Will Burma’s Superhero
Save the Nation?
Synthesis of Myanmar’s Socio-Pol-Econ Currents
Presented by: Chris Estallo (PHL), Joseph Jayaw & John Labang (MYANMAR)
• Politics: Military rule 1962-2011 gives way to
an army-led transition to representative
• Economy: Myanmar is one of Asia's poorest
countries; its economy is under-developed
and riddled with corruption.
• International: Myanmar is gradually
emerging from its international isolation;
China is its main ally.
•Burma is the poorest country in Southeast Asia; apx 32% of the population lives in poverty.
•Remains one of the Least Developed Countries,
ranked 132nd out of 169 countries (2010 Human Development Index)
•More than 454,200 (government offensives against armed
ethnic minority groups near its borders with China and Thailand) (2012)
• Source country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purpose of
forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.
•Military's continued widespread use of
forced and child labor, and the
recruitment of child soldiers.
•Around 13,000 boat people have
fled communal strife that broke
out in Arakan State last June,
with at least 485 dying at sea
in a desperate bid to escape
violence and persecution (UNHCR)
Thein Sein delivering his speech to members of the Royal Institute of International Affairs at
Chatham House in London on Monday, 15 July 2013.
“We must open our doors to foreign trade and investment, but in a way that
ensures poverty is reduced and that the ordinary farmer and worker clearly
benefit. We will fight against corruption and we will fight to protect the
"There has been competition between
China and ASEAN over Burma, they
both want to have a stronghold in the
country" -Institute of South East
Asian studies in Singapore.
Massive Economic Potential
• Favorable geographic location and rich variety of
• Has one of the largest natural gas reserves in the
world, as well as other minerals. Most of the foreign
investment is, in fact, in oil and gas exploration
• It is also rich in timber, agricultural products and
precious stones, exporting mainly to Thailand, India
• Geographically well positioned to be a gateway for
• Dedicated and resilient human resources.
• Military handed over power to a nominal
• Calls for peace with ethnic minority groups.
• Easing of media controls.
• Release of some political prisoners.
• US and EU/UK lifting of non-arms sanctions.
Development Building Blocks
Barrier to Foreign Investment*
• The economy is plagued by inefficient government
policies, corruption and chronic rural poverty.
• A regime that is obsessed with its own security above
• No responsive, transparent and accountable business
• Has multiple exchange rates. Burma has an official
exchange rate and an unofficial, black market, rate.
*Maung Zarni, co-ordinator for Burma and Myanmar Research Initiative at the London School of Economics.
• Problems are not just procedural, they are
political, and they will need political will to be
• There is a long road ahead for Burma to start
capitalising on its vast potential.
• Significant improvements in economic
governance, the business climate, and the
political situation are needed to promote
serious foreign investment.
Achieving the MDGs*
• Encouraging inclusive growth (both rural and urban),
including agricultural development and enhancement
of employment opportunities (MDG1, with implications for
MDGs 2, 3, 4-6, 7)
• Increasing equitable access to quality social services
(MDGs 2, 3, 4-6, with implications for MDG1)
• Reducing vulnerability to natural disasters and
climate change (MDG7, climate change and disasters)
• Promoting good governance and strengthening democratic
institution and rights (foundation for all MDGs)
*Thematic Analysis 2011, Achieving the MDGs in Myanmar, UNDP
• The Association of South East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) endorsed Burma to take on the
leadership of the 10-member regional bloc in
2014, seen as a milestone in the government's
quest for recognition.
• Aung San Suu Kyi in 2015 election? But, “Suu
Kyi Remains Silent as Burma Burns,” according
“The only thing we know about the future
is that it will be different.”
-Peter F. Drucker