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Obama calls Myanmar president, endorses election as Suu Kyi eyes majority

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Obama calls Myanmar president, endorses election as Suu Kyi eyes majority
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: U.S. President Barack Obama called Myanmar President Thein Sein on Thursday to congratulate him on successfully staging a historic general election in which democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi trounced the ruling camp.

Obama also called Suu Kyi and her opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), which has won about 80 percent of the seats declared so far in the lower house, to commend them for their
success, which puts her on course to form the new cabinet. NLD is also well ahead in the upper house and regional assemblies.

If the full results confirm the trend, Suu Kyi’s triumph will sweep out an old guard of former generals that has run Myanmar, also known as Burma, since Thein Sein ushered in sweeping democratic and economic reforms four years ago.

“The two leaders discussed the importance for all parties to respect the official results once announced and to work together with a spirit of unity to form an inclusive, representative government that reflects the will of the people,” the White House said in a statement following Obama’s call with Thein Sein.

Thein Sein’s presidential spokesman and Information Minister Ye Htut said on his Facebook page: “He said America would continue cooperating with the Myanmar government.”

Obama has visited Myanmar twice over the past three years, hoping to make its transition to democracy a foreign policy legacy of his presidency.

In his call with Suu Kyi, Obama “commended her for her tireless efforts and sacrifice over so many years to promote a more inclusive, peaceful, and democratic Burma.”

Thein Sein and the powerful army chief Min Aung Hlaing have already endorsed Suu Kyi’s victory, congratulating her on winning a majority of seats in the first free election in 25 years.

The two reiterated their commitment to respect the result and agreed to Suu Kyi’s request to hold reconciliation talks soon, although the parties are still to agree on the details.

Such unambiguous endorsements of Suu Kyi’s victory could smooth the lengthy post-election transition, ahead of the first session of parliament, which reconvenes on Monday.

It also sets the stage for cooperation between democratic activists and the army, which had fought them during half a century of iron-fisted rule before a handover to a semi-civilian government in 2011.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE

“The government will respect and follow the people’s choice and decision, and work on transferring power peacefully according to the timetable,” read a statement on the Facebook page of Thein Sein’s spokesman.

The armed forces also congratulated Suu Kyi. The military continues to wield considerable power in Myanmar’s political institutions, under a constitution drafted before the end of nearly 50 years of junta rule.

In addition to the armed forces holding an unelected 25 percent bloc of seats in parliament, the commander-in-chief, Min Aung Hlaing, nominates the heads of three powerful ministries – interior, defence and border security.

The interior ministry gives him control of the Southeast Asian nation’s pervasive bureaucracy, which could pose a significant obstacle to the NLD’s ability to execute policy.

It is unclear how Suu Kyi and the generals will work together.

“Tatmadaw will do what is best in cooperation with the new government during the post-election period. Public trust can be won through correct deeds,” said Min Aung Hlaing in a speech posted on his Facebook account, referring to the military.

“Tatmadaw will continue to strengthen the multi-party democracy system,” he said.

Although Min Aung Hlaing’s tone matched Suu Kyi’s statements seeking reconciliation, their relationship is said to be strained.

One of the biggest sources of tension between Suu Kyi and the military is a clause in the constitution that bars her from the presidency because her children are foreign nationals. Few doubt that the military inserted the clause to rule her out.

NO AUTHORITY

Suu Kyi has become increasingly defiant on that presidential clause as the scale of her victory has become apparent, making it clear she intends to run the country regardless of whom the NLD elects as president.

“I make all the decisions because I’m the leader of the winning party. The president will be one whom we will choose just to meet the requirements of the constitution,” said Suu Kyi in an interview with Channel News Asia.

“He will have no authority. He will act in accordance with the decisions of the party,” said Suu Kyi, adding that the president will be “told exactly what he can do.”

Results so far gave Suu Kyi’s party 217 out of the 330 seats not allocated to the military in the lower house.

To form Myanmar’s first democratically elected government since the early 1960s, the NLD needs to win more than two-thirds of seats that were contested and, with 7 seats in the lower house not contested because of fighting in some areas, it is now only 2 seats off this target.

The NLD has said it is on course for more than 250 seats in the lower house, well above the 221 needed to control the chamber. Reuters was not able to independently verify the party’s estimates of its own performance.

Final results are due no later than two weeks after Sunday’s poll.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50%

Caitlin Ashworth

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Richest 1% responsible for twice the amount of carbon emissions than the poorest 50% | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Alexander Popov

The richest people in the world, who make up just 1% of the population, are responsible for a significant amount of carbon emissions. A study shows that the “1 percenters” make up twice as much carbon pollution than the poorest half of the world. Some say the poor are the least responsible for climate change, but have to deal with most of the negative consequences.

In a 25 year study led by Oxfam, researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute found that wealthy countries were responsible for using up nearly a third of the Earth’s carbon budget. The study was conducted from 1990 to 2015, when annual emissions grew by 60%.

Oxfam is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organisations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, founded in 1942 and led by Oxfam International. It is a major nonprofit group with an extensive collection of operations.

63 million people made up the richest 1% of the world. Since 1990, they have been responsible for 9% of the ‘carbon budget’. The carbon budget is the maximum amount of greenhouse gases that can go into the air before temperature rises to catastrophic levels. 3.1 billion people make up the poorest half of the world’s population. The carbon emissions growth rate of the rich 1% was 3 times more than the poorest half of the world.

There’s not just an economic inequality between the rich and the poor, according to the head of policy, advocacy and research, Tim Gore. He told AFP the research shows the world’s “carbon inequality.”

“It’s not just that extreme economic inequality is divisive in our societies, it’s not just that it slows the rate of poverty reduction …But there is also a third cost which is that it depletes the carbon budget solely for the purpose of the already affluent growing their consumption … And that of course has the worse impacts on the poorest and least responsible.”

Carbon emissions have decreased since the pandemic. But just a few months doesn’t take away the damage that has been done for years. Temperatures are still on track to rise several degrees this century. Although the 2015 Paris climate deal was set to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels, emissions have continued to increase.

“It’s clear that the carbon intensive and highly unequal model of economic growth over the last 20-30 years has not benefited the poorest half of humanity… It’s a false dichotomy to suggest that we have to choose between economic growth and fixing the climate crisis.”

Some say the global economy needs to prioritise “green growth.” If not, the decrease in pollution during the pandemic will have a very small and insignificant overall impact on climate change. Some say carbon emissions affect the poorest nations the most who don’t have enough resources to fight natural disasters possibly brought on by the rising temperatures, like wildfires and droughts.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | AFP

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World

England’s self-quarantine rule breakers will receive up to a 10,000 pound fine

The Thaiger & The Nation

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England’s self-quarantine rule breakers will receive up to a 10,000 pound fine | The Thaiger

England’s self-quarantine rule breakers are receiving up to a 10,000 pound fine, starting September 28, according to British PM Boris Johnson. The fine will be handed down to anyone who tests positive for the virus or has been in contact with someone who has the virus and dodges the rules for self-quarantine.

For the first offence, rule breakers will receive a 1,000 pound fine and from there it will rise up to 10,000 pounds for those who repeatedly break the rules. Employers who threaten to fire staff over choosing to self-isolate instead of going to work will receive the maximum fine amount of 10,000 pounds. For those lower income workers, Johnson says they will receive a 500 pound support payment in addition to other benefits in which they may qualify.

Despite current British Covid-19 quarantine guidelines matching those of the rest of the world, there has reportedly been little enforcement of self-quarantine rules. Now, Britain is seeing a fast influx of Covid cases prompting the government to get the police involved in compliance checks.

Johnson has come under scrutiny after repeatedly being called to issue a lockdown nationwide with reports coming in that he is planning to reject calls from advisors to issue a 2 week lockdown to slow the virus’ spread.

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Thailand

US accuses Chinese companies of exploitation along the Mekong River

The Thaiger & The Nation

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US accuses Chinese companies of exploitation along the Mekong River | The Thaiger

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is accusing Chinese companies of “exploitative practices” in the Mekong River region after a new partnership has been launched to combat “transnational crimes”. Pompeo named the China Communications Construction Company as one of the big offenders and says the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for the increase in human, wildlife and drug trafficking in the region.

He says the new partnership will also strengthen water security for partner countries where China has added to a drought in the region as an upstream damming by China has been carried out in “a completely non-transparent and non-consultative way.”

“We encourage countries of the Mekong region to hold the CCP accountable to its pledge to share its water data. That data should be public. It should be released year-round. It should include water and water-related data, as well as land use, and dam construction and operation data.”

“We stand with our ASEAN partners as we insist on the rule of law and respect for sovereignty in the South China Sea, where Beijing has pursued aggressive campaigns of coercion and environmental devastation.”

Pompeo also said such companies associated with the CCP are linked to human and narcotics trafficking but he did not provide evidence to support the accusation.

Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand all share resources of the Mekong delta and Pompeo reiterated that they “deserve good partners”. The US has reportedly pledged a total of US$156.4 million for multiple initiatives under the new US-Mekong Partnership.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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