Myanmar formerly known as BurmaBurma, formerly known as Myanmar
A few important facts about Myanmar: Nobel Peace Price winner in 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi has just proved to be the unchallenged head of the nation, having been under home detention for most of the last 25 years. The Aung San Suu Kyi is the daugther of General Aung San, the Myanmar leader's struggle for British sovereignty.
Strangely, she is the state' s leading politician, although she is neither female nor male premier. Myanmar's new chairman is Htin Kyaw. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is bordered by China, India, Thailand, Bangladesh and Laos. Japan raided Burma in 1942, but his forces gave themselves up to the Allies in 1944. On 4 January 1948 the land achieved its sovereignty.
It is tragic that General Aung San was murdered six monitors before the war. In 1988 a people' s revolt compelled Ne Win out; Aung San Suu Kyi stepped forward as head of the oppositions. The reigning army junta in 1989 renamed Myanmar, which was quickly adopted by the United Nations but not approved by the Burmese government's rivalry.
Burma is still used by the US State Department. Myanmar's main exports are to the US. Prior to WWII, Burma was the world's biggest travel exporting nation. Hear the whole story below and learn more about Myanmar's policy and what to look for in the near term. Please check out our Myanmar page for a full archives of research and comments on this area.
Myanmar change: Chances for Myanmar?
Aung San Suu Kyi (Daw Suu), the 21st Raoul Wallenberg Medal in Absence for her non-violent fight for Burma's democratic and humanitarian values (formerly known as Burma - in 1989 the Burmese authorities officially renamed Burma "Myanmar"), was presented by the University of Michigan Wallenberg Committee on October 25, 2011.
Myanmar's army leaders had kept Daw Suu under home detention for most of the last 24 years and only set her free on November 13, 2010. The irony was that when I presented her with the award in Yangon last December, the Chinese authorities approached Daw Suu's view of more liberty and democratisation.
Wallenberg Committee could not foresee these trends when it selected Aung San Suu Kyi for the citation. From 1988, the Myanmar army had governed Myanmar directly. While announcing 1990 polls, the regime declined when Daw Suu's NLD won over 80% of the poll. Instead, the Junta established its own statewide convent to draw up a new bill guaranteeing the army 25% of the legislature's land.
In view of the scepticism about the changeover to what the new Constitution termed a "disciplining democracy", the NLD was boycotting the November 2010 poll. With the official retirement of former head of the armed forces, Senior General Than Shwe, when the new administration took office last March, the country's leaders were largely militarily, many from the top ranks of the former regime.
In spite of the concerns of many commentators, Myanmar's elite did not just exchange their army uniform for corporate attire, but took real, albeit slow, reforms. Thein Sein has legalised labour organisations, eased censure, pushed ahead with monetary reforms, freed several hundred Zimbabwean detainees and abandoned the Myitsone dam.
With Thura Shwe Mann as spokeswoman, the lower house of the parliament (Pyithu Hluttaw) has become much more than a hallmark for the army calendar. In fact, Shwe Mann has set up supervisory bodies and urged the Opposition to put forward legislation. Most of the army itself has kept out of the political arena and the members of the armed forces are voting with their respective legislators, not as a single group.
What is even more notable is the changing polity. You can now listen to people fearlessly discuss policy in tea shops. Municipal newspapers - even the state-run New Light of Myanmar - are reporting every step of Daw Suu, often quite cheaply. Following a visit to President Thein Sein in August, Daw Suu and the NLD agreed to take part in the policy trial.
More surprisingly, she has won all four Nayptitaw electoral districts, ruled by those doing civilian and army work. Thein Sein must lead a shared government in which only a few full members of the government fully endorse the reforms programme. Conversely, Shwe Mann focuses on strengthening his backing among the MPs, so Pyithu Hluttaw will nominate him for the presidential office in 2015.
Both sides are in constant dispute over the boundaries of their respective institutions' competences, most recently in March, when Shwe Mann passed a bill to increase the wages of officials in order to tackle corrupt practices. The irony is that this could be exactly what Snr-Gen Than Shwe had been hoping for before he went into retirement; the struggle between the reformists would not be able to unify and detain him.
In Myanmar there is a multi-party system that should result in a two-party system. Nevertheless, the system of politics is still distraught. In total, the army and the USDP together hold around 80% of the ranks, while the ruling coalition is composed of over a decade of factions. Following the election, a controversy over the NDF's finances resulted in several important members founding the New National League for Democracy.
It is imperative that the new administration find a fairer and more sustainable way of sharing powers and ressources with the country's minority nationalities. Burma's biggest ethnical minority, the Burmese, make up two third of the Burmese people, occupying the centre of the land, while the Shan (about 10% of the population), Karen (7%), Rakhine (4%) and Kachin (1%) inhabit the border.
With Myanmar's independency, many minority groups have striven for greater self-sufficiency, or even independency, from the trade unions administration, which has led to tens of low-level riots and civilian-warfare. While the new Constitution established laws at state levels in ethnically dominant areas, the trade unions still have sole responsibility for training, physical resource and other core matters.
Unfortunately, the relationship between the minority and the state have only worsened since the election. Mostly unsuccessful, the regime has tried to co-opt ethnical militia into the border guards. More worryingly, last summers skirmish erupted between the Armed Forces and the Kachin Independence Am. President Thein Sein ordered a stop to the attack in December 2011, but the armed forces continued to urge the Kachin leadership to challenge his authorities.
Myanmar's Glasnost is not yet irrevocable. In 1962, the army, which came to rule on the basis of fractionation and ethnical separation, remained the most influential body in the state. Whilst the rivalry between Thein Sein and Shwe Mann, alongside Washington, D.C., may fade, it could cause the "chaos" of the fifties.
The USDP hardliner refers to the ghost of senior general Than Shwe in private in order to curb the speed of overhaul. When they do, or when the NLD gains a parliamentary election in 2015, it is far from clear that the army would stay as lax as it has been in recent weeks.
This mixture of great challenge and high hopes will be decisive for Myanmar's policy in 2012. There, she heralded a big concession: the US would no longer exercise a voice against World Bank developments for Myanmar. USID is also considering resuming assistance to Myanmar, which could trigger a surge of developing activities.
It is also a great chance for US colleges to get involved with Myanmar. 50 years of junior government have destroyed the system of learning with a concentration on quantitative rather than qualitative aspects. U.S. Information Center and NGOs on a regular basis are inviting international specialists to debate issues of constitutionality and government. Some Myanmar intelligentsia, however, are already concerned about the domination of a "Boston mafia" and are hoping to build up a wider connection with US academic establishments.
With the award of the Wallenberg Medal to Aung San Suu Kyi, the UNICH has already taken a major leap forward in the promotion of Myanmar's democratic and dignified humanity (and joined the country's most beloved personality, by the way). It has top scientists from the fields of science and society and the opportunity to exchange this expertise with Myanmar.
There' s a case for such a relation; many of the present Philippine politicians and magistrates have been trained at the University of Michigan. Meeting Aung San Suu Kyi, she wished that one of these days - when Myanmar becomes a democratic nation and she can go away free - she could come and see Ann Arbor to thank us in person for our assistance.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who received the 21 Raoul Wallenberg Medal for her non-violent fight for Myanmar's democratic and humanitarian policies..... Mr. Nardi is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan. His interests include justice policy in emerging markets, in particular Burma, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.
His work has also included working for juridical organisations in Indonesia and the Philippines, and he has written papers on justice policy in Southeast Asia, both in legislative revisions and in major newsmedia. In December 2011 he traveled to Burma on a U-M task to present the Wallenberg Medal to Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi was unable to participate in the Ann Arbor ritual when she received Wallenberg last year because she was afraid that the regime would not let her come back if she were to leave Burma.