Tomorrow Myanmar

Morning Myanmar

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Myanmar: two days from now

Southeast Asia's biggest continental nation went to the ballot last week-end and chose exactly the one whose last win in 1990 was ignored by the reigning armed forces junt. However, a transformation has now taken place in Myanmar. Mrs Suu Kyi will be president, the armed forces will largely be returning to the base, and the land formerly known as Burma can at last make up for fifty years of untapped prosperity.

Realities are much more complex and will quickly become evident when the army eliminates all doubts that it will comply with the results of the elections - which currently are predicting a devastating loss for the military-backed USDP, which can only retain about 5% of the free seat when the results are out.

There will be a number of disillusioning issues the next two days, most of which are threatening to jeopardise any prospects of long-term security and prosperity. Defense and home affairs, is anchored in a faulty 2008 state of mind to make sure that the army will retain significant authority even if beaten in the elections.

The Ministry of the Interior provides power over the general administrative system, the "backbone" of Myanmar's huge centralized administrative system. A NLD parliamentary majority in both chambers will, as seems more and more likely, allow the new management to exercise scrutiny over both the legislature and the judiciary. However, no mater what the result, the army will maintain full command of the policing, domestic intelligence, army and much of the country's red tape.

Every civil administration will therefore need an efficient working relation with the old guards to guarantee security, as these deputies will certainly struggle as a block to defend the residual force of the army and considerable commercial interests. Burma is a nation of abundance. It is home to 135 different ethnical groups shoemaking together in a state as the remnants of colonial Britain - a rare formula for nationhood.

In the Buddhist mainland, the hardship of the Muslim Rohingya has become known, but it is only one of several ethnical clashes that are threatening to overboil. Faithfulness is primarily found locally in the ethnical areas along the country's huge border areas, some of which are self-governing and autonomously political.

However, initial results indicate that the NLD has developed positively in these areas. Meeting and meeting the immediate and longer-term needs of Myanmar's various populations will be high on the agenda of the new administration. Even at the most fundamental levels, the USDP administration is leaving behind an economic system in need of reforms.

Combining negligence with economical insulation has made the enchanting Yangon one of the best conserved specimens of colorful architectural styles in the area. Prospects of international competitiveness threaten the military-bound mono-opolies and interest groups that have built up over the past few centuries of key policymaking, especially in the country's most profitable sectors.

The elimination of putrefaction and deterioration will be a political complication, both through political interference in our parliamentary system and through obsolete regulations and a justice system that still has a long way to go before it meets truly global standard. Burma is already one of the most difficult places in the worid to do doing businesses, and despite some improvements in areas such as setting up a firm, the Bank says that it is even declining when it comes to accessing loans and payment of tax.

Of course, bribery is an important topic in the business world and no rapid solution is in view. As the new government has no policing controls, it will need to cooperate and comply with the rules of the army to be able to crack down - a big task, as the new government often places the policing force itself at the centre of it.

Nevertheless, the country has considerable business opportunities and has taken a number of good strides in recent years. Myanmar's Federal Reserve cancelled a 35-year-old floating fix in 2012 in favor of a managerial floating. The abolition of automobile imports has made the once Havana-like roads of Myanmar's largest towns younger - but also congested.

All of this supports "robust" macroeconomic expansion with the Asian Development Bank forecasting over 8% per annum for 2015 and 2016. If these are the steps of a practical political man who is only acting the role of the army, or if this will reveal more about Myanmar's upcoming decision-makers than we have previously thought, remain to be seen.

Suu Kyi's apparently practical recent assessment shows that in these evolving circumstances, she may be just what Myanmar needs. However, she is only a woman and needs the support of capable lawmakers and her own party's own community and a docile contender for the presidency to take her place in Naypyidaw.

As soon as a "team" is formed, it must lead this multi-headed leader with a shattered but still mighty army that undoubtedly protects its own interests and avoids too many changes too early. In spite of the free, if not just, election, the new government will be largely compelled to share the remnants of Myanmar's bureaucratic forces, especially in the near and mid-term.

Some of the NLD's final legislative agendas will therefore be paralysed, but some important policy reforms should move forward, as the basis for modernization was laid by the old government even before these election. The fact that the election was even permitted and the army seems to agree with the result encourages inroads.

This is a major emblematic move forward in what many consider the last border region in Asia. However, the main effects on Myanmar's economies and international operations remain to be seen. It will depend largely on the skilful policies of NLD lawmakers, as well as Mrs Suu Kyi herself and the readiness of the army to give up further aspects of its strangling grip on this fine and potentially prosperous state.

This election was a welcome, unexpected and longoverdue symbolic move towards a better tomorrow that Myanmar deserved. It is for the business community and those overseas companies that have their eyes on the markets that what happens the next few days will decide whether or not the fullotential of Myanmar can be attained.

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