Andrew Selth, the veteran Australian Burma-watcher, has provided a very helpful assessment of recent political events for the Lowy Institute’s Interpreter. Selth offers a wide range of astute observations. One I particularly like introduces the road ahead for President Thein Sein’s government. Selth argues that:
The task facing Thein Sein is daunting. After more than 50 years of brutal, inept and ideologically distorted military rule, there is hardly a single sector of Burma’s government, economy and civil society that is not begging for reform and desperate for financial, technical and other kinds of assistance. Some steps can be taken quickly and relatively painlessly, but the depth and complexity of the challenges faced by Burma are such that fundamental reform will take considerable time, effort and resources.
He then finishes the piece by suggesting:
For her part, Aung San Suu Kyi is facing the challenge posed to all popular leaders, of making the transition from political icon to effective politician. For the time being, she seems prepared to work with Thein Sein in achieving national reconciliation and incremental reform. This is a pragmatic strategy but it carries risks. It has already upset some of her supporters. It will also be difficult to sustain. For there will come a time when pressure will build for Burma’s ‘disciplined democracy’ to give way to a genuinely representative system of government. That may prove the real test of the President’s reform program.
The entire analysis is worth digesting.