Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Burmese administration

The government of Burma (the country is also known as Myanmar) is controlled by the military (Tatmadaw) in the form of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). A parliamentary government was elected in 1990, but the military prevented it from convening.

Independence era
On 4 January 1948, Burma achieved independence from Britain, and became a democracy based on the parliamentary system.

In 1947, Aung San became Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council of Burma, a transitional government. But in July 1947, political rivals assassinated Aung San and several cabinet members. On 4 January 1948, the nation became an independent republic, named the Union of Burma, with Sao Shwe Thaik as its first President and U Nu as its first Prime Minister. Unlike most other former British colonies, it did not become a member of the Commonwealth. A bicameral parliament was formed, consisting of a Chamber of Deputies and a Chamber of Nationalities. The geographical area Burma encompasses today can be traced to the Panglong Agreement, which combined Burma proper, which consisted of Lower Burma and Upper Burma, and the Frontier Areas, which had been administered separately by the British.

Military Socialist era
In 1962, General Ne Win led a coup d'état and established a nominally socialist military government that sought to follow the "Burmese Way to Socialism." The military expropriated private businesses and followed an economic policy of autarky, or economic isolation.

SPDC era
The current Head of State is Senior General Than Shwe who holds the title of "Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council." His appointed prime minister was Khin Nyunt until 19 October 2004, when he was forcibly deposed in favor of Gen. Soe Win. Almost all cabinet offices are held by military officers. The Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council is both the chief of state and de facto head of government. The council oversees the cabinet, presided by the prime minister.


Under the 2008 Constitution the legislative power of the Union is shared among the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Region Hluttaws and State Hluttaws. The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw consists of the People's Assembly (Pyithu Hluttaw) elected on the basis of township as well as population, and the House of Nationalities (Amyotha Hluttaw) with on an equal number of representatives elected from Regions and States. The People's Assembly consists of 440 representatives, with 110 being military personnel nominated by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services. The House of Nationalities consists of 224 representatives with 56 being military personnel nominated by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services.

Burma's judicial system is limited. British-era laws and legal systems remain much intact, but there is no guarantee of a fair public trial. The judiciary is not independent of the executive branch. Burma does not accept compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction. The highest court in the land is the Supreme Court, also known as the High Court. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is Aung Toe, and Attorney General Aye Maung.

Administrative divisions
The country is divided into seven states (pyine) and seven divisions (yin). Divisions are predominantly Bamar. States in essence, are divisions which are home to particular ethnic minorities. The administrative divisions are further subdivided into districts, which are further subdivided into townships, wards, and villages. The number of districts, townships, cities/towns, wards, village Groups and villages in each divisions and states of Burma shown above are as of December 31, 2001.

1. Kachin state,
2. Kayah state,
3. Chin state,
4. Kayin state,
5. Mon state,
6. Shan state,
7. Rakhine state
8. Saigang divison,
9. Tanintayin division,
10. Bago division,
11. Magway division,
12. Mandalay division,
13. Yangon division,
14. Ayeyawady division.

The non- Bamar states are Kachin state, Kayah state, Chin state, Kayin state,Mon state, Shan state, Rakhine state; all together 7 states.

The Bamar states,which are called divisions; Saigang divison, Tanintayin division, Bago division, Magway division, Mandalay division, Yangon division, and Ayeyawady division. These are mainly central Burma and Tanintayin division are in South Burma.

If the 7 minority states are going for independent, Myanmar will left with half of the country only. But they are the more prosperous divisions. The minorities occupy roughly two-thirds of the country's total land area, and constitutes more than 30 per cent of the population(some said over half of Burma's population). Had not Aung San promised political equality and autonomy to the Frontier Areas, the Union of Burma might have never been born 1947. Without the military power to control, Junta is difficult to manage the separatist states. For a democracy Burma, can the central government hold the states together? Karen people is having strong will for independence, and it was promised in Panglong Agreement,will the future democratic government comply with the agreement? How about the autonomy for frontier areas?...

This is the inherent political risk of the country. A cohesive independent political entity require the real power sharing of the separate states and ethnic groups, a strong leadership respected by all ethnic groups is necessary. The largest racial group, Bamar is majority in the 7 divisions , and minority in other 7 states, will still have the controlling power. In addition to that, the powerful military forces, if still remain involve directly in government and politic, will still be an unstable factor. Will the Junta respect the democracy movement, it is still too early to say; but the chances is remote. The Junta is buying time to extend their military rule.

But any improvement will be a bonus for long suffering Burmese.

The country risks in Burma

1. Trafficking in persons:

Burma is a source country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; Burmese women and children are trafficked to East and Southeast Asia for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor; Burmese children are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Thailand as hawkers, beggars, and for work in shops, agriculture, fish processing, and small-scale industries; women are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Malaysia and China; some trafficking victims transit Burma from Bangladesh to Malaysia and from China to Thailand; internal trafficking occurs primarily from villages to urban centers and economic hubs for labor in industrial zones, agricultural estates, and commercial sexual exploitation; military and civilian officials continue to use a significant amount of forced labor; ethnic insurgent groups also used compulsory labor of adults and unlawful recruitment of children; the military junta's gross economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and its policy of using forced labor are the top causal factors for Burma's significant trafficking problem

tier rating: Tier 3 - Burma does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; military and civilian officials remain directly involved in significant acts of forced labor and unlawful conscription of child soldiers (2008)

2. Internal Displaced Persons(IDP)
IDPs: 503,000 (government offensives against ethnic insurgent groups near the eastern borders; most IDPs are ethnic Karen, Karenni, Shan, Tavoyan, and Mon) (2007)

3. Opium Producers
Burma remains world's second largest producer of illicit opium with an estimated production in 2008 of 340 metric tons, an increase of 26%, and poppy cultivation in 2008 totaled 22,500 hectares, a 4% increase from 2007; production in the United Wa State Army's areas of greatest control remains low; Shan state is the source of 94% of Burma's poppy cultivation; lack of government will to take on major narcotrafficking groups and lack of serious commitment against money laundering continues to hinder the overall antidrug effort; major source of methamphetamine and heroin for regional consumption (2008)

4. International relationship

Over half of Burma's population consists of diverse ethnic groups who have substantial numbers of kin in neighboring countries; Thailand must deal with Karen and other ethnic refugees, asylum seekers, and rebels, as well as illegal cross-border activities from Burma; Thailand is studying the feasibility of jointly constructing the Hatgyi Dam on the Salween River near the border with Burma; citing environmental, cultural, and social concerns, China is reconsidering construction of 13 dams on the Salween River but energy-starved Burma with backing from Thailand remains intent on building five hydro-electric dams downstream, despite identical regional and international protests; India seeks cooperation from Burma to keep Indian Nagaland separatists, such as the United Liberation Front of Assam, from hiding in remote Burmese Uplands; after 21 years, Bangladesh resumes talks with Burma on delimiting a maritime boundary in January 2008

(source: CIA, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bm.html)

Burma, the golden land has become a land of fear; a land once with opportunities and resources has become one of the poorest country in the world. The members of Junta, if they love the country, they should do some soul searching and turning back.... the pre-independence day under British rule were better days of Burma, why?.....Burma was once a great country during the 19th century. After independence the life is not better, why?.... why Burma was left behind, when other countries are moving ahead, when Burma was once economically ahead of them. Burma has missed all.....

Burmese Democracy and Human Rights online media

There are a number of web sites for more information, you can start off at the following:

1. Globalissues,Human Rights Abuses in Burma.
2. Burma Digest
3. Irrawaddy, English.
4. Irrawaddy, Burmese.
5. Mizzima News in English
6. Mizzima News in Burmese
7. Mizzima TV
8. DVB Democratic Voice of Burma.
9. Khit Pyaing, The New Era Journal.(Burmese)
10. Khit Pyaing, The New Era Journal.(English)
11. Moe Maka, Burmese.
12. Burmanet news.

Related articles

1. CIA World Factbook, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Burma
2. Burma, wikipedia

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