Southeast Asia Bureau Chief
Jason's Feed
Jan 29, 2012

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi calls for changes to constitution

DAWEI, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi called on Sunday for changes to the military-drafted constitution in her first political trip since ending a boycott of the country’s political system last year and announcing plans to run for parliament.

Thousands of people lined the roads shouting “Long live mother Suu” as her motorcade moved through the rural coastal region of Dawei about 615 km (380 miles) south of her home city,

Jan 27, 2012

Exclusive – Myanmar has no plans to export new gas finds

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar will keep natural gas from new projects beyond 2013 for domestic consumption, a shift of policy aimed at powering its development, the country’s energy minister said on Friday.

Myanmar has opened up to the outside world with astonishing speed since a civilian government took office last March after five decades of army rule. The prospect of the end of Western sanctions has prompted a surge of interest from investors.

Jan 26, 2012

In Myanmar, a “sham” parliament stirs to life

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (Reuters) – In Myanmar’s sprawling parliamentary complex, lawmakers flexed their newly democratic muscles on Thursday. Some drafted anti-graft legislation for one of the world’s most corrupt nations or clamored for transparency on a typically secret national budget.

Others wanted answers from the government: why are train lines across the country woefully inefficient? Will the government move faster to revamp clearer foreign-exchange rate laws and hold companies to task for shabby infrastructure on state contracts?

Nov 20, 2011

Emboldened by Obama, Myanmar maps out

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) – Myanmar vowed on Saturday to address concerns raised by President Barack Obama, outlining far-reaching plans to make peace with ethnic rebels, gradually release all political prisoners and relax controls on freedom of expression.

But its government, fearing an Arab Spring-style revolution if it moves too quickly, stressed reforms must be gradual after nearly a half century of isolation and authoritarian rule that ended when the army handed power in March to a civilian parliament stacked with former generals.

Nov 19, 2011

Emboldened by Obama, Myanmar maps out reforms

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) – Myanmar’s government vowed on Saturday to address concerns raised by President Barack Obama, outlining far-reaching plans to make peace with ethnic rebels, gradually release more political prisoners and relax controls on freedom of expression.

But its government also expressed caution, stressing that reforms must be gradual to ensure a stable transition to democracy after nearly a half century of isolation and iron-fisted rule that ended when the army handed power in March to a civilian parliament stacked with former generals.

Nov 17, 2011

ASEAN gambles on Myanmar’s regional leadership

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) – Southeast Asian nations endorsed Myanmar on Thursday for the chairmanship of its regional grouping in 2014, gambling that the isolated country can stick to reforms begun this year that could lead it out of half a century of isolation.

But U.S. President Barack Obama cautioned that Myanmar, also known as Burma, must still demonstrate improvements in human rights in his first remarks since the authoritarian regime freed hundreds of political prisoners in October and vowed more reforms in the weeks ahead.

Nov 15, 2011

Reclusive Myanmar on course to host regional bloc

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (Reuters) – Myanmar is on course to chair Southeast Asia’s regional bloc, Indonesia’s foreign minister said on Tuesday after a regional meeting discussed the former Burma’s reclusive, army-backed government and its tentative reforms.

The comments by Marty Natalegawa, whose country holds the rotating chairmanship of the 10-member ASEAN bloc, suggest Myanmar could chair the organisation in 2014, a step that would give one of Asia’s most isolated and authoritarian states long-coveted international recognition.

Nov 11, 2011

Bank of Thailand gov hints at rate cut due to flood

BANGKOK (Reuters) – The chief of the central bank of Thailand said on Friday he saw room to be flexible with interest rates as businesses suffer during the worst floods in half a century, the strongest suggestion yet Thailand may loosen monetary policy.

Slowing growth was a bigger risk than inflation in Thailand, Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy, Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said, although he added that any short-term stimulus should be temporary.

Oct 31, 2011

Myanmar reforms “irreversible”, says Indonesia

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Myanmar’s political reforms look “irreversible” and put the country on course to chair Southeast Asia’s regional bloc, Indonesia’s foreign minister said on Sunday after meeting with leaders of the reclusive, army-backed government.

The comments by Marty Natalegawa, whose country holds the rotating chairmanship of the 10-member ASEAN bloc, are among the strongest yet suggesting Myanmar could chair the organisation in 2014, a step that would give long-coveted international recognition to one of Asia’s most isolated states.

Oct 29, 2011

Thai PM says Bangkok may dodge flood disaster

BANGKOK, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Receding floodwaters north of
Bangkok have reduced the threat to the Thai capital, the prime
minister said on Saturday, but high tides in the Gulf of
Thailand will still test the city’s flood defences.

“If things go on like this, we expect floodwater in Bangkok
to recede within the first week of November,” Prime Minister
Yingluck Shinawatra said on national television.

    • About Jason

      "As Southeast Asia Bureau Chief, Jason Szep manages text, pictures and television news operations across 10 countries for Reuters. He has been a Reuters correspondent, bureau chief and editor since 1990 and won the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi award in 2007. He is a Boston native and has had postings with Reuters in Toronto, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Boston and Bangkok. His assignments have ranged from Kabul and Islamabad to the U.S. presidential campaign trail during the 2008 election."
    • Follow Jason