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Retired Military Officers as Legislators in Post-Junta Myanmar

Sun, April 3, 10:45am to 12:45pm, Washington State Convention Center, Floor: 2nd Floor, Room 205

Abstract

Retired senior military officers continue to wield significant influence in Myanmar’s public affairs. The country’s bureaucracy and state institutions have long been riddled with ex-officers of the Burmese armed forces (or Tatmadaw). The first post-SPDC legislature (2010-2015) has, unlike the new central government, not been entirely dominated by Tatmadaw retirees, as often perceived. Retired officers formed only a minority in the Union parliament elected in 2010. Less than 12 per cent of the elected representatives had indeed a military background, this paper will show. These ex-army, navy and air force officers have however been able to capture disproportionate control over most positions of legislative authority in the house that convened between 2010 and 2015, such as the speakerships, the chairmanships and secretariats of key parliamentary committees as well as ad hoc legislative commissions. The study identifies these military retirees and examines their sociological profiles and career background in the Tatmadaw. It then investigates their political and legislative behaviour in Myanmar’s first “post-junta” legislature (2010-2015), evaluates their cohesion and policy influence, and explores the interactions they have developed with other parliamentarians, including the military-appointed legislative representatives. Comparison will also be made with the second post-SPDC legislature elected in November 2015. Drawing on personal interviews with military retirees carried out in Naypyitaw between 2011 and 2015, the research hopes to make a fresh empirical contribution to our understanding of Myanmar’s “post-junta” legislative politics and the continuing influence of retired Burmese military officers in Myanmar’s political affairs.

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