Xenophobes are not very bright. What Myanmar needs to achieve its target of connecting its people very quickly is massive investment. Myanmar Buddhist capital could not connect even five percent of the population in all these years. Now the government has decided to allow foreign capital to do the job. What color is money? What religious persuasion is mobile towers?
But the xenophobes are in full cry about the award of a license to Ooredoo, the mobile operator owned by the government of Qatar. Myanmar was subjugated and Thibaw Min was exiled by Christians, not by Muslims. So why is the “religion” of Telenor not an issue? But as I said xenophobes are not the brightest of people.
Set Aung, chairman of the government panel handling the tender, defended Ooredoo, which has operations in more than a dozen countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia as the ‘‘best choice.’’ It also has deep pockets, promising to pump part of its cash pile into the network.
That the government didn’t consider public sentiment was a good thing, he said.
‘‘That just shows how transparent we are and how unbiased,’’ he said.
In a statement released Thursday, Ooredoo said its investment in Myanmar will create a significant number of jobs and be the indirect catalyst for creating several hundred thousand jobs in areas such as sales, distribution and customer service as the mobile industry develops.
Though not a household name in Asia, Ooredoo has been stepping up its presence in the region for several years and is the biggest shareholder in Indonesian phone company Indosat. It also has stakes in Singapore’s StarHub and the main phone company in Laos.