Coopting Federalism: Union Day and the Three Main National Causes

Today was Union Day in Myanmar. This is the day that commemorates the signing of the Panglong Agreement in 1947. It is customary for a government to set out its priorities on this day. The military’s priorities this year share broad similarities with the NLD’s in 2020. Both refer to the Three Main National Causes,Continue reading “Coopting Federalism: Union Day and the Three Main National Causes”

Demonetising the currency and the Constitution in Myanmar

Today the military tried to reassure people with a public announcement citing section 36(e) of the Constitution. This is the provision that prohibits the government from demonetising the currency. I have often said to people that this is one of the few provisions of the Constitution with which all people in Myanmar would agree upon.Continue reading “Demonetising the currency and the Constitution in Myanmar”

Myanmar coup on the pretext of a constitutional fig leaf

*Note: this article first appeared in The East Asia Forum on 3 February 2020 On 1 February, the world was shocked by a military coup in Myanmar and the arrest of State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other political leaders. It shouldn’t have been so surprised. Much of the military’s manoeuvresContinue reading “Myanmar coup on the pretext of a constitutional fig leaf”

Mega constitutional questions in Myanmar

The coup in Myanmar as thrown up a whole lot of mega-constitutional questions. Some of the big ones include: was the Constitution ever legitimate in the first place? Who gets to have the final say on the Constitution? Has the military actually followed the Constitution, as it claimed? And, to what extent can the ConstitutionContinue reading “Mega constitutional questions in Myanmar”

Myanmar’s empty promise of constitutional reform

*This article was first published here in The Interpreter on 3 February 2020 Myanmar’s transition in 2011 was only ever partial. After all, the country transitioned from direct military rule without a constitution, to a constitutional system where the military reserved for itself unelected seats in parliament. The National League for Democracy (NLD) was wellContinue reading “Myanmar’s empty promise of constitutional reform”

Why Myanmar’s Military is Wrong: This is not a Constitutional Emergency

*This article was first published in The Age as ‘The power and ambition behind Myanmar’s coup’ on 2 February 2020 Aung San Suu Kyi is back in familiar territory, under arrest. Early Monday morning she, along with the president and many others, were arrested in a cunning move by the military. So far, at leastContinue reading “Why Myanmar’s Military is Wrong: This is not a Constitutional Emergency”

The risks of constitutional change in authoritarian regimes

In a recent book chapter I analyse the risks that democratic actors face if they seek to reform a constitution drafted by an authoritarian regime – taking Myanmar as the case in point. Melissa Crouch (2020) ‘Authoritarian Straightjacket or Vehicle for Democratic Transition?: The Risky Struggle to Change Myanmar’s Constitution’ in Tom Ginsburg and AzizContinue reading “The risks of constitutional change in authoritarian regimes”

Emergency Powers in Myanmar

Emergency Powers in Myanmar are complicated. Here is my take on how emergency powers in the Constitution are supposed to work – see here A few brief notes – the president has the power under section 417 to declare an emergency in consultation with the National Defence and Security Council. All power is transferred toContinue reading “Emergency Powers in Myanmar”