Monday, April 16th, 2012

Members of Aung San Suu Kyi’s Burmese opposition party elected in recent landmark polls could boycott parliament over a row about the constitutional oath, one of its members said last Thursday.

“If we attend the parliament, we have to take an oath to become an MP officially saying we will safeguard the constitution. This is a problem,” said the National League for Democracy (NLD) member, who did not want to be named. (more…)

Stray dogs scurry across the fairway, the greens have seen better days and a civil war rages just 10 miles away. But here in the conflict-torn hills of northern Myanmar, the Laiza Golf Club (est. 2006) remains open for business.

Fighting rampant corruption is the most important issue facing Burma today, said Upper House Speaker Khin Aung Myint in an exclusive interview with The Irrawaddy.

The ex-minister for culture said that existing anti-corruption legislation is out-of date and proposed amendments had already been approved by the Lower House, and would be submitted to the Union Parliament during the next session. (more…)

An appeal on behalf of six residents, who were sentenced to three months hard labour in Naypyidaw’s Lewe township, was rejected by a district court last Friday.

Residents in Lewe township’s Meethwaybogon village were given notice by Naypyidaw’s Development Committee to relocate last October because the community was located within a government project zone, which is rumoured to be a gemstone enterprise in the future.

About five years ago I had the fortune to take a month-long tour through Myanmar (Burma) with a group of Burmese and Japanese friends. For the most part, we travelled on buses – relics from World War II that were crammed with people throughout our trip. Our fellow passengers offered us miniature wooden stools placed in the middle of the aisle to sit down on. And we stared out the window at the strange country that rushed past. (more…)

UK Trade Group Pose as Tourists to Skip Sanctions

A British business delegation is posing as tourists on a brief visit to Burma with Prime Minister David Cameron—to avoid being victims of European Union sanctions.

The banging of Win Maung’s hammer echoes across the farming village of Kya-oh in parched central Myanmar, as twilight descends upon its thatched-roof homes.

His arms and legs streaked in oil, the 48-year-old is struggling to repair a 22-horsepower diesel engine in a wheezing generator, the only power source for about 200 villagers whose homes will soon be enveloped by darkness. It is a familiar scene in rural Myanmar.

Don’t imagine that restoration of Burma to normalcy and a degree of prosperity will be quick. Even under the most favorable local and external circumstances, it will take years to make up for four decades of decline and to rebuild the stock of human and physical capital that once made it the most prosperous, best-educated country in mainland South and Southeast Asia.

Pe Thet Khin, right, visits with audience members following his talk. Photo: Will Kirk/

The monumental task of fixing the health system of Burma (Myanmar) falls to the minister of health, Pe Thet Khin, who shared some of the challenges ahead with a Bloomberg School audience on April 10. (more…)

A series of drug cases revealed by Chinese authorities last week have highlighted an increase in drug trade from Burma into China.

On Tuesday, an anti-drug campaign in Fuyang, in the coastal Chinese province of Anhui, led to the seizure of 24 kg of drugs and the arrest of 74 people. Of these, 23 kg of heroin and methamphetamines could be traced to Burma, according to an interview with a detained suspect by the Chinese daily The Mirror.

President among 260 civilian officials no longer subject to restrictions, but measures still in place against army.

Australia’s government has announced an easing of sanctions and moves to normalise trade ties with Myanmar following recent reforms by the country’s civilian government.

British Prime Minister David Cameron came bearing gifts to Myanmar on Friday with the announcement his government would push for the suspension of European Union sanctions. It was viewed by many observers as something of a volte-face from a country that has long been among the staunchest supporters of the block on Western trade and investment with the historically military-run country.