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Showing posts from May, 2015

Myanmar elections lack legitimacy without constitutional change

Constitutional reform is an important part of Myanmar’s transition from military rule. Although widespread political reforms have been enacted since 2011, these have not yet been accompanied by constitutional change. The next few months will determine whether constitutional amendment will take place before the elections scheduled in November. This will affect the very legitimacy of the election itself. In February 2015, the parliament passed a law detailing the process for holding a national referendum on constitutional amendment. This is a very important step as it indicates that the government does intend to allow for a constitutional referendum at some point in the future. Setting out the formal process for holding a constitutional referendum is important because it demonstrates that the government wants to learn from the past. In 2008, the referendum on the constitution   was held despite the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis, which undermined the legitimacy and results

Rohingya Community Seek Citizenship And Safety

Here is the link to a radio interview I gave on the Rohingya that puts the current crisis in the context of the political transition to a quasi-civilian regime since 2011. It highlights the current atmosphere of uncertainty and insecurity, and the particular challenges Rohingya who still remain in Myanmar face in terms of whether they will be allowed to vote in the elections later this year. 2SER 107.3 interview link

Constitutional Reform in Myanmar

Constitutional amendment is an important part of any transition from military rule. In Myanmar/Burma, a transition from military rule to a quasi-civilian government was made in 2011 under the new Constitution. Yet despite calls for change, the Constitution has yet to be reformed.  On Wed 28 May 2015, I will give a talk as part of the Scientia Scholars program at UNSW. My presentation is part of a project on constitutional reform in Myanmar and will provide an update of the current situation in Myanmar, while reflecting on its broader history and the challenges for legal systems facing political transitions. Th e Scientia Scholars pr ogram is a  prestigious scholarship awarded to high achieving students who study at the University of New South Wales.

Law and Investment in Myanmar

Tomorrow I will head over to the Law Faculty of the University of Sydney to give a lecture in the LLM program on 'Law and Investment in Myanmar'. Part of the transition process since 2011 has been efforts to reform the economic and business sector. There have been many changes - such as the new Foreign Investment law, Central Bank Law and Special Economic Zone Laws - and there are many more in the works - such as the Bank and Financial Institutions Draft Law and efforts to reform the Company Act. Yet many of these reforms are based on previous policies introduced after 1988 and the dismantling of the socialist economic system. I seek to put these changes in context, and consider the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in terms of law and investment in Myanmar. Construction site in Mingalartaung nyunt, 2014

Ethnic Rights and Constitutional Change

Ive recently put out a paper on Ethnic Rights and Constitutional Change with the UNSW Working Paper series.  This paper explores the provisions of the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar that appear to give some of form of recognition to some ethnic nationalities. I am concerned with why a military regime would grant forms of special recognition to ethnic nationalities in a Constitution drafted under its control. I argue that in Myanmar, the divide between seven states and seven regions is a form of   symbolic recognition   for a select group of ethnic nationalities. Second, there is a system of   special representation   at the state and region level for Ministers of National Race Affairs to represent other major ethnic groups in the area. This allows both for fragmentation of ethnic nationality interests and for Burman representation in the ethnic-based states. Third, certain ethnic nationality areas are now recognised as Self-Administrative Zones or Divisions, which I identified as a ne