Myanmar races ahead as Thailand back-pedals

Myanmar/Burma political news and updates.
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Myanmar races ahead as Thailand back-pedals

Post by Admin » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:29 am

All eyes have been on Myanmar this week as it finally voted a new president, Htin Kyaw, into office, in so doing becoming the latest debutante into the democratic club. A close aide (for many he is a proxy) of democracy icon Aug San Suu Kyi, who is blocked from taking up the role due to constitutional hurdles, Htin Kyaw is the first civilian leader of the country since 1962.

The new Myanmar government faces high expectations. We know the multi-ethnic country of 60 million, with chronic problems of ethnic tensions, will not turn into a fully fledged democratic society overnight.

Yet, I would like to personally congratulate Myanmar citizens. I wish the country peace, sustainable prosperity, with economic and social equality, not just to be a new investment hot spot for foreign investors. Myanmar needs to deal with investors scrambling to make use of its abundant natural resources.

China, Japan, Singapore and Thailand have invested in numerous infrastructure projects, many of them dams, industrial estates and mines. These projects pose threats to the environment and livelihoods of local indigenous people. How the National League for Democracy and the Lady, Mrs Suu Kyi, respond to these challenges remains to be seen.

Myanmar has made progress not only in politics, but also on environmental issues. The Myanmar military government early this year passed regulations on environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedures. This legislation was launched with the support of the Asian Development Bank.

Those involved in drafting laws have learned from the experiences of other countries in the region. The new legislation stipulates transparency and participation by all stakeholders. Those violating the law can face fines ranging from US$1,000 to $5,000 (35,000 to 175,000 baht).

New developments involving our immediate neighbour leave us feeling left behind. Our military government is doing something quite the opposite to Myanmar. Early this month, the National Council for Peace and Order issued order No.9/2559, which allows developers of state infrastructure projects to bypass EIA procedures on entering the bidding process.

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