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Former Myanmar refugee and business partner make million from trafficking

Former Myanmar refugee and business partner make millions from trafficking


Cast adrift: Rohingya migrants (front from left) Muhammad Rubail, 14, Hasyik, 20, Najibul Hasan, 15, and Yusuf, 22, on a boat that drifted in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman sea. They were later rescued along with others by fishermen in Indonesian waters and are now at a confinement camp in Aceh.

KUALA LUMPUR: To society, he is seen as a philanthropist, often helping his less fortunate countrymen. But what is not known is that this former Myanmar refugee and his Malaysian business partner make millions from the misery of those they traffick.

They have been linked to the trafficking of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis into this country along the Malaysia-Thai border.

The authorities are closing down on the two men, aged between their late 40s and 50s, who could be arrested under preventive detention laws soon, according to sources.

The two are said to be prominent figures in George Town and are known for their flamboyant lifestyles. The philanthropist from Kepala Batas set up base here two decades ago and is involved in issuing fake MyKad and UNHCR refugee documents to Rohingyas who entered the country illegally.

He has permanent resident status, is well-connected to local politicians and uses philanthropy to mask his illegal activities by donating generously to religious bodies and NGOs in Penang.

"We are working on how these two set up links with an international human trafficking syndicate," said a source. He added that armed assailants working for the traffickers posed as military personnel to avoid detection by military staff patrolling the border.

The noose closed on the traffickers two years ago after the authorities obtained information from local "tontos" who were the hired hands and from illegal immigrants in detention, said the sources.

They said the philanthropist and businessman used to hire locals to smuggle diesel, rice and other items into and out of Thailand.

They later moved on to human trafficking because the returns were better, especially since the pick-up points along the border were manned by Thai syndicate members linked to them.

One pick-up point was two and a half hours' walk from the campsites where the mass graves were discovered in Bukit Burma and another was two days' walk to Padang Besar through a sugarcane plantation.

The sources said the illegal Rohingyas and Bangladeshis were forced to pay a fee of RM7,000 (S$2,580) each to armed Thais of the international syndicate when they arrived at the border. Those who failed to do so were killed or left behind to starve.

The "ransom" was paid as follows:

> The Thais keep between RM1,000 and RM1,500 per head and pass on the balance to Malaysians linked to the George Town businessman.

> Tontos hired by the businessman to transport the illegals to Penang and Sungai Petani get RM100 per immigrant banked directly into their accounts after they have dropped off the victims.

> Some of the balance money is used to bribe enforcement authorities and the rest go the masterminds.

 

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Myanmar gold rush slows ahead of elections

The international rush for lucrative investments in Myanmar is being slowed by looming elections.

The international rush for lucrative investments in Myanmar is being slowed by looming elections.

Bangkok (dpa) – When Myanmar began its political reforms in 2011, firms around the world salivated at the prospect of investing in the resource-rich and largely undeveloped country.

But four years later there are signs that the rush to invest is being slowed by dragging market reforms and the country's turbulent politics.

Before 2011, Myanmar’s only big international investor was China. The investments made by China were mainly concentrated in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

When the country opened up, the market was ripe for liberalization, for example in key sectors including telecommunications and banking.

Data from the World Bank showed that direct foreign investment was 900 million US dollars in 2010, and that figure more than doubled to 2.5 billion dollars in 2011.

Companies appeared willing to put aside the risks of dealing with Myanmar’s uncertain political situation to secure the necessary contracts.

"The country has high potential for rapid growth and development given its rich natural resources, abundant labour force and strategic location,” a country report by the Asian Development Bank in 2012 noted.

Myanmar was so confident of foreign investment that it has engaged in several mega projects and economic zones including the Dawei deep sea port, the largest of its kind in South-East Asia.

Win Win Tint, the managing director of Myanmar’s largest retailer City Mart Holdings, told dpa that the situation had improved massively since 2011, noting that before the reforms the government rarely touched on business and economic policy.

“Now, the government is listening to us,” she said. The administration "has engaged with foreign countries so there is more interest from foreign investors."

But recently the rush of firms competing to invest in Myanmar has slowed to a steady stream.

A forecast by the International Monetary Fund released in February stated that “the growth outlook of the Myanmar economy remains favorable over the medium term, but downside risks for the near term have increased.”

“The bureaucratic apparatus is like an old machine,” said Win Win Tint. “It hasn’t moved for 15 years and need to be greased continuously to move.”

Many consultants and analysts also lowered their economic outlook for the country due to the uncertainty surrounding elections scheduled for the end of the year.

Most foreign investors are "waiting for the results of the November elections, after which the nature of Myanmar's next government will become clearer,” said Sean Turnell, a Myanmar economics expert and professor in economics at Macquarie University.

Turnell argues that in order for continued economic growth there needs to be “greater stability and predictability in policy-making.”

That uncertainty may have filtered down to government decision-making on major projects like the Dawei deep sea port.

The 50-billion-dollar project was once destined to cover over 200 square kilometres and hold more tons of cargo than the ports of Los Angeles and New York combined.

Now the signing agreement between Myanmar, Thailand and private developer Italian-Thai Development has been constantly postponed.

“We are ready to sign it, the Thai government is ready to sign it, the Myanmar government however are delaying the issue,” said Pravee Kamolkanchana, Italian-Thai Development’s marketing manager.

“We are dealing with an unprecedented situation,” said Nyantha Maw Lin, the Myanmar director of corporate advisory firm Vriens and Partners.

According to Nyantha, various government agencies are putting in place plans to ensure stability over the transition of government including putting installing permanent secretaries to oversee policy.

“Myanmar has never had such a transition before so there are going to be hiccups,” he said.

Regardless of who wins the election, business leaders and analysts agree that Myanmar needs to do more to reassure foreign investors over the next transition of power.

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German Myanmar Business Chamber Launches in Yangon

SINGAPORE, May 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 120 business leaders and entrepreneurs attended the recent launch of the German Myanmar Business Chamber (GMBC) at the Residence of the German Ambassador, H.E. Christian-Ludwig Weber-Lortsch. The GMBC is a platform exchange between German and Myanmar companies that are seeking business opportunities in Southeast Asia's fastest growing market. Furthermore, it seeks to establish a dialogue with the Myanmar government on economic frameworks.

"The GMBC will work in a spirit of partnership. In order to succeed, German and Myanmar companies need to be committed to sharing market insights, knowledge and networks with each other. The GMBC aims to foster this dynamic interaction and collaboration," says Jens Knoke, Founding President of the GMBC. The founding Executive Committee stands exemplarily for this approach, bringing together two strong German corporates, one of the leading local manufacturers and a Joint Venture company.

With an inaugural membership of more than 50 companies, GMBC will promote German business activities with Myanmar companies and government agencies, and opportunities in Myanmar with the German business community. It will work closely with the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce to support German corporate activities while facilitating knowledge transfer towards developing the Myanmar private sector. Apart from the growing base of German companies in Myanmar, GMBC has on its roster of members Myanmar companies that have partnerships or are exploring opportunities with German businesses here or abroad.

"Germany has a strong basis in manufacturing -- a sector which needs to develop more strongly in Myanmar. While working on a strong market position in Myanmar, German member companies are committed to share know-how on efficient technologies and management. Together, we hope to build responsible and sustainable business practices that will create multiple economic opportunities and long-term progress for the country," adds Mr. Knoke.

Germany is a long-standing partner of Myanmar. It was one of the first countries to renew and strengthen ties with Myanmar since the latter opened its doors to the international business community in 2011. Bilateral trade between the two countries has been growing steadily over the past few years. According to official German trade statistics, German exports to Myanmar reached EUR130 million in 2014. Imports have been growing dynamically to almost 100 million USD in 2014, a staggering 79% increase compared to the year before. 

Germany's main imports from Myanmar are garments, while its principal exports to Myanmar are machinery, data-processing equipment, electrical and optical goods, chemical products, motor vehicles and vehicle parts and pharmaceutical products. German companies targeting Myanmar's growing consumer and industrial market include global leaders such as Bayer, BASF, Bosch, Henkel, Siemens and ThyssenKrupp.

About GMBC

Founded in 2015, the German Myanmar Business Chamber is the official membership organisation of companies active in German Myanmar business relations and a platform for bilateral exchange and co-operation. It works alongside the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce. Its Founding Executive Committee Members are: Jens Knoke (Henkel), Philipp Hoffmann (JJPun), Andre de Jong (Robert Bosch) and Christoph Steinwehe (Loi Hein).

For media inquiries, please contact:
Ko Ko Gyi/ Nay Lin
Email: mmrteam@ricecomms.com
Mobile: +95-9-731-81337

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Yoma Strategic : Pun Hlaing Golf Estate in Myanmar Launches Water Treatment Plant
 
Pun Hlaing Golf Estate in Myanmar Launches Water Treatment Plant Yangon, Myanmar, 18 May 2015 - Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. ("Yoma Strategic"), today announced the opening of its Potable Water Plant at Pun Hlaing Golf Estate. The plant is designed and supplied by Hyflux, a leading global water solutions provider, and aims to deliver high quality drinking water straight to the taps of residents of the estate.

The development will see Pun Hlaing Golf Estate as the first real estate development in Myanmar to have its own Hyflux water treatment plant. The plant uses Hyflux's proprietary Kristal ultrafiltration technology and brackish water reverse osmosis technology to provide quality drinking water for the estate. It is designed with a treatment capacity of 1,000 m3/day, and is expandable to 2,500 m3/day providing a constant production of potable water.
Cyrus Pun, Executive Director and Head of Real Estate said, "Yoma Strategic has always been committed to offering an international standard of living at the Pun Hlaing Golf Estate and making it the best preferred place to live in Myanmar. Providing access to clean and safe drinking water is essential to this and we're pleased that we can offer our residents such a high standard of drinking water, giving them peace of
mind."

YOMA STRATEGIC HOLDINGS LTD.

Company Registration No. 196200185E

78 Shenton Way

#32-00

Singapore 079120

Tel: (65) 6223 2262

Fax: (65) 6220 7939 www.yomastrategic.com


According to Hyflux, water produced at the Potable Water Plant significantly exceeds the World Health
Organisation's Water Guidelines.
Designed to integrate into the landscape maintaining the aesthetic appeal of the real estate development, the Potable Water Plant represents part of a new era for Pun Hlaing Golf Estate which recently saw the completion of the Byaint Naung Bridge. The bridge increases accessibility to the real estate development which has a shuttle bus service to downtown Yangon on a daily basis.
Yoma Strategic also recently opened sales of its Lotus Garden Place Villas, a cluster of 30 elegant and spacious semi-detached residences complete with terraces and gardens offering panoramic views of the Estate's beautifully landscape community. It is part of three Lotus-branded developments within the Pun Hlaing Golf Estate which are due to be completed in two stages in 2015.

- End -

About Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. (www.yomastrategic.com)

Listed on the Main Board of the Singapore Securities Exchange Trading Limited (SGX-ST), Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. is a leading business corporation with real estate, agriculture, automotive, luxury tourism and retail/F&B businesses in Myanmar. Together with its partner, the SPA Group, the Group is taking a conglomerate approach to

build a diversified portfolio of businesses in Myanmar.

YOMA STRATEGIC HOLDINGS LTD.

Company Registration No. 196200185E

78 Shenton Way

#32-00

Singapore 079120

Tel: (65) 6223 2262

Fax: (65) 6220 7939 www.yomastrategic.com

About Hyflux (www.hyflux.com)

Hyflux is a leading fully-integrated provider of water and power management and innovative environmental solutions. Headquartered and listed in Singapore, Hyflux has operations and projects in Southeast Asia, China, India, the Middle East and North Africa. Hyflux is committed to providing cost-effective and sustainable solutions in seawater desalination, water recycling, wastewater treatment, including membrane bioreactor (MBR) and potable water treatment. Hyflux's track record includes Singapore's first water recycling plant and two seawater reverse osmosis

(SWRO) desalination plants, and some of the world's largest SWRO desalination plants in China and Algeria.

Analyst contact:

Ms Jane Kwa, Tel: (65) 9117 0433 Email: janekwa@yomastrategic.com

Group Media contact:

Ms Sylvia Saw McKaige, Email: sylviamckaige@yomastrategic.com

Ms Ann-mon San, Tel: (95) 9 2 6225 4841 Email: annmonsan@yomastrategic.com

For international media, please contact Cogent Communications:

Ms Emily Choo, Tel: (65) 6704-9278 Mob: (65) 9734-6565 Email: emily@cogentcomms.com

Mr Gerald Woon, Tel: (65) 6704-9277, Mob: (65) 9694-8364 Email: woon@cogentcomms.com

YOMA STRATEGIC HOLDINGS LTD.

Company Registration No. 196200185E

78 Shenton Way

#32-00

Singapore 079120

Tel: (65) 6223 2262

Fax: (65) 6220 7939 www.yomastrategic.com

Annex

Pictures of the launch of water treatment Plant are affixed at the annex for media use.

Staff of Pun Hlaing Golf Estate explaining the water treatment system.

YOMA STRATEGIC HOLDINGS LTD.

Company Registration No. 196200185E

78 Shenton Way

#32-00

Singapore 079120

Tel: (65) 6223 2262

Fax: (65) 6220 7939 www.yomastrategic.com

Ms Woan Shin Chiong (Managing Director, Hyflux), Mr Cyrus Pun (Executive Director and Head of Real Estate, Yoma Strategic) and Mr Paul Kyaw Tun Tun (Project Director, Pun Hlaing Water Treatment Plant) turning on the

water tap.

YOMA STRATEGIC HOLDINGS LTD.

Company Registration No. 196200185E

78 Shenton Way

#32-00

Singapore 079120

Tel: (65) 6223 2262

Fax: (65) 6220 7939 www.yomastrategic.com

Residents of Pun Hlaing Golf Estate celebrating the turning on of Pun Hlaing Water.

YOMA STRATEGIC HOLDINGS LTD.

Company Registration No. 196200185E

78 Shenton Way

#32-00

Singapore 079120

Tel: (65) 6223 2262

Fax: (65) 6220 7939 www.yomastrategic.com

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Four boats carrying some 1,400 Rohingya migrants were rescued off the coasts of Indonesia and Malaysia today, officials said, a day after nearly 600 others arrived in a wooden vessel off Indonesia's Aceh.
All the boats appear to have been abandoned as Thailand, their usual destination, cracks down on the trafficking of ethnic Rohingya Muslims bound for neighboring countries. Dozens of migrant remains have been found in mass graves at “slave camps'' in southern Thailand.
More than 1,000 migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar landed in Malaysia after being dumped by human traffickers in shallow waters off the resort island of Langkawi, police said.
“We think there were three boats that ferried 1,018 migrants,'' said Langkawi deputy police chief Jamil Ahmed, adding that the number was expected to grow.
In the early hours of today, Indonesian search and rescue teams found another boat drifting off east Aceh with 400 men, women and children from Myanmar and Bangladesh aboard, Aceh provincial search and rescue chief Budiawan told AFP.
Authorities are bracing for further arrivals.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar views its population of roughly 800,000 Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, and they have been targeted in outbreaks of sectarian violence there in recent years, prompting many to flee.
Thousands have braved the dangerous sea crossing from Myanmar to southern Thailand and beyond in the hope of reaching mainly Muslim Malaysia, but many often fall prey to people-traffickers in Thailand.
Chris Lewa from The Arakan Project, a Rohingya rights group, said she believes thousands of migrants are trapped at sea following crackdowns on trafficking in Thailand as well as in Malaysia in recent months.
“Thailand has tried to prevent traffickers from continuing their business... so that has forced them to go somewhere else,'' she told AFP.
   
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Wednesday, June 03, 2015
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