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Weekly NewsLetter
31 January 2011
    Vol.1 No.2

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The Editor's Corner


Suu Kyi address focuses on Myanmar dilemma
          Recently, Thailand, has led an initiative for greater acceptance of Myanmar on the international stage under the banner, “democracy has returned.” However, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would undoubtedly differ on that assessment.

Those who follow Asean events closely would also not agree with the Thai diplomatic offensive. The recent election has not been viewed as legitimate by the international community. When the new parliament sits for the first time on January 30, 25 percent of the seats will be appointed to the military. Most view the election and its aftermath as simply being the military changing into business suits.

The motivation for Thailand to change the world’s view of Myanmar is largely economic. It has and continues to sign lucrative energy deals with the junta to boost its fossil fuel needs. Thailand and China are the predominant foreign countries involved with Myanmar.

Recently Thailand’s largest construction company, Italian-Thai Development Pcl, signed a deal with the Myanmar Port Authority to develop he Dawei (Tavoy) port on the isthmus shared by Burma and Thailand separating the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand. The development would also include a major industrial estate on 320 square-kilometres of land for heavy industry and chemical plants. There have been recent court cases in Thailand on environmental issues involving such plants and the Myanmar move gives Thai companies a convenient alternative.

However, Thailand’s diplomatic effort is unlikely to paint a new face on Myanmar as long as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi can speak. She recently spoke to the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

She said Myanmar (Burma) had "already missed so many opportunities because of political conflicts", she said.

If one goes to Yangon, one can readily see that the profits from the China and Thailand do not reach Myanmar’s 55 million people but do reach the pockets and the bank accounts of the military.


Top News from Southeast Asia

February 30, 2011


These were the most important stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of January 22-January 28.

Chinese firm to fund Indo road project
China Metallurgical Group Corporations has expressed interest in financing a road construction project worth Rp 1.5 trillion (US$165 million) in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, the regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) says.

Hot money sets Philippine record 
Foreign portfolio investments (FPI) into the Philippines surpassed the 2007 record, hitting a new high last year, according to the central bank.

Thai rubber supply tight  
The growing automobile sector - especially in countries such as China and India - has accelerated demand for tires.

Singapore has high FDI investments 
Singapore achieved record high investment commitments last year and this momentum is expected to continue into this new year.

Indonesia signs deals with India  
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Monday he hoped to help secure lucrative investment deals worth $15 billion on a trip to India this week.

Tin price at all-time high 
The price of tin on the Kuala Lumpur Tin Market (KLTM) soared to close at an all-time high of US$27,500 per tonne yesterday on concerns over tight supplies amid continued strong demand, especially from Europe, Japan, China and India.

PTTCH has joint venture with US partner 
PTT Chemical Plc (PTTCH), Thailand's largest petrochemical producer, made a strategic equity investment of US$60 million in Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm Myriant Technologies and vowed to continue their partnership with other potential bioplastic ventures.

CEOs in Asia Pacific confident of growth 
Two years after the financial meltdown, 54 percent of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in the Asia Pacific are very confident of growth in the next 12 months, says PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)in its 14th Annual Global CEO survey.

Thai industry still in dark about AEC  
Most Thai businesses remain indifferent to the growing challenges of labour mobility within Asean once regional economic integration is completed in 2015, says the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

IMF raises growth forecast for Asean 5 
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday raised slightly its average growth forecast for the Asean 5, which includes the Philippines. In its World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update, the IMF forecast emerging and developing economies to grow by 6.5 percent this year and in 2012.

UN shark conservation plan fails 
A UN plan to preserve the world's sharks has been a resounding failure, according to a report on Thursday that blames Indonesia, India, Spain and Taiwan and 16 other major catchers of the fish.

US solar firm to build Vietnam plants 
A US solar panel maker Wednesday said it will build a $300 million factory in Vietnam, boosting the country's efforts to reinvent itself as a hub for high-tech manufacturing.

Siam Cement looking at US investment 
Siam Cement Group (SCG) is in talks to acquire a US petrochemical firm.

Indo's rice import buy rattles market 
Indonesia's bumper purchase of 820,000 tons of Thai rice, more than four times the volume initially sought, lifted the market on Wednesday, but traders were unconvinced prices would stay high with Vietnam's rising supply and lower imports projected from the Philippines.

Malaysian steel price hike 
Local cold rollers have raised the prices of cold rolled coils (CRC) in view of the general increase in the cost of raw materials and the recent floods in Australia.

US Fed move to boost capital inflows 
The recent move by the US Federal Reserve (Fed) to maintain its US$600bil bond-buying plan may prompt further inflows of capital into high-growth regions.

US enters South China Sea arena 
Kurt Campbell, US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, revealed Washington's plan to help the Philippines increase its maritime capacity to protect the country's claim over the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Jakarta gridlock worsens 
Commuters in Greater Jakarta are abandoning public transportation in droves in favor of private vehicles, an official said on Thursday, while the city's administration said it would take steps to ease traffic on congested Jalan Casablanca.


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