Disconnect in Myanmar

MYANMAR, or Burma, has been a blemish on South Asia for the past many decades, its only international upswing being the time when its leader, U-Thant functioned as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 24 Aug 2007, 9:55 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:52 AM

Its past has mostly been one of isolation from the rest of the world, as the nation is famously said to hide behind a bamboo curtain, refusing to catch up with the progress in its immediate neighbourhood and the world beyond.

Myanmar, under the iron fist of a military dictatorship for half a century, has seen faces changing; but the script there remains the same, a reason why its blessed store of natural resources has not yet been turned into an advantage for the people steeped in poverty and want. Here is another instance of the disconnect between these resources and the people for whom they are meant to be used: a steep 500 per cent hike in the price of compressed natural gas, meant for household and commercial use, that, among other things, has brought Yangon’s bus services to an abrupt halt. Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who won a resounding mandate for governance in the 1990 polls, and has been under repeated spells of house arrest for the past 17 years, remains immobile. It would appear she herself has lost all hopes, while the junta is busy drafting a constitution whose hidden purposes might be to undercut the democratic aspirations of the people (not, as the junta claims, to facilitate another elections), keep Suu Kyi out of future electoral contests, and further cement the power bases of the military.

Will the current protests against fuel price hike, again involving students led by respected rights activist and political figure, Min Ko Naing, have the potential to snowball into another mass movement against the junta? With people being terrorised into silence, international power centres remain complacent except for their occasional lip-service to the cause of democracy, and the UN failing to act effectively, there are less chances of a positive turn-around.

More news from