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Phuket Gazette World News: Muslims vanish as Buddhist attacks approach Myanmar’s biggest city

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Phuket Gazette World News: Muslims vanish as Buddhist attacks approach Myanmar’s biggest city | The Thaiger

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

Muslims vanish as Buddhist attacks approach Myanmar’s biggest city
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The Muslims of Sit Kwin were always a small group who numbered no more than 100 of the village’s 2,000 people. But as sectarian violence led by Buddhist mobs spreads across central Myanmar, they and many other Muslims are disappearing.

Their homes, shops and mosques destroyed, some end up in refugee camps or hide in the homes of friends or relatives. Dozens have been killed.

“We don’t know where they are,” says Aung Ko Myint, 24, a taxi-driver in Sit Kwin, where Buddhists yesterday ransacked a store owned by one of the town’s last remaining Muslims. “He escaped this morning just before the mob got here.”

Since 42 people were killed in violence that erupted in Meikhtila town on March 20, unrest led by hardline Buddhists has spread to at least 10 other towns and villages in central Myanmar, with the latest incidents only a two-hour drive from the commercial capital, Yangon.

The crowds are fired up by anti-Muslim rhetoric, spread by telephone and social media networks such as Facebook, from monks preaching about a so-called “969 movement”.

The number is derived from Buddhism – the three numbers refer to various attributes of the Buddha, his teachings and the monkhood – but it has come to represent a radical form of anti-Islamic nationalism which urges Buddhists to boycott Muslim-run shops and services.

Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, but about 5 percent of its 60 million people are Muslims. There are large Muslim communities in Yangon, Mandalay and towns across Myanmar’s heartland.

The unrest poses the biggest challenge to a reformist government that took office in 2011 after nearly half a century of military rule.

In a nationally televised speech on Thursday, President Thein Sein warned “political opportunists and religious extremists” against instigating further violence.

“I will not hesitate to use force as a last resort to protect the lives and safeguard the property of the general public,” he said.

Dusk-to-dawn curfews are in effect in many areas of Bago, the region where Sit Kwin lies, while four townships in central Myanmar are under a state of emergency imposed last week.

But the security forces are still battling against pockets of unrest, while state-run media reports 68 people have been arrested for unrest which made almost 13,000 people homeless.

Rumours

The trouble in Sit Kwin began four days ago, when people riding 30 motorbikes drove through town urging villagers to expel Muslim residents, said witnesses. They then trashed a mosque and a row of Muslim shops and houses.

“They came with anger that was born from rumours,” said one man who declined to be identified.

Further south, police in Letpadan have stepped up patrols in the farming village of 22,000 people about 160km from Yangon.

Three monks led a 30-strong group towards a mosque yesterday. Police dispersed the crowd, many of whom carried knives and staves, and briefly detained two people. They were later released at the request of township officials, police said.

“I won’t let it happen again,” said police commander Phone Myint. “The president yesterday gave the police authority to control the situation.”

The abbot who led the protest, Khamainda, said he took to the streets after hearing rumours passed by other monks by telephone, about violence between Buddhists and Muslims in other towns. He said he wanted revenge against Muslims for the destruction by the Taliban of Buddhist statues in Bamiyan province in Afghanistan in 2001.

“There is no problem with the way they live. But they are the minority and we are the majority. And when the minority insults our religion we get concerned,” he told Reuters. “We will come out again if we get a chance.”

Letpadan villagers fear the tension will explode. “I’m sure they will come back and destroy the mosque,” says Aung San Kyaw, 35, a Muslim. “We’ve never experienced anything like this.”

Across the street, Hla Tan, a 67-year-old Buddhist, shares the fear. “We have lived peacefully for years. Nothing can happen between us unless outsiders come. But if they come, I know we can’t stop them,” he said.

North of Sit Kwin is the farming town of Minhla, which endured about three hours of violence on both Wednesday and Thursday.

About 300 people, most from the nearby village of Ye Kyaw, gathered in the early afternoon on Wednesday. The crowd swelled to about 800 as townsfolk joined, a Minhla policeman told Reuters. They then destroyed three mosques and 17 shops and houses, he said.

No Buddhist monks were involved, said witnesses.

Very Nervous

The mob carried sticks, metal pipes and hammers, said Hla Soe, 60, a Buddhist who runs an electrical repair shop in Minhla. “No one could stop them,” he said.

About 200 soldiers and police eventually intervened to restore a fragile peace. “I’m very nervous that it will happen again,” said Hla Soe.

About 500 of Minhla’s township’s 100,000 people are Muslims, said the police officer, who estimated two-thirds of those Muslim had fled.

However, Tun Tun is staying. “I have no choice,” says the 26-year-old, whose tea shop was looted by Buddhists, one armed with a chainsaw.

He plans to rebuild his shop, whose daily revenue of 10,000 kyat (about 330 baht) supports an extended family of 12. On the wall of his ransacked kitchen is a portrait of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He did not believe she could do anything to help.

Tun Tun traced the rising communal tension in Minhla to speeches given on February 26 and 27 by a celebrated monk visiting from Mon State, to the east of Yangon.

He spoke to a crowd of 2,000 about the “969 movement”, said Win Myint, 59, who runs a Buddhist community centre which hosted the monk.

After the speech, Muslims were jeered and fewer Buddhists frequented his tea shop, said Tun Tun. Stickers bearing the number 969 appeared on non-Muslim street stalls across Minhla.

President Thein Sein’s ambitious reform programme has won praise, but his government has also been criticised for failing to stem violence last year in Rakhine State in western Myanmar, where officials say 110 people were killed and 120,000 were left homeless, most of them Rohingya Muslims.

The U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar said on Thursday he had received reports of “state involvement” in the recent violence at Meikhtila.

Soldiers and police sometimes stood by “while atrocities have been committed before their very eyes, including by well-organised ultra-nationalist Buddhist mobs”, said the rapporteur, Tomas Ojea Quintana. “This may indicate direct involvement by some sections of the state or implicit collusion and support for such actions.”

Late yesterday, three monks were preparing to give another “969” speech in Ok Kan, a town 113km from Yangon.

— Phuket Gazette Editors



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People have short memories. Why the Boeing 737 MAX will survive the current crisis.

The Thaiger

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People have short memories. Why the Boeing 737 MAX will survive the current crisis. | The Thaiger

If history is anything to go on people’s current fears about the Boeing 737 MAX jets will be short-lived.

The make0ver of the venerable 737 plane, the most popular passenger jet in history, was supposed to set Boeing on a path to success. Airlines said it was the plane they wanted – perfect for short-haul, cheap to run, new efficient engines.

Boeing didn’t go down the path of coming up with a new single-aisle jet to compete with the new Airbus 320 Neo series, instead they decided to come up with a revised 737. The revised plane has slightly larger and more powerful engines, is a little higher off the ground, features some new hi-tech construction materials making it lighter, upgraded avionics and, importantly, new software that was meant to make it even safer.

You can identify a 737 MAX because of the two-spoke winglets at the end of the wings.

Now two of the new series 737 MAX have crashed within six months with investigators speaking about ‘similarities’ in the early days of the crash investigation.

Travel site Kayak even added an option to screen out flights using the 737 Max jets.

If panic persisted, the media kept writing stories about it and airlines were unwilling to buy it, the future of Boeing would be in jeopardy.

That’s the current situation. But it also reflects a similar time during a four-month period in late 1965 and early 1966 when four new Boeing 727 jets crashed. Three of the crashes occurred while the planes were attempting to land at US airports. Two of them happened within three days of each other in November 1965. The 727 was the first commercial jet to fly with less than four jet engines.

Like the 737 MAX crashes, the US regulator, the FAA, defended the planes’ safety and refused to ground the 727s at the time. It issued a statement the day after the third fatal 727 crash, saying that it could find no pattern in the crashes. It declined to ground the jet.

At the time Boeing was still riding on its reputation built around the Boeing 707 jet, the first successful commercial passenger jet (the British Comet was the first commercial passenger jet in 1952 but had a series of catastrophic crashes from which it never recovered profitable sales).

Eventually the Civil Aeronautics Board, which was created in the wake of the crashes, cleared the 727 and blamed pilot error for the accidents. Pilots were not prepared to fly the 727, and that led to the crashes. The new wings of the revolutionary (for the time) 727 made the plane descend much faster than was possible in the past, giving pilots the chance to slow the planes down faster and land on much shorter runways than the jets of the time, a big selling point.

But the pilots at the controls of the four doomed jets in the 60s were apparently unprepared for how quickly the planes would descend with the new wings.

But Boeing did get past the 727 crisis. Increased training led to safer operation of the plane, and these kinds of crashes ended. Customers soon forgot.

The 727 went on to become the bestselling jet of its time for Boeing. It eventually sold 1,831 of the jets, a lot when flying in jets was still mostly reserved for the ‘jet set’ and people able to afford the expensive ticket prices of the time.

“I don’t know that people will care that much for very long,” says Shem Malmquist, a Boeing 727 and 777 Captain.

“They only worry about the price of the ticket.”

People have short memories. Why the Boeing 737 MAX will survive the current crisis. | News by The Thaiger

The Boeing 727 suffered four high-profile crashes in the mid 60s and went on to become a flying favourite.

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Preliminary data suggests ‘similarities’ to Lion Air incident – Ethiopian Airlines crash

The Thaiger

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Preliminary data suggests ‘similarities’ to Lion Air incident – Ethiopian Airlines crash | The Thaiger

PHOTO: The ‘black box’ data recorder arrived in Paris last week

Preliminary data analysis from the black boxes of last week’s Ethiopian Airlines plane crash has revealed “similarities” to last October’s Lion Air incident.

Ethiopian Minister of Transport, Dagmawit Moges, says that investigators recovered all relevant data from the data recorders on board the fateful final flight of the Boeing 737 MAX jet.

He did not provide additional details about the alleged “similarities” between the two crashes saying they were “subject to additional investigation. The black box recorders are being evaluated in France after the Ethiopian aviation authorities said they didn’t have the facilities to analyze the data. The recovered recorders were sent to Paris last Thursday.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed on March 10, just six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. It mimics characteristics of the other Boeing 737 MAX crash six months ago in Jakarta where the pilot and crew reported problems with the flight controls before plummeting to the ground (or the sea in the case of the Jakarta crash).

Similarities between the two incidents, both of which remain under investigation, led aviation authorities around the world to ban the 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 model aircraft.

Investigators suspect the Lion Air crash may have been caused by a combination of software, pilot education of new flight systems (introduced by Boeing), and a faulty angle-of-attack sensor on the outside of the plane that could have transmitted incorrect data.

Boeing’s new Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, special software designed for the new MAX model jets, may have been responsible for forcing the plane’s nose down, over0riding the pilot’s corrections.

The Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued a statement saying the company “continues to support the investigation, and is working with the authorities to evaluate new information as it becomes available.”

He added the company is “finalising its development of a previously announced software update that will address the MCAS flight control law’s behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs.

Boeing may apply for special permits to flight-test modifications of newly assembled 737 MAX aircraft in U.S. airspace during the worldwide commercial-flight ban of all 737 MAX-family jets.

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Accused Australian killer appears in Christchurch court charged with murder

The Thaiger

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Accused Australian killer appears in Christchurch court charged with murder | The Thaiger

A 28 year old Australian man smirked as he walked into the Christchurch District Court in New Zealand’s South Island this morning, charged with murder after a carefully planned mass shooting at lunchtime prayers at two mosques.

The public was banned from the courtroom for the proceedings, but an angry crowd waited outside the court building.

Brenton Tarrant was brought to court by armed prison officers into the heavily secured central city courtroom, packed with local and international journalists.

According to reporters, the man kept turning towards the media and ‘smiling’. They report the man was ‘eerily calm’ during his appearance.

He has initially appeared on one charge of murder but is expected to face further charges. In New Zealand a murder charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Press from all over the world gathered in the courtroom, but the general public was banned.

Meanwhile, 18 year old Daniel John Burrough of Christchurch has been charged with intent to excite hostility or ill will against any group of persons on the ground of the colour, race or ethnic or national origins.

The alleged mass slaughter of Muslim worshippers at Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, in central Christchurch, left 49 dead and more than 20 injured.

41 people died at Al Noor Mosque, seven at the Linwood Mosque and another died after being rushed to hospital.

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