What is going to change in Burma in the near future?
This week, we will share the latest news on the economical expectations for Burma, the attempts for the regaining of some fundamental human rights and freedom and the controversies involved. And finally, like every week, we will also make you travel through our journey’s portraits in Myanmar.
Due to the political changes that happened last year, an encouraging step for the regaining of these rights is the restoration of travel privileges “to more than 2,000 people who were officially barred from entering or leaving the country”. This blacklist, among others, includes journalists, critics and “a wide range of people that the former military junta deemed a threat to national security”, whether they were foreigners or Burmese.
Some exiles already return a day after their names were removed from this blacklist. As they were no longer regarded as threats to national security, “a group of high-profile dissidents returned to their homeland on Friday for the first time in more than two decades”, as well as a second group of eight former dissidents led by Moe Thee Zun, “a student leader who has lived in exile since fleeing a crackdown on a pro-democracy uprising in 1988”.
However, this return has not been without any controversy, as explained in the article.
We catch a glimpse of another promising measure: according the AFP (Agence France Presse), after the censorship imposed on the media was officially abolished in late August, the Burmese government could grant licences to private newspapers early next year. Currently, only state-owned newspapers are allowed to publish daily papers.
However, this opening implies a legal framework that fits with international standards. Thus, to fully accede to freedom of press inMyanmar, it seems necessary to abolish the 1962 Act which, for now, allows the government to punish those journalists who are deemed to go too far. In this way, it will take time “for both newsrooms and the authorities to adjust to the new area of openness”.
Thus, only time will tell us what long-term impacts these new reforms will have on people’s life and freedom.
It is time now to move to economical news.
Oil, gas and power seem to be of great concern to everyone, both for Burmese and foreign investors. Indeed, “numerous foreign firms including Western oil multinationals prepare to gather in Rangoonfor a four-day resources forum” in September. However, this conference is hosted by the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) which “has been black balled by both theUSgovernment and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for its dubious link with military leaders and lack of transparency”. Associating with MOGE may involve many risks to foreign investors, “ranging from poor labor, environmental and safety standards to corruption, forced labor and other human rights violations” according the risk assessor Maplecroft.
From another perspective, the French oil company Total gets ready to take a stake in a new gas field in Burma. Because of the recent political reforms in Burma, Total no longer feels bound by its commitment to not make new investments there. It will be the first time since 1998 that Total invests in Burma, since the end of the very controversial work of the pipeline which transports gas from its Yadana’s offshore oil-field to Thailand. Despite a recent support by Aung San Suu kyi (that was not always the case since in 1996, she blamed Total for being one of the main supports of the military regime at that time), this could be a contented issue since Total has been accused of “forced labor”, “complicity in murder” by international NGOs and Burmese people. It has always denied these accusations and never renounced to its presence in Burma.
Some other quick business news:
Thanks to the lifting of its sanctions against Burmain April, 2011,Canadawants to take part in the development of Burma’s businesses. In beginning of September, Canadian Trade Minister will visit Burma in search of business opportunities.
The renewable energies’ market is growing more and more towards Asia, which creates some tension between Western companies (mainly Americans) which are determined to promote the export of their products and the Asian companies which want to have the control of its domestic market.
What is the best means of transport for you to travel toBurma? With which one will you enjoy at best the journey? What are the advantages and flaws of every means? This is what “Transport in Burma: Getting around the city” highlights. Taxis, walking, Pickup trucks, motorbikes, bus…make your choice and enjoy the journey!
Last but not least, let’s appreciate this article which pays tribute to the courage and hard labor of Burmese women!.
See you next week.