Tat­madaw and govt us­ing peace process for cen­tral­i­sa­tion: CSOS

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News - NAW BETTY HAN naw­bet­ty­han@mm­times.com

POW­ER­FUL ac­tors in Myan­mar’s peace process aimed at end­ing decades of civil war have taken ad­van­tage of the ne­go­ti­a­tions to build up their land and nat­u­ral re­source hold­ings while un­der­min­ing the build­ing of a demo­cratic fed­eral union, a civil so­ci­ety group has said.

The Karen Peace Sup­port Net­work, which com­prises more than 20 eth­nic Karen civil so­ci­ety groups that op­er­ate along the Thai-myan­mar border, re­leased a state­ment on Thurs­day that ac­cused Tat­madaw (mil­i­tary) rep­re­sen­ta­tives of block­ing pro­pos­als for build­ing a fed­eral po­lit­i­cal sys­tem in the fu­ture.

The ac­cu­sa­tion comes ahead of the sched­uled third round of the 21st Cen­tury Pan­g­long Con­fer­ence to be held next week in Nay Pyi Taw. The gov­ern­ment has in­vited to the con­fer­ence armed eth­nic groups that have not yet signed the Na­tion­wide Cease­fire Agree­ment.

The group’s state­ment also called for amend­ing or re­peal­ing laws, in­clud­ing the 2008 con­sti­tu­tion, that give the cen­tral gov­ern­ment too much power over land and nat­u­ral re­sources.

“In land and nat­u­ral re­sources, fed­eral re­form is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to gen­uine po­ten­tial for peace, and as such, the lack of re­form re­mains a ma­jor driver of conflict,” the group said in the state­ment.

It also said that since the peace process was launched seven years ago by for­mer pres­i­dent U Thein Sein, mil­i­tary of­fen­sives had dis­placed more than 150,000 res­i­dents of Kachin and north­ern Shan states from their land. Around 8500 res­i­dents have been dis­placed by fight­ing between the Karen Na­tional Union and the gov­ern­ment since the group signed the NCA in 2015.

“With mil­i­tary ten­sions es­ca­lat­ing in Karen State, the ‘Karen model’ for peace praised by the State Coun­sel­lor is look­ing more like ‘busi­ness as usual’,” said the re­port.

The group said the rul­ing party must ad­here to its orig­i­nal goals and its elec­tion man­i­festo as well as amend the 2008 con­sti­tu­tion to guar­an­tee eth­nic rights and hence the found­ing of a fed­eral demo­cratic union.

Myan­mar needs eco­nomic in­de­pen­dence

DEAR SIR: I read the opin­ion piece on page 7 of the June 28 Myan­mar Times, “Myan­mar shouldn’t write off China with­out un­der­stand­ing her neigh­bour,” by Ying Yao. Al­though well in­tended, this ar­ti­cle ig­nores mul­ti­ple facts that have made, in my opin­ion, Myan­mar peo­ple weary of Chi­nese in­ten­tions. See, for ex­am­ple, the events sur­round­ing a large port in Sri Lanka re­ported in the June 25 New York Times, “How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port,” or a re­port in the June 5 Asia Times, “A Chi­nese colony takes shape in Cam­bo­dia,” or Asia Times’ May 13 ar­ti­cle, “Lit­tle Laos risks los­ing it all to China,” which have given the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank rea­son to is­sue a stern warn­ing on the ef­fects of huge sov­er­eign debt on ASEAN coun­tries as a re­sult of bor­row­ing for Chi­nese projects. Other ex­am­ples in­clude Pak­istan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Dji­bouti, each of which has ac­cu­mu­lated sig­nif­i­cant sov­er­eign debt owed to Chi­nese projects, which, frankly, may be hard, if not im­pos­si­ble, to pay back.

So, what’s the an­swer to Myan­mar’s need for in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment? Al­though a com­pli­cated sub­ject, Myan­mar needs to stand on its own two feet in the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial mar­kets, first by ac­quir­ing a sov­er­eign credit rat­ing, then by is­su­ing sov­er­eign debt, while, at the same time, im­ple­ment­ing tax and fi­nan­cial re­forms that will guar­an­tee its abil­ity to pay back this sov­er­eign debt. The gov­ern­ment should start with the 2016 rec­om­men­da­tions by the US Cham­ber of Com­merce to the Na­tional League for Democ­racy-led gov­ern­ment, which are based on ex­ten­sive global ex­pe­ri­ence in coun­tries in tran­si­tion. A pros­per­ous and in­de­pen­dent Myan­mar, whose big­gest re­source is its peo­ple, can then deal as an equal, from an eco­nomic stand­point, with China or any other coun­try, in­clud­ing the United States.

Eric Rose Eric Rose is a se­nior in­ter­na­tional

busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at­tor­ney.

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