Enigmatic Problems and Rough Ride of Myanmar (Part-4)

The ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar from Cambodia came to attend a Mekong-Lancang Cooperation meeting (MLC) held in Myanmar just before the expiry of his term, and met also with military authorities over Myanmar crisis. A remarkable success of his visit was that he could be allowed to meet with the opposition under the preconditions set by the military. At a military council’s press conference, military leaders said there’s nothing impossible in politics with regard to a possible dialog with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. News stated that the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar had met with the Chairman of the SAC a week before the Chinese foreign minister came to Myanmar. When he arrived in Myanmar, the minister spoke that he had no plan to meet with the Myanmar Commander-in-Chief, and did not accept the military leader to come and deliver an opening remark at the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation meeting. But on his return from Myanmar, he met with the US state secretary in Bali, Indonesia. He also met with the foreign minister of Germany and other leaders of the south-east Asian countries.

At G-20 foreign ministers meeting, Myanmar issues is believed to be a topic. Coincidentally, the host Indonesia will take the chairmanship of the ASEAN by the end of this year and become a special envoy to Myanmar. Indonesia is seen doing some homework in advance for it.

Diplomacy analysts said the Chinese foreign minister’s trip to Myanmar was not a state visit, but to attend a meeting and that’s why he didn’t meet with military leaders. During the visit of the SAC leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing to Russia, its president Putin did not receive him. Being far from any diplomatic achievements, the SAC badly needs to struggle to regain even a normal condition in respect of diplomatic relations. It is noticeable that military leaders made such visits even with knowledge that they would be degraded. It’s really interesting to consider that the SAC deliberately accepts denigrating treatment as to fulfill what they lack is far more important than other things. It’s very probable to buy arms by showing a big sac of dollars during their visits. It may be somewhat related to their order of forcing private companies to convert dollars in Myanmar kyats in order to fill up a terrible shortage of foreign exchange reserves.

According to some scholars, although international diplomats are reluctant to present their credentials to the military, their continuing existence in Myanmar is somehow legitimizing the military. Anyhow, no one can deny that the SAC has faced with unexpected challenges in international diplomacy. They didn’t seem to expect a possible turbulence in the international scenario aftermath the military coup. When it really comes, they cannot manage it due to lack of expertise.

According to a professional survey, China plays an important role in Myanmar. China has avoided with a great care to support the military which is so oppressive that it’s faced with anger and resistance of the Myanmar people. And China has also tried to keep distant as much as possible. Myanmar military leaders has then prioritized to build a relationship with Russia. China is not happy about this. They want Myanmar to be politically stable and want to maintain a stable relationship between the two. The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China would be held in September or October and so China longs for stability in Myanmar. It is really important for its president Xi Jinping to be re-elected and to continue his leadership in China. He must’ve wanted Myanmar to be more stable and peaceful as he’s got political rivals from within. Moreover, China realizes very well that the people of Myanmar have animosity and hatred towards it, and therefore, they may be concerned about their investments and interests. The most important of all for them could be to secure their backdoor in the west.

Myanmar had been severely hit by the COVID-19 before the military coup. At such a time after having been struck by the pandemic and when the country was wrestling very hard with recovery, many people didn’t think the military would stage a coup. But when it did happen against their expectation, Myanmar was in utter chaos with the fight against the pandemic and the civil unrest due to the coup. Many health workers such as doctors, nurses and medical staff took part in a Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). Health workers who did save lives their hearts out throughout heavy waves of COVID-19 were the strongest protesters against the coup. Public healthcare services were badly affected, but the military did not take any responsibility. Very disappointed and helpless people of Myanmar took the military the same as the COVID-19.

When the military coup of 2021 began, there was less detention compared to the previous coups. Most of the detainees were the cabinet members who were top leaders of the NLD. A few other political figures were also arrested. But after forming the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) by elected members of Hluttaw who escaped from the arrest, elected members of Hluttaw from the NLD were arrested and charged with criminal offenses, and so were CDMers. Through all this, political parties have remained quiet. It can be said that a political space is getting shrunk whilst a space of armed conflict is getting wider. Under such a circumstance, no political party dares say anything. Their voices will not be heard by the conflicting sides, either. Actually, a political space is totally lost and armed conflicts are coming to the front in Myanmar. The people of Myanmar do not rely on political parties, and even if they do, political parties cannot be of any help. In Myanmar dialog culture has been lost in deed. No experts can predict when and in what circumstances table-talks can be started again.

It is now becoming a habit of attacking anyone who said about dialog with a stream of invective. No mediation is welcomed as both sides aim to destroy each other, and engage in fierce fighting as if they had no correct reasoning. The country’s destiny is said to be falling under the descending constellation.

When their businesses have been affected, some business people ask observers and scholars who would win. A universal principle is who wins the people’s support will win at last. A former president of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong once said if an opposition won 15 to 25% of public support, it would be really hard for a government to defeat it. In fact, Myanmar people should not think who will win. There are some people who consider in a right way that everyone shares the same land. However, at present, all forces are practicing the rightfulness on the one hand, and the wrongfulness on the other hand. Let’s assume it is the destiny of the country.

  It’s also noted that there has been a huge efflux of elected members of Hluttaw, leaders of political parties and social organizations to third countries across the country’s border. Some have applied political asylum, and some as refugees. Some who were not in danger of arrest have taken the situation as an opportunity for the future of their families and left the country, also. According to an analyst, most of the leaders of Myanmar politics have already departed. Since most of them are particularly who have demanded a building of federal democratic union, the analyst also questioned who would continue to lead Myanmar in a federal union building. Generally, many people know that it’s absolutely impossible to build a federal democratic union just with words from abroad. The analyst also warned to be aware that there are only political parties flattering the military and politicians befriending the military authorities remaining inside the country.

Moreover, there has been a more sorrowful and silent departure of a huge labor force across the border to Thailand and Malaysia as a result of job scarcity inside the country. Seeing photos of them squatting down on the ground during their arrests by Thai and Malaysian authorities is very shocking for everyone who loves the country. Previously there were only seen migration of Rohingya from Rakhine area, but to date Myanmar labor force replaces in there. Lack of rule of law, loss of existing jobs, lack of new livelihood opportunities, financial difficulties and other sufferings have forced them to depart. The military coup leaders have no intention so far to address such problems as they have been wrestling with knotty issues.

Myanmar affairs has now gone far beyond a political problem and turned out to be a general crisis. The threat of the COVID-19 pandemic still remains, but the health issue has been put aside so far. According to the SAC’s ministry of health, cases of new variants AB4 and AB5 of the COVID-19 have been found in Myanmar. Students are sandwiched between rivalries of the two sides for their education. As challenges have mounted one after another, it’s true to say for Myanmar that misfortune never comes alone.

Nyan Lynn