August 19, 2016

It’s really just the middle

Tha Sein

The democratisation process in Myanmar has started with gusto. A few days into its tenure as a new administration, the government has announced its 100-day work performance plan in the interest of the people who have placed high hopes on it and held a press conference on work performance for first 100 days in Nay Pyi Taw recently.
The new government might appear to be first in the firing line over its work performance for the first 100 days, for it failed to meet all the people’s expectations although its development scheme has won public backing and recaptured public esteem.
To be frank, the country emerged from international pariah status when a civilian government took power and initiated a wave of liberal change, which requires a sweeping transformation of the economy away from the crony capitalism that has evolved over the past quarter century.
This is vital for the peace process, which has much to do with power and resources sharing, to succeed. There was, to put it mildly, unease in all spheres of Myanmar society and especially in the business world as the county lacks a more transparent and outward looking economic system. Without a fundamental restructuring of the economy the significant
but tentative steps taken so far may lead only to a downturn with dysfunctional economy.
More to the point, there’s a lot that needs to be done. But the challenges are daunting on a number of levels. We have a long way to go. We need to address the structural problems of a once-dynamic economy that is now a regional laggard. With high expectations, people sometimes think it’s a done story. But it’s really just the middle.
There is no to say democratic change should be stalled: state institutions need to be stronger, more accountable and, in a more multiethnic society, more inclusive. And for that to happen, a pragmatic approach—that appears to be underway under the new government—may be better than trying to recast the process already in place.


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