Tatmadaw and govt using peace process for centralisation: CSOS
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.