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Suu Kyi in the spotlight at Myanmar peace meeting

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Suu-Kyi-in-the-spotlight-at-Myanmar-peace-meeting-30276697.html

aec news  TUE, 12 JAN, 2016 11:03 AM

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar – Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi will address ethnic armed groups Tuesday, organisers of a fresh round of peace talks said, after she outlined peace as a priority for her government when it takes power in March.

The political dialogue stage of talks between the government, army and ethnic rebels, encompasses key economic and social issues that have spurred the violence, including the ownership of natural resources.

Suu Kyi, who led her party to victory in Myanmar’s November elections, is expected to give an opening speech at the talks in the capital Naypyidaw.

It is a rare appearance for the democracy figurehead at the years-long peace process, which has been steered by the country’s reformist post-junta leadership.

The prisoner-turned politician has said ending decades of conflict between the military and a myriad of ethnic rebels will be the “first ever duty” of her government.

Hkun Okker, a member of the committee overseeing the peace dialogue, said Suu Kyi had accepted an invitation to deliver opening remarks.

“Aung San Suu Kyi said she would make the peace process a priority and we are very encouraged by her words,” he told AFP.

President Thein Sein and powerful army chief Min Aung Hlaing are also slated to attend the five-day talks.

However, some major armed rebel groups have shunned the talks with clashes ongoing in parts of the country.

Political dialogue is a central demand of the ethnic armed groups, who have fought for greater autonomy in the country’s mountainous and resource-rich borderlands for generations.

Thein Sein’s government, which replaced outright junta rule in 2011, has driven through a painstaking peace process.

In October, those efforts yielded a ceasefire with some rebel groups, but Thein Sein craves a binding nationwide truce.

– Peace mandate? –

==================

Ahead of last year’s election, analysts predicted Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy would struggle to win seats in ethnic areas.

But the NLD gained a thumping majority across the regional and national parliaments.

Questions remain over her uneasy relationship with the nation’s still hugely powerful military, who hold the key to securing a lasting peace.

Several major ethnic armies, including in war-torn northern Kachin and Shan states, have refused to sign up to a national truce until all groups are brought into the deal — notably smaller organisations locked in conflict with the military.

Tun Zaw, spokesman for the United Nationalities Federal Council which represents six armed groups, said his organisation was boycotting the talks because they lack “inclusively”.

Myanmar’s army partially justified its near half-century stranglehold on the nation because of fears that ethnic divisions would fracture the nation.

It has taken part in much of the peace process, but has continued to fight against rebels in some parts of the country.

A report in the state-backed New Light of Myanmar last week said several soldiers had died in recent clashes in western Rakhine state, adding that the military had vowed to continue its offensives “until the area is cleared of all insurgents”.

 

20 villages in Mrauk U face drinking water shortage

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/20-villages-in-Mrauk-U-face-drinking-water-shortag-30276694.html

Eleven Myanmar   TUE, 12 JAN, 2016 4:51 PM

Sittwe – Around 20 flood-affected villages in Mrauk U Township, Rakhine State, are facing a shortage of drinking water, according to civic organisations and local residents.

Phyo Wai from CARE said: “The smell of the water in some villages is foul. We can only drink water after treating it with water treatment machines. We may face a severe water shortage this coming summer because there are not enough water treatment machines to accommodate the entire population of these villages. Our team has supplied small treatment machines, but more are still needed.”

Kyaw Phyu, the administrator of Thinbawseik Village, said: “We cannot use water that has not been treated. Villagers are facing drinking water shortage due to the insufficient number of water treatment machines. We may face a greater water shortage problem in the summer. Other villages are experiencing similar problems.”

Dirty water flowed into drinking water ponds when the villages were hit by floods last July.

Lao students set up solar-energy project to empower rural areas

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Lao-students-set-up-solar-energy-project-to-empowe-30276670.html

VientianeTimes   TUE, 12 JAN, 2016 10:12 AM

The energy and Climate Policy Institute (ECPI Korea) has trained staff and students in Xayaboury on how to set up and operate a 60W solar-power system to produce renewable energy in a remote area of the province.

The trainees were graduates, students and a teacher at the Integrated Technical and Vocational School in Xayaboury. The trainers were Dr Young-joo Song, a volunteer with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and officials from the National University of Laos.

They taught the students not only how to assemble a 60W solarpower system but also how to operate all the equipment involved, according to a handout issued by the project on January 7.

The training took place from December 22 to 28 in Namkha village, Xayaboury district, and was the first village-level project carried out by the ECPI.

The village has been hooked up to the electricity grid since February 2015 but due to poverty and budget limitations, 28 households, Namkha village primary school, the teachers’ dormitory and the village office were not connected.

The training was part of an ECPI project supported by KOICA. ECPI provided solar-power systems for 16 households and other locations that did not have electricity.

The following activities were carried out under the project to create a more sustainable operational model in the village: making an agreement to protect the systems and making sure people pay the monthly fee to the maintenance fund; forming a Village Energy Committee to organise the collection of the maintenance fund from villagers and buy maintenance equipment if required; and selecting a village technician to carry out repairs and maintenance.

This was an opportunity for people to develop an interest in the concept of an energy self-reliant community for the sustainable development of local villages as well as the achievement of having built the second laboratory (the first laboratory is at NUOL) for solarpower system production in Laos.

ECPI has continued to implement the Supporting Renewable Energy System and Training Programme in Laos through the practical activity of climate justice since 2009. These activities were reinforced in 2012 when KOICA supported the ECPI project.

Hopes for peace as Myanmar ethnic Karen celebrate their New Year

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Hopes-for-peace-as-Myanmar-ethnic-Karen-celebrate–30276695.html

MON, 11 JAN, 2016 5:56 PM

YANGON – Myanmar’s ethnic minority Karen rung in their New Year with song, dance and traditional kickboxing, in celebrations a day before fresh efforts to reach a ceasefire to end the country’s myriad rebel conflicts.

Tens of thousands of people, many in bright traditional clothing, thronged through teeming Yangon streets, in a three-day celebration ending on Monday.

The Karen, who are Buddhist and Christian, have their own calendar and have officially celebrated their New Year since the 1930s.

“I love my Karen people and value my ethnicity in my heart,” Sa Ye Kyaw Oo, an event volunteer told AFP.

New Year events, marked by dance competitions and bouts of the country’s lethwei kickboxing, were also held across southeastern Karen state.

The guns have largely fallen silent in the state after ethnic minority rebels waged one of the world’s longest insurgencies — although recent months have seen sporadic clashes linked to smaller rebel factions.

The conflict saw Myanmar’s army accused of widespread rights abuses that prompted tens of thousands of ethnic Karen to flee their homes, many into border camps in neighbouring Thailand.

“All ethnic groups have to take responsibility for the peace process if it is going to be really successful,” Mann Phoe Saw, an organiser of the festivities told AFP.

The celebrations come ahead of political dialogue between the Myanmar government and ethnic minority groups on Tuesday.

The meeting is set to be the last major push to cement the current leadership’s peace-building legacy before handing over power to Aung San Suu Kyi’s party which won November elections.

Suu Kyi used the New Year to send a message on efforts to end fighting between the army and rebels.

She has said ending the violence, which has plagued a horse-shoe of border regions for decades, is her first priority of government.

“We will have to build a peace that takes into account the rights of ethnic people and most importantly we must be united. So let us seek out a real peace for our nation,” Suu Kyi said in a statement published on her official Facebook page.

The powerful Karen National Union (KNU) battled for greater political autonomy for decades before joining a peace process led by general-turned-reformist President Thein Sein.

He has targeted ending the country’s myriad ethnic minority rebellions as the final plank of his agenda before handing over power to Suu Kyi’s opposition in March.

Thein Sein has sought to hold up war-battered Karen as an example of the development potential for peace in Myanmar’s restive borderlands.

In quotes published in the state-backed New Light of Myanmar on Monday, Thein Sein acknowledged that the Karen “have had to endure a tough road for a very long time”.

“But today, the rays of peace have already dawned,” he was quoted as saying.

– AFP

Myanmar peace body sets $21m budget

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Myanmar-peace-body-sets-$21m-budget-30276597.html

Aung Zaw Tun
Eleven Myanmar   MON, 11 JAN, 2016 1:56

Yangon – The Union Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) meeting at Myanmar Peace Centre in Yangon calculated that nearly US$21 million would be spent on the implementation of the body’s activities over the next three years.

 

“We discussed employing new staff and calculated the budget required. We want the JMC to be formed in Shan State. The budget, nearly US$21 million, has been calculated roughly,” said Colonel Wunna Aung, of the government forces, who is a JMC secretary.

“The donors include foreign countries and the United Nations,” said Wunna Aung.

About 30 representatives from foreign donors, including the UN, participated in the discussions, said another secretary, Dr Shwe Khar.

“Today we approved the budget. The government has set aside a budget for peace but we don’t know whether the new Parliament will approve it. Nevertheless, we must implement our proposals within our existing budget. We want genuine peace,” said Shwe Khar.

The JMC’s activities are subject to scrutiny from the government, army and Myanmar Peace Centre.

The JMC was formed of 26 representatives in November, with Lieutenant-General Yar Pyae from the government forces as chairman and vice chairmen General Saw Isaac Po from Karen National Union and civilian representative Pyae Sone.

A java man’s adventure in Japanese coffee roasting

Published มกราคม 13, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/A-java-mans-adventure-in-Japanese-coffee-roasting-30276765.html

JASON SONG
Star2.com   WED, 13 JAN, 2016 9:53 AM

How, exactly, did I end up on the roof of a coffeehouse in Tokyo, kneeling over a single-burner camp stove and something called a Whirley Pop?

Sweat soaked my T-shirt as the wind kept blowing out the fire. To make matters worse, the sun made the flame nearly invisible, so I couldn’t even tell when the stove was on.

I’d learned the hard way already, burning myself in the process. The scent of half-roasted coffee beans, normally one of my favourite smells, only stressed me out more.

Finally, a flame. I set down the Whirley Pop, a contraption intended for making popcorn, not roasting beans, and started to turn the handle, hoping my coffee wasn’t ruined. This was no way to start a revolution.

My adventure in Japanese coffee roasting began when my friend Kala Ahloy, the general manager of a small Tokyo-based coffee chain called Mojo Coffee Japan, was visiting and had a cup of a light Ethiopian I’d made. “This is really good,” he said, sounding surprised.

Ahloy and his Mojo partners were planning to expand their business, in part by introducing single-origin roasts in a country more familiar with big-batch blends. Last summer, he sent me an email inviting me to join his crew for a few weeks in September.

Los Angeles Times reporter Jason Song pours green coffee beans in a popcorn popper to roast on his patio BBQ grill burner at his home in South Pasadena, California.

Los Angeles Times reporter Jason Song pours green coffee beans in a popcorn popper to roast on his patio BBQ grill burner at his home in South Pasadena, California.

I’ve been roasting single-origin coffee in my backyard in Los Angeles for years. I tell myself that it’s cheaper to buy green coffee beans at US$7 (RM30) a pound than pay US$3 (RM13) for a single cup in a store, but I’ve come to look forward to the small surprise of having a different kind of coffee at home every week.

Like a lot of purists – some may call us snobs – I like coffee from a single farm because it’s easier to taste its flavours, similar to how some Scotch aficionados prefer single malts because they’re a purer expression of the distillery than blends.

(Yes, I like Scotch. No, I’ve never tried to make whiskey at home.)

Similarly, I often roast my beans as lightly as possible because I think that lets me taste the coffee, not the roast.

But single origins also democratise the coffee experience, argues Thompson Owen of Sweet Maria’s Coffee in Oakland, where I get all my beans.

“Blends belong to this idea that we do something that you can’t possibly do, that we have some weird mojo that you don’t,” he said. “With a single origin, the most important thing is a guy on this farm did a great job and this is the output.”

Much like in Los Angeles, more Japanese consumers began moving away from caramel frappucinos to single origin as coffee knowledge became more fashionable.

READ FULL STORY

http://www.star2.com/food/food-news/2016/01/09/a-coffee-adventure-in-japan/

Tables at popular restaurants are filling up fast for Chinese New Year Eve

Published มกราคม 11, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Tables-at-popular-restaurants-are-filling-up-fast–30276537.html

Straitstimes   SUN, 10 JAN, 2016 4:47 PM

Chinese New Year is slightly more than a month away but reservations for reunion dinners on Feb 7 in hotels, restaurants and zi char places are filling up fast.

Some restaurants are already fully booked on that day.

Li Bai Cantonese Restaurant in Sheraton Towers Singapore has been fully booked for Chinese New Year Eve dinner since September last year. Half the diners made reservations as early as last February.

Other restaurants that are packed include Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant in Carlton Hotel, which has been fully booked since last month, and Yan Ting at The St Regis Singapore, where slots for its one-seating reunion dinner were filled up by November.

Other restaurants that are filling up fast include Hua Ting Restaurant in Orchard Hotel and Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant in UOB Plaza.

Hai Tien Lo in Pan Pacific Singapore, Golden Peony in Conrad Centennial Singapore and Min Jiang at Goodwood Park Hotel are up to 80 per cent booked.

Most of the 20 restaurants that The Sunday Times speaks to say that they are not increasing prices of festive set menus in order to stay competitive. This is despite the rising cost of premium ingredients such as seafood and the extra manpower needed to handle extra seatings.

Mr Robert Han, group general manager of The Quayside Group, which owns Peony Jade Restaurant at Clarke Quay and Keppel Club, says: “In view of the uncertainties of the economy, we are keeping to last year’s pricing despite using ingredients such as fish maw from China, lobsters from Canada and Italian black truffles. Prices have increased between 20 and 30 per cent in the past year.”

For other restaurants, prices are up 2 to 10 per cent this year.

Madam Soon Puay Keow, managing director of Spring Court in Upper Cross Street, says its prices have increased by 5 per cent this year. Dried delicacies such as sea cucumber and Chinese sausages have gone up by 20 per cent, while seafood such as scallops and lobsters have increased by more than 10 per cent, she says.

At least one restaurant is reducing prices.

Wan Hao Cantonese Restaurant in Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel says prices of its set menus this year start at $98.80++ a person, compared to $118++ a person last year.

Mr Himanshu Jethi, the hotel’s assistant director of food and beverage, says: “We revised our pricing strategy after comparing prices with competitors in order to reach out to a wider demographic of diners.”

With stronger demand for reunion dinners this year, restaurants such as Hai Tien Lo have increased its seating capacity by 30 per cent.

Zi char restaurant Keng Eng Kee in Alexandra Village is fully booked on Feb 7, the eve of Chinese New Year, so it decided to offer reunion dinner menus on Feb 6.

About 60 per cent of the tables for the additional seating have been booked.

Ms Ang Ling Ling, 41, an assistant director in the social sector, is looking to reserve a table for her family’s reunion dinner.

She says: “Although prices at some restaurants have increased, I will still visit a restaurant as it saves the hassle of cooking and it is a once-a-year treat.”

However, property agent Jasmine Tan, 51, is staying away from restaurants.

She was put off by an hour-long wait three years ago at a restaurant despite having made reservations.

“It is more worthwhile to spend the money on quality seafood ingredients for a steamboat meal at home,” she says. “We can eat and chat without keeping to a time limit.”

READ FULL STORY

 

Lao coffee producer eyes larger share of AEC market

Published มกราคม 11, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Lao-coffee-producer-eyes-larger-share-of-AEC-marke-30276584.html

VientianeTimes   MON, 11 JAN, 2016 10:21 AM

A Lao coffee producer is hoping to expand its share of the regional market and is going all out to take advantage of the growing popularity of coffee drinking in Asean countries.

With the Asean Community now in effect, it provides an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs in the region to boost their market share and seek out new points of sale.

“The Asean Community offers a great opportunity for Lao coffee because there are millions of coffee drinkers all around the region. But initially we have to be stronger here in Laos before entering bigger regional markets that need a huge budget to fund all of the operations involved,” said the owner of Sinouk Coffee, Mr Sinouk Sisombath.

Mr Sinouk spoke to Vientiane Times in Vientiane last Friday during the launch of Sinouk’s Coffee Pavilion. He views the opening of the coffee pavilion as another step in strengthening the market for Lao coffee products.

“The pavilion is a learning house where Lao people can upgrade and professionalise their coffee making skills,” he said, adding that it is the first such educational centre in Laos.

He explained that Sinouk Coffee will use the centre to demonstrate the company’s ability and the potential for Lao coffee production from the raw material stage right up to the creation of the coffee learning centre.

The pavilion has sections that feature displays describing the history of coffee, the history of coffee in Laos, and coffee cultivation and harvesting. The pavilion also demonstrates the roasting process, and has a room where visitors can sample the coffee and staff show the various ways in which they decorate the top of a cup of coffee by etching eye-catching designs. A barista classroom shows visitors how to pour and mix a good cup of coffee and serve it up attractively.

When asked about the possibility of expanding the franchise into neighbouring countries, Mr Sinouk said Thailand was their initial target market, followed by Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia, but that was some way in the future.

“To begin with we have to think about personnel development. We want Lao people to be proud of Sinouk Coffee so we have to prioritise the development of the Lao employees who would be positioned in each country,” Mr Sinouk said.

Sinouk Coffee has become a well-recognised brand and has about eight cafes in Laos. However, the company is still keen to focus on improving its staff so that it can deliver the best possible service.

“I grew up in France so our plans include taking on French staff as that would attract customers from overseas and give them confidence in our brand,” Mr Sinouk said.

The newly opened coffee pavilion is all part of the company’s policy to encourage people to learn the skills involved in the trade and perhaps become an employee of the company, he added.

SOURCE

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

Jade mines stepping up operations: activist

Published มกราคม 11, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Jade-mines-stepping-up-operations-activist-30276534.html

Aung Hein Min
Eleven Myanmar   SUN, 10 JAN, 2016 4:05 PM

Hpakant’s jade mining companies are speeding up their work despite widespread criticism, a resident say.

La Maung La Taung, leader of Kachin National Development Organisation based in Hpakant, said: “We saw that they are speeding up their work in the mines. We haven’t seen them stop their work or reduce the amount of machinery. We can still hear the explosions from Zutya. Increasing machinery means they will have all they can before the new government takes over. Natural resources will not reproduce. The way work is going, the jade will be gone soon. The jade mining company owners are mostly Chinese. The ethnic minorities here have no rights to own or use the land.”

The tragic Hpakant landslide on November 21 has brought media and political attention to the issue.

The union government investigation centred on the Kachin State government for allowing heavy machinery and dumper trucks to enter the region untaxed and unlicensed from China but the overall probe was weak, said La Maung La Taung.

He said: “We heard the government investigators came but we don’t know what they did. There is a lack of transparency. We heard that mining machineries was secretly kept on the road to Tamakhan because apparently someone alerted them before the investigators came. There are thousands of pieces of mining machineries in Hpakant.”

Last month the organisation led a protest to block roads through Seikmu, Kaday and Mazutyan villages to protest against jade exploration. The Kachin Independence Army took the leaders of the organisation into custody for over a week.

State-owned newspapers reported the state government had allowed more than 22,560 acres to be used by 627 jade-mining companies.

In Hpakant, mining became increasingly mechanised in 2007 and now a reported 60 hills and many streams have disappeared.

 

Laos-China railway project expected to carry 3.8m passengers in first year

Published มกราคม 11, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/aec/Laos-China-railway-project-expected-to-carry-3-8m–30276550.html

VIENTIANE TIMES
ASIA NEWS NETWORK   MON, 11 JAN, 2016 1:00

DOMESTIC passengers commuting through the planned Laos-China railway project are expected to reach 3.98 million in its first year, a study has showed.

The number of domestic passengers is forecast to rise to 6.11 million annually in the short term and jump to 8.62 million annually over the longer term, Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad said recently.

Passengers commuting from Vientiane to the Chinese border via the railway would be charged only about 161,850 kip (Bt750), much cheaper than fares by road, currently at 285,000 kip, he told the recent ordinary session of the National Assembly.

The Lao and Chinese governments broke ground on December 2 in Vientiane to commence construction of the US$6.04 billion (Bt220 billion) project to connect Vientiane with the Chinese border over the distance of 427 kilometres.

Construction is expected to take about five years to complete.

The project will form part of the regional railway network connecting China’s Kunming to Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.

The number of passengers of the five countries commuting through the regional railway is expected to reach 9.65 million in its first year.

The numbers are expected to rise to 11.98 million passengers a year in the short term and increase to 16.5 million passengers annually over the longer term.

At the beginning its operation, freight through the regional railway between China and the four Aseanmember countries – Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore – is estimated to reach 2.59 million tonnes a year and rise to 3.62 million tonnes within the short term, then jump to 5.46 million tonnes over the longer term.

Through the planned railway, goods transported from Vientiane to the Chinese border would be charged only 269,750 kip per tonne, which is much cheaper than road freight, currently 833,340 kip per tonne.

Somsavat, who is in charge of the project, told parliament that rail transport offering cheaper costs with faster speed would enable Laos to enjoy advantages in promoting trade and investment.

“Transportation time will be significantly cut.”

Goods transported by road from Vientiane to the Chinese border take about three days, but with the railway, transportation would take just over three hours, he said.

 

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