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Hearing ethnic voices on Myitsone

An inclusive & deliberative approach to addressing the Myitsone Dam dispute can showcase the govt’s commitment to genuine change.

Livelihoods on the Irrawaddy. Credit: Wikicommon

By Yanghee Lee & Debby Sze Wan Chan

Yangon, November 11, 2017

Frontier Myanmar

Like many mega projects in Myanmar, the Myitsone Dam has historically excluded the communities that are likely to be most affected.

Lessons from the past must be learnt. The pending decision on the future of the Myitsone Dam – as well as many other projects across the country – offers an opportunity to show that the government is accountable to the public.

A year ago, on November 11, 2016, the commission tasked with reviewing the dam project submitted its report to President U Htin Kyaw. Former President U Thein Sein halted the China-backed project in September 2011 amid popular opposition, but this suspension expired in March 2016 when his government left office.

The establishment of the commission was widely perceived as a strategy to defuse pressure from Beijing before State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to China.

But the Myitsone Dam controversy is more than a foreign relations issue. It also concerns the new leadership’s commitment to transparency, human rights and the peace process. Against this background, people have high hopes that the democratic government will settle the dispute by following public opinion.

Read more at Frontier Myanmar

 

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