Late last year, Maung Zarni, who currently works at the London School of Economics, took aim at Burma experts for what he perceives as their analytical failures. Events and commentary of recent months have only served, apparently, to fire him up even more.
His most recent contribution to The Irrawaddy doesn’t pull its punches. This time he devotes most of his energy to criticising Thant Myint-U and Marie Lall. He also points out the efforts of some “academic white-washers” to begin conversations with Qaddafi’s regime in Libya, and highlights supposed parallels among scholarly engagements with Burma.
Reading this piece I come away with the distinct impression that Zarni sees a conspiracy among a wide-range of academic, political and corporate interests. He is particularly keen to call out “quasi-autonomous” entities (both the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore and Chatham House in London earn this reprimand), “the highly controversial Myanmar Egress” and anyone else “with well-known ties to Burma’s dictatorship”.
Zarni also promises that his blunt critique of the International Crisis Group’s latest report will be out soon. As a teaser, he judges that it is “at best intellectually incompetent and at worst empirically delusional”. Strong words. I expect many New Mandala readers are looking forward to the full version.