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Dictatorship, Disorder and Decline in Myanmar

Dictatorship, Disorder and Decline in Myanmar

Monique Skidmore
Trevor Wilson
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Dictatorship, Disorder and Decline in Myanmar
    Book Description:

    Mass peaceful protests in Myanmar/Burma in 2007 drew the world's attention to the ongoing problems faced by this country and its oppressed people. In this publication, experts from around the world analyse the reasons for these recent political upheavals, explain how the country's economy, education and health sectors are in perceptible decline, and identify the underlying authoritarian pressures that characterise Myanmar/Burma's military regime.

    eISBN: 978-1-921536-33-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Editors’ note
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. 1: Overview
    (pp. 1-10)
    Trevor Wilson and Monique Skidmore

    The military government in Myanmar, operating as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), maintains a firm, but increasingly contested hold on power and the country continues to stagnate economically and politically, while its social infrastructure deteriorates. The regime manages to hold out against various campaigns by its political opponents inside and outside the country, and in particular has been successful in expanding its presence into areas where it negotiated cease-fires in the 1990s and in consolidating its control over much of Karen State in eastern Myanmar. It also survived a UN Security Council vote in January 2007, but achieved...

  6. Political Update

    • 2: The dramatic events of 2007 in Myanmar: domestic and international implications
      (pp. 13-28)
      Richard Horsey

      In the second half of September 2007, events in Myanmar exploded onto television screens around the world. The pictures—first showing ordered columns of orange-robed monks marching through the streets of Yangon, then showing the brutal response by security forces—generated surprise and shock. The events took place while the UN General Assembly was meeting in New York, amplifying their international political impact.

      No-one seemed to have anticipated the sudden involvement of the monks or the speed with which the demonstrations gathered pace. In particular, the regime itself appeared to be taken by surprise. Then, once the demonstrations had been...

    • 3: Internal dynamics of the Burmese military: before, during and after the 2007 demonstrations
      (pp. 29-48)
      Win Min

      Since the military takeover in 1962, the internal dynamics in the Burmese military, which is not monolithic, have greatly affected the way successive military governments have organised themselves and operated. Top military leaders have devised their ideas, built up their power bases and purged rival factions in order to maintain their hardline approaches and their hold on power. This chapter explains how the internal dynamics of the Burmese military played out before, during and after the September 2007 demonstrations and analyses their impact, especially on political and socioeconomic reforms. It also considers possible future internal dynamics, how they might play...

  7. Economic Update

    • 4: Myanmar’s GDP growth and investment: lessons from a historical perspective
      (pp. 51-62)
      U Myint

      According to official figures, Myanmar has achieved double-digit gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates every year for the six years from 2000 to 2005. These figures have proved controversial. A related and another contentious issue regarding Myanmar’s economic performance in the same period is that high real GDP growth rates have been achieved with comparatively low gross domestic investment (GDI) to GDP ratios.

      In order to gain a proper perspective on these issues, one approach is to use cross-sectional data for a particular period to obtain a comparative view of Myanmar’s performance vis-a-vis the performance of its neighbours in the...

    • 5: Migrant-worker remittances and Burma: an economic analysis of survey results
      (pp. 63-86)
      Sean Turnell, Alison Vicary and Wylie Bradford

      In recent years, great interest has awakened in the question of migrant remittances. The potential for remittances—a phenomenon hitherto regarded as of little consequence—to act as a means for poverty alleviation and economic development has increasingly come to enjoy a broad consensus. In the light of this, and the recognition that for many developing countries remittances constitute a larger and more stable source of foreign exchange than trade, investment or aid, a vast and growing literature on the topic has emerged. Notwithstanding this broad interest, there is, however, yet to appear any major study with respect to the...

    • 6: Myanmar’s economic relations with China: who benefits and who pays?
      (pp. 87-110)
      Toshihiro Kudo

      Against the background of closer diplomatic, political and security ties between Myanmar and China since 1988, their economic relations have also become stronger throughout the 1990s and up to the present. China is now a major supplier of consumer and capital goods to Myanmar, in particular through border trade. China also provides a large amount of economic cooperation in the areas of infrastructure, state-owned economic enterprises (SEEs) and energy. Nevertheless, Myanmar’s trade with China has failed to have a substantial impact on its broad-based economic and industrial development. China’s economic cooperation apparently supports the present regime, but its effects on...

  8. Education and Health Update

    • 7: Myanmar education: challenges, prospects and options
      (pp. 113-126)
      Han Tin

      Traditionally, five pillars make up Myanmar society: farmers, workers, students, monks and the military. All Myanmar children who have attended school are aware of these five pillars because of the pantheon of national heroes revered throughout the nation. Farmers are represented by Saya San, who led the Peasant Revolt;¹ workers by Thakin Po Hla Gyi, who led the oil-workers’ strike;² students by Bo Aung Gyaw, an early student leader;³ the monks by U Wisara, who was martyred in a British jail;⁴ and the military (Tatmadaw) by Bogyoke Aung San, the founding father of the Tatmadaw and the architect of Myanmar’s...

    • 8: Evolving Education in Myanmar: the interplay of state, business and the community
      (pp. 127-150)
      Marie Lall

      Historically, education has been seen as a tool of human-capital creation, especially in developing countries. The development theorists’ case for compulsory education is based primarily on the link between mass education and economic growth (rates of return from education) as well as on the link between female education, fertility rates and public health. In short, the better educated a population, the healthier the population will be and the better developed the country will become. The role of the State has always been central in delivering education and the prime role of the state education system is to underpin the fulfilment...

    • 9: The (re)-emergence of civil society in areas of state weakness: the case of education in Burma/Myanmar
      (pp. 151-176)
      Jasmin Lorch

      In September 2007, Burma/Myanmar experienced its largest popular uprising since 1988. The protests, which posed the first serious challenge to the military regime in nearly 20 years, were widely perceived as an outburst of popular frustration about the pervasive failure of the State to provide for the basic welfare of its citizens. From January on, the ’88 Generation Students Group² led small-scale demonstrations that focused mainly on economic and social issues. Several signature campaigns tried to motivate people to write to the government describing their everyday problems, including rising food prices and the lack of access to education (Thawnghmung and...

    • 10: Islamic education in Myanmar: a case study
      (pp. 177-192)
      Mohammed Mohiyuddin Mohammed Sulaiman

      ‘Islam’, which literally means ‘peace’ in Arabic, has been transformed into a faith interpreted loosely by one group and understood conservatively by another, making it seem as if Islam itself is not well comprehended by its followers. Today, it is the faith of 1.2 billion people across the world; Asia is a home for 60 per cent of these adherents, with Muslims forming an absolute majority in 11 countries (Selth 2003:5). Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, international scholars have become increasingly interested in Islam and in Muslims in South-East Asia, where more than 230 million Muslims live...

    • 11: Contemporary medical pluralism in Burma
      (pp. 193-208)
      Monique Skidmore

      Every day in Central Burma, Burmese people engage with their pluralistic medical system. As with medical systems all over the world, in Central Burma, confusing, competing and contradictory logics govern the use of this medical system by Burmese people. Central Burma can be defined as the deltas and valleys of the Ayeyarwady River, where the population is divided between the large population centres of Yangon, Mandalay, Pathein and Mawlamyaing and the many villages that surround the river and its tributaries. The aim in this chapter is to present a cultural understanding of the ways in which Burma’s pluralistic medical system...

    • 12: Health security among internally displaced and vulnerable populations in eastern Burma
      (pp. 209-222)
      Mahn Mahn, Katherine C. Teela, Catherine I. Lee and Cara O’Connor

      Since 1962, Burma has been ruled by a military junta, currently known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), which has brutally suppressed the population, particularly ethnic minority groups. Burma is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries in the world and ethnic minorities make up a large part of its population, inhabiting approximately half of the land area of the country, especially along the country’s mountainous border frontiers. Since 2005, the military regime has greatly intensified its violent campaigns against a number of groups including the Karen, Karenni, Mon and Shan communities in eastern Burma, while...

  9. Index
    (pp. 223-230)