Current Issues in MyanmarTopics in Myanmar
Myanmar's three problems hindering the crossing of the border
Myanmar has come a long way towards reforms more than a year since Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy came to office after a runaway elections and six years after the beginning of the transitional period. Last year alone, the number of Myanmar's web surfers rose by 10 million.
NLD's attempts to overhaul the public sector (a huge, obsolete and militaristic apparatus) are a clear signal of the government's intention. Overall, this has generally changed under the present administration, as it did under the former administration of Thein Sein. Rising hopes of the Myanmar post-war prosperity are now disappointed.
There is still enormous scope for further economic expansion, but the country's administration is not in a position to implement the necessary reform measures, such as liberalising the markets and openly funding the countryside as well. Consequently, intergovernmental GNP output has fallen continuously from 8.4% in 2013 to 6.4% in 2016.
She has fueled the dispute by making funds available to several ethnically based armoured groups (EAGs) to pursue their struggle against the regime while at the same time empowering the militias. The situation is continuing, despite a 2015 reporting revealing the $31 billion robbery of Java, the great bulk of which was illegal exports to China.
Illegal economic growth is continuing to undermine the constitutional state, discouraging FDI and hindering attempts at achieving a peaceful settlement. There was a token leap forward in Myanmar's peacemaking in May, when truce signers and an association of northeastern, unsignatory EAHs took part in the opening speech of the Myanmar peacemaking ceremony.
That was significant because in April the United Wa State Party (UWSP) and seven ethnically militarised groups (most along the Chinese border) made a declaration of rejection of the countrywide cease-fire treaty. That Northern Alliance has opposed the present pacification procedure. She wants the trial to begin again from the beginning, with China as the negotiating force for freedom.
That would be catastrophic - for all the start-up difficulties, the EAOs are better off within the present procedure than outside. Should the trial fail, it is likely that the national cease-fire agreement would be replaced by a series of bi-lateral cease-fire accords. That would be a bad and less lasting result for those who would probably be cementing a division and domination militarist camp and a beggar-neighbour mentality in the EAG-negotiation.
Myanmar's UWSP-led coalition is represented by the fact that China is shaping the Myanmar peacemaking world. Peking went so far as to bring the pact with a China aircraft to Naypyidaw for the opening speech (although the groups did not take part in serious discussions and exited the meeting prematurely). Meanwhile, other parties (the EU, Australia and the US) are becoming more and more at variance with Suu Kyi's government's reluctance to let UN agents into the restless Rakhine state.
Beijing benefits from this and does little to alleviate the state of Rakhine. Thaung Tun, the new National Security Advisor, said in June, "Myanmar has always worked with China and we are now working as one. The Interpreter, as I reported last months, the Duterte government's failed to allow moderate in the Philippines was a catalyser for the advancement of Islamic state-sponsored militants in Marawi.
Myanmar is quickly caught in the same pitfall, as has been said here and there. Failure by Naypyidaw to empower the Rakhine moderate has led to an emerging but so far feeble uprising. This is a matter of urgency. Over the past few years, both the public and the UN have worked intensively with the Rohingya state.
Ignoring the fact that the NLD regime has restricted controls in the state of Rakhine, most comments do not. Instead, Rakhine is largely the preserve of the army and departments under their command. Today's state of affairs illustrates the seriousness of the difficulty in the distribution of powers between the NLD and the army.
Regardless of how well the NLD has been reasoned, it must take the lead in solving the problem. Although the NLD is not error-free, it can still act as a more impartial player - as the recent negotiation with the UWSP-led coalition has shown. A clumsy treatment of the Rakhine disaster by the UN resulted in a split and malfunctioning reaction, as acknowledged in a leaky UN memorandum.
It has for years played off the United Nations human rights and aid organisations against each other and has only helped to exacerbate the division in the Rakhine towns. At the same time as the important work of the UN organisations throughout the whole countryside has been weakened, it has become difficult to engage in dialogues to solve the problem. Myanmar's announcement that the Myanmar Provincial Committee has been shaken is a welcome shift that could disrupt UN cooperation with Myanmar.
This could result in better cooperation with the administration, a more intelligent local reaction to the crises and, in the long run, a permanent solution in the state of Rakhine (call me an optimist). Most of these events took place in the state of Rakhine, but the Yangon and Mandalay areas also contributed.
Myanmar's passage is still in its infancy. However, all this is in vain if the administration is not able to tackle this triangle of difficulties that undermines the gains already made.