At their annual summit in Manila last November, Myanmar and the other nine members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations pledged to seek greater unity and form a genuine community within the next decade.
When U Aye Maung, leader of the Arakan National Party (ANP), arrived in Sittwe recently, he was greeted with a drum band and a crowd of supporters. But the relatively muted reception reflected the mixed electoral outcome in Rakhine State.
Sixty-eight years ago today Britain’s Union Jack was lowered in Burma for the last time. Independence is a special feeling, made all the more potent in modern Myanmar by the long struggles against colonial rule and military dictatorship.
Christmas is coming – and has been, it seems, since mid-autumn. And just in case there was any sign of flagging, we now have Black Friday, an export from the United States, when we are all encouraged to drink deep of the modern Christmas spirit and shop until we drop.
What will be the role of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in an National League for Democracy-led government, and will it matter? Sitting in Washington DC, on the opposite side of the earth from Myanmar, I cannot come close to answering the first question. But, based on a study I carried out at the beginning of 2015, I believe the SOE sector has the potential to become a major engine for economic progress. The same sector, however, could also become one of the biggest obstacles.
Since late 2013, China has been engaged in the frenzied creation of artificial islands and the militarisation of the South China Sea. This amounts to an alarming quest for control over a strategically crucial corridor through which US$5.3 trillion in trade flows each year. But what is even more shocking – not to mention dangerous – is that China has incurred no international costs for its behaviour.
U Myint Tun was alone in his field in Sagaing Region when four officers pulled up in a military jeep with the bad news: His land now belonged to the government and he could no longer farm it.