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The Tragedy that is Myanmar September 29, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

Much has been said about what has been happening in Myanmar. At this point in time it appears that the special UN envoy has reached the capital of Myanmar.

 Of course the tragic thing is that probably nothing more will or can be done. Yes, the International community, even ASEAN has sent strongly worded protests to the Military Junta but at the end of the day, what purpose would that serve? None whatsoever. For sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us.

 Furthermore, it is known that Singapore has several dealings with Myanmar, including but not limited to arms exports and investments. Then you have the fact that members of the Junta regularly come to Singapore for medical treatment (apparently the PM of Myanmar himself is in Singapore at this moment).

What makes matters worst is that besides applying sanctions and what have you, there is nothing much the international community can do. Sanctions by themselves also make the lives of the common people worst; I have no doubt that the Military Junta have prepared for that eventuality; and given the exalted status of the military in Myanmar there is no doubt that the junta will use the resources to keep the military happy, while the rest all starve. As Mao Zedong once said, “power comes from the barrel of a gun”. There is no doubt that the junta controls the gun.

There appear to be only two viable courses of action at this time; and by viable course of action I mean a course of action which could resolve this crisis and result in the downfall of the obnoxious junta. First option would be for the people of Myanmar to continue their struggle; to continue to resist until they get their rights back. Unfortunately that would be asking a whole bunch of people to allow themselves to be shot down, and it appears that the military has succeeded somewhat as the number of protests has gone down.

The second option (which works better with the first) would be for the International community to intervene, and by intervene I do not refer to sanctions (though admittedly the effect of sanctions on arms may be greater) but to armed force. For it is only through force, be it from “people’s power” (first option) or military force, will the junta be forced to back down. Negotiations can limit the casualties but it in itself cannot begin to resolve the numerous issues which have been festering in Myanmar. These numerous issues; poverty, military oppression among others, have been festering; the hike in fuel prices was merely the spark which brought all this to the forefront. The Junta will never back down and allow the elected representatives (Aung San Suu Kyi and her fellow comrades) to rule; why should they? And given their abuse of power, a fortiori, they will definitely refuse to backdown as that could mean their doom in Myanmar. There is only one thing that could force them out and that is power of the kind that come from the barrel of a gun.

Unfortunately the second option two too is highly unlikely. Where would the military force come from? SAF? Malaysia? And with the USA mired in Irag and Afghanistan it is highly unlikely that the intervention would come from the West. Furthermore military intervention brings with it a hosts of issues, like sovereignity of a people among others.

Perhaps the above was rather callous, and I must qualify that I am as appalled by the Junta as any reasonable person ought to be. However the practical solutions to the problem are few and may turn out to be impractical at the end of the day. And that is a great tragedy for the people of Myanmar and for the world.



1. Bloggers’ reaction to protest in Burma « theonlinecitizen - September 30, 2007

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2. KevinSit - October 1, 2007

China, who is near Myanmar’s borders, could intervene well into this situation and score a political victory. If they succeed, they can secure themselves as a good stabilizing force for the region.

3. darkness - October 1, 2007

Another useless post

4. darkness - October 1, 2007

Send my regards to singapore angle. I remember you, you said you dont like us, fyi I dont like you either. I am darkness

5. Terence - October 6, 2007

Sanctions will not work because Myanmar’s largest trading partners, namely China, Thailand, and Singapore, has too much at stake in it. And I agree with you that it might cause the common people more harm than good.

Military force is much worse. We don’t need a second Iraq in South East Asia.

It seems the only viable solution, one that ASEAN is adopting, is to keep the pressure on. The junta knows that it is unwelcomed in the international community. How long can it last in the face of all this pressure? It seems the only way out is to cooperate with the democratic forces in Myanmar?

The junta wants the easy way out. Hence taking a hardline stance against it will not work. It needs to be probed into cooperating with the democratic parties in Myanmar, working together towards a viable solution.

6. The Devil's advocate - October 6, 2007

[…] there is one word to describe the Singaporean chairmanship of ASEAN, it would undoubtedly be ‘disgusting’. With all the double-talk and hypocrisy […]

7. Burma Protests/13th ASEAN Summit, Singapore « San Oo Aung’s Weblog - October 10, 2008

[…] Citizen: Singaporean graduate student files application for Burma protest – Winter is Coming: The Tragedy that is Myanmar – Darth Grievous’ Dark Domain: Down with the Myanmar Junta!! [TV analysis of fatal Japanese […]

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