Culture & Government: Myanmar:

In Defense of Myanmar ― Compte Rendu

by Journal of Global Issues & Solutions Staff



The Myanmar Government has taken the “gradualist” approach  to governing in the last 20 to 25 years, refurbishing their economy, rebuilding infrastructure, and getting as many dissidents/secessionists (and the like) as possible back into the national/governmental fold. The world at large understands that the past State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) Government as, ipso facto, the Myanmar Government, has been attracting foreign investments, et cetera, and indeed they have, in their “gradualist approach”, succeeded in demonstrating to the world at large that they are a credible, no-nonsense government, a government large enough, a’posteriori, to look into the mirror, ascertain their own faults and blemishes and conclude that their 1950s/60s experiment in socialism did not quite go the way

they liked or conceived and they are now prepared to follow the “Capitalist Road” which was their original path, post-independence, 1948.


In the 1950s, history knows that SLORC were the founders/signatories to international/regional agencies such as ECAFE, NAM, et cetera, and since the world at large has the perception that they can contribute to the international community ― both regionally and internationally ― they were prepared and magnanimous enough to play their part to promote ― or at least maintain ― peace, order and development in the region. The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) Government felt, a’priori, and knew, a’posteriori, that the uninhibited and unconditional release of “The Princess” ― Aung San Suu Kyi ― would bring at least a certain amount of chaos and disruption within the State, not to say hazard to her well being, and even this they were prepared to experiment with, since friends and foes alike are so enamored with the concept of “releasing the Princess” not forgetting her personal safety  and on this subject they would sincerely like to be proven wrong. But in the event they are correct, they do expect all those who so advocated her unrestricted release to underwrite the damage caused by some “mischief maker” which could be quite considerable, not only to the State but conceivably to herself (just think of the case of Benazir Bhutto!). If the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) releases her they do this not entirely of their own volition and in the questionable belief that the democratic principle of the majority, not quite used to this, being and holding sway, that Democracy is the correct way to go as prescribed and demanded by the international community. The State Law and Order Restoration Council’s (SLORC) skeptical belief in the soundness of the practice of democracy a’ la the West might not be the best way forward, because as existentialists, they bear in mind that on occasion, 1% can topple 99%. This, as stated above, they want desperately to be proven wrong so perhaps they can achieve their end, if any party can undo what they had been doing in the past. In this context, let “The Princess” out, since she values her “freedom” above all! This is classical Western philosophical thought and style but even Dostoevsky, in his portrayal of freedom in his Underground Man who was willing to forgo everything ― success, pleasure, including health ― just to obtain his “most advantageous advantage”, i.e. freedom, showed this to be simply, folly!


Having explored the “gradualist” approach, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) feels that there are only two other possible scenarios: Convergence beyond Asean ― the total “International community” ― or Divergence ― from the “International community” ― save Asean. Let us consider the divergence scenario first. Taking this line, at this juncture for Myanmar, is to lose an opportunity which may never knock at its door, ever again. Not only this. Myanmar must anticipate that even Asean may tire of them, for alas, for all the faith and trust it has placed in her, she needs to give them some encouragement that she is responding, that they have not been wrong in believing in Myanmar (for even the best of us require encouragement from time to time).


This approach perforce means that there is a failure on Myanmar’s part to comprehend that the international community views the world as a global village; the world as an integrated and interdependent whole and functioning by representation, negotiation, persuasion and compromise and motivated by pure economic well being, rather than by mere force and fire to keep power which is old hat. Aggression and intimidation by sheer physical might are tools of the past and passé for even the military; academics today preach a different gospel. The aims and concept of the military to achieve the goal of success today are vastly different from that of days of old because the concept of Machtpolitik does not work. The world in the modern era accepts that the primary aim of the military is to protect the nation’s economic wealth and territory not by mere forceful acquisition to accumulate and aggregate territories and wealth, if need be, but by peaceful means and/or by the corollary by not losing any of it. There are no more Bismarcks or Alexanders, though we grant there might be still a few (pipsqueak) Caesars around but these are the “odd balls” living out of sync with the times.


Now there is no advantage in such parties making the world feel that Myanmar constitutes and lives in the “odd ball” camp. In the affirmative it shows that Myanmas are not apprised of what happened in Germany or Vietnam or (the then) USSR or China or indeed what will happen in the Korean Peninsula for being “insular”. In the context it appears from their limited reading and observation, the then State Law and Order Restoration Council Government seem to think that there will be an assimilation of the South by the North for multifarious reasons, sometime in the future, within the next 10 years and if not, within the next 20. It is a question of how long leaders like Kim Jong Un and/or his successor can

continue to hold the Japanese, South Koreans and Americans to ostensible ransom with his “nuclear card” and/or how successful the policy internally of  “containment” of his people as practiced by his father Kim II Sung, can be prolonged, by him.


Can Kim Jong Un, practicing Festinger’s concept of “cognitive dissonance” (continuance in believing in the “Prophet”/new Messiah in spite of his predictions being consistently wrong), go on beyond 10 years, bearing in mind the increase in influence of world communications? Will a solution to North/South cross border tensions finally prevail? How long will it take for the foreign powers trying to strangle his regime and State to succeed? Will Orwell’s 1984 scenario ― of the populace, living a life of hell, knowing the system is simply lousy and yet continuing to conform to the system, ad infinitum, because they are kept in fear ― succeed? It is highly doubtful, especially since there are many thinking individuals throughout North Korea and it is up to those pushing to change their system “forcibly” to think this through! Do we need to allow goings on to the point of exasperation, when due to suffering, an implosion and explosion will be reached?


What then about the “Convergence scenario”? This is the corollary of the “Divergence” scenario. Divergence is not consonant with Buddhist beliefs in Convergence. It is in this context, through asceticism, that the Lord Buddha found this wrong, about finding Nirvana. It is the only road to take under the circumstances, and under “controlled” conditions, to get enlightenment ― not merely by the open acceptance by friends and the shutting out of foes!


The State Law and Order Restoration Council Government was modestly skeptical dare the Aung San Suu Kyi Government try ― or dare they not try? “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Do they consider a new “weltanschauung” ― a theological view ― or do they labor in anarchic thoughts. How does the current Rakhine mess fit into the overall equation?  This is Tantalus at work and it is up to the current Government to test and try!


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