Bago known as Hanthawaddy, is a city and the capital of the Bago Region in Myanmar. It is located 91 kilometres north-east of Yangon. Various Mon language chronicles report divergent foundation dates of Bago, ranging from 573 CE to 1152 CE while the Zabu Kuncha, an early 15th century Burmese administrative treatise, states that Pegu was founded in 1276/77 CE; the earliest extant evidence of Pegu as a place dates only to the late Pagan period when it was still a small town, not a provincial capital. After the collapse of the Pagan Empire, Bago became part of the breakaway Kingdom of Martaban by the 1290s; the small settlement grew important in the 14th century as the region became most populous in the Mon-speaking kingdom. In 1369, King Binnya U made Bago the capital; the city remained the capital until the kingdom's fall in 1538. During the reign of King Razadarit and Ava Kingdom were engaged in the Forty Years' War; the peaceful reign of Queen Shin Sawbu came to an end when she chose the Buddhist monk Dhammazedi to succeed her.
Under Dhammazedi, Bago became a centre of Theravada Buddhism. In 1519, António Correia a merchant from the Portuguese casados settlement at Cochin landed in Bago known to the Portuguese as Pegu, looking for new markets for pepper from Cochin. A year Portuguese India Governor Diogo Lopes de Sequeira sent an ambassador to Pegu; as a major seaport, the city was visited by Europeans, among these, Gasparo Balbi in the late 1500s. The Europeans commented on its magnificence; the Portuguese conquest of Pegu, following the destruction caused by the kings of Tangot and Arrakan in 1599, was described by Manuel de Abreu Mousinho in "Breve discurso em que se conta a conquista do Reino do Pegú na India oriental feita pelos portugueses em tempo do vice-rei Aires de Saldanha, sendo capitão Salvador Ribeiro de Sousa, chamado Massinga, natural de Guimarães, a quem os naturais do Pegú elegeram por seu rei no ano de 1600", published from 1711 to 1829 with "Peregrinaçam" of Fernão Mendes Pinto. The capital was looted by the viceroy of Toungoo, Minye Thihathu II of Toungoo, burned by the viceroy of Arakin during the Burmese–Siamese War.
Anaukpetlun wanted to rebuild Hongsawadi, deserted since Nanda Bayin had abandoned it. He was only able to build a temporary palace, however; the Burmese capital relocated to Ava in 1634. In 1740, the Mon founded the Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom. However, a Bamar king, captured the city in May 1757. Bago was rebuilt by King Bodawpaya, but by the river had shifted course, cutting the city off from the sea, it never regained its previous importance. After the Second Anglo-Burmese War, the British annexed Bago in 1852. In 1862, the province of British Burma was formed, the capital moved to Yangon; the substantial differences between the colloquial and literary pronunciations, as with Burmese words, was a reason of the British corruption "Pegu". In 1911, Hanthawaddy was described as a district in the Bago division of Lower Burma, it lay in the home district of Yangon, from which the town was detached to make a separate district in 1880. It had an area of 3,023 square miles, with a population of 48,411 in 1901, showing an increase of 22% in the past decade.
Hanthawaddy and Hinthada were the two most densely populated districts in the province. Hanthawaddy, as it was constituted in 1911, consisted of a vast plain stretching up from the sea between the mouth of the Irrawaddy River and the Pegu Range. Except the tract of land lying between the Pegu Range on the east and the Yangon River, the country was intersected by numerous tidal creeks, many of which were navigable by large boats and some by steamers; the headquarters of the district was in Rangoon, the sub-divisional headquarters. The second sub-division had its headquarters at Insein. Cultivation was wholly confined to rice, but there were many vegetable and fruit gardens. Today, Hanthawaddy is one of the wards of Bago city. Shwethalyaung Buddha Shwemawdaw Pagoda Kyaikpun Buddha Kanbawzathadi Palace site and museum Kalyani Ordination Hall Mahazedi Pagoda Shwegugyi Pagoda Shwegugale Pagoda Bago Sittaung Canal Grand Royal Stadium Bago General Hospital Bago Traditional Medicine Hospital Bago University Basic Education High School No. 1 Bago Basic Education High School No. 3 Bago Aung-Thwin, Michael A..
The Mists of Rāmañña: The Legend, Lower Burma. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 9780824828868. Aung-Thwin, Michael A.. Myanmar in the Fifteenth Century. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-6783-6. Nyein Maung, ed.. Shay-haung Myanma Kyauksa-mya. 1–5. Yangon: Archaeological Department. Pan Hla, Nai. Razadarit Ayedawbon. Yangon: Armanthit Sarpay. Phayre, Major-General Sir Arthur P.. "The History of Pegu". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Calcutta. 42: 23–57, 120–159. Phayre, Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P.. History of Burma. London: Susil Gupta. Schmidt, P. W.. "Slapat des Ragawan der Königsgeschichte". Die äthiopischen
James Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie
James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie, styled Lord Ramsay until 1838 and known as The Earl of Dalhousie between 1838 and 1849, was a Scottish statesman and colonial administrator in British India. He served as Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856, he is credited with introducing passenger trains in railways, electric telegraph and uniform postage in India which he describes as the "three great engines of social improvement". He founded Public Works Department in India. To his supporters he stands out as the far-sighted Governor-General who consolidated East India Company rule in India, laid the foundations of its administration, by his sound policy enabled his successors to stem the tide of rebellion. To his critics, he stands out as the destroyer of both the East India Company's financial and military position through reckless policies, his critics hold that he laid the foundations of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and led the final transformation of profitable commercial operations in India into a money-losing colonial administration.
His period of rule in India directly preceded the transformation into the Victorian Raj period of Indian administration. He was denounced by many in Britain on the eve of his death as having failed to notice the signs of the brewing Indian Rebellion of 1857, having aggravated the crisis by his overbearing self-confidence, centralizing activity and expansive annexations. James Andrew Broun-Ramsay was the third and youngest son of George Ramsay, 9th Earl of Dalhousie, one of Wellington's generals, after being Governor General of Canada, became Commander-in-Chief in India, of his wife, Christian of Colstoun, Haddingtonshire; the 9th Earl was in 1815 created Baron Dalhousie of Dalhousie Castle in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, had three sons, of whom the two elder died young. James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, his youngest son, was described as small in stature, with a firm chiseled mouth and high forehead. Several years of his early boyhood were spent with his mother in Canada. Returning to Scotland he was prepared for Harrow School, where he entered in 1825.
Two years he and another student, Robert Adair, were expelled after bullying George Rushout, nephew of John Rushout, 2nd Baron Northwick. The two boys dunked Rushout in water for 30 minutes, leaving him ill, he nearly died, thanks to lackluster medical response from the school, whose headmaster claimed his illness was blamed on constipation. His uncle intervened, the two boys were forced to leave school. George Rushout did not return, until 33 years when, having succeeded his uncle as the 3rd Baron Northwick, he became headmaster; until he entered university, Dalhousie's entire education being entrusted to the Rev. Mr Temple, incumbent of a quiet parish in Staffordshire. In October 1829, he passed on to Christ Church, where he worked hard, won some distinction, made many lifelong friends, his studies, were so interrupted by the protracted illness and death in 1832 of his only surviving brother, that Lord Ramsay, as he became, had to content himself with entering for a pass degree, though he was placed in fourth class of honours for Michaelmas 1833.
He travelled in Italy and Switzerland, enriching with copious entries the diary which he religiously kept up through life, storing his mind with valuable observations. An unsuccessful but courageous contest at the general election in 1835 for one of the seats in parliament for Edinburgh, fought against such veterans as the future speaker, James Abercrombie, afterwards Lord Dunfermline, John Campbell, future lord chancellor, was followed in 1837 by Ramsay's return to the House of Commons as member for Haddingtonshire. In the previous year he had married Lady Susan Hay, daughter of the Marquess of Tweeddale, whose companionship was his chief support in India, whose death in 1853 left him a heartbroken man. In 1838 his father had died after a long illness, while less than a year he lost his mother. Succeeding to the peerage, the new earl soon made his mark in a speech delivered on 16 June 1840 in support of Lord Aberdeen's Church of Scotland Benefices Bill, a controversy arising out of the Auchterarder case, in which he had taken part in the General Assembly in opposition to Dr Chalmers.
In May 1843 he became Vice-President of the Board of Trade, Gladstone being President, was sworn in as a privy counsellor. He was given the honorary post of Captain of Deal Castle the same year. Succeeding Gladstone as President of the Board of Trade in 1845, he threw himself into the work during the crisis of the Railway Mania with such energy that his health broke down under the strain. In the struggle over the Corn Laws he ranged himself on the side of Sir Robert Peel, after the failure of Lord John Russell to form a ministry he resumed his post at the board of trade, entering the cabinet on the retirement of Lord Stanley; when Peel resigned office in June 1846, Lord John offered Dalhousie a seat in the cabinet, an offer which he declined from a fear that acceptance might involve the loss of public character. Another attempt to secure his politics; as Governor-General of India and Governor of Bengal on 12 January 1848, shortly afterwards he was honoured with the green ribbon of the Order of the Thistle.
During this period, he was said to be an hard worker working sixteen to eighteen hours a day. The shortest workday Dalhousie would take began at half-past eight and would continue until half-past five, remaining at his desk during lunch. During this period, he sought to expand the reach of the empire and ride long distances on horseback, in spite of having a bad back. In con
Myanmar the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and known as Burma, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west and Laos to its east and China to its north and northeast. To its south, about one third of Myanmar's total perimeter of 5,876 km forms an uninterrupted coastline of 1,930 km along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea; the country's 2014 census counted the population to be 51 million people. As of 2017, the population is about 54 million. Myanmar is 676,578 square kilometres in size, its capital city is Naypyidaw, its largest city and former capital is Yangon. Myanmar has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations since 1997. Early civilisations in Myanmar included the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma. In the 9th century, the Bamar people entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in the 1050s, the Burmese language and Theravada Buddhism became dominant in the country.
The Pagan Kingdom fell. In the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Mainland Southeast Asia; the early 19th century Konbaung dynasty ruled over an area that included modern Myanmar and controlled Manipur and Assam as well. The British took over the administration of Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century and the country became a British colony. Myanmar was granted independence as a democratic nation. Following a coup d'état in 1962, it became a military dictatorship under the Burma Socialist Programme Party. For most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife and its myriad ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world's longest-running ongoing civil wars. During this time, the United Nations and several other organisations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country. In 2011, the military junta was dissolved following a 2010 general election, a nominally civilian government was installed.
This, along with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners, has improved the country's human rights record and foreign relations, has led to the easing of trade and other economic sanctions. There is, continuing criticism of the government's treatment of ethnic minorities, its response to the ethnic insurgency, religious clashes. In the landmark 2015 election, Aung San Suu Kyi's party won a majority in both houses. However, the Burmese military remains a powerful force in politics. Myanmar is a country rich in jade and gems, natural gas and other mineral resources. In 2013, its GDP stood at its GDP at US$221.5 billion. The income gap in Myanmar is among the widest in the world, as a large proportion of the economy is controlled by supporters of the former military government; as of 2016, Myanmar ranks 145 out of 188 countries in human development, according to the Human Development Index. Both the names Myanmar and Burma derive from the earlier Burmese Mranma, an ethnonym for the majority Bamar ethnic group, of uncertain etymology.
The terms are popularly thought to derive from "Brahma Desha" after Brahma. In 1989, the military government changed the English translations of many names dating back to Burma's colonial period or earlier, including that of the country itself: "Burma" became "Myanmar"; the renaming remains a contested issue. Many political and ethnic opposition groups and countries continue to use "Burma" because they do not recognise the legitimacy of the ruling military government or its authority to rename the country. In April 2016, soon after taking office, Aung San Suu Kyi clarified that foreigners are free to use either name, "because there is nothing in the constitution of our country that says that you must use any term in particular"; the country's official full name is the "Republic of the Union of Myanmar". Countries that do not recognise that name use the long form "Union of Burma" instead. In English, the country is popularly known as either "Burma" or "Myanmar". Both these names are derived from the name of the majority Burmese Bamar ethnic group.
Myanmar is considered to be the literary form of the name of the group, while Burma is derived from "Bamar", the colloquial form of the group's name. Depending on the register used, the pronunciation would be Myamah; the name Burma has been in use in English since the 18th century. Burma continues to be used in English by the governments of countries such as the United Kingdom. Official United States policy retains Burma as the country's name, although the State Department's website lists the country as "Burma" and Barack Obama has referred to the country by both names; the government of Canada has in the past used Burma, such as in its 2007 legislation imposing sanctions, but as of the mid-2010s uses Myanmar. The Czech Republic uses Myanmar, although its Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentions both Myanmar and Burma on its website; the United Nations uses Myanmar, as do the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Russia, China, Bangladesh, Norway and Switzerland. Most English-speaking international news media refer to the country by the name Myanmar, including the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation /Ra
History of Rakhine
Rakhine State occupies the northern coastline of Myanmar up to the border with Bangladesh and corresponds to the historical Kingdom of Arakan. The history of Rakhine is divided into 7 parts - the independent kingdoms of Dhanyawadi, Lemro, Mrauk U, Burmese occupation from 1784 to 1826, British rule from 1826 to 1948 and as a part of independent Burma from 1948; the Arakanese kingdom was conquered on 31 December 1784 by the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty. In 1826, Arakan was ceded to the British as war reparation after the First Anglo-Burmese War, it became part of the Province of Burma of British India in 1886, after the annexation of Burma by the British. Arakan became part of the Crown Colony of British Burma, split off from British India in 1937. Northern Rakhine state became a contested battleground throughout the Japanese occupation of Burma. After 1948, Rakhine became part of the newly independent state of Burma. However, the independence of Arakan was just in paper after a few years because Myanmenization or nationalism of Myanmar broke up civil war across nationwide.
In 1973, Arakan became a state of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma, designated as the homeland of the Rakhine people. Sporadic communal strife has plagued Arakan since colonial times, between the majority Arakanese who are Buddhist, Muslim communities, many but not all of whom came into Arakan with British rule; the latest conflagration was in June and October 2012. Arakanese legends claim that the history of the Rakhine people began in 3325 BC, although archaeological evidence supporting this claim is unavailable. "The presently dominant Rakhine are a Tibeto-Burman race, the last group of people to enter Arakan during 10th century and on.” ]. Various Arakanese kingdoms stretched from the Ganges Delta to Cape Negrais on the Irrawaddy Delta. Ancient Dhanyawadi lies west of the mountain ridge between the Le-mro rivers. Dhannyawadi could be reached by small boat from the Kaladan via the Tharechaung, its city walls were made of brick, form an irregular circle with a perimeter of about 9.6 kilometres, enclosing an area of about 4.42 km2.
Beyond the walls, the remains of a wide moat, now silted over and covered by paddy fields, are still visible in places. The remains of brick fortifications can be seen along the hilly ridge which provided protection from the west. Within the city, a similar wall and moat enclose the palace site, which has an area of 26 hectares, another wall surrounds the palace itself. At times of insecurity, when the city was subject to raids from the hill tribes or attempted invasions from neighbouring powers, there would have been an assured food supply enabling the population to withstand a siege; the city would have controlled the valley and the lower ridges, supporting a mixed wet-rice and taungya economy, with local chiefs paying allegiance to the king. From aerial photographs we can discern Dhannyawadi's irrigation channels and storage tanks, centred at the palace site. Throughout the history of Rakhine, indeed the rest of early Southeast Asia, the king's power stemmed from his control of irrigation and water storage systems to conserve the monsoon rains and therefore to maintain the fertility and prosperity of the land.
In ceremonies conducted by Indian Brahmins the king was given the magic power to regulate the celestial and terrestrial forces to control the coming of the rains which would ensure the continuing prosperity of the kingdom. It has been estimated that the centre of power of the Arakanese world shifted from Dhanyawadi to Waithali in the 4th century AD. Although it was established than Dhanyawadi, Waithali is the most Indianized of the four Arakanese kingdoms to emerge. Like other Arakanese kingdoms, the Kingdom of Waithali was based on trade between the East, the West; the Anandachandra Inscriptions that date back to 729 AD from Vesali, indicates adequate evidence for the earliest foundation of Buddhism and the subjects of the Waithali Kingdom practised. Dr. E. H. Johnston's analysis reveals a list of kings which he considered reliable beginning from Chandra dynasty; the western face inscription has 72 lines of text recorded in 51 verses describing the Anandachandra's ancestral rulers. Each face recorded the name and ruling period of each king who were believed to have ruled over the land before Anandachandra.
Important but badly damaged life-size Buddha images were recovered from Letkhat-Taung, a hill east of the old palace compound. These statues are invaluabe in helping to understand the Waithali architecture, the extent of Hindu influence in the kingdom. According to local legend, Shwe-taung-gyi, a hill northeast of the palace compound maybe a burial place of a 10th-century Pyu king; the rulers of the Waithali Kingdom were of the Chandra dynasty, because of their usage of Chandra on the Waithali coins. The Waithali period is seen by many as the beginning of Arakanese coinage -, a millennium earlier than the Burmese. On the reverse of the coins, the Srivatsa, while the obverse bears a bull, the emblem of the Chandra dynasty, under which the name of the King is inscribed in Sanskrit. Le-Mro or Lay Mro in the Rakhine language means "four cities," which refers to the four ancient Rakhine cities that flourished by the side of the Lemyo River. Mrauk U, which means monkey's egg, may seem to be a sleepy village today but not so long ago it was the capital of the Arakan empire where Portuguese and French traders rubbed shoulders with the literati of Bengal and Mughal princes on the run.
Mrauk U was declared capital of t
Manipur is a state in northeastern India, with the city of Imphal as its capital. It is bounded by Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, Assam to the west; the state covers an area of 22,327 square kilometres and has a population of 3 million, including the Meitei, who are the majority group in the state, the Pangals or the Pangans and Naga people, who speak a variety of Sino-Tibetan languages. Manipur has been at the crossroads of Asian economic and cultural exchange for more than 2,500 years, it has long connected the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia, Siberia and Polynesia, enabling migration of people and religions. During the Raj, the Kingdom of Manipur was one of the princely states. Between 1917 and 1939, the people of Manipur pressed for their rights against British rule. By the late 1930s, the princely state of Manipur negotiated with the British administration its preference to be part of India, rather than Burma; these negotiations were cut short with the outbreak of World War II.
On 11 August 1947, Maharaja Budhachandra signed the Instrument of Accession. On 21 September 1949, he signed a Merger Agreement, merging the kingdom into India; this merger has been disputed by groups in Manipur as having been completed without consensus and under duress. The dispute and differing visions for the future has resulted in a 50-year insurgency in the state for independence from India, as well as in repeated episodes of violence among ethnic groups in the state. From 2009 through 2018, the conflict was responsible for the violent deaths of over 1000 people; the Meitei ethnic group represents 53% of the population of Manipur state. The main language of the state is Meitei followed by Thadou language of the Kuki tribe and other various dialects of the Kuki tribes, followed by Naga tribes various dialects. Tribes constituting about 40% of the state population are distinguished by dialects and cultures that are village-based. Manipur's ethnic groups practice a variety of religions. According to 2011 census, Hinduism is the major religion in the state followed by Christianity.
Other religions include Islam, Judaism etc. Manipur has an agrarian economy, with significant hydroelectric power generation potential, it is connected to other areas by daily flights through Imphal airport, the second largest in northeastern India. Manipur is home to many sports and the origin of Manipuri dance, is credited with introducing polo to Europeans. Manipur is mentioned in historic texts as Kangleipak or Meeteileipak Sanamahi Laikan wrote that officials during the reign of Meidingu Pamheiba in the eighteenth century adopted Manipur's new name. According to Sakok Lamlen, the area had different names in its history. During the Hayachak period, it was known as Mayai Koiren poirei namthak saronpung or Tilli Koktong Ahanba. During the Langbachak era, it became Tilli Koktong Leikoiren, was known as Muwapali in the Konnachak epoch. Neighbouring cultures each had differing names for its people; the Shan or Pong called the area Cassay, the Burmese Kathe, the Assamese Meklee. In the first treaty between the British East India Company and Meidingu Chingthangkhomba signed in 1762, the kingdom was recorded as Meckley.
Bhagyachandra and his successors issued coins engraved with "Manipureshwar", or "lord of Manipur", the British discarded the name Meckley. On, the work Dharani Samhita popularised the Sanskrit legends of the origin of Manipur's name; the term Kanglei, meaning "of Manipur/Kangleipak", is used to refer to items associated with the state where the term Manipuri is a recent given name. The history of Manipur Meities is chronicled in Puyas or Puwaris, the Ninghthou Kangbalon, Cheitharol Kumbaba, Ningthourol Lambuba, Poireiton Khunthokpa, Panthoibi Khongkul, etc. in the archaic Meitei script, comparable to the Thai script. The historical accounts presented here were recordings from the eyes and the judgment of the Meitei Kings and Maichous. Hill tribes have their own folk tales and legends. Manipur was known by different names at various periods in its history, such as, Tilli-Koktong, Poirei-Lam, Sanna-Leipak, Mitei-Leipak, Meitrabak or Manipur, its capital was Yumphal or Imphal. Its people were known by various names, such as Mi-tei, Poirei-Mitei, Maitei or Meitei.
The Puwaris, Ninghthou Kangbalon, Ningthourol Lambuba, Cheitharol Kumbaba, Poireiton Khunthokpa, recorded the events of each King who ruled Manipur in a span of more than 3500 years until 1955 AD. Ningthou Kangba is regarded the foremost king of Manipur. There were times when the country was in turmoil without rulers and long historical gaps in between 1129 BC - 44 BC. In 1891 AD, after the defeat of the Meiteis by the British in the Anglo-Manipuri war of Khongjom, the sovereignty of Manipur which it had maintained for more than three millenniums, was lost. In 1926,it became a part of Pakokku Hill Tracts Districts of British Burma until 1947,January 4, it regained its freedom on 14th August 1947 AD. On 15 October 1949, Manipur was unified with India. By the medieval period, marriage alliances between royal families of the Manipur kingdom and Burma had become common. Medieval era Manipur manuscripts discovered in the 20th century the Puya, provide evidence that Hindus from the Indian subcontinent were married to Manipur royalty at least by the 14th century.
In centuries thereafter, roya
2011–2015 Myanmar political reforms
The 2011–2015 Myanmar political reforms were a series of political and administrative reforms in Myanmar undertaken by the military-backed government. These reforms include the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and subsequent dialogues with her, establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, general amnesties of more than 200 political prisoners, institution of new labour laws that allow labour unions and strikes, relaxation of press censorship, regulations of currency practices; as a consequence of the reforms, ASEAN has approved Myanmar's bid for the chairmanship in 2014. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Myanmar on 1 December 2011, to encourage further progress. United States President Barack Obama visited one year becoming the first US president to visit the country. Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, participated in by-elections held on 1 April 2012 after the government abolished laws that led to the NLD's boycott of the 2010 general election.
She led the NLD in winning the by-elections in a landslide, winning 41 out of 44 of the contested seats, with Aung San Suu Kyi herself winning a seat representing Kawhmu Constituency in the lower house of the Myanmar Parliament. However, uncertainties exist as some other political prisoners have not been released and clashes between Myanmar troops and local insurgent groups continue. Burma was under military rule from 1962 to 2010. In 2008, the ruling Junta, State Peace and Development Council, announced the new constitution as a part of roadmap to democracy; the constitution, which reserves 25% of the Hluttaw legislature's seats for military, is seen by the opposition as a tool for continuing military control of the country. A constitution referendum was held in 2008 amid Cyclone Nargis. Observers criticised the referendum for electoral fraud and advance voting. On 15 May 2008, the junta announced that the constitution had been approved by 92.4% of voters, claiming a 99% turnout in the two-thirds of the region that had held the vote.
An election was held in 2010. The military backed Union Development Party declared victory; the United Nations and Western countries expressed concerns about the conduct of the elections. The government has embarked reforms toward liberal democracy, mixed economy, reconciliation, although the motives of such reforms are still debated. In March 2012, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw passed a law that will increase the wages of all public sector employees, including soldiers, an additional cost-of-living allowance of 30,000 kyat, along with a daily wage increase of 1,100 to 2,100 kyat for full-time employees, purportedly to tackle corruption in the government; the law will be effective 1 April 2012, when the Burmese by-elections, 2012 take place. On 12 March 2012, The Voice, a weekly news journal published an article that highlighted 6 ministries: the Ministry of Information, Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Ministry of Industry 1 and Ministry of Industry 2, as misusing funds and misstating finances, based on internal parliamentary audit reports.
Two days the Ministry of Mines announced that it would file a lawsuit against the journal. The pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest on 13 November 2010. After her release, she held a series of dialogues with Minister Aung Kyi. Although the discussions were not publicised, the state media reported that "the two sides have agreed to set aside the differences and work together in matters of common interests that will benefit the country and the people" Aung San Suu Kyi's ability to travel throughout the country is seen as an improvement compared to her trips in 2003 which met with a government sponsored massacre. Aung San Suu Kyi's party, National League for Democracy boycotted the 2010 election; the election law enacted by the SPDC did not allow ex-prisoners to become members of registered political parties. If NLD decided to register, it would have to expel its members, but in November, the government erased the clause in a parliamentary section. After the amendments, NLD leaders have unanimously decided to register for the by-election.
The government has relaxed press and internet censorship laws, for example allowing photographs of Aung San Suu Kyi to be published on the front page of local newspapers. Tint Swe, the head of the country's censorship authority, the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, said that censorship is incompatible with democratic practices and should be abolished. A presidential adviser has indicated that press censorship will be abolished in 2012 under new media legislation. In September 2011, several banned websites including YouTube, Democratic Voice of Burma and Voice of America have been unblocked. In January 2012, the Ministry of Information announced that it had forwarded a draft of a new media and press law to the Attorney General's Office for review; the draft law, which will need to be approved by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, borrows some language from similar laws in Cambodia and Vietnam. The draft law, adapted from the 1962 Printers and Publishers Registration Law, will not be submitted during the second parliamentary session.
In March 2012, Minister of Information, Kyaw Hsan, said that the country was undergoing a 3-step process in reforming the media regulation: relaxation of regulations to allow individual publications to exercise self-censorship and accountability, promulgation of a new print media law, regulation of print media through the new print media law. On a similar note, Yi Htut, the Information