Phyu Ei Thein (born 1974)

Lwin Lwin Mon

Co-editors: Lilly Seiler & Hans-Bernd Zöllner

Introduction

In 2004, 30 years old Phyu Ei Thein started a small business near one of Myanmar favourite tourist spots, Nyaung Shwe at the Inle Lake. A number of local women produced woven products using local techniques and designs with dyes derived from fruit, roots, flowers and other organic sources. From 2006 on, the first textiles were exported to Japan. Eight years later, she was awarded the Accelerating Women Entrepreneurship Award by the leading German enterprise operating in international cooperation aiming at sustainable development. More awards should follow.

Two years before, in 2012, she co-founded the Sunflower group together with some 14 other loom initiatives that aims to promote Myanmar arts and quality textile products. Shortly later, she offered handicraft training for ethnic Kachin women in one of the many IDP camps for people in Myanmar’s northern Kachin State who had to leave their homes because of the civil war there. In January 2020, she opened the textile Weaving Design Competition of 14 Textile Vocational Training Schools of the whole Myanmar. In early July 2020, one can learn from Facebook that the weaving studio in Nyaung Shwe donated 2000 washable masks with a flower motive made there to monastic schools and nun schools with the assistance of a Myanmar company.1 The designs had been drafted by Phyu Ei Thein.

This enumeration indicates that is not easy to find just a single term that covers her various activities, talents and concerns. She might be called a social inspirer and entrepreneur whose activities are widespread and touch core issues of Myanmar’s politics and social life like the peace process and gender equality.

Biography

Phyu Ei Thein was born in Yangon in 1971. Her father U Maung Maung Thein is a famous art educator and artist called Pathein Maung Maung Thein. Her mother is Daw Mya Mya. Her elder sister Chaw Ei Thein is a well know artist2 living in the USA. She further has two younger brothers.

From 1991 to 1996, she studied Physics at the University of Yangon Physics because of her interest in science in her childhood. She received B.Sc. (Phys), M.Sc. (Q2), Physics Major diplomas. After that, she studied Japanese language at Yangon University of Foreign Languages from 1996 to 1998 after already having started to learns the language from 1988 on. She received her diploma in Japanese and proceeded to Japan for further studies from 2000 to 2003 where she continued her studies in Tokyo’s Taisho University and the National University Hiroshima in Japanese language and Educational Social Science. Back in Myanmar, she got the idea to work as an official travel guide, but it proved to be difficult to get a job. Therefore, she turned to the textile business. In 2015, she continued her studies in Japan by attending another program as a Researcher in Textile, Weaving & Dyeing, at the Kanazawa College of Art, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.

In 1994, the Sunflower Art Gallery was opened in Yangon’s Sanchaung township3 as a family business in which Phyu Ei Thein participated as a curator. The gallery not just displayed pictures of Maung Maung Thein, his eldest daughter and other artists, but offered art courses as well. Already in 1984, art classes for children aged between 6 and 14 had been offered. Later, the paintings of children were shown to the public as well. From 1996-2000, she further was active as a freelance tour guide after attending a training program offered by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and very early shared her knowledge of Japanese with others. even before he had started to study at the University.


After her return from her first studies in Japan, she founded the Sunflowers Organic Dye Weaving Studio, Nyaung Shwe in Southern Shan State in 2004. This happened after she had visited the place together with Yumiko Ichihara, a teacher she had met during her stay in Japan who was “like a mother to her” as she remembers. She saw many handloom weavers there and got the idea to help them by selling woven products from the region to Japan.4

Phyu Ei Thein and Japanese friends

The main aim was to help building a sustainable future for Myanmar’s weavers by making use of traditional skills in combination with innovative techniques. The usually used chemical colours, she realised, polluted the Inle Lake, therefore she decided to use natural dyes that had been in use in the country for a long time. The first products of the new enterprise were sold in various shops in Myanmar and exported to Japan through a company founded for that purpose named “Myanmar Clothes”. The Logo of the company “Yn’P” stands for Yumiko & Phyu. She visits Japan every year and is still in contact with Yumiko.

Phyu Ei Thein’s role concentrated on developing, designing clothes and networking in order to promote handloom schools to cope with the need to adapt to the requirements of the market and to help the teaching personal earn a living.. Over the years, the weaving workshop in Nyaung Shwe developed into a centre of a country-wide network of initiatives and like minded people assisting women to earn a living by producing high quality garment products that could be sold both locally and abroad.

In 2014, Phyu Ei Thein co-founded the River Ayeyarwady Gallery in Yangon’s 35th Street (Middle Block) together with three other people. The gallery combined art exhibitions on the ground floor of the house and displayed handicraft products on upper floors with a focus of works of handicapped people. The following list illustrates her various activities in cooperation with other agencies:

  • Worked as a local coordinator in Research Residency Program and Lat Khat Than Project of the British Council in partnership with Small Scale Industries Department, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation to explore the artisan practices and social conditions of crafts people in Myanmar.
  • Gave Natural Dye and Development training of weaving skills in Myanmar’s Dry Zone (Mboutik Program of ActionAid).
  • Gave Natural Dye Training in Mudon, Mon State, Program of Ministry of Hotel and Tourism & ADB (Asia Development Bank)
  • Gave Development of Women Entrepreneurship Skills, Bago, Metta Foundation
  • Working as a National Advisor and Trainer for the Economic Empowerment of the Poor and Women in the East-West Economic Corridor Project with ADB and Ministry of Hotel and Tourism since 2017.
  • Worked with Bridge Asia Japan (BAJ) as a local professional expert for UN Women Project in Rakhine State from 2018 to 2019.
  • Gave Natural Dye Training in Sittwe, Rakhine State (project of the Lutheran World Federation).

Furthermore, from 2006 on, she worked as a Textile Designer for Myanmar Clothes Co. Ltd, Tokyo. Her advice is sought by a number of government agencies and her activities are shown in the government TV channels MRTV 4 and 7.

Aims and Achievements

At the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century, Phyu Ei Thein is a Myanmar celebrity regarded as one of the women impersonating a bright future of her country in the footsteps of and together with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. This assessment is mainly founded on her activity as an entrepreneur producing goods that can proudly claim to be “Made in Myanmar”. A book about “Transformative Women Leaders in Myanmar Society” published by the Myanmar Gender Equality Network together with Mizzima Media portrays Phyu Ei Thein under the rubric “business”.5 Such appraisal is correct but covers only a part of what Phyu Ei Thein tried to achieve. She describes herself as a person who wants to promote „social business“ in Myanmar. The following paragraphs deal with some aspects of this aim that is based on her background as a member of a family of artists.

a) „Green“ business.

Phyu Ei Thein’s career began through a combination of her appreciation of the pretty designs produced by weavers at the Inle Lake and her experiences in Japan that helped her to conceive the general idea to export hand-woven silk fabrics to Japan and thus to increase the productivity of the weavers. She established contacts with the Japanese External Trade Organisation (JETRO) that helped to sell the products „Made in Myanmar“ in Japan. As a consequence, the need for quality control and the special feature of Myanmar traditional handicraft had to be combined. Zips were not used and special buttons designed. A special innovation was the use of natural instead of chemical dye that resulted from her observation that the Inle Lake got poisoned and that the loom workshops might contribute to the problem.

b) Communal welfare.

In November 2013, Phyu Ei Thein was interviewed by the Kumudra News Journal about her activity of parahita to people in need. This Pali term can be translated as „welfare for others“ or „community welfare“. In the interview, she shared her idea that she started to perform this activity after she had learned about the meed of socio-economic and political equality in refugee camps in Kachin and Shan States. In December 2001, she attended a painting training at a Monastic Education School in Shwebo, Sagaing Division. One of her friends explained to her about the situation of internal displaced refugees living camps in nearby Kachin State. People did not have enough warm clothes and fuels for fire there during the actual cold season there. When she heard this information, she felt sorry. She remembered this feeling on her next visit to Japan. Weather was very cold there, but her room had a heater and she could enjoy the warmth. She tried to find out how to help and then asked for donations of warm clothes from her Japanese friends and also informed her Yangon friends.

In the end, an initiative named “Help for Kachin ethnic brothers and sisters living in Kachin refugee camps” participated in the Shwe-da-gon Pagoda Festival. With the help of cartoons and other means, information about the difficulties of ethnic people who suffered from the impact of Civil War was made public. In March 2012, the first group left from Yangon to the Kachin State with donations collected. After her return from Japan and the arrival of the clothes donated there, in the end of April, 2012 she travelled to refugee camps in Kachin State with boxes of clothes and money. She was accompanied by a magician and other donors. When they arrived at the camps, the people were entertained with magic tricks, songs, games and drawing paintings with children. The main intention was temporary stress reduction and building mutual respect and confidence. According to her interview, she shared her experiences from the feedback of the people in the camps as a means to spread the spirit of mutual understanding and the effect of Civil War.

c) Contributing to peace building.

In June 2014 Phyu Ei Thein started yet another project connected to her work in the field of women’s social development and her activities for the people living in the IDP camops.. As a response to the precarious situation of Kachin women in refugee camps located in northern BMyanmar, Phyu Ei Thein started to offer handicraft training, teaching them to make small pieces of jewellery which can be sold in Yangon and help to provide an income for these women who otherwise do not have the possibility to work. The products are described as high quality, produced with a mix of traditional techniques and some of Phyu Ei Thein’s own ideas and styles. The project’s long term goal is to get those women back on their feet and provide a job opportunity and a steady income for the time they leave the camps. Apart from that Phyu Ei Thein is trying to encourage some of the younger girls without proper education in the camps to attend loom institutes to secure them with long lasting job opportunities. With this project Phyu Ei Thein does not only continues to pursue her work in the field of social entrepreneurship, in working together with people from refugee camps her involvements take on a political dimension in terms of supporting women and gender equality as well as in engaging in what can be called a small scale peace building process. :

d) Social Networking.

Another aspect of her performance „social business“ is to help women earning a regular income. The Sunflower group aims at connecting initiatives that cares for more financial security for women. The beginning started in 2007 when Phyu Ei Thein came in contact with the Zaungda Handloom School. Together with the women being trained there, she developed ways of weaving new designs. Then it came into her mind, that the weavers would not be able to concentrate on their work if they were poor. She therefore besides offering technical advice for design, quality production and fair trade paid a basic salary and encouraged local hand-loom weavers and vocational weaving schools to do the same.

She also tries to create more responsible business for the younger generation through the development of community enterprise, with the empowering of young women. She encourages people who are working for the supply chain in the cotton fields, yarn production, natural dyeing, hand weaving and marketing for textile artisans in Myanmar.

A handloom at the Lokanat Gallery

Other interesting jobs she does is acting locally and globally as advisor and co-coordinator for collaborating projects. She worked as a local coordinator of the Lat Khat Than Project of British Council that aims at developing a weaving and vocational institute into a Centre of Excellence through an innovative pilot model, which will be adapted to 13 other schools nationwide.

Furthermore, she gave natural dye weaving skill training in Myanmar’s dry zone for a project of Action Aid) as well as in other regions in cooperation with a variety of organisations. among them the Metta Foundation, Ministry of Hotel and Tourism and the Asia Development Bank (ADB).

e) Curating

On September 5, 2017, a special kind of art exhibition kicked off at the National Museum in Yangon named „Lat Khat Than“ like the project of the British Council. It showed products from Myanmar traditional weaving. Phyu Ei Thein helped curating the event and thus tied in with her work at her father’s art gallery. She participated in a number of similar exhibitions like the „3rd Made in Myanmar Exhibition, The Art of Textile & Accessories – 2016”, at the renowned Lokanat Galleries, Yangon. In 2014 she participated in a special event on the occasion of Aung San Suu Kyi’s 69the birthday. Originally, the exhibit planned to put 69 portraits of Suu Kyi on display, some of them pained by her sister. But some more were added later, among them two by the famous artist Khin Maung Yin who had just died shortly before. The exhibition was held at the River Ayeyarwady Gallery co-founded by her. In November 2012 “The Art of Peace” Art Exhibition took place in the Thiri Hall, Royal Rose Restaurant as a fundraising for the victims of the civil war in Kachin State. In Japan, she assisted in holding a number of “Myanmar Art and Crafts” exhibitions from 2006 to 2014.

Assessment

To assess Phyu Ei Thein’s impact is not yet possible, because she is still performing a lot of activities in a number of professional and societal fields that are absolutely not finished yet. She is widely recognised as one of the outstanding women of contemporary Myanmar. She has been gifted with many talents which she puts at use to empower other women to get a decent salary for their work and thus reduce their dependency within the rather shaky Myanmar labour market. At the same time connecting Myanmar traditional textile crafts with global technology and international trade thus contributing to uplift the reputation of her country that is often characterised as „backward“ in many regards. Her main motivation seems to be rooted in the Burmese-Buddhist tradition of „helping others“ as a practical way of cohering society. Therefore, it is not an accident that a picture showing her together with Aung San Suu Kyi can be found on her Facebook page, to whom Phyu Ei Thein, an outspoken NLD supporter, by her own account maintains a close relationship.

Sources

This biography is based on talks with Phyu Ei Thein during 2019 and 2020. Information provided by people who know her and some sources comes from website and local and international articles and interviews, for example:

Interview with Phyu Ei Thein, Kumudra News Journal, 12 November 2013

Interview ‚The Can Stand on Their Own“, August 26, 2014, Irrawaddy (https://www.irrawaddy.com/in-person/interview/can-stand.html; accessed 17.7.2020)

Interview with Phyu Ei Thein, Popular News, Vol.6, No.49, December 11, 2014

Gender Equality Network 2018 Transformative Women leaders in Myanmar: 78-84 (https://www.genmyanmar.org/research_and_publications?year=2017; accessed 9.7.2020).

Footnotes

1https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10158519040803432&set=pcb.10158519041123432&type=3&theater (accessed 9.7.2020).

2For some more details see http://www.a-i-t.net/en/residency/2016/04/chaw-ei-thien.php

3The gallery and the shop selling sunflower products is located at No. 54 (1st Fl), Shan Gone St, Myenigon, Sanchaung, Yangon, Myanmar.

4Gender Equality Network 2018 Transformative Women leaders in Myanmar (78-84): 78. (https://www.genmyanmar.org/research_and_publications; accessed 9.7.2020).

5The other rubrics are: Peace, Health and Sport, Education, Social and Others. One can argue that Phyu Ei Thein could have been listed under the other rubrics – with the e4xception of “Health and Sports” as well.

Bao Youxiang (born 1949)

Alexander Zimmermann

Foreword

Bao Youxiang (鲍有祥), also known under his Myanmar name Pau Yu Chang and his Wa name Tax Log Pang (Chinese Wa: Dax Lōug Bang), receives little attention in Myanmar’s political history literature alongside Khun Sa and Lo Hsing Han as one of the „kings“ of the opium trade in the Golden Triangle.

Often, his name is only a footnote related to the Communist Party of Burma as well as the ‘Wa’ Self-Administered Division1 in the Shan State. But while Khun Sa and Lo Hsing Han have long withdrawn from the political stage, this is not the case with „Chairman Bao“.

Although Bao Youxiang has not attracted the same media attention as the notorious Khun Sa, he can still be considered one of the most powerful war lords in Southeast Asia. He has become the head of a de facto independent Wa nation-state that is not officially recognised by any other country and envied by the leaders of other ethnic groups in Myanmar that fight for greater autonomy from the central government.

How it came to the development and the connection between him, the drug trafficking and the minority conflicts in the Shan State will be explained in this short biography.

Biography

Bao Youxiang (鲍有祥) was born in 1949 as the son of a Wa clan Chieftain in the village called Kunma in the Wa Region, located in the northern part of Myanmar’s Shan State and directly bordering the southern Chinese province of Yunnan (云南). The region is populated by a variety of minorities, such as the Bamar and Karen, as well as many Burmese Chinese and various smaller tribes. Although Bao Youxiang belongs to the Wa minority, his name is Chinese. This among other reasons is due to the geographic proximity to China and the close economic ties to the neighbouring country. As a consequence, Chinese is widely spoken here the lingua franca in addition to the many minority languages across the Wa Region.

The early youth of young Bao Youxiang was rather unspectacular. He was the second youngest of a total of 8 brothers and had – according to his own account – never left his home village Kunma in his youth. Nevertheless, as a member of the Wa minority, he remembers having felt the pressure of the central government, which sought to oppress independence movements and calls for autonomy in the Shan State after the military coup of March 1962.

Already at the age of 17, Bao Youxiang together with his older brother Bao Youyi and his uncle Bao Sanban founded a guerrilla group in Kunma, making a name for themselves with the force of the gun. In order to finance the resistance against the Burmese government, Bao Youxiang like many other smaller warlords got involved in opium smuggling. Due to its strategically favourable location, the Shan State borders to southern China, Thailand and Laos, making this area an important hub for smuggling within the Golden Triangle. Adding to that, the wild mountains and forests as well as the lack of control by the central government helped to make smuggling a lucrative business, through which several armed groups financed themselves throughout the decades.

Despite his success as a rebel leader, Bao Youxiang can only be seen as one of the countless little warlords and drug smugglers during this episode of his life. It was only when he joined the Communist Party of Burma (CPB) in 1969 that Bao Youxiang began his political career.

As a means to unite the Wa Region under one leadership, Bao Youxiang and other rebel leaders like Zhai Nilai, Lu Xingguo and Ai Ken joined the CPB.

He worked in the military party wing where he first served as battalion commander for his home village in Kunma, but rose swiftly to the rank of a brigade commander. Together with Li Ziru from the Chinese Communist Party, he led the 683 Brigade near the border between Thailand and Myanmar. At the 3rd Party Congress in 1985 held in Panghsang (Pankham)2 he also became a member of the Central Committee of the CPB.

Despite his merits and steep rise within the party, Bao Youxiang, like many of his Wa compatriots, saw the CPB merely as the means to the end of procuring weapons and resources for the Wa troops and to fight the Burmese government. This was due to the reality, that the majority of the members of the Politburo was comprised of ethnic Burmans. Accordingly, a few years later, Bao Youxiang’s true loyalty was revealed.

In 1988/89 several groups within the communist party started to question the inner leadership and even went as far as to openly defy the party. Many armed groups under the CPB, such as Kokang and Wa, were dissatisfied with the leaders of the CPB. The positions of the party’s leadership was considered too unrealistic and dogmatic. There was also the accusation that ethnic Kokang and Wa soldiers were being used as cannon fodder in a political conflict between ethnic Burmans instead of advocating for the interests of all ethnic groups.

The infighting resulted in the internal uprising of 1989 by the ethnic minorities against the CPB’s leadership, that was driven out to China, resulting in the dissolution of the CPB and its army.3 In its stead several new factions were formed along ethnic lines. As a result of the fragmentation of the CPB, Myanmar’s government began negotiations with various Wa rebel leaders such as Bao Youxiang, Peng Jiasheng and Zhao Nyi lai. On April 17, 1989, the Wa Region broke away from the CPB and formed the United Wa State Party (UWSP). Bao Youxiang was first commander of the United Wa State Army (UWSA), which formed the armed wing of the UWSP and at the time of its creation comprised about 10 000 men. Current estimates, however, assume an army strength of approximately 20,000 to 30,000 men and thus the strongest of all armed groups contesting the Tatmadaw, the army of the Myanmar state.

A few years later in 1995, Bao Youxiang also took over the UWSP leadership as Chairman Bao, thus replacing his predecessor Zhao Nyi Lai (1939-2009) who had to resign for health reasons as a result of a stroke. Since then, Bao Youxiang has taken the position of the military and political head of a quasi-autonomous Wa State in eastern Myanmar.

Due to health problems, Bao Youxiang resigned as party chairman in 2005 to his youngest brother, Bao Youyi. However, Bao Youxiang has not withdrawn completely from the political scene and has remained the leader of the UWSA.

Striving for an independent Wa State

In the ceasefire agreement signed on May 18th, 1989 with the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC)4, the UWSP formally recognized the government in Myanmar as sovereign, and in return was awarded a self-administrative status in the northern part of the Shan state. Since then the Wa Region has been led by the UWSP from Panghsang as its capital like an autonomous state and later officially dubbed “Wa-State” by Bao Youxiang. With the ceasefire agreement of 1989, the UWSP had in principle accepted its place as part of the state of Myanmar. According to UWSP’s Chairman Bao Youxiang: “Wa State is an indivisible part of the Union of Myanmar. As a minority autonomous region, we only ask the government to grant us more power in self-administration.” This status had later been officially acknowledged within Myanmar’s constitution from 2008, which recognized six townships in the Wa-Region as the ‘Wa’ Self-Administrative Region.5

Although the ceasefire agreement had created a relative stability, it had failed to resolve the issue of economic sustainability. The access to legal trade and business with other parts of Myanmar was restricted. The relative autonomy of the UWSP in the Special Region 2 combined with that of the ceasefire thus constituted an indirect toleration of all drug trafficking and even led to its expansion. The lack of economic alternatives, as well as the historically evolved structures, led to a consolidation of the cultivation, trading and smuggling of opium as a major economic branch within the Wa State. Thus, after 1989, opium production increased significantly.

Drug trafficking reached such proportions in the early 1990s that Bao Youxiang, along with many other leaders in the Wa area, were also wanted by the Chinese police for their involvement in drug trafficking. As a consequence of this development, Bao Youxiang and Zhao Nyi Lai had signed the Cangyuan Agreement (沧源合同) with local officials in the Cangyuan Va Autonomous Region (沧源佤族自治县) in China, agreeing: „No drug goes into international society (from Wa State); no drug goes into China (from Wa State); no drug goes into Burmese government-controlled-area (from Wa State).“

However, a noticeable change did not seem to appear until Bao Youxiang took over the UWSP leadership in 1995 as „Chairman Bao“. With Bao Youxiang’s takeover, the UWSP took further action against the drug trade and announced in 1997 the official goal to make Wa State opium free by the end of 2005. Following this announcement, Bao Youxiang ordered the reallocation of tens of thousands of villagers in 1999. For this purpose, poppy farmers and impoverished villagers in the Wa Region were resettled from their mountainous homelands in the north to the more fertile southern valleys of the southern Shan state, where they were able to grow other crops. In this context, the previous residents from other than the Wa ethnic groups – Shan, Lahu and Akha – were expelled, and their land was often confiscated without compensation.

Measures of the UWSP’s anti opium policy culminated in the official prohibition of opium cultivation, which was announced in 2005. Since drug cultivation had been the main source of income for most farmers, the UWSP, with the help of the United Nations and the Chinese government, sought to create new alternatives. Attempts were made to incentivise Chinese investments in rubber, tea and sugar cultivation. However, these measures were insufficient to present a sustainable alternative.

Bao Youxiang had hoped to turn the Wa region into a tourism hub and economic zone through the introduction of the opium ban. Even though there had been no major changes at first, some minor successes were achieved over the years. In 2004, UWSP announced the completion of 1,800 kilometres of road in the north of the Wa Region and another 600 kilometres in the southern command centre of the UWSP near the Thai border. In addition, according to the UWSP seven power plants were built and further urbanization projects started with the help of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drug Crimes). In addition, a small industry of its own started to emerge in the Wa area with the construction of a cigarette and paper factory in Panghsang, as well as a lighter factory, mineral water factory and beer brewery. The construction of larger casinos in the Wa Region however has become a particular important source of income as they attract investments from China.

Investments and ventures outside the Wa state were other means through which Bao Youxiang and several leading members of the UWSP tried to generate new revenue sources. For example, Bao Youxiang’s son-in-law, Ho Chun Ting, who holds the majority of shares in Yangon Airways and is also the chairman of Tetkham Co Ltd, which operates a hotel chain.

As a military leader, Bao Youxiang continued to play an important role in the country’s development and the relations to the ‘big neighbours’ of the Wa region, China and Myanmar. His main aim seems to keep both at a distance in order to maintain as much autonomy for the Wa people as possible. The UWSA however still maintains a close relationship with China. This was recently publicly demonstrated when China’s Special Representative Sun Guoxiang (孙国祥) met with Bao Youxiang in 2019 for the 30th anniversary of autonomy in the Wa Region to attend the ceremony. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary and the visit of Chinas Special Envoy, Bao Youxiang was quoted as having proclaimed:

What we need is ethnic equality, ethnic dignity, ethnic autonomy, and we ask the government to give the Wa an autonomous ethnic state; then we will fight for our lives. Until our political demands are realized, we will hold high the banner of peace and democracy on one hand, and armed self-defence on the other, and maintain the status quo.6

Bao Youxiang and Sun Guoxiang at the 2019 ceremony (Photo: Frontier Myanmar)


Bao Youyi (2nd from left) together with the chairman of the KIA (left) and two representatives of the USDDP and the NLD in May 2017 (Photo: Reuters)


Bao Youxiang furthermore proclaimed during his speech that “The Wa people are masters of their own destiny,“ and that his 600,000 “war-tested” people would never accept a role as pawns in a proxy war.7

On April 19th, 2017, Bao Youxiang became chairmen of the newly founded Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee (FPNCC) formed in Panghsang by seven armed groups that did not sign the National Ceasefire Agreement with the Myanmar government in October 2015.8 This was seen as an alternative to the peace conferences organised by the Myanmar government entitled the 21th Century Panglong Conference. Chinas Special Envoy for Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang (孙国祥) who regularly meets with UWSA’s leadership to discuss the peace process in the region bordering China, attended the ceremony. On the other hand, the UWSA was invited to attend the Panglong Conference and Bao Youxiang’s brother attended the meeting that took place in Naypyidaw in May 2017 shortly after the anniversary celebrated in the Wa State. However, there are no indications that the Wa leaders will make contributions towards a breakthrough that might lead to and end of the “stable limbo” existing for many years in Eastern Shan State and elsewhere on Myanmar soil.

Bao Youxiang is thus a key figure in the peace-building process with the government of the Union of Myanmar and makes use of the special location between Myanmar and China as well its close ties with other rebel groups operating in the north-eastern parts of Myanmar.

Assessments

Today the opinion on Bao Youxiang is divided. As leader of the UWSA, he is regarded as a warlord and responsible for drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle by many members of the international community. In 2005, the US Department of Justice charged Chairman Bao Youxiang among with several other UWSP leaders with trading in heroin and methamphetamines. It denounced the UWSA as „one of the largest heroin-producing and trafficking groups in the world.”9

Adding to that, several various human rights violations can be attributed to Bao Youxiang, such as the use of child soldiers and the violent expulsion of minorities from Wa areas. This lets appear Bao Youxiang as an unscrupulous War Lord.

However, the use of drug trafficking as well as some other crimes cannot all directly be attributed to him, since many resistance groups had financed themselves via drug trafficking before and after 1989. Furthermore, it must also be noted that in the wake of the fragmentation of the CPB, the UWSP was still involved in combat operations with the drug kingpin Khun Sa until 1996.

It was also with Bao Youxiang’s takeover of the party´s chairmanship in 1995, that a change in the UWSP’s drug policy was initiated to make the Wa Region opium free until 2005. During this time, a number of concrete measures were undertaken to combat opium cultivation. It could therefore be argued that Bao Youxiang himself sees the opium trade as a problem and seeks to rid his people from it on the long run by creating long-term alternatives. These however make the Wa State more dependent on investments and goodwill of other actors such as China.

Despite of the anti-drug measures implemented since 1995, the Wa Region continues to be a region heavily dependent on smuggling and drug trafficking, raising the question of the sincerity of Bao Youxiang’s actions. For example, crystal methamphetamines are now being manufactured for export.

However, the slow development of the Wa Region and the failure of the Wa leadership’s anti-drug policy cannot only be blamed on an assumed unwillingness of the leadership to really change its ways. The Wa leadership still faces a lot of barriers put in place by Myanmar’s government. The approval of new companies and products by the administration of Myanmar is complex and long-winded. Furthermore, the central government had put restrictions in place not allowing companies in the Wa Region to send their products to Central Myanmar. Also, the export to international markets is restricted and only possible through certain border checkpoints controlled by the central government in Myanmar. The export of own products from the Wa Region is therefore often hampered by corruption and bureaucratic obstacles. This partly serves to regulate official trade with China, but had also served as a strategy of the Burmese government to weaken the ceasefire groups. It is therefore all the more understandable that Bao Youxiang is seeking out China as his strategic partner to develop the Wa Region in a semi-legal fashion.

As one of the central figures in the Wa Region, Bao Youxiang has managed to create an autonomous area in the Shan State, where the Wa minority can manage its own affairs. This has even been recognized in Myanmar’s Constitution of 2008, where in Art. 56f it officially defined the townships of Hopang, Mongma, Panwai, Nahpan, Metman and Pangsang (Pankham) as the ‘Wa’ Self-Administered Division.

It can be speculated that Bao Youxiang himself, as a member of the Wa minority, has been guided by his own national feeling and wish to fight for the rights of his people in creating an independent state. However, today his legacy is overshadowed by the discussion of drug trafficking, corruption and smuggling. The choice of Bao Youxiang’s methods led many of his critics to accuse him of selling out the Wa area resources and enriching himself at the expense of his people. Like so many drug traffickers who have become wealthy warlords, Bao Youxiang has also accumulated a lot of capital and invested it in various corporate groups in Myanmar, such as the Myanmar May Flower Group.

Thus, no conclusive judgment can be made. Bao Youxiang continues to be the de facto president of the Wa Region, shaping many decisions of the leadership in the Wa Region. His legacy will therefore depend on his ability to create more legal alternatives and further the economic development of the Wa Region through Chinese support.

Footnotes

1 This is the name used in the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar. The area was known before as the Wa Special Region 2.

2The town can be regarded as the capital of the Wa State and is the headquarter of the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and its precedents.

3 The internal purges in the CPB during the Cultural Revolution combined with the failure to use the 1988 demonstrations as an opportunity served as the last straw that led to the uprising of the different minor armed groups against the CPB (Kramer, 2019: p.11-44).

4 Subsequent to 1988 demonstrations, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) led by the general Saw Maung had replaced the previous socialist government BSPP (Burma Socialist Programme Party). (Kramer, 2019: p.9)

5 According to Art. 56f of Myanmar’s Constitution the townships Hopang, Mongma, Panwai, Nahpan, Metman and Pangsang (Pankham) were forged into the ‘Wa’ Self-Administered Division.

6 The Irrawaddy, 17.4.2019 (https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/uwsa-leader-repeats-demands-autonomous-wa-state-30th-anniversary.html; accessed 13.3.2019)

7 Mratt (2019)

8 In April 2017 the Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army (SSPP/SSA), Shan State East National Democratic Alliance Association (NDAA) and United Wa State Army (UWSA) jointly formed the FPNCC. (Tønnesson 2019, S.1)

9 Justice Department (2005)

Sources

Justice Department (January 24, 2005): Justice Department Charges Eight in Burma with Drug Trafficking (Long-term international effort targeted leaders of United Wa State Army) (2060). Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web. https://wfile.ait.org.tw/wf-archive/2005/050124/epf102.htm (26.02.2020)

Ko-lin, Chin (January 14, 2009): The Golden Triangle: Inside Southeast Asia’s Drug Trade. Auflage: 1. Cornell University Press.

Kramer, Tom (July 2019): NEITHER WAR NOR PEACE. THE FUTURE OF THE CEASE – FIRE. Drukkerij Primavera Quint. Amsterdam

Liu, Yun (2017): Building Peace in Myanmar: Birth of the FPNCC. https://theasiadialogue.com/2017/10/06/building-peace-in-myanmar-birth-of-the-fpncc/ (29.02.2020)

Mratt, Kyaw Thu; AFP (April 17, 2019): ‘Armed self-defence’ needed till demands are met, says Wa leader. In: Myanmar Frontier. Web. https://frontiermyanmar.net/en/armed-self-defence-needed-till-demands-are-met-says-wa-leader (29.02.2020)

Ministry of Information (Sept. 2008): Constitution oft he Republic of The Union of Myanmar (2008). In: Nay Pyi Taw

Sai, Wansai (February 07, 2019): Shan State re-emerges as illicit narcotics production center. In: BNI Multimedia Group. Web. https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/shan-state-re-emerges-illicit-narcotics-production-center (20.10.2019)

Sandford, Steve (May 15, 2019): Relative Stability Brings Progress to Myanmar Region. In: VOICE OF AMERICA. Web. https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/relative-stability-brings-progress-myanmar-region (20.10.2019)

The Irrawaddy (17 April 2019): UWSA Leader Repeats Demands for Autonomous Wa State on 30th Anniversary. Web. https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/uwsa-leader-repeats-demands-autonomous-wa-state-30th-anniversary.html (15.03.2020)

Tønnesson, Stein; Aung, Ne Lynn; Nilsen, Marte (2019): Will Myanmar’s Northern Alliance

Join the Peace Process? PRIO POLICY BRIEF 02.2019. Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

Weng, Lawi (May 5, 2015): We Have Been Subjected to International Pressure. Web. https://www.irrawaddy.com/in-person/interview/we-have-been-subjected-to-international-pressure.html (20.10.2019)

Xiaoning (August 24, 2005): Bao Youxiang, seigneur de la drogue. In: Courrier international. Web. https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/2005/08/25/bao-youxiang-seigneur-de-la-drogue (20.10.2019)

Yimou Lee (DECEMBER 29, 2016): Through reclusive Wa, China’s reach extends into Suu Kyi’s Myanmar. In: Reuters. Web. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-wa-china-idUSKBN14H1V8 (20.10.2019)



Serge Pun (born 1953)

Alexander Zimmermann

Serge Pun with the Shwedagon Pagoda in the background

Introduction

Serge Pun led an eventful life. Even though his role in the history and political development of Myanmar cannot be compared with that of General Ne Win or Chief of Intelligence Khin Nyunt (with whom he shared ethnic Chinese roots), he can be considered one of the most interesting  and – in his alleged role as a ”crony” of the disliked military – most controversial personalities in Myanmar. His life and career are testament to the economic potential of Myanmar but also show the downsides of big business in a country which lacks a strong legal and economic framework.

Biography

Serge Pun (Chinerse: pan jize – 潘继泽) spent the first eight years of his childhood in Yangon, where he was born as Theim Wai in 1953. He lived together with his parents and four siblings. His early childhood fell into the so-called democratic phase in Myanmar between 1948 and 1958 under the leadership of U Nu. His father worked at the Chinese Bank of Communication (jiaotong yinghang – 交通银行). As a Chinese banking family Pun’s family belonged to the upper middle class in and provided Serge Pun with a privileged youth in Burma, where he visited the St. Pauls Catholic School in Yangon until 1962.

As his ancestry shows, Serge Pun was an ethnic Chinese. Even though the Chinese in Myanmar make up only around three percent of the overall population, they play an important role in the country’s trade and business.

Domestic political unrest resulted in a military coup in 1962 and the establishment of the Ne Win regime based on a socialist model.1 As part of his non-alignment policy during the cold war, Ne Win pursued a policy of self-sufficiency which led to the isolation of the country. Non-governmental schools like that attended by Serge Pun were closed and privately owned businesses were gradually nationalized.2 Also, ethnic minority groups such as the Chinese in Myanmar were increasingly marginalized.

In 1965 Serge Pun’s father decided to leave Myanmar. The family moved to China. In Beijing, Serge Pun and his siblings attended a school for Chinese from overseas, but the anticipated peace was short lived. In Beijing, the unrest of the Cultural Revolution was already awaiting Serge’s family. The Cultural Revolution finally broke out in 1966, nine months after the Pun family’s  flight to Beijing.

Since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, the so-called „Red Guards“ (红卫兵) recruited their ranks from pupils and students, and played a major role in the movement. Like many other students, Serge Pun became a member of the Red Guards.  He himself recalled: “We ran around and did all the things that young revolutionary youngsters did. Riding around the country, writing big-character posters.“

After the Red Guards had become politically unacceptable because of factional infighting, many of their were sent to the countryside. Hence, at the age of 12, Serge Pun was separated from his family and sent to Yunnan with 1,500 other children.3

In Yunnan he had to survive on a remote state farm, isolated from other farms and villagers, with only rudimentary supplies and hardly any opportunity for further education.

Pun later remembered: “For four years, we built a dam with our bare hands. We lived in huts we built from bamboo and constructed beds from branches. We had no electricity and bathed in a stream – even in winter. We were given the bare staple, rice, and the rest was up to us. If your battalion was good, planting vegetables and raising pigs, you could eat meat. Otherwise, it was dried vegetables – they tasted horrible”. (Financial Times)

In 1973, Serge Pun managed to make his departure to the British colony of Hong Kong after China had started to loosen its border controls. The details of this escape remain unclear. After his arrival in the British colony, he worked as a day labourer and port worker initially, but later became a sales agent for scent trees (air freshener), of which he had become aware through a newspaper advertisement.

Elmar Busch

Finally, his professional career led Serge Pun into the real estate sector, which was booming at that time due to strong demand in Hong Kong.4 In his function as a sales agent, Serge Pun met the German real estate broker and entrepreneur Elmar Busch, born 1944. Serge Pun showed his entrepreneurial spirit. He tried to sell air freshener in his broken English; he stood out due to his stubbornness. Elmar Busch made him a job offer, which Pun accepted. Pun however demanded that Busch had to buy an air freshener from him in exchange. This was the last scent tree Serge Pun sold in his career as a sales agent.

By joining Busch’s company, Serge Pun was introduced to the real estate business. Elmar Busch helped him to become adept in all tricks of the trade within the ten years Serge Pun worked for him. Busch even invited Serge Pun to accompany him on his business trips to Europe and Canada, which broadened Serge Pun’s horizon. Until then, he had known little about the world because of his lack of formal school education.

In 1983, he dared to take his next step and the founded the Serge Pun & Associates Group (SPA). From 1988 onwards, SPA opened branches in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Dalian and Taiwan. In this stage of life, he met his wife, a Hong Kong Chinese, working at a Chinese investment forum.

During his time in exile, Pun always longed to return to his place of birth. His chance for a return finally came after the military coup of 1988 that resulted in a liberalization of the economy and the easing of state control. One central move of the new policy was opening the country for forein investment.5 From 1992 to 2003 the country experienced a steady economic growth, which is why Serge Pun often speaks of the first economic spring in Myanmar.

In 1992, Serge Pun founded his flagship company in his country of birth, First Myanmar Investment Co Ltd. as one of the first public corporations in Myanmar first concentrating on the real estate sector. At the same time, Pun’s SPA Group benefited from investment in the property market in China and allowed him to finance his endeavours in Myanmar. In addition, Pun expanded his business to other industries. In 1993, he obtained a banking license and founded Yoma Bank, which is the second largest private bank in Myanmar today. For Serge Pun „The business just kept growing“ (Financial Times).

Serge Pun experienced a first setback during the banking crisis happening in early 2003 after rumours caused customers of Burma’s banks attempted to withdraw their money leading The crisis finally resulted in the closure of three private banks the most prominent being the Asian Wealth Bank (AWB) during the following years that were accused of money laundering. Serge Pun kept the license of his bank that was regarded to rather “clean” but but was barred from taking deposits or making loans for some time. He enjoyed good relations with long standing “No. 3” of the country and short-time Prime Minister, Intelligence Chief Khin Nyunt, kept out of direct involvement politics. The removal of Khin Nyunt by junta chief Than Shwe was later described by him as „the beginning of cronyism because there was no real economy left.“ In contrast, Serge Pun describes Khin Nyunt as a liberal and rational man: “You could talk logic and reason with him. He was open-minded.”(Montlake).

Due to his economic basis that he had built up over the years, it was possible for Serge Pun’ business enterprises to stay relatively independent during this time. Most of the land development rights held by Serge’s SPA Group had already been acquired in the 1990s. Moreover, most of his enterprises were profitable and did not depend on government grants. In addition, he was able to repeatedly use his own Yoma Bank to get financial resources and to lend to his own companies. In order to obtain additional capital, Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. got listed as the first company in Myanmar at the Singapore stock exchange.6

Despite all this, it was impossible for Serge Pun to live through this economic crisis after 2003 without violating any restrictions and regulations. Yoma Bank exceeded the 15 percent credit limit for affiliates, and some private investors had to wait several years before they could withdraw their money. Serge Pun admits that his Yoma Bank had broken bank regulations during the „five dark years“ as Pun called them. Only in 2012 the full banking license was granted again.[R7] 

An end to the „five dark years“ only started to become apparent with the announcement the adoption of a new constitution in 2008 and the holding of elections in 2010. These and the reforms, launched in 2010, marked the start of the second economic spring for Serge Pun.

Success, Business Philosophy, Critique

and CritiqueCurrently, Serge is the Chairman of the Board of the SPA Group. In just 21 years, Serge Pun’s ‘business empire’ has grown to nearly 5.000 employees and 40 different subgroups. These include the First Myanmar Investment (FMI) and the Yoma Strategic Holdings. SPA Myanmar is one of Burma’s largest conglomerates and operates in eight different sectors, including banking, financial services, real estate, developing automotive industry, logistics, tourism, technology, and as well as agriculture and medicine.

Serge Pun might be not as popular as other people from Myanmar, but he must be regarded as one of the most influential business men of the country. His success can hardly be explained without his early experiences outside of Myanmar. The experiences during the Cultural Revolution and the ensuing deportation to the countryside played an important role in shaping his business spirit, as he said in an interview with Gwen Robinson: „Not only do I not re­gret the hardships I went through in China, I actually treasure them. Because whatever I learnt and en­dured over those years laid the foundation for what I achieved in my later years.”

With his sharpened sense for politics and business, he quickly managed to achieve his professional goals. During his time in the Red Guards, Serge Pun’s duties included to propagate the Maoist ideology. To this he himself says: „I have done a good job of selling the ideology“.

It is therefore hardly surprising that during his work as a sales agent, Serge rose to the best seller within a month and was later discovered by Elmar Busch as a business talent. His Chinese roots also contributed to his success. Through a network of personal contacts and relationships (guanxi – 关系)7, he was able to acquire orders in Hong Kong and later also throughout the region and expand his business ever further.

ersonal acquaintances and connections have also made it easier for Serge Pun to expand into Myanmar and expand his business to today’s extent. It is therefore significant that one of his most important projects in Myanmar was a 600 acre (2,43 square km) golf club that opened in 2000 under the name of Pun Hlaing Gold Resort. It developed into a centre of the golf scene in Myanmar and counts the most important representatives of the economy of Myanmar and the so called elite, including leading militaries as its members. Therefore, the Golf Club played and still plays an important role in establishing new economic contacts and networks.

Pun Hlaing Golf Cluc, Yangon

However, his close contacts with military brass and influential business people exposed Serge Pun to the suspicion of exercising personal advantages. Critics say that the formation of a company group with extensive business relationships in different industries in Myanmar could not have been achieved without close cooperation with the military junta. Thus, he was accused of belonging to a circle of selected individuals who had a sort of symbiotic relationship with the government, to undermine the sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union after 1996 and, in return, gain access to lucrative business. His contacts with government and business people were indeed so close that in 2008 the US government was considering to sanction Serge Pun and his Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic Holding and to exclude them from operating in the US.

Serge Pun always denied any accusation of looking for personal advantages although his close contacts to the Myanmar government make the allegations appear comprehensible. However, since the downfall of Khin Nyunt in late 2004 it is at least plausible to see Serge as an opponent of corruption and cronyism. With the overthrow of Khin Nyunt as the leader od what he and others regarded as a “Liberal Group” within the military in 2004 the economic climate in the country began to change. The economically stable situation in Myanmar was shattered overnight by the easing of monetary policy, which led the country into an economic recession. Accordings to his view, corruption and cronyism gained momentum after 2004, which is why Serge Pun speaks of the following period as of the „five dark years“. Since he himself was unable or unwilling to participate in this practice, he always regarded cronyism as a severe economic hindrance.  He says: „I never paid a cent for any favours … The pressure was huge, but I can say honestly: I have never received a sweetheart deal. We landed deals that needed performance – and we delivered, every time, the right way and in right time”.

Because of the political changes in 2010 and Serge Pun’s contacts to the new government, he however remains a controversial personality. Thus, by virtue of his actions before and after 2010, he is treated by some as a role model, while his critics still regard him as the crony of the former military junta.

Despite having denied any political ambition within Myanmar, Serge Pun has been a long-time member of the People’s Political Consultative Conference of Dalian (辽宁省大连市的中国人民政治协商会议) and a member of the Asia Business Council. Especially due to his network outside of Myanmar, Serge Pun continues to be perceived as the type of crony who represents a foreign interest group. However, on the other hand Sege Pun had also been a member of the Global Agenda Council for Transparency and Anti-Corruption of the World Economic Forum from 2014 to 2016, which sends a contrary message to the above.[R6] 

While international organizations such as the World Bank are considering cooperation with Serge Pun, critics are concerned. According to them, an inclusion of Serge Pun and his group in the rebuilding of Myanmar would only cement his position as a crony and hinder the goal of development and combating poverty in Myanmar. However, Serge replies to these and similar allegations: „Many organisations are required to conduct thorough due diligence, including the likes of the World Bank, ADB (Asia Development Bank), IFC and the U.S. Embassy, and they have ongoing dealings with us because of our reputation. That would give clear evidence, over the circumstantial allegations.

Assessments

Today, Serge Pun is living in Yangon together with his wife and four sons. Despite his Chinese roots, he poses as a representative of the Burmese culture.  He often appears in a collarless shirt and a Longyi (traditional Burmese wrap skirt). He says, „Myanmar is my first home, I have deep feelings“, which also had motivated him to return to the country.

His proximity to Myanmar as well as his business experience and contacts make him a sought-after expert for business and development in Myanmar. He is often consulted by the new government; whose program contains hardly any specific new approaches for economic and business matters.

According to Serge Pun, structural deficits continue to be the main obstacles for development in Myanmar, as well as a relatively high rate of inflation. Despite the visible progress in the country’s development and the abolition of the economic sanctions, investors often hesitate, because Myanmar as a market can hardly be reliably assessed in many sectors including his own enterprises.8 Nevertheless, Serge Pun sees the reform process that began in 2010 as a second „economic spring“, which is to be used. According to Serge’s view, foreign investors should not only rely on short-term profits or enter the market in Myanmar with too high expectations. Companies should rather be more long-term oriented, in order to be successful. Only in this way it is possible for the companies to leave a positive impact in society and to profit from the general development.

Due to his business relations both at home and abroad, as well as his long-term oriented business stance, Serge Pun is seen to function as a potential catalyst for the development in Myanmar. Where the government is not yet able to push the economic development due to encrusted structures, lack of expertise or lack of contacts abroad, pioneering work is needed. Hence, the infrastructure already set up by Serge Pun is believed to have the potential of directing foreign capital to Myanmar and creating new business opportunities.

Whether his supporters or critics are right, only time will tell. One may say that to assess his contribution to Myanmar society is as open as an evaluation of Myanmar politics since 1988. Nonetheless, as early as 2008, some aid organizations had worked directly with Serge Pun after the Cyclone Nargis instead of approaching the government and thus regarding him a part of the country’s civil society.9

Today, the IFC (International Finance Corp)10 is planning to cooperate with Yoma Bank to provide loans worth around 30 million US-Dollars to small and medium-sized businesses. Due to the shortcomings in areas such as infrastructure and financial services in Myanmar, cooperation with Pun offers the opportunity to use the funds effectively and reach as many people as possible.

Literature

Auswärtiges Amt (April 2017): Länderinformationen. Hongkong. Wirtschaft. Web. http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/Aussenpolitik/Laender/Laenderinfos/Hongkong/Wirtschaft.html (01/05/2017)

Ben Yue (18-24/06/2014): Rebuilding Myanmar. Hard Work Helped Serge Pun Escape Turbulent Childhood To Become A Tycoon Instrumental In Nation’s Development. In China Daily, Asia Weekly, S. 32.

Central Intelligence Agency (12/01/2017): The World Factbook. Burma. Web. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bm.html (01/05/2017)

Chinatownology (N/A): Overseas Chinese in Burma. (Myanmar). Web. http://www.chinatownology.com/overseas_chinese_burma.html (01/05/2017

Dawson, Stella (June 11, 2017): World Bank’s financing of luxury projects in Myanmar and man linked to military faces criticism. In: The Independent. http://www.theindependent.sg/world-banks-financing-of-luxury-projects-in-myanmar-and-man-linked-to-military-faces-criticism/ (12/06/2017)

Montlake, Simon (September 2013): Golden Return: Serge Pun Constructs A RealEstate Empire In Myanmar. In: Forbes. Web. https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonmontlake/2013/08/28/golden-return-serge-pun-constructs-a-real-estate-empire-in-myanmar/#3ef2be892321

Oxford Burma Alliance (N/A): The Ne Win Years: 1962-1988. Web. http://www.oxfordburmaalliance.org/1962-coup–ne-win-regime.html (01/05/2017)

Oxford Business Group (N/A): OBG talks to Serge Pun, Chairman, Serge Pun & Associates (Myanmar). Interview: Serge Pun. Web.https://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/interview/obg-talks-serge-pun-chairman-serge-pun-associates-myanmar (01/05/2017)

Property Report (25/06/2016): The story of Serge Pun: Myanmar’s 2016 Real Estate Personality. One of Myanmar’s most recognised businessmen will be honoured by Property Report at the country’s biggest industry event. Web. http://www.property-report.com/the-story-of-serge-pun-myanmars-2016-real-estate-personality/(01/05/2017)

Robinson, Gwen (SEPTEMBER 9, 2012): A business school of hard knocks. The Monday Interview. In: Financial Times. Web. https://www.ft.com/content/f9093c8a-f8cd-11e1-b4ba-00144feabdc0 (01/05/2017)

Tan Hui Ann, Connie (17/06/2015): Myanmar must plan for the long-term: Top tycoon. In: CNBC. Web.http://www.cnbc.com/2015/06/17/myanmar-must-plan-for-the-long-term-says-yomas-serge-pun.html (01/05/2017)

The Economist (19/06/2008): Myanmar after the cyclone. Chrony charity. Web. http://www.economist.com/node/11579356 (01/05/2017)

Footnotes

1The so-called „Burmese Way to Socialism“contained elements from Marxism, Buddhism and extreme nationalism. (http://www.oxfordburmaalliance.org/1962-coup—ne-win-regime.html)

2Private Hospitals were nationalized as well. (http://www.oxfordburmaalliance.org/1962-coup—ne-win-regime.html)

3At the end of 1968, Mao Zedong called the Red Guards „go out into the world.“ This led to the deportation of about ten million students who were told to learn from the peasants at the country and spread Mao’s ideology.

4Due to the rapid development and the high demand for housing, the colonial administration launched a program in 1972, which was to create housing for about 1.8 million people over the next ten years. Later this program was extended until 1987.

5A significant move of the turning away from the socialist economy was the Foreign Investment Law issued already in November 1988, two months after the coup.

6To date, Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. ss the only company in Myanmar, which is listed on an international stock exchange. (China Daily).

7Guanxi describes a basic personalized network of relationships that plays a central role in Chinese society.

8The evaluation of Serge Pun’s group of companies is often difficult, as international benchmarking in Myanmar is hardly possible due to the lack of a market development. (Financial Times).

9The organisation “Save the Children” and Singapore’s Red Cross used both Serge Puns boats and warehouses to distribute food, medicine and tents to the crisis regions. (The Economist)

10The International Finance Corp is the World Bank’s financing arm.