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Brian Pellot, the director of global strategy at the Religion News Service, published his take on the use of the word “Rohingya” in the Washington Post on December 4. For once he didn’t focus on the tensions between the Myanmar government and the UN, but on the unsavoury role of National League for Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in the public debate over the situation in Rakhine State.

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The recent talk that Myanmar’s reforms are lurching towards failure misses the point. After so many decades of military dictatorship we need a reality check about the comparisons that Myanmar deserves, especially at this delicate moment in an historic process of political change.

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No more contentious issue than the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation has occurred in the American media. On November 23, 2014, The New York Times public editor devoted a full page (“The Conflict and the Coverage”) to discussion of whether that problem was treated with appropriate objectivity, balance, and clarity in that newspaper. There had been many complaints on all sides of those issues. This was an unprecedented and important public discussion of the problems in reporting stories, inclusion of photographs and assignment of reporters and staff.

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Photo: Nyain Thit Nyi

My institute, Tampadipa, has been carrying out public pre-consultations on the draft national land use policy (NLUP). Since quite a number of comments have been expressed on this topic, I thought I should share TI’s experience.

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The draft National Land Use Policy has created widespread discontent in Myanmar. The policy is positive for those who may seek to acquire land for business purposes and have security in their investments. The policy views all the country's land resources as a state-owned commodity. It relies mainly on high tech, top-down approaches for determining, (re)zoning and administering land and legal land rights. It is mainly oriented toward addressing the problem of how to facilitate large-scale transfers of rights from many existing (small) occupants and users to large-scale users through land concessions and leases.

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In a rare interview aired on the Voice of America on November 20, President U Thein Sein spoke out on a number of topics. Most striking were his comments on the Rohingya conundrum in Rakhine State, where communal tensions have led to bloodshed, internal displacement and, according to the Arakan Project, large numbers of Rohingya fleeing Myanmar by boat.

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