Regarding national unity and peace, the Senior General provided the following guiding principles based on the State Administration Council Five-Point Road Map:
(a) building a Union based on democracy and federalism,
(b) realizing national unity and peace through the democratic culture of dialogue,
(c) implementing strategies for national unity,
(d) developing and implementing peacebuilding projects at the same time as rehabilitation and development projects,
(e) researching and identifying root causes of divisions in society and addressing these root causes.
To mark the 76th Anniversary of Armed Forces Day, a ceremony to unveil portraits of seven retired commander-in-chiefs and commander-in-chiefs of defence services who served duties in successive eras took place at the office of the Defence Services Historical Research Institute at the Defence Services Museum in Nay Pyi Taw on 25 March.
On 2 March 2021, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin attended the Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting via video conferencing. The engagement aimed to enhance relations with other nations. Participants at the Meeting were other ministers and the ASEAN Secretary-General. The Union Minister for Foreign Affairs gave an overview of political developments in Myanmar, including the 2020 General Elections and related investigation process, the priorities and objectives of the State Administration Council, and the security measures undertaken to restore the rule of law.
On the same day, Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations U Aung Naing Oo attended the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting online. At the meeting, the Union Minister presented the crucial role of the private sector, Myanmar’s commitment to the implementation of the 2021 work plan of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, and to continued regional economic cooperation and collaboration within the framework of existing agreements and treaties. He emphasized that the Myanmar government guaranteed as per existing laws to protect activities and agreements already approved by the previous government, and that the government would give the highest priority to resolving difficulties and bottlenecks in these sectors.
During the meeting, the Senior General called for concerted and coordinated efforts of the ASEAN countries, rather than individual efforts in finding solutions to non-conventional security threats, such as terrorism and the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 5 March 2021, Vice-Chairman of the State Administration Council Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice-Senior General Soe Win met via video conferencing with Ambassador Mr Thomas L Vajda of the United States of America to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. They discussed matters related to the Tatmadaw’s efforts before the state of emergency on 1 February 2021 to meet and negotiate with relevant officials and organizations on several issues, including the massive errors in voter lists, the crowd control and riot control procedures practised by security forces in accordance with the manuals of the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the relevant laws on crowd control and mob violence, and the Five-Point Road Map and Nine Objectives of the State Administration Council.
On 8 March 2021, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin received Ambassador Mr Maruyama Ichiro of Japan to Myanmar at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nay Pyi Taw. They discussed the current developments in Myanmar, the inspections being conducted by the newly-reconstituted Union Election Commission of the ballot papers and documentary proofs from the 2020 elections, the future plans of the State Administration Council, and the appropriate measures taken to ensure the rule of law and guarantee public security.
On 9 March 2021, Vice-Chairman of the State Administration Council Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Commander-in-Chief (Army) Vice-Senior General Soe Win met online with the Head of the European Union Military Staff Vice-Admiral Hervé Bléjean. The meeting focused on the current political affairs of Myanmar, the current and future work plans of the State Administration Council and COVID-19 vaccination programmes.
On 10 March 2021, Chief of Staff (Army) Lieutenant-General Moe Myint Tun attended the 11th ASEAN Military Operations Meeting via video conferencing, along with other ASEAN military personnel. The meeting focused on military cooperation according to the year’s ASEAN theme, “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”.
On 11 March 2021, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs U Chan Aye and responsible officials sent video statements to the 46th session of the Human Rights Council held at the United Nations Office in Geneva. In his statement, the Permanent Secretary reaffirmed that Myanmar would cooperate with the relevant UN mechanism according to existing laws, national priorities and needs.
On 12 March 2021, the Myanmar delegation led by Union Minister for Information U Chit Naing attended the 15th Conference of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information and related meetings (15th AMRI). The meeting was hosted by Thailand via videoconferencing under the theme of “ASEAN: A Digital Community with Accessibility for All”.
On 15 March 2021, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin received Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs II of Brunei Darussalam, via video conferencing. The meeting discussed the government’s efforts to address the violent protests by exercising utmost restraint to maintain law and order.
On 16 March 2021, Lt-Gen Ye Win Oo and military personnel joined the 18th ASEAN Military Intelligence Meeting (AMIM-18). The meeting exchanged views on the theme “We Care, We prepare, We Prosper” and discussed the establishment of the ASEAN Military Intelligence Community.
On 18 March 2021, Chairman of the State Administration Council Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing attended the 18th ASEAN Chiefs of Defence Forces Meeting (ACDFM-18) via videoconferencing. During the meeting, the Senior General called for concerted and coordinated efforts of the ASEAN countries, rather than individual efforts in finding solutions to non-conventional security threats, such as terrorism and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The State Administration Council Chairman received the delegation led by Deputy Minister for Defence of the Russian Federation, who had come to Myanmar to attend the ceremony commemorating the 76th Anniversary of Armed Forces Day. At the meeting, bilateral cooperation was discussed and a cordial exchange of honorary medals took place.
… the agricultural sector was not only for the production of food for the country but also the backbone of employment for millions of rural people. The Senior General’s message covered the status of cash assistance for farmers from the State Emergency Fund, the basic reference price (floor price) of paddy, and the support to the agricultural sector from relevant ministries.
Findings of the Union Election Commission
On 1 March 2021, the Union Election Commission released the results of their examination of the documentation related to the 2020 elections in Myeik Township, Taninthayi Region. On 3 March, the Union Election Commission announced that Pyithu Hluttaw ballots had been found missing or in excess numbers in Pyawbwe Township, Mandalay Region. On 4 March, the Union Election Commission stated that ballots used in the elections held in Kyauktada Township, Yangon Region, were also missing or used more than once. On 5 March 2021, the inspection of used ballots in the Pyithu Hluttaw election in Tamway Township found over 10,000 ballots missing and about 6,000 illegally used.
From 6 to 9 March 2021, the Union Election Commission also found missing ballots and excess ballots in Meiktila township, in Mahaaungmyay township, in Patheingyi township, and in Amarapura township of the Mandalay Region.
On 10 March 2021, the Union Election Commission investigated the ballot papers used in the 2020 election in Chanmyathazi township, Mandalay Region. From 11 to 14 March 2021, the Union Election Commission released its findings on discrepancies between the voter lists used and the actual ballots in Aungmyaythazan and Pyigyitagon townships of Mandalay Region; and in Mingalardon, Lanmadaw, Latha and Mayangon townships of Yangon Region.
From 15 to 20 March 2021, the Union Election Commission released announcements on findings from the inspection of voter lists and ballots, together with detailed statistical data, in the townships of Yangon region, namely: Htantabin, Insein, Dawbon, Hlegu, South Okkalapa, Kyimyindine, Pazundaung, Hlaing, Kamayut, Dagon, Seikkyi/Khanaungto, Thakayta, Bahan, Thanlyin, Kyauktan, Hmawby, Pabedan, Sangyoung, Kayan, Kawhmu, Dala, Yankin, North Okkalapa, Botahtaung, Hlinethaya (West) and Kungyangon townships.
On 21 March 2021, the Union Election Commission announced that it had inspected the voter lists and ballot papers of 44 townships in the Yangon Region (excluding Cocogyun Township) and found irregularities in the voter registration process. It identified the failures to comply with the provisions, rules and regulations of relevant Hluttaw Election Laws.
The Union Election Commission also released its findings from the inspection of voter lists and ballots in the townships of Toungoo, Kyaukkyi, Yedashe, Pyu, Ottwin, Htantabin, Shwetaung, Paungde and, Paukkhaung township in Bago Region; Myitkyina township in Kachin State; Chauk and Yesagyo townships in Magway Region; and the townships of Pale, Kani, ChaungU, Ayadaw and Salingyi in Sagaing Region.
On 2 March 2021, State Administration Council Chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing sent a commemorative message for the Peasants Day Celebration. In his letter, the Senior General said the agricultural sector was not only for the production of food for the country but also the backbone of employment for millions of rural people. The Senior General’s message covered the status of cash assistance for farmers from the State Emergency Fund, the basic reference price (floor price) of paddy, and the support to the agricultural sector from relevant ministries. He urged the farmers to use their collaborative efforts in support of national socio-economic development.
On 8 March 2021, the State Administration Council Chairman sent a message to the International Women’s Day ceremony held online in Nay Pyi Taw. In his letter, the Chairman highlighted the enhanced role of women in Myanmar, with women now taking up positions in national defence and security alongside men and emphasized Myanmar’s efforts to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Chairman sent wishes for all Myanmar women to be able to enhance their capacity, and overcome today’s challenges and difficulties, including the COVID-19 pandemic, in the same way as they had served the interests of the people and country in the past eras as a major force in Myanmar society.
On 19 March 2021, the State Administration Council Chairman highlighted the importance of unity and harmony among the ethnic National peoples for long-term stability and peace in his message sent to the 47th Mon State Day celebration. He also sent wishes for good health and prosperity to all National peoples living in Mon State, notably the Mon, Bamar, Kayin and Pa-O peoples as well as others.
Issues concerning Ethnic National Peoples
On 4 March 2021, the Committee on Ethnic Affairs, Public Management and Services held its coordination meeting. Committee Chairman State Administration Council member Union Minister for Defence General Mya Tun Oo stated at the meeting that ethnic National peoples living in the border areas should be provided under the law with citizenship cards as soon as possible. The meeting focused on actions to improve the living conditions of the National peoples, especially those in remote areas.
On 11 March 2021, the United League of Arakan (ULA/Arakan Army-AA) was removed from the list of terrorist groups, to reflect its recent move away from violence. This would lay the ground for building durable peace under the Five-Point Roadmap and Nine Objectives of the State Administration Council.
On 23 March 2021, the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs in Nay Pyi Taw held an event to explain and present the drafting of a Strategy for Ethnic National Peoples. The Strategy will extend ten years (2021–2030) and include affirmative actions for the ethnic Nationals, such as prioritizing the appointment of local indigenous people as teacher assistants and subject teachers, increasing salaries, expediting the citizenship cards for true ethnic nationals and ensuring that all ethnic National peoples have the same rights.
Continued appointment of officials
In March, the State Administration Council appointed additional members of the Council, Chief Justices of State High Courts, Deputy Ministers, Deputy Attorney-General, Region and State Advocates-General and Yangon City Development Committee members.
Regional development activities by Region/State Administration Councils
On 9 March 2021, the Kachin State Administration Council held a coordination meeting with the State Goods Transport Association to facilitate state goods flow. On the same date, the Kayin State Administration Council handed over rice, oil and teak seeds to KNU/KNLA Peace Council and DKBA ethnic organization. On 13 March, the Rakhine State Administration Council chairman and members observed the fieldwork related to the issuance of citizenship cards by the Pan Khinn project.
Similarly, the chairpersons and members of other State/Region Administration Councils (Kayah, Mon, Shan, Chin States and Yangon, Sagaing, Ayeyawady, Magway, Mandalay, Bago and Tanintharyi Regions) are working to ensure stability and the rule of law and promote economic development in each state and region. Activities have focused on meeting the primary health-care and employment needs for local people following field visits and observations.
Actions for economic recovery
On 17 March 2021, the government extended the COVID-19 loan repayment period for local businesses by another six months from the previous due date, to help local businesses revive their business operations. This was in relations to the one-year term (1% interest rate) loans for businesses affected by the pandemic issued from 9 April 2020 by the previous working committee to remedy economic repercussions caused by COVID-19, which would be due to repayment soon.
On 19 March 2021, The Ministry of Planning and Finance extended the pre-tax exemption of 2% income tax on exports until 30 April, as part of a recovery plan for local exporters.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation is taking measures to establish Fish Processing Economic Zones in the border areas to further develop the fisheries sector and produce value-added exports rather than raw materials in order to expand employment opportunities and increase income.
On 14, 15 and 19 March 2021, 18 registered factories were ravaged by arson attacks in Hlinethaya and Shwepyitha townships in Yangon Region. On 24 March 2021, the government announced that about 15,000 workers who were insured at the Social Security Board would be provided with 40 per cent of the last wages contributed to the Board under the Social Security Act.
to be continued.