Interviews


Archbishop of Yangon Charles Maung Bo was among 20 new cardinals whose appointments were announced by Pope Francis on January 4. The appointment of Myanmar’s first cardinal followed celebrations last November marking the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Catholicism in Myanmar. A special papal envoy who attended the celebrations praised the organisation of the anniversary, saying it was a “marvellous experience”. (more…)

After the change of government in 2011, President U Thein Sein invited members of the Myanmar diaspora to return home. In August 2012, more than 2,000 people, including dissidents and foreign activists, were removed from a government blacklist. Many returnees hold foreign passports and have encountered difficulties caused mainly by unclear policy and visa application procedures. Among them is veteran activist Ma Khin Ohmar, a founder and coordinator of the human rights organisation, Burma Partnership. In a wide-ranging interview, Ma Khin Ohmar spoke with Mizzima’s Portia Larlee about seeking political asylum in the United States, activism on the Thai-Myanmar border and her struggle to acquire a visa in Myanmar. (more…)

Ye Htut was appointed Minister of Information last July, two years after the nominally-civilian government moved to end the junta-era pre-publication censorship regime and began to oversee the introduction of private daily newspaper licenses. He has also served as spokesman for President Thein Sein since 2013, emerging as a staunch and articulate defender of the government’s reform credentials and a frequent critic of journalists and opposition politicians on social media. (more…)

Daw Nang Lang Kham, director KBZ Group (more…)

Prominent Myanmar-watcher, journalist and author (“Outrage”, “Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s Struggle for Democracy”) Bertil Lintner was in Yangon for a weeklong journalism workshop. The formerly blacklisted writer was interviewed by Mizzima’s Tin Zar Aung about recent political developments and the year ahead. (more…)

Myanmar’s opening to the world and embrace of democracy after the change of government in 2011 was a boon for a tourist industry that had long languished in the doldrums.With its myriad attractions, Myanmar has fast become one of the world’s top emerging destinations. (more…)

(unofficial translation)

On November 19, the Tatmadaw bombed a Kachin military school, leading to the death of 23 cadets and severe injury another 16, all of whom were from multiple armed ethnic groups. Since then, the armed conflict in northern Myanmar bordering Yunnan has continued. On the afternoon of December 28, intense fighting broke out in Hpakant between the Kachin Independence Army and the Tatmadaw.  As of now, fighting continues between government military forces and ethnic armed groups at various levels of intensity. In the midst of this reignited confrontation, the Kokang National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) has miraculously reemerged after being defeated by government forces five years ago. They have engaged with Tatmadaw repeatedly, killing and injuring hundreds of Myanmar officers and soldiers and putting great pressure on the troops stationed in Kokang and even to the west of the Salween River. (more…)

The Yoma Strategic Holdings conglomerate has cultivated an enormous portfolio of real estate, agriculture, tourism, banking, automotive and retail businesses in Burma over the last two decades. As of December this year, the company’s market capitalization was US$692 million, and it ranks in the top five percent of Singapore Exchange-listed companies on the 2014 Governance and Transparency Index. Yoma recently secured a $100 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for infrastructure development projects in Burma. (more…)

Former Minister of Information U Aung Kyi was allowed to resign in late July, along with then Health Minister, Dr Pe Thet Khin. The shake-up followed a major cabinet reshuffle a month earlier and sparked speculation about differences between U Aung Kyi and President U Thein Sein over media policies. Before heading the Ministry of Information, U Aung Kyi was Minister of Labour and he also served as the military government’s official liaison with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi when she was under house arrest. (more…)

On Dec. 27, elections will be held in Rangoon Division to determine who will fill four new seats created on the Rangoon Divisional Municipal Committee, the highest body governing the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC). The latter runs the day-to-day affairs in Rangoon, Burma’s biggest city and commercial capital. (more…)

Coca-Cola was one of the first American companies to invest in Myanmar after US sanctions were relaxed in 2012. The production and marketing of its well-known softdrink started in June 2013 and led to the global market leader sliding into pole position in Myanmar as well. Mizzima’s Hans Hulst spoke with Coca-Cola Myanmar general manager Rehan Khan about the challenges of producing and marketing fizzy drinks in a frontier market. (more…)

The widow of slain journalist Aung Kyaw Naing is unconvinced by a report by the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) concluding that her late husband was not tortured by the Burma Army before being shot dead in its custody. (more…)

In early 2014, May Myat Mon Win became the general manager of the Chatrium Hotel Royal in Rangoon, making her Burma’s first female head of a five-star hotel.

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A report released earlier this month by Harvard University’s International Human Rights Clinic lays out damning allegations accusing three senior Burmese generals of war crimes and crimes against humanity.The three men, including current Home Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Ko Ko, still hold senior positions in Burma’s quasi-civilian government, prompting questions from some quarters about President Thein Sein’s reformist credentials.

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Tea leaf entrepreneur stays true to his roots (more…)

Myanmar’s nascent IT sector is quietly gaining traction – and attention – as internet access and connectivity improve across the country. Yet some see this growth coming at a price: that of personal freedom, as a result of the companies that sell software and those that hold users’ data. One such critic is Richard Stallman, 61. (more…)

The Union Parliament passed the National Education Law on Sep 30, amidst strident opposition from student unions and education professionals. (more…)

Burma’s emerging renewable energy sector is still undeveloped and lacking in government support, while about 65 percent of the country’s rural population is living outside of the national power grid. Many isolated communities meet their own energy needs with independently provided biomass, solar projects and small-scale hydropower. Often this assistance is supplied by non-governmental organizations focused on sustainable rural development, not from state institutions. (more…)

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama arrives in Burma for his second diplomatic visit in as many years. In advance of the Asean and East Asia summits in Naypyidaw, Obama answered questions from The Irrawaddy correspondent Lalit K Jha about his visit, the reforms of the past three years and the future of Burma’s democratic transition. (more…)

On Wednesday and Thursday, Burma will host the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and the East Asia Summit in the capital Naypyidaw. Top leaders from across Asia will attend, as will US President Obama and Russian Prime Minister Medvedev. (more…)

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