The Fourth Month of the State Administration Council

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By Kanaung

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The peace process and ethnic nationalities
The Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services released an announcement on 30 May that the Tatmadaw’s military activities would be halted, and the ceasefire period extended from 1 to 30 June, except for groups committing attacks against national security and administrative machinery. June is also the period for the reopening of basic education schools all over the country and the ceasefire extension should be seen as an opportunity for the peace process.
The National Solidarity and Peacemaking Negotiation Committee (NSPNC) and Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) held a coordination meeting on 13 May at the NSPNC’s office. Committee Chairman Lieutenant-General Yar Pyae and members, and the ALP Vice-Chair (No. 3) Daw Saw Mra Razar Lin and her team attended the meeting. The Committee Secretary explained the work of peacemaking committees formed by the State Administration Council, while ALP members put forward issues related to the peace and regional development in Rakhine State. It was reported that the NSPNC would cooperate and conduct the necessary coordination and negotiations in this regard.
Union Minister U Saw Tun Aung Myint of the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs met the Mro ethnic delegation led by U San Tha Aung on 12 May. They held talks on the matter of the teaching of Mro language and literature in basic education schools, the appointment of teaching assistants and language teachers on a daily-wage and monthly-pay basis. Among others, the meeting also discussed the promotion of Mro literature and ethnic affairs.

Security and the rule of law
Since 14 February, the Tatmadaw, Myanmar Police Force and Fire Brigade members have jointly conducted security duties to counter terrorist acts supported by the illegitimate NUG and CRPH and aimed at destroying the country’s stability, security, and the rule of law. During May, security forces have dealt with these terrorist acts. In addition, actions under Section 505-A of the Penal Code were taken against certain education and health staff, film and music artists, those supporting unlawful associations and those instigating and intimidating others to wreck the state administrative machinery through the so-called civil disobedience movement.
On 13 May, Martial Law Orders 4/2021 and 5/2021 were issued by the State Administration Council to enable the Commander of the North-West Command to better administer security, the rule of law and community peace in Mindat Township of the Chin State.
The Union Election Commission and political parties held a coordination meeting on 21 May. The meeting discussed the support that the Commission would provide for political parties in matters of security and the rule of law; the change in the electoral system to a system more suitable for Myanmar, among others, proportional representation (PR) system; and actions to be taken against any party committing electoral fraud and breaking existing laws.

Invitation for Myanmar citizens
Throughout May, the State Administration Council continued issuing its invitation to Myanmar citizens who had left Myanmar for various reasons. The invitation noted that certain citizens, including students, youth, and civil servants had fled to areas dominated by ethnic armed organizations or to other countries, due to fear fuelled by falsehoods produced from local and foreign organizations. Those who have fled are now suffering in terms of personal safety, risk to their lives and poor living conditions. Therefore, with the exception of those who had committed crimes, the State Administration Council now invites these citizens home: if within Myanmar they are to report to the nearest local authorities and if in foreign countries, to report to the nearest Myanmar embassy, consulates office, or military attaché’s office.
On 8 May, the Anti-Terrorism Central Committee released Notification (No. 2/2021) which released by on 8 May, declaring the CRPH (Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw), the NUG (National Unity Government) and the People’s Defence Force (PDF) formed by the NUG to be terrorist groups. The reason is that these groups issued threats against those not joining the civil disobedience movement, threats to students and teachers not to go to schools, and they are supporting and perpetrating terrorist acts against the public.

Good news for farmers
The government announced on 20 May that Myanmar Agriculture Development Bank and its branches would disburse agricultural loans to farmers for the 2021 monsoon season, effective from 26 May to 30 September. Thanks to the government, farmers an extension for repayment of their 2020 loans from 15 April to 31 July 2021, recognizing the hardships they faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the previous 2020 monsoon season.

In the interests of efficiency, the government divided the previous Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Industry into two ministries on 3 May — the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the Ministry of Industry. On the same date, reviewing teams were formed to relax lengthy procedures in issuing permits, licences, and certificates.


Developments in economy, investment, and banking
At the meeting with officials from the Customs and Internal Revenue Departments on 1 May, Union Minister U Win Shein highlighted the fact that the online payment system can now be used for tax payments. In addition, after a temporary halt, mobile banking and online monetary services are returning to normal due to the restoration of internet access from mobile phones.
In the interests of efficiency, the government divided the previous Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Industry into two ministries on 3 May — the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the Ministry of Industry. On the same date, reviewing teams were formed to relax lengthy procedures in issuing permits, licences, and certificates.
External trade value has registered at more than US$17.58 billion for the 2020-2021 financial year (up to end-April), according to the provisional data from the Ministry of Commerce.
On 7 May, the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) authorized 15 new investment projects, including an electricity generation project worth US$2.5 billion.
On 17 May, the Central Bank of Myanmar announced measures to ease the cash liquidity issue. Those who opened new accounts would face no limitations on withdrawal amount.
The committee on mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy met on 12 May. The State Administration Council amended standard operating procedures to enable businesses to run smoothly, through relaxed procedures and cooperation among the ministries concerned.

Public infrastructure
Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has formally unveiled Yadanabon Hall in Mandalay on 17 May. The Hall is meant to promote the socio-economic and cultural development of ethnic national people residing in Mandalay and its environs. It can provide quality services and accommodate up to 1,200 people in seminars, workshops, meetings, religious and cultural events, dinners, and exhibitions.

Public health and sports
To protect the public against new waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health and Sports held multiple coordination meetings on prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19 and the new virus variants. Preventive measures will be accelerated, including through mask campaigns, distribution of health education materials and medical post-graduate courses.
One significant point is that public, station, and district hospitals, including the Yangon General Hospital, Mandalay General Hospital, Nay Pyi Taw General Hospital among others, were able to reopen at the beginning of May.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army provided a total of 500,000 COVID vaccines — the SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine. (Vero Cell) — which arrived in Myanmar via air on 2 May. During May, people over age 65 years, departmental personnel, venerable monks, and the public were vaccinated, with the help of the Tatmadaw’s military planes, which transported the vaccines and other equipment all over the country.
Myanmar itself has donated medical supplies to India where the COVID-19 infection rate is increasing during May. Two flights of Myanmar Airways International transported the donations through Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon international airports to India on 18 May. Those flights also carried 25 Indians stranded in Myanmar for various reasons, and on their return, brought back 128 Myanmar returnees.
Tatmadaw medical professors, doctors, nurses, and medics have provided healthcare services to the local population at the respective military station hospitals. They have provided testing and quarantine services as necessary to the Myanmar returnees in Mon and Kayin states. A total of 226,666 outpatients and 68,188 inpatients have already received medical treatment services from 5 February to May.
Sports events such as football and others were held during May. The Ministry of Health and Sports will send the Myanmar national sports team to the 31st South-East Asia Games, which will be held in Viet Nam. Myanmar national team members are now under training in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw.

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Religious and cultural affairs
The written examination for the 73rd Tipitaka Dhara Tipitaka Kovida Selection was held from 17 to 21 May at the Maha Pasana Cave in the precinct of Kaba Aye Hill. Pagodas, temples, and other religious buildings of all faiths, including Hindu, Christian and Islam, have reopened and are now seeing many devotees. Parks, sports grounds, markets, hospitals, airlines, trains, long-distance express buses, and vessels continued their normal operations during May.

News and information
Chairman of State Administration Council Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing received Ms Fu Xiao Tian, senior political reporter of and presenter of Talk with World Leaders Programme of the Phoenix news agency of China via videoconferencing. During the interview, he replied to questions raised Ms. Fu Xiao Tian on the political issues of Myanmar, the voting frauds that occurred in the 2020 General Election, the peace process in Myanmar, the outcomes of the ASEAN leaders meeting on Myanmar, Rakhine State issues, peace and stability of border areas between China and Myanmar and further cooperation between the two countries.
The Information Team of the State Administration Council organized its 5/2021 press conference on 15 May. The team leader Major-General Zaw Min Tun, Union Election Commission member U Khin Maung Oo, Central Bank of Myanmar Deputy Governor U Win Thaw and other departmental representatives replied to questions raised by the journalists.
Union Minister for Information U Chitt Naing met with the Myanmar Press Council members and Press Council’s Selection Committee members on 1 May on issues regarding the development of the media sector, the issue of media ethics and the need for media to remain fair and impartial and not take sides.
The Information Team of the State Administration Council continued with its virtual weekly press briefings. On 7 May, Major Kaung Htet San briefed the public on the media being the fourth pillar of democracy, and issues related to education, public health, financial and banking services.
Some illegal organizations and media outlets are broadcasting fake information, which could affect state security, the rule of law and community peace and stability. They are also exhorting and supporting actions of high treason against the state on TV channels via satellite dishes. Accordingly, the Ministry of Information announced a ban on non-registered satellite TV dishes on 4 May; those who use such restricted satellite dishes will face action under existing laws.
At the request of the Japanese special envoy for National Reconciliation in Myanmar, the State Administration Council withdrew the legal case against the Japanese journalist Mr Yuki Kitazumi on 13 May and released him in the interests of bilateral relations between Myanmar and Japan. The Japanese journalist had been prosecuted on 18 April as he was found guilty of supporting the protests and civil disobedience movement.
The Selection Committee of the Press Council elected the Council Chairman, two Vice-Chairmen, Secretary, Treasurer and Auditor transparently and in line with the News Media Law and Rules.

In May, Myanma Railways resumed the train services operating on the Yangon-Mandalay, Yangon-Bago and Pyinmana-Taungdwingyi-Pyinmana routes.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism explored new tourist destinations in the Myeik archipelago of Kawthaung District, which would include opportunities for scuba diving, exploration of coastal and tidal forests and coastal recreation activities.
Under the auspices of the present Ministry of Construction, road and bridge construction in Kayin and Mon states are being continued and accelerated. Similarly, the Ministry of Border Affairs is coordinating the implementation of regional development programmes to construct roads, bridges, housing, and water access infrastructure.

Human resources development
Under the Department of Basic Education, the government launched school enrolment week for high, middle, and primary schools for the 2021-2022 academic year from 24 to 31 May. In line with the country’s free and compulsory basic education policy, the Ministry of Education provided stationery, textbooks, and COVID-19 protective equipment for the students. Moreover, the respective military commands in regions and states provided a crucial service in disinfecting the schools that had been used as quarantine facilities and in general, cleaning up school grounds.
On 5 May, the Education Ministry reopened Ph.D. courses, master’s courses (written test) and final year undergraduate classes in universities, degree colleges, colleges, and institutes across the country. Moreover, it reopened a total of 134 institutions of higher education, comprising 49 arts and science universities, degree colleges and colleges, 60 technological and computer universities, and 25 education degree colleges. Similarly, 70 Government Technological Colleges, Technical Institutes and Government Technical High Schools under the Department of Technical, Vocational Education and Training were also reopened, with classes for the final year of three-year diploma courses for Associate of Government Technical Institute (AGTI), second-year courses of the two years’ Government Technical High Schools following the COVID-19 health rules.
The swift decisive action by the government to reopen schools and universities will mean the resumption of learning and the reversal of the learning losses suffered by all students during 2020 due largely to the COVID-19 crisis, eventually leading to enhanced job opportunities for the students.

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