Home Contact Us  
   

Myanmar - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4817, 21 January 2015
 
IPCS Forecast: Myanmar in 2015
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Research Officer, SEARP, IPCS
E-mail: aparupa@ipcs.org
 

2014 was a year of ups and downs for Myanmar. Naypyidaw successfully completed its ASEAN chairmanship that enhanced the country’s legitimacy both within the region and internationally. However, in the domestic arena, Myanmar did not fare well. Repeating history, the government failed to both sign a nationwide ceasefire agreement with all the armed ethnic groups or initiating a peace dialogue with these groups. The Rohingya crisis continues to be one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the country’s journey towards an all-round development. Additionally, the government’s inability to to keep the increasing religious radicalism within the society in check will be detrimental and will have negative implications for the domestic politics in 2015.

It is in this backdrop that Myanmar is preparing for the much-awaited 2015 general elections. Therefore, needless to say, 2015 will be an eventful year for the country.

Political Transition
2014 witnessed a slack in the political transition process in Myanmar. However, the excitement and preparations for the 2015 election – scheduled to be held by the end of the year – has been made evident in the several political rallies and press conferences. After a 31-year hiatus, a national census was conducted in 2014 to facilitate the 2015 elections. According to the new census, Myanmar’s population stands at 51 million.  But the census exercise was riddled with many flaws as several Myanmarese living in internally displaced camps were not included in the final counting. Additionally, due to the complexity in Rakhine state, several Arakanese Muslims were excluded from the counting. Thus, unmistakably, the actual population is higher than 51 million and this will also impact the upcoming elections.

2015 General Election 
It is likely to be a tough power struggle between the two leading political parties, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the opposition National League of Democracy (NLD). The USDP enjoys support from the military and the NLD is favoured by the masses. Nevertheless, neither of these parties can expect much gain from Myanmar’s seven ethnicity-based provinces of where ethnic political parties enjoy greater clout. Therefore, both the NLD and the USDP have the probability to win their seats only in the central and southern Myanmar.  
There are four prospective candidates for the presidential office: Incumbent President Thein Sein; incumbent Speaker of the Lower House of the parliament, Shwe Mann; the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, General Min Aung Hlaing; and a candidate representing NLD. The NLD leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been constitutionally barred from candidature as she is married to a foreigner. Thus, the announcement of an NLD candidate for presidency is anxiously awaited.

In 2014, it was noted by both the national and international media that there are two clear groups formed between these four candidates. One group comprises Aung San Suu Kyi and Shwe Mann who are not the military’s preferred candidate for presidency. The other group comprises Thein Sein and General Min Aung Hlaing. This grouping indicates how the alliances will be formed, depending on the result of the 2015 elections.

Constitutional Amendments 
Thein Sein, in his March 2014 speech said, “We need to carefully study from all perspectives: the background history, the essence and objective for each of the provisions of the Constitution and it is also important that we amend the Constitution in accordance with the provisions as prescribed in Chapter 12 of the Constitution.” The aforementioned Chapter 12 of the Myanmarese constitution stipulates that for any amendment to be made to the constitution, there needs to be a prior approval of over 75 per cent of the members of parliament. This is problematic as there is lack of consensus on the agenda on which the amendments has to be made in the constitution. Previously, demands by representatives of ethnic groups and as well as the armed ethnic groups, for a federal political structure to be incorporated in the constitution, was vehemently rejected by the military, whose representatives constitute 25 per cent of the union parliament and are appointed by the commander in chief of the Tatmadaw. This also makes evident the tight grip the army has over the politics of the country. This is likely to continue in 2015 and the country is unlikely to witness any initiation of procedure towards amending the constitution this year.

Ethnic Conflicts and the Peace Process
The deadline for signing a nationwide ceasefire agreement and for the initiation of the peace talks has now been postponed to 2015. The government’s chief negotiator Aung Min has stated that he is hopeful to complete the deal this year. In August 2014, representatives of the armed ethnic groups, under the banner of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), announced the government’s agreeability to include a pledge to adopt a federal political system – one of their key demands – in the draft agreement. This will boost confidence between the two sides. Nevertheless, the ongoing clashes in the Kachin and Karen regions may delay the ceasefire agreement further.

Rohingya Crisis 
Last year the government-sponsored new draft plan called the ‘Rakhine State Action Plan’ has aided in the deterioration of the conditions of Rohingya Muslims. The Plan initiated the process of granting citizenship to those Rohingya Muslims who enrol themselves as Bengalis. This Plan has met with resentment not only by the Rohingya Muslims and international organisations such as the United Nations and Human Rights Watch but was also criticised by Rakhine Buddhists. The Rakhine Buddhists criticised this plan on the grounds that awarding citizenship to more Muslims may have implications for the 2015 general elections and this might also ensure the victory of Rohingya ethnicity-based political parties at the state level.
 
The government has assured that it will revise the Plan this year. However, that does not guarantee betterment of the conditions of the Rohingyas in the 2015 too. Similarly, the growth of the violence perpetrated by the religious radicals may take a back seat with the ongoing preparation for elections; but this should not be seen as the end of the problem because so long as no strong action is taken against such behaviours, the problem will persist.

Economy in 2015
In the 2015-2014 financial year, Myanmar’s economy, augmented by the large investments, especially Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth $ 9 billion, recorded a growth of 7.8 per cent. The increase in commodity exports, natural gas production, and tourism present the government’s ambitious structural reform programme. Economic growth seems likely to continue till the end of 2015. However, the economy will witness some change, subject to the results of the general elections.

India-Myanmar Relationship
The New Delhi-Naypyidaw relationship got a boost in 2014, especially via the visits of India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the country. Although there has been enrichment of the relationship at the political level, no such improvement has been evidenced in the economic arena. In 2014, Myanmarese President Thein Sein’s Spokesperson Ye Htut publically expressed Myanmar’s disappointment towards the lack of Indian investors in the country. 2015 is unlikely to witness any remarkable growth in number of Indian investments in Myanmar. Hopeful both the government will come together in 2015 to solve the problem of border infiltration and trafficking in between India’s northeast and north-western Myanmar.

Myanmar-US Bilateral in 2015
The US’s foreign policy towards Myanmar appears to continue on the current trajectory in 2015. Both countries need this alliance to work. Myanmar is important for the US due its geo-strategic location and its significance in Washington’s pivot to Asia strategy. Therefore, the US, along with the rest of the world, will be monitoring Myanmar’s election 2015 elections closely.

Can Japan and South Korean FDI Counter Chinese Investment in 2015?
No. In 2014, both Japan and South Korea poured large sums of money into the Myanmarese markets in the form of investments. The Japanese Special and Economic Zone in Thilawa and investments in various sectors of the Myanmarese economy may seem big, but by sheer numbers, Tokyo’s investment insignificant in comparison to Beijing’s investment in Myanmar – which stands at nearly $ 6 billion. Similarly, South Korea too seems far from being able to give Chinese investors any credible competition in 2015. However, all investors will be cautious this year as everyone will base their strategies and decisions towards their economic trajectories in Myanmar depending on the results of the 2015 general election.

Thus, it appears that in 2015, everything in and related to Myanmar is likely to revolve around the the general election, scheduled to be held at the end of this year.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Sushant Sareen,
"IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015," 19 January 2015
Shankari Sundararaman,
"IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015," 19 January 2015
Bibhu Prasad Routray,
"IPCS Forecast: Left-wing Extremism in 2015," 19 January 2015
Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy,
"IPCS Forecast: Islamic State in 2015," 19 January 2015
Ruhee Neog,
"IPCS Forecast: Towards a Nuclear Deal with Iran in 2015," 19 January 2015
Salma Malik,
"IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015," 17 January 2015
Pramod Jaiswal,
"IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015," 14 January 2015
Amita Batra,
"IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration," 12 January 2015

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Myanmar: Why the Islamic State Failed Here

Myanmar: Violence in Rakhine State and a Way Forward

Myanmar's Ashin Wirathu: Five Reasons for His Rise

Islamic State and Southeast Asia: Answering the Call for Jihad

Anti-Rohingya and Anti-Muslim Sentiments in Myanmar: Mutually Reinforcing?

India-ASEAN FTA: Gap Between Expectation and Reality

Myanmar: How Free is the Contemporary Media?

Myanmar’s National Census: Fuelling Ethnic Crises

Thailand: Why is History Repeating Itself?

Myanmar: Peace in Kachin State?

Indonesia: The 2014 Legislative Elections

China, Myanmar, and the Myitsone Dam: Uncertain Future

Thailand: Challenges to Democracy?

Philippines: Recovering from Typhoon Haiyan

Philippines and Thailand: Need for Regional Peace Initiatives

Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia: A Crime Against Humanity

Myanmar: The New Tourism Brand

India and Thailand: Bilateral Trajectory after the Indian Prime Minister’s Visit

IPCS Discussion: Society, Politics, Governance & Security in Indonesia

Malaysia: A Race to the Finish Line

Thailand: The story after the Peace Deal

Laos: Liberalisation at the Crossroads

Thailand: A Peace Deal with Insurgents

Indonesia: “Unity in Diversity”?

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.