An Independent Survey of Events in Myanmar
Latest Political Developments
- Army chief and deputy expected to renew posts for another five years - Reuters
- President Thein Sein cancels visit to ASEAN-US Summit in California - Reuters
- Burma's peace process needed a fresh start: Khin Ohmar and Alex Moodie - The Irrawaddy
- Will Aung San Suu Kyi be Myanmar's next President? Larry Jagan - Korea Herald
The Central Bank of Myanmar announced on Tuesday that 13 foreign banks have applied to operate in Burma in a second round of licensing. In the announcement, which came a day after the Feb. 8 application deadline, the Central Bank said that the final decision would be made by March 31, the final day of President Thein Sein’s administration.
Contenders in the second licensing round include the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam; Taiwan’s Cathay United Bank, CTBC Bank, E.SUN Commercial Bank, First Commercial Bank and Mega International Commercial Bank; South Korea’s KB Kookmin Bank and Shinhan Bank; the State Bank of India; the State Bank of Mauritius; Taiwan Business Bank; Taiwan Cooperative Bank; and Taiwan Shin Kong Commercial Bank.
All nine winners that competed for licenses in 2014 - the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Australia’s ANZ Bank, the Bangkok Bank, Malaysia’s Maybank, the United Overseas Bank and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation of Singapore and Japanese lenders Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, Sumitomo Bank and Mizuho Bank - are based in the Asia-Pacific.
These banks operate in Burma under rigid conditions. They are barred from competing against local lenders in the retail banking sector and are only allowed to run one branch.
Derek Tonkin writes: The absence of US and European banks from the bidding process most likely reflects ongoing concerns about the restrictive nature of continuing US financial sanctions. This was a major reason for the withdrawal of the Standard Chartered Bank from the first licensing round.
Latest Political News
- NLD MPs elected to top local parliamentary positions in 12 of 14 Assemblies - The Irrwaddy
- Presidential vote to start on 17 March as transition talks drag on - Reuters
- Rumour mill grinds over Tatmadaw-NLD power-sharing negotiations - Myanmar Times
A campaign of hate speech that actively dehumanizes Muslims plays a key role in sustaining violence across Myanmar. This is not limited to the Rohingya, and in fact, anti-Muslim sentiment has evolved to the point that a range of anti-Muslim prejudices have now normalized in mainstream Burmese discourse.
The Ma Ba Tha has articulated some clear ‘red lines’ for the incoming NLD government that could lead to confrontation. Chief among them is political opposition to ‘race and religion’ issues, particularly with any move to rescind or weaken the newly passed Race and Religion Laws. Meanwhile, the NLD is unlikely to forget the often-crude manner in which Ma Ba Tha followers slandered and defamed the party and its leadership in the run-up to elections, but the party has also shown an acute understanding of the Ma Ba Tha’s mobilizing power. Judging from recent history, despite its unambiguous political mandate, it is not clear if the NLD is willing to expend the political capital that will be required to confront the Ma Ba Tha and curb its anti-Muslim messaging and activities.
On net assessment, the Ma Ba Tha is likely to remain a powerful force in Myanmar’s politics for some time to come.
Derek Tonkin writes: Ma Ba Tha are for ever seeking to remain relevant. The task for the NLD is to improve people's lives generally so that they are less susceptible to inflammatory propaganda. A deal between the NLD and the Tatmadaw over the presidency and other matters could leave Ma Ba Tha exposed, and the Tatmadaw have in the past put U Wirathu firmly where he belongs, behind bars.
C4ADS appears to stand for "Centre for Advance Defense Studies", though I have not found this clarified on their website. The article could with merit be expanded to explain the formal position of the Myanmar Government, which is that they consider most Muslims, including those in Arakan, to be immigrants from overseas - mostly the Indian Subcontinent, China and Malaya/Indonesia. In the case of Muslims in Arakan, they are held, probably correctly, to have migrated mostly from the Indian Subcontinent, "legally" over several centuries, but only "illegally" after independence in 1948. In biological terms (race) many are indeed "Bengali". But their separate ethnicity has developed over many years (and is still developing), which is why they would not wish to be classed as Bengali, anymore than an American whose ancestors came from England would ever dream of describing himself as "English", and would be likely to take offence if he were so described.
The role played by militant monks in the 1938 anti-Muslim riots in Burma is well recorded in the Final Report of the Riot Inquiry Committee released in 1939. In Arakan Division, the Report noted that only in Sandoway was there a "faint effervessence" of the troubles which hit other towns and cities in Burma.
Wai Moe and Thomas Fuller: New York Times - 5 February 2016
The democracy movement of the Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is negotiating with Myanmar’s military over the composition of the next government, including a possible deal that would allow her to be president, two senior members of her party said on Friday.
The officials said the party had offered senior government posts to the military as part of a deal in which the military would allow Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi to be president.
The precise details of the negotiations remain murky, and the party members spoke on the condition of anonymity because, in the words of one, “now is a very sensitive time.” Read on.....
Shwe Mann, Burma’s former Parliament Speaker who is viewed as an ally of Aung San Suu Kyi, has been appointed to lead a legislative oversight commission. As chairman of the Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission, Shwe Mann will be tasked with supporting parliamentary committees as they amend existing laws and draft new bills.
The commission’s 23 members were announced by his successor, Lower House Speaker Win Myint, on Friday. Ko Ko Naing, a member of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), will serve as vice chairman. Shwe Mann, a former general, was removed from his post as USDP chairman in August, but he remained a member of the party. The surprise ouster was widely interpreted as a a response to his closeness with Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).
The Legal Affairs Commission was formed in 2012 to support lawmakers and liaise between committees. Its new permutation comprises members of several political parties, ex-military officials, retired civil servants, diplomats and legal experts. Commission members do not have to be elected members of Parliament, but are granted legal protection to speak freely with lawmakers about pending legislation and make recommendations directly to Parliament.