Weekly Diary, No.610 (9-16 November 2012)

Tips to the President: When will we have presidents elected by the people?

Think Piece
It’s the same in Burma, sorry, Myanmar
The main challenge is not income inequality, it’s power inequality, and it’s much less easy to deal with. (Since to deal with it) would require not simply new programmes and financial resources, but fundamental political reforms.

Martin Whyte, Harvard University sociologist on China, Reuters/Bangkok Post, 11 November 2012

The ruling USDP is in danger of coming apart at the seams, due to bitter power struggle between Thein Sein and Shwe Mann. If the party fragments, it is likely to break up into several smaller groups, leaving the military with the largest single bloc and thus potentially giving it effective veto power over planned reforms.

Larry Jagan, Foreign Policy, 12 November 2012

An NLD landslide (in 2015) may not be in the best interests of the party or the country, as it would risk marginalizing 3 important constituencies: the old political elite, ethnic parties and the non-NLD democratic forces. If the post 2015 legislatures fail to represent the true political and ethnic diversity of the country, tensions are likely to increase and fuel instability.
International Crisis Group, 13 November 2012

The US must understand the (non-Burman) problems outweigh differences between the NLD and the military.

Nehginpao Kipgen, General Secretary, US-based Kuki International Forum, Bangkok Post, 15 November 2015

Federalism is being interpreted as secession. This is a mistake. Federalism is not separation, but joining together.

Dr. Lian Hmung Sakhong, Ethnic Nationalities Council President, 9 November 2003, reported by Myanmar Post

On Obama’s visit
Too much, too fast and too generous.

Aung Din, Burma exile in Washington D.C. (NPR)

The generals are pursuing reforms largely for the wrong reasons – for their long term survival, politically and economically. (They) talk the talk of peace, but do not walk the walk. Myanmar’s reforms are, upon closer look, more about the interests and longevity of the military less than about inter ethnic peace, public welfare or democracy. These are reasons enough for Obama to stay away.

Maung Zarni, Visiting Fellow at London School of Economics, 14 November 2012

The World
14 November 2012
France recognizes newly formed Syrian opposition National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people, the first Western country to do so. (AFP)

16 November 2012

Xi Jinping becomes Communist Party of China (CPC) General Secretary, together with 6 others taking the party’s helm, the Polit Buro Standing Committee. The new Lineup is heavy on conservatives and leaves out reformists. (AP)

16 November 2012

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, speaking at the Asean Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) in Siem Peap, says US will join hands with Asean against common threats. (Bangkok Post)

International Relations
5 November 2012
Norway pledges $ 850,000 to help Burma update its 1984 Electricity Law to meet international standards, according to ADB. The legislation is expected to take 18 months to draft and implement, with completion targeted for June 2014. (Bangkok Post)

12 November 2012
Aung San Suu Kyi leaves for India. (Agencies)

14 November 2012

PM Manmohan Sirgh receives visiting Aung San Suu Kyi and hails her “indomitable courage” as he seeks to repair frayed relations with the Burmese opposition. (AFP)

15 November 2012
Aung San Suu Kyi, who is visiting India, says she had declined to speak out because “violence has been committed by both sides” and she wants “to work toward reconciliation.” (AFP)

15 November 2012
Speaking on NDTV news channel in India, Suu Kyi says illegal immigration from Bangladesh must be put to a stop, otherwise there will be no end to the problem in Arakan State. (Mizzima)

Thai-Burma Relations
10 November 2012
Thai defense ministry says the decision to invite Myanmar to join Cobra Gold was reached shortly after Obama won a second term in office last week. (Bangkok Post)

10 November 2012
Cabinet resolution on 22 October to donate to Myanmar two gas turbines. Cabinet says Myanmar is in urgent need of them as the country is hosting World Economic Forum on East Asia and 27th SEA Games next year. (Bangkok Post)

13 November 2012

Carey Ramm, executive chairman of Australian consultancy AEC Group, says Thailand is drawing greater interest from Australian investors, thanks to its diversified economic base and connections with China and India as well as becoming a gateway to Myanmar. (Bangkok Post)

Politics/ Inside Burma
9 November 2012
Minister Aung Min meets ABSDF delegation let by Than Khe. Two agreements reached: Return to Burma to conduct a study of conditions at the ground level and continued political dialogue. (Mizzima)

10 November 2012
Aung Min meets Aung Moe Zaw of Democratic Party for New Society (DPNS). The latter’s call for official endorsement for DPNS return agreed by the former to follow up. (DVB)

12 November 2012
Local newspapers have reported that the NLD is facing growing tide of resignations: apart from 130 members from Irrawaddy last month, a further 370 from the same area and 500 more in Mandalay are threatening to follow suit. Reason: the party is choosing new delegates for the party assembly in December or January. Assembly commission secretary admits they are not chosen democratically as it is attempting to build up the ranks of new, younger members. (The Independent)

14 November 2012
Auditor General Thein Htike tells Union Parliament 15 ministries were found guilty of $ 70 million graft in the last fiscal year. One third of them has since been returned. The Ministry of Defense budget, deemed above board, has not been audited. (Irrawaddy)

15 November 2012
President’s Office announces it has formed an Information Committee, headed by Deputy Minister Aung Thein, which will be responsible for holding press conferences and issue press releases. (Mizzima)

Ethnic Affairs
9 November 2012
Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) accompanying Minister Aung Min meets UNFC delegation in Chiangmai for preliminary negotiations aimed at initiating political dialogue. They have dinner together. (Mizzima)

9 November 2012

Representatives of UNFC discuss 4 main issues with U Aung Min in Chiangmai, including declaration of nationwide ceasefire, political settlement of political issues, finalize ceasefire agreements with remaining resistance movements; and resolution of Kachin conflict. They also discuss conference in September.
U Aung Min has already raised the first issue with the president. Other points are accepted by him, according to Nai Hong Sa.
The next round of talks, planned at Myanmar Peace Center in December, will address the roadmap. The meeting lasts one hour, attended by 9 from UNFC and 8 from Naypyitaw. (Phophtaw/Irrawaddy)

9 November 2012
The UNFC wants Nippon Foundation that has donated $ 3 million in aid to ethnic areas to be the mediator in Japan for the upcoming discussions. But U Aung Min says the first meeting should be in Burma. Nai Hong Sa says he is not going to meet with the government, unless he is assured it will be fair. (Phophtaw/SHAN)

10 November 2012
Minister Aung Min holds preliminary talks with Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) for the upcoming union level meeting in early 2013. They agree to review the 14 point agreement reached in June. (DVB)

10-11 November 2012
Nationalities Brotherhood Forum (NBF) holds 2-day meeting, attended by 40 representatives from around 13 parties:
  1. Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (Founder, January 2012)
  2. Chin National party (Founder, January 2012)
  3. Rakhine National Development Party (Founder, January 2012)
  4. All Mon Region Democracy Party (Founder, January 2012)
  5. Plao-Swor Democratic Party (Founder, January 2012)
  6. Kayan National Development Party (Founder, January 2012)
  7. Taileng National Development Party
  8. Danu National Democracy Party
  9.  Asho Chin Nation Party
  10. Inn National Development Party
  11. PaO National League Party
  12. Ta’ang National Party
  13. Wa Democratic Parry
It calls for federalism, opposes proportional electoral system for 2015 elections, opposes change of state names, calls for careful handling of conflict in Arakan and welcomes Obama’s visit. It changes its name to Nationalities Brotherhood Federation. (KIC)

15 November 2012
State run media announces 42 new military appointees to 12 of 14 state / division legislatures:
Shan State   13
Irrawaddy      6
Magwe         5
Kachin         3
Chin             3
Pegu            3
Sagaing        3
Rangoon       2
Tenasserim    1
Mandalay      1
Mon             1
Arakan         1
16 November 2012
Speaking to 800 Burmese in New Delhi, Suu Kyi says there is need of talks along the lines of a second Panglong Conference to achieve “unity that comes from our hearts” The Union Spirit took root in 1947 but they “were not given the rights to grow”. (Mizzima)

Shans/ Shan State
14 November 2012

Nang Wah Nu, Shan MP, says she has been assigned to draft law on duties, powers and rights of state chief ministers. (SHAN)

Economy/ Business
15 November 2012
The first transaction made using a foreign Master Card credit card takes place at CB Bank in Rangoon. (Kyemon)

Human Rights
7 November 2012
Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization (TSYO) releases “Pipeline Nightmare,” report on rights violations in 6 towns and 51 villages in northern Shan State where the Shwe Pipelines are passing through. (Press Release)

11 November 2012
According to a military intelligence officer, Rakhine National Development Party (RNDP) member were among the instigators of attacks against Rohingyas. President Thein Sein has warned it could be dissolved if found to have incited attacks on Muslims. (Reuters)

12 November 2012
ILO says it still received 158 complaints between 1 June-11 October, compared with 148 in the same period last year, including 108 cases of underage recruitment 25 of forced labor. (AFP)

13 November 2012
Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, says Rohingyas in Paukhtaw township, have refused to sign registration forms that have used the term Rohingya and replaced it with “Bengali”. (irrawaddy)

15 November 2012

Naypyitaw announces amnesty for 452 prisoners. Tate Naing, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), says he has not being informed of any political dissidents among those amnestied. (Mizzima)

16 November 2012
In a letter written to the UN today, President Thein Sein condemns “senseless violence” in Rakhine that had killed almost 200 people and displaced more than 100,000 since June. He is prepared to address issues “ranging from resettlement of displaced populations to granting of citizenship”, “work permits and permits granting freedom of movement for the Rohingya to ensure they are treated in line with accepted international norms,” according to UN spokesperson. The UN says it is “in the right direction.” (Agencies)

10 November 2012
In a recent interview, visiting minister for environment conservation and forestry Win Tun has vowed to ensure sustainable development of its woodlands. 47% of land is covered by forests, he said. (Japan Times)

16 November 2012
The Hukawng Valley Tiger Reserve, according to hunters, is bereft of tigers, says environmentalist Bawk Jar. Large scale gold mining and plantations have likely killed them. (Irrawaddy)

12 November 2012
3 soldiers from General Engineering Unit in Maungdaw township abducted by unidentified rebel group. (Irrawaddy)


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