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  ("YSH" or "the Group") is a leading business corporation with current interests and activities in Myanmar and beyond. Registered in Singapore, YSH's principal activities involve the development of land, sale of private residential properties, construction, as well as design and project management for real estate developments in Myanmar and the PRC.

ASEAN ministers "to approve" Myanmar as 2014 chair
Posted: 15 November 2011 1754 hrs
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The flags of ASEAN members are displayed in Nusa Dua convention and resort enclave in Indonesia's island of Bali. (AFP photo/Romeo Gacad)
NUSA DUA, Indonesia - Southeast Asian ministers said Tuesday they would approve Myanmar's bid to chair their 10-member bloc in 2014, in a major boost for its new government after a series of reform gestures.

Their move goes against warnings that giving Myanmar's nominally civilian administration the diplomatic prize so quickly will remove the incentive for more fundamental reforms in a nation still accused of major rights abuses.

"Everybody agrees to Myanmar, 2014," Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman told reporters at Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) talks on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

"They have taken positive steps toward democratisation. We should encourage them more by letting them host the meeting," he said. The bloc's leaders will make a formal decision this week based on the ministers' recommendation.

In 2006, Myanmar was forced to renounce the ASEAN rotating presidency in the face of intense criticism over its human rights record and failure to shift to democracy.

But since elections a year ago that ostensibly ended decades of military rule, the new regime has unveiled surprising measures including prisoner releases that have begun to rehabilitate the nation's pariah status.

A decision to allow Myanmar to chair ASEAN would involve it hosting the 10-nation group's summit, as well as the wider East Asia Summit that includes Myanmar's arch-critic the US, which maintains sanctions against the regime.

But Myanmar's Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin indicated that the decision was settled.

"All the ministers support Myanmar's chairmanship in 2014 and I welcome the decision," he told reporters.

Tan See Seng from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore said the decision would be a dream come true for Myanmar's leaders who have long sought legitimacy and chafed against Western sanctions.

"Myanmar has really been putting in the right moves -- putting on a good show -- partly in regards to freeing up the political system, albeit in a very limited way," he told AFP.

"I think that for ASEAN leaders, giving Myanmar the chair would be a way of patting them on the back and encouraging them to continue what they have been recently doing domestically."

But Southeast Asian lawmakers said they were concerned that granting Myanmar the prize prematurely could end the reform process, and that it should introduce more concrete measures before being rewarded.

"This is to ensure that Myanmar will not just fool ASEAN into getting the chairmanship, and that they will continue with the democratic process," said Eva Sundari Kusuma from ASEAN's Inter-parliamentary Myanmar Caucus.

"Our call is very clear. Let us postpone. But if ASEAN agrees to let Myanmar be the chair of ASEAN, then they must put some conditionalities such as a specific action plan including the release of prisoners."

Myanmar's new administration, which is staging its diplomatic coming-out party in Bali, has surprised critics by holding direct talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and freezing work on an unpopular mega-dam.

It freed some 200 dissidents from last month but caused disappointment by leaving many figures behind bars, and another mass release expected for Monday has been delayed for reasons that remain unclear.

There are also concerns over whether President Thein Sein will follow through on the moves already made, given the risk of a backlash by hardliners who may not share his apparent enthusiasm for change.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said ASEAN's leaders would make a formal decision on the chairmanship issue when they meet later this week.

"We discussed it thoroughly. All those who have spoken spoke in a very positive note," he said after ministerial talks Tuesday. "I would be surprised if there is any dissenting view.

"The overwhelming sense is that there are positive conditions for Myanmar's chairmanship but we hope that this chairmanship would bring more momentum for change in Myanmar."

- AFP/ir
Myanmar can boost trade in time to come
By Avelyn Ng | Posted: 02 December 2011 2239 hrs
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Myanmar banknotes (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
SINGAPORE: Myanmar's moves toward democracy earned an appointment with Hillary Clinton this week, the first visit by a US foreign secretary in more than half a century.

Investors are hoping the removal of trade sanctions against the country may eventually follow, opening the door for new investments to flow in.

Myanmar's forecast economic growth of 8.8 per cent in 2012 may outpace even that of its biggest trading partner, China.

Foreign investment worth US$14.5b is pouring into Myanmar's power generation and investors are clamouring for the country's oil, gas and minerals.

Singapore-based HSL recently completed a S$6 million project in Kyau Phyu in Myanmar's northwest.

Charles Quek, executive director of HSL Constructor, said: "There are several major projects coming up, one of which is the Dawei deep sea port and the special economic zone in the south-western part of Myanmar.

"On top of that, I think there are many oil concessions that we have been given so the oil and gas activity will definitely also be active in the coming years. On top of that, I think there are many plans for power plants and infrastructure projects as well."

Missing the boom in Myanmar is the world's biggest economy. US sanctions bar Americans from investing in the country but hopes are high that Hillary Clinton's visit may clear the way for their removal.

But, that won't happen until the US Congress is convinced Myanmar's political reforms are lasting.

Hillary Clinton said: "We're not at the point yet that we can consider lifting sanctions."

And, there's no guarantee that doing business in this frontier economy is good business.

Infrastructure and telecommunications are poor and investment risks are high in Myanmar.

Dane Chamorro, Control Risks' global risk analyst, said: "You are talking about 60 years of infrastructure catch-up that they have to do, so that's one thing.

"They currently run a two-tier currency regime, the official rate of the chat and the market rate are radically different and they need to address that.

"They need to have a functioning financial sector, banking sector, even things as basic as trade finance, which they don't have right now."

The EU and UK also impose sanctions against the country. But, even warming relations with the West will go some way to easing business in Myanmar.

- CNA/ck
I noted this thread was started on 5 nov 11 when the last done price was 8.3 cents. It closed 12.9 cents yesterday, up 55% within one month and the highest close since apr 09. I am amazed by the timing.
Suu Kyi registers party, makes first parliament visit
Posted: 23 December 2011 1411 hrs
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Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at a hotel in Naypyidaw. Aung San Suu Kyi is in Myanmar's capital as part of the process to re-register her political party. (AFP - Soe Than Win)

Suu Kyi to visit Myanmar parliament


NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar's democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi registered her opposition party and visited the national parliament for the first time on Friday, as she prepares to enter the mainstream political arena.

The visit in the capital Naypyidaw included a meeting with lower house speaker Shwe Mann, number three in the previous ruling junta and still one of the most powerful men in Myanmar, who said he was "glad" to hold the talks.

"We have to work together as unity is strength," he told reporters.

Suu Kyi, 66, earlier went to the Union Election Commission office to register her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which must now wait at least a week to be officially endorsed.

"They have signed for their party registration already," a commission official told AFP, referring to Suu Kyi and other senior party members.

The NLD was given the green light from authorities this month to rejoin mainstream politics, paving the way for the Nobel laureate to run for a seat in the new parliament.

"If she reaches parliament, we will see her continually," Shwe Mann said after their meeting, at which they mainly discussed the functions of the political body.

A quarter of parliament's seats are taken up by the army while the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is packed with former military men, holds about 80 percent of the remainder.

Upper house speaker Khin Aung Myint, who also met Suu Kyi on Friday, described her visit as "auspicious".

"We wanted this to happen a long time ago and we welcome her."

The NLD was stripped of its status as a legal political party by the junta last year after it chose to boycott a rare and controversial election, saying the rules were unfair.

Suu Kyi was released a few days after the November poll, having spent much of the past two decades in detention, and she is now planning to take part in by-elections expected early next year. No polling date has been set.

Since coming to power in March, the new military-backed government dominated by former generals has made a series of reformist moves in an apparent attempt to reach out to political opponents and the West.

These included releasing some of its many political prisoners, suspending construction of an unpopular mega-dam and holding peace talks with the country's main armed ethnic groups.

Suu Kyi expressed cautious hope earlier this month that democracy would come to Myanmar, as she welcomed Hillary Clinton to the home in Yangon that was her prison for years during a landmark visit by the US Secretary of State.

"I am very confident that if we work together... there will be no turning back from the road to democracy," Suu Kyi said at the time.

The NLD won an election in 1990 by a landslide, while Suu Kyi remained under house arrest, but the ruling generals never allowed the party to take power.

Last week, the party said it had chosen the image of a fighting peacock gazing at a white star as its new symbol, replacing its trademark bamboo hat, which was used by a breakaway group that participated in the 2010 election.

The NLD refused to participate in that vote -- the first in two decades -- mainly because of rules that would have forced it to expel imprisoned members.

An amendment to a law on political parties has since removed the contentious clause that said prisoners could not be party members, as well as a condition that all parties must agree to "preserve" a controversial 2008 constitution.
Japan to ask Myanmar to enter talks on investment pact

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba will propose to Myanmar entering negotiations on a bilateral investment accord, when he holds talks with top officials of the long-isolated country in its capital Naypyitaw, a government source said Sunday.

Gemba's talks with Myanmar President Thein Sein and Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin are scheduled for Monday. Gemba is also planning to ask pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Japan in the near future, when they meet at her home in Yangon in the evening, the source said.

Gemba will arrive in Myanmar on Sunday evening. His visit, the first by a Japanese foreign minister since 2002, comes at a time when major countries are trying to encourage reforms initiated by the new government of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

(Mainichi Japan) December 25, 2011
'Open door' Myanmar offers 8-year tax break to foreign firms
Posted: 28 January 2012 2245 hrs
DAVOS, Switzerland: Myanmar's government said Saturday it planned to offer eight-year tax exemptions to foreign investors as Western companies "rushed" to build ties with the one-time closed-door country.

Industry Minister U Soe Thane told reporters there had been huge interest in Myanmar from business leaders he had encountered at the World Economic Forum in Davos as the Southeast Asian country's reform process gathers pace.

"They are rushing to us," he said. "We are just opening the door."

The minister said that Myanmar expected its economy to grow by six percent in the coming year and that it should be an attractive location to foreign investors -- citing as proof his successful visit to Davos.

"I have met with a lot of people -- not just ministers but CEOs. We have engaged with them, explained our potential, our location at the junction of China and India. Our location is very favourable.

"We have a lot of hydro potential, we have lots of fishing potential, a big fisheries area. Also our people know the English language, it is easy to communicate," he said.

Deputy railways minister Lwin Thaung said the government was looking to enact radical legislation to attract investors.

"Presently we have a Myanmar investment law which is rather restrictive, but we are now revising it," he said.

"We have hired foreign consultants ... and we have told them to draw up the law so as to be more attractive than our neighbours.

"It will give tax exemptions for up to eight years and, if the enterprise is profitable for Myanmar, we will extend the incentive. We have already drafted the bill ... and at the end of February the law will come out."

The European Union is considering lifting sanctions against Myanmar as soon as February, according to diplomats in Brussels, while Washington has promised further reforms will be met with US rewards.

A few Western corporations such as French oil giant Total do have a presence because the sanctions framework permitted firms that were already operating in the country at the time they were imposed in the 1990s to stay.
Threadstarter would have almost a six bagger for this counter if vested from the very beginning. Woo hoo.
February 13, 2012, 3.09 pm (Singapore time)

Yoma's Q3 profit surge on significant increase in LDR sales

Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd on Monday posted a net profit of $1.34 million for the third quarter ended Dec 31, 2011, as a result of significant increase in the sales of housing and land development rights (LDR).

A year ago, it posted a net loss of $462,000.

Between October to December, the group sold LDR equivalent to a total of 43 plots of land. Comparatively, a year ago, it sold seven plots.

Revenue increased 495.3 per cent to $9.83 million from $1.65 million.

Earnings per share for the reporting quarter was 0.26 cents. A year ago, the group posted loss per share of 0.10 cents.

Year-to-date earnings was $3.84 million, or 0.26 cents per share. The previous corresponding nine months, the group posted a loss of $1.03 million, or 0.09 cents per share.

Cumulative turnover increased 542.5 per cent year-on-year to $23.05 million from $3.59 million.
February 13, 2012, 3.28 pm (Singapore time)

Yoma to acquire 70% stake in Star City for $91m

Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd said on Monday it plans to acquire a 70 per cent interest in the remaining land development rights (LDRs) of Star City Project from Yangon Land Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Serge Pun & Associates (Myanmar) Limited Group (SPA Group).

The chairman and controlling shareholder of SPA Group is Serge Pun, who is also the controlling shareholder and chairman of Yoma.

Yoma has signed a conditional deed of assignment and conditional joint development deed with various subsidiaries of the SPA Group, which will hold the remaining 30 per cent stake in the project.

The acquisition, subject to shareholders' approval will cost Yoma S$91 million, which the group plans to finance by a four for five rights issue at a price of 24 Singapore cents per share.

Star City Project is a new 9,000 unit residential and commercial development near Thanlyin City on the outskirts of Yangon and adjacent to an area expected to be designated as a Special Economic Zone.

'The acquisition of Star City represents a significant boost to our real estate business and should give us a strong pipeline for next six to eight years while we develop other businesses under the Group in Myanmar,' said CEO Andrew Rickards.

Yoma will design, develop, manage and operate the Star City Project, while the SPA Group will liaise with the relevant government authorities in Myanmar and obtain such other necessary governmental permits, licenses and approvals as may be required.
(Reuters) - Western countries desperately want Myanmar's by-elections on Sunday to go smoothly - and give opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi a seat in parliament - so they can start to lift sanctions and let their companies invest in the once-isolated state.

Myanmar's civilian rulers have astonished with a reform drive since taking office a year ago, freeing hundreds of political prisoners jailed by the former junta, holding peace talks with ethnic militias and opening up the economy.

Western companies are lining up to get into the country, sandwiched between China and India and offering huge potential in energy, financial services, telecoms and tourism.

Diplomats say some U.S. restrictions such as visa bans and asset freezes could be lifted quickly if the election is credible, and the European Union may end sanctions that ban investment in timber and the mining of gemstones and metals.

But the ballot needs the thumbs-up from the 66-year-old Suu Kyi, who is contesting one of 45 parliamentary seats after two decades in the political wilderness, much of it under house arrest.

"If Suu Kyi and the democratic opposition basically give their blessing that the April 1 elections are ‘good enough', there will be some sort of positive, reciprocal action on the part of the U.S. government," said Jennifer Quigley, advocacy director of the Washington-based U.S. Campaign for Burma.

The EU, Canada and Australia have hinted they will do the same. In a visit to Cambodia on Monday, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said its embargoes would be scaled back in stages, but he emphasized that "each removal of sanctions will be after consultation with the opposition".

But Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has a dilemma of her own. If she disputes the election result, even for valid reasons, and sanctions remain in force, some analysts say it could dent her image among millions of Burmese longing for change.

"(Suu Kyi) views sanctions as leverage to get what she wants from the government. That is a very dangerous policy," said David Steinberg, a veteran Myanmar analyst at Washington's Georgetown University and a critic of the sanctions.

"Why? Because it puts her in the position of being perceived to be in favor of poverty. Not that she is, but ... that could hurt her."

There are bound to be complaints come election day. After 49 years of isolation and army rule, Myanmar has limited experience of holding ballots. And a 2010 general election was widely seen as rigged to favor the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), now by far the biggest in parliament.

Most diplomats believe Myanmar's rulers are sincere: they want Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party on board to add legitimacy to parliament.

But the NLD has already laid the grounds for a possible dispute of the result, with allegations of vote-buying and the inclusion of dead people on voters' lists, plus claims the president, who is supposed to be impartial, has tried to influence the vote.

The government has not done itself any favors by not allowing a proper monitoring mission. Last week it belatedly invited a team of five Southeast Asian observers and asked the United States, the EU and others to send in two people each.


Regardless of the outcome, it is unclear how quickly sanctions could be lifted. It is impossible to scrap them all at once, frustrating Western investors who face a race against time as Asian firms snap up deals and business delegations pour into the country to scope out opportunities.

The EU is well placed to relax its curbs on investment sooner than Washington as most of its "restrictive measures", which also include asset freezes, are up for review on April 23.

According to several diplomats from EU member states, those sanctions might be removed with a simple vote by the EU Foreign Affairs Council, as long as the election is deemed credible and Suu Kyi gives her blessing.

What will remain is its arms embargo and its trade measures, which exclude Myanmar from the EU's Generalized System of Preferences for poorer countries, including tariff-free imports under the "Everything But Arms" initiative. Reversing that is complex and could take at least a year, some diplomats say.

Canada might also start to scale back sanctions if the poll is fair, a government official told Reuters. It bans trade and investment in the country by Canadian firms and denies Myanmar access to low tariffs, development aid and financial services.


That could leave Washington playing catch-up. Its complex, overlapping web of sanctions would be extremely difficult to undo quickly, even though lawmakers say there is bipartisan support in Congress to move ahead on that.

U.S. sanctions are governed by five federal laws and four presidential executive orders issued between 1990 and 2008, each with different, or unspecified, expiry dates and conditions for lifting.

Myanmar may have already met some of the conditions, such as engaging with the opposition and progress on media freedom.

But some laws require the release of all political prisoners, when no one really knows how many are still detained, or stipulate the U.S. president has to be satisfied Myanmar, the world's second-largest opium grower, is no longer "a country of interest for narcotics trafficking".

All this, economists say, does not bode well for the United States, which wants to offset China's influence on Myanmar and has companies chomping at the bit to invest.

"Keeping ourselves completely out of the trade and investment arena while everyone else is jumping in wouldn't necessarily be positioning the U.S. where we want to be," said Bradley Babson, a retired World Bank official and expert on Myanmar's economy.

"Now what they've got is a very complicated, multi-layered structure of legal things, and peeling that onion -- even if there's a shift in policy -- just the mechanics of undoing it all mean it is going to take time."

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