Bosch pro­motes artis­tic road safety mes­sage

Mar­ion Thibaut and Phyo Hein Kyaw

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

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

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