Opinion


Which should come first: the nationwide ceasefire or political dialogue? This is not a chicken-and-egg question. We are having this debate because the politics of the 2015 elections are impacting the peace process.
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The refugees fleeing Myanmar, from the Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority, have been persecuted for decades. They have been evicted from their homes and kicked off their land, and attacked by the military and by Buddhist extremists in Rakhine, the western coastal state where they live. Their voting rights were effectively revoked in February. Their government insists that they are in the country illegally, and most neighboring countries refuse to accept them.
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An unusual book launch was held at the House of Media & Entertainment on Yangon’s Bo Aung Kyaw Street on April 25. The title of the book is Vibhajja Echo, and all of the contributors are monks.
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Thailand’s junta chief has given a ten-day deadline for the elimination of all illegal detention camps of smuggled migrants across the country’s 76 provinces after the discovery of two abandoned sites complete with graves and bodies, amid emerging evidence of widespread corruption.
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This week Burma’s armed forces issued an ominous warning to the media: Watch what you say about the Kokang rebels. (more…)

The euphoria knew no bounds in certain quarters when, on March 31, it was announced that a text had been drafted for a proposed ceasefire agreement between the government and some ethnic resistance armies.
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Myanmar made history a few weeks ago.

Negotiators representing the government of President U Thein Sein and the ethnic armed groups overcame the unthinkable: They concluded a protracted negotiation over a nationwide ceasefire on March 31.
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Myanmar is undergoing a historic transition. After decades of armed conflict and economic stagnation, the country is beginning to make important strides toward realising its potential and the aspirations of its people.
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A Western diplomat said recently that there are two cancers eating away at Myanmar society – one is the ethnic war and the other is religion-based violence. When the disturbances began, I knew it was unconscionable to let it happen, and became part of the not-toolarge number of people addressing it. I have spoken out when others did not because I have long been disturbed by communal violence in Myanmar.
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When the United States removed one of Burma’s most prominent businessmen, Win Aung, from the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list last week, other blacklisted tycoons surely sent silent prayers that they would be next in line for removal from the list that bars them from business with their American counterparts. (more…)

Last week, as the city of Mandalay soaked in the revelry of Thingyan [New Year] celebrations, a young woman was set upon and beaten by a group of men, a social media video appears to show. (more…)

In late November 2013, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi wrote to President U Thein Sein in her capacity as chair of the National League for Democracy to ask that he convene high-level four-party talks to discuss constitutional reform. She proposed that the talks involve the President, herself, Union parliament Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann and Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
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On the eve of the Thingyan holidays – a period increasingly renowned for drunken partying in Myanmar – it emerged that authorities had told stores to stop selling the morning-after pill during the festival. These strong-arm tactics led to many shops removing other forms of contraception, including in some cases condoms, from their shelves.
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This week, several media outlets reported that Myanmar had hired the Podesta Group, a powerful US lobbying firm, to represent its interests in Washington. (more…)

As the economy continues its bustling run – fuelled by frontier-market optimism – it’s worth taking stock of an economic issue that rarely gets the attention it deserves. With so many words spilled on high rents and over-priced hotel rooms, there’s barely any room at the inn for discussion about wages, particularly the pay of the decision-makers who keep the entire system in order.
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What are the best ways to boost investment in Myanmar? That’s a rather general question to start with, and one that generates an understandably wide range of opinions, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. So how can we really find out what would work best? One way could be through Special Economic Zones (SEZs). (more…)

Myanmar’s political transition has spawned debates and deliberations in policymaking circles and strategic communities across the world. The economic and strategic spinoff of the political changes has generated immense attention and interest. Not least in China.
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Burmese activists were outraged to learn late last week that the government had entered into a year-long public relations contract with a Washington-based lobbying firm worth US$840,000. Some took their disgust to social media, begging such legitimate questions as: “If reform is genuine and sincere, why would they need to hire a PR firm?”
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One year to the day since Burma lost one of its leading intellectual figures, Win Tin, The Irrawaddy looks back on his enduring legacy. A beloved democracy activist, journalist and former political prisoner, Win Tin lives on as an emblem of persistence and bravery for those seeking true democratic change in Burma.
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The news out of China is about a “new normal” of slower economic growth – down to about 7 percent. But at the recently concluded 2015 Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) held in Singapore, the focus was on the growth potential of the 10 nations comprising the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community, with Myanmar grabbing a significant amount of attention as the new investment destination. (more…)

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