How Legislators Frame Contentious Megaprojects : Insights from Parliamentary Debates on Letpadaung Mines and Myitsone Dam in Myanmar

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationAsian Studies Review
Online published19 Jun 2023
Publication statusOnline published - 19 Jun 2023

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Abstract

Little is known about how legislative actors engage with social movements in framing contests over conflictual policy issues. This article investigates the case of Myanmar and enquires into how such framing activity can play out in a resurgent legislature. It focuses on two megaprojects that generated intense public debate during the country’s decade of liberalisation (2011–2021): the Letpadaung mines and the Myitsone dam. It builds on the analysis of the Union legislature’s plenary records across two legislatures to uncover how legislators contextualised and framed such large-scale infrastructure projects and the social conflicts they have caused. The findings reveal that legislators sought to position themselves as informed policy actors, eager to highlight the misconduct of past regimes, while deploying three major frames involving good governance, environmental damage, and injustice related to land expropriation. Yet legislators addressing such megaprojects largely avoided emotionally loaded narratives and nationalistic tropes that other social actors in Myanmar typically mobilised. The findings make a threefold contribution: they enhance our theoretical understanding of how public officials engage in competitive framing processes, advance knowledge of how issue framing was deployed in policymaking during Myanmar’s decade of democratisation, and provide evidence of how its political elites construed controversial megaprojects.

© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

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