A year of de­spair and de­spon­dency

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Local Business -

In a cen­tury’s time, his­to­ri­ans look­ing back will see how, at a time of na­tional cri­sis, Myan­mar’s lead­ers have col­lec­tively ab­di­cated po­lit­i­cal and moral re­spon­si­bil­ity over the coun­try.

THOMP­SON CHAU [email protected]­times.com

2018 is the year in which Myan­mar’s fail­ure to ex­e­cute key re­forms has plunged the coun­try into crises and chaos, over­shad­ow­ing the con­sid­er­able progress made in some ar­eas. It would take years, if not decades, be­fore we climb out of the abyss into which we have sunk.

The Na­tional League for Democ­racy party swept into of­fice in 2016 with its mantra of “change”. Although that term was vaguely-de­fined in their elec­tion man­i­festo, it is fair to as­sume that the elec­torate wanted change for the bet­ter, and they wanted pos­i­tive changes for the many.

As the gov­ern­ment passed mid­point in their five-year term in Oc­to­ber, it is clear the Myan­mar peo­ple are get­ting none of what they wanted, or any­where near that. 2018 is shaped by the af­ter­math of the ad­vent of Rakhine. We were cho­sen as the Econ­o­mist’s “coun­try of the year” in 2015. The gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the cri­sis, cou­pled with the fail­ure on the eco­nomic front, has turned Myan­mar into the cau­tion­ary tale of how things could go wrong.

“Rarely has the rep­u­ta­tion of a leader fallen so far, so fast” was the ver­dict of State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by In­ter­na­tional Cri­sis Group’s re­port. The same as­sess­ment could be said of Myan­mar.

In 2018, busi­ness con­fi­dence has sunk to a three-year low; ap­proved FDI has fallen short of the of­fi­cial es­ti­mates by a wide mar­gin; and the busi­ness com­mu­nity is de­s­pair­ingly frus­trated with the pro­tec­tion­ist poli­cies and lack of re­forms. Myan­mar’s growth fore­cast is down­graded by the World Bank by 0.5 per­cent­age points

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