Wednesday 25 May 2022 | 03:28 | SYDNEY
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Myanmar

The problem with postcards from Myanmar

Myanmar is fortunate to have extraordinary travel destinations within its borders. But these tourist jewels have been denied to most foreigners since the pandemic began and then the coup in February 2021. But, after years of closed borders, Myanmar is once again opening up to foreign tourists from

How the Mekong River Commission ignores reality

Among the many “days” celebrated by the international community, one entrant seems especially incongruous. “Mekong Day” was proclaimed by the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) headquarters in Vientiane to celebrate the signature of the “Agreement on the Cooperation and Sustainable

Myanmar’s military numbers

Over the years, countless attempts have been made to estimate the size of Myanmar’s armed forces (or Tatmadaw). However, the fact remains that no-one really knows. Despite the Tatmadaw’s critical role in Myanmar’s national affairs, its size has always been for observers one of the great “

Handle with care: China’s economic engagement in Myanmar

As a resource-abundant country and a close neighbour, Myanmar has been a popular destination for Chinese investment. Although China has had a cosy time investing in Myanmar since 1988 when the military regime was internationally isolated, it is fair to argue that Chinese businesses in Myanmar faced

ASEAN and Myanmar: No sign of progress

The United Nations emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths has warned in recent months that Myanmar faces a worsening humanitarian crisis, including mass displacement and a dire need for food and aid for civilians. Talk of civil war has even escaped the lips of usually cautious officials.

Indian Ocean step-up

Like Australia in the Pacific, India has been pursuing its own Indian Ocean island step-up, largely driven by concerns about China’s growing influence in the region. This has included increased bilateral aid, investment, and security assistance to the island states. India is also trying to develop

Myanmar’s annus horribilis

It has been just over a year since Myanmar emphatically re-elected Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy as the dominant partner in the country’s quasi-civilian government. Next February, it will be a year since the armed forces, or Tatmadaw, ignored that result and seized power

Myanmar: Totalitarian terror shouldn’t fly on our watch

For many Australians, their first-hand experience with the military is the welcome sight of the Australian Defence Force assisting our community in times of drought, flood and fire. It is unimaginable for most Australians that in 2021, a nation’s military would embark on an overt campaign of

ASEAN muddles through on Myanmar

Diplomacy is messy. Officials, politicians and (dare I say) think-tank analysts relish the highfalutin talk of rules, treaties, norms, values and principles. But, more often than not, it all comes down to realpolitik and the art of possible. A case in point is the unprecedented decision by the

If pushed far enough, would Myanmar leave ASEAN?

The decision by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations not to invite Myanmar’s military leader to two related summits in Brunei on 26–28 October raises an intriguing question: if pushed far enough, would the junta in Naypyidaw take Myanmar out of the regional grouping? Myanmar’s military

Myanmar’s extreme Buddhist nationalists

In a surprise move, Myanmar’s ruling military junta announced on 6 September the release from prison of Ashin Wirathu, a controversial Buddhist monk whose sermons have been blamed for inciting anti-Muslim violence over the last decade. In a statement, the military said it had dropped charges

Covid crisis deepens in junta-ruled Myanmar

A worsening third wave of Covid-19 is a cruel new blow in Myanmar, still reeling from the human costs of the coup on 1 February, and with a military junta more focused on combatting dissent than combatting the virus. Thousands of new cases have arisen since late May, and the Delta, Alpha and Kappa

Myanmar pushes ASEAN to the brink

There is an anxious wait for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to effectively intervene in Myanmar’s political crisis caused by the February 1 military coup. The Myanmar state is functionally failing. The country is spiralling into chaos with rising urban armed violence, civil war, a

Myanmar is not the next Syria

The deteriorating situation in Myanmar has led some observers to issue warnings of a “new Syria”. The two scenarios are not without broad similarities. In mid-April, civilians in Myanmar were being killed at a higher rate than in 2011 Syria, when a crackdown on protests sparked a brutal civil

ASEAN’s huge gamble on Myanmar

It has been a month since the ASEAN Leaders met with Myanmar junta Leader Min Aung Hlaing on 24 April in Jakarta to discuss the situation in Myanmar. The meeting itself and the outcome of it – the Five-Point Consensus – has been applauded by some as a rare win for ASEAN, given its limitations in

Myanmar and a new kind of civil war

In early 1989, I was passing through Bangkok when a friend from a Western embassy invited me to what she called “a secret meeting”. She knew that I was a Myanmar-watcher, but what interested her most was the fact that I had published a couple of books on terrorism and urban guerrilla warfare.

Response to Myanmar coup shows need for UN reform

It’s been almost three months since Myanmar’s military junta seized power from the democratically elected government. More than 700 protesters have been killed, and more than 3000 arrested. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar has said that the military is likely committing

Guiding Myanmar away from ruin

On 4 January 2012, at the beginning of what was commonly assumed to be Myanmar’s transition to democracy, the government-run New Light of Myanmar published an editorial that contrasted “the violent conflicts, protests and bloodshed” that mark other countries’ transitions to democracy with

Indonesia raises ASEAN’s bar on Myanmar

For much of his presidency, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo has taken a mercantilist view of foreign policy, pushing the country’s diplomats to promote trade and investment while keeping their heads below the parapet on most thorny international issues. Indonesia’s inward-looking approach compounded

Indonesia gambles on special ASEAN summit on Myanmar

In a bid to resolve Myanmar’s political crisis sparked by the February military coup, Indonesia will host a leaders’ summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta on 24 April. Myanmar’s coup leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, is expected to attend,

The upward spiral of violence in Myanmar

The clashes in Myanmar’s streets between largely peaceful protesters and armed members of the security forces over recent weeks evoke memories of similar confrontations in 1974, 1988 and 2007. The result in each of those cases was the brutal suppression of the popular will and a crackdown on

Myanmar’s personalised politics

Anyone looking at photographs and film footage of events in Myanmar could be forgiven for thinking that the violent confrontation between demonstrators and security forces represents a proxy battle between the ousted State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the Commander in Chief (C-in-C) of Defence

The importance of Myanmar’s pots and pans protests

The pounding of pots and pans in many parts of Myanmar at 8 o’clock every night signifies the civil outcry to the military coup that took place last week. In the early morning of Monday, 1 February, the Myanmar military detained the leaders of the ruling party (National League of Democracy, NLD)

Myanmar: Calling a coup a coup

The military takeover in Myanmar on 1 February was clearly unconstitutional, although there has been little detailed investigation of why. The US State Department announced that it regarded the takeover as a coup d'état but failed to provide a legal rationale. When is a coup not a coup

Myanmar’s empty promise of constitutional reform

Myanmar’s political transition in 2011 was only ever a partial one. After all, the country moved from direct military rule without a constitution to a constitutional system in which the military reserved for itself unelected seats in parliament. The National League for Democracy (NLD) was

The coup in Myanmar: What do we know?

On 1 February, Myanmar’s armed forces (or Tatmadaw) declared a one-year state of emergency, arrested State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and detained more than 50 politicians and activists. It had been just ten years since the former military regime permitted the transition to a “disciplined

International relations video of the year – by February

We’ll feature more analysis of the coup in Myanmar on The Interpreter in the coming days. Yet major political events such as this regularly become associated with a searing image – think the last stand of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko’s

Myanmar election: A fractured process

Myanmar’s general election, scheduled for 8 November, looms as only the second to be completed since the 1962 military coup, and therefore a rarity in the lifetimes of most of Myanmar's voters. The first completed democratic poll since then was in 2015, which resulted in the triumphant return of

A measure of change in Myanmar election

Myanmar’s next general elections are planned for 8 November, with more than 1100 parliamentary seats to be decided in the Lower House, Upper House and across state and regional parliaments, and for ethnic entities. The National League for Democracy (NLD) and the Army-aligned Union Solidarity and

Rohingya in Malaysia, doubly trapped

For some people living in the Ampang district in eastern Kuala Lumpur, self-isolation is nothing new. The area is known for its concentration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, nestled in the grimy apartments and neighbourhoods of this former tin mining centre, and they haven't been going out for a

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