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Hmmm 12 Aug 2012

Hmmm 12 Aug 2012

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Published by: richardck61 on Aug 14, 2012
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THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO
Hmmm
A walk around the fringes of nance
13 August 2012
1
For A 
FREE
Subscription to Tings Tat Make You Go Hmmm..... click 
 
“Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay:Cant you ear their paddles chunkin’ romRangoon to Mandalay ?On the road to Mandalay, Where the yin’-fshes play, An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outerChina ‘crost the Bay!
 
RuDYARD KIPLINg,
MANDALAY 
“Be careful about Burma. Most people cannot remember whether it was Siam and has become Tailand, or whetherit is now part of Malaysia and should be called Sri Lanka.”
– Alexander Cockburn
The value systems of those with access to power andof those far removed from such access cannot bethe same. The viewpoint of the privileged is unlikethat of the underprivileged”
Aung San Suu Kyi
 
2.
 
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO 
Hmmm...
13 August 2012
2
oday’s edition o 
Things That Make You Go Hmmm..... x be longer on histo-ry than most and will form the background toa short series of pieces I intend to write about 
a country that is potenally on the
verge of the kind of growth the
enre world sorely needs and 
yet only Asia seems capable of  providing.Consequently, if history and background aren’t really your thing, I’d recommend skipping forward to page
10 where you’ll nd arcles of a more
topical nature but for those of you who, likeme, are fascinated by his-tory and the world around us,
 join me on a trip back in me to
a country that—even by Asian stan-dards—has been one of the bas-ket cases of history.That history, though, could well be about to change in a profound way.
he names o 
such places as ‘Ran
-
goon’, ‘Mandalay’ and ‘Ir
-rawaddy’ evoke memorie of a
bygone era when the once-mightyBrish Empire included many far-ung outpostswhich inspired not only adventure but poetry.One such outpost was Burma, a country of tre
-
mendous strategic importance that was con
-
quered by the Brish aer a series of Anglo-Bur
-
mese Wars between 1824 and 1885.With the fall of Mandalay in 1886, Burma’s lastmonarch, King Thibaw Min, abdicated, sengthe stage for a lile under 60 years of Brishrule during which me the city of Rangoon wasanointed the country’s capital and grew into anthriving port along the trade routes betweenCalcua and Singapore.Many of those years were fraught with unrestas cultures clashed and seemingly insignicantdierences such as the refusal of the Brish tobreak with their own tradion and remove theirshoes when entering pagodas were enough tocause severe riong and the loss of many lives,but the quid-pro-quo was that Burma becamethe most-developed and wealthiest country inSoutheast Asia under Brish colonial rule.In April 1937, Burma became a separately ad
-
ministered colony of Great Britain and Ba Mawwas installed as the country’s rst Prime Minis
-
ter. Amazingly enough, Ba was a very outspoken
opponent 
of Brish rule in Burma (begging thequeson of how that lile fact escaped those inBritain conducng the veng process) and, af 
-
ter strongly opposing Burmese parcipaon inWWII, he resigned from the legislave assemblyin 1940 and was arrested for sedion.It was at this me that an exiled Burmese acv
-
ist with a family pedigree of resistance (his greatuncle had fought against the Brish annexaonof Burma in 1886) named Aung San formed theBurma Independence Army from his base, curi
-
ously enough, in Japan and these displaced Bur
-
mese took up arms against the Allies.Burma would be decimated by WWII as it be
-
came a major baleground due to it’s geo
-
graphical signicance and the richness of its re
-
sources. Though many Burmese inially foughton the side of the invading Japanese army, thevast majority switched allegiance by 1945 and itwas in the aermath of the war that Aung Sannegoated the Panglong Agreement which guar
-
anteed the country’s independence and rmlyestablished him as the father of modern Burma.Aung San was tragically assassinated by policalrivals six months before his dream of an inde
-
pendent Burma was nally realised but, despitethis setback, on January 4, 1948, Burma nallybecame an independent republic with Sao ShweThaik as its rst President and U Nu as its rstPrime Minister.
 
3.
 
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO 
Hmmm...
13 August 2012
3
The next 14 years were relavely stable and rea
-
sonably peaceful aer the turmoil that had gonebefore. It was during this me that Burma’s UThant became Secretary General of the UnitedNaons (a posion he would hold for ten years),
akin wih him o New York from hi homelanda yon woman named An san s Kyi, dah-er of An san, a
an administrave
aian. thi yonwoman wa laer o
win the Nobel PeacePrize in 1991 andplay an enormousrole in shaping thecountry - but that isa story half-wrien,to which we shall re
-rn horly.
In March of 1962,
however, darkne
descended upon
Brma when a mili-
tary coup d’état, ledby General Ne Win,
overhrew he ov-
ernment, plunging the country into decades of violent misrule by an oppressive Junta. In 1974,a new constuon of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma was adopted which instut
-
ed a one-party socialist system. The good news?It led to the resignaon of the military rulers.The bad news? They connued to rule anyway,through the Burma Socialist Programme Party(BSPP) and decimated the country—turning itinto one of the most impoverished in the worldthrough a rule based on the toxic combinaonof Soviet-style central planning and supers
-
ous beliefs. I know, I know... how could such asystem that combined two such brilliant ideas
 possibly 
go wrong?Periodic protests during this period wereswily and brutally suppressed, but on the 8thof August, 1988 (in perhaps something of aharbinger for those currently aempng to ‘x’Europe—pay aenon mesdames et messieurs)it was, of all things, a bizarre piece of 
economic
 
mismanagement by Ne Win that would nallylead to his downfall and the installaon of anew military regime when he abruptly andfoolishly decided to demoneze several large-denominaon kyat bills - a move that instantlyaected Burma’s middle class, turning many of them into paupers overnight and sparking whatbecame known as the ‘8888 Uprising’ (8th of the 8th ‘88). The bloody protests that sprangup across the country were eventually quelledaer yet another military coup in Septemberby the State Law and Order Restoraon Council(SLORC)—which imposed even more draconiancondions upon the poor cizens of Burma
han hoe hey had endred nder Ne Win.
But amidst the turmoil it was the formaon,in September 1988, of the Naonal League forDemocracy under the leadership of that younglady who had le her home for New York adecade earlier, Aung San Suu Kyi, that was tomark this upheaval as a crucial turning pointfor Burma as it turned away from Socialism andinched towards a more democrac structure.Inched being very much the operave word.The following year, the SLORC ocially changedthe country’s English name to “The Union of Myanmar” and, in a move that would makethem the laughing stock of repressive regimeseverywhere, they promised that, in 1990, theywould hold free elecons for the rst me in 30
year.
Now, call me
old-fashioned, but if I’mhandicapping a free elecon between a brutal,military junta and a democrac party of the peo
-
ple, I am concerned with only one variable; arethe elecons truly ‘free’? If they
are
(and I thinkit’s safe to say that such regimes have a fairlyspoy record when it comes to such things),then I’ll happily take the points and back thedemocrats. Of course, such elecons are nevertruly ‘free’ (no, Mr. Pun, they are NOT. We’vediscussed this before. I’m busy, leave me alone)
and o he mar money alway oe on he rl-
ing party.But a funny thing happened on the way to the
Burma: The Facts
size:
676,578km2Populaon:55 million (2011 est.)Literacy:89.9%
Workin Ae
Populaon:62%
Reion:
7Ethnic States:7
Reliion :
Buddhist (89%)Chrisan (4%)Muslim (4%)
Lanae:
Burmese (65%)Currency:Kyat (870/$)GDP per capita:US$840 (2011est.)
 
Myanmar: The Facts

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