Another farmer jailed for ‘squatting’

A township municipal court in Nay Pyi Taw has sentenced a farmer named Nga Chun to one month in prison on trespassing charges under section 26 of the Municipal Act.

The 67-year-old had been sued for residing illegally in Lewe Township and was sentenced on his 66th court hearing.

"It's unacceptable to say I'm a squatter. The place I live cost me Ks 1 million (US$1,000). They told me to move without giving any compensation. I want the officials to know that I don't have any place to live," Nga Chun said before the verdict was announced.

George Soros visits Bengali camps in Sittwe

Sittwe – George Soros, the chairman of Open Society, visited refugee camps in Sittwe on January 8 as part of a fact-finding mission.  

The American millionaire philanthropist came to Sittwe to provide humanitarian aid and to boost economic development. On arrival, Soros met the chief minister of Rakhine State, Maung Maung Ohn, aboard his private plane.

He also met Bengali leaders in Darpaing and Thetkalpyin refugee camps and visited camps in Rakhine and met other leaders in Inbarlar quarter. 

Yangon University students denied anniversary celebration

The Yangon University Student Union was denied the right to hold its 84th anniversary in a university lecture hall by the university rector and instead had to mark the date in the canteen on January 9. 

Approximately 30 students attended the event.

The interim chairperson of the Yangon University Student Union Ei Swe Myat said: “We wanted to hold this event greatly. However, the rector did not let us hold it in the lecture hall. If the authorities regard the student union as unofficial, the associations which they try to form are also illegitimate.” 

Kanbalu farmers demand land back

Farmers say they are still waiting for their land to be returned by the military in Kanbalu, a township in Shwebo District, Sagaing Region, as officials from the area’s land records department had not handed the plots back to their original owners.

Their farmland was seized by the military in the Myaymon village.

Yangon needs planning laws, say activists

The Association of Myanmar Architects (AMA), Yangon Heritage Trust and partner organisations have sent a letter to President Thein Sein, calling for work to tackle the city’s traffic woes, floods, shortage of parking and population density.

The letter says that Yangon sees unsystematic construction projects due to the lack of urban planning laws. The current bylaws that scrutinise the building standards are out of date, it says, and the city cannot cope with its population density. Floods, traffic jams and lack of parking are daily headaches for residents. 

New YCDC member demands basic services

A Ks 100 billion budget has been asked for the development of basic infrastructure in four Dagon Myothit townships, according to Htay Aung (Sakura), a newly elected member of the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC).

The four townships still lack water supplies, electricity, roads and garbage collection. They face flooding during the wet season.

“I have to respond to the needs of people in the Yangon East District who elected me as an YCDC member. Four townships in Dagon Myothit are in urgent need of development,” he said.

10 ministries fall foul of accounts watchdog

The Parliament met representatives of 10 ministries, including information, which had their accounts rejected by the Office of the Auditor General.

The office examined the budget of the ministries from the 2013-14 financial year. 

Lower House MP Sai Thiha Kyaw of the Union Parliament’s Joint Committee for Public Accounts said: “We invited the ministries to discuss their budgetary spending. We questioned the Auditor General’s office about objections that we didn’t understand. Our committee will present the report to Parliament.” 

Jade seized on Muse road

A total of 18 smuggled jade stones, each weighing over a tonne and worth more than Ks 100 million (US$100,000), have been confiscated on the Mandalay-Muse road on January 4.

Timber and deer antlers were also captured last month with most of the merchandise going to China and Thailand, according to customs officials.

In four years, the inspection teams have confiscated goods worth Ks 6 billion, with jade and other gemstones totalling Ks 4 billion.

Farmers accused of trespassing

The deputy medical superintendent of Magway’s Medicine University filed a complaint against local farmers in Hsar Taing Kn and Dhahet Kan villages for trespassing on the university’s land with Magway Myoma police station on January 7.

About 200 acres of farmland in above villages were bought by the university at the price of Ks15,000 (about US$15) per acre in 2001 to build academic hospital and Medicine University (Magway).

More than 80 Chinese arrested for teak smuggling

More than 80 Chinese were arrested for smuggling timber in Waimaw in Kachin State and faced legal action in accordance with Myanmar existing laws. 

The alleged smugglers were rounded up in Washaung, Manwain, Sinikhu, Mandaung, Lawkhunyan and Sadon in Waimaw Township in Kachin State. About 19 Myanmar citizens were also arrested.