Is democracy what Burma really needs?

Just Google “broken congress” (or “dysfunctional congress”) and you’ll be greeted by hundreds upon hundreds of articles heralding the demise of American democracy. It’s no surprise–Americans have a lower rating of Congress than of any other branch in government. And the average American, myself included, feel more and more powerless, more and more disenfranchised, to change a system where the odds are stacked against our favor.

Continue reading

Civil Service and Training Board, Naypyidaw

Bureaucratic bloat: Bigger is not better

The Thein Sein administration is planning to expand its ministerial portfolio, bringing that total up to 32 (a listing as of March 2014 can be found here). In late May, one of Thein Sein’s ministers, Soe Thein, announced that the the Ministry of Youth Affairs would be established [link].

Continue reading

Palace intrigues: More than a Buddhist monastery dispute gone sour?

This post was updated on June 22, 2014 to reflect recent developments.

A few evenings ago, a headline on BBC Burmese caught my eyes: “Santisukha monks disrobed, to be prosecuted” (သန္တိသုခ သံဃာများကို လူဝတ်လဲစေပြီး တရားစွဲပြီ). To outsiders, the headline may not mean much. But for well over a decade now, the Mahasantisukha Buddhist Missionary Centre (မဟာသန္တိသုခကျောင်း), a major Buddhist monastery in Rangoon, has been the center of a very contentious ownership dispute, between the Burmese government and the Penang Sayadaw.

Continue reading