Yangon Lights Up

Yangon Lights UpOn the industrial outskirts of Yangon, a rusted chimney exhales wisps of white smoke as a three-decade-old gas-fired power station chunters on. Just meters away on the same compound in Thaketa Township, a low mumble, but nothing in the way of visible emissions, is coming from a row of 16 boxed-up gas-fueled engines—Austrian-produced Jenbacher machines…

Myanmar Stop-Go on Free Press

Myanmar Stop-Go on Free PressLast week Myanmar hosted a travelling circus of academics in Yangon for a “Challenges of a Free Press” conference organized by the East-West Center in Hawaii. Established by the US Congress in 1960 for policy studies and to build networks into the Asia-Pacific region, the center has 57,000 alumni worldwide. It radiates American media soft-power.…

New Hurdles for Myanmar’s Already Hobbled Press

New Hurdles for Myanmar’s Already Hobbled PressLast month, press freedom in Burma suffered a setback when the government detained reporters and editors from the Unity Journal, a local publication that ran a story about an alleged secret chemical weapons plant in central Burma. Instead of disproving the claims by allowing an inspection of the site, the government moved swiftly to arrest…

Myanmar’s Anti-Money Laundering Drive

Myanmar’s  Anti-Money Laundering DriveMyanmar looks set to get a new law to counter money laundering soon, but the country still faces numerous challenges in curbing financial crimes. Last Thursday the Upper House passed an Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which will next go to the Union Parliament, where Myanmar’s Lower House and Upper House sit in joint session. Once the…

Chin Refugees’ Indian Dilemma

Chin Refugees’ Indian DilemmaExpatriate refugees from the poverty-stricken nation of Myanmar have begun filtering back, partly as their country of origin has democratized and more ominously because they are feeling the heat from host countries like Thailand, India, Bangladesh and Malaysia to leave. But so far, the Chin, an impoverished Christian minority that has been likened to the…

Burma’s Ill-starred Mortality Rate

Burma’s Ill-starred Mortality RateAt 200 deaths per 100,000 live births, Myanmar’s maternal mortality rate is one of the worst in the region, according to a recent United Nations Population Fund report. This number has been halved since 1990, but the Millennium Development Goal of 130 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015 is still unlikely to be reached,…

Western Money and Social Dilemmas in Myanmar

Western Money and Social Dilemmas in MyanmarMyanmar seems to be making efforts to improve its image on the international scene before the year ends. This week, the Ministry of Information announced that the BBC, along with three other international news agencies, had been given official permission to open a new bureau in the country. “It is hard to overstate the significance…

Development Risks Rangoon’s Architectural Heritage

Rangoon's architectural heritage has been recognized by the World Monuments Fund, which on Oct. 8 put Burma's largest city on its "Watch" list of places "at risk from the forces of nature and the impact of social, political, and economic change." In a counterargument to the largely positive narrative that has accompanied Burma's re-engagement with…

Should U Thein Sein Get the Nobel?

The 2013 winner - or winners - of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in the next few days, an award that relatively few Asians have won. When the nominations for the 2013 Peace Prize closed in February, among the 15 or so names mentioned as possible laureates was the "reformist President of Myanmar,"…

Myanmar’s Suspended Big Dam May Restart

Myanmar's controversial Myitsone Dam hydroelectric project, suspended last year by President Thein Sein in the first signal that the new democratically elected government was willing to listen to public protest, may well start up again after Thein Sein leaves office. The Chinese backer of the project on Myanmar's Irrawaddy River says more than half the…