The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, October 20, 2014, Page Page 2, Image 2

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October 20, 2014
Official says beer bars are too hot in Vietnam
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A ministry official is proposing that the temperature
in restaurants selling beer in Vietnam should not exceed 86º Fahrenheit, a rule
that will be hard to enforce considering outdoor beer parlors are hugely popular
in the country’s big cities. The Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted Nguyen Phu Cuong,
an official at the Ministry of Industry and Trade which was drafting the
regulation, as saying the rule aims to “protect consumers.” Many drinkers,
however, say the proposal shows how out of touch officials are because of the
popularity of the outdoor bars. Last year, Vietnam’s 90 million people consumed
3 trillion liters of beer, or 33.3 liters (8.8 gallons) per head, making them the top
beer drinkers per capita in Southeast Asia.
Korean chat app vows to protect user privacy
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Popular South Korean messaging app Kakao
Talk says it will stop cooperating with authorities seeking to access private
messages as part of a government crackdown on online criticism. Lee Sirgoo,
CEO at DaumKakao, which owns Kakao Talk, has apologized for its initial
handling of privacy issues. The government’s recent announcement of a
crackdown on what it called online rumors prompted many South Koreans to
switch to foreign messaging services. Lee said Kakao Talk will introduce new
privacy features to protect the information of its users. Next year, it will begin
deleting messages from its servers after they have been read by the intended
recipients. Kakao Talk initially said it would collaborate with authorities and
declined to disclose the number of court-approved search requests it received.
Lunar eclipse seen in Asia and the Americas
TOKYO (AP) — Evening viewers in much of Asia and early risers in parts of
the Americas were treated to a stunning lunar eclipse this month, though clouds
obscured it for some. Lucky ones saw the moon turn orange or red in what is
known as a “blood moon.” The hue results from sunlight scattering off the earth’s
atmosphere. Astronomer Geoff Wyatt at the Sydney Observatory in Australia
called it “very spectacular.” The clouds blocked the view at times, but he said the
moon turned a “lovely reddish brown.” In Japan, clear skies turned partly cloudy
as the eclipse progressed, but people gathered on the rooftops of skyscrapers in
Tokyo saw the moon turn a rusty brown when the clouds cleared.
Three Malaysian banks announce proposed merger
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Three Malaysian banks have announced
plans for a merger to create Southeast Asia’s fourth-biggest commercial lender
and a large Islamic bank. CIMB Group Holdings Berhad, RHB Capital Berhad,
and Malaysia Building Society Berhad said they have submitted the proposed
merger to the country’s central bank. CIMB, the country’s No. 2 lender, and its
smaller rival RHB, ranked fourth, will merge via a share swap, the banks said in
a joint statement. The two banks’ Islamic units will then acquire Malaysia
Building Society to form a mega Islamic bank, it said. If approved, the combined
entity would pass Malayan Banking Berhad as the country’s biggest commercial
bank. Analysts said it will be the fourth largest in the region after three
Singapore banks — DBS Group Holdings, Oversea Chinese Banking Corp., and
United Overseas Bank. “This merger is a natural step in our growth story,
enabling us to become a regional financial powerhouse via the merged entity,”
RHB managing director Kellee Kam said in the statement. The banks said they
hope to sign an agreement by early 2015 and complete the deal by mid-year.
U.S. report says China’s human-rights record worsening
BEIJING (AP) — A recent U.S. report says China’s human-rights record has
worsened in key areas over the past year and that limits on free speech and
assembly are growing. The annual report by the Congressional-Executive
Commission on China said the country has tightened restrictions on civil
society, rights advocates, journalists, and religious organizations. It added that
President Xi Jinping has adhered “to the authoritarian model of his
predecessors” since taking power last year. That model “poses a serious
challenge to U.S.-China relations and China’s own development,” the report
said. It recommended that the U.S. press for more freedoms in China, including
looking at how it issues visas to Chinese officials. The independent committee is
mandated to issue the annual report but does not have power to set policy.
HISTORICAL HEADGEAR. Myat Ko, an ethnic Naga member of Myanmar’s Upper House, representing the gov-
erning Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), adjusts his Naga hat in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. The hat is made
with a cane bowl adorned with wild boar tusks, hornbill feathers, a mountain goat’s red mane, and the fur and claws of a
sun bear. It is about two feet tall, more than a century old, and attracts insects. Myat Ko’s ancestors hunted the animals
themselves. The Nagas, which comprise about 66 different tribes inhabiting the mountainous highlands straddling the
Myanmar-India border, are known as fearsome, headhunting warriors who until very recently lived in primitive conditions.
(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
In Myanmar parliament,
colorful hats cap divisions
By Gabrielle Paluch
The Associated Press
AYPYITAW, Myanmar — The only
question opposition lawmaker U Win
Htein asked parliament last session
was for permission to remove his silk turban,
saying it was causing him headaches and hair
loss. The 72-year-old, known for his irreverent
sense of humor, admits he was just teasing.
But the speaker shot him down just the same.
The civilians elected to Myanmar’s legisla-
ture are required to wear hats when taking the
floor. The appointed military members are not.
Hats hold meaning here, embodying politi-
cal allegiances, accomplishments, and failures
of a nation transitioning from a half-century of
dictatorship to democracy.
The dress code in parliament’s two cham-
bers, based on old laws of the bygone king’s
courts in Mandalay, reflects the major political
camps and the legislature’s ethnic makeup.
Military members distinguish themselves
from their civilian counterparts with a con-
spicuous absence of both headwear and
elections. Men in uniform are appointed to a
quarter of the 664 seats by armed forces chief
Min Aung Hlaing.
The Burman majority don a silk-wrapped,
cane-frame turban known as a gaun baung,
which has come to symbolize the nascent
civilian government. Ethnic minorities wear
everything from feathers and claws to tea
towels on their heads. The most famous legis-
lator, Aung San Suu Kyi, wears simple white
Asian Currency
Exchange Rates
Units per U.S. dollar as of 10/17
South Korea cuts interest rate to record low
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s central bank lowered its key interest
rate to a record low as it tries to bolster a fragile economic recovery. The bank
also downgraded its growth forecasts for Asia’s fourth-largest economy. The
Bank of Korea trimmed the key rate by a quarter of a percentage point to two
percent for October. It was the second rate cut this year after the central bank
lowered lending costs in August following a deadly ferry disaster, the shock of
which dented retail sales and other spending. It also revised down its growth
forecast for South Korea. It said the economy will likely expand by 3.5 percent
this year, not the 3.8 percent it forecast three months earlier, citing slower-than-
expected improvements in capital expenditure and consumer spending. Next
year, South Korea’s economy will grow 3.9 percent, instead of four percent. The
2015 growth forecast takes into account the government’s big budget plan for
2015, which is expected to add 0.2 of a percentage point to the growth, the bank’s
governor, Lee Ju-yeol, said. Lee said growth momentum is “not sufficient”
without the government’s expansionary budget. In February 2009, the bank
lowered its policy interest rate to two percent in the wake of the global financial
Like the hats, political allegiances in
parliament are as complicated as they are
Suu Kyi, leader of the opposition and Nobel
Peace laureate, spent decades under house
arrest. She now sits alongside her former
captors, in turns scolding or praising the
military. It concerns some members of her
National League for Democracy party, who
quietly observe her tone shifting with her
presidential prospects, which were never
bright thanks to a law that was designed to
keep her out of the top elected office.
Meanwhile, the military is even better
represented than the 166 hatless heads would
Many of those wearing the gaun baung of the
ruling Union Solidarity and Development
Party are retired men of uniform. But while
the heavy influence of the armed forces has
drawn cynicism, the party has not always
voted in lockstep with the military.
The military, viewed abroad as being re-
sponsible for driving the country into decades
of poverty, war, and dysfunction, sees itself as
the glue that binds the country and, perhaps
counterintuitively, the arbiters of peace in the
world’s longest running civil war involving a
number of armed ethnic groups. The posting to
Naypyitaw’s parliament is seen as unglam-
orous, as it’s not well-paid and offers no
chances for promotion.
The most brightly colored headgear belongs
to ethnic politicians from conflict-stricken
Continued on page 4
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