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Senior General Min Aung Hlaing comments on the current political situation
 
Video and Transcript: Channel NewsAsia - 28 January 2015

Myanmar's army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing says that any amendments to the constitution on military representation in parliament will have to wait, as there are still ongoing conflicts between armed groups. Any change to Article 436 (amendment of the Constitution) "should be based on the experience mentioned - democratic experience. It will depend a lot on the country's unity, its peace and stability. To specify an exact time is difficult. We are still trying to resolve conflicts with armed groups. Currently the process is still ongoing. We are not sure of the results. The country's peace will depend on the results. We need to wait and see."

Video and Transcript: Channel News Asia - 21 January 2015

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing commented that: "The military coup in Thailand was without bloodshed. It was done to protect the people. That's why I supported their action. In fact, if you consider carefully, there was simply no other option. They will just need to carry on according to the law." But he believes Myanmar's military will not have to resort to a coup, due to the country's Constitution. He does not, however, rule out the possibility entirely. He said: "We cannot override authorities just because they are not in control. When things become really out of control, if the President says the military needs to step in, in that region or state, the military will step in when a state of emergency is declared. If we don't act according to the law, we have to face a lot of consequences."

Video and Transcript: Channel NewsAsia - 20 January 2015

Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing said the military needs to be in Parliament because the country is still a young democracy. The current Constitution mandates a 25 percent military representation in Parliament. Military officers occupy one quarter of the elected seats in Parliament. But under the Constitution, they are appointed and not elected by the people. Citizens are calling for that clause, known as section 436, to be amended. The military chief however is reluctant to do so at this stage of Myanmar's transition. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said: "It's been only about four years. We are still a young democracy. When we are moving towards a multi-party democratic system it needs to be a strong system. The military representatives in Parliament only give advice in the legislative process. They can never make decisions."  

IHS Janes - 27 January 2015
Myanmar's Ministry of Defence has proposed a 2015 defence budget of Kyats 2.61 trillion (USD2.5 billion), according to reports in the country. The figure represents a year-on-year nominal increase of 10% and approximately 3.7% of national GDP.In presenting the defence budget to parliament, defence minister Lieutenant General Wai Lwin said the expenditure will be directed at supporting operational expenses, procurement, salaries, constructing and maintaining military facilities, and providing education and training to military personnel.
Command Paper 8975 of January 2015
This Command Paper sets out the government’s response to the Foreign Affairs Committee's (FAC) report of 27 November 2014 into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) human rights work in 2013.

On Burma (Myanmar), the FAC had recommended:

"We recommend that the government reiterate to the government of Burma that the current situation is still highly unsatisfactory, and that the UK will strongly advocate the re-imposition of sanctions by the EU if there is no progress over the next 12 months in improving the conditions of the Rohingya community, and in securing the unconditional release of all political prisoners. We also recommend that the UK government closely monitors whether former political prisoners who wish to stand for elections in 2015 are able to do so. (Paragraph 45)"

The UK Government's response on this recommendation may be read on pages 10 and 11 of the Report. In general, the Government shares the FAC's concerns, but concludes:

"The elections this year will be a major opportunity to consolidate Burma's progress towards democracy. Credible and inclusive elections in 2015, along with definitive progress towards sustainable nationwide peace, will be the key tests of Burma's commitment to pursuing the transition process. In the lead-up to those elections, we will continue to keep up the pressure, and continue to review, together with our international partners, what the most appropriate response should be to the human rights challenges faced by the people of Burma. For the moment, however, our judgement remains that progress in Burma is better encouraged through engagement, rather than by seeking the re-imposition of EU sanctions, which would require the unanimous consent of all 28 EU member states."

Derek Tonkin writes: It was predictable that the Government would not share the FAC's advocacy of renewed sanctions in the event of a lack of progress on human rights issues. The Government would also have been puzzled by the reference to former political prisoners wishing to stand for election as they are not currently debarred from doing so, nor were they so debarred at the time of the 2010 elections when a number of former political prisoners stood successfully, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The FAC in preparing their Report would not appear to have been well briefed by reliable and independent sources and may have attached too much importance to activist lobbying.

Editorial: The Nation (Bangkok) - 25 January 2015
Wirathu's ugly attack on the UN rapporteur shows he is unfit to wear the saffron robes; the Thein Sein government should cut him adrift..... 
 
Wirathu's recent and past actions have not only tarnished Buddhism in Myanmar, but also the religion itself. His latest outburst is a further outrage for which he must be condemned.

Myanmar leaders must find the courage to speak out. If not for the sake of Buddhism, they should do it for the sake of their country's reputation.

British Embassy Rangoon - 23 January 2015
The UK government will continue to engage with the Burmese military to promote adherence to democratic accountability, international law and human rights.
 
The Burmese military (Tatmadaw) remain a core political force in Burma and will be key to the process of political reform. Engaging with the Tatmadaw remains a sensitive issue. However, it is important to engage the military and encourage them to support reforms. It is only through wide engagement, including the military, that we will see greater democracy in Burma.
 
Educational courses also form part of our engagement. We use these opportunities to convey messages on professionalisation, the rule of law, military governance under civilian government, human rights and humanitarian law. Continue reading.....
 

       

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d.tonkin@btinternet.com (Derek Tonkin) Featured Uncategorised Sun, 11 Nov 2007 12:25:42 +0000