atans1

Posts Tagged ‘Burma’

Tourism potential of Indon, Vietnam & Burma

In China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam on 24/08/2014 at 4:58 am

Number of foreign visitors received in 2013

  • Thailand – 26.5 million
  • Malaysia – 25.7 million
  • Hong Kong – 25.6 million
  • South Korea – 12.1 million
  • Japan – 10.3 million
  • Indonesia – 8.8 million
  • Vietnam – 7.5 million
  • Myanmar – 2 million

I’m surprised that Indonesia has only 8.8m visitors given the popularity of Bali.

Still Mynamar is the place to invest in the tourism biz. Opportunities there from recent BBC article.

Why PAP should be afraid but not not too afraid

In China, Humour, Internet, Malaysia, Political governance, Vietnam on 10/03/2014 at 4:49 am

Paper warriors can cause serious problems for paper generals. Take heart Richard Wan, SgDaily, Terry Xu etc. And NSP should put more effort and time on online activities, rather than pounding the streets and climbing stairs, even though P Ravi of NSP gets great workouts: but Ravi, skip the teh tariks at the end. And the Chiams start an online presence.

Online activism can be an accurate indicator of where revolutions might take place next, according to University of Manchester research.

Argentina, Georgia, the Philippines and Brazil are claimed to be most at risk of upheaval, according to this measure.

The Revolution 2.0 Index* was developed last year and identified Ukraine as the most likely to see political upheaval.

This index sees revolution being forecast by computer experts rather than political analysts … It provides a different view of how regimes are put at risk by protest movements, looking at online factors rather than street demonstrations.

The index produces a risk factor based on the level of repression and the ability of people to organise protests online.

(http://www.bbc.com/news/education-26448710)

But Yaacob, MDA, and the ISD can still relax a little: The highest risk comes in countries where there are protests against perceived injustices – but where there is relative freedom online.

Err we knowthat S’poreans don’t like to sweat at Hong Lim: ask Gilbert Goh. (Alternative reason: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/gg-crashes-new-indian-chief-needed/)

So get the people out in their tens of thousands to Hong Lim Green and keep up the online volume, then sure can effect regime change. But fortunately for the PAP, only the LGBTs can get out the crowd. Aand then only once in a pink moon.

Still if PM and the ministers want to make sure they get to keep their mega-salaries then they should start sending study teams to  Ethiopia, Iran, Cuba and China: At the lowest end of this 39-country index are countries such as Iran, Cuba and China because there is a lower level of risk of revolution in repressive countries with tight controls over the internet.

Actually, it juz might be easier to ban Facebook and other forms of social media on the grounds that users waste time on them during office hours (all those cat photos that a certain social activist posts during office hours). Users are subversives, undermining the govt’s productivity drive, the aim of which is to make S’poreans richer slaves.

Talking about the Ukraine, professor Richard Heeks from Manchester University, the creator the index, says: “But social media has been the core tool used to organise protests and maintain them by letting protesters know where they can get nearby food, shelter, medical attention, and so on.

“It has spread word about violence and has garnered support and assistance from overseas.”

BTW, S’pore, Cambodia and Laos are not on the index but the rest of Asean is

The Philippines (4th)

M’sia (14th)

Indonesia (26th)

Vietnam (29th)

Thailand (33rd: err data was up to 2012)

Burma (35th)

———————————————————-

*The index combines Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net scores, the International Telecommunication Union’s information and communication technology development index, and the Economist’s Democracy Index (reversed into an “Outrage Index” so that higher scores mean more autocracy). The first measures the degree of Internet freedom in a country, the second shows how widely Internet technology is used, and the third provides the level of oppression.

 

 

Raffles Place, Padang area in an alternate universe?

In Uncategorized on 11/01/2014 at 4:41 am

A glimpse of a S’pore if the present lot of SAF generals and admirals in the cabinet (and BG Yeo) had been in charge of S’pore in the early 60s instead of LKY, Dr Goh etc. Going by the performance of LHL, Teo, Lui, kee Chui and Tan (and BG Yeo) over the last few yrs, Raffles Place and the Padang would be like the biz and administrative hubs of Yangon shown in the video in http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2014/01/yangons-heritage

A WALK AROUND battered, ramshackle Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, quickly makes it clear how far the country has fallen behind the rest of Asia over the past half-century. In large part the place is but a ghostly reminder of former glories. Under British colonial rule, before independence in 1948, Rangoon (as it was then) was a thriving, cosmopolitan entrepot, the capital of Burma, one of the region’s wealthiest countries. All that came to an abrupt end in 1962 after a junta of army officers, led by the brutal General Ne Win, seized power and launched the country on the quasi-Marxist “Burmese Way to Socialism”. Private foreign-owned businesses were nationalised, prompting the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, many of Indian origin. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/why-young-sporeans-should-be-sent-to-yangon/

No other Asean round-up news this week. Keep an eye on Thailand, the problems there are a gd ad and PR for the PAP http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/thailand-huge-ad-gd-pr-for-pap-govt/

Dr M, like one LKY, is losing his memory

In Malaysia, Political economy, Political governance on 31/12/2013 at 4:46 am

(There is some analysis of what one LKY said tagged on at the end but yes it’s analysis about M’sia week (previous) ).

Going by this extract from BT, seems that Dr M has forgotten that there was almost no money left in the Treasury when he stepped down.

FORMER Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday that Putrajaya should cut its own costs before burdening the public with higher taxes and tariffs.

It was his first public comment on what has fast become a contentious issue among Malaysians: an increasing cost of living that is set to escalate in 2014.

After the general election (GE) in May, Malaysia was put on notice by the international rating agencies that it had to get its fiscal discipline right. Prime Minister Najib Razak responded by first cutting fuel subsidies and raising petrol prices by 10 per cent in September.

In his October Budget, Mr Najib abolished sugar subsides and pledged to cut total subsidies by 17 per cent in the financial year. The Budget did not achieve that, so most commentators expect more fuel subsidy cuts possibly in the second half of the year. Mr Najib also promised a 6 per cent goods and services tax (GST) by next April.

Yes, yes, I know Badawi accused him of over-spending. But the fact that Badawi and now Najib are having to cut back govt spending shows that Dr M overspent when he was in power. Sadly this never happened here. If only GCT had spent more, LHL, would not be in so much shit. But don’t pity PM: he was DPM then, and in charge of economical and financial matters.

Coming back to Dr M. We can’t be too hard on him given that one LKY said that S’pore was a “barren rock” before the PAP took power. He must have got HK in mind when the British seized HK from the Chinese. I’ll let a HK official tell the story, It was on this day, January 20 in 1841 that a treaty was signed ceding Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.

 To cut a long story short, Captain Charles Elliot of the British Royal Navy had negotiated the terms of the agreement and reported them to Lord Palmerston who was then the Foreign Secretary in London.

Lord Palmerston was outraged that Britain had got such a raw end of the deal. He promptly dismissed Captain Elliot from his post and famously declared that Hong Kong was, and I quote: “A barren rock with nary a house upon it. It will never be a mart for trade.”

S’pore as all TRE readers will be able to tell you was the second most important port in Asia, though they may not tell you (because they may not know)  that it had problems, problems  outlined below*.

LKY would have been on safer ground if he had told S’poreans what might have happened if S’pore had gotten bad govt (like in Burma). But then S’poreans could rightly have asked if there were credible alternatives. The answer to that is not so obvious and detracts from the narrative that the PAP made S’pore. It didn’t: S’poreans of my parents’ generation made  modernS’pore on the colonial foundation. The PAP helped in the making.

*Singapore Correspondent. Political Dispatches from Singapore (1958-1962)

(http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/mai/new-book-singapore-correspondent/)
by Leon Comber*

Publisher:  Marshall Cavendish International Asia

Singapore Correspondent Book CoverSingapore Correspondent” covers five years of Singapore’s colourful political past – a period of living turbulently and sometimes dangerously. It is a collection of eye-witness dispatches, sent from Singapore to London, spanning a time when Singapore was emerging from British colonial rule and moving forward to self-government and independence. Many of the early struggles of the People’s Action Party (PAP) are described as the focus is on the political struggle taking place in which the PAP played a major part. Many important events which have long been forgotten are brought to life. These dispatches prove that political history need not be dull, and indeed can sometimes be entertaining and lively.

* MAI Adjunct Research Fellow

Reviewed here: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/im-invested-in-spore-spore-in-50s-60s/

Related: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/when-55-of-voters-were-fts/

2014: Last chance for govt to increase prices?

In Economy, Indonesia, Political governance on 30/11/2013 at 5:51 am

(Asean round-up)

Ministers no longer joke about COE prices not affecting core inflation, (related post) ’cause increase in food prices is affecting core inflation.

In addition to Thai meat, maybe Burmese rice (see below) will help curb food inflation prior to next GE. Remember that public tpt fares are going up soon despite lack of much improvement. This is ’cause SMRT needs $ (scholar, ex-SAF chief says biz model broken, but nothing that higher fares can’t fix) and 2014 is last possible time that fares can rise. GE must be held in 2016, and increasing fares in 2015 may be too risky for PAP. As an election may be held in 2015, January to June 2014 is the last window of opportunity for us to kanna pay and pay.

Burma plans to more than double rice shipments as the country that used to be the largest exporter embraces trade and opens its economy, challenging Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia for sales amid a global glut.

Shipments may increase to 2.5 million tonnes in 2014-2015 from an estimated 1.8 million tonnes in the year that started on April 1, according to Toe Aung Myint, director-general of the Department of Trade Promotion at the Ministry of Commerce. Exports are targeted to increase to 4.8 million tonnes in 2019-2020, he said when Hong Kong.

Indonesian coal and property firms could find obtaining loans increasingly difficult next year as banks tighten their lending due to higher interest rates, slowing economic growth and a weakening rupiah, industry officials said. The rupiah has fallen nearly 20 per cent so far this year, hitting 12,000 per US dollar yesterday for the first time in almost five years.

The central bank this month issued guidance to banks to slow loan growth to 15-17 per cent next year, from 18-20 per cent this year, in an effort to protect the financial system from potential turbulence amid heightened global uncertainties. In response, Bank Mandiri, Bank Central Asia (BCA), Bank Tabungan Negara, and other top financial institutions are becoming more particular about companies they lend to.

“We haven’t turned cautious for any sector, but we see challenges in infrastructure, construction, coal, cement, and real estate because of several policies. We are expecting a slowdown,” said Eugene Gailbraith, a BCA director, at an investment conference. He said that the country’s biggest bank by market value plans to “take a breather” and will lend less than its expected 45 trillion rupiah (S$4.79 billion) target this year.

Loan growth at Bank Mandiri is seen slowing to 17-18 per cent in 2014 from 19-20 per cent this year, while Bank Jabar Banten eases to 22 per cent from 33 per cent, company officials said. “We will be more cautious on sectors that are sensitive to interest rates,” said Pahala Mansury, Bank Mandiri chief financial officer. Indonesia’s increased hesitation to lend to coal companies comes as no surprise with banks around the world curbing their exposure to the industry due to a sharp fall in demand and prices. For the property sector, Bank Indonesia has made the industry less attractive to banks by implementing several policy measures to curb the purchases of second homes. Financial institutions are expected to favour consumer driven industries, such as retail and food companies, as domestic consumption continues to remain strong. – Reuters. (BT report)

Indonesia’s most aggressive rate tightening in eight years has barely dented a current account deficit, prompting calls for more increases and other measures before the Federal Reserve cuts stimulus.

Bank Indonesia has raised borrowing costs by 1.75 percentage points to 7.5% since early June, the quickest since 2005.

Following data which recently showed the country recorded its second-highest current account shortfall on record in the three months through September, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Standard Chartered now see a further 50 basis points of increases in the first half of next year.

Foreign funds pulled US$3.8bn from Indonesian stocks and local currency bonds in June after the Fed said it could cut stimulus, and a lack of progress on improving the current account before the US does eventually taper leaves the country vulnerable to another sudden outflow.

In addition to ongoing political unrest in Thailand:

Thai factory output shrank more than expected in October, adding to a string of weak data that prompted the central bank to unexpectedly cut interest rates to support the economy as mounting political tension dents confidence.

The Industry Ministry now expects output to fall 2.8 per cent this year, rather than growth of 0.5-1.0 per cent projected earlier, but predicts a rise of 2 per cent next year.

October was the seventh straight month in which output has declined, falling 4.02 per cent from a year earlier. The median forecast of a Reuters poll was for a decline of 3.3 per cent.

In September, output dropped 2.9 per cent. (BT report)

– Thailand’s central bank unexpectedly lowered the cost of credit Wednesday as escalating protests to topple the government add to pressure on the economy.

The central bank lowered its policy interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 2.25 %, hoping to stimulate lending and investment, saying  in a statement that the “ongoing political situation” could compound existing weaknesses in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy. Business confidence is fragile and government plans for $69.5 billion of spending on high speed rail and other transport infrastructure have been delayed by legal challenges.

Thailand’s third quarter economic growth was weaker than expected and a recovery in exports has not gained traction, the bank said. Earlier this month, Thailand’s economic planning agency cut its growth forecast for this year to 3% from 3.8-4.3% predicted in August.

Govt’s reaction to rising food prices?

In Indonesia on 02/11/2013 at 5:27 am

On 24 October, it was reported that

Singapore has lifted a ban on the import of Thai frozen chicken and is also considering allowing the sale of frozen pork from Thailand.
After banning Thai poultry from its market for nine years, Singapore has finally allowed frozen chicken from Thailand back in, reports The Nation of Thailand.

http://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/30426/singapore-lifts-ban-on-thai-chicken-imports October 24th via http://singaporenewsalternative.blogspot

Timing of ban lighting, not coincidental, methinks

On 29th October, it was reported: Inflation in Singapore will pick up over the next few quarters before tapering towards the end of 2014.

This is according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Macroeconomic Review.

The central bank said domestic food inflation is expected to rise from around 2 per cent in 2013 to close to 3 per cent in 2014, although this is still lower than the 3.4 per cent average over the last five years.

In particular, cooked food vendors are likely to pass on the increases in labour and rental costs to consumers, as these account for a significant share of their operating expenses compared to non-cooked food establishments.

The MAS said cooked food is estimated to make up 14 per cent of average household expenditure.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/inflation-in-s-pore-to/865788.html

Today reported: The MAS expects the core inflation rate, which strips out the cost of accommodation and private road transport, to increase from between 1.5 and 2 per cent this year to between 2 and 3 per cent next year.

Better than these non-actions:

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/err-lee-what-did-you-say-abt-food-inflation/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/inflation-why-the-misleading-picture-minister-media/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/will-hougang-make-the-pap-moan-the-inflation-blues-not-joke-abt-it/

In other Asean round-up news:

Burma is getting its first online music store, which aims to stamp out the problem of illegal downloads, according to the Eleven Myanmar news site. “The traditional distribution system has been plagued by piracy,” the man behind the website, Ko Ko Lwin, is quoted as saying. His Myanmar Music Store apparently trialled operations for a week ahead of an official launch, with home-grown star Lay Phyu’s record, Diary, selling 4,000 copies.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-24743082

SingTel may still get into Burma. While it failed to get one of the two licences granted this yr, the govt has asked leading telecos (including SingTel) to offer help to the govt-owned operator as it upgrades.

Workers across Indonesia begun a two-day strike on 31 October demanding higher salaries, the latest industrial action to hit the South East Asian economy.

The workers say their cost of living has gone up amid rising inflation and a hike in fuel prices.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24753469

Thailand‘s lower house of parliament has passed a political amnesty bill that critics say could allow the return of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

The amnesty applies to offences committed during the political turmoil after Mr Thaksin was ousted in a coup.

The lower house passed the controversial bill in the early hours of Friday. It now goes to the Senate.

The opposition Democrat Party has warned that the passage of the bill will trigger street protests.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24768110

M’sia, S’pore tops Asean in household debt

In Indonesia, Infrastructure, Malaysia on 26/10/2013 at 7:31 am

Currently, M’sia‘s household debt stood at about 83% of gross domestic product. Household debt in S’pore now accounts for 75% of gross domestic product, having doubled in the last 13 years. According to Standard Chartered, a private bank, household borrowing as a share of national income now stands at 68% of Thailand’s GDP, much higher than in bigger Asian countries, such as China (20%), India (18%) and Indonesia (17%).

In other Asean round-up news:

Burma‘s Yangon had passed Singapore’s office rental rates of US$74 a square metre by the first quarter of this year according to estate agents Colliers. To give some context to this piece of info, something from yesterday’s BT: AT S$11 per square foot (psf) per month, or US$103 psf per year, the extended central business district comprising Raffles Place and Marina Bay is the eighth most expensive office area in the world, according to a Jones Lang LaSalle study.

Taking into account quoted rents from only premium office space in top sub-markets, Singapore was inched out by other Asian locations such as Hong Kong’s Central which commanded rents of HK$105 psf per month (US$162 psf per year) and Beijing’s Finance Street where corporates paid rents of 750 yuan per square metre per month (US$137 psf per year).

S’pore is sharing with Indonesia with its best practices in public-private partnership (PPP) in water and waste-water infrastructure projects.

Led by Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE), an integrated arm of International Enterprise Singapore, and Temasek Foundation, the partnership programme will be delivered over a two-year period by a team of Singapore experts from both private and public sectors to 200 Indonesian government officials from various provinces and cities as well as ministries including the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Public Works (Bappenas).

Singapore will provide knowledge in planning and procurement of water and waste-water infrastructure projects; and help cultivate a core group of officers from PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur (Persero), a government partner promoting infrastructure development in Indonesia, who will develop public-private partnership training materials.

Financial centres’ curses

In Economy, Internet, Political economy, Political governance on 13/10/2013 at 5:10 am

For all the highfaluting talk of govt and talk-cock artists especially in the local media, we don’t do things like this even though Burma is in Asean (our backyard):

[I]n Burma – or Myanmar – social media sites and the whole internet have been inaccessible for years.

For one Canadian-Vietnamese woman that has provided a unique business opportunity to found the Burma’s first-ever social networking site.

However, Rita Nguyen had never been to the country before this year as BBC South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head heard.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24393043

Why?

(Related post: http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/a-very-high-tech-inventive-low-population-country/)

Are we are more comfortable as serfs slaves PMETs in a financial centre?

A recent article, interestingly, makes a compelling argument that places that depend on the financial industry (like S’pore) are like resource-rich countries, and like them suffer from the triple problems of a high exchange rate that causes problems for manufacturers, revenue volatility and poor governance.

Is finance like crude oil? Countries rich in minerals are often poverty-stricken, corrupt and violent. A relatively small rent-seeking elite captures vast wealth while the dominant sector crowds out the rest of the economy. The parallels with countries ‘blessed’ with powerful financial sectors are becoming too obvious to ignore.

http://taxjustice.blogspot.sg/2013/09/is-finance-like-crude-oil-resource.html

Another US innovation to breed entrepreneurs

… has designed I-Corps as a way of converting the most promising science and engineering projects in American universities into start-ups. The I-Corps teams … comprise just a principal investigator (usually a tenured professor), a younger entrepreneurial lead (undergraduate, graduate or post-doctoral student) and an experienced entrepreneur or venture capitalist as a mentor. Each of the 100 or so teams has received a [US}$50,000 to cover a crash course on how to avoid the pitfalls common to all new ventures … New ventures, they are taught, are all about finding customers, what distribution channels to adopt, how to price the product, who to partner with, and more. From day one, the mantra is “get out of the lab” … The I-Corps programme is based on the premise that all new ventures are little more than a series of untested hypotheses—in other words, optimistic guesses about market size, customer needs, product pricing and sales channels. With so many unknowns, the programme teaches participants to treat their start-up as if it were a typical research project, amenable to the same iterative process of hypothesis testing and experimentation.

http://www.economist.com/node/21559734

Phew, Asean can relax a little, but not too much

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 28/09/2013 at 6:59 am

The Fed’s decision to delay unwinding its $85-billion-a-month money-printing programme eases the pressure on the two Asian countries with the biggest dollar addiction – India and Indonesia – to cure their habit by squeezing domestic demand. Investors reacted accordingly: the Indonesian Rupiah jumped 1.9 percent against the dollar on the morning of Sept. 19, while Jakarta stocks rose 5 percent.

… Asian countries cannot afford to relax. From just before the onset of the global financial crisis, private sector debt has swelled by 73 percentage points of GDP in Hong Kong and 45 percentage points in Singapore. While these small, open economies can arguably live with large swings in capital flows, the credit surge in Malaysia and Thailand is more worrying. The longer the global liquidity glut lasts, the more painful the hangover will be.

http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/09/19/fed-brings-asia-short-term-relief-long-term-risks/

Burma: Lady’s still sceptical

how sceptical she was about the reform process in Myanmar …

Yet, she pointed out, Myanmar is still not a democracy, and neither at peace, nor under the “rule of law”. She and her party are campaigning to change a constitution which, besides debarring her from the presidency she hopes to assume in 2015, guarantees the army a blocking minority in parliament. She said many members of the government are betting that economic success will enable them to hold back democracy. “How quickly and reliably can mindsets change?” she asked, recalling that Myanmar has had half a century of military dictatorship and just three of tentative reform.

And although ceasefires have been signed in most of the score of ethnic conflicts that have simmered since independence in 1948, a comprehensive peace deal remains a distant dream. She identified this—“national reconciliation”—as the biggest task facing Myanmar.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/09/aung-san-suu-kyi-singapore

UOB Vietnam has launched a unit to advise Vietnamese businesses expanding into Asia.

“Vietnam has prospered from steady economic growth over the last decade and we have seen many of our customers develop from small businesses to companies that are ready to spread their wings to the rest of Asia,” said Thng Tien Tat, executive director of UOB Vietnam.

From the first half of last year to the same period this year, UOB’s business flows between Vietnam and Asia increased 20 per cent. Trade between Vietnam and Asia grew 46.7 per cent to US$150.4 billion from 2010 to 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The new FDI Advisory Unit will give UOB customers expanding in and out of Vietnam access to the bank’s full suite of corporate and personal banking products. BT

Floodwater encircled an industrial estate to the north-east of Bangkok yesterday, adding to fears that Thailand could see a repeat of the devastation caused by floods in 2011, but the estate’s director said the water will not enter the complex.

The 2011 floods killed more than 800 people around the country and caused major disruption to industry, cutting economic growth that year to just 0.1 per cent.

Since Thailand is a big supplier of electronic parts, hard disk drives and car parts, international supply lines were disrupted, too.

The government has insisted there will be no repetition, partly because rain has been less heavy this time but also because dams are nowhere near as full as they were then. BT

A Thai transgender student who protested against having to wear a male uniform could end up in court, it’s reported. BBC report

SingTel affected by rupiah, rupee collapse

In China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Telecoms, Vietnam on 31/08/2013 at 5:08 am

In its latest set of results announced a few weeks ago, the profit contribution from regional associates climbed 14% to S$552 million in the quarter on higher results from Indonesia, Thailand and India, the company said.

SingTel gets 12% of its profit before tax from India and 22% from Indonesia, with those earnings in future likely to take a hit when translated back into Singapore dollars. Remember too the weakish A$, Baht, and Filipino peso will affect its earnings.

Other Asean round-up news

At an emergency meeting on Aug. 29, the monetary authority raised its benchmark and overnight deposit rates. It’s a decision Bank Indonesia should have made at its last official gathering less than two weeks ago. An obsession with economic growth stayed its hand. http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/08/29/currency-markets-rude-wakeup-call-stirs-indonesia/

Politics is back on the streets in Thailand, after a relative lull of more than two years, with a protest over the weekend. It underlines the persistence of divisions in Thailand and raises the prospect of a return to the political turmoil that left more than 90 people dead in Bangkok in 2010.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in a vacant lot in Bangkok on Saturday, as speakers threatened to “overthrow” the government.

But unlike in previous years, this time the protesters were members of Thailand’s oldest political party, the Democrat Party, which has long had a reputation as the staid, well-mannered and intellectual voice of the Bangkok establishment and has been firmly dedicated to resolving differences inside Parliament, where the Democrats lead the opposition.

The acrimony between the Democrats and the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra centres on a number of legislative issues, chiefly an effort by the government to pass an amnesty law for those involved in the 2010 protests.

The Democrats oppose the Bill, saying it might also apply to those who insulted the monarchy or committed serious crimes.

But the broader conflict appears to stem from their feeling of powerlessness in the face of the resurgence of Thaksin Shinawatra, Ms Yingluck’s brother, who sets the broad policy lines for the government and the Pheu Thai Party despite living abroad since 2008 in self-imposed exile to escape corruption charges.

The weekend protests followed another peaceful one earlier this month involving some 2,500 supporters of the Democrat Party and royalist groups at Bangkok’s Lumpini Park, throwing fresh light on Thaksin’s divisive influence in Thailand.

(Extract from NYT)

Malaysia‘s government is exploring the possibility of hiking the real property gains tax to rein in rising housing prices and curb speculation in the market. Bernama quoted Housing Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan as saying that current property tax levels had failed to stabilise house prices with the house price index continuing to rise.

Malaysia’s GST will take 14 months to implement if announced in the budget in October, a ministry official said

The Philippines posted better-than-forecast economic growth, fuelled by its services sector and higher consumer and government spending. Its economy grew 7.5% in the April to June quarter, from a year earlier. It is the fourth quarter in a row its economy has expanded by more than 7% – defying a regional trend which has seen growth slow down in many countries. The Philippines’ 7.5% second-quarter growth matched that of China but is higher than Indonesia, Vietnam or Malaysia,

However, the country has been hurt in recent weeks by investors pulling out of the region’s emerging economies. This despite under emerging mkts, given the follow of remittances from workers overseas, it will not have to worry about investors’ outflows unlike other mkts.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways has said it will acquire a 49% stake in Asian Wings Airways, an airline based in Burma..

The Japanese airline will pay 2.5bn yen (US$25m) for the stake.mIt is the first time a foreign carrier has invested in a Burmese-based commercial airline. It currently operates domestic flights to all major tourist destinations in Myanmar.It t plans to “extend its wings to regional destinations through scheduled flights as well as chartered ones”.

Cambodian elections harbinger of S’porean GE?

In Indonesia on 03/08/2013 at 5:07 am

Cambodia’s opposition party says it narrowly won Sunday’s general election, challenging the ruling party’s earlier declaration of victory.

Hours after the poll, PM Hun Sen’s ruling party said it won 68 seats in parliament to the opposition’s 55. Previously, the ruling party dominated had two-thirds majority.

What should interest S’poreans is

Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving prime ministers, has been in power in Cambodia for 28 years.

Many here credit him with having steered the nation out of a civil war and raising living standards for the population of 14 million.

Under him, Cambodia has seen strong economic growth, thanks to a combination of foreign aid, development, tourism and garment exports.

All very PAP-like achievements.

–the Opposition there finally united by combining forces;

“I think Mr Rainsy and his party have a very simple message,” said Mr Cox. “It is striking a chord with people. Do you like the way things are or do you want change?

– ‘Many Cambodians are screaming for change.” … that certainly appears to be the sentiment among many of the urban youth in Phnom Penh.

I sat down with a group of young men and women in a cafe in the city, and many expressed a desire for greater political participation in their country.

“I acknowledge that the current government has made huge improvements and strides in this country since the days of the war,” says 32-year-old Chulsa Heng.

“But we want more. I still think Cambodia has a long way to go, and it’s still not enough.”

First-time voter Ngoun Somaly said that regardless of who she ended up choosing on polling day, there were many issues that the current government was not paying enough attention to.

“Human rights violations, land grabbing from rural peasants and a lack of job opportunities for Cambodia’s graduates – we need to see more firm action on that,” she said.

“Whoever wins the election must work hard to fix these problems. I really want to see these human rights issues solved.”

– And “There is also no longer that cloak of fear, the way it used to be in the past. People aren’t afraid to be out on the streets and true to themselves.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23461127

BTW, the media there is tightly controlled. And the govt regularly sues opponents, winning damages.

So no wonder PM is working hard on his National Day Rally speech. All to play for in next GE.

Lest I be accused of being anti-PAP http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/why-young-sporeans-should-be-sent-to-yangon/

Asean round-up con’td

China imports gas from Burma

The gas pipeline that connects China, Myanmar and the Indian Ocean has officially begun operating, and China has begun importing gas from Burma.

Related post http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/implications-for-spores-port-as-burma-opens-up/

Indons learning Japanese

Indonesia has more high school pupils studying Japanese than any other country (872,000) other than China

Why young S’poreans should be sent to Yangon

In Logistics, Political governance on 13/07/2013 at 10:57 am

“Still, if the Workers Party can’t get its act together over cleaning hawker centres how can it ever hope to run a $trillion country? :lol:,” Auntielucia. She is right. Actually, it’s worse than this or what PM is alleging. It is really very stupid to accuse a govt agency of being “political” without evidence that can hold up in the court of public opinion. Might blog on this if no other blogger raises the issue.

Anyway, I’m sure she would agree with me that S’pore would become like Burma under incompetent government.

A WALK AROUND battered, ramshackle Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, quickly makes it clear how far the country has fallen behind the rest of Asia over the past half-century. In large part the place is but a ghostly reminder of former glories. Under British colonial rule, before independence in 1948, Rangoon (as it was then) was a thriving, cosmopolitan entrepot, the capital of Burma, one of the region’s wealthiest countries. All that came to an abrupt end in 1962 after a junta of army officers, led by the brutal General Ne Win, seized power and launched the country on the quasi-Marxist “Burmese Way to Socialism”. Private foreign-owned businesses were nationalised, prompting the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, many of Indian origin. (From the Economist, a few weeks ago)

The govt should pay to send kids there during the hols. Make it the PAP as the usual suspects would shout “politics”, and rightly so.

No Asean-round up this week. But readers might find this interesting http://www.economist.com/node/21581660. It’s about the building of a highway across the Kra Isthmus that shippers can use to by-pass the Malacca Straits.

Related post

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/implications-for-spores-port-as-burma-opens-up/

Implications for S’pore’s port as Burma opens up

In Logistics, Malaysia on 13/06/2013 at 5:33 am

And M’sia’s ports too. All are major transshipment centres.

Thailand, for instance, the second biggest investor in Myanmar after China, is forging ahead with a bigger version of Thilawa [port Japanese are building] at Dawei, on Myanmar’s Tenasserim coast. The deep-water port, associated industrial zone and roads connecting them with Bangkok 300km away will cost about $8.5 billion. Thai rulers had for centuries been toying with the idea of building a canal across the Kra Isthmus, linking the Gulf of Thailand directly to the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean to avoid the journey round peninsular Malaysia through the Strait of Malacca (see map). Dawei will at last give Thailand that link.

Grand plans to improve roads all the way from Bangkok to Cambodia and Vietnam are also in hand to spare those countries the tedious rounding of Malaysia and allow them to ship their goods from Dawei directly to Europe. This could profoundly alter the economic geography of South-East Asia, much reducing the importance of Singapore’s and Malaysia’s container terminals as trans-shipment points. Thilawa will also provide companies like Famoso with more direct access to European markets.

China, long the biggest investor in Myanmar, has been toiling away at its own grands projets. The most important of these are the new oil and gas pipelines that crisscross the country, starting from a new terminus at Kyaukphyu, just below Sittwe, up to Mandalay and on to the Chinese border town of Ruili and then Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province (see map above). This will save China having to funnel oil from Africa and the Middle East through the bottleneck around Singapore.

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21578174-opening-up-myanmar-could-transform-rest-asia-rite-passage

Great video on Burma’s strategic position.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/05/daily-chart-9

Asean round-up

In Casinos, Temasek on 08/06/2013 at 9:27 am

Thais love debt: CP All, the Thai retailer controlled by tycoon Dhanin Chearavanont, borrowed $6 billion in May to fund a $6.6 billion takeover of Siam Makro, the Thai cash-and-carry group. Low interest rates and the hidden value in Siam Makro’s property portfolio mean the purchase can support hefty borrowing without any synergies. And in January another Thai tycoon, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, won the battle for control of Fraser and Neave with a debt-heavy $11.2 billion offer based largely on breaking up the Singaporean conglomerate.

1997/1998 again? Both had problems then, esp the former.

Easy come, easy go:The main Philippines equity index has tumbled 11% and the Thai index 8.4%  since May 22 when the Fed’s chairman talked of restraining QEIII. Still up on the yr, unlike S’pore.

Convert to gambling and the Philippines? Fullerton Fund Management Company (FFMC), a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, has bought a 5.02% stake in Melco Crown Philippines Resorts Corp.

FFMC has acquired 222.2 million Melco shares, according to the company, which is listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Melco is the Philippine unit of Nasdaq-listed Melco Crown Entertainment, which is backed by Lawrence Ho, a relative of Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho.

BBC discovers Burma

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22721804

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22781224

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22776521

Asean round-up

In Banks, Indonesia, Temasek on 25/05/2013 at 6:20 am

Growing faster than Greater China

South East Asia is expected to drive growth in the luxury market in Asia this year. Analysts at Bain and Co predict that luxury goods sales will grow by 20% in 2013: Greater China only 6% http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22564297

How Myanmar will connect up Asia

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/05/daily-chart-9

Great graphics: explains how the opening up of Burma will allow ships to by-pass the Malacca Straits.

DBS’ woes

DBS Group Holdings is hoping it will have to settle for the minority stake (40%) it has been offered in Indonesia’s Bank Danamon. It hopes that talks between the central banks of Indonesia and Singapore will clear the way for a majority takeover. Pending these, it may ask for an extension from seller Temasek Holdings.

Note that because UOB and OCBC have a bigger regional presence (thks to legacy branches in M’sia), they trade at a 25% to DBS in terms of book value.

Asean round-up

In Malaysia on 13/04/2013 at 6:17 am

Bangkok SkyTrain Fund Raises $2.1 Billion in I.P.O. The offering, by an infrastructure fund controlled by the rail operator BTS Group, priced at the top of its marketed range, and ranks as the biggest ever new listing by a Thai company.

DEALBOOK

Burma has shortlisted 12 international consortia, including one led by Singapore Telecommunications, for the final stage in its telecommunications licence tender, the Wires report.

Other shortlisted applicants are a consortium comprising China Mobile and Vodafone Group, India’s Bharti Airtel, MTN Dubai, Jamaica’s Digicel Group, Japan’s KDDI Corp and Sumitomo Corp, Malaysia’s Axiata Group, Norway’s Telenor, Millicom International Cellular, Qatar Telecom and Vietnam’s Viettel Group.

Seems Temasek’s telco didn’t make it.

The shortlisted applicants can now formally bid for the two licences, each with initial terms of 15 years. Bids must be submitted by June 3, and the winners will be announced by June 27.

SMEs like Iskandar http://www.todayonline.com/business/ocbc-expects-sme-loans-iskandar-triple

What happens in PK wins GE but Johor remains UMNO heartland.

Asean round-up

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 06/04/2013 at 7:32 am

Indon IPOs: Private-equity firm PT Saratoga Investama Sedaya, and Indonesia’s biggest taxi operator Blue Bird Group, have picked underwriters to prepare their initial public offerings (IPOs) as they seek to raise money ahead of a 2014 general election.

Burmese telco update: Telecoms will be among the first industries to be liberalised under Burma’s reformist government, which hopes to place mobiles into the hands of between 75% and 80% of its 60 million citizens by 2016, up from an estimated 6% today.

If take-up is high, the entire mobile market in Burma – renamed Myanmar by the ruling military junta – could be worth $10bn (£6bn) a year, with networks generating $7.3bn of those revenues, research by Ericsson found.

Foreign companies are eager to partake in what has been described as a mouthwatering opportunity, and by Thursday’s deadline 22 bids had been submitted.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/apr/04/vodafone-china-mobile-burma-telecoms

SingTel and Temasek are also trying their luck. but LKY’s remarks about “stupid” generals (a few yrs ago) can’t be helpful.

Iskandar: Some issues are beginning to surface as highlighted in a recent Business Times article which said that investors are not getting assurances in black and white on issues like land zoning, mortgage loan quantums and Bumiputra employment quotas, among others.

Foreigners investing in Iskandar might do better if they can understand that most policies in Malaysia are instituted by politicians of the day. When the politician leaves, a new policy replacing the old one is to be expected. When doing business in Johor, one has to factor in such risks.

Remember that Putrajaya, the state administrative capital of Malaysia, is still struggling after more than 20 years in the making. When Iskandar was mooted in 2006, authorities were confident about getting funds from Middle Eastern investors. Obviously, that plan didn’t work out and the focus is now back to Singaporean investors.

http://www.tremeritus.com/2013/04/01/perils-of-investing-in-iskandar-malaysia/

Thailand is the “Detroit of the East”. And it is Japanese carmakers in particular that use the country as a manufacturing hub. In 2012 production reached 2.45m vehicles of which 1m were exported. This made Thailand the 7th largest car exporter globally.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/schumpeter/2013/04/thailands-booming-car-industry

Eat yr hear out Dr M. Remember, he started Project Proton because he wanted to kick-start M’sia into becoming a leading vehicle manufacturer.

Pinoys ahoy: Over 10m Filipinos, equivalent to about a quarter of the country’s labour force, live or work abroad, permanently or temporarily, legally or illegally, in over 200 countries. Their remittances are equivalent to 8.5% of GDP, helping the country to plug its trade deficit and amass over $80 billion of currency reserves. As a result, the Philippines has become a net creditor to the rest of the world … , not just a net supplier of labour.

These impregnable external finances are one reason why Fitch, a ratings agency, awarded the Philippines its first ever investment-grade credit rating on March 28th.

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21575812-archipelago-has-never-been-more-creditworthy-ratings-heaven

The April Fools joke is on the govt

In Media, Political governance on 03/04/2013 at 7:36 am

Private daily newspapers are being sold in Burma for the first time in almost 50 years, as a state monopoly ends.

Sixteen papers have so far been granted licences, although only four were ready to publish on Monday.

This is another important milestone on Burma’s journey away from authoritarian rule, the BBC’s Jonathan Head reports from the commercial capital, Rangoon (BBC report on 1 April).

Yet our president has the cheek on 1 April to say. “We want to see Myanmar succeed, and are prepared to do whatever is within our means to support this transition towards democracy and steady development.”

“Where Myanmar goes, S’pore doesn’t dare follow” is what he should be saying.

Update at 10.20 — Forgot to mention that people don’t need a licence to protest: peaceful demonstrations are not an issue.

Asean round-up: The dark side

In Indonesia on 30/03/2013 at 6:52 am

Strikes  for higher wages a regular occurrence in Indonesia: workers and businesses unhappy http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21840416

Muslims attacked in central Burma: Mosques and other Muslim buildings have been attacked by crowds of Buddhists in towns on the road from Rangoon to Pyay, about 200km (125 miles) to the north … A state of emergency is in force in the central town of Meiktila, where some 40 deaths have been reported … At least 12,000 Muslims are thought to have fled their homes in the unrest …

The conflict is the worst since violence in Rakhine state last year, where nearly 200 people were killed and tens of thousands forced from their homes.

The conflict that erupted in Rakhine involved Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, who are not recognised as Burmese citizens. Scores of Rohingyas have fled what they say is persecution in Burma in recent months.

The Burmese government will use force if necessary to stop “political opportunists and religious extremists” from fomenting hatred between faiths, President Thein Sein has warned. BBC reports

Asean round-up

In Indonesia on 07/02/2013 at 3:06 pm

Carlsberg has signed a joint venture to brew and market its beers in Burma. Carlsberg will own 51% of the joint venture with local firm Myanmar Golden Star (MGS) Breweries.

Foreign banks could enter Burma with majority-owned joint ventures with local banks as early as April, FT reports, followings news of a cabinet reshuffle and announcements on reforms to attract foreign investment.

The Indonesian economy, the biggest in Southeast Asia, slowed in the last three months of 2012, dragging down full year growth.The economy grew by 6.2% last year, down from 6.5% in 2011.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21333607

 

Asean round-up

In Banks, Telecoms, Temasek, Vietnam on 02/02/2013 at 7:08 am

In Vietnam, the government’s planned sale of a 20% in Sabeco, a brewery,  is expected this year, according to bankers.

Wilmar, one of Asia’s largest agribusinesses, and Cargill, the commodities’ trader are setting up in Burma.

18 companies, including Malaysia’s Axiata, Norway’s Telenor Group, parent of the Thai mobile operator DTAC, Digicel, the Caribbean based operator, and two Singaporean companies, Singapore Telecommunications, one of southeast Asia’s biggest telephone companies, and ST Telemedia, a unit of Temasek Holdings, have submitted proposals for the two telecoms licences

The Burma has abolished a 25-year-old ban on public gatherings of more than five people: more liberal than S’pore.

Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has made a US$100 million capital injection into its Philippines operations.The banking group, the fourth largest in the region, on the previous Friday launched a new corporate head office in Manila and announced plans to double its number of branches in that country to 100 by 2014, and thereafter to 200 by 2018, Malaysia’s Business Times said.

It currently has 54 branches there, with another expected to open in the city of Davao by the end of this month.

Maybank Philippines Inc (MPI), which has been operating since 1997 and is now the 24th largest bank by assets, may eventually go for a listing there. The Philippine central bank had last year issued a directive, requiring banks controlled by their foreign counterparts to go for a listing on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Asean round-up

In Corporate governance, Indonesia on 26/01/2013 at 5:52 pm

Problems Chinese and British investors face.

Chinese investments in Burma

U/m extracted from BBC report:

– China has nearly $14bn of interests in Burma – one third of all foreign investment in the country

– About US$13bn of that has been invested since 2008

– Most investments are in hydro-electric power, oil and gas, mining, jade and teak

– Critics say a US$2.5bn project for twin oil and gas pipelines from the Bay of Bengal to western China will provide China with cheap energy while Rangoon continues to suffer power cuts

– In 2011 Burma halted a hydropower project, the Myitsone dam on the Irrawaddy river, which would have created a reservoir bigger than Singapore.

– There is a major row between villagers and a mining project that the Chinese have an investment in. The copper mine, is a joint venture between China’s Wanbao company – a subsidiary of the arms manufacturer, Norinco – and the business arm of the Burmese military,People have badly hurt protesting against the US$1bn expansion of thr copper mine.

Corporate governance row continues in Indonesia

Coal miner Bumi has said it is unable to substantiate claims of potential financial and other irregularities at its Indonesian operations.

Bumi is facing a battle for control after agreeing to a shareholder vote that will decide the future of the majority of its board members.The vote will take place in February, at a date to be named.

Nathaniel Rothschild, co-founder of Bumi, had demanded the vote in an attempt to return to the firm’s board. Mr Rothschild wants to oust 12 of the 14 board members and bring in new ones in an effort to turn the firm around.

He had quit the board last year amid a row with Indonesia’s Bakrie family.

Bumi owns a stake in key Bakrie assets and there have been tensions between the two over potential irregularities at one of the Bakrie firms.

The dispute revolves around Bakries’ Indonesian firm PT Bumi Resources, in which Bumi owns a 29% stake.

Mr Rothschild had called for a radical clean-up at the firm in 2011, leading to relations between the two being soured. Last year, Bumi began an inquiry into what it said were “potential financial and other irregularities” at the firm.

Then, the Bakrie family offered to buy back its assets from Bumi for an estimated $1.4bn (£870m) and split from the firm.

However, Mr Rothschild said the proposal was “not in the interests of minority shareholders” and resigned from the board.

The deteriorating relations between the two key shareholders have stoked fears about the future of the firm and hurt its share price. Its shares have plunged more than 65% in the past 12 months.

Bumi has also been hurt by a drop in coal prices, which has hurt its earnings and forced it to review its expansion plans.

Asean round-up

In Indonesia, Malaysia, Private Equity on 19/01/2013 at 1:21 pm

Almost about the telco market in Burma, but there’s more after this Burmese stuff.

Taiwanese smartphone company HTC has become the latest to enter the largely untapped Burmese market, as the country opens up to foreign firms. HTC launched its smartphones in Burma on Monday. The phones will come with a Burmese language on-screen keyboard, which the company says is the most advanced available. Burma has one of the lowest mobile phone ownership levels in the world: in 2011, only 3% of the population had a mobile phone.

HTC is not the first smartphone maker to try to tap into the Burmese market. Samsung and Huawei lead the market with their low-cost devices. However, HTC is hoping to attract consumers with what it calls one of the most advanced Burmese language keyboards in the country.

Burma is also planning licence four more telco operators: invitations have been made to tender for two. The existing is govt-owned.

The expected bidders are: Russia’s VimpelCom, among the world’s top 10 mobile network operators in terms of subscribers; Telenor of Norway, a major shareholder in VimpelCom; Vietnam’s VNPT-Fujitsu, a joint-venture between Vietnam and Japan’s Fujitsu; Malaysia’s Axiata; and Digicel, the largest mobile operator in the Caribbean.

Local listco and mobile phone distributor mDr Ltd has incorporated a subsidiary in Burma. Itholds a 51% stake in MDR Myanmar while its local partners, Be-Well (Myanmar), Be-Well Corp and Avitar Enterprises, will hold 20, 20 and 9% respectively.

The new company, with a paid-up and issued capital of US$50,000, will provide after-sales services of telecommunication devices to consumers. It will also be involved in the mobile devices and accessories distribution and retail businesses via its provision of exclusive consultancy and retail franchisee procurement services to Myanmar-based Golden Myanmar Sea Co Ltd (GMS).

Thailand: a cheong too far? http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2013/01/16/thailands-unsustainable-boom-is-piling-up-risks/

Indon private equity firm on a roll: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-15/saratoga-seeks-consumer-deals-with-480-million-war-chest.html

Flooding caused by days of heavy rain has hit parts of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, forcing businesses to close and blocking roads. Areas including the central business district (CBD) were inundated and traffic was grid-locked as residents struggled to move around the city.

Meanwhile there is a water shortage just south of KL.

ASEAN country of 2012 & 2013

In Uncategorized on 12/01/2013 at 6:06 am

Burma continued along its reform path in 2012, holding elections that returned Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament. The Lady was allowed to travel abroad for the first time in 24 years; Barack Obama became the first American president to visit Burma. But the good news was marred, however, by deadly ethnic rioting between local Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

If the reforms continue, great for the country and investors and bizmen.

Privately owned newspapers are to be allowed in Burma from April 2013 for the first time in almost 50 years, the government announced late last week

SPH, MediaCorp newsrooms should be like this?

In Humour, Media on 02/01/2013 at 1:37 pm

We saw the most surreal newsroom … There were no journalists there. “Why not?” we asked. “We don’t need them yet. The news hasn’t arrived.”

We learnt the news is literally delivered once a day by the state news agency. The job of the journalists was to read it out, word for word, unaltered.

BBC story

And the govt is wondering why productivity is so low? It’s not the SMEs with their poorly paid FTs. It’s the constructive, nation-building local media with highly paid copyists of govt media release.

 

Asean round-up

In Uncategorized on 22/12/2012 at 6:44 am

“President Thein Sein of Burma is The Straits Times’ inaugural Asian of the Year. Mr Thein Sein, 67, was chosen by top editors of this newspaper for his role in making his country oosening political and economic controls in Myanmar. This has led to democracy icon and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi taking a seat in Parliament, the lifting of Western sanctions and a surge of investor interest in the once-reclusive nation.”

Constructive, nation-building ST at its best. LKY’s remarks about Burmese generals (they are stupid) and PM’s public row with the Burmese govt few yrs back means that TLCs, GLCs and ordinary S’porean cos are finding it difficult to get the goodies in Burma, unlike the Thai, US, Brit, EU companies. So ST trying to improve relations. BTW, the Lady’s team has no time for S’pore too. S’pore upset both sides. George Yeo’s fault.

The Teletubbies, 24-hour news and Doctor Who are being introduced to Burma as the BBC launches three pay-TV channels there next January.

KKR has achieved its goal of raising $6bn for its new Asia fund making it the largest such regional fund.

Asean round-up

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 15/12/2012 at 6:14 am

The government in Burma has apologised to Buddhist monks for the injuries sustained during a police operation outside a copper mine two weeks ago.

Indons love their Blackberries (still): now they can transfer money to one another using their Blackberries. Maybe some rich Indon should save RIM, Blackberries’ manufacturer.

The BTS Group, a Thai elevated-railway operator, is looking to raise at least US$1.5 billion through an I.P.O. of its infrastructure fund, “which would make it the country’s largest-ever I.P.O.,” WALL STREET JOURNAL 

Iskandar getting desperate: want our SMEs. One time, see our SMEs no ak. Only wanted MNCs, TLCs and Arabs.

Malaysian billionaire Quek Leng Chan, who owns 75% of the HK-listed Guoco Group, offered to take the company private for about US$1.1 billion, WALL STREET JOURNAL 

 

Asean round-up

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 08/12/2012 at 9:12 am

Indonesia’s  increased piousness has led to a demand for the services of Islamic or Sharia banks: growth is at 40% a year.

In the report*, called Emerging Trends in Real Estate Asia Pacific 2013, Singapore fell to third place in the rankings, losing the top place it held for the last two years to Jakarta. “The main issue in Singapore is a glut of new supply that’s arrived just as financial sector firms have been shedding headcount,” said Mr Colin Galloway, ULI’s Research Consultant and the author of the report.

Jakarta is seen by the 400-over industry experts surveyed for the report as the best bet, especially in the retail and office segments. Its jump to the top from its previous mid-table position has been driven by strong investor interest tied to the country’s economic growth. “It’s really boom times in Indonesia now,” said one of the surveyed developers. “The demographics look good, it’s a country as big as America in terms of headcount and corruption seems to have been at least partly reined in.”

Singapore may face further competition in attracting real estate investment as it may lose out to countries offering better yields across the region, such as emerging and frontier markets like Cambodia and Myanmar, the report said.

Thai coup coming? An analyst speculates.

S’pore minister endorses Iskandar.

So does Peter Lim. And why he likes it.

*According to a report co-published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

Good-bye Kra canal, Hello Thai-Burmese highway

In Logistics on 06/12/2012 at 4:54 am

Burma and Thailand want to build a highway linking a to-be built port in Burma to a port in Thailand. This will enable cargo to by-pass the congested Malacca Straits.

Will this remain a dream like the Kra canal, then the Kra oil pipeline? I suspect not as there are benefits for Thailand and Burma.

Might even attract TLCs: there will be a need for industrial and logistic parks.

As for the Straits of Malacca as a shipping lane? Well the development of the US inter-continental port, highway rail system to move containers from the West Coast to the East, hasn’t affected the traffic using the  Panama Canal. It is being enlarged to take bigger ships.

Asean round-up

In Malaysia on 01/12/2012 at 5:33 am

The Philippines economy grew 31.5% more than forecast in the third quarter, boosted by increased consumer and government spending and a recovery in exports.

Following violent anti-govt protests at the weekend, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, on Wednesday, easily survived a no-confidence vote. She was accused her of failing to crack down on corruption.

The actions against this protest shows that the changes in Burma are still a work-in-progress. The protest also highlights China’s growing image problems amid intensifying local opposition to its extensive natural resources and infrastructure projects. In fact, one of the reasons why the generals opened up was their fear of Chinese domination.

“Najib said the 13th general election would be the decisive point for the future of the country and the people should be able to judge for themselves the advantage of choosing BN over the opposition.” (CNA). Actually what he means is that it determines his wife’s position as FLOM: First Lady of M’sia. LOL. She gets heself called FLOM, even though she is not the queen. Non-parisan analysts don’t expect Bn to lose power, but neither do they expect BN to regain its two-thirds majority in parliament, UMNO’s holy grail. If Najib can’t deliver this, there will be a new PM.

EPL available in Burma

In Footie on 24/11/2012 at 12:39 pm

Burma’s SkyNet has bought TV rights for the English Premier league football games. It will show all the matches in the next two seasons.

Wow I didn’t realise that the Burmese too follow EPL teams.

 

Asean round-up

In Energy, Indonesia, Malaysia on 20/11/2012 at 6:17 am

Last week, Indonesia’s constitutional court ruled that BPMigas, its upstream oil and gas regulator should be disbanded, adding to the growing legal uncertainty that has hampered investment in its natural resources sector. BPMigas is responsible for negotiating with oil and gas contractors such as BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil.

On Sunday, Thailand’s PM announced her country’s intention to join a US-led regional trade pact after meeting the US president on Sunday.  M’sia and Vietnam signed up a long time ago.  Surprising, S’pore has not signed up yet.

Not all roses from the US for the Burmese govt when POTUS visited Burma on Monday: US demands that the Burmese govt makes “unconditional release of remaining political prisoners, an end to ethnic conflicts, steps to establish the rule of law, ending the use of child soldiers and ensuring the safety and welfare of the people of Rakhine state”. The Burmese government is not the only group the US will work with. The US will also work directly with opposition groups, backing demands for the rule of law and human rights. This is like saying US will work with SDP in S’pore to ensure the rule of law and human rights.

In pictures: Obama in Burma

Great cartoon

PAS still wants to chop off limbs even if it gets into power with Anwar and DAP. And the Chinese and Indians still support DAP and Anwar? Juz look at the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East. Sharia law rules OK when the Brudders get into power. PAS is a Brudders branch.

Asean round-up

In Malaysia, Vietnam on 11/11/2012 at 7:49 am

Shareholders of KFC Holdings in Malaysia voted in favor of a US$1.7 billion bid by a group that includes CVC Capital Partners, REUTERS 

Msian IPO boom set to continue, leaving our SGX in the dust. The top two jobs in SGX are held by FTs where the “T” seems to stand for “Trash”. KLSE is run by a local.

QE-lenient world gives Vietnam financial pardon.

Why POTUS is visiting Burma.

Asean round-up

In Uncategorized on 04/11/2012 at 9:35 am

Burma’s president signs into law a bill designed to attract foreign investment on 2 November.

The World Bank has approved an US$80m grant and pledged lending for Burma for the first time in 25 years. The money will go to rural communities to build roads, bridges, schools and health clinics.

The Yingluck Shinawatra administration’s new cabinet appointees were sworn in before the King on 31 October. FT earlier in the week reported that the changes strengthened the PM’s position vis-a-vis Thaksin, her brother.

Asean round-up

In Malaysia, Vietnam on 28/10/2012 at 6:32 am

Vietnam’s prime minister admits ‘faults’ on economy

And its China-plus-one Asean country for MNC manufacturers: In contrast to 2005, the previous time anti-Japanese riots flared, China is not the only fast-growing, well-populated, low-cost market around. Back then, Japanese firms hedged their China risk with a “China-plus-one” strategy, implying that they would find an extra Asian supply hub, such as Thailand. Now, that has grown into a wider “China-plus” strategy, because their options these days have widened to include Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and India. (From the Economist’s last but one issue).

Will Laos join the other Asean countries now that it’s in WTO? Unlikely, but its been growing fast (and under the radar) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20078312. Stag Yaw should pop across from Hanoi to check out the gals biz prospects?

M’sia’s Westport is planning a US$500bn IPO for the first quarter of 2013 reports Reuters.  Thirteen companies have raised US$6.4bn so far this year on KLSE making it the 4th biggest IPO mkt after US, China and Japan. And CEO and COO are locals, not FTs like those of SGX.

Asean round-up

In Vietnam on 21/10/2012 at 5:00 am

Thailand’s central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates in an effort to boost domestic demand and sustain growth: key rate to 2.75% from 3%. Analysts mutter about govt pressure on the central bank which is supposed to make independent decisions. Some analysts criticised the move, saying that lower borrowing costs might spur a rise in consumer prices, forcing the bank to reverse its decision as early as the first half of next year.

Japan (one of Asean’s biggest trading partners and source of much FDI is looking to stimulate its economy.

Burma’s president re-appointed party chief but FT and others report tensions in the party. They say this guy is the one to watch: the speaker of parliament who now has been chosen as day-to-day leader of the party: another ex-general. Parly has been causing govt some problems regarding foreign investment laws.

Vietnam’s leaders are unhappy with their PM. Makes investment scene more unstable. And Stag Yaw (remember him?) is trying to do biz there.

Around Asean: recent financial news

In Indonesia, Malaysia on 14/10/2012 at 6:51 am

Shares in the London-listed Indonesian coal miner Bumi rise sharply for a second day after a proposal from Indonesia’s powerful Bakrie family to split from the firm. The dynastic Indonesian Bakrie family has proposed a split from Bumi that they helped to create with the British financier Nathaniel Rothschild. Wonder what the guy who bot at 11 thinks?

A.I.A. to pay US$1.7bn for ING’s Malaysia business. A.I.A. said the acquisition will catapult it to the No. 1 position in Malaysia’s lucrative life insurance market. For the Dutch insurer ING, it is the first major deal in its plan to divest its Asian assets.

The founders of Malaysia’s AirAsia, Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun, are set to launch three IPOs in 2013 worth more than US$500 million (S$614 million).

Tune Group, a financial services-to-discount hotel conglomerate owned by Fernandes and Kamarudin, is expected to launch US$65 million IPO of its insurance arm, Tune Insurance, not later than the first quarter of 2013, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the deal.

Meanwhile, AirAsia’s long-haul arm, AirAsia X, recently hired CIMB, Malayan Banking Bhd and Credit Suisse Group for a US$250 million IPO expected early next year.

The group is looking to list its Indonesia operations, Indonesia AirAsia, by the first quarter of next year in a deal that could raise up to US$200 million.

The listing plans also come at a time when Fernandes is stepping down as the chief executive officer of the Malaysian-listed airline to focus on regional growth through Indonesia. The group’s plan to buy up to 100 Airbus jets, potentially worth about US$9 billion, is designed to fuel the growth of what is becoming a cluster of related airlines under Fernandes, who placed a record order for Airbus jets last year.

With an operating fleet of more than 116 aircraft, AirAsia has ordered a total of 375 Airbus jets as part of dramatic expansion plans that include the acquisition of Indonesia’s Batavia Air.

DBS Group, South-east Asia’s largest lender, is selling more than half of its 20.3% stake in The Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) to conglomerate Ayala Corp for 25.6 billion pesos (S$757.3 million). “With the divestment of a 10.4 per cent interest in BPI, DBS will hold an aggregate 9.9 per cent investment in the bank. DBS will continue to have representation on the BPI board.”.

DBS, which has been a strategic investor in BPI since 1999, would realise a gain of about S$450m against the carrying value of the investment.

Ayala is the biggest shareholder in BPI, the Philippines’ largest bank by market capitalisation.

DBS is selling the stake at a time when the Philippines stock market is among the best performing markets in South-east Asia. The Philippines main index has gained some 23% this year, with BPI 42%.

Nice little profit in a rising market. Can’t blame DBS for not trusting the bullishness that the Philippines has got its act together finally.  It’s cyclical, juz like another peace treaty signed with Muslim rebels in the South.

Japan intends to start lending Burma money aiming to help transform Burma into a production and investment hub to rival Vietnam.  “Japan’s big trading companies are at the forefront of the investment effort. Mitsubishi, Marubeni and Sumitomo have signed an agreement with the Myanmar government to develop the initial phase of Thilawa, a 2,400-hectare site close to the southern port of Yangon, which will feature housing, commercial space and an industrial park,” reports FT

Burma: Developments this week

In Uncategorized on 21/09/2012 at 6:46 am

Earlier this week, FT reported Burma is to delay the implementation of controversial foreign investment legislation passed this month, but will step up reforms in areas like financial services, land use and government structures.

Seems the president will ask parly to make changes to the foreign investment law. So this compromise did not work.

This is what the ISEAS Monitor (Sept issue) wrote juz before the compromise and its analysis is spot-on.

Myanmar is being confronted with a serious challenge to the rule of law and the integrity of the constitutional arrangement by a controversy over the ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal (CT) regarding the status of parliamentary bodies. It began when parliamentarians insisted that committees, commissions and bodies formed by parliament be accorded the status of “Union” (central) level organisations in order to fulfill their ‘check and balance’ function.

A request to clarify the issue was sent to the President early this year. The Attorney-General, on behalf of the President, submitted the issue to the CT for a ruling. The CT ruled, in February, that the interpretation of committees, commissions and bodies “formed by each Hluttaw [parliament] as Union Level Organisations” was unconstitutional. Many parliamentarians did not accept the verdict and 191 MPs from the Pyithu Hluttaw (PH; lower house) informed its Speaker in April theirintention to table a motion calling for the impeachment of the CT chair and members.

When negotiations to resolve the dispute failed, 301 MPs from the PH again prompted the Speaker, on 8 August, for the impeachment citing breach of constitutional provisions and failure to fulfill their duties. The Speaker sent amessage to the President on 14 August suggesting that the Attorney-General’ssubmission to the CT be withdrawn and the CT chair and members should resign voluntarily before 21 August. The President replied in a message, dated 20 August,to the Speaker that the submission could not be withdrawn because the verdict hadalready been reached and he could not act to make the CT chair and members, who had independently made a decision in accordance with the Constitution, resign as that would be unfair and against the law.

The CT also held a press conference on 20 August to explain its position and reaffirmits commitment to stand by the decision and to carry on its tasks and duties.

Subsequently, it was announced that the impeachment process would be initiatedby the Amyotha Hluttaw (upper house) in the current parliamentary session. The spectre of political division looms.

Key points: The CT and MPs are on a collision course. This could arrest the momentum of much-needed political and economic reforms, and erode the legitimacy of the democratic institution. In the worst case, it could be an excuse for the return of authoritarianism.

Meanwhile, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is visiting the US, has said she supports further easing of sanctions against Burma’s government.

And M’sian retailer, Parkson, plans to expand into Burma, despite its not so happy experiences in Vietnam.

Burma: Think small, think basic

In Emerging markets on 15/09/2012 at 6:12 am

“What Myanmar needs now are more 7-11s, not more Walmarts,” said Lex Rieffel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He was quoted by FT.

Garments, footwear, frozen seafood and other food products were among Burma’s main exports to the west until sanctions 10 to 15 years ago. Expect foreigners (think Chinese) to invest in these labour intensive businesses for a start.
 
A Chinese bizlady told the BBC: “In my factory in China, the salary of workers has been increasing steadily over the last few years,” she told me during her recent visit to Bangladesh to look for opportunities here.”It has reached around $400 to $500 (£250 – £315) a month per worker. If I continue to produce there, our business will disappear.”In Bangladesh the average monthly salary for garments workers is only around $70 to $100. If I produce here, price is much more competitive.”

She can now scout out Burma, next door.

Finally for this week, Myanmar launched its first debit cards on Friday, giving customers the chance to use plastic for shopping, dining and travel for the first time in the latest leap forward for its cash-dominated economy.

Burma: Even ltd democracy can be bothersome

In Uncategorized on 10/09/2012 at 6:01 am

(Or “Why LKY did things “My way or the highway”)

Burma has finally passed a new investment law acceptable to the govt and parliament (govt supporters and opposition had problems with govt’s original proposal) http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/311492/myanmar-passes-investment-law

There was a constitutional row http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h_v4zNhgcL9PAWMqwLA2uUJwSYzQ?docId=CNG.6e407b6a8ce05880ef03e016b2221a0e.201

Govt backed down: judges resigned, and opponents of the above law passed it in a form acceptable to govt. Even ltd democracy can be bothersome. The army represenratives kept neutral. They were meant to give government an in-built majority.

Best to do it the LKY way? “I ignore polling as a method of government. I think that shows a certain weakness of mind – an inability to chart a course whichever way the wind blows, whichever way the media encourages the people to go, you follow. You are not a leader.”

Another classy Burmese lady

In Uncategorized on 25/08/2012 at 1:18 pm

Something in the air that develops such ladies? Juz like something in the air that develops feisty wimmin in M’sia.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17812348

Burma: Work on Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat and Sunday

In Uncategorized on 27/07/2012 at 6:20 pm

Never sign a contract on Friday; Saturdays and Sundays are fortuitous for doing deals; starting just about anything on a Monday and you’ll be starting with a bad omen.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2012/07/investing-myanmar

Korean and Jap exchanges are eating SGX’s lunch in ASEAN

In Uncategorized on 28/06/2012 at 6:08 am

Korea Exchange, which runs the world’s 13th-largest stock market, is helping ASEAN countries set up exchanges in return for stakes in the bourses. It helped Laos (last year) and Cambodia (recently) open their stock market trading platforms.

The Cambodian government has a 55%ish stake in the Cambodia Securities Exchange, while the Korea Exchange which provided information-technology systems, owns the rest. It holds 49% in Lao Securities Exchange, while the Laotian government owns 51%.

It is hoping to do the same for Myanmar even though the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Daiwa Securities had negotiated a “memorandum of understanding” to establish a stock exchange and develop the country’s capital markets.

Korea Exchange said that it would do its best to win the Myanmar government’s confidence until Myanmar makes a final decision and enters into a binding agreement for the establishment of its exchange.

True, these are “peanut” deals, but they are the kind of deals one would expect SGX to do given that these nations are ASEAN members. And anyway, while SGX may think it is a global player, it hasn’t done anything globally. It made a dumb bid for ASX (dumb because no-one except SGX and ASX mgts tot the Oz authorities would allow the bid*); and had to close its dark pool joint venture Chi-East in May as business volumes were weak and unlikely to improve.

——

*The bid would have benefitted ASX’s shareholders, in the main brokers using ASX’s trading platform. Brokers are damned gd at getting non-brokers particularly foreigners to buy into them or their investments. British brokers made their fortunes in the 1980s (including one David Cameron’s father) by selling out to, in the main, US banks.

Happened in India recently.   Private equity firms (think Americans again), which had invested in Indian stock brokers between 2005 and 2008, are in the main, struggling to exit these investments as current valuations of broking firms are less than half of what they were during the stake purchases due to a drop in profits on account of declining trading volumes and shift in the business model to a capital-driven one. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-06-15/news/32254600_1_pe-firms-broking-equity-firms

Northern ASEAN: Dark clouds threaten the sunny weather

In Emerging markets on 23/05/2012 at 7:09 am

Thailand’s recovering from late last yr’s floods. GDP up 11% Q on Q. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18141171.

But inflation is a problem that the govmin is trying hard to solve, not make sick jokes* like our finance and trade ministers (also governor and deputy governor of central bank). But then if Thais get angry, they riot, not juz bitch anonymous online abt it.

(BTW, the int’l manufacturing hub hard disk drive industry is now in Thailand http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-17299249. It was once here.)

Money will pour into Burma but the country is ill-prepared to cope with the resulting floods http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2012/05/18/myanmar-must-brace-for-post-sanctions-cash-deluge/

——–

*Because more than half of the headline inflation rate of 5.2% came from higher COEs for cars and the effect of higher market rent on houses, most S’poreans would not be affected by inflation. The vast majority of Singaporeans who already own their homes and are not buying new cars would not feel the effects of these sharp increases. And the increase in prices of daily necessities and essential services such as food and clothing have actually been much more moderate at 3% or lower.

Burma: Wake up S’pore

In Emerging markets, Political economy, Political governance, S'pore Inc on 22/04/2012 at 6:39 am

Japan has agreed to write off more than US$3.7bn of debt owed by Burma and to resume development aid.  The leaders of both countries  also agreed to plan a special economic zone near Rangoon.  This could give Japanese firms a head start in winning business in what is seen as one of Asia’s last frontier markets.

Hey could have been S’pore planing a SEZ with Burma! We are “old friends” of Burma. And GLCs and TLCs got experience of building biz parks in Vietnam and China. Come on Georgie Boy. Go broke deals between S’porean cos and Burmese ones and the government. Too comfortable, what with big fat pension? Or planning to reform PAP? Or planning to be president?

(Ya aware that three postings in row abt Northern ASEAN countries. But taz where the biz and investment opportunities are coming from in this region.)

Burma: Stock exchange coming/ Cambodia: Starting soon

In Emerging markets on 12/04/2012 at 7:23 pm

Burma is to get a new stock exchange, after the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Daiwa Securities received preliminary approval to help set one up.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17673773

Meanwhile, Cambodian brokers and wannabe investors, and foreign investors are preparing for the country’s first ever IPO.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-18/cambodia-embracing-capitalism-with-first-ipo-since-khmer-rouge.html

Templeton on Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand

In Emerging markets, Indonesia, Vietnam on 05/04/2012 at 7:14 am
Investors should be cautious when pursuing the opportunities for growth present in Myanmar and Cambodia, Southeast Asia’s frontier markets, Templeton Asset Management Ltd says, according to a Bloomberg report.

While Myanmar’s natural resources of oil, gas and minerals are positive factors, there are “areas of concern”, Templeton portfolio manager Dennis Lim wrote in a note last week on chairman Mark Mobius’s blog.

Although Cambodia is “ideally located” to benefit from trade with Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, investors need to study corporate governance standards, he said.

“Weaknesses we’re especially mindful of in Myanmar are lack of a proper legal structure, the lack of a well developed banking system, and the lack of solid foreign exchange operations. In Cambodia, I would caution potential investors to monitor corporate governance standards to ensure investors are treated fairly.”

In Cambodia, state- owned Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority will have its IPO next month, making it the first to be traded on the stock exchange that opened last July without a single listed company.

The Cambodian government has said it wants to spur economic development by selling off state- owned companies and encouraging private enterprises to expand with new funding.

Mr Mobius, who oversees more than US$50 billion in emerging-market assets as executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, has said he’s watching the Cambodian railroad industry “with particular interest'”

Indonesia, whose natural resources include timber and coal, can benefit from increasing global demand for commodities as emerging markets invest in infrastructure, Mr Lim said. Thailand, which suffered its worst floods in almost 70 years in 2011, will have a sound economic recovery and has “positive'” long-term fundamentals, he said.

“For value investors like us, current valuations in Thailand generally remain attractive, though the potential growth obstacles do bear ongoing scrutiny”. He cited agriculture, tourism and offshore gas as drivers of growth.

Interesting, no mention of Vietnam which is now in the dog house because of high inflation and other problems.

Singapore’s stock exchange is a conduit through which Templeton can access new markets because of listings by some companies from the frontier economies, he notes.

Rushing to do biz, invest in Burma?

In Emerging markets on 01/04/2012 at 11:02 am

Better read this first.  [W]hat has been achieved so far in reforming the country in such a short period of time rests on the trust established between the slight, bespectacled former general and the charismatic daughter of Aung San, the country’s liberation hero.

Banyan goes on to point out that both of them are not in best of health and that the Burmese president has many enemies who want to push the clock back.

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