Monday, February 8th, 2016


Despite its strong mandate from a thumping election victory, Burma’s new National League for Democracy government will struggle to wield the power it needs over the civil service to carry out its reform plans effectively, political analysts say.
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In a recent Preliminary Republican Presidential Debate held at North Charleston, South Carolina on 14 January, Senator Rick Santorum received a large round of applause for making a critical remark, “let me tell you this, Mr. President. For every dollar of GDP, China creates five times as much pollution as we do here”. This example brings to light that an increase in GDP of a country does not necessarily indicate the situation of its people are improved –– nor that their government is contributing the best interests of global society as a whole.
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At the end of January, 2012, I was able to go back to Burma for the first time after living in exile for 24 years. It was the beginning of the political opening in the country under President Thein Sein and it was a privilege to be allowed back to observe the political changes firsthand.
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The tenor of President Thein Sein’s farewell speech to the nation did not come as a big surprise.

As expected, the outgoing head of state took credit for setting the country’s democratic transition in motion, for building peace with ethnic armed groups and, of course, for the violence-free and credible general election last November.
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With historical changes afoot and optimism sweeping Myanmar, it is a momentous time to be here. Many are hoping for a meteoric rise of the country’s economy over the long term. The numbers certainly point to such potential, as Myanmar’s gross domestic product per person stands at about US$1200 compared with neighboring Thailand’s $5778 and the overall average among Association of Southeast Asian Nations members (ASEAN) of about about $3800 (World Bank).
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All the speculation about who will hold the nation’s top jobs should come to an end this month. With newly elected legislators taking their Nay Pyi Taw seats, the specifics of further compromises between the National League for Democracy and the military will become clearer.
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Myanmar’s new crop of parliamentarians – taking their seats yesterday to forge laws and afford checks and balances to administrative power for the next five years – deserves a cheer of welcome from the populace as well as the international community. Free and fair elections in November set them firmly on course.
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Ms Aung San Suu Kyi’s party has taken an unprecedented public mandate into Parliament.

But popularity and power are only the beginning for the Nobel laureate and her hundreds of new MPs, many of whom have no experience of public office.
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As the National League for Democracy (NLD) prepares to take over from the army-backed government of President Thein Sein it faces the challenge of getting a handle on government institutions and possibly reforming them.
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A court in Mandalay Division’s Amarapura Township sentenced a student activist to six months in prison on Friday for his role in a graffiti protest on the grounds of Yadanabon University in mid-2015.
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Burma’s first-ever LGBT film festival kicked off Thursday evening at Rangoon’s French Institute on Pyay Road, showcasing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-themed international films for a second year running.
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Rental housing is being prepared for migrant workers living in unlicensed huts along the Ayeyawady River in Mandalay Region, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar on 29 January quoting the local development committee.
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Myanmar’s military-stacked parliament began its last session Friday as Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy party prepared for a dramatic power transfer that will loosen the army’s 50-year clasp on the country.
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On Monday Myanmar will convene its first popularly-elected parliament in more than half a century, a historic moment unthinkable just five years ago in a country locked under decades of military rule.
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The faces of Myanmar’s new Parliament, when it convenes in Napyitaw on February 1, will be almost unrecognisable when compared to the previous assembly.
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Outgoing Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann gave a final press conference in Naypyidaw on Friday, signing off by offering few hints about what the future might hold for him, but making clear that he is open to taking a role in the incoming government, if asked.
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At the Union Parliament in Naypyidaw on Friday, one former senior leader of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Thura Aung Ko, said he was cutting ties in the first high-profile defection from a party on the ropes after its November election defeat.
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She swept to power promising a new era of “clean politics” in Burma after five decades of military rule.

But just two days before her National League for Democracy takes control of parliament, Aung San Suu Kyi is embroiled in controversy for nominating a former militia leader from the defeated pro-military party for a top job.
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Months of uncertainty over who will lead the once-dominant Union Solidarity and Development Party ended yesterday when it was confirmed that outgoing President U Thein Sein would return to take the reins when his five-year terms ends in late March.
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An Arakanese politician victorious in November polls for the state’s parliament has been sentenced to six months in prison. The verdict strips him of his right to serve in the legislature, however he reserves the right to appeal.
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