Saturday, 7 May 2011

Is Myanmar Changing For the Better?

Senior general Than shwe
Myanmar has experienced some big changes in the past 6 months. the change began with the general elections of November 2010. It was followed by the first parliamentary session in January which comes after more than 20 years. A new president was elected in February and March saw the dissolution of SPDC (State Peace And Development Council) better known to us as the "Military Junta". It was the apparent retirement of the its military leader Senior General Than Shwe which was the real surprise.

Than Shwe has no formal role in the new system and he has handed over the control of the armed forces(Tatmadaw) to General Ming Aung Hlaing. Like Than Shwe the military (Tatmadaw) too has no apparent role in this new order and is out of the power circle it seems.

On the first glance it look like tectonic changes but if we dig a bit deeper we find nothing much has changed on the ground. Though Than Shwe is now 78 year old and his rule will come to an end yet insiders in Burma say that nothing moves in the capital city Naypyidaw without the permission of General Than Shwe. So why this change. According to the political analysts in Myanmar these changes have been orchestrated to ensure  a safe semi-retirement of Than Shwe and avoid the disastrous fate of his predecessor Ne Win who was deposed by younger military officers and ended is life while under house arrest.

Ne Win
The second step taken to ensure his safety yet maintain his hold on real power, Than Shwe is to get his most trusted lietnants in key positions. Among one of them is the ex-general and ally Thein Sein as the new President of Myanmar plus 84% of member of parliament are serving officers or belong to the proxy part floated by the army. Then there is the seven member supreme council headed by Than Shwe which is an extra constitutional body and the real center of power.

To keep the military from a revolt against him he has made a relatively young officer as the successor instead of some older and more powerful officer. General Min Aung Hlaing doesn't have enough support base for a coup and to keep him in check Than Shwe has promoted Air Force Chief and Navy chief  General Myat Hein and Admiral Nyan Tun to four start generals thus they have the same power an the new military chief. this will ensure that not a single person has enough power to harm Than Shwe.

A Parliamentary law was passed  in Burma without telling the Burmese people, it gives the government the right to forcibly call every citizen between the age of 18-45 in to the army for two year of military service. It is reported that young people rather join the ethinic guerrilla armies than joining the armed forces of Burma

This law is significant because the Burmese government is planning a large scale operation against the rebel armies in the north. The rebels have formed a loose alliance and are getting ready for air attack bu the Burmese airforce.

Now the question arises what should India do because after a long time the ice was broken between India and Myanmar but any action taken by the Burmese government on the rebel in its north will have ripple effects on our north-eastern border states. Many refugees or rebel's will pour into our border changing the demographic and causing the local populace to rise up against the Indian government. Already we are having trouble fighting these groups in Nagaland and Manipur. On the other hand if Burma is able to stabilize and clean its Northern areas it will give us a chance to put the squeeze on our own insurgent groups who have active links with the northern Burmese rebel armies