Opinion


As President Obama headed to Burma this month for his second visit to the country, he granted an exclusive interview to the Irrawaddy Journal & Magazine. His choice was an appropriate recognition of a news outlet that has been reporting fairly and courageously on Burma, also known as Myanmar, for more than two decades. But anyone who imagined this journalistic coup might induce the Irrawaddy to temper its clear-eyed assessments of U.S. policy hasn’t been paying attention. (more…)

Peace efforts are almost always connected to a constitution. Peace negotiations in South Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere have shown that peace, conflict and a constitution are directly linked. (more…)

The international community in Yangon has been embroiled by rent scandals. UNICEF led the pack, but in this case a pioneering role was not something to be proud of. The international organisation that focuses on the plight of children in need was revealed to be paying US$87,000 a month to a shady landlord. The flashy Apple headquarters-like interior decoration further inflated the bill. Country rep Bertrand Bainvel had a hard time justifying such extravagance. (more…)

The chaotic traffic in Yangon appears to worsen every day while attempts to solve the problem remain stuck, placing commuters’ lives and livelihoods in increasingly greater jeopardy. (more…)

A week ago as Aung San Suu Kyi and US President Barack Obama were meeting in Yangon, a piece of largely unreported news slipped out of the capital, Nay Pyi Taw. (more…)

In the silences as well as the speeches made during President Obama’s recent visit to Myanmar, attentive observers could glimpse a dramatic illustration of the tension between morality and amoral realism in the execution of US foreign policy. (more…)

The ASEAN Summit is finished. The international visitors have moved on, Naypyidaw hoteliers can adjust their room rates to reasonable levels again, and the Myanmar government can breathe a sigh of relief. (more…)

Last year, when I was in Ma Ja Yang in Northern Kachin State, Burmese fighter bombers, at the height of the peace process, had just flown low over the nearby IDP camp. Two terrified children dug themselves into an earth bank for refuge. In heavy rains the bank collapsed and they suffocated to death: two unrecorded deaths in a sixty year old war involving, arguably, the deaths of millions. But this year these two children may have surfaced, along with millions of others, in the most unlikeliest of places: the government’s 2014 census. Burma’s population, it turns out, is about nine million below what was expected. These two children, and nine million others, are not there. No one is commenting on this. No one is asking why. The most significant and extraordinary information to have come out of the country for decades, identifying 20 percent of Burma’s expected population is “Missing,” is disregarded. (more…)

Burma’s pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has conceded that she is unable to force through the constitutional changes that would allow her to run for the presidency, and has even gone so far as to acknowledge house Speaker Shwe Mann’s timetable for reform as “realistic”. (more…)

Myanmar is in the midst of changes unparalleled in our history. Expectations are high, but the needs of our people are even greater. We must succeed in our transition to peace, democracy and inclusive economic development. And for this to happen we need the rest of the world to appreciate the complexity of the challenges that the Burmese government faces. (more…)

US President Barack Obama’s reading of Burma’s current political situation is markedly different from what many Burmese people have perceived over the last two years. (more…)

President Obama was ebullient during his historic visit to Myanmar in November 2012, the first by an American president to a nation that appeared on the cusp of a democratic transformation after five decades of authoritarian rule. But, in the two years since, the military-dominated, quasi-civilian government in Yangon has moved far too slowly on the commitments to reforms it made to the United States when the two nations pledged to begin a new relationship. (more…)

As Barack Obama makes an unprecedented second visit by a U.S. president to Burma, the bad news just keeps rolling in. But he can still make the trip a success. (more…)

President Barack Obama’s visit to Myanmar this week once again puts a spotlight on the progress of the country’s opening up and political transition. But in a familiar refrain: it’s the economy, stupid. (more…)

US President Barack Obama’s visit to Burma in 2012 was a celebration of the nation’s historic shift from military rule. But as Obama returns this week, optimism over economic and political reforms has faded. Revered opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has questioned what’s been accomplished in the last two years. (more…)

United States President Barack Obama is making his second visit in as many years to Myanmar this week, a trip that comes under a growing cloud of concern that the reforms he so eagerly welcomed in 2012 have stalled or even reversed course. (more…)

Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who leads Burma’s opposition, summed it up during her press conference last week. The country’s transition to democracy, she said, has “stalled.” She didn’t specify who was responsible for the failure to push through advertised reforms. But many of her compatriots didn’t find it hard to imagine whom she had in mind. (more…)

Myanmar is now hosting 25th Asean Summit and its related meetings held in Nay Pyi Taw, a new capital, starting from November 9. The heads of the States/Governments will attend the Summit. (more…)

Defying the odds in a country where most high-ranking positions are held by men, more women are slowly climbing the ladder in government service. But their path remains strewn with obstacles and women say that powerful relationships are often necessary for success. (more…)

President Barack Obama is in Asia for a week of summit politics. During this week of high-profile engagements, one small country will play an outsized role. This trip comes at an important moment for the U.S. relationship with Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. (more…)

Next Page »