With the Rohingya situation making almost front page news of late we debated whether we should visit Myanmar. If everything we read was true we certainly didn’t want to add any legitimacy to the current government by spending our money in their country. The country is a young democracy but the military is essentially still in control. We seriously gave this some thought but concluded we were there to see the country, meet the people and eat the food because 99% of the population has absolutely nothing to do with the current situation so why should they suffer for something they have absolutely nothing to do with. This was our logic, right or wrong and we heard some very interesting stories, one from someone very close to the action and many from the youth and older people who actually live in Rakhine State where this crisis is happening but what we ultimately learned is there are many sides to this story, many more than we would hear from mainstream media and there is supposedly another country quite involved in maintaining the instability to further their global desires.
Htin Kyaw is the President of Myanmar although most people think the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Sun Kyi leads the country. She is only a State Councilor, a sort-of Prime Minister and could never lead the country because she married a foreigner. She has very little control over what happens in the country geopolitically and is essentially an advisor to the President yet everyone wants to charge her for crimes against humanity. She suffered over 20 years of house arrest for defying the military junta and finally won a little taste of democracy for the population and now she is committing crimes against humanity? Give your heads a shake and dig deeper. The old military still runs the show here my friends.
Myanmar was a surprise to us. A country that has lived under military rule for decades surely must be quite under developed we thought, but we very wrong. Aung San does have some influence on infrastructure, healthcare and education improvements and this has been obvious. Yes agriculture is still a primary day-to-day existence for many but the roads are paved, there are several telecom providers, ATM’s are in most villages, there was no obvious poverty in the context of poverty you see in India or many African countries, food was plentiful and affordable, busy food stalls lined the roads and everyone seemed to be very happy. Education is now free for all until level 12, highway tolls have been introduced to upgrade and maintain the roads and a 5% GST is applicable on all purchases with the money going to further improve the social and infrastructural projects needed to move the country forward. I keep bringing this up but I can’t help but to compare everything we have seen to date with India. The world’s largest democracy, thousands of years of civilization and a place that is still massively underdeveloped and in a sad state of affairs in many places. The standard has been set very low so everything else looks just peachy. But, this is not fair to Myanmar (or any other country) and I guess because we loved the people here so much our judgment could be slightly biased but we don’t think so because we think Myanmar has set a new standard for us and one we will use to compare with all other so-called 3rd world/developing countries and the post is set quite high.
I posted a semi-summary a post or so ago so I won’t repeat myself other than to say the people are beautiful, the history incredible, the landscapes incomparable, the food so delectable and the society so respectable. What more could you want? We loved Myanmar…especially the people.