August 19, 2016

Does Myanmar suffer from party politics?

Recently, an influential politician said it is completely wrong to classify national politics in terms of party politics. The greater national interest must be the focus of Myanmar politics. Everyone seems to be in favour of the idea of the federal union, after all. But can it be that perfect?
Politics has been looked at cynically in Myanmar for decades. However, this does not seem so true lately. Some political parties may enjoy a grand honeymoon of public love and support at some time, but this will fade somewhat over time. There are periods of trouble –the occasional scandal, bureaucratic mismanagement, economic stagnation and other typical political obstacles that can prove insurmountable to even the best-run and most popular governments.
Whether or not this politician’s thoughts on the nature of democracy are to be given any weight, his words do merit consideration. Can political parties truly be independent of wealthy business interests? Can voters trust an entire political party, right down to the last member? All parties in the world would respond yes, but it is only politic to do so. That is how the game is played. We know as human beings that nothing perfect exists – and so do they – but wouldn’t it be nice to think so? We would like to hold that warm thought and take a political party into our hearts.
Politics is actually a complicated network in which someplayers (individual politicians as well as parties) display honesty and some do not. Some have the concerns of the people at heart,while some prioritise personal or factional gain. Many players change over the course of a career. Eventually, all must change with the times. Can we call what happens in Myanmar ‘party politics’? Should we make such sweeping statements about the nature of politics? Our friend the politician’s comments are a wonderful basis for discussion, but one should be careful to apply blanket statements to such an intricate and ever-evolving system.


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