Myanmar Problems todayBurma Problems Today
Myanmar's problems are much more serious than the Rohingya crises.
Had Myanmar's development not been so terribly unfortunate, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi would have been a first-rate contender for "Ignobility". If this is their own guilt, if the "Mandela" expectation of them is not fulfilled, or if the result of wrongly bloated aspirations in a nightmarely complicated land, will only be revealed by now.
Meanwhile, Myanmar is still suffering and the full economic recovery of one of the biggest and best resourced Asian countries is still underway. With the feverish atmosphere at present, there is a strong tendency to see the Myanmar issue as a Rohingyan one. However, the "Myanmar problem" is much more than that.
Firstly, despite the Buddhaist minority, the land is to house around 100 different ethnical groups, 17 of which have their own ethnic-based armed forces. The Kachin and Shan people along the Yunnan River frontier are in a state of civilian conflict with the country's 400,000-strong armed forces, known as Tatmadaw, practically since General Ne Win took over in a 1962 putsch.
Secondly, there is the singular demand to emerge from five centuries of armed congression. In Zaltan Barany of the Washington Centre for Strategic and International Studies, five elements are identified that "make the Myanmar side of militarist authority unique": thirdly, the broad spectrum of inherent and longstanding economic controls, both by indigenous minority groups inside and outside untrustworthy power; fourthly, the accumulative separation, especially between two giants - China and India; and lastly, the persistent fragility of the enemy and democracies, which have been traumatized by hard militarism.
Against this background, those who believed that a strong democratic system would flourish when the army eventually resigned in 2011 were bewildered. Tatmadaw seem to have been, and still seem to be, sincere in their choice to begin a democratic and civil war.
However, they have drawn up a draft treaty that will protect the army's enormous powers, both politically and economically, thereby keeping the country's new democrats from influencing defense, internal politics, and much of its policy. Non-transparent and solid army-controlled corporations such as Myanmar economic Corporation and Myanmar-economical holdings Ltd (the army's de facto retirement fund) make up a disproportionately large proportion of the $30 billion that has been flowing into the economy since it opened in 2011.
They have so much at risk in their rampant business imperatives, they have no interest in rapid overhaul. Another siltation of the waters is the serious concern about China's longstanding interest in this state. By far China has the greatest of Myanmar's major international interests - politically, strategically and economically - and sees it as a link between "two oceans", but in turn has stirred up strong suspicions.
It is no wonder that China is talking so calmly about Myanmar as part of its aggressive Belt and Road policy, although Myanmar's infrastructural development, which significantly reduces dependence on goods that currently need to be transported along the Malacca Road, is crucial to the roadmap. The Myanmar issue has deep and more complicated origins than the Rohingyan war.
Myanmar's Muslim-dominated Malaysia and Indonesia have quickly raised the alert, even with the threat that Myanmar should be removed from ASEAN if it does not quickly get the crises underway. Aung San Suu Kyi is sitting on a terribly tender chair. The last time I went to Myanmar five years ago, I came to the conclusion that the land would stay "risky, dirty and complicated" for a few years.