The purpose of the Smart Village project was to enhance living standards and support green development, with the vision to narrow the development gap between urban and rural areas. The project will be extended to the regions and states. Cooperation with relevant sectors would be necessary, including sectors involving digital and IT technologies, technology transfer, financial services, vocational development, social welfare, social protection, and environmental conservation. Three pilots “smart village” projects will be implemented respectively in Pyinmana, Lewe and Tatkone townships of Nay Pyi Taw Council Area.
The Yangon City Development Committee’s Urban Land Management Department announced that its regular services would recommence from 22 November and that its offices in all districts and townships would once again be open every working day for the convenience of the public.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation is continuing to develop the agricultural sector in regions and states. Union Minister U Tin Htut Oo met with agricultural officials in Kawthoung on 17 November. The meetings focused on the effective use of good quality seeds, the application of modern techniques, the distribution of local vegetables, the provision of extension services to small family farms and livestock projects, and safety training and the provision of skills training for the fisheries sector workers. On 24 November, the Ministry organized a meeting via video link on agricultural training and education for the development of human resources in the sector. To this end, preparations are underway to further develop agricultural education facilities in Nay Pyi Taw, Pyinmana, Patheingyi, and Heho. The meeting also emphasized the need to enhance applied research in the livestock sector and support the development of livestock businesses in the private sector.
On 26 November, at the 20th meeting of the National Seed-Related Committee, various experts in the Technical Working Groups and the Technical Seed Committee discussed the certification of new crop varieties that had been scrutinized in line with rules and procedures. The meeting discussed using online registration of seed varieties to reduce transaction costs and accelerate the process.
The Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Irrigation organized Citrus Fair 2021, with the opening ceremony on 27 November at the Nay Pyi Taw Yezin Agricultural Research Department. The fair aimed to enhance market and investment opportunities and to increase citrus fruit production to meet domestic demand and boost exports. Competitions were held, and business owners, farmers and experts participated in the discussions on various agricultural technologies and agricultural production development.
On 26 November, Union Minister for Information U Maung Maung Ohn and the party inspected the construction of the Community Centre in Taunggyi which is being implemented by the Department of Information and Public Relations under the BOT system. The Union Minister recalled how community centres had been implemented since 2015 by the Ministry of Information. Previous to this, the Department of Information and Public Relations had only been able to implement ordinary libraries that lent books. On the other hand, community centres were intended not only for raising public awareness but also to address issues related to economic, health and social development. He said that community centres were where people come to study, obtain information, and discuss the development of the community. Once completed, community-based activities will be expanded. In line with directives set by the Prime Minister, community centres should aim for youth education and development. He highlighted the need to systematically upgrade library services to digital libraries, with the necessary provisions made in the budget.
Union Minister U Maung Maung Ohn, accompanied by Shan State Chief Minister Dr Kyaw Tun and state ministers, and Chairman of the Danu Self-Administered Zone Administration Body U Arkar Lin, visited the construction of studios for TV programme production by a private company in Pindaya on 28 November. More than 800 acres of land are being used to build the necessary infrastructure for television and film production in the area. The Union Minister also visited the Danu Self-Administered Zone Information and Public Relations Department.
In honour of the upcoming Diamond Jubilee Union Day on 12 February 2022, the first competition of the “Happy Together Music Festival” was broadcast live on MRTV on the night of 26 November. Contestants from regions and states are expected to participate in the singing competitions from 26 November 2021 to 11 February 2022. The festival aims to enhance friendship and harmony amongst ethnic national races in Myanmar and lift spirits and camaraderie through national-level competition.
To educate children, Myanmar’s Sarpay Beikman Literature House (part of the Ministry of Information) has translated “Meet My Friends”, from the original book published by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO. This is an educational book for children to promote international understanding, and it highlights cultural differences among the people from 14 countries, their lifestyles, eating habits, games and festivals.
On 28 and 29 November, Union Minister for Industry Dr Charlie Than inspected the Anti-Venom Production Division in Hmawby Township, the No (3) Plastic Industry, the No (3) Heavy Industry in Thayawady, the No (1) Garment Factory in Shwetaung and Corn Production Factory in Yanpai.
On 28 November, Union Minister for Construction U Shwe Lay inspected the completion of rural road upgrades in Taikkyi Township implemented by the Yangon Region Rural Road Development Department; the implementation of the Hlaing River-Hlawga Hydropower Project; the installation of an underground water pipe ten feet deep and five feet in diameter in Hmawby Township along a section of the Yangon-Pyay highway; and works for the maintenance of No (4) Highway by the Yangon North District Highways Department. With a view to improving road safety, the Union Minister and his team also inspected the Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw-Mandalay Expressway (Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw section) with regard to roadside trees, the mechanized levelling of terrain and the clearing of bushes.
The Myanmar government has been arranging around 170 relief flights to carry home Myanmar nationals stranded abroad during the COVID-19 crisis. On 25 November, a relief flight carried back Myanmar nationals and families stranded in Japan. Some 497 Myanmar nationals who were stranded for various reasons in Malaysia were also brought back to Myanmar by relief flights on 22, 24 and 25 November. On 29 November, the eightieth relief flight of Myanmar National Airlines brought 105 Myanmar nationals from Singapore back home, while six Myanmar citizens were repatriated from Jordan on 27 November. The Myanmar Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, has been arranging relief flights once a week and on 23 November, the 84th relief flight brought 75 passengers back to Myanmar, including 48 Myanmar nationals.
Myanmar marked the 32nd anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (World Children’s Day) on 20 November. The country also marked the sixteenth day of “Activism Against Violence Against Women” on 25 November, at an event organized by the Myanmar National Women’s Affairs Committee. The UN Secretary-General has called for global action to bridge funding gaps and ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis with “16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (25 November to 10 December 2020)”.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
Up to 30 November 2021, Myanmar reported 522,402 cumulative confirmed cases, 19,104 cumulative confirmed deaths, with a total of 5,605,747 tests conducted.
COVID-19 prevention and management measures continued to be successfully implemented, leading to a steady decline in test positivity rates throughout November. While the test positivity rate was around 4 per cent in late October (e.g., 4.4 per cent on 30 October), it continued to decrease (to 3 per cent in mid-November and 1.9 per cent on 30 November). The number of daily new cases fell significantly from a seven-day moving average of 5,756 cases on 24 July to a seven-day moving average of 472 cases on 30 November. Previously, 119 townships had been designated as “stay-at-home townships” to control and manage the third wave of COVID-19, but by 30 November, only 11 townships were categorized as such.
The fight against the pandemic has benefitted from a holistic approach led by the Ministry of Health and Tatmadaw medical corps and backed by community organizations, the private sector, and various government entities. The Ministry of Commerce expedites the import of medicines and equipment for combatting COVID-19 via air, sea and land routes, and the import details are made public. Returning Myanmar nationals, including migrant workers, are being welcomed by the authorities at airports, seaports and border crossing points. Tatmadaw medical teams systematically organize and provide medical check-ups and quarantine facilities as needed for the returning nationals.
The Government continued successfully with the COVID-19 vaccination programme across the nation in respective regions and states, covering target groups prioritized by the Ministry of Health, despite challenges such as terrorist attacks. As of 30 November, 16,849,172 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19, comprising 11,858,598 people who have been vaccinated twice and 4,990,574 people who have received the first dose of the vaccine. This means a total of 28,707,770 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered to the Myanmar population.
To date, the steady progress in Myanmar’s vaccination programme is based on vaccines purchased by Myanmar and the generous donations of vaccines and medical supplies from China, Russia, India and Cambodia. No vaccine has been received from the COVAX facility or its UN partners (WHO and UNICEF), although these UN partners have made various declarations on UN Country Team press releases. Myanmar is the poorest ASEAN member country, yet other countries in the region have been receiving vaccines through the multilateral COVAX facility.
On 30 November, the Ministry of Health held a coordination meeting on COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment through video conferencing. Union Minister Dr Thet Khaing Win discussed the Omicron COVID-19 variant, classified as a SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization since 26 November, and the measures being taken to control it.
Citizens’ Basic Needs
Since 22 September, the Ministry of Commerce and the Myanmar Petroleum Trade Association have been collaborating to make fuel available at reasonable prices for the public. The oil importers directly purchase the foreign currency from the Central Bank of Myanmar, and the stations selling the fuel are listed on the website of the Ministry of Commerce.
The government has undertaken several initiatives to ensure basic food items for the public at a reasonable price. Chief Ministers and Commanders of the respective regions and states have been providing the necessary support to production activities in the agriculture, livestock and other sectors. Beginning from 9 November, the Ministry of Commerce and Myanmar Edible Oil Dealers’ Association imported palm oil at the Central Bank of Myanmar reference rate and sold it in different states and regions at a wholesale price of K4,240 per viss. The palm oil wholesalers will have to resell the oil at not more than 2 per cent of net profit at retail outlets. Wholesalers and retailers were urged to contact the Myanmar Edible Oil Dealers’ Association. By 25 November, 5,545,980 visses of palm oil (equivalent to 9,062.05 tonnes) had been sold in Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing, Bago, Magway, and Taninthayi regions, Nay Pyi Taw, Shan State and Mon State.
Religious and Cultural Affairs
The 26th Maha Graduation Ceremony of the State Pariyatti Sasana University (Yangon/Mandalay) was held on 28 November in Mandalay. The graduating monks received degrees and took their religious oaths in the presence of the Chancellor of the State Pariyatti Sasana University. A total of 156 monks, including 138 graduate monks, were offered alms by donors.
The Ninth Plenary Session of the Eighth State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar was held on 26 November in Yangon at the Maha Pasana Cave, Thiri Mingala Kaba Aye Hill. Attending the ceremony were the members of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee headed by Chairman of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee Bhamo Sayadaw Dr Bhaddanta Kumara Bhivamsa, the Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture U Ko Ko, and officials. Sayadaws of the relevant working subcommittees presented their respective activity reports. The meeting discussed religious affairs and educational matters.
Families of the Office of the Commander-in-Chief (Army, Navy and Air) recited the five volumes of Maha Pathana Treatise for 11 days from 19 to 29 November, dedicating the recital to peace and well-being for all in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Daw Kyu Kyu Hla, the wife of Prime Minister Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, attended the ceremony.
From 1 November, the Department of Archaeology and National Museum, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture re-opened the National Library at Nay Pyi Taw and the National Library at Yangon, which had been closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The re-opening was accompanied by strict COVID-19 rules and regulations and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The National Libraries host large collections of digital books, magazines, manuscripts, historical and archaeological books, books published by the government, ASEAN and UN publications, English books about Myanmar, and research papers.
The Young Men’s Buddhist Association (YMBA) organized the 101st Anniversary of National Victory Day in Yangon. At the ceremony, the message of the Chairman of the State Administration Council, Patron of the YMBA, Thado Siri Agga Maha Mingala Dhamma Zotika Dhaja Maha Thray Sithu Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was read out. The Chairman of the YMBA explained the history of National Victory Day and presented awards.
Ten months after the State Administration Council took office, and twenty months after the first cases of COVID-19 were officially confirmed on 23 March 2020 in Myanmar, it is worth comparing the progress achieved against the goals set in the Five-Point Road Map of the State Administration Council.
First, the Union Election Commission has been reconstituted and its mandated tasks, including the scrutiny of voter lists, have been largely implemented. The evidence collected showed indisputable and massive fraud and widespread manipulation of voter lists.
Second, measurable progress has been achieved in national efforts to prevent and manage the COVID-19 pandemic, with the assistance of friendly countries.
Third, actions are being taken to speed up the economic recovery but there is still a long way to go due to the shutdown since 2020 and the uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its variants.
Fourth, the Tatmadaw has unilaterally and repeatedly extended its ceasefire arrangements with ethnic armed organizations, in line with the agreements set out in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. The current instability, however, is caused by armed terrorist attacks against Buddhist monks, civil servants, and communities by the PDF and NUG. No country can be expected to tolerate such a situation and accordingly, the Myanmar security forces are taking action against the terrorists.
Fifth, the Union Election Commission is undertaking further work to prepare for free and fair multiparty democratic elections in line with the 2008 Constitution.