telecom reform

The significance of opinion leaders and influentials seeing how life is in other countries is under-appreciated. Around 2000, because of my expertise, I started representing Myanmar at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on technological matters. As I traveled, I saw that neighboring countries were surpassing us. Once, in Cambodia, when I spotted a taxi driver with a cell phone, I thought, “A taxi driver isn’t supposed to have that!” I was also one of the first people in Myanmar to get the internet, and I realized that with just a few clicks, a kid from here could have the same access as one in Silicon Valley.
The much anticipated Myanmar Telecommunications Law (Law 13 of 2013) was approved by both houses of the Myanmar Legislature and was given Presidential assent. Our analysis of the law is not yet complete, but here are some first thoughts: There is considerable and unnecessary overlap of powers and functions between the Ministry and Department. Positioning the Ministry as the authority to appeal departmental decisions may make it the de facto regulator. This goes beyond the usual concern about the Ministry also having responsibility for the incumbent operator MPT. The explicit authority given to the Ministry to clarify technical terms in the law appears to position it as a supra regulator even after the promised creation of the independent regulatory authority.