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Singapore Art Week a bonanza of film and visual arts events packed into nine days

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Singapore-Art-Week-a-bonanza-of-film-and-visual-ar-30276768.html

Huang Lijie
StraitsTimes   WED, 13 JAN, 2016

Singapore Art Week a bonanza of film and visual arts events packed into nine days

This year’s visual art bonanza Singapore Art Week includes films and walks with the aim to reach diverse audiences

To make Singapore films come alive, the Asian Film Archive is organising a series of weekend bus tours to old movie locations starting Saturday.

Destinations include a forested spot along East Coast Road where the Malay comedy Mat Tiga Suku (1965) was filmed. In reaction to the film and location, artist Mike H.J. Chang has created a life-sized bus stop using sand.

Mixing film and visual art, old work and new responses, the programme is part of Singapore Art Week, a nine-day-long art bonanza of more than 100 activities such as art fairs, exhibitions and talks.

Running from Saturday to Jan 24 this year, Art Week was started in 2013 by the National Arts Council, Singapore Tourism Board and Economic Development Board to ride on the momentum of the rising visual art scene, including the growth of the art fair, Art Stage Singapore, and the launch of the art gallery cluster in Gillman Barracks.

Artist Kumari Nahappan’s saga seed-inspired work, Road To Fifty.

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Over the years, however, non- visual art activities have made their way into Art Week.

Last year’s programme included a family-friendly carnival, neighbourhood walking tours and music parties.

This year, the cross-disciplinary focus is stronger. There is an immersive theatre production in Joo Chiat by the arts group OH! Open House as well as a skateboard exhibition at Aliwal Arts Centre.

The Asian Film Archive is participating in Art Week for the first time. It hopes that the buzz surrounding the event, which drew about 126,000 visitors last year, will widen public interest in Singapore films.

It is presenting State Of Motion, which comprises an exhibition of film stills from the archive of the now- defunct, Singapore-based Cathay- Keris Studio, and a weekend bus tour of the different locations in the film stills where a work of art, specific to the film and site, is installed.

READ FULL STORY

http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/arts/singapore-art-week-a-bonanza-of-film-and-visual-arts-events-packed-into-nine-days

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Cargo flights to benefit from ASEAN Open Skies

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Cargo-flights-to-benefit-from-ASEAN-Open-Skies-30276771.html

Farida Susanty, The Jakarta Post  WED, 13 JAN, 2016 10:35

The country’s air cargo industry is expected to benefit from the multilateral agreement on the opening of freight services between ASEAN countries, a move that promises to help increase air cargo volume by 50 percent this year.

Indonesia National Air Carriers Association (INACA) head of cargo division Boyke P. Soebroto said that the multilateral agreement would broaden the market for Indonesian air cargo service providers.

Prior to ASEAN Open Skies, also known as the ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASEAN-SAM), Indonesian cargo planes were required to stop over in countries like Singapore, as a hub, en route to a final destination,

“For example, there wasn’t a direct [air cargo] flight from Jakarta to Hanoi but, with the liberalization, we can fly directly from Surabaya to Hanoi,” Boyke said.

“This is a chance for Indonesian air cargo service providers to get into ASEAN industrial centers, both for imports and exports.”

Citing data, he said the country’s international air cargo shipping volume stood at around 80,000 tons in 2014, just one-fifth of domestic air cargo shipping which booked 400,000 tons during the same year.

Air cargo volume decreased by 5 percent in 2015 due to the slowing economy, according to INACA data.

“But for this year, as we will have direct flights, I think it [volume] will increase by 40,000 tons,” he said.

Service providers in the country, according to Boyke, would likely aim to increase air cargo shipping to Hanoi and Saigon, among others.

Indonesia ratified the multilateral agreement on the full liberation of air freight services in July last year.

The agreement, first approved by ASEAN in 2009, was implemented with the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) this year.

In the agreement, Indonesia is to open seven cities to incoming and outgoing freight services, including Palembang, South Sumatra; Manado, North Sulawesi; Makassar, South Sulawesi and Biak, Papua.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has promised to open six of its cities, including Cebu, while Thailand plans to open seven cities, including Bangkok and Phuket.

– See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/01/12/cargo-flights-benefit-asean-open-skies.html#sthash.L2esGo7w.dpuf

US leading trade partner of Dong Nai

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/US-leading-trade-partner-of-Dong-Nai-30276729.html

Viet Nam News   TUE, 12 JAN, 2016 6:37 PM

DONG NAI – The United States was the leading trade partner of southern Dong Nai Province in 2015, Deputy Director of the provincial Industry and Trade Duong Minh Dung said.

Last year, the province exported more than US$4 billion worth of goods to the US while its imports from the country hit $1 billion. That had resulted in a significant trade surplus of $3 billion, Dung said.

During the reviewed period, Dong Nai’s trade turnover with Japan and six ASEAN countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines, apart from Singapore and Malaysia, reached approximately $1.9 billion and over $2.1 billion, respectively, making them become the region’s two other major trade partners, besides the US.

Dung told vietnamplus.vn that the global economy’s recovery would further facilitate Dong Nai’s exports, which was expected to grow by 10 per cent this year. However, he forecast that the province trade surplus might not increase as many foreign-invested projects here were yet to be operational.

Director of the Bien Hoa City-located Ho Nai Limited Co Nguyen Van Quy said the turnover from exporting furniture to the US made up more than 90 per cent of his company’s revenue in 2015. He added that his company was inviting some other enterprises in the province to co-ordinate and fulfil large orders from the US’ partners in the future.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese Commercial Counsellor in the US Dao Tran Nhan said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would be inked in the future, would create great opportunities for businesses in this southern province to expand their exports to not only the US but also other TPP nations.

VN farm sector expects sales of $40bn

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/VN-farm-sector-expects-sales-of-$40bn-30276718.html

Viet Nam News   TUE, 12 JAN, 2016 6:12 PM

Hanoi – The agricultural and rural development sector expects to gain US$39-40 billion in total farming, forestry and fishery products by 2020, according to officials.

Also, experts anticipate a growth rate of 3 per cent in the sector’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said that the sector aims for an export turnover of $31 billion and a GDP growth rate at 3-3.5 per cent this year.

To gain its target this year and beyond, the domestic agricultural sector will focus on restructuring itself and improving its value and efficiency of production, he said.

In addition, the sector will put more investment into the processing industry, especially deep-processing and post-harvest preservation, to reduce losses after harvesting and increase the added value of farming products.

Also, the ministry will continue improving the efficiency of the quality of management for agricultural material, food hygiene and safety, to create favourable conditions for export and consumption of farm production. It will also improve controls on quality, food hygiene and safety for farming, forestry and fishery products for export.

According to the ministry, the cumulative export turnover in agro-forestry-fisheries products reached $140.6 billion, from 2011 to 2015, with an average annual growth rate of 9 per cent.

Compared to 2010, the export turnover of these products rose 54.6 per cent to $30.14 billion in 2015.

Ten exports listed in the ‘$1 billion club’ were rice, coffee, rubber, tra fish, shrimp, cashew nuts, pepper, vegetables, cassava and woodwork.

In the reviewed period, the sector’s GDP growth rate reached 3.13 per cent, surpassing the 2.6 to 3 per cent target set by the 11th National Party Congress, Phat said.

Car prices jump in VN following tax adjustment

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Car-prices-jump-in-VN-following-tax-adjustment-30276598.html

Viet Nam News    MON, 11 JAN, 2016 2:01 PM

HANOI

The move is a result of the new tax calculation, causing many car dealers to simultaneously increase their prices to the public for automobiles.

Under the new tax calculation, which will be changed beginning January 1, 2016, the special consumption tax for imported cars with 24 seats and below would be based on the importer’s price, but the price must not be lower than 105 per cent of the cost of an auto, which includes the car’s import price, import tax and special consumption tax at the importing point. If it is lower than this level, the tax will be fixed by a tax agency following regulations on tax management.

As for 24-seater cars assembled and manufactured in Vietnam, the tax will be based on the carmakers’ wholesale price, though this price must not be lower than 7 per cent of the average prices of automobiles.

The new calculation method is expected to cause an estimated 5-per-cent increase in the price of imported cars.

At an automobile shop on HCM City’s Cong Hoa Street, the price of a Ford Ranger pick-up truck has increased by more than VND22 million (US$1,004) compared with the previous price. Also, a Camry 2.5, which previously cost VND1.35 billion ($61,618), now costs over VND1.4 billion ($63,900), an increase of VND55 million ($2,510), the Phap luat TPHCM newspaper reported.

Linh, who intended to purchase a car, told the newspaper that some of his friends bought their cars last year, before the tax had changed, so they could pay a lower price. “Some cars now cost as much as VND1 billion ($45,643) higher than last year,” said Linh. Domestic auto importers and assemblers have also increased the selling prices of their cars. Mercedes-Benz, considered a pioneer, has seen some prices soaring.

Early this year, some Mercedes-Benz distributors announced that their selling prices on some vehicles had risen between VND20 million ($912) and VND1.8 billion ($80,000).

For example, an A200 now costs VND30 million ($1,300) more, while the price of a CLA has increased by VND20 million ($890). The highest increases are seen on imported vehicles, such as GL63 AMG 4Matic and G65 AMG, with prices surging by VND1.28 billion ($56,900) and VND1.8 billion ($82,158), respectively.

Truong Kim Phong, sales and marketing director of Ford Vietnam, said the selling prices of their pick-up trucks had increased by over VND20 million ($912) since the beginning of this year.

The 16-seat passenger Ford Transit’s price had also been increased by VND35 million ($1,597), Phong told the newspaper, adding that the costs of locally-assembled cars would also rise in the near future.

“The new calculation method for the special consumption tax, along with high US dollar exchange rates, have affected the cost of imported cars and auto parts that can not be produced for vehicles assembled in the country, forcing auto makers and distributors to increase their prices,” Phong said.

For the same reason, other auto importers have also increased prices.

The importer and distributor of BMW cars in Vietnam has announced their latest list of car selling prices, with an increase in car prices fluctuating between VND49 million ($2,236) and VND650 million ($29,668). As for the Porsche Macan and Macan S, prices increased by VND290 million ($13,236) and VND250 million ($11,410), respectively.

Although the costs of popular inexpensive cars have not been affected, according to the prediction of local auto firms, the prices of these vehicles will also rise by 2 to 5 per cent over current price levels, the newspaper said.

Suppose to fall

According to integration commitments in the free trade agreements that Vietnam has signed, the prices of cars would decrease. For example, since early 2016 the tax imposed on complete built up units imported from ASEAN countries to Vietnam would fall from 50 per cent last year to 40 per cent.

Under WTO commitments, beginning January 1 import taxes applied on automobiles would slightly decrease from 4 per cent to 2 per cent.

Therefore, auto prices should be reducing, rather than rising, the newspaper reported, adding that some businesses and experts said the tax reduction under these free trade agreements are nothing, compared to the newly-applied special consumption tax.

In addition, Vietnam mainly imports pick-up trucks from the ASEAN region, such as Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Hilux and Nissan Navara, which are taxed at about 5 per cent, while other types of car are taxed at about 50 per cent. Therefore, the reduction of taxes on automobiles imported from ASEAN countries hardly affects the prices of these vehicles, the newspaper said.

Meanwhile, other luxury cars, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus, which are often sourced from Japan, the US and Europe, do not have the opportunity to enjoy the 40-per cent tax level, as do those imported from the ASEAN region.

According to Huynh The Du, a lecturer at the Fulbright Economics Teaching Programme, the new tax on imported cars, which he calls rational, should even be increased further.

“The automobile market development must be consistent with transport infrastructure development. Without policies controlling the automobile market, the economy will suffer many consequences,” Du said, adding that increasing taxes is one of the most effective solutions to limit the amount of vehicles on the road.

According to the General Statistics Office, the total import value of automobiles and automobile parts was estimated at nearly $6 billion in 2015, of which the import value of automobiles reached $3 billion.

Wastewater problem growing in Vientiane

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Wastewater-problem-growing-in-Vientiane-30276772.html

Khonesavanh Latsaphao
VientaineTimes WED, 13 JAN, 2016 10:42 AM

Few households in Vientiane have installed treatment systems for their wastewater before it is discharged into drainage channels and collects in the city’s ponds and marshes.

As it seems that many home owners in Vientiane don’t care about wastewater treatment or the quality of the water emanating from their houses, the problem of dirty drainage channels and pollution has continued to worsen.

A staffer at the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA), who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that households in the capital normally install septic tanks but do not set up treatment systems for other forms of liquid waste.

“It’s good that households use septic tanks because if they released human excrement into the drainage system the smell would be unpleasantly strong,” he added.

Vientiane suffers from more wastewater problems than the provinces simply because it has a much larger population in a more densely packed area, he noted.

According to BORDA, 10 houses could group together to install a wastewater treatment system but they would need to share the cost of construction. BORDA can provide technical help with such projects.

The standard of wastewater treatment and sanitation in Laos is low compared to that in some other Aseancountries such as Cambodia and Indonesia. Indonesia, for instance, has built sanitation into its development strategy plan.

Wastewater and pollution problems are gradually increasing in urban areas of Laos because the situation is poorly managed due to budget constraints.

According to the Vientiane Urban Development and Administration Authority (VUDAA), Vientiane’s main drainage channels need to be cleaned annually to allow water to flow freely and to prevent bad odours and flooding.

Vientiane has 21 major drainage channels and storm water drains that need cleaning and repairs each year.

SOURCE

http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Wastewater.htm

British Chief of Defence Staff meets top Myanmar leaders

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/British-Chief-of-Defence-Staff-meets-top-Myanmar-l-30276739.html

Eleven Myanmar   TUE, 12 JAN, 2016 7:01 PM

Yangon – General Sir John Nicholas Reynolds Houghton, the Chief of the Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces, met National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Vice President Nyan Tun and Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing separately yesterday.

The British general called on Suu Kyi at the office of the Rule of Law, Peace and Stability Committee in the compound of Parliament Building in Nay Pyi Taw at 4:30pm, according to a statement on Suu Kyi‘s Facebook account. No details about their meeting were recounted.

General Houghton and Vice President Nyan Tun met in the Diplomatic Hall of the Presidential House at 10am. They discussed matters related to the 2205 elections, Myanmar’s peace process and further cooperation between the two countries’ militaries.

General Houghton also called on Senior General Min Aung Hlaing at the Zeyathiri Parlour in Nay Pyi Taw at 11:30am.

The senior general’s Facebook page features news about his meeting with the British general in both Myanmar and English languages.

The commander-in-chief said: “Myanmar has turned a new page toward democracy since 2011, and the Tatmadaw (Defence Services) is helping as much as it can to ensure the success of the democratic system. It is the duty of the Tatmadaw to end armed conflict for internal peace and stability, which is essential for the country’s reform. On the other hand, the people need to abide by the law to ensure the prevalence of law and order. The Tatmadaw is also trying to lay a solid foundation for the multi-party democracy system in accordance with the desires of the people. Like Myanmar, other countries are also experiencing rewards and challenges in the course of their reform processes. There some countries that are facing difficulties in their democratisation, even though they have no armed conflict. Therefore, the Tatmadaw believes that Myanmar will be able to proceed along the road to democracy and development only the rule of law prevails.”

He also said Myanmar must pursue friendly relations with its neighbours.

“Sandwiched between the two powerful countries, Myanmar practices an independent and active foreign policy and a policy of peaceful coexistence with all countries in terms of political affairs and international relations,” the senior general said.

He said the cooperation of his British counterpart would facilitate the endurance of democracy in Myanmar, which will continue on its current course without any doubt and suspicion. He said Myanmar would not deviate from the road to multiparty democracy, even though it might not be the best system.

The senior general said he also wants to see peace and stability in his country and the world. He said the world should be nuclear-free, except for purposes that benefit humanity. He said Myanmar has consistently showed opposition to ongoing nuclear proliferation efforts.

The senior general’s Facebook page also quoted the British general as saying: “There was once a very strong relationship between the two countries. At present, efforts are being made to further cement the relationship. Both countries are trying to promote the relations between their armed forces. I would like to honour the army’s role in the country’s reforms. Now, the country is on the right track. The UK is ready to extend a helping hand to Myanmar’s reform process as much as it can. In the UK, the relationship between the army and the government is a good one, and neither side puts pressure on the other. Both the army and the government work together based on mutual trust so as to maintain a long-term relationship. Trust-building is crucial for Myanmar in the transitional period.”

The senior general and General Houghton hared their views on promoting cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries, an exchange of visits, and conducting non-military training courses, including medical and fitness courses.

14 bills passed to next government

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/14-bills-passed-to-next-government-30276726.html

Eleven Myanmar   TUE, 12 JAN, 2016 6:32 PM

Yangon – Myanmar’s Lower House of Parliament ruled yesterday that 14 bills, including the Bill for the Protection of the Constitution, would not be discussed during the term of the current parliament.

The Lower House decided to send the bills, which were submitted by the Joint Bill Committee, back to the Union Parliament due to a shortage of time to process the bills. The current parliament’s term will expire at the end of this month.

The delayed bills include the Nuclear Prevention Bill, the bill to amend the Land Confiscation Act, the Bill for the Protection of the Constitution, the bills on industrial design copyright, innovation copyright, other types of copyright and trademark, the Ambassadorial Bill, the bill to amend the 1950 Emergency Provision Act, the Myanmar Statistics Bill, the Private Education Bill, the Prison Bill, the bill to amend the Weapons Act and the bill to amend the 1949 Suppression of Prostitution Act.

Suu Kyi calls for all insurgents to take part in talks

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Suu-Kyi-calls-for-all-insurgents-to-take-part-in-t-30276700.html

aec news   TUE, 12 JAN, 2016 5:14 PM

NAY PYI TAW – More of Myanmar’s ethnic minority rebel groups should be brought into peace talks and the effort to end conflict should not divide groups that are involved in negotiations and those that have shunned the process, Aung San Suu Kyi said on Tuesday.

Hundreds of representatives of guerrilla groups, the military and members of parliament, gathered in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, for the second stage of talks aimed at ending insurgencies that have plagued the country for decades.

The outgoing semi-civilian government of President Thein Sein signed what it called a nationwide ceasefire agreement in October, but seven of 15 rebel groups invited to participate declined to sign, including some of the most powerful.

Other groups were not invited to take part or showed little interest in the process.

Since the signing, fighting has erupted between the military and groups that did not sign the ceasefire and groups that did not take part in the negotiations, as well as between groups that signed and others that did not, further complicating the already daunting task of reaching sustainable peace.

“We need to work for all the ethnic armed groups to be participated in the NCA,” Suu Kyi said referring to the nationwide ceasefire agreement.

“It is important not to have conflicts between the ethnic armed groups which have signed the NCA and the groups which are still not involved in the agreement.”

Ethnic minority guerrillas have been fighting the central government for greater autonomy and rights since shortly after the country gained independence from Britain in 1948.

The military, which still wields huge influence under a constitution it drafted in 2008, has long portrayed itself as the sole power holding the ethnically diverse country together and it is widely seen as loath to give ground on minority demands for autonomy under a federal system.

’HIGH EXPECTATIONS”

Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) swept a November election, said in an Independence Day speech last week that the peace process would be the first priority of her new government, which is due to take power in March.

But she and the NLD have said little publicly about how they intend to push the process forward.

Groups that chose not to sign the ceasefire have been invited to attend the latest talks, which could lay the groundwork for further negotiations once the NLD takes power.

Several of the insurgent groups are hoping that Suu Kyi’s standing and mandate will help her in bridging differences with the military.

“We have high expectations for Aung San Suu Kyi and her government to negotiate with the army chief – without the military’s involvement it will be impossible to end the fighting across the country,” said Saw Thamein Tun, a leader of the Karen National Union.

The gathering in Naypyitaw was also attended by President Thein Sein and the powerful army chief Min Aung Hlaing. The appearance of the two alongside Suu Kyi reflected what has been a smooth transfer of power.

Myanmar’s generals ran the country for 49 years, until 2011,when a hybrid civilian-military government was installed.

– Reuters

Myanmar cartoonists sharpen pencils as satire makes a comeback

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Myanmar-cartoonists-sharpen-pencils-as-satire-make-30276698.html

aec news   TUE, 12 JAN, 2016 5:11 PM

YANGON – With a flourish of his pencil, cartoonist Maung Maung Aung skewers a pampered politician in a sketch, an image that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable.

The illustrator is among an increasingly brazen band of satirists that has emerged in a nation where recent elections tipped the balance of power from authoritarian military rulers for the first time in generations.

Maung Maung Aung’s drawing shows a destitute family chiding a paunchy parliamentarian.

“We are very happy for you that you have not been beaten and abused. We only hope that you won’t cause trouble for others,” reads a speech bubble above the raggedly dressed father, mother and small child.

The image takes aim at inequalities faced by many ordinary people in Myanmar, despite reforms that have rippled through the long-cloistered nation.

Those changes led to a landmark victory for Aung SanSuu Kyi and her pro-democracy party in November, boosting hopes of a prosperous future — and a more open press.

“Cartoons need freedom. The more freedom there is, the more a cartoon is able to say and be creative so they can carry more meaning,” said 60-year-old Maung Maung Aung, perched behind his drawing board in a Yangon studio cluttered with illustrations.

In four decades as a cartoonist he has suffered poverty, fear and censorship, working with little margin for error under a junta that jailed dissenters and ripped anything deemed critical from newspaper pages.

That drove him to seek refuge in the United States, where he worked as a painter at a fine arts studio in Florida.

But he returned to his homeland in 2012 soon after a quasi-civilian government replaced outright army rule.

Now cartoons are enjoying a renaissance, tackling a range of subjects — from the country’s economic woes to foreign policy and the elections — peppering newspapers and websites daily.

And Myanmar’s caricaturists are sharpening their pencils for the next test — how to satirise the revered Suu Kyi as her party prepares to take over government in late March.

Suu Kyi is lionised in Myanmar, where the peaceful resistance to army rule was for years depicted as a tussle between the frail and graceful Nobel laureate and brutish generals.

Maung Maung Aung said illustrators should not shirk from depicting “The Lady”, as Suu Kyi is known.

“Cartoonists should not be biased, they should point out the faults of any government,” he told AFP.

’Sacrosanct subject’

Suu Kyi faces myriad challenges, including restoring peace in war-torn ethnic borderlands, rebooting the economy left in tatters by the junta and tackling rampant corruption — all easy fodder for the country’s satirists.

“She (Suu Kyi) has been a sacrosanct subject, but it’ll come. We can’t have a really free media if one figure is held ’out of bounds’,” Yangon-based Myanmar analyst Khin Zaw Win, told AFP.

“She will not — and should not — be spared.”

But that might be easier said than done.

Phoe Kyaw, a cartoonist from Suu Kyi’s Kawhmu constituency, said he would feel free to criticise her.

“She will understand,” he said. “On the other hand, I believe in her as our national leader, that’s why I won’t draw a cartoon to insult her personally.”

And though the country’s reforms have brought an end to draconian pre-publication censorship, restrictions on expression remain with several activists detained for Facebook posts satirising the army in recent months.

The private daily newspaper Myanmar Times issued a prominent apology in March for a cartoon lampooning the army’s battles with rebels in the far north.

In the offending cartoon a man reading the newspaper tells a woman that the military are “seizing the mountains”.

“It’s not enough to seize the rice fields,” the woman replies in a speech bubble, a reference to persistent accusations of landgrabbing by the armed forces, particularly under junta rule.

The paper conceded the image was “not in good taste” and no action was taken against it.

A hundred years of satire

At a recent cartoon exhibition in Yangon, crowds of hundreds chuckled at illustrations commenting on everything from the election to controversy over a Chinese-backed copper mine.

“Cartoons can stimulate debate, give facts and figures and send a message for change,” said 67-year-old bank worker Dominic Zin Aung.

The cartoon festival was held in honour of Ba Gyan, considered to be the father of Myanmar cartoons, who started his illustrious career in 1915, mocking the British colonial authorities and later the early independence government.

But that era of vibrant political debate was snuffed out by the military, which seized power in 1962.

With their open ridicule of authority figures, Ba Gyan’s decades old cartoons are still possess the power to shock in their boldness.

Myanmar’s first generation of cartoonists “had the chance to write openly about national freedom and revolution under the colonialists,” said Maung Maung Aung, lamenting the restrictions faced by a second wave of cartoonists under military rule.

“If we could have a real democratic age, then our freedom would be assured,” he said.

– AFP

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