The transformation of Myanmar (also known as Burma) in recent years from a fiercely repressed, isolated, military dictatorship into what appears—at least on the outside—to be a democracy has won plaudits around the world. But how much has actually changed within Myanmar? Journalists Irene Slegt and Simon Long, who has been reporting on Myanmar for the Economist for decades, takes us inside the country to show what transitions—if any—have truly taken place.
Despite the fact that the country restored open elections in 2015, the army remains powerful and retains a political grip through the 2008 constitution. Meanwhile, the army’s cronies still dominate the business economy, and there has yet to be any reconciliation for the war-crimes committed during the lead-up to the constitutional referendum. Yet, at the same time, the authors show, on some levels, Myanmar is indeed a better place than it was before the reforms. Citizens enjoy freedoms unthinkable just a few years ago. But the economic benefits of reform have yet to be felt by the mass of ordinary Burmese—and in the meantime, for many people life has become harder and more expensive.
Timely and current, this book offers a unique on-the-ground look at the transition of democracy and reform in Myanmar.
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Irene Slegt is an investigative journalist and the author of three books on East Timor. Her work has been published in the Guardian, New York Times and Telegraph, among other places.Simon Long, who has been visiting Myanmar since 1983, is the Asia columnist for the Economist under the name “Banyan.” He is the author of Taiwan: China’s Last Frontier.
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