NLD, ethnic parties unite in push for constitutional reform before 2015 election

20 June, 2013
Politics

Aung Sun Suu Kyi, opposition leader and head of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD), has united with leaders from five major ethnic political parties which are all members of United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), in a push to amend the constitution ahead of general elections in 2015. Suu Kyi emphasized the importance of gradually reducing the 25% of seats currently held by the military, as well as addressing other outstanding contradictions in the 2008 constitution. Along with the NLD’s Aung San Suu Kyi, party leaders attended from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, the Arakan League for Democracy, the Mon National League for Democracy, the Zomi National network, and the Karen National Congress for Democracy.

Thailand & Myanmar create company to invest in Dawei project

18 June, 2013
Economy

Thailand and Myanmar have signed an agreement to create a joint venture for developing the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar, which will draw capital from investors from Japan as well as other countries. The development of Dawei SEZ and related areas is expected to require US$1.4 billion of investments during the first 5 years, between 2014 and 2018. During this phase, a road will be built from Dawei to Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province, as well as a small port, a natural gas power plant, a water reservoir, and a residential area.

Myanmar monks back down from law seeking to restrict interfaith marriages

17 June, 2013
Politics

A two-day convention of some 200 monks in Myanmar ended on Friday 14 June, with no mention of the previously unveiled proposed law of restricting interfaith marriages between Buddhist women and Muslim men. It seems as though the monks have backed down from the proposed legislation, but the proposal had received harsh criticism for violating human rights.

Foreign investment gets boost in June

17 June, 2013
Economy

Five new foreign businesses, four completely foreign owned and one joint venture, were granted permission to invest in Myanmar on June 12, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC). The joint venture is between UAE’s Gecko Holdings Ltd and Myanmar’s Kyaw Win Phyo Co to establish a hotel business, while the four wholly foreign-owned are a Thai-owned garment factory, a Chinese footwear factory, a British cruise trip business and an Indian fine wood factory.

UK Trade Minister stresses 4 hindrances for investments in Myanmar

16 June, 2013
Economy

The United Kingdom’s Trade and Investment Minister Stephen Green, on his first visit to Myanmar, identified corruption and lack of transparency, physical and technological infrastructure inhibiting free flow of information, under-developed banking systems and insufficient qualified labour as the four key areas Myanmar needs to improve to receive more foreign investments. Lord Green visited Myanmar on June 13 and 14 as the last destination of his Southeast Asia Tour to promote UK businesses. He was accompanied by a trade delegation including representatives from major British companies Arup, JCB, Standard Chartered and Crown Agents.

Myanmar enters ‘transparency partnership’ with US

17 June, 2013
Foreign Affairs

The US Department of State announced that it had formed a partnership with Naypyidaw to achieve greater transparency and good governance in Myanmar’s extractive industries. Washington will provide political support and technical assistance for the implementation of international best practices in oil, gas, and mining sector management and oversight, financial accountability, and safety and environmental stewardship, it said in a press release.

EU condemns Myanmar for violence against Rohingya

14 June, 2013
Foreign Affairs

European Union lawmakers have condemned violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority and called on authorities to protect them. The European Parliament said it “deplores … the failure of the government to protect the Rohingya from organised violence”, and passed a motion that “condemns the grave violations of human rights” and has called on authorities to do “everything in their power to protect Rohingya Muslims from violent actions”.

Myanmar ruling party: Suu Kyi coalition possible

14 June, 2013
Politics

Shwe Mann, chair of the ruling USDP party, said on 12 June that he does not rule out a coalition government with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi. He made the comments to the press during a visit to Washington with a multi-party delegation of Myanmar lawmakers. Both Shwe Mann and Aung San Suu Kyi expressed their interest last week in running for president in the 2015 elections. Shwe Mann was a trusted lieutenant of junta chief Than Shwe but is now viewed as a committed reformer and is reportedly closer to Suu Kyi than the current President Thein Sein.

US Senators Blast China’s Use of Force in Sea Disputes

13 June, 2013
Political Security

US senators have filed Senate Resolution 167 on Monday, condemning China’s aggressive approach towards the Philippines and Japan in the West Philippine Sea and Senkaku Island dispute. After a series of events whereby the Chinese have encroached upon the disputed territories, the resolution is asking for the US senate to condemn the use of coercion, threats or force in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

South Korea to discuss with Myanmar on inking investment guarantee pact

13 June, 2013
Foreign Affairs

South Korea plans to discuss signing an investment pact with Myanmar next week, officials said 13 June, in Seoul’s latest attempt to make inroads into the country. A high-level South Korean delegation led by Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok will meet with the Myanmar government in Naypyidaw on 19 June, but the meeting comes eight months after the leaders of the two countries agreed to negotiate a possible investment guarantee pact, which will lay the foundation for a greater economic cooperation.