Opinion


Achieving gender equality is among the many challenges Myanmar must face during its democratic transition, opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told an international women’s forum in Nay Pyi Taw on December 5.
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In a ground-breaking move toward community-led commercial forestry, forest user groups in Tanintharyi Region received training in forestry management, inventory and timber harvesting in November. (more…)

‘Pressure from other countries is the only way’   (more…)

High-profile talks are the favourite pastime of the Myanmar political elite of late, but they don’t always yield impressive results. (more…)

The recent talk that Myanmar’s reforms are lurching towards failure misses the point. After so many decades of military dictatorship we need a reality check about the comparisons that Myanmar deserves, especially at this delicate moment in an historic process of political change. (more…)

Gender equality advocates tackle sexist legislation, cultural norms (more…)

The draft National Land Use Policy has created widespread discontent in Myanmar. The policy is positive for those who may seek to acquire land for business purposes and have security in their investments. The policy views all the country’s land resources as a state-owned commodity. It relies mainly on high tech, top-down approaches for determining, (re)zoning and administering land and legal land rights. It is mainly oriented toward addressing the problem of how to facilitate large-scale transfers of rights from many existing (small) occupants and users to large-scale users through land concessions and leases. (more…)

No more contentious issue than the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation has occurred in the American media. On November 23, 2014, The New York Times public editor devoted a full page (“The Conflict and the Coverage”) to discussion of whether that problem was treated with appropriate objectivity, balance, and clarity in that newspaper. There had been many complaints on all sides of those issues. This was an unprecedented and important public discussion of the problems in reporting stories, inclusion of photographs and assignment of reporters and staff.

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Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at Sagaing in 2012, as she campaigns for NLD candidates. Photo: Mizzima
For more than two decades the people of Myanmar have been looking in one direction for the realisation of their democratic ideals: towards Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy, which won landslide victories in the election for a constituent assembly in 1990 and the by-elections of April 2012. (more…)

The draft National Land Use Policy has created widespread discontent in Myanmar. The policy is positive for those who may seek to acquire land for business purposes and have security in their investments. The policy views all the country’s land resources as a state-owned commodity. It relies mainly on high tech, top-down approaches for determining, (re)zoning and administering land and legal land rights. It is mainly oriented toward addressing the problem of how to facilitate large-scale transfers of rights from many existing (small) occupants and users to large-scale users through land concessions and leases. (more…)

My institute, Tampadipa, has been carrying out public pre-consultations on the draft national land use policy (NLUP). Since quite a number of comments have been expressed on this topic, I thought I should share TI’s experience. (more…)

When foreign dignitaries visit Myanmar, still known as Burma in much of the West, they don’t walk the rural hills over which the central government and assorted ethnic groups, such as the Karen, fought for decades. Like Wallay village, which required an extended boat ride through territory that could aptly be described as “rustic” to reach.

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Over the past few weeks, government, parliamentary and opposition leaders have presented various proposals for high-level political dialogue, possibly leading to constitutional change in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Although significant differences remain between the different proposals, one thing they share is the exclusion of ethnic armed groups. This indicates that the window of opportunity to achieve political dialogue shaped by Ethnic armed groups as part of the peace process is rapidly closing. There may well be political dialogue in Myanmar—probably after the elections—but it seems unlikely that ethnic armed groups will play a leading role. Before the window of opportunity closes, ethnic leaders should focus on securing a comprehensive ceasefire agreement with the government, and above all with the Myanmar Army.

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Constitutional matters have been dominating the political agenda of late, with Lower House Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann taking centre stage. (more…)

Norway’s image in the eyes of many Burmese has long been that of a partner of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the world most prominent political prisoner under military rule. Norway was associated with promoting peace in Burma and other troubled countries for the past 20 years. (more…)

Talking is better than fighting and shaking hands is better than using a fist; these are universal truths. It is clear that Burma’s present triumvirate of political leaders—President Thein Sein, Union Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann and the Burma Army commander in chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing—have finally realized that a dialogue with their opponents is inevitable. Burma’s ethnic armed groups and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will get a chance to have their say. (more…)

Daw Myint Myint Thein shows me a formal certificate that is carefully stored in a plastic sheath. Given the care with which she treats it, I first believe it to be of some significance. Then she explains that the certificate is proof that she attended a soap-making training course arranged by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for people, like her, who were evicted from their homes at Thilawa to make way for an industrial park. “I’m glad I know how to make soap,” she says, “but without money to start a real business, knowing how to make soap doesn’t do me much good. The certificate is nice, but my children can’t eat a certificate.” (more…)

At a recent conference in Washington, Zaw Oo, a distinguished scholar and economics adviser to President Thein Sein of Myanmar, poignantly mentioned the need for his country’s people to “reintroduce the dignity of history” into discussions on their future. His phrase captured an essence of the future that is too often ignored by technical specialists, who are usually focused closely on the uncertainties inherent in their own disciplines.

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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…)

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