An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
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Myanmar welcomes foreign teacher trainers
Thomson-Reuters Foundation - 20 August 2014
Leading international development charityVoluntary Service Overseas (VSO) is sending volunteer teacher trainers to Myanmar throughout August and September, marking a historic moment between Myanmar and the UK.
The initiative is being undertaken in partnership with the British Council, as part of a British Council-DFID funded project, to help improve the quality of education in the country. The programme will be officially opened by The British Ambassador to Myanmar and Jim Emerson, CEO of VSO International, on the 25th August.
This is the first time foreigners have been permitted to work in the education colleges and the first time teacher educators will receive in-depth training. This involves two years of in-service teaching training for the teacher educators in the education colleges. The first year focuses on English language teaching and the second on methodology.
1,300 local teacher trainers will be taught by 44 expert English language teachers, who will be placed in the country’s Education Colleges and universities of Education. There will be VSO teacher trainers in almost every college in the country.
Findings of the Census Observation Mission
UNFPA - 14 August 2014
The Mission described the Myanmar Census as successful on the whole and in line with international standards, except in Rakhine, where almost all communities that wanted to self-identify as “Rohingya” (who the Government call Bengali) were not counted. At the time of the observation, it was noted that some parts of Kachin State, controlled by the Kachin Independence Organisation were not enumerated.
The International Technical Advisory Board (ITAB), a group of 15 experts from different countries and institutions involved in censuses and statistics internationally, will work with the Department of Population (DoP) to find ways of credibly estimating the population of the areas that were left out of the enumeration.
An independent evaluation of the census process itself has been planned.
The Observers highlighted the need to find a solution to the failure of enumeration in the northern area of Rakhine.
The full Census Observation Mission Report includes the following statement on Page 93:
"In the Rohingya/Bengali areas, the observers declared the census process a complete failure. It appeared to them that the local Rohingya/Bengali populations very much wanted to participate in the census but were prevented from doing so by the census field staff and the Department of Population officials. The observers concluded that any claims of a Rohingya/Bengali respondent refusing to take part should be refuted, at least in the areas they observed. In technical terms, a ‘refusal’ occurs when a respondent or groups of respondents do not want to participate in the census, which was never witnessed by the observers."
Latest News and Views
- Identity politics hamper progress: Curtis S Chin - Korean JoongAng Daily
- Documenting Thai citizenship: RJ Hamilton-Coates - Deakin University MA Thesis
- Myanmar and UNODC sign 'landmark' collaboration agreement - Mizzima
- Government denies political prisoners remain behind bars - Myanmar Times
The R-word and its ramifications
Democratic Voice of Burma - 17 August 2014
Derek Tonkin examines the strategic error made by those who claim 'Rohingya' ethnicity in seeking to meet the requirements of the much criticised 1982 Citizenship Act by denying, in many cases, their recent Bengali origins. They have sought to prove their direct ancestry in Arakan dating back well before the British arrival in 1824, but in a situation where the historical evidence of the migration of most Arakan Muslims from Bengal into Burma after 1870 is overhwelming and the facts beyond any reasonable doubt.
Under the Indo-Burma Agreement of 1941, all Indians of whatever religion resident in Burma at the time were permitted to remain in the country indefinitely and either immediately or at a later date acquire 'domicile'. The Japanese invasion of Burma in December 1941 made the formal implementation of the Agreement impossible.
We are in favour of changing Article 436 say Review Committee Members
Democratic Voice of Burma - 15 August 2015
Burma’s parliamentary Joint Committee to Review the Constitution (JCRC) has finalised its notes and recommendations on constitutional reform, according to three of the 31 committee members. Aye Maung, an upper house MP and appointed JCRC member, told Democratic Voice of Burma on Thursday that all members had examined the 15 chapters of the 2008 Constitution, with amendments suggested for more than 450 of the 457 articles.
“We have suggested amendments to more than 450 articles in the Constitution,” he said. “The suggestions are accompanied by notes from each member of the committee detailing their individual stance on every article.” He confirmed that Article 436 - the focus of an intensive campaign by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society Group - was among those clauses included by committee members with recommendations for change."
Derek Tonkin writes: It is far from clear how definitive the Committee's recommendations are likely to be. The report of the preliminary Committee turned out to be no more than a collated assemblage of proposals received.
US Sanctions: Latest
- How this reporter paid US$ 468 to a Burmese crony - Washington Post
- US waives sanctions on Myanmar timber - IPS News Agency
- Late recognition of black-listed hotel owner caused issue: US Embassy
- The real victims of US sanctions on Myanmar: Simon Tay, Cheryl Tan - Japan Times
Opposition must ignore distractions and focus on policy
Burma Partnership - 12 August 2014
"The people of Burma want to see Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and democratic opposition win in 2015 and lead them to genuine democratization, and thus they deserve to know what the political opposition plan to do on a whole raft of pressing political issues should they get into office. People want to know how a new government would manage the ongoing peace process; how they would resolve the disturbing bouts of religious violence and other human rights abuses; how they would stem the rising tide of forced land evictions and land grabs; how they would go about introducing institutional reform of the judiciary, the parliament and the military; and what measures they would take to ensure that all economic investment in Burma is socially and environmentally sustainable.
"We call upon the NLD and all political opposition parties in Burma to begin determining and presenting viable policies on the most critical issues troubling the people of Burma today, in addition to the existing and valuable work that they are doing to draw attention to the urgent need for structural and constitutional reform in Burma."
Derek Tonkin writes: A thinly-veiled criticism of the NLD and hence of Suu Kyi herself for over-zealous concentration on constitutional reform while ignoring matters of policy which urgently need public elaboration. However, in South East Asian politics personalities tend to be far more important than policies.
The call on "the international community, donors, businesses, and all stakeholders involved in or supporting the current political reforms led by President Thein Sein to start encouraging opposition parties to develop policies in time for the 2015 elections" is unlikely to appeal as it would represent direct interference in the electoral affairs of the country.
- The strategic important of Myanmar for India - S Ramaswamy and TS Maini
- Myanmar invites PM Modi for bilateral visit - Press Trust of India
- Swaraj describes Myanmar visit as 'very successful' - Press Trust of India
- President says won't allow anti-India activities from its soil - Press Trust of India
In defence of proportional representation
Khin Zaw Win: The Irrawaddy - 12 August 2014
"Myanmar is coming to a turning point in its elections system and we are a little short on time. Therefore I think it is important to present non-party views that are specific to Myanmar’s situation, in an effort to defuse feelings which are running high and to allay suspicions, and thereby alleviate the divisiveness. It is not going to be a case of PR being forced upon the country: A parliamentary process has been set in motion, committees on PR have been formed in both Houses, and debates have taken place......
"PR is not a hard-and-fast system; indeed there is an inexhaustible list of variations, hybrids and custom-tailored versions. Combinations with FPTP are commonly employed. And that is why an en bloc dismissal of PR can only come from incomplete understanding and vested/parochial interests......
"PR is not to be regarded as a panacea and a cure-all. Let me put it this way—it is a means to be kinder to ourselves, to our fellow citizens and non-citizens, and to our troublous country. Ten years from now, we could look back and feel grateful that PR was adopted."
Chinese FM holds talks with Myanmar counterpart
Xinhua - 12 August 2014
- Myanmar President meets Chinese Foreign Minister - Xinhua
- Chinese Foeign Minister meets Speaker Thura Shwe Mann - Xinhua
Military cannot hold power for eternity: Min Ko Naing
Democratic Voice of Burma - 10 August 2014
To mark the 26th anniversary of Burma’s democratic uprising on 8 August 1988, Min Ko Naing, head of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (88GPOS), spoke with DVB’s Aye Nai about the progress made and the path towards establishing a true federalist system under civilian rule.
Min Ko Naing explained the core values of the 88-generation movement, and urged Burma’s workforce to remain united in their efforts to secure a peaceful, stable and democratic future.
"People want a real democracy. We can accept that the generals changed their costumes and became civilians, but they should only assume power if they do it the right way. There are major obstacles in the different levels of administration; we have ex-military representatives in power without being elected. That is not democracy, and we cannot accept it as democracy."
US Secretary of State John Kerry: Statement to the Press
State Department - 10 August 2014
The Secretary of State made a number of points in his prepared statement, including: "The government, among other things, still needs to complete the task - the difficult task - of ending the decades-long, multiple array of civil wars involving more than a dozen groups. And they need also to expand the space for civil society, protect the media, address land rights, prevent intercommunal violence, and enshrine into their laws basic freedoms. What is interesting is that some of the freedoms that people enjoy today, because the government has made a decision to permit it, are not exactly yet enshrined in the law themselves, and it is obviously vital that that occur.
"The serious crisis in Rakhine State and elsewhere, profound development challenges to raise the country’s standard of living, ethnic and religious violence that still exists, fundamental questions regarding constitutional reform, and of course the role of the military – all of these remain significant challenges of the road ahead.
"Next year’s election will absolutely be a benchmark moment for the whole world to be able to asses the direction that Burma is moving in. And it is important – in fact, beyond important – that that election be inclusive, accountable, open, free, fair, accessible to all, that it wind up being a credible election that leads to the peaceful transfer of power in 2016."
Derek Tonkin writes: John Kerry made 7 references to 'Burma' in his statement and in response to questions, and 19 references to 'Myanmar'. The US would seem to have come to terms with the Burma/Myanmar dichotomy.
- 'There will be no backsliding': President U Thein Sein - New Light of Myanmar
- Myanmar's incomplete transition not 'hunky-dory' says Kerry - Bloomberg
- Kerry rules out return to Myanmar sanctions - Dow Jones
- Secretary of State beds down with black-listed businessmen - Myanmar Times
- Kerry urges Myanmar to stay on path to democracy - New York Times
- Kerry vows support for Myanmar as it faces challenges - AFP
- US engagement in the ASEAN Regional Forum - US State Department
- Joint Communiqué 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting - 8 August 2014