Political Science - Study Objective
In early June 2016, the China's ambassador of Myanmar visit to Myit Kyi Na, Kachin State. The protestors demonstrated against the Ambassador's pushes for MyitSone Dam restart. Next day, he continued to Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine State. The kyauk phyu local people show yellow signal for Kyauk Phyu Special Zones because the problems created by Shwe Gas Pipelines Project are not solved. Kyauk Phyu Special Zones, a mega project, will be developed by CITIC group of company. CITIC won tender for development of deep sea ports and industrial parks. Most of Scholars pointed Kpu SEZ as a one of power projection of China.
Since two decades, Myanmar military government worked closely with China (including Hong Kong), Singapore, India, South Korea and Thailand in extractive industries. The China became a big crony in Myanmar natural resources sector. Military government is fighting with ethnic armed forces and extracting natural resources in ethnic minorities' areas with his neighboring countries at the same time. Those natural resources are now one of critical issues for the longest civil war in the world.
Not surprisingly, many international investors have cast their eyes on Myanmar's abundant natural resources for commercial exploitation. Since it was clear that reform was in process after the 2010 election, potential investors have flocked to Myanmar looking for opportunities, particularly in the energy, resources extraction and mining sectors. Late in 2012, a new foreign investment law was finally passed, after much debate, on the extent of possible foreign ownership and investment restrictions. Policy makers intend to invite FDI with that law.
But, the problem is wide investment of foreign companies in Extractive industry sector not in the production and service sectors that could create more jobs for Myanmar. Woodside, Shell, Shevron Corporation, and other world biggest companies are turning to Myanmar and craving for natural resources in Myanmar. The country has classified 51 onshore blocks and 53 offshore blocks, including 26 deep water blocks, for oil and gas exploration. Not only, oil and gas but also mining sector such as jade and gem, timber and forest products, hydropower, rubies, coal, and gold are extracting. So, the question is, do we really need to explore all resources? Is resources extraction really the solution for development of Myanmar? Those questions are the key for me and us, SGM/AGRAM, because we concern for the conflict trap, resource curse, environmental damage, and resources for next generation.
Although resources are explored and sold, the country is still in the list of developing countries. We don't need to answer for the question of who do it and why do it. But, Myanmar, in transition period, needs to make good policy and law to restrict extracting resources and use it effectively. Gas fields of Yadanar, Yedagon, Kanbowza and Shwe gas and other mining such as gold, jade and gem and other minerals project could support billions of foreign currency to the government. The country is still in the list of Least Developed Countries and still fighting with ethnic minorities for resources sharing as there is no transparency and good resource governance. The second problem is the claim of ethnic minorities for ownership of the resources and resource management. Now, in NCA, resource sharing is one of issues to discuss in federal framework. But, that is not short term dialogue and need to take time with federal union building. For me, I am participating in this field and would like to participate more in the future as a productive member. My study objectives is to learn deeply on the international experience and practice regarding how other shared resources between and among central and states, how they solve the resources conflict and how to use resources as one of a tool for the development of the country.
I gain proven work experience and knowledge from the project of SGM/AGRAM ''Strengthening Civil Society's Role in Resource Governance in Myanmar's Extractive Sector." One of my valuable experiences is participating as SGM/AGRAM in Consultation Meeting on Sustainable Development and Peace between Border Based & inside CSOs and Ethnic Armed Organizations which was organized in Chaing Mai, Thailand in April 2015. The meeting is to discuss about the current peace process and to support policy recommendation to Ethnic Armed Forces for NCA dialogue regarding natural resources and decentralization, gender equality, health, education and land.
However, despite such a proven work experiences, I found myself that I need to pursue an advanced degree in order to work more in the field I am working. It will go far in helping me achieve my career goals upon my return to Myanmar. I firmly believe that pursuing a master's degree in political science from a reputable University can equip me with the skills and knowledge I required and I will have the opportunity to strictly understand and appreciate the competing interests and views surrounding a variety of complex issues pertaining to the sector's policy framework, investment regime, resource sharing, federal building and energy security. Upon my return, I will be working for SGM/AGRAM with NRGI, MDRI, and OECD for the most derelict sector, extractive industry and federal union building as well.