Most Popular Stories of 2018

By The Irrawaddy 27 December 2018

YANGON—As 2018 comes to an end, The Irrawaddy rehashes some of our most popular stories of the year. Throughout a year of diverse coverage, The Irrawaddy has shared a wide range of fascinating stories including those about bars on the shore of the famed Inle Lake, cultural diversity and economic vibrancy along the Myanmar-India border, as well as the last bottle painter of Bagan. For those looking for insights into Myanmar affairs and international relations and a recap on the country’s political and social milestones during 2018, our most popular editorials, commentaries and Datelines shouldn’t be missed. Be inspired by those in the business, tourism and gender-rights sectors while reading interviews with them linked below. To get beyond the headlines of the most pressing issues of the year, our most-read analytical and in-depth articles can help further your understanding. Happy New Year and happy reading to you all!


Is the President Truly Above the Commander-in-Chief?

Executive power in Myanmar is divided between the civilian government and armed forces. As many political observers put it, there are two lions sharing a cave. But which is king?


Chinese Whispers in Yangon as Myanmar Weighs Rohingya Deal With UN

Beijing urges government not to sign MOU in bid to lure Myanmar away from the West


Is Capital Punishment for Rapists the Answer?

Women’s rights advocates are calling for legislation that better protects vulnerable women from rape — even the death penalty.


Myanmar Seeks Advanced Weapons from Russia, but China Remains the Key Player

While Myanmar seeks to diversify its military suppliers, it will continue to seek diplomatic cover first and foremost from China.


How Prepared Is Myanmar To Counter Terror Attacks? 

The question facing our leaders should no longer be if, but when, terrorists will strike


Incoming President Needs More Power to Implement Government’s Plans 

U Htin Kyaw performed his ceremonial role competently; his successor should be given latitude to address the country’s problems


From ‘Beauty Queen’ to Beach Bum? Ngapali Loses its Sparkle

At a meeting in Ngapali last weekend, government officials and business owners debated the beach’s fall from grace. Some blame unchecked development by the rich and powerful.


A Quick Guide to Inle Lake and Nyaung Shwe

Popular tourist spot offers a wealth of things to do … or just a nice place to chill


Dissent in the Naga Hills as India-Myanmar Border Follies Linger  

A slow but definite dissent is brewing against both New Delhi and Naypyitaw in the remote Naga hills.


Rock Star Paints to Escape Reality

Local rock star Kyar Pauk showcases his art at his first solo exhibition.


Nyaung Shwe’s Relaxed Night life offers the Perfect Coda to a Day on the Lake

Good eats,funky drinks and funky pubs make for a surprisingly fun night out


Facebook Slow to React to Violence, Hate Speech in Myanmar

Facebook can no longer turn a blind eye to the misuse of its network. Otherwise, it will be accused of being complicit in Myanmar’s ongoing crisis.


Police Incompetence on Full Display at Anti-War Protest 

The Home Affairs Ministry must explain why civilian thugs were allowed to attack a peaceful demonstration in Yangon


A nation cursed by the legacy of colonialism 

As we reflect on 70 years of independence, we can see that the origins of many of the nation’s most persistent problems – ethnic division, conflict and a lack of democracy – date to the period of British rule


The Govt’s New Year’s Resolution Should be a Cabinet Reshuffle

The people of Myanmar need not only a clean government but effective ministries with the right people in the right places to move the country forward.


Charges Against Reporters Meant to Muzzle Press

Monday’s court decision to charge two Reuters reporters is a clear sign that press freedom in Myanmar is dangerously on the wane. The free press has been warned.


FELA’s Paintings of Myanmar’s Way of Life Find an Audience after His Death

Just months after his passing, works by the artist — who struggled financially all his life — fetch high prices at Yangon exhibition


Exhibit Offers Up a Taste of Myanmar’s ‘Golden Age’ of Film

The new exhibit aims to inspire a new generation of artists by screening a few classics from Myanmar cinema stretching back to the 1950s over the next few weeks.


Yangoods Launches New Design Collaboration with Movie Star

A collaboration between the popular local brand and award-winning actress Phway Phway showcases the unique style of both.


Pao Mon: Mon Kitchen 

This social enterprise in Mon State serves up delicious local dishes.


Rising Burmese Talent: Singer-Songwriter Youn Ni Ko

Youn Ni Ko, a young Burmese singer-songwriter who grew up in Cyprus, refuses to be confined to a single genre.


What Lies Behind the NLD’s Protest Law Amendments?

The NLD’s bill to amend the country’s protest law is the most controversial legislation the party has tried to pass since coming to power. What does it really want?


‘Debt Trap’ Alert Rises in Myanmar as More Belt and Road Projects Scrapped

The projects, which encompass a seaport, three-part highway, high-speed railway and New Yangon City, have the potential to give China a stranglehold of debt over Myanmar.


Myanmar Still Living with Legacy of 1988 Military Coup

The events of Sept. 18, 1988, and their bloody aftermath established a military presence in Myanmar’s political life that, three decades later, shows no signs of going away.


 Who Will Benefit from the Coming Shake-up?

The widely expected cabinet reshuffle has serious implications for the government, the economy and the peace process.


History Suggests Int’l Targeting of Tatmadaw over Rohingya Is Misguided

In the past, outside pressure has only caused the military to dig in deeper; and there is little support for Rohingya within the country.


UN Award Winner Fights for Myanmar’s Women

Cheery Zahau, a winner of the UN’s N-Peace Awards for 2017, says gender equality is not only good for women, but for the whole country.


After Bumpy 2017, Tourism Sector Looks for Clear Skies 

The Irrawaddy spoke with two sector operators about the troubles the Rakhine crisis has caused the country’s tourism sector, and how to get out of the rough patch.


The Kachin Journalist Breaking Stereotypes

“It was my dream to start up a local publication that reflects local needs, reports on the huge human rights violations and raises people’s concerns,” said Seng Mai Maran.


New, Improved Deal on China-Backed Kyaukphyu SEZ Due Soon: Deputy Minister

U Set Aung said Myanmar’s new deal with the SEZ’s Chinese developer would include safeguards against a debt trap and that efforts to reform the overall economy were on track.


Librarian-Scholar Took the Road Less Traveled By

Renowned in Myanmar as a pioneer of library science, and honored abroad for his contributions to scholarship, U Thaw Kaung looks back on a life among books.


The Naked Truth: Exhibition of Paintings, Photos Explores the Human Form

Painter Harn Lay, photographer Sai Kyaw Khaing challenge social mores with their nude studies


Young Artist Feels Sorry for Your Shoes

“People wear and use them daily, yet no one really values them. They take you wherever you want to go. I just want to make people aware of their value,” said Nyan Ye Naing.


Painting the Practice of Victim-Blaming in a New Light

Artist Chuu Wai Nyein’s drive to depict women’s challenges and strengths began with an assault on a family member.


Modernist Painter Juxtaposes Sublime With the Scary

Ne Tun is known for combining traditional Myanmar art with modernist aesthetics. For his latest show he has brought together another unlikely pairing — love and horror.


Artist Creates Paintings In a Bottle

Bagan’s last remaining bottle painter would love to pass the delicate craft on to a new generation. But he says tastes are changing.


Our Fight For Press Freedom

In these beleaguered times for journalism, The Irrawaddy will continue battling for a free press.


Our Coverage of the 3rd Union Peace Conference

The Irrawaddy offers readers a collection of its stories on the five-day conference, which wrapped up in Naypyitaw on Monday.


A Look Back at the Murder Trial of U Ko Ni

The Irrawaddy has compiled several of its past stories, editorials and commentaries on the NLD lawyer’s murder trial, a year on from his assassination.


A Rich History Along the India-Myanmar Border 

The Irrawaddy sent reporters to the India-Myanmar border. We share these photos of the region’s cultural diversity and economic vibrancy.


TIMELINE: Eight Decades of Myanmar-Japan Relations at a Glance

Myanmar’s ties with Japan have been close since Gen. Aung San met with a visiting Japanese military officer in 1940. Here are the key events that have shaped bilateral relations since then.


How Can the NLD Salvage Myanmar’s Diplomatic Affairs?

Irrawaddy English editor Kyaw Zwa Moe, political analyst Yan Myo Thein and human rights activist Cheery Zahau discuss how Myanmar might improve its foreign relations.


Poor Prospects for Peace in Face of Military Might

The Irrawaddy discusses the latest developments in Myanmar’s peace process and the obstacles impeding progress.


How Will Myanmar’s Political Landscape Change With a Newly-elected President

The Irrawaddy discusses prospects for peace and progress in Myanmar with a newly-elected president at the helm.


The Weakening Kyat-Dollar Exchange Rate

This week, Dateline Irrawaddy discusses how the Central Bank of Myanmar should handle the weakening exchange rate and its effect on the country.


UNSC Should Understand the Complexity and Multitude of Issues Facing Myanmar

A UN Security Council delegation visits northern Rakhine for the first time since military clearance operations forced 700,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh.


Latest Rape, Murder in Yangon Heightens Security Fears

Women’s rights advocates say the case draws attention to the need to make the city’s streets safer for women.


Ministry Rebuked for Blaming Rape on How Women Dress

Public reaction was fast and sharp to a suggestion from the Ministry of Home Affairs that parents urge their daughters to dress modestly to discourage rapists.


Govt Preps Policy to Cope with Falling Population Growth

Minister U Thein Swe said the policy will take into consideration the country’s optimum population size based on its natural resources, economy, geography, culture and military needs.


Women’s Participation Will Bolster Chances for Peace: Report

Report says increased participation of women in politics could further cement peace agreements and bolster post-conflict rehabilitation.


Women Journalists Say Access to Information More Challenging Under NLD

‘Women in News’ summit also calls attention to lack of safeguards against harassment of female reporters in the field and in the newsroom


Staycation Culture Booms in Myanmar

Hotels cater to locals who want to get away for a luxury vacation without the added stress of travel, planning and preparation.


Eight Tourist Attractions That You Must See in Yangon

From history to adventure to food, Myanmar’s main city offers visitors a unique experience


Wa Restaurant Brings Food From the Mountains to the Big City

Never tried the spicy, herb-infused offerings from northern Shan state? Now’s your chance


The Irrawaddy’s Guide to Yangon Nightspots

Looking for something to do after dark? Here are a handful of the trendiest and most popular venues around town


Myanmar Roller Skaters to Display Skills at ASEAN Championships

Skate association to send delegation to Vietnam despite lack of official funding, recognition