Myanmar is on the path to reaching the bargain basement in the rock bottom list in the ranking of the League of Nations. From the country with the most potential in 2013/14 to now a wimp where even the smallest nation within ASEAN would dare interfere in its internal affairs. Even the recently independent nation with the smallest GDP within ASEAN would dare offer refuge to confirmed terrorists acting against the nation. How could we fall so low from grace within one generation? At this rate, ministers from other ASEAN nations would be kicking the butt of Myanmar leaders within the next generation or so, literally, at the official meetings.
From being the top in the region in education, healthcare, public housing, or visitors, 50+ years ago, to now being at the derriere of every measurable statistic, we need to make wholesale changes now, or forever be buried in the annals of civilization. Just look at tourist arrivals as an example, what are we selling other than pagodas (history) and culture? Compare with other regional countries, what fun activities can the tourists do here! Do we have a culture we can be proud of? Just look at Facebook postings and comments by the youth of Myanmar. We would see our proud culture there!
Instead of staying unprejudiced, let alone being supportive, of the efforts of the government, some of these regional countries tried to undermine Myanmar’s development further through the closure of bank accounts held by Myanmar citizens and local and foreign-owned businesses operating in and out of Myanmar. Terrorists who killed Li Li Naing Kyaw (singer), or an ex-ambassador, get sympathies from them, yet the current government get ignominious treatment.
King Bayint Naung and Alaung Payar could die again from exasperation if they witness the present circumstances, we are in. We are here because we let people bully us. We let ourselves down. We become gratified in our little world, sitting back, relaxing and basking in the past glories. Senior civil servants became corrupt instead of becoming role models. Incompetent people became heads of departments or units. Proficiency, expertise and skills took a back seat and fighting spirit was frowned upon in favour of being submissive, even if one is in the right. This cancer culture has spread to the international stage, hence the current midget status in the world.
So, what is the solution… Simple, yet effective actions would bring us up in no time.
I. Solve the power issue
Myanmar leaders and senior civil servants have a knack for leaving hard-to-do stuff for others. ‘Let the next government sort this issue out’ can no longer be the slogan. Even if President Thein Sein made the wrong call of abandoning the Myit Sone dam and even if the NLD administration did nothing to upgrade the power sector, we must do it now, so that we would be electricity sufficient ten years down the road. Bring the hydro back, backed up by nuclear. Else we would never get out of this third-world poverty trap.
II. Focus on producing
If you want to be rich, you must produce/build something. China has become so wealthy because it becomes the world’s factory. Be its agricultural produce, livestock, clothes, processed foods, buildings or even journals, we need to make something. Just as a rich man would always look down on a poor person, a richer nation would always look down upon a poorer state. That goes without saying. So, we need to start producing and making things. The whole population must work hard and work smart, to support this. Sitting at a tea shop the whole day and talking nonsense would not make Myanmar country rich.
III. Build the next generation of wolf warriors
We need to copy China and India, in how they are handling international affairs and responding to interference and bullying from the West. Their own brand of wolf warriors is unafraid to fight it out in front of an international audience or press corp. ‘The Future Belongs to the Braves’, Reagan had said. Myanmar leaders should be rid of people who occupy positions of power, yet hide behind a desk and not do anything productive, other than attending ceremonies and events! What a waste of the country’s resources. We need to give the younger generation, who are willing to stand up for the country and be counted, a chance to bring Myanmar up.
IV. Effective law enforcement
Law enforcement in Myanmar is a joke, most of the time. People can slander you, and disparage you online many times over, yet the punishment is miniscule. Some restaurants are blatantly avoiding paying commercial taxes, yet no raids of any kind have ever taken place. Even criminal offences do not get traction without paying off judges or government lawyers or police officers. Without effective law enforcement, regardless of how comprehensive the laws are, people would continue to commit the offences, ‘sans chatiment’.
As Steve Jobs said, “You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. It’s worth in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains”. Get these four simple things going with the brave men and women and Myanmar would get the respect it deserves, in this vicious and cut-throat world of international relations.