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Showing posts from March, 2019

The Death Penalty Paradox in Buddhist Myanmar

*This article first appeared in The Interpreter , 15 March 2019, and is available here . On my recent visit to Myanmar, I attended the commemoration ceremony of U Ko Ni, the former lawyer and legal advisor to the National League for Democracy. He was among the most vocal advocate for constitutional change in Myanmar. His death and the court case against some of his killers is a reminder of the death penalty paradox in Myanmar. Despite being a majority Buddhist country, Myanmar’s legal system endorses the death penalty for certain offences. Ko Ni’s assassination two years ago, on 29 January 2017, was a horrendous shock and has had a chilling effect on efforts for constitutional reform. His death had a chilling effect on pro-democracy actors and on the National League for Democracy who felt that one of their own had been targeted. His death was taken as another warning about the position of the Office of the State Counsellor held by Aung San Suu Kyi, an innovation he he

Renewed calls for constitutional change in Myanmar’s ‘military-state’

*This article first appeared in The East Asia Forum , 13 March 2019 and can be accessed here . Constitutional change was a 2015 election campaign promise of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and Aung San Suu Kyi. As the 2020 elections loom large, they are now revisiting the proposal to recapture the attention and support of the people. Over the past three years, the NLD government has been busy dealing with a wide range of governance issues. The peace process has been particularly difficult and hit a number of obstacles. It is unlikely that it will be able to show progress in this area. The NLD is instead turning to amending the military-enacted constitution to stimulate electoral momentum. Reforms could potentially affect the military’s role in governance, and so the move is mired in controversy. To begin with, the NLD raised this legislative motion on the date of the commemoration of U Ko Ni — a lawyer and former advisor to the NLD — who was assassinated on

Book Launch: The Constitution of Myanmar

From 15-16 March, the ANU will host the biennial Myanmar Update in Canberra. As part of this event a book launch of "The Constitution of Myanmar" will be launched. Dr N ick Cheesman and Dr Björn Dressel from ANU will offer comments on the book followed by comments from the author, Melissa Crouch from the University of New South Wales. The event will be held at 12:30pm in Seminar Rooms A & B, China in the World Building, Fellows Lane, ANU . This timely and accessible book is the first to provide a thorough analysis of the 2008 Constitution of Myanmar in its historical, political and social context. The book offers an in-depth exploration of the key elements of the 2008 Constitution in theory and practice. The book identifies and articulates the principles of the Constitution through an analysis of legal and political processes since the 1990s. It highlights critical constitutional contestations that have taken place over fundamental ideas such as democracy, federalis

Pre-orders now available: The Politics of Court Reform: Judicial Change and Legal Culture in Indonesia

Cambridge University Press will soon publish "The Politics of Court Reform: Judicial Change and Legal Culture in Indonesia". In this volume, experts on Indonesian law and courts reflect on the growth and changes in the role and function of courts in Indonesia. Indonesia’s judiciary is a critical part of its democratic system. Since the transition from authoritarian rule in 1998, a range of new specialized courts have been established, from the Commercial Court to the Constitutional Court and the Fisheries Court. In addition, constitutional and legal changes have affirmed the principle of judicial independence and accountability. A raft of judicial reform programs have been pursued to address various issues within the judicial system, not the least of these being corruption. The growth of Indonesia’s economy, combined with the size as the fourth most populous country in the world, means that the courts are facing greater pressure to resolve an increasing number of di