By Kate Hodal
Kachin, Myanmar, August 10, 2016
Myanmar’s new government has announced ground-breaking reforms to its $31bn (£23.7bn) jade industry in a move campaigners claim could signal “a new era of fundamental change” in a business long dominated by abuse, corruption and cronyism.
The decision to freeze any renewals of existing jade permits, and to suspend the licensing of new ones, follows a series of deadly landslides in resource-rich Kachin state, widespread protests against lack of regulations, and extensive NGO and media reports exposing social and environmental abuses in Myanmar’s jade trade.
“It is really significant that the new government is taking a stand on jade licensing,” says Juman Kubba, senior campaigner at Global Witness. “If Aung San Suu Kyi is to change how Myanmar is seen by the rest of the world, this is a really good place to start: jade is so symbolic of the legacy of cronyism, corruption and abuse left by decades of ruthless military dictatorship.”
Myanmar’s jade industry has long been shrouded in secrecy, protecting the military generals, government cronies and drug lords who control and profit from it from full scrutiny. A year-long Global Witness investigation published last year found that multiple jade companies were linked to former dictator Than Shwe, high-ranking ministers in the army and former junta, and US-wanted narcotics kingpin Wei Hsueh Kang.
Read more at The Guardian
Image: Thairath TV