Make or break moment for Myanmar reforms in opaque telecoms sector

YANGON | Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:03am BST

(Reuters) – Companies awarded telecommunications licences in Myanmar this week will need to spend billions of dollars rolling out networks across a country that has yet to pass a law to govern the sector and where opaque, state-owned enterprises will remain players.

The process is being watched closely as a test case for reform inMyanmar, although the risks did not stop 90 international firms and groups from joining the initial phase.


Troops patrol Myanmar city after violence, Muslims hide

Hundreds of Muslim families sheltered in a heavily guarded Buddhist monastery on Thursday after two days of violence in the northern Myanmar city of Lashio left Muslim properties in ruins and raised alarm over a widening religious conflict.

About 1,200 Muslims were taken to Mansu Monastery after Buddhist mobs terrorized the city on Wednesday, a move that could signal the resolve of a government criticized for its slow response to previous religious violence.


Buddhist mobs attack Muslim homes in Myanmar, one dead

Security forces struggled to control Buddhist mobs who burned Muslim homes on Wednesday for a second day in the northern Myanmar city of Lashio in a dangerous widening of ultra-nationalist Buddhist violence.

Scores of young men and boys on motorbikes and on foot marauded through the city of 130,000 people, some singing nationalist songs, a day after a mosque and religious school were torched.


Burma’s Kyat Currency Slumps As Imports Flood In

Burma’s currency has plunged more than 7 percent over the past month to the lowest since it was floated last year, raising concern about economic stability in Asia’s newest democracy.

The drop coincides with a construction boom in Burma’s commercial capital, Rangoon, which is fuelling demand for dollars as builders import equipment and materials, part of a scramble by investors to tap one of the world’s last frontier markets after an easing of sanctions by Western countries.


In Myanmar, cheap SIM card draw may herald telecoms revolution

Introduced a decade and a half ago under Myanmar’s former military rulers, SIM cards sold for as much as $7,000 apiece. Today, they still cost more than $200. From Thursday, lucky winners of a lottery-style sale may get one for as little as $2.

This is telecoms deregulation, Myanmar-style.

The lottery is a first tentative step into a telecoms revolution that has transformed societies and spurred economic growth across the globe – and could be a game changer for Myanmar, emerging from decades of isolation and mismanagement that have left it Asia’s second-poorest nation after Afghanistan.


Muslim victims of Myanmar unrest face uncertain future

MEIKHTILA, Myanmar, April 30 – In Myanmar’s central heartlands, justice and security is elusive for thousands of Muslims who lost their homes in a deadly rampage by Buddhist mobs in March.

Many are detained in prison-like camps, unable to return to neighborhoods and businesses razed in four days of violence in Meikhtila that killed at least 43 people, most of them Muslims, displaced nearly 13,000, and touched off a wave of anti-Muslim unrest fuelled by radical Buddhist monks.