Land grabbing as big business in Myanmar | Land Portal

Resource information

Date of publication: 
March 2013
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 
OBL:61578

Inadequate land laws have opened rural Myanmar to rampant land grabbing by unscrupulous, well-connected businessmen who anticipate a boom in agricultural and property investment. If unchecked, the gathering trend has the potential to undermine the country's broad reform process and impede long-term economic progress.

Under the former military regime, land grabbing became a common and largely uncontested practice. Government bodies, particularly military units, were able to seize large tracts of farmland, usually without compensation. While some of the land
Land grabbing as big business in Myanmar
By Brian McCartan

Inadequate land laws have opened rural Myanmar to rampant land grabbing by unscrupulous, well-connected businessmen who anticipate a boom in agricultural and property investment. If unchecked, the gathering trend has the potential to undermine the country's broad reform process and impede long-term economic progress.

Under the former military regime, land grabbing became a common and largely uncontested practice. Government bodies, particularly military units, were able to seize large tracts of farmland, usually without compensation. While some of the land

was used for the expansion of military bases, new government offices or infrastructure projects, much of it was used either by military units for their own commercial purposes or sold to private companies.

The threat of military force meant there was little grass roots opposition to these land seizures and few avenues to secure adequate compensation. That's changed under the new democratic order as local communities band together to fight back against seizure of their lands. Many of the current land disputes date to the period before the 2010 general elections that ushered in President Thein Sein's reformist quasi-civilian government...Two new land laws passed on March 30, 2012 - the Farmland Law and the Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Land Management Law - were intended to clarify ownership under the constitution and provide protections to land owners. While the laws guaranteed more individual ownership rights, to date big businesses have profited most from the legislation.

The new laws created a dysfunctional and opaque system of land registration and administration that reinforced a top-down decision-making process without local participation. The absence of adequate legal and judicial recourse for the protection of land rights has further exacerbated the situation. Rather than deter land rights violations, the laws have effectively facilitated more land grabbing and manipulation of the system...

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Brian McCartan

Publisher(s): 

Asia Times is a Hong Kong-based English-language news website covering politics, economics, business and culture "from an Asian perspective". It is now known as "Asia Times" or "AT", and has dropped the "Online" part of its name. The website is a direct descendant of the Bangkok-based print newspaper that was launched in 1995 and closed in mid-1997.

Asia Times Online was created early in 1999 as a successor in "publication policy and editorial outlook" to the print newspaper Asia Times.

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