In the News: Revisions for 2020
By The Irrawaddy 3 January 2020
The following stories—culled from our coverage of national politics, security issues, urban development, the economy and international relations, especially with China, last year—cover subjects and people that will remain relevant and continue to shape national developments this year.
The analyses, commentaries and interviews linked to below cover a range of developing issues including Myanmar’s troubled peace process, the general election scheduled for late this year, the effort to amend the Constitution and civil-military relations, among others. We hope they will help you understand the evolving issues that define Myanmar today.
Is Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing’s display of religious tolerance pre-election maneuvering, or should the military’s calls for national unity be cause for optimism?
Whereas previous governments walked a diplomatic tightrope to achieve ‘neutrality’ in foreign affairs, the current government seems less surefooted.
Not welcome in the West, Tatmadaw leaders are boosting arms purchases from Russia and consultations with China, despite the latter’s ongoing support for border-based EAOs.
Will the current transition lead Myanmar back into authoritarian rule, or is the country on the verge of finally breaking its historical cycle of thwarted opportunities?
Under the 2008 Constitution, if the USDP and its allies win 26 percent of Parliament seats, the army chief could become president without even running for office.
The NLD had no choice but to force the military to engage with constitutional reform in Parliament
The Yangon regional government took another significant step away from transparency on Tuesday, excluding media deemed unfriendly from an official press conference.
The public has endured three years of incompetence and lack of accountability from their state and regional leaders.
The state-level steering committee must answer questions on the Chinese contractor’s qualifications, eventual ownership of the huge project and many other issues.
On Myanmar-China Relations
China seeks to develop the Irrawaddy River as a safe, cheap link from Yunnan to the Indian Ocean; local critics fear the impact on the economy and the river itself.
Failing to learn lessons from existing projects, officials tout the benefits of BRI projects while ignoring locals’ fears of land-grabs, lost livelihoods and pollution.
While they value the business, locals in the tourism industry say the govt opened the door to mass tourism from China without considering cultural, environmental impacts.
Ethnic alliance’s attacks in areas crucial to the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor raise doubts about the two countries’ ‘peace will follow development’ strategy.
Ten major projects currently planned with powerful neighboring countries promise to address Myanmar’s infrastructure needs, but have the social, environmental and other costs been
Myanmar’s second biggest city in a strategic BRI location to have CCTV and AI technology from the Chinese company internationally accused of data theft and spying.
The State Counselor agreed to nine deliverables—including three bilateral agreements—on behalf of the Myanmar government at the recent Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.
Building dykes to protect the flood-prone site of the mega-project will cost an estimated $100 million—and that doesn’t cover the inevitable impact on surrounding areas.
Lawmakers cited a high number of complaints transferred to other governments bodies, soft sentencing and military impunity as key weaknesses to fighting corruption.
A reluctance to engage with or listen to the wishes of ethnic communities and political parties mean the NLD will be more contested than ever in the upcoming election.
This week’s jailing of a satirical performance troupe continues a worrying trend of official legal action against critics of the government and military.
Rejecting the NLD and ethnic parties’ constitutional amendment process, the Myanmar military has gone its own way on charter change, submitting proposals independently.
A press conference on Saturday heard the military saying they would step back from politics when there are no ethnic armed groups and the country is in peace.
Proposals elucidated by the Union government at peace talks in Chiang Mai on Monday offer little that’s new in terms of ideas for moving Myanmar’s peace process forward.
The Irrawaddy speaks with Dr. Manam Tu Ja of the Kachin State People’s Party about the 2020 election, Myanmar’s political history and advancing the peace process.
This week, The Irrawaddy sits down with NLD lawmaker U Aung Kyi Nyunt to discuss the long road to democracy, and the merits of Myanmar’s ‘obligation-based’ society.
With changes in government and ceasefire agreements signed since 2012, the Mae Tao Clinic on the Thai-Myanmar border continues operating on less and less aid.
This week, The Irrawaddy joins a poll monitor and a political party official to discuss the UEC’s partiality, identity politics and other factors in next year’s vote.
This week, The Irrawaddy looks at the challenge of plotting Myanmar’s course towards constitutional reform, with lawyer U Kyee Myint and political activist Ko Mya Aye.
“If they want to destroy our land [Rakhine State], we should destroy their [the Bamars’] land. If they offer peace, we will welcome it as warmly as we can,” said Tun Myat Naing.
The Irrawaddy spoke with Eddie Rich of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative about the global project’s goals and Myanmar’s progress toward reaching them.
KIO vice chair Gen. Gun Maw denies China pressuring his group to join NCA, but says gov’t refusing to allow IDPs to go home until it signs; he urges gov’t, China to hold public
Foreign direct investment in the country has increased sharply this year, but concerns over infrastructure, unclear procedures and the Rakhine issue remain.
The Irrawaddy spoke with businessman and government adviser U Htun Htun Naing about the current investment climate, foreign interest, and how to revive the state’s poor image.
During Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Myanmar, both countries signed five MOUs and one framework agreement on trade and economic cooperation.
Minister U Thaung Tun promises participants in recent summit ‘cooperation not confrontation’
A new World Bank forecast for East Asia and the Pacific suggests Myanmar will likely see economic growth in the near future despite internal and external risks.
Of 113 projects worth more than $200 million launched in the region in the first nine months of fiscal 2018-19, 65 are from China.
Since the Insein Battle of 1949, Myanmar has been a battleground for scores of ethnic armed groups each carrying out their own resistance mission and fight for greater autonomy.