January 30th, 2011

MYANMAR/BURMA — The Bangkok Post thinks so:

For the second week in a row the big news story is a crumbling dictatorship in the Middle East. While it’s still to soon to say if Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak will share the same fate as Tunisian strongman Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, yesterday protesters controlled many parts of Cairo. Mr Mubarak has vowed he will not be removed, and as long as the military stands with him, he is probably right.

The situation is similar to one much closer to home, in Burma, where the chances of regime change seem much more remote. If anything, the political situation in Burma is more dismal. In Burma, of course, it is the military leadership who actually have the ruling power, despite the pretence of transferring power to a civilian government through the sham elections of last November.

The parliament elected then will begin its duties in the new capital of Naypyidaw tomorrow, but the military leaders have made sure it will act as a rubber stamp to all they propose.

In Burma, as perhaps in Egypt, there would probably have to be a mass defection in the lower ranks of the military along with a popular revolt to bring about a change in government. But as revealed in the story on page 10 of this week’s Spectrum, ”Film offers glimpse of dissent in army”, this might not be as far-fetched many people might think.

There are other parallels between the situations in Burma and Egypt. Before Nobel laureate and pro-democracy leader Mohamed ElBaradei returned to his native Egypt to 1991 take part in the protests there and was put under house arrest _ much like Nobel laureate and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi _ he gave an interview in Austria. Mr Baradei noted that Egypt had parliamentary elections only two months ago, and ”they were completely rigged. The party of President Hosni Mubarak left the opposition with only 3%. Imagine that. And the American government said that it was dismayed. Well, frankly, I was dismayed that all it could say is that it was dismayed. The word was hardly adequate to express the way the Egyptian people felt.”

If we substitute Egypt for Burma and America for Asean, the story looks familiar.

The key element of the second Russian revolution that saw the total collapse of the Soviet Union was Boris Yeltsen’s ability to halt the advance of the Army on 19 August 1991 by leaping upon a tank as the armoured column rolled into Moscow to crush a people’s revolution.

His Chinese counterpart failed at Tinamen Square. What can happen in Myanmar?

Do what you can to make this a good morning, Myanmar.


  1. ryan says:

    in Egypt they protest high unemployment, or something.

    In America our tea party protests taxes on the rich.

  2. Mary Jo says:

    Good point, Ryan.

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