Junta Watch

Junta Watch: Paranoia Deepens With ‘Foreign Meddling’ Law; Chinese Products Flood Naypyitaw Expo; And More

By The Irrawaddy 27 May 2023

Junta’s xenophobia hits new level 

Min Aung Hlaing visits the Nyaungnabin livestock and agriculture zone on May 20. / cincds

Diplomatically isolated, the xenophobic military regime is now concocting a law it says is intended to prevent infiltrators backed by foreign countries from interfering in Myanmar’s political, security, economic, and cultural sectors.

The regime has formed a 19-member committee to draft the law on foreign and international organizations. Led by deputy police chief Major-General Aung Naing Thu, the committee consists of officials from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, Defense, Legal Affairs, Commerce, and other government departments.

The regime said the committee will study legal practices regarding foreign and international organizations used by ASEAN neighbors and other countries, to come up with a legal framework that suits Myanmar. The law is intended to prevent operatives from manipulating the country’s affairs with financial and other assistance from foreign powers, it added.

Junta ministers have meanwhile been asking government employees serving abroad to swear allegiance to the country. Also, the junta-appointed election commission demands that political parties seek its approval before meeting with foreigners or representatives of foreign organizations.

Myanmar-China expo held amid rising anti-Beijing sentiment

Junta-appointed ministers join Chinese Ambassador Chen Hai at the Myanmar-China (Lancang) Economic Expo on May 25. / cincds

Despite the wave of anti-China protests that followed the Chinese foreign minister’s visit to Myanmar early this month, the regime and Beijing have gone ahead with the Myanmar-China (Lancang) Economic Expo at the Myanmar International Convention Center from May 25-28.

Attending the Naypyitaw expo are junta deputy PM and planning and finance minister Win Shein, who is also the vice chair of the steering committee for implementation of tasks related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as well as ministers Aung Naing Oo and Ko Ko Hlaing. Also joining the event is China’s ambassador to Myanmar, Chen Hai, along with hundreds of Chinese businesspeople.

Beijing has major investments in Myanmar and is backing the military regime with not just trade but also diplomatic and military support.

China is using the expo to showcase instant foods, electronics, and kitchen utensils. Myanmar’s exhibits are limited to jade and gems – a testament to the military regime’s pathetic trading skills.

Min Aung Hlaing rejuvenates birthplace of 2008 Constitution

The junta boss inspects renovation work at the old venue of the National Convention in Nyaungnabin. / cincds

Junta boss Min Aung Hlaing paid a visit on Saturday to Nyaungnabin in Yangon’s Hlegu Township, where Myanmar’s current constitution was drafted. It was his second visit since the coup.

The village hosted the National Convention, also known as Nyaungnabin Convention, which drafted the country’s third charter, the 2008 Constitution.

Drafted between 2004 and 2007 on the instructions of then-military dictator Than Shwe, the constitution was designed to maintain the military’s grip on power after the country embarked on its democratic transition. It was ratified in a national referendum held a few days after parts of the country were devastated by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, with a death toll estimated at over 100,000.

During his first visit in June last year, Min Aung Hlaing described the buildings in which the 2008 Constitution was drafted as being of historic importance for the country. Finding that the main building was crumbling and overgrown with vegetation, the junta boss called for proper maintenance to ensure its preservation for posterity. After major renovation work, the buildings now look new.

To Min Aung Hlaing, the buildings no doubt have value since they secure the generals’ grip on government and business. But to Myanmar’s people, the name ‘Nyaungnabin’ symbolizes nothing more than the military’s inhumanity, greed, and hunger for power.