Undoing the damage in Myanmar

Tokyo

Regarding the April 4 editorial, “Myanmar marching forward“: The recent dramatic developments for reforms in Myanmar are indeed good so far. The outcomes of the by-elections last weekend were, in a sense, the reaffirmation of the love and trust that the overwhelming majority of the Burmese people have in Aung San Suu Kyi and their reliance on her to lift the nation from the abyss.

Although the number of parliamentary seats at stake was small, the significance was that the environment of fear prevalent in the country for decades seems to have cleared up and hope for the future has revived in the minds of citizens.

Yet, the destruction and pillage suffered by the country due to mismanagement and abuse of power by the military in one form or another for half a century is so great that, for all her admirable human qualities and selflessness, Aung San Suu Kyi — and for that matter even God — might not be able to undo the damage done in a short time. It probably will take at least five years to put the country back on the development track where people can enjoy “freedom from fear,” economic prosperity and social justice.

Now that Suu Kyi has chosen the path of seeking democratic reform from within the system rather than from the outside, she must tread very carefully, making Herculean efforts in Parliament to lay a solid foundation for democracy.

To do this, she will need the cooperation and support of more than 75 percent of the representatives in Parliament to amend the seemingly very unconstitutional constitution, which was essentially drafted, approved and promulgated by the military. She will definitely need a certain amount of time and space as well as the unwavering support of the people to reach that goal. Until this daunting challenge is overcome, the nascent democracy in Myanmar will be shaky and prone to collapse at any moment.

Foreign sanctions imposed on Myanmar should be lifted and aid granted according to the country’s progress toward democratic reforms. Hopefully this point is not lost on the policymakers of the Japanese government in their rush to resume economic aid to Myanmar.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

u thet tun