The Most Popular Stories of 2020
By The Irrawaddy 30 December 2020
YANGON—As 2020 draws to a close, The Irrawaddy takes a step back and presents a compilation of the year’s most noteworthy stories as chosen by you, our readers. The following articles were the most read among the many features, commentaries, analyses, interviews and lifestyle pieces we published throughout 2020. The topics are diverse, but our readers’ attention was dominated by two issues: COVID-19 and the election. You also showed a strong interest in our take on Chinese investment in its various forms, from the huge BRI scheme to a shady gambling hub in Karen State. The broader, and related, topics of Myanmar’s relations with the two rival giants on its borders, India and China, were of consistent interest. And while the pandemic forced us to scale back our usually lively art and restaurant coverage, readers’ curiosity was aroused by profiles of an artist who turned his attention to the frustrations of lockdown and a company that acted quickly to offer food delivery services to stranded Yangon residents, among many others. We hope you enjoy this in-depth look at a difficult year gone by, and extend our best wishes for the year to come.
Myanmar’s military and government have looked the other way as a megaproject backed by shadowy Chinese interests threatens peace and social stability in Karen State.
The government has been slow to act on coronavirus, on both the health and economic fronts; so far only luck has spared it a real test of its crisis-management skills.
Myanmar’s military and the country’s ethnic armed groups now face a common enemy in COVID-19, but this fact has yet to be grasped in all parts of the country.
As the National League for Democracy prepares for this year’s election, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remains popular, but voters see few other figures in the party to admire.
While insulting voters, Western media dismissed the NLD’s election win as a display of blind faith in Suu Kyi; the world’s understanding of Myanmar is the poorer for it.
Strange markers in villages along a planned China-backed railway in Shan State suggest the project is proceeding without input from locals, who fear for their futures.
A local Yangon clothing designer has built a made-in-Myanmar brand selling trendy, colorful and simple clothes for women, made entirely from Inle Lake cotton.
In the first of six articles about touring by car outside Yangon, Oliver Hargreave describes his first experience driving in Myanmar.
At one of Thailand’s biggest elephant parks in Chiang Mai, the pachyderms and Myanmar migrants wait in vain for tourists to return.
Registered voters based in Thailand are taking time off work, traveling overnight and braving COVID-19 restrictions to take part in the Nov. 8 general election.
In a clear signal to China, Tatmadaw commander-in-chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing has warned that ‘strong forces’ are backing insurgent groups in Myanmar.
A recent Chinese state media article mocking the Tatmadaw’s ‘outdated’ new submarine suggests feathers are being ruffled in Beijing over closer India-Myanmar ties.
The presence of a Chinese-backed gambling and illicit trade hub in Karen State makes a mockery of Myanmar’s sovereignty; the incoming government must clean it up.
In this election year, we must be honest about the scope of the challenges that Myanmar faces, but let’s also continue to hope for progress toward peace and prosperity.
As China’s influence grows, Myanmar would do well to seek stronger contributions from India to the country’s development, democratic transition and military capacity.
On this day in 1989, the then-military government changed the names of 165 streets in Yangon, dropping their English colonial names in favor of Burmese language replacements.
The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company dominated river trade during the colonial period from its headquarters on Strand Road, which is the Myanma Port Authority building today.
One of the oldest structures in Yangon, the Norman Kyaung Kyi Htaik has been a place of learning—first for Christian missionaries and later for Buddhist monks—since 1852.
Yangon’s Government Press Building played a key role in the official life of British Burma, and has continued printing documents for Myanmar’s governments ever since.
“Tempo(rary)” is an exhibition by Myanmar artist Maung Day and Singaporean artist Marc Nair, featured at Singapore Festival 2020 and now on display at Rosewood Yangon.
Parliament will vote on constitutional amendments next week. The most contentious are those put forward by NLD and ethnic MPs seeking to oust the military from politics.
Hungry for electricity, Myanmar is accepting China’s offers of cheap LNG stations and crossborder transmissions. But relying on Chinese power poses dangers, experts warn.
The United Democratic Party is fielding more than 1,000 candidates in November’s election but its leader, U Kyaw Myint, has failed to answer questions about his past.
Among more than 100 proposed amendments submitted by the NLD, two in particular have the potential to remove the military’s power to block constitutional reform.
In Rakhine and Chin, where many people have been killed or displaced by air strikes, the majority do not share the State Counselor’s view of the army as their protector.
Taiwan’s representative in Myanmar talks to The Irrawaddy about Taipei’s success in fighting COVID-19 and offers his thoughts on the post-pandemic investment landscape.
Outgoing EU envoy Kristian Schmidt praised Myanmar people’s willingness to sacrifice for democracy and conceded the Rohingya issue dominates Western views of the country.
Unlike its predecessors, the NLD govt is ensuring deals with China benefit Myanmar, Sean Turnell, adviser to the State Counselor, tells The Irrawaddy in an interview.
The government’s COVID-19 strategy should aim for long-term structural change to the economy, historian and policy-planning expert Thant Myint-U told The Irrawaddy.
Japanese envoy Yohei Sasakawa tells The Irrawaddy he is disappointed with the Union Election Commission for not acting on his advice that voting can be held in Rakhine.
At the Yangon Photo Festival, Hkun Li’s exhibition ‘The Price of Bananas’ chronicles the human and environmental cost of illegal banana plantations in Kachin State.
Showcasing work by photographers from Myanmar and beyond, the 12th Yangon Photo Festival addresses issues like environmental threats, peace-building and social justice.
The Yangon Photo Festival awards have honored photographers who brought attention to the poor and forgotten across Myanmar.
Artist Ko Sid’s latest series of paintings depict the feelings of confinement and estrangement he has experienced at home during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Marking its 10th anniversary—and the 50th Earth Day—amid the COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s Green Future Art and Environment Festival has moved online.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Myanmar and the People’s Republic of China. The Irrawaddy presents a timeline of key events.
The Irrawaddy provides an overview of key events and controversies in the prominent child-rape case while the culprit is still at large.
The Irrawaddy presents what the military and its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party did not want to be changed in the 2008 Constitution.
President Xi Jinping is likely to secure agreements on six key BRI projects when he makes the first visit by a Chinese head of state in nearly two decades this week.
The Irrawaddy offers a selection of analyses, commentaries and interviews published in 2019 that shed light on key issues likely to continue shaping the nation this year.
The Irrawaddy talks with writer U Kyaw Win and member of Parliament Ma Zin Mar Aung about the challenges facing Myanmar in 2020, from the Constitution to the election.
Dr. Salai Ngun Cung Lian of the Myanmar Institute for Peace and Study says Myanmar’s lawyers failed to challenge genocide charges at the International Court of Justice.
The Irrawaddy talks to Hnin Hnin Hmwe of the Democratic Party for a New Society and advocate Kyee Myint about police reform and a recent blunder in the Victoria rape case.
As the long process to amend Myanmar’s Constitution appears lost, The Irrawaddy sits down with lawmakers U Aung Thein and U Sai Tun Aye to look for a way out.
The Irrawaddy talks to National League for Democracy information secretary Monywa Aung Shin about the NLD’s missteps since 2015 and how it can clean up its act before November
Tha Gyi Thamee, a restaurant opened last year in Yangon, serves simple, home-style cuisine from Upper Myanmar’s ah nyar region and offers unique, sustainable to-go boxes.
To cater to the many people who are choosing to self-isolate amid the coronavirus outbreak, a number of Yangon eateries are providing food delivery services.
Food deliveries are becoming increasingly popular as coronavirus restrictions limit Myanmar’s culinary options.
Parami Pizza Downtown is serving up a storm on Strand Road with authentic Italian dishes and an intoxicating range of drinks.
The Italian Embassy throws its second Italian Food Festival on Feb. 23 with fine food and wine as well as activities including chances to make your own pizza and mozzarella.
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