An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
Aung Naing Oo said that the FDI target was set in line with the government's 20- year FDI Promotion Plan. According to the DICA chief, the manufacturing sector may lead this year's FDI inflows into Myanmar followed by the oil and gas and services sectors. He expects a sharp increase in Japanese investments, thanks to the development of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, while Singapore, Hong Kong and China are likely to maintain their high rankings in the list of top investors.
Aung Naing Oo said that investments from European countries would likely surge next year if the EU-Myanmar Investment Protection Agreement could be signed later this year.
On the ASEAN side, he expected to receive more investments from Malaysia and Thailand. The newly opened economy may welcome more Thai investors, as the neighbouring country's outbound investment strategy focuses mainly on Myanmar and the Philippines. Read on for detailed analysis.....
Derek Tonkin writes: The strength of Asian business interest in Myanmar is likely to overshadow any concerns at the political level which Western leaders might harbour in the wake of an apparent slow-down in political refoms. It is now highly unlikely that any resumption of "restrictive measures" would be undertaken, though reactions in the US Congress tend to be unpredictable and continuing US restrictions on financial movements are a disincentive to some European investors.
"These events have been portrayed by most journalists and activists in stark, dualistic terms as clashes between peaceful, idealistic students and brutal, hard-line police, reminiscent of the bloody confrontations under the former military regime. On this basis, calls have been made for the EU to suspend its MPF training program and for all other international contacts with Naypyidaw to be reviewed.
"Clearly, the authorities at both the regional and national levels could have handled the protests much better, and the MPF's (Myanmar Police Force) brutal behaviour at Letpadan was inexcusable. The strong responses from foreign governments and human rights groups to the two incidents were understandable and justified.
"Speaking to well-informed observers in Rangoon at the time, however, I was given a more nuanced account of events. Among the points made to me were the following:
- The protesters have invariably been labelled 'students'...... Not all the protesters, however, were in fact students. Also, as the Government has claimed, some probably had wider political goals in mind, including regime change.
- Most people I spoke to last month believed that, prior to the incidents in Rangoon and Letpadan, Naypyidaw had made a number of unexpected concessions to the protesters. Some of their demands had already been incorporated into the education law. Others (such as the allocation of 20% of the annual budget to education) were seen as unrealistic by a parliamentary committee that included members of the opposition parties.
- The MPF units at Letpadan initially adopted a cautious and conciliatory approach..... It was only after five days of negotiations, when some protesters tired of what they saw as police obstructionism and openly began to challenge the police blockade, that the security battalions were sent in.
Derek Tonkin writes: This 'student' protest was confined to a narrow issue and tended to attract only the more vocal element. It failed to attract widespread public support. The response of Western Governments was measured and proportionate.
"The disappointment felt by many former supporters was summed up by lawmaker U Thein Nyunt, who told a journalist last year, 'We've followed her leadership for two decades, but she's failed to get any results for her country. It is obvious now that she is not considering the people, but only her own power.'
"The Lady still uses the image of her father as often as possible. But maybe, deep in her heart, she believes that she'll never be in a position to make real change until she's President. Maybe being hailed as her nation's savior is more pressure than she, or many of us, could live up to. Or maybe the substance of Aung San Suu Kyi never really matched the symbol - and the West would do well to see that Myanmar is much more than The Lady."
The meeting in the capital, Naypyitaw, included army chief General Min Aung Hlaing, the speakers of both houses of parliament and Aye Maung, a representative of ethnic minority parties. It was only the second time all such top officials had met, after a similar gathering last October ahead of a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.
"We discussed three things: the amendment of he Constitution, the upcoming election and the peace agreement in a very friendly and cordial atmosphere," Aye Maung told Reuters. The two-hour meeting will be seen as a positive step after worry both at home and abroad about the pace of reforms and Suu Kyi's recent comments. Aye Maung declined to give any more details of the talks but said the participants had agreed to meet again before parliament resumes on May 10.