Bosch promotes artistic road safety message
Marion Thibaut and Phyo Hein Kyaw
Bosch, a leading global supplier of technology and services, has launched a creative initiative titled ‘Beauty Beneath’ to underscore its commitment to vehicle and road safety in Myanmar.
In collaboration with Myanmar’s leading contemporary artist Arker Kyaw, Bosch transformed an old building wall on Bayint Naung Road in Yangon’s Mayangone Township into an urban street mural that features a road safety message.
“Road and traffic safety is a topic that affects each and every one of us in our daily lives. Each year, millions of people lose their lives or suffer from injuries. As a supplier of mobility solutions, Bosch can contribute to increase road safety and help make a difference by providing the right technology to equip vehicles with modern safety systems,” said Andre de Jong, Managing Director of Bosch in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. “With the ‘Beauty Beneath’ initiative, we seek to creatively intensify advocacy for vehicle and road safety, while supporting local artistic talent to gentrify a local neighborhood,” de Jong added.
The ‘Beauty Beneath’ initiative is a part of Bosch’s ongoing “We Help Make A Difference” campaign in Southeast Asia.
Arker Kyaw revealed the beauty hidden underneath the timeworn and blackened building wall using a high-pressure power washer of Bosch’s Power Tools segment. It achieves efficient cleaning results with high flow rates and high pressure. At 120 x 60 feet, the wall is a highly visible space located in a heavily congested and high traffic part of Yangon. The art features a stencil of school children crossing the road, and a road safety message written in Myanmar urging motorists to stay focused on the road.
“Be it a canvas or a wall, it’s a medium for artists like myself to express ourselves. I am glad that ‘Beauty Beneath’ has enabled me to help deliver such an important message about the need for vehicle and road safety to the people of Myanmar, and I hope that it will be well received,” said Kyaw, whose works have been displayed internationally in Thailand and Indonesia. He studied Fine Arts at the National University of Arts and Culture in Yangon. As an artist, he has been leading the local street art and graffiti movement through a number of notable projects, including a 2012 mural of former U.S. President, Barack Obama and a 2013 mural of then-Myanmar President, Thein Sein. Earlier this year, Kyaw co-founded “No. 2 Art Area”, an art compound for street artists in Yangon.
‘Beauty Beneath’ is not the first time that Bosch has woven street art into its activities to promote road safety: In 2014, the leading provider of mobility solutions painted a 150-metre wall along Kabar Aye Pagoda Road in Yangon with road safety messages.
Bosch says it is committed to help save lives by keeping roads safer.
According to the Myanmar Organization for Road Safety, Myanmar has the fourth highest death toll of road accidents in Southeast Asia. Last year alone, there were more than 16,000 accidents in the country. Statistics also showed that in 2016, roughly 13 people perished in road accidents every day in Myanmar. Meanwhile, the total cost of damages in the first quarter of 2017 averaged at 11.6 million kyat per day. This has brought road safety to the forefront, garnering multi-sectoral action in the country in recent years.
“Bosch is strongly committed to our presence in Myanmar, and we have made the advancement of vehicle safety standards one of our key advocacies in Myanmar. We aim to work closely with the relevant parties to share our knowledge and expertise towards creating a higher level of awareness on the critical need for vehicle and road safety,” said de Jong.
Bosch has been working on technological advancements with the vision of accident-free driving since 1978. The company invented the world’s first antilock braking system (ABS) for passenger cars, which is now a globally commonplace technology that prevents a car’s wheels from locking during an emergency braking scenario. This innovation allows the driver to maintain steering control and in most situations, shortens the braking distance without skidding. In 1995, Bosch improved the technology by developing the world’s first electronic stability programme (also known as ESP or ESC), which is today equipped in 64 percent of all new cars worldwide.
In Myanmar, Bosch is presently helping to keep the country’s roads safer by upholding high vehicle safety standards with its automotive aftermarket range of products and solutions, including authorized repair workshops under the Bosch Car Service brand.
With only meagre belongings stuffed into backpacks and duffel bags, tens of thousands of Myanmar migrants have streamed home across the Thai border over the past two weeks.But it is not a joyous homecoming for the truckloads of men and women, who fled Thailand in fear of a new law that hardens penalties on the millions of undocumented migrant workers underpinning its economy.
Thailand’s sudden rollout of the labour decree, which hikes up fines on unregistered workers and their employers, sent a lightning bolt of panic through migrant communities.
“If we were arrested, we would have to pay money to police. If this happened, all of our money would disappear,” Thu Ya, who worked in a Thai plastics factory, told AFP while preparing to cross back into Myanmar’s eastern border town of Myawaddy.
The mass exodus of migrants -estimated to be more than 60,000 -- is only the latest chaos to highlight the precarious lives of migrant workers who take up difficult and dangerous jobs in Thailand’s factories and fishing boats.Much of the work force lacks proper documentation and lives in constant fear of exploitation from police, bosses, and traffickers.
And yet many Myanmar migrants scrambling across the border said these hardships still beat the prospect of dire poverty in their homeland, where jobs and good wages are difficult to come by.
“I will consider coming back in a legal way, with the full documents,” said Thu Ya, 32, who has spent much of his life in Thailand. ‘We have a problem’ Myanmar’s new civilian government, which came to power last year, was expected to usher in a windfall of foreign investment into a resource-rich country that was closed off to the world during the former junta’s 50-year reign.
In a jubilant visit to Thailand in June 2016, de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi vowed to drive the economic growth that would bring her countrymen home. But a year on the gains have fallen short of expectations and Myanmar is still years away from offering wages that rival those in Thailand.
A steep decline in foreign investment -- down 28 percent in the last quarter of 2016 -- sounded alarm bells over an economy whose initial opening in 2011 was met with a rush of investor excitement.
The country’s GDP growth also fell below seven percent for the first time in five years in 2016, clocking in at 6.5 percent.Having fleetingly become the fastest-growing economy in the region, Myanmar now lags behind the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia.
Economists blame the slump on a lack of clarity from the new government on its economic policies, as well as the ponderous progress in passing a new investment law.
“We have a problem because the ministers have no economic culture, and then the reforms are done too slowly,” said Myanmar economist Khin Maung Nyo.
The young civilian government, stacked with political novices, faces the monumental challenge of trying to unpick the junta’s devastating economic legacy.
“We need to create thousands of jobs but I doubt we will be able to do it quickly,” Khin Maung Nyo added. ‘They’ll be back’ In the meantime, Thailand looks set to continue to be a magnet for its neighbour’s workers.Huge sections of Thailand’s economy, especially construction and food production, rely on migrants to do jobs that comparatively wealthier Thais have long since eschewed.And while the country has one of the slowest growth rates in Asia, the minimum wage of 305 baht ($9) a day is more than three times the equivalent in Myanmar.
Since coming to power in 2014 Thailand’s junta has unveiled a series of campaigns to clean-up abuses in its migrant labour sector, which also attracts significant numbers of workers from Cambodia and Laos.
But rights groups say the drives are often short lived and ad-hoc, creating more confusion. This time was no different. Caught off-guard by the mass exodus, Thailand’s junta ruled last week to suspend its new law for six months.
Junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha called for calm and reassured business owners: “Don’t panic, they will come back soon.” He is likely to be right. Silar, a Myanmar nurse working in Bangkok, went home full of hope in 2015, eager to reunite with her husband and daughter.But she struggled to find work and is now back in the Thai capital -- gripped with fear after misplacing her work permit.
“In Myanmar, there is still not enough work, especially in the countryside, and wages remain very low,” she told AFP, using a pseudonym for anonymity.
“I do not know what I’m going to do.”
A recent road safety event in Yangon. Photo: Mizzima
Myanmar migrant accommodation in Thailand near Bangkok. Photo: EPA