Ooredoo's Myanmar telco deal sparks outrage

Radical Buddhists call for boycott after Qatari telecom company wins contract

The awarding of a major telecommunications contract in Myanmar to Qatar’s Ooredoo has sparked religious hatred among radical Buddhists.

Hours after the announcement on Thursday, a monk who is one of the leaders of a radical nationalist Buddhist movement called for a boycott of one of the two companies because it is based in Qatar, a Muslim country.

“Did the government have such little choice?” the monk, Ashin Wimala, a leader of the 969 movement, said in an interview with the New York Times.

“Why did they award this to a Muslim company?”

There also was a flurry of critical comments on the Facebook page where the government announcement was posted.

“Why? Why? Why Muslim company omg,” said one.

“Say no to Ooredoo,” said another.

Ooredoo and Telenor Mobile Communications of Norway each won a 15-year licence to provide mobile services to the south-east Asian nation, which is emerging from a long history of being ruled by a military junta.

The contract will require building networks from scratch in a country where a tiny 5-10 percent of the 55m population has access to mobile coverage.

Myanmar was ruled by a military junta until two years ago and the subsequent lifting of US-imposed sanctions has seen foreign investment rise exponentially.

Both Ooredoo and Telenor have plenty of cash flow, which will be needed to help Mynamar invest in the critical infrastructure it is lacking.

But there is a strong anti-Muslim sentiment among the population, of which about 90 percent are Buddhist.

In recent months, the leaders of the 969 movement have called for a boycott of shops owned by Muslims and products they say are linked to companies owned by Muslims. The movement says the country’s Buddhist character is under threat and has proposed banning marriages between Muslims and Buddhists, according to the New York Times.

Over the last year, Buddhist lynch mobs have killed more than 200 Muslims and forced more than 150,000 people, mostly Muslims, from their homes.

On Sunday, the movement appeared to receive the blessing of President Thein Sein when he issued a statement calling Ashin Wirathu, the spiritual leader of the movement, “a son of Lord Buddha.”

However, the government stood by its selection of Ooredoo.

“We selected them for a license on the basis of their services: they have a good telecom service in Singapore,” U Ye Htut, a government spokesman, told the New York Times.

Ooredoo chairman Sheik Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Thani said in a statement on Thursday that Myanmar would “undoubtedly become a key market” for the company.

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Posted by: Rashida alvi

Issalammualaikum hi i am from myanmar and very glad to have a Ooredoo company in myanmar.But i am also worried about the future of the company because most of the Buddhists are saying they will not buy from Ooredoo as it is a company from muslim countries..From my point of view,if they dont buy from u how can u manage.We muslims are minority people.I want you to be the most successful company in myanmar.Wish u all the best.

Posted by: Ponder

Actually what he is saying that you should not judge the many for the actions of the few.

Every time someone does something stupid in the name of whatever belief system you can't go around punishing everyone else from the same system who were not involved in aforementioned stupid action.

Posted by: Ponder

Well the War on Terror has been a decidedly mixed bag hasnt it?! No one shed a tear when they went after the Taliban & Al Qaeda.

The minute they lost focus & went after WMD, Iraq & other nonsensical tangents its been pretty much a disaster for everyone involved in terms of blood and treasure.

Posted by: Qatari

Yea , just the like the war on "terror". The war the gave the US the right to invade any country, because the whole country is responsible for the act of the few.

Posted by: Mark Renton

Interesting that most of the commentors so far appear to be more concerned about the rantings of a few extremist idiots, than to the actions of the Myanmar government in actually awarding the contract to a Qatari company in the first place.

Collective punishment, a very enlightened idea......

Posted by: Mark Renton

Qatari, I was referring to the fact that people were coming on this website and suggesting that all Burmese/Buddhists should be fired/thrown out of the Middle East because a few bigots who do not represent them have made anti-Muslim comments.

The treatment of the Rohingya is a disgrace but it's a separate issue.

Posted by: Qatari

So you are saying that the Muslim minority in Myanmar should not complain and should be scarified just for a Qatari company to tap the telecom market. A very enlightened idea indeed Mark. I worry about your conscience, if there is any.

Posted by: Ponder

If you have untapped natural resources/hydrocarbons and a untapped domestic market then its just amazing what you can get away with. Religious bigotry, exclusionary policies, lack of minority rights to follow chosen spiritual path openly being just 1 of them.

Can think of many other countries which match the above description.

Posted by: osama

I promise you no Buddhist will remain in my company

Posted by: antipak

Hahaha - u guys are the one complaining ?????

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