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Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. A National level Rugby player and  a regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids. Jeet can be contacted at [email protected]

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Oppression of expression in Myanmar continues’

IT News

Guwahati, Sept 5

The right to freedom of expression in Myanmar has been declining during the term of present regime, which was otherwise unexpected as Nobel laureate  Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is leading the Union government in NayPieTaw.

Progressive Voice, participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization based in Mae Sot of Thailand alleged in its latest weekly highlights (26 August to 1 September 2019) that in respect of criticisms against the government and security forces of the country, the new quasi-democratic regime has shown intolerances.

“Over the past few days a prominent filmmaker and human rights activist Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was sentenced to one year in prison for criticizing the Myanmar military in his facebook posts. Meanwhile in Kachin State, a military commander has filed a lawsuit against a Kachin ethnic (Baptist) leader for his comments made to the USA President about persecution of Christians by the military,” said the organization.

Similarly, the NLD government in Karenni State has charged six Karenni youths for calling the Karenni State chief minister a traitor over his attempt to place General Aung San’s statue in its capital Loikaw against the people’s will as they believe it ‘a symbol of the dominant role of Bamar majority, neglecting the leaders and history of Karenni people, added the weekly highlights.

Even though the Myanmar military is known for its decades-long oppression against the civilians and violations of the human rights of Myanmar people, especially ethnic and religious minorities, it was expected to get changed once the NLD government took charge after 2015 elections with the promise of democratic transitions.

“Though the first term of NLD government is slowly coming to an end, improved protection of the right to freedom of expression, alongside the right to freedom of assembly is yet to be seen. On the contrary, the military and government have increasingly become intolerant of any

criticism against them”, asserted Progressive Voice.

Mentionable is that Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi has been charged under 505(a) of the Penal Code for his facebook posts criticizing the military which could have been avoided ‘if Myanmar protects the people’s right to freedom of expression’.

Moreover, he is suffering from liver cancer and according to his lawyer Robert San Aung, he continues it be deprived of proper treatments during the detention period. Despite his concerning health condition, the court on 28 August sentenced him to one year in prison

with hard labor.  Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi did not bow down and commented that ‘the military should leave politics and that the 2008 Constitution should be amended’.

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Education(S) dept introduces ‘No School Bag Day’ for all students reading in class I to VIII

IT News

Imphal, Sept 4

The Department of Education (Schools) Government of Manipur has introduced ‘No School Bag’ day for students reading in Class I to VIII. An Office memorandum regarding the matter has been issued by the State Education (S) Department.

As per the office memorandum students reading in Class 1 to VIII in all Government and private school will carry no school bag on every working Saturday.

The decision has been taken up in view of the long term physical and mental effects of carrying heavy School Bags every day by the young students reading in Classes 1 to 8 causing lots of inconveniences, health problems and discomfort to them.

The office memorandum signed by T. Ranjit Singh Commissioner, Education (S) Department said that the students in the categories of Classes 1 to 8 are found to be always engaged with the routine works related to school curriculum/syllabi, additional home work assignments thereby finding hard to find any quality time for life skill activities including games and sports, extra co-curricular activities, etc which can help in their holistic personality development and growth.

“The Department of Education (Schools) is of the considered view the focus as on date will be more on the areas for providing a holistic development of the students by making Schools a joyful place for learning and considering the above circumstances and with an objective to reduce the excessive stress created amongst the students on the one hand and also to make schools a more conductive and joyful place, the Government have decided to declare every working Saturday as “NO SCHOOL BAG DAY”.

“The “No School Bag Day” shall be enforced in all categories of Schools including the Governmnet, Government Aided and Unaided/Private Schools for students in Classes 1 to 8. On all working Saturday, the students shall not carry any school bag and Schools shall ensure taking skill activities including extra co-curricular activities , games and sports, recreational activities, etc and make schools a more joy place of learning”, the office memorandum added.

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Mockery of the legislation

Without exceptions or let-up across parties that has ruled the country since independence, a continually disappointing and very prominent feature that has been the bane of progress of this country is that legislations framed by successive governments to protect the rights of the common people are often a mockery as the authorities entrusted with their proper implementation has never bothered to put the required efforts to ensure the same, let alone the thought of following up and improving upon them. There had been countless instances where government authorities turned a deaf ear to the cries for justice and relief as per the innumerable provisions provided in the legislations passed by the governments for the protection and safeguarding of the rights of the common people. Almost every single legislations framed by the government ultimately ends up as a convenient tool to protect and further the interest of the rich and influential people as the system is, in practice, no different to a monarchy where those in power and position treat laws and legislations as their weapon of choice for personal and political advantage.
However, with the advancements in information technology, the people today have access to information about the muzzling of the Manipur Private Schools (Registration) Bill, 2017 which got the assent from the governor due to pressure from a highly influential Private School body. In this regard the ruling government till today has not given a clear picture or explanation as to why the legislation passed by the state Legislative Assembly has not been implemented. Notably, the Manipur Private Schools (Registration) Bill, 2017 and the Manipur Coaching Institute (Control and Regulation) Bill, 2017, were passed unanimously in order to streamline the education system and to have proper control over the mushrooming of business oriented private schools and coaching centres. The speculation of the public about the pressure given by the private educational body and the probable nexus between the Education Minister and the body is assumable.
It is not only the Private School regulation and registration Act, but the Manipur Conservation of Paddy land and Wetland Act 2014 that was passed to conserve the paddy land and wetland and to restrict the conversion or reclamation thereof in order to promote growth in the agricultural sector in the state of Manipur that has been violated by the same private educational institution  in blatant disregard of a standing order of the concern SDO issued to the pattadar to stop any construction activity on the agricultural land and restore the land to its original position immediately more than a year back.
Such flagrant violations of government legislation by wealthy and influential persons are nothing new or extraordinary- and therein lies the real concern of the common people. The evident impotency of the state government to enforce its own rules despite overwhelming evidences of violations is a clear indication of a compromised authority and corrupt system. Ironically, the present government is crying hoarse about its intention of uprooting corruption by marshalling support and evidence from the general public, while such a high-profile and clear-cut case has been deliberately overlooked. It is also a given that lawsuits are also being used by the wealthy to defer judgments or buy time to make ignoble arrangements, and the same may very well be taken up by the violator/s to wear out any protests or prohibitions.
If the state government is sincere in its intent to bring about development and efficiency in its administration and governance, it need to dispense such high profile and clear-cut cases swiftly and in a manner that will send out an unmistakable signal of its intolerance for violators of laws and legislations. After all, action speaks louder than words, and for long the people have been looking out for any signs of decisive actions. Hope the wait should not continue else the rot in the trust and belief that was once bestowed by the public might very well erode beyond repair.

Myopic leaders and misplaced priorities

Now that the people of the state is unmistakably clear as to where the priority of the elected representatives lies, it is time to come together and draw up an alternative course of action- one which does not involve inconveniencing the common people only. For how would one explain away the inexplicable silence of these representatives of the people on matters which are threatening to push back the state to those turbulent and uncertain times which we unwittingly believed we moved past? Is the security or rather gain of position and power more important the life of a young child who died under suspicious and still-mysterious circumstances? Or the looming scarcity of food grains due to the drought like situation presently haunting the farmers mean little for those who have the resources to pile up on essential commodities without the slightest consideration for those who are depending on their proper discharge of duties and responsibilities to those who put them in the very position of authority and affluence?
In a country ruled by a party which has the temerity to spend thousands of crores on advertisements and image-creation rather than actual implementation of welfare projects and development schemes which are the need of the hour, it is little wonder that many of these leaders have been unduly influenced to overhype themselves and their personal opinions to the point that the observations and suggestions of subject experts and resourceful individuals have been summarily discarded. Perhaps the new political mantra dictated is ‘Self before service’.
The inability of the state investigating agency to present any development in the case of the suspicious and mysterious death of a girl child inside a private hostel has brought the state to a grinding halt once again, and the frustration of the public on the issue is unlikely to subside anytime. The silence of the leaders and the apparent attempt to wash their hands off the matter by announcing a decision to hand over the case to the central investigating bureau (CBI) does not sit well with the public either, for the very fact that each and every crime occurring in the state cannot be handed over to the central investigating agencies, and nor is it plausible.
The icing on the cake of woes for the people of the state is perhaps the news of a group of dissident elected representatives preparing to approach the masters at the centre to push forward the demand for change of leadership in the state. It stands to reason that their trust in the present leadership is gone, but the pertinent questions that need to be answered for the public are: has a more versatile and promising candidate emerged from their ranks? Are the supporters joining in the fray for the development of the state or for their personal gains? Other than personal differences, what major leadership flaws have the present CM exhibited to warrant the demand for change of leadership? Is the demand for change in any way related to the present social situation and unrest in the state?
The people of the state have been taken for a ride too often and for too long. Wasting precious time and opportunities by those who won the confidence and trust of the people will only result in outbursts of frustrations and anger. It is time to learn our lessons and change our mindsets before taking up hasty steps based on our emotions and instincts. We need to stop turning against each other to voice our concerns. We need to come together and demand answers from those who sold us dreams. Lest we forget, the real power flows from the people, and the people should have the right and the liberty to withdraw the same from any and everyone not worthy of our trust and support.