Burma’s Crisis

17 10 2007

news.jpgIt was an interesting afternoon to listen to a story about what happened in Burma from the Burmese perspective. The public forum organised by ISIS Thailand on “Burma’s Crisis: Ways Forward” was indeed in time. The recent protest and the military crackdown on the Buddhist monks was the picture the Buddhists would not like to see and it was one of the central points discussed at the forum.

I remember while watching the BBC news report I was asking myself what if that was happening in Thailand, what would Thai people react? Would the military regime give such cruel order? That has not yet happened in Thailand and the current government position on the situation in Burma is loud and clear: “it is unacceptable”, said Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont. Mr. Kraisak Choonhawan, one of the speakers, said that this was actually the first time Thai Prime Minister condemned the Burmese military crackdown. In the past, Thailand tends to say that it is their internal conflict and we should not get involve. Thailand and Burma share a long border and what happens in Burma will have a great impact in Thailand. Well while that statement is true, we should not forget that the previous Thai governments had mainly concerned about their business interest in Burma much more than anything else. Commenting or condemning the military action inside Burma would have an impact on their business dealing.

So much so about Thailand’s stand on Burma’s current situation. Another important issue in the Burma’s crisis is the China factor. As long as China continues to provide support to the Burmese government (to trade off natural resources), there is no way that the Burmese government will severely suffer from the Western sanction. But how to deal with China remains a question that none seems to find an answer.

Solution to the current crisis in Burma has to come from within. The Burmese should not reply entirely on outside help. External powers can help by putting more pressure on the Burmese government and China but the change in the society and the political system has to come from within. Some are thinking that a dialogue between the protesters and the government with senior monks as the mediator can make peace at least temporarily. However, I find it difficult to agree as I personally prefer the separation of state and religion. If the monks are allowed or are invited to mediate a peace talk, will it be acceptable to the Burmese people that they play a role in the political arena???





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