November 13, 2015

Myanmar elections

the elections in Myanmar are finished and thankfully without bloodshed or violence.  in another landslide victory the NLD [National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi] won 77% of the seats in parliament vs 10% for the military regime.  unlike the last election the military regime says it will hand over political power to those elected.  this in itself is progress, most probably made so that the military elite [who reserve for themselves 25% of the seats which means they still hold control over any constitutional changes] can continue to open it's doors to the west and exploit this resource rich country for their own gain.

still, this was a powerful moment for the people of Myanmar and one filled with emotion as a people who had never been able to vote in a 'free and fair' election lined the streets and waited for hours to cast votes.  voter turnout was over 70% and there was very few reports of fraud.  still this victory is just the first step in what will take generations to start providing basic infrastructure for the people.

now, the world will watch as Aung San Suu Kyi chooses a president and builds a government that is representative of the people.  i was asked recently about the Rohinga situation  and criticism of Aung San Suu Kyi for not speaking out about it.  it made me think about the challenge she faces now as at the age of 70 she starts to build a democratic government.

sure, the military is ceding political power but what is she inheriting?  she gets a country with no infrastructure - no roads [except in Naw Pyi Taw shown below], no clean water, no sewage system, no education system and no healthcare.  the challenges are overwhelming and i hope the people will be patient as progress will be slow.

when the military elite abandoned the city of Yangon they built a new capital where the roads are six lane highways made of concrete and empty of traffic while in Yangon it can take 30 minutes to travel 1 mile [2KM].

roads of Yangon
roads of Naw Pyi Taw