Myanmar has started the journey to democracy in 2015 by electing the first civilian government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. As per current constitution, She has 75% of the power except the security affairs. She has started the process to solve the Bengali (Rohingya) problem by forming a committee led the former UN Secretary Kofi Anan. At that time, no one gave her credit for that. One year later, ARSA terrorists attacked the border posts and killed some civilians and police officers. It is more than what has been killed in terrorists attack in Manchester and France. The army launched the counter terrorism operation and resulted in exodus of refugees. The army is accused by the West for genocide and the west and some media tried to implicate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for failure to speak out. However, she is doing her best and trying to solve the problem as much as she can. After that crisis, the west and its media outlets are trying to portray her as a fallen icon and not popular in the west and may be inside her country as well. They tried to interview those who are against her and tried to project the image that her popularity is declining in Burma especially in the ethnic areas. They were successful in doing that.
At the same time, she managed to reduce the budget deficit in Burma, improve the efficiency and tackled the corruption. She appointed the ex-military personnel as head of anticorruption committee. That committee charged one chief minister with corruption case and also one state level attorney general. She also managed to reduce the unemployment rate as well. She invested in road, education and health care. She also set up some level of social security like paying benefit to pregnant women and also elderly over 80. The list goes on.
However, her critics are only focused on two areas. For the west, they are all focused on Bengali/ Rohingya crisis and ignored all other positive developments in Burma. For other liberal activists, their focus was on the civil war and blamed her for that although they knew that the military controls the shot for peace and also Arakan Army deliberately started the fight to undermine the peace process and used the civilian as human shield like Taliban.
For an ordinary citizen like me, writing is on the wall for NLD to win landslide. The first indicator is that they managed to increase the price of electricity without any political crisis. Second indicator is that the way she handled COVID crisis proved her leadership and management skill when she has total control over it. unlike peace process and Rohingya crisis where the military has 25% power. However, the western media, some liberal media and some political pundits are very busy to undermine Daw Aung San Suu Kyi for not sorting out Bengali/Rohingya issues within few years. We have to remember that all African Americans could not vote in US until 1964 and also Chinese immigrants in US are only allowed to vote in 1943 although US got Independent from Britain in 1776. Therefore, Myanmar(Burma) will also take some time to sort it out.
She handled the first wave of COVID better than US, UK, France, Spain and Italy. We have to give credit to her the way she managed the situation with limited resources unlike these countries. During the second wave, she also admitted all COVID positive patients to local hospitals nearly (60,000 cases) in spite of increased number of cases and all patients were given food, shelter and medical care. Her Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein where most cases happened also managed the situation and risen up to the situation and overcome huge logistic challenges without the support of the army unlike UK, France and Italy. He managed to mobilise the volunteers and healthcare workers and coordinated the process well. They did the smart lockdown to reduce the impact on the economy.
In summary, most people like it and that translated to a landslide victory including in the ethnic areas except in Rakhine state.
I hope that the West will engage constructively with Burma as our transition to Democracy is not finished yet. If the West supports us, it will be a win-win situation. If the West only cares about one million and not about 60 millions inside the country, we will have no choice but to rely on our friends.
Photo credit: Myanmar State Counsellor Office and Myanmar Now