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February 29, 2020

Myanmar launches Unicode standard to expedite e-government plan

A ceremony to launch the nationwide migration of  Unicode standard is opened by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Union Minister for Union Government Office U Min Thu, Union Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung and officials in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA
A ceremony to launch the nationwide migration of Unicode standard is opened by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Union Minister for Union Government Office U Min Thu, Union Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung and officials in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, patron of the e-Government Steering Committee, delivered an address at the official launching ceremony of Myanmar Unicode migration yesterday morning.
First, the Project K Group sang the Myanmar Unicode theme song after which the Myanmar Unicode migration process video was screened.
The inauguration of Myanmar Unicode migration took place with the slogan of ‘Let’s Migrate All Together to Myanmar Unicode Standard System’ which were written on the screens of tablets for the individual words ‘Myanmar’ by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ‘Unicode’ by Union Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung, ‘Standard System’ by Member of National Standard Council Member and Deputy Minister for Education U Win Maw Tun, ‘All’ by Union Minister for Union Government Office U Min Thu, ‘All Together’ by Member of Myanmar Language Commission Dr Myint Kyi, ‘Migration’ by Myanmar Computer Federation Chairman U Min Zeyar Hlaing, and ‘Let’s’ by Patron of Myanmar Computer Federation U Thein Oo. in Myanmar language on LED board.
They simultaneously touched ‘send’ for these words to announce the official migration of Unicode font system on the background LED board.
In her opening remarks, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who is also Patron of the e-Government Steering Committee said that the inauguration of Myanmar Unicode was an essential step to support the e-government programme for the development of the country.

The e-Government was a system that conveyed the messages of departments to the public electronically. It was important to use a common standard communication system and language among the government ministries and its departments, inter-departments, the government and business companies, the government and public, inter-business companies, the business companies and the public and among the public. The use of Unicode standard system is an important stage under the e-Governance Master Plan.
If an order of government was written in Unicode, other non-Unicode (for example—Zawgyi font) cannot read it. Moreover, if someone used online banking to send money in non-Unicode fonts, the bank’s system would not read the font properly as it uses Unicode. Therefore, it was very important to have a common font system which would help for a wider use in online applications such as online shopping, mobile money and mobile health, as well as e-visa, e-passport and e-ticketing.
Myanmar has seen a 12-point increase in e-Government Development Index from level 169 in 2016 to 157 in 2018.
The State Counsellor said that the reason for this significant surge included setting up over 40,000 kilometer of internet fiber cable from 2016 to 2018, building 15,000 mobile telecom stations and over 50 million mobile phone users. However, Myanmar still lagged behind neighbouring countries due to lesser use of services from online applications among the people who lack skills and knowledge in these technologies.
She added that one more fundamental reason was that Myanmar hesitated to use Unicode at the national level, while the neighbouring countries have embraced this system, with Cambodia being the latest in 2010.
There were many advantages of the Unicode system. It meets international norms and Myanmar language writing system. The National Standard Council has approved the Unicode system with MMS ISO/IEC 10646:2017 on 21 September 2019. Everybody who knew the Myanmar language writing system could use the Unicode.
Although there were still some difficulties in writing Unicode, the languages of Myanmar ethnic people such as Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan could be used in this system. She said that the system was named as Unicode and the font was called Pyidaungsu.
Another advantage was that the Unicode was developed in an international norm, and that it could be translated into other languages by using the Google translate software. The handwriting form could be turned into printing font system in personal assistant devices such as computers, mobile phones tablets and iPAD. The voice message could be converted into text message by using G-Board of Google when someone found it difficult to write.
For these reasons, people were urged to use the Unicode standard system. Every change would have some challenges at the initial stage. The relevant ministries and experts from the Myanmar Computer Federation were trying to overcome these issues. Telecom companies and mobile phone producers and importers have participated to solve these issues. Artistes and celebrities were helping in the Unicode campaign.
The State Counsellor also said all the difficulties could be solved in unity. If every computer user and mobile phone user followed the Unicode system in accordance with the expectation of e-Government Master Plan, then the communication system and services among the government, business firms and public would surely improve.
She finally reiterated all-inclusiveness to follow the Unicode font system.
The campaign video clip of the State Counsellor was then screened at the event.
Next, the State Counsellor and the Union Ministers posed for documentary photos together with the attendees before they looked around the Myanmar Unicode Migration booths displayed by telecom companies on the ground floor of MICC II.

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi looks around the Myanmar Unicode Migration booths displayed at the launching ceremony of Myanmar Unicode Migration in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi looks around the Myanmar Unicode Migration booths displayed at the launching ceremony of Myanmar Unicode Migration in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA

The second session of the event was continued the explanation of Deputy Minister U Thant Sin Maung about implementation of e-Government and he also urged for using Myanmar Unicode across the country.
Chairman of Myanmar Computer Federation U Min Zeya Hlaing expressed thanks to the attendees and its Vice Chairman Dr Tun Thura Thet talked about the future plan for Union Migration.
Union Minister U Thant Sin Maung and the deputy ministers presented certificates to those who participated in the Myanmar Unicode Migration.
The event held at the Myanmar International Convention Center II in Nay Pyi Taw was attended by Union Ministers Lt-Gen Sein Win, Lt-Gen Ye Aung, Dr Pe Myint, U Min Thu, Thura U Aung Ko, Dr Aung Thu, U Thant Sin Maung, U Ohn Win, U Win Khaing, Dr Than Myint, Dr Myint Htwe, U Soe Win, U Han Zaw U Ohn Maung, Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo, Union Auditor General U Maw Than, Chairman of Union Civil Service Board U Win Thein, Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman Dr Myo Aung, Governor of Central Bank of Myanmar U Kyaw Kyaw Maung, deputy ministers, ministers of States/Region governments, Permanent Secretaries, departmental heads, ambassadors of international embassies in Myanmar, the patron of Myanmar Computer Federation, its chairman and responsible persons, chairpersons and officials from the associations of movie, Thabin and music, members of Myanmar Unicode standard drafting committee members of Myanmar Language Commission and invited guests. — MNA (Translated by Aung Khin)

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