Students in Myanmar have threatened to protest nationwide if the Burmese government does not amend an education law that prohibits students from engaging in political activities and curbs academic freedom.
After four consecutive days of defying threats of arrest by rallying in the crumbling former capital, Yangon, the students gave the government 60 days to meet their demands, said Phyo Phyo Aung, general secretary of the All Burma Federation of Students Union.
Pumping fists in the air and waving banners emblazoned with a fighting peacock, a symbol of resistance, protesters wound through Yangon’s streets.
Myanmar has been grappling with political reforms since 2011, when the nation’s longtime military rulers handed power to a nominally civilian government headed by Burmese President Thein Sein, himself an ex-general.
However, experts say the education system still harkens back to the days of authoritarian rule, when what was taught in classrooms was tightly controlled by the state and all political activities were forbidden.
In response to the protests, Myanmar’s Ministry of Education issued a statement in state-run newspapers yesterday saying that the law guarantees academic freedom and that demands made by the students — including the formation of student unions — can be included in bylaws.
An education law passed by parliament in September puts all decisions about policy and curriculum in the hands of a body made up largely of government ministers. It prohibited students from forming unions and ignored calls for local languages to be used in instruction in ethnic states.
Aung said the government ignored the opinions of students, teachers and independent academics when drafting the legislation.
“It is unreasonable that a body comprising government ministers will take charge of education policies, plans and curriculum,” Aung said.
Myanmar’s education system was once considered among the best in Asia, but military rulers shut universities and tightened control over learning during successive regimes because they considered educational institutions hotbeds of discontent.
The threat to expand protests nationwide is sensitive in Myanmar, in part because students were at the forefront of pro-democracy protests in 1988 that were brutally crushed by the military.
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
PLAYING THE VICTIM? A Chinese spokesman sent a statement to Australian media saying that Beijing had ‘irrefutable’ evidence of Canberra’s widescale espionage Australia yesterday unveiled the “largest-ever” boost in cybersecurity spending, days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke out about a wave of state-sponsored attacks suspected to have been carried out by China. Morrison and government officials said the country would spend an additional A$1.35 billion (US$928 million) on cybersecurity, about a 10 percent hike, taking the budget for the next decade to A$15 billion. The largest chunk of the new money would help create 500 jobs within the Australian Signals Directorate, the government’s communications intelligence agency. Morrison on June 19 said that a “state-based actor” was targeting a host of