Friday, September 2nd, 2016


The reading of statements by each stakeholder continued on the third day of the 21st Century Panglong peace conference in Naypyidaw, with more than 60 presentations on the building of a future federal state representing Burma’s diversity.

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The second day of the 21st-century Panglong Conference was overshadowed by an early walkout of the country’s most powerful ethnic armed group.

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The 21st Century Panglong Conference was intended to be inclusive of all sectors of society. But one voice has been conspicuous by its absence from the peace talks – that of women.

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IN APRIL this year, a freak storm pelted Kangyi village, in Mandalay’s Region’s Kyaukse Township, with golf ball-sized hail for 45 minutes. When the rain and hail stopped, residents emerged from their homes to a scene of devastation. The roofs of nearly every building in the village had been torn off or smashed apart. The goats left outside had been injured or, in a few cases, killed by hail. Even the village pagoda had lost its hti, the pinnacle at the top of the stupa.

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“Pauk phaw,” translated from the Burmese language as “sibling relations,” is how long-standing ties between Myanmar and China have been traditionally described. The term is back in the news. It appeared in the recent joint communique issued at the close of Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to Beijing in August, in which she received a state welcome, and also on the front page of the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar on Aug. 20.

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As Myanmar looks to attract increased levels of foreign investment, various new laws have been or will soon be enacted. These include the Financial Institutions Law and the Condominium Law, which have both been enacted, and the Companies Law and the Investment Law, which are still in draft form.

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A few days before the start of this week’s 21st Century Panglong peace conference, the State Counselor’s Office announced the formation of an advisory commission on Arakan state, to be chaired by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. In late May this year, President U Htin Kyaw formed the Central Committee for the Implementation of Peace and Development in Arakan State. It has 27 members, all of whom are government officials, and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is the chair.

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