religious freedom on Monday.

Broadly targeting an entire religious or ethnic community in response to the actions of a few only increases the potential for violent extremism, a State Department official told a news conference.

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Tech Space Journal ( Vol-3 Issue-17 )

TechSpace [Vol-3, Issue-17] FB by Thit Htoo Lwin

Tech Space Journal ( Vol-3 Issue-17 )

Digital Life Vol 3 No 14

Digital Life Vol 3 No 14 by Thit Htoo Lwin

Digital Life Vol 3 No 14

Myanma Alinn Daily_ 30 July 2014 Newpapers

30.July_.14_mal by Thit Htoo Lwin

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Crowds Riot on Chinese Island Over Lack of Typhoon Help

A house damaged by Typhoon Rammasun in Wenchang, south China's Hainan province, July 22, 2014. AFP
Residents of the southwestern Chinese province of Guangxi have hit out at local officials for doing nothing to help victims of the deadly Typhoon Rammasun following riots by victims over the weekend.

More than 1,000 residents of Weizhou island near Guangxi's Beihai city clashed with police outside government offices after people left homeless, or without power, food or water by the typhoon began rioting in anger on Saturday, residents told RFA.

Rioters smashed up and set fire to government offices, and overturned a tourist bus in anger at being left for days with no more than a few replacement roof tiles and a few bottles of springwater, local residents told RFA.

Typhoon Rammasun, the strongest typhoon to hit China in four decades, destroyed tens of thousands of homes, damaged roads and ports, and cut electricity and water supplies in southern Chinese cities. It packed winds of up to 216 kph (130 mph), according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Many protesters in Weizhou island were demanding to know what happened to some 500,000 yuan (U.S.$80,900) allocated to the management committee in emergency relief funds, local sources said.

"It was utter mayhem," a Weizhou islander surnamed He told RFA on Monday, adding that several hundred police were dispatched to stop the rioting, sparking further peaceful protests outside township government offices on Sunday and Monday.

He said local residents were angry that officials demanded bribes for any building supplies when residents tried to rebuild after the storm.

"We wanted to get some construction materials but they wouldn't let us, because you have to give them money and cigarettes," he said. "If you get a truckload of cement from Beihai, it costs 400 yuan [U.S. $65], but if you buy it from the management committee here it's 900 yuan [U.S. $146], or else they won't give you a permit," he said.

"We don't have any money, so what can we do?"

Officials watching porn

Protesters who stormed government offices were also enraged to find officials watching pornography, he said.

"The officials were watching porn," he said. "Their computers were full of it, but they hadn't carried out any emergency relief operations in several days."

"All they did was get the army in to clear away fallen trees."

He said the villagers had been pushed to violence by dire circumstances in the wake of the storm, according to China's civil affairs ministry.

"There was nothing else we could do," He said. "They sent in the riot police from Beihai...but they couldn't arrest anyone because the villagers all ran away."

"The police were trying to work at night; they didn't dare to go around detaining people in broad daylight," he said.

A second island resident surnamed Zhou said local officials had done nothing to help people left homeless or without electricity after Rammasun hit China on July 19.

"Everything you do requires their approval," Zhou said. "You can only rebuild or repair your home if you have the approval of the management committee."

"That's why people started rioting."

Repeated calls to the Weizhou Island management committee offices rang unanswered during office hours on Monday.

An official who answered the phone at the Beihai municipal propaganda department said they didn't know about the riot on Weizhou Island.

"We are currently organizing the emergency relief effort, and we are still devoting all of our resources to it," the official said.

Nine days without power

A third Weizhou islander surnamed Su said local residents had been left for more than nine days with no reliable power or water supplies, while many of their homes had been made unsafe by damage from the typhoon.

"There have been no announcements [regarding the power or water supply]," Su said. "There are a lot of tile-roofed houses on our island which are unliveable after the typhoon."

"The islanders wanted to carry out repairs themselves, without expecting any help from the government, but the management committee wouldn't let us have the building materials," he said.

"How could we sleep at night in potentially dangerous buildings? Of course people were going to protest."

China's ministry of civil affairs said 62 people were killed and a further 21 were still missing after Rammsun slammed into southern China, bringing gale-force winds, torrential rain and flooding in its wake, affecting more than 11 million people in Guangdong, Hainan, Yunnan and Guangxi.

More than 862,000 people were evacuated from their homes, while 261,000 were left in urgent need of basic necessities, official media reported.

The typhoon also caused direct economic losses of 38.48 billion yuan (U.S.$6.23 billion), hitting roads, water, power and telecommunications in the worst-hit areas, Xinhua news agency said.

Reported by Lin Jing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Myanmar Business Today Vol 2, Issue 30 - July 31-August 6, 2014

Myanmar Business Today Vol 2, Issue 30 by Thit Htoo Lwin

Myanmar Business Today Vol 2, Issue 30 - July 31-August 6, 2014

Myanmar Times (English) Issue 739 _ JULY 28 - AUGUST 3,2014

201436739 by The Myanmar Times

Myanmar Times (English) Issue 739 _ JULY 28 - AUGUST 3,2014

Skateboard Enthusiasts Want State Recognition as Sport

Skateboard Enthusiasts Want State Recognition as Sport

Miss Myanmar Universe Contest

Miss Myanmar Universe Contest

Website Shuttered As Editors Report 'White Terror' in Hong Kong

A woman stands by a desk set up to collect signatures in support of former editor of the liberal Ming Pao newspaper Kevin Lau in Hong Kong, Feb. 28, 2014.
AFP
The closure of a pro-democracy news website in Hong Kong over the weekend comes amid an escalating campaign of intimidation currently under way against political activists and outspoken journalists, two prominent editors said on Monday.

Tony Tsoi Tung-ho, founder of pro-democracy website House News, announced he was closing down the site amid growing political pressure and intimidation he described as a "white terror" campaign.

"The pressure has become so bad that I feel more and more haunted every day," Tsoi wrote in a letter to readers which has now replaced all news content on his site.

"One of the most disturbing things is that my family is also coming under pressure, and they are worried about me the whole time," he said.

"I daren't switch on the TV when we're eating at home, because I don't want to discuss political questions with them, because they will just worry more and more ... which really hurts me."

Tsoi said House News, which boasted some 300,000 individual visits daily during the last month, was nonetheless unable to make money from advertising in a market already heavily influenced by Beijing.

"From a business point of view, I really can't see the dawn of House News," Tsoi wrote. "Not only have the core values of Hong Kong been twisted, the market is distorted as well."

"As a businessman who travels to and from mainland China regularly, I must admit that I feel very frightened every time I crossed the border," wrote Tsoi, who founded the website in 2012.

Tsoi has previously spoken out publicly in support of the Occupy Central movement, which has vowed to stage a civil disobedience movement in Hong Kong's downtown Central business district if the former British colony is denied fully open elections in 2017.

Losing money

Former government adviser Lau Sai-leung said the website had been losing money hand over fist since it started.

"Despite our popularity, many big companies don't place advertisements on our website because of our critical stance towards the government and Beijing," he told the English-language South China Morning Post newspaper.

And House News reader Lee Ka-man, news and broadcasting professor at Hong Kong's Shue Yan University, said the site's closure was "a pity."

"Everything happened so fast, and I'm quite sad about it," she said. "As a Hong Kong reader, I think it's a great pity, because the site attracted a lot of younger readers who care about Hong Kong current affairs."

Lee said it is common in the territory for those engaged in critical forms of journalism to come under political pressure, albeit indirectly, from Beijing.

"We are in a period of unprecedented tension nowadays, and [those in the media] are trying to do their jobs in a tighter and tighter vice," Lee said.

She said Tsoi could have come under additional pressure via his business interests in mainland China.

"This has got everyone talking about a business model under which the online media can develop, because in the past, no one tried to control them," Lee said.

"In the past, people have tended to visit sites they don't have to pay for, understandably, but now everyone's talking about whether it might be worth paying out a few bucks a month for content that we like, to keep it in business," she added.

Under pressure

House News isn't the only independent, online media site to come under intense political pressure, however.

In a response to Tsoi's letter "post852" website, editor and founder Yau Ching-yuen agreed with the description "white terror" to describe the climate in which Hong Kong's formerly freewheeling press now operates.

"Here we have those in power in the [ruling Chinese] Communist Party using covert methods to deal with opposition forces," Yau wrote.

"The Communist Party routinely employed such methods during the Yan'an period in the 1940s, and during the anti-rightist movement of the 1950s," he said.

Meanwhile, independent media commentator Oiwan Lam told RFA that outspoken and independent news sites are commonly targeted by hackers.

"Hacker attacks, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, are a common occurrence ... and the majority of media outlets have had similar experiences," Lam said in an interview on Monday.

"A lot of journalists and media workers have also experienced surveillance," she said.

Lam said unknown people had broken into her office in 2012, and smashed her computer.

"The pressure on individuals compared with companies is much greater," she said. "Independent media is one way to mobilize the public, so there are a lot more risks involved."

Lam said many activists are increasingly relying on social media for their news.

"Facebook gives us a space to do that, and some media organizations like USP have that as their only outlet," she said.

"Small media organizations like that may not have the influence of House News, but there is still room for them to grow. But I doubt they'll ever be as effective as House News," she said.

'Darkest days'

Journalists and political commentators say Hong Kong's formerly free press is seeing its "darkest days" yet, in what is likely a harbinger of further erosion of the former British colony's traditional freedoms.

In a recent annual report, the Hong Kong Journalists' Assocation (HKJA) pointed to a series of "grave attacks, both physical and otherwise in the past 12 months," including an attack on former Chinese-language Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau, the sacking of Commercial Radio talk-show host Li Wei-ling and the removal of other prominent journalists from senior editorial positions.

It also cited advertising boycotts by major companies against Apple Daily and am730, as well as the refusal of the government to issue a free-to-air TV license to Hong Kong Television Network.

On July 1, the 17th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Chinese rule, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in favor of universal suffrage and public nominations of candidates in the 2017 race for chief executive.

However, Chinese and Hong Kong officials have effectively ruled out public nominations, meaning that candidates will have to be elected by a committee hand-picked by Beijing.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xin Lin for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Myanma Alinn Daily_ 29 July 2014 Newpapers

29.July_.14_mal by Thit Htoo Lwin

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Union Daily_ 27 July 2014 Newpapers

MPs debate pros and cons of proportional representation

In this file photo, the lower house sits in Naypyidaw. House speaker Shwe Mann is seated at front left. (PHOTO: Soe Zeya Tun)
Ten MPs took to the floor of the lower house of Burma’s parliament on Friday as debate commenced on whether to employ a system of proportional representation (PR) in future general elections.

A motion to replace the first-past-the-post system with PR was already debated and approved by the upper house by a vote of 177 to 85 (with three abstaining) last month.

On the first day of the debate in the lower house, five MPs spoke in support of the motion to adopt PR, while five spoke against the change.

According to National League for Democracy (NLD) MP Min Thu, some 50 parliamentarians will be afforded the opportunity to address the house over the coming week with parties in support of the motion and those against given equal time to address parliament.

“Today, U Win Myint and Daw Khin Thandar from the NLD spoke against changing our electoral system to PR,” said the Uttara Thiri constituency MP. “They were joined by U Khun Laing from the Chin National Party and one representative each from the Phalon-Sawaw Democratic Party and the Chin Progressive Party in speaking out against the motion.”

He said that, on the pro-PR side, two MPS from the Union Solidarity and Development Party, Thein Htun Oo and Thar Win, addressed the lower house, followed by Nyan Swe Win from the National Unity Party, Daw Dwebu from the Unity and Democratic Party of Kachin State, and one unnamed MP from Chibwe Township.

Min Thu said that although Kachin MP Daw Dwebu spoke in favour of a PR system, she said it is not yet appropriate to employ this method in ethnic areas.

“In Kachin State, some constituencies had no elections [in 2010] for security reasons,” she is reported to have said. “So although a PR system is preferable, our situation is not yet ripe for this change.”

Aung Zin, an MP with the National Democratic Front, the party which originally proposed the PR motion, echoed her sentiments. He said that his party supported the adoption of PR, but that ethnic states should be excluded.

Speaking to DVB on Friday, Ko Ko Gyi of the 88 Generation civil society group, opined that that Burma was still too young in its transition to democracy to consider an immediate switch to PR.

“The public must understand the pros and cons of the electoral systems,” he said. “There should be a wide range of discussions, and commissions formed at different levels. We need a period of time to discuss the PR issue. We are still at a stage where the status of representation in parliament is questionable. For an important change like this, we must debate long and hard. We should not rush into this.”

By SHWE AUNG (DVB)

Rangoon residents left in filth as waste collection system fails


Residents of Thaketa Township in eastern Rangoon have been left without a garbage removal service and they say their health is rapidly deteriorating as a result.

Not only is their own rubbish not being collected, but people have been coming from across Rangoon to dump in the area for the past two years.

Now, as rainy season sets in, the festering trash is blocking drains and creating stagnant pools of filthy water. Mosquitoes are breeding fast, leading to outbreaks of dengue fever in the community. Water-borne diseases such as amoebic dysentery are also rife.

Local resident San San Maw says it is the children who are suffering the most.

“Last week, my daughter was hospitalised for two days when she caught dengue,” she said. “Other children, like her, are falling seriously ill too.

“We’re demanding that the garbage is removed immediately.”

However the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), which is responsible for the city’s waste management, admits that it is only capable of collecting 50 to 60 percent of the city’s refuse.

While blaming changing consumer habits—such as the move towards single-use items such as plastic food containers—and a lack of citizen awareness as to sanitation and the environment, the committee concedes to having no comprehensive plan for waste management. YCDC puts that to a shortage of funds for undertakings such as the purchasing of new landfill sites, equipment, staffing and the installation of communal bins.

That failure essentially became the main driving force in the committee’s push to privatise Rangoon’s garbage collection.

In late May, seven joint-venture companies submitted tenders for garbage collection contracts in the city. The contract winner will be announced in December, and will begin operations in 2015.

However, the residents of Thaketa say they can wait no longer.

Resident Toe Toe says she is desperately concerned for the health and future of the community.

“We are the ones to suffer,” she says.  “There are a lot of people here who already have heart conditions and diabetes, and their health is getting worse.

“Children can’t even go to school because of the flooding. The school has closed. The whole neighbourhood is under water.”

Many youngsters suffer constantly from diarrhoea, she said, and three were recently hospitalised.

The residents of Thaketa are living in these conditions despite Rangoon property prices soaring, as investors flock to a city gaining increasing significance on the regional stage.

Rangoon is known for its enchanting architecture and leafy streets; however many of its residents see it from a very different perspective.

By DVB

China's Complaints Law 'Meaningless' Without Constitutional Government

A policeman walks past the Haidian District People's Court in Beijing, April 8, 2014.
AFP
Twenty-five years after the ruling Chinese Communist Party passed a law allowing people to sue the government, the hopes of that era of a judicial check on government power have largely been dashed, legal experts and activists said.

China's Administrative Procedure Law was passed during an era of relative political openness, the late 1980s, and commanded wide support among intellectuals who believed it could help hold an increasingly corrupt government to account.

But in today's China, anyone seeking to file a lawsuit, the majority of which involve eviction or land disputes, will find the country's courts highly unwilling to accept the case, campaigners said.

"Only a small minority ever get to sue the government," said Zhejiang-based rights lawyer Yuan Gulai, adding that recent government attempts to boost the rate of acceptance of lawsuits amount to little more than "propaganda."

"They think that this is progress, because you are allowed to sue, and they think you could get a result," Yuan said. "But they won't; that's not likely."

"The government and the [ruling Chinese Communist] Party are the same thing, so if you sue the government it's like suing the father on the son's territory," he said.

The idea of a regular person of limited means and little education taking an official or party cadre to court caught the popular imagination in television shows and movies like Zhang Yimou's "The Story of Qiu Ju."

In the movie, the heavily pregnant wife of a farmer from rural China sues a local official for beating her husband, taking the case all the way to the Supreme People's Court in Beijing, where she wins.

Flood of complaints

But China's army of real-life petitioners say they are increasingly stonewalled by the courts, and instead flood the government's "letters and visits" petitioning system with more than 20,000 new complaints a day.

Yuan said that while some regions of China were more likely to accept lawsuits in the past, even courts in those jurisdictions are now refusing to take new cases.

"There has been a huge step backwards in recent years," he said.

Shanghai rights activist Feng Zhenghu, who is himself pursuing a complaint over wrongful detention, said recent attempts to reform the system had resulted in little change in the rate of acceptance of new cases under the law.

"At the end of last year, they brought in judicial reforms in Shanghai...to address the problem of non-acceptance of cases," Feng said.

"But a number of district-level courts in Shanghai are boycotting it, and they still won't take lawsuits from members of the public," he said.

"It will be impossible to build a society ruled by law if the most basic right of the citizens to sue to protect their rights isn't there," Feng told RFA.

Call for political reform

According to U.S.-based legal expert Cheng Ganyuan, the Administrative Procedure Law came out after a wave of student-led demonstrations rocked the party leadership amid widespread calls for political reform throughout the late 1980s.

"The leadership perhaps felt unconsciously that in an atmosphere of rising social tensions and a growing momentum for political reform, that giving people a channel for dissatisfaction with the government would go some way towards easing those tensions," Cheng wrote in a recent online article.

"The Administrative Procedure Law was produced unusually fast amid this overall political situation."

Cheng said the entire law had been scuppered from the outset by late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping's dictum forbidding the separation of judicial, executive and legislative powers, however.

"Deng Xiaoping said...there was to be no separation of power, and so he drew a line to box everyone in, a line that it would be risky to cross," he told a recent discussion forum in Los Angeles.

"In the past 25 years, people have had trouble filing lawsuits, getting decisions on lawsuits, and getting decisions implemented," Cheng said.

Cheng estimates that some 95 percent of cases of people suing the government end in failure.

"Not only does the Administrative Procedure Law not protect people's legal rights; it has become a tool with which the government bamboozles the people," he said.

Reported by Yang Fan and C.K. for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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20 Kanbalu plough protestors transferred to distant prisons

Farmers in Sagaing Division, in central Burma, took to ploughing lands they say were seized by the military. (PHOTO: DVB)
Around 20 farmers from Kanbalu, central Burma, jailed for holding a “plough protest” in March, have this week been transferred to prisons far from their homes.

Some 400 farmers from the remote Sagaing Division township of Kanbalu have been on trial locally under various charges for staging the plough protest – whereby farmers return to cultivate lands they claim were confiscated by the military many years ago. Around 50 of them have so far been handed sentences of up to three and half years in prison which they were previously serving in Shwebo Prison, less than 100km south of Kanbalu.

A local villager told DVB this week that 20 of the jailed farmers serving these longer terms have now been transferred to prisons in Myingyan in Mandalay (300 km from Kanbalu), Magwe’s Pakokku (325 km) and Pegu (750 km) .

“Those serving longer prison terms were transferred,” he said. “Farmers indicted on several charges and sentenced to two or three years in prison– around 20 inmates in total – those were the ones who were transferred to prisons in Myingyan, Pakokku and Pegu.”

Eighteen other farmers are expecting verdicts on 28 July.

Activist group 88 Generation Peace and Open Society on Thursday released a statement strongly condemning the jailing and prosecution of farmers demanding the return of lands confiscated by the military, mostly in the 1990s.

According to Myo Thant, the farmland affairs coordinator of the group: “These land dispute issues would have been resolved if the government had managed their return when they came into office. Most of the land would now be cultivated in the hands of original owners.

“There were various options to systematically return seized lands but the government did not explore them because they clearly have no desire to see this through.”

He said some 1,200 farmers across the country are currently on trial for protesting land dispute cases, while around 100 have already been jailed.

By SHWE AUNG (DVB)

Master Sports employees say they were coerced to give up severance

Laid off factory workers from the Master Sports footwear company marched to the South Korean Embassy in Rangoon on 17 July to demand compensation. (PHOTO: DVB)

Former employees of a South Korean footwear factory said on Thursday that they were coerced into signing predatory agreements relinquishing severance pay.

During a press conference held at the now-defunct Master Sports factory in Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone, workers told reporters that the company’s management had negotiated with the employees individually instead of using official channels, which caused confusion about their rights.

“Instead of going through official negotiation channels, and by conducting individual agreements, the factory owners have created confusion among the workers,” said Saw Nanda Aung, an advisor for the Labour Unions Network, which has been assisting the workers with their claims.

“They were promised salaries for June,” he said, “but when they tried to retrieve it there was a lot of disagreement among the workers.”

More than 750 workers were left jobless when the factory abruptly shut down in June. When the workers claimed that they were suddenly dismissed without pay, Burma’s Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Welfare stepped in by writing a letter to the South Korean embassy, which mediated a solution whereby the company agreed to pay the employees their June salaries.

Only 56 of the workers agreed to accept the one-month salary payment; the rest demanded additional compensation.

On 17 July, the workers marched to the South Korean Embassy in Rangoon to demand both their salaries and compensation for dismissal.

Tun Naing, one of the organisers of the demonstration, said that company officials coerced the workers into signing agreements that forbade them from demanding further remittance if they accepted a one-time salary payment. Many of the workers accepted the agreement out of urgent financial need.

Master Sports’ management has to date been unreachable for comment and the South Korean Embassy remains unresponsive to media inquiries on the matter.

The company is now facing a lawsuit levied by Burma’s labour ministry on the grounds that their management violated employment contracts.

By KO HTWE (DVB)

Top North Korean Army Unit Officers Axed After Shooting Incident

North Korean soldiers smoke cigarettes on the bank of the Yalu River across from the Chinese city of Dandong, Feb. 11, 2013.AFP
The top officers of one of North Korea’s crack army brigades have been sacked after soldiers under their command shot and killed a member of a powerful military unit tasked with providing security to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a routine checkpoint stop, sources said.

The shooting incident in June has exposed serious discipline problems among the ranks of the 43rd Infantry Brigade, a Special Forces mountain unit under North Korea’s Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, residents of Yanggang province, which borders China, told RFA’s Korean Service.

“In the middle of last month, soldiers in the 43rd Infantry Brigade shot at a car driven by members of the Guard Command,” which is in charge of providing security to Kim and other senior leaders, said a source in Yanggang, where the brigade’s headquarters is located.

“All the commanders in the brigade were replaced because of this incident.”

According to the source, soldiers from the Guard Command had ignored a request by troops from the 43rd Infantry Brigade to halt their vehicle at a checkpoint, prompting the latter to fire their weapons.

The 43rd Infantry Brigade troops had initially aimed at the tires of the vehicle, but mistakenly killed a soldier from the Guard Command who was riding in a cargo container.

On June 28, military authorities organized a “key army officers' meeting” at the 43rd Infantry Brigade command center in Yanggang’s Gapsan county and arrested the unit’s general-level officers for dereliction of duty in failing to uphold discipline, sources said.

All regular commanders of the brigade were also replaced, they said.

A second source in Yanggang told RFA that the order to sack the brigade’s commanders had come directly from Kim.

“I heard directly from a high-ranking officer in the 10th Unit that Kim Jong Un received the incident report and came unglued,” the source said.

“He treated this incident as if the shooting had been directed at him.”

Unruly unit

The 43rd Infantry Brigade is known by several names, including the Gapsan Brigade—for the location of the troop—and Unit 682, sources said.

But residents of the area refer to the brigade as the Makhno Unit, in reference to the Ukrainian anarchist Nestor Makhno, because of its notoriously undisciplined nature.

According to the second source, following the dismissal of the 43rd Infantry Brigade’s commanders, information was released about a previously unreported incident involving soldiers from the unit.

In March, he said, brigade troops fired their weapons at one another during an altercation, leaving three dead and two injured, but commanders didn’t report the incident to their superior officers and covered it up internally.

“There are constant incidents occurring with the 43rd Infantry Brigade due to the sloppy management of soldiers,” the source said.

“Gunfights within the army show how lack of discipline has become a serious problem.”

‘Military first’

Young men in nuclear-armed North Korea are required to join the country’s military and serve for a minimum of 10 years after graduating from high school. Young women who live in the capital Pyongyang must serve for two years after graduating, but those outside the city are not required to join.

But Kim’s regime has faced severe food shortages exacerbated by international sanctions levied over missile and nuclear tests, and feeding the impoverished nation’s estimated 1.2 million-member army has not been easy.

Nuclear-armed North Korea’s military was founded 82 years ago and is older than the country itself. It began as an anti-Japanese militia and is now the heart of the nation’s “military first” policy.

North Korea, a country of about 25 million, has an estimated 7.7 million army reserves.

Kim’s father and predecessor Kim Jong Il, who died in December 2011, raised the military’s profile during his 17 years in power.

The younger Kim last year instructed the Korean People’s Army to focus on a “nuclear arms force,” but it is believed to be operating on outdated materials and short supplies.

Reported by Sung-hui Moon for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Jina Lee. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
 

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