The rule of law is vital in Burma’s transition to democracy and constitutional reform is a key step on the way to achieving it
Marking World Malaria Day on 25 April, focus has turned to Burma where a pilot scheme has been introduced in Myeik to promote positive behavior and greater knowledge of the risks. Muhammad Shafique of the Malaria Consortium said, “We look at what is working and how it's working, and then we simply share it with other members.” According to the WHO, malaria killed more than 600,000 people worldwide in 2012, but that is 42 percent lower than in 2000. At the Thai-Burmese border, the introduction of artemisinin-based drugs has dramatically reduced deaths among refugees.
Burma’s Internal Revenue Department has announced a 32 percent increase in tax collected in the 2013-14 fiscal year, with payments totalling 3.5 trillion kyat (over US$3.5 billion). The increase is lower than the previous year which saw a 75 percent hike in tax collected. According to the World Bank, Burma’s economy is projected to grow at 6.8 percent in 2013-14. However, in November it raised concerns about the country’s inflation which hit 7.3 percent in August 2013.
Red Bull Co Ltd, distributor of the world-famous energy drink, has announced it will create over 600 jobs in Burma, including positions for 300 sales staff, 200 drivers and 50 administration staff. The drink, highly popular in Burma, was officially banned from broadcasting advertisements on TV under the previous military junta when authorities claimed the drink could cause severe mental problems. Nonetheless it was smuggled into the country due to huge demand.
Three of four previous contenders to construct Hantharwaddy International Airport have resubmitted their bids, according to an official in Burma’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA). French firm Vinci have not rebid, but Singapore’s Yangnam, South Korea’s Incheon and Japan’s Taisei have all tendered offers for the airport 80km north of Rangoon, tipped to be the country’s biggest gateway for tourists when it opens in 2018. DCA said the deadline for bids ended on 22 April and the winner will be announced in May.
Japanese industrial giant Mitsubishi Electric Corp is opening a Rangoon office on Friday. Operating under a Singapore-based subsidiary, Mitsubishi Electric Asia Pte Ltd, the new branch will be based in Bahan Township and is to coordinate Mitsubishi Electric's efforts to expand business in Burma by conducting market research, collecting information, and providing support for infrastructure projects and local distributors, the firm said on Thursday.
Andy Wilman, executive producer of BBC’s Top Gear programme, has expressed regret for a remark on the show’s Burma special when host Jeremy Clarkson used the word "slope" as an Asian man crossed a bridge over the River Kwai. The term is a derogatory expression used to describe Asians. The comment led to complaints of racism and the threat of legal action from Equal Justice, a law firm specialising in discrimination cases, which accused Clarkson of "clear gross misconduct" and said his comments made the BBC appear "institutionally racist".
Thirty undocumented Burmese migrants were arrested and detained by Thai police on Tuesday as they were being transported to Pathum Thani Province, north of Bangkok, allegedly to work. The migrants – 18 men and 12 women – were dressed in white monastic robes as part of a guise that they were travelling to a Buddhist conference. Four Thai nationals – two Buddhist monks and two drivers – were also arrested when the two minivans were stopped at a Thai police checkpoint near the Thai border town of Mae Sot border following a tip-off.
Recent fighting between Burmese government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) around Momauk and Man Win Gyi in southern Kachin State has forced several thousand people to flee their homes. UNICEF estimates that about 1,000 children are among the displaced, and are at particular risk to landmines, possible recruitment, and disease. "The fighting and the associated displacement of families has increased the health risks that children face, including by reducing their access to safe, reliable water and sanitation facilities," said Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF representative to Burma.