Myanmar’s elections need a fraud-free makeover

Pike Htwe (C), a spokesperson for Myanmar ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), talks to members of the media at the party headquarters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, 17 August 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Naing Ko Ko, ANU

While problems have largely been ignored over the decades, Myanmar has a long record of electoral corruption and fraud. But electoral corruption undermines the domestic legitimacy and authority of Myanmar’s governments and governance. So authorities should act as quickly as possible to regulate corruption to manage the negative externalities arising from elections in Myanmar.

Read more…

A long journey ahead for Myanmar’s foreign exchange market reform

People exchange US dollar and Myanmar currency at a black market in Yangon, Myanmar, 25 August 2011. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Koji Kubo, JETRO

In April 2012, by abolishing the official pegging of the Myanmar kyat to the Special Drawing Right (SDR) of the IMF, Myanmar terminated the decades-old de facto multiple exchange rate system and moved to a managed floating exchange system. While noteworthy in its own right, this is merely the first step in an arduous journey of foreign exchange market reform. The Central Bank of Myanmar is now facing two interlinked challenges: establishing the institutions for a formal foreign exchange market and transferring informal market activities into the formal market. Read more…

Abe’s aid reform, in the name of peace?

Myanmar President Thein Sein, left, greets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, at Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Fumitaka Furuoka, University of Malaya

On 26 June 2014, a panel of specialists under Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida submitted a report that recommended transforming Japan’s foreign aid policy into a ‘strategic’ diplomatic tool. Based on the panel’s recommendations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has begun the process of revising the fundamental guidelines of Japan’s official development assistance (ODA). This process is to be completed before the end of this year. Read more…

Jokowi saves Indonesia’s democracy (and maybe Southeast Asia’s too)

Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo and his wife Iriana show their ballots before giving their vote during the presidential election. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University

Many years from now, the electoral victory of Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo (Jokowi) may be seen as pivotal to the fate of democracy and regionalism in Southeast Asia. A win by Jokowi’s opponent Prabowo Subianto would have been a retrograde step for Indonesia, promising shades of authoritarianism even with a popular mandate. Jokowi’s victory, on the other hand, bodes well not just for Indonesia’s future but also for the region’s democratic prospects and ASEAN’s forward momentum. Read more…

BCIM Corridor a game changer for South Asian trade

A vender weights corn for a customer at a market in Yingjiang, near the Myanmar border, Yunnan Province, China, 26 May 2012. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Pravakar Sahoo and Abhirup Bhunia, Institute of Economic Growth

The Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor will increase socioeconomic development and trade in South Asia. The initiative seeks to improve connectivity and infrastructure, energy resources, agriculture, and trade and investment. It will connect India’s Northeast, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and the Chinese province of Yunnan through a network of roads, railways, waterways, and airways under a proper regulatory framework. The current focus of BCIM talks is on an inter-regional road network. This makes sense, as roads are the cheapest route of trade. Read more…

ASEAN to face a summit of challenges

People sell goods at a street market in downtown Yangon. Myanmar is to hold 24th ASEAN Summit in the capital Naypyidaw over May 10-11.  (Photo: AAP).

Author: K. Kesavapany, National University of Singapore

The ASEAN summit in Yangon is taking place at a time of global and regional uncertainties. The drums of war are beginning to sound in Europe, with the possibility of the conflict in Ukraine spilling over and derailing the existing geopolitical order. In the East, tensions over the South China Sea are threatening to cause geopolitical upheaval and damage aspirations to found an East Asian Community. Read more…

Can Indonesia be a model for Myanmar’s political future?

Former Indonesian President Soeharto reads his address of resignation at Merdeka Palace on 21 May 1998 with his successor, BJ Habibie, to his right. Can Myanmar use replicate the Indonesian transition to democracy that followed? (Photo: Wikipedia/Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia).

Author: Richard Robison, Murdoch University

Myanmar has only just begun its transition from more than half a century of military rule and isolation from the rest of the world. A critical question is what political and economic systems it will eventually adopt. Read more…