An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
With the re-establishment of constitutional government since 2011, these recurring themes have come back in both domestic and international guises, threatening to endanger the effort to re-establish a viable political system. The so-called Rohingya issue is now being used to fuel political discord.
Only by depoliticising ethnicity and race will it be possible to maintain political order and reasoned politics. As human rights are confused with group aspirations in modern discourse, this will be extremely difficult but if an effort to remove race from discussions of public policy is not attempted, the result could be disastrous for the development of the constitutional order.
Derek Tonkin writes: Professor Taylor convincingly sets the controversies created by ethnic issues in Myanmar in its historical context. His comments on "the so-called Rohingya issue" merit particular attention, notably his questioning that the status of the Rohingya is only a Myanmar problem.
The 2015 elections is the responsibility of the Myanmar government in partnership with its people, and its success will be measured by the integrity of the electoral process and an outcome that reflects the will of the people of this country. Credible, transparent, and inclusive electoral processes require long-term engagement with all stakeholders throughout the electoral cycle. We understand that building confidence in an election starts well before Election Day and includes confidence in the integrity of international election support. Read more.....
The government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee will meet with the ethnics’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT) in mid-March for the seventh round of official talks on an elusive nationwide ceasefire agreement.Both sides have agreed to meet in Rangoon from March 16, according to ethnic and government negotiators.
1. Aiming to safeguard sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity on the basis of the peace process; and building a Union based on democratic and federal principles in the spirit of Panglong and in accordance with the outcomes of Political Dialogue to ensure freedom, equality, justice and self determination for all citizens;
2. Striving together at the outset to conclude the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement without delay whilerecognizing that a nationwide ceasefire is vital for the political dialogue process;
3. Establishing a new political culture of ending long-existing armed conflicts and solving grievances through dialogue instead of resorting to force of arms; and striving together to promptly hold an all inclusive political dialogue process;
4. Working together to promptly draft the Framework for Political Dialogue after concluding the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and commencing political dialogue prior to the 2015 General Elections in accordance with the Framework on Political Dialogue;
5. Undertaking jointly to prevent armed clashes and confrontations between various armed groups and to refrain from taking actions or measures that will harm the peace process;
The decision was to switch from a first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, in which candidates run in single-member districts, to a form of proportional representation (PR), which will elect batches of candidates in multi-member districts corresponding to states and divisions. It is unclear if the Union Election Commission will be able to successfully implement the new system for elections less than nine months away
National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition politicians requested that Burma's Constitutional Tribunal issue a ruling on the change, but indications suggest that the revised system will remain in place for the 2015 vote. The implications of this new system on electoral outcomes are not entirely clear. The limited availability of polling and other data makes it difficult to predict the specific result of the change, particularly given its restricted nature. Read more.....
Derek Tonkin writes: A lot of common sense in these two balanced assessments by (Mr) Oret Samet, an independent Thai journalist and researcher who was previously a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC. I would have thought though that the Upper House vote still needs to be approved by the Union Parliament and then signed into law by the President.
The NLD says it is happy with the mechanism for awarding contracts to foreign companies. However, problems remain with the rules requiring foreign energy companies to team up with a local counterpart. "The domestic side is not transparent," he said. "There is a list of the companies who can work with the foreign investor. Nobody can say how they choose these companies, or how this allotment came about."