Obama visit unlikely to boost Aung Sang Suu Kyi – Nikkei Asian Review

U.S. President Barack Obama fields questions at Yangon University on Nov 14 2014 (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – Standing next to Suu Kyi on Nov. 14, Obama said that barring the NLD leader “doesn’t make much sense.” But he did not raise the issue when speaking later at Yangon University. Nor did Suu Kyi’s eligibility come up during an hour-long question and answer session with students after the speech. Opinions differ about the importance of the clause. Lamin Oo, a Myanmar filmmaker whose name was mentioned by Obama during his speech, said afterwards that “if that issue was an important one for [young people] it would have come up in questions.” However, Kyaw Thu, a former actor turned philanthropist, said the constitution should be changed to allow Suu Kyi stand. “Obama should push for this with Thein Sein,” Kyaw Thu said.

Changed times – The Edge Review

Thida Aung and Tin Tin Tan await Obama's arrival near Yangon's Secretariat (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – Myanmar has jailed several journalists this year, while one reporter, Ko Par Gyi, was murdered by the army in the country’s east. Some new laws have been heavily criticised, while calls to amend the country’s constitution, which gives the army a veto-wielding 25 percent of parliament seats, have not prompted any change yet.”I think we certainly did see a lot of reforms in 2012 and 2013, but 2014 has perhaps added an element of realism, with the concerns over the constitutional amendment process,” Melissa Crouch, Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore, told The Edge Review.

KDDI, Sumitomo raise stakes in Myanmar mobile battle – Nikkei Asian Review

On Sept. 2 in Yangon, an early morning queue for MPT's new  3G SIM cards  (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – After partnering with KDDI and Sumitomo, Myanmar’s state-backed MPT in early September launched the first batch of 5 million $1.50 3G mobile SIM cards that it plans to sell this year. The release of the cards created minor havoc in Yangon’s downtown shopping district and elsewhere, drawing long queues.

Bye, by-elections – The Edge Review

Aung San Suu Kyi speaking June 2013 World Economic Forum BBC debate in Naypyidaw (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – There was some feigned surprise when the election commission announced last weekend that Myanmar will not, after all, hold by-elections for 35 vacant parliamentary seats. The main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), said it was happy with annoucement. Commission head Tin Aye met with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi on September 6, the day before the commission’s announcement.

Painting by numbers – The Edge Review/RTÉ World Report

Census taking in Pa-O village in Shan State in April  (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – A little over six years ago, after holding a rigged referendum to adopt a disputed constitution, Myanmar’s junta announced, with almost comic certainty, that “the population of the country is 57,504,368,” despite not having held a census since 1983. Six years on, Myanmar’s nominally-civilian government can claim a better grasp on how many people actually live in the country.

Myanmar, Japan see promise, problems in economic zone – Nikkei Asian Review

Thilawa SEZ officials give presentation to would  be investors (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

THILAWA, Myanmar — The Thilawa Special Economic Zone might be just a 45-minute drive from downtown Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and commercial hub, but the Japanese presence is unmissable. Outside the site offices — an island of prefabricated shelters surrounded by acres of upturned earth — a row of six flags dries in the breeze after a short downpour. The yellow, green and red of Myanmar alternates with Japan’s unmistakable red sun on a white background.